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Winning stories

Investing in Premium Bonds

James's story

Ever wondered what it would be like to receive the news that you’d just won £1 million? Well, James nearly didn’t find out...

Agent Million, whose job it is to deliver the Premium Bonds jackpot prize to the lucky winners, had arrived to tell James some life-changing news. James, however, had moved house and hadn’t updated his address details with NS&I.

Luckily, he had registered to manage his Premium Bonds online and had alternative contact details.

It was a sunny Friday in August as James made his way to work thinking about no more than the day ahead and clocking off for the weekend. Little did he know as he made his regular 40-minute drive to work that his weekend would be a little different than planned.

In the middle of the day, James was contacted by NS&I unexpectedly and was asked if he could meet that afternoon. Wary that this could be a scam, James phoned NS&I’s customer service team to check the contact was genuine. It was, and while waiting for his mystery visitor, James racked his brain, convincing himself that something had happened to his money and spent the time checking and double checking that his savings were safe. After about an hour and a half of nervous waiting his visitor arrived and the mystery revealed.

James was met at his place of work by NS&I’s very own Agent Million, who was about to give him some news that would change his life.

“Winning £1 million had never entered my head when I had invested in Premium Bonds.”

“Holy moly” said James in total shock and disbelief as he tried to register the news he had just received in a small private room in his office. The thought of winning £1 million had never entered his head when he had invested in Premium Bonds. He decided to do so to have “a bit of fun”, while putting money aside for some kitchen renovations.

Once Agent Million had left, he decided to leave work straight away. It was late afternoon and with his boss already on holiday, he snuck out and, on this occasion, chose to take the long route home. He usually made a point of getting home as quickly as he could, but tonight was different, describing it as “one of the longest drives he had ever done”. He spent the journey wondering whether what had just happened was real.

“You’ve got to sit down, I’m going to tell you something,” he told his wife on entering the house. “She freaked out, we both freaked out.”

A quiet weekend turned into anything other as they deliberated over whether it had actually happened and what they might do with their life-changing win. It led to not much sleep and a lot of time thinking.

“I was able to see the seven figure sum in my bank account and all the previous doubts disappeared.”

Consequently, James decided not to go into work on the Monday morning, instead meeting once again with NS&I and this time, a bank manager. At this point, James was able to see the seven figure sum in his bank account and all the previous doubts disappeared.

James and his family had always been frugal, “but my friends would call me tight”. He would shop for clothes in charity shops, had credit cards but never used them, and paid for second hand cars in cash. To have a windfall sat in his bank account was something of a shock, and he spent much of the first few months not spending anything and logging-in to look at the balance in his bank account.

James decided to take NS&I up on the offer of a free session of financial advice from Matrix Capital, the financial advisers contracted to offer advice to Premium Bond jackpot winners. Talking about what he wanted out of life, he has been able to pay off his mortgage, finally get his kitchen done and invest for his, his wife’s and his family’s futures. He has even managed to treat himself to a pair of Levi’s – this time not from the charity shop!

Winning the jackpot in August 2014, James has spent a lot of time thinking about how to use his windfall wisely. “I had always taken permanent jobs in the past but I made the decision to go self-employed. I can now be my own boss.”

“I had always scrimped and saved and I didn’t want to be one of those people who won big money and lost it or spent it all ridiculously quickly. The win has given me and my family stability and we know how lucky we are to be able to do things if and when we want.”

*James’s name has been changed to protect his identity.

The easiest way to manage your Premium Bonds and any other NS&I account is to use our online service. You can register to keep all your contact details up to date and make sure we can get in touch if you win a prize.

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Gary's story

An evening like no other

It was just a normal Thursday evening for Gary. At home after a long day at work painting the front of a local solicitors office, all he wanted to do was shower, eat and sleep. But his evening was about to take an unexpected turn, with a knock at the door and a delightful surprise that changed his life.

“I was expecting a neighbour to call round at about 7pm that evening about a quote for a painting job, but the doorbell rang about an hour earlier than I expected, and my sister shouted that it was for me.” I went downstairs, thinking my neighbour had popped over early, but instead I was greeted at the front door by a smartly dressed woman.”

“My first thought was that she was a Chief Inspector! I racked my brain and hoped I hadn’t bashed my van into a car earlier on in the day!” Gary said.

To Gary’s relief, he hadn’t had a brush with the law. Instead he was face to face with NS&I’s very own Agent Million, who had some fantastic news for him.

“She said that she wanted a word in private but assured me that I had nothing to worry about. It turns out, I didn’t!”

“My first reaction to being told that I had won £1 million was relief, mainly that I hadn’t hit someone’s car! But once the news sank in, although I was too young to retire off it, I realised that if I remained sensible, I could be comfortable for the rest of my life.”

Sleepless nights

Gary, is a 34 year old self-employed decorator, a job he‘s been doing since he left school. He’s worked 7 days a week for most of his career and has always been sensible with money - regularly putting some away in his private pension, which he opened when he was 18 years old.

And whilst many big Lottery and Premium Bond jackpot winners speak about sleepless nights thinking about what to do with their windfall, Gary already had his plan in mind.

“I didn’t sleep much that night, but I had definitely decided that I was going to continue working as normal – perhaps taking the odd day off now and then. It was a comforting feeling more than anything else, that feeling that I could pretty much carry on as normal, but without having to worry as much.

“After all I can earn more with my paint brush then I can in the banks!”

Some kind of normality

Gary wanted his win “to work for him” and enlisted the help of Matrix Capital, the financial advisers contracted to offer advice to Premium Bond jackpot winners.

However, that’s not to say that he hasn’t allowed himself the odd extravagance. He still loves going on holidays with his mates and continues going to his beloved Arsenal Football Club on a weekly basis, but he has always seen his win as setting him up for the rest of his life.

Gary won his prize in July 2015, but a year after the win, he has managed to acquire one particular valuable asset with his success. “I’ve upgraded my living arrangements and have bought my first property. Before my win, I thought I would be renting forever but now I don’t even have to worry about any mortgage payments. I have something to call my own and am able to give my mum a bit more space!”

* Gary’s name has been changed to protect his identity.

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TB’s story

TB’s story

Carry on vacuuming

On an ordinary Thursday afternoon in May last year, my vacuuming was interrupted by a young woman at the front door. She identified herself as being from NS&I and naturally I was cautious in allowing her into my home.

Finally, she dropped the bombshell – I had won £1 million. My first reaction was: “Why hadn’t it come when I was younger?” I was 81.

She told me I could buy a new car, go on cruises, move house, but I already could do and had done those things. My reply was that I would help my family – that would give me most joy.

When she left I thought, who can I tell? My children were all at work so I phoned my partner. He was sceptical, convinced it was scam, but then he is a Yorkshireman! I got on with my vacuuming.

What next

A week or so later, NS&I set up a meeting with a recommended firm of financial consultants in a local hotel, where all the options, opportunities, possible pitfalls and obligations were presented. I was made aware that any gifts I made would be liable to tax if I did not live for seven years, so I had to be sure to keep sufficient money on hand for my children to pay the taxman, should I die before then.

Sharing the love

I gave my three children £200,000 each. One bought a holiday home in New York state (the sum seemed even bigger after being transferred into dollars then), another bought a newer house close to where I live, and the third paid off her mortgage and did much-needed work on the property. To each of my six grandchildren, I gave £10,000, which is a nice little nest egg. One granddaughter desperately wanted to do an MA and was able to pursue that ambition. She now has her dream job with the BBC.

As for me, I did buy a new car but only when my beloved old one gave up the ghost. My partner and I visited my son in New York and flew back in first class. This year I again flew there first class. We take frequent holidays nearer to home for some winter sunshine. I also have a big adventure to look forward to – a month’s holiday, cruising around the Indian Ocean followed by stays at Victoria Falls and trips up the Zambezi.

Second time lucky?

I’ve held Premium Bonds since their inception in 1956, sometimes building up a substantial amount, sometimes running them down. At the time of my win I have just under £13,000 in Bonds. I seem to have had similar wins to your readers - lots of cheques for £25. After my £1 million jackpot, I took up almost the maximum allowance. The £25 prizes I still win automatically go into buying more Bonds. I understand no one has ever had two big wins. I wonder if this could happen to me. I will certainly let you know!

TB, Nottinghamshire

Source: The Sunday Times, 30 October 2016

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Hannah's story

Hannah's story

Hannah won the £1 million jackpot in August 2004 – it was her first win. Her winning Bond, a number 50HXH949682, came from a £3,000 investment made in February 2003.

“Agent Million arrived on a Sunday afternoon. It changed my life. I nearly passed out when I was told what I’d won. I was totally overwhelmed.

“Before I won I was living on £108 pension a week so you can image how it changed my life. I bought a house and I also bought up the maximum (In Premium Bonds) straight away. I still get £50 a month and, to be honest, I get almost as much pleasure in those wins.

“I’ve told very few people, just people who could share the secret and still act normally. I do sometimes tell strangers that, thanks to ERNIE, I’m having a lovely time.”

* Hannah’s name has been changed to protect her identity.

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Graham's story

Graham's story

Graham works as a live-in caretaker in Lytham St Anne’s. He won £50,000 in August 2000.

“I’d had Premium Bonds for 15 years when I won. I’d been buying them from time to time in blocks of £100.

“I got the envelope and I thought it was a circular asking if I wanted to buy more until I saw the letter inside, which I’ve still got. I re-read the figure again and again because I thought it said £5,000.”

By the time his cheque arrived, Graham had decided to spend the money on a property which he can live in if he ever leaves his job. “I got some funny looks when I told the building society I could buy it outright and that I wouldn’t need a mortgage, because I don’t look like the sort of person who has a lot of money.”

Since buying the house, Graham has cashed in his Bonds to pay for an extension, but he says he plans to buy more in the future. “I believe luck never runs out so I’ll definitely buy more.” register for our online and phone service.

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