MSE Forum Retrospective 2021
It's that time when we pick through the remnants of the chocolate selection box and gaze back wistfully on another year in the MSE Forum. Reminisce with us over the funniest, wisest and most popular discussions of 2021.
2021 saw energy price caps rocket, a new Online Safety Bill drafted, PCR tests, BoE base rate changes and Covid refund disputes. The Forum was there for every bit of it, with Forumites sharing their experiences, posing questions and doling out tips.
In June the MSE Forum levelled up with a brand new homepage and an updated set of MSE Forum rules. MSE Oli even gave us a video tour of the new look.
Throughout the changes our trusty volunteer Board Guides were on hand to help us and the Forumites with the day-to-day running of things. (We cannot thank you enough, Board Guides.)
Below you'll see a summary of some of the wisest, funniest, most useful and most popular posts that graced the Forum this year. Take a nostalgic trip with us...
Most active discussions
The NEW waiting to exchange thread
In the words of the Forumite who started the thread in 2017, it's "a place to document your timelines and discuss the triumphs and woes of moving house".
2021 mission declutter and clean
Every year, a new decluttering super-thread begins on the Old Style MoneySaving board. Each iteration has a slightly different name, but the game's the same: get rid of clutter and strive to live a more organised life, while updating the other Forumites of your progress.
One of this year's most discussed threads was all about Bluestone Mortgages. Forumites shared their experiences of using the company for their property purchase, and supported one another through the stressful process of buying a home.
2021 frugal living challenge
The MSE Forum hosts all sorts of challenges, with Forumites keeping each other accountable in their efforts, but the frugal living challenge was the most active of them all this year. The challenge is to live a more frugal lifestyle, whether that means tackling debt, making extra income, saving or all of the above. There's even a link to a downloadable budgeting spreadsheet to help keep a personal record. This particular challenge has been running for 14 years and is well worth joining.
Time to face the music
The Debt-Free Diaries sub-board is a hugely popular area of the MSE Forum, where debt-saddled Forumites keep track of their efforts to get into the black. This particular thread is a thorough and sustained account of one couple's journey to pay off what they owe, with ample support and shared experience from other commenters along the way.
News stories that originated in the Forum
Sometimes, posts telling stories of personal experience lead to investigations, which in turn become official MSE news stories. In 2021, we wrote the Ryanair bans passengers who got Covid chargeback refunds story, thanks to the testimonials of several Forumites who'd been affected. Our article was picked up by lots of major news publications and even got trending on Twitter.
Forum-inspired blog posts
A few posts this year went on to become full-length MSE blogs. We drew on Forumites' experiences to write up handy suggestions, MoneySaving challenges and cheering stories. We also created a blog intended to help people navigate the new MSE Forum homepage.
Do your pets get birthday presents?
Discussions that made us laugh
There were far too many funny discussions to list here, but we've pulled out a selection of the best. From hypothetical scenarios to bizarre real-life dilemmas, welcome to the lighter side of the Forum.
- What MoneySaving fibs do you tell your kids?
- Where can I find bacon flavoured toothpaste?
- Anyone else discover their new home had a surprise feature?
- Do your pets get birthday presents?
- What would you do with £10k, £20k, £50k, £100k and £500k?
- What's the strangest clause you've seen in a tenancy agreement?
- What's been your most expensive mistake?
- What's the worst prize you've ever received?
- How do I deter the three cats who poo in my garden constantly?
- Show me your vintage mobile phone handsets
- What do you think of the new Natwest Mastercard design?
- I booked a chimney sweep but they discovered I don't have a chimney and won't return my £179 fee
Questions big and small
The community of helpful people ready to answer posters' questions is truly invaluable. Last year, the hive mind helped to find answers to all sorts of things, from mystery refunds to sandwich filling recommendations.
- Socks that last...recommendations please
- Autistic and looking for a visual, insight-giving current account
- What goes with peanut butter in a sandwich?
- When do you turn on your heating?
- Do you leave your washing machine unsupervised?
- If my paternity test is negative, am I owed back all the child support I've paid?
- Should I choose my cat, or rent-free living?
- Do you tip hairdressers? Uber drivers? Bar staff?
- Which home improvement tasks do you ‘DIY’ and which do you leave to a pro?
- Would you consider selling a long-held family heirloom if the price was right?
- How should you leave your home for its new owner?
- Ironing without an iron
- What food do you forage for?
- The financial advantages of polyamory
- What's this unknown refund in my account?
A few of the most active challenges
Proactive Forumites can choose to take part in all sorts of monthly or yearly challenges to help them meet their financial goals. Many of these live on the Debt-Free Wannabe and Old Style MoneySaving boards. Below are just a few of the challenges that got the most participation in 2021.
Show me your vintage mobile phones (image from Forumite d123)
A few successes
We've gathered a very small slice of the many successes that we spot in the Forum every week. May they inspire you.
- In time for Xmas, I’ve received a £200 winter fuel payment, £140 for the warm home discount, plus I’m hoping to receive £150 for a HSBC bank switch, thanks to Martin Lewis and team
- I cleared £70,000 of debt in 10 years, helped massively by keeping up a diary on the Debt-Free Wannabe board
- We booked 50 hotel rooms for our wedding guests and saved hundreds by going through Booking.com instead of direct
- I won £22,222 from a Magic Radio competition
- After 2 years of playing, I finally won the Pick My Postcode main draw! I got just over £100
- I just became a millionaire at 42 – I did this by picking my partner carefully, learning from this forum and more
Top viewed Money Moral Dilemmas
Every week, the Money Tips email (sign up here if you haven't already) features a real-life Money Moral Dilemma, sent to us by email or by Forum and summarised as a Forum post, with the details kept anonymous. It always stimulates lively debate as Forumites explain what they would do in the situation, and why. Here are the nine that got the most comments last year.
- Should we help pay for the fence our new neighbours put up?
- Should I ask my girlfriend to repay me or let it go?
- Should I ask my neighbour to pay for the meat they spoiled?
- Was I wrong to pay my mate back in fish and chips?
- Should I keep the money my plumber would have made from selling my old taps?
- Should I return the ‘free’ sawhorse that arrived after I cancelled the order?
- Should I go back and pay for the mirror I broke in a charity shop?
- Should my brother share his lottery winnings?
- Should I ask my daughter to share her Child Trust Fund with her siblings?
- Should I claim working-from-home tax relief?
- Should I ask the neighbours staying with us for rent?
- Do I give a gift when it’s a ‘pretend’ wedding?
- What’s the fairest way to help our children on to the property ladder?