IF YOU watch Top Gear, you will have recently seen Jeremy Clarkson, James May and Richard Hammond trying to build an electric car to rival the best-selling G-Wiz.<br /><br />The presenters hate electric cars as they stand for everything that they don&rsquo;t. I am no greenophile &ndash; my other car is an Aston Martin. Yet I do own a G-Wiz called Eric. Yes, it is embarrassing when you are at the traffic lights and a 12-year-old &ldquo;yoof&rdquo; shouts, &ldquo;you&rsquo;ve been owned, mate&rdquo; (apparently, that means that I have been done, conned or de-walletted). Anyway, it is unquestionably the worst car I have ever owned, and that&rsquo;s impressive as my debut into the motoring world was a three year old Fiat Panda with a large rust spot.<br /><br />But it does have its advantages: no congestion charge; free parking in Westminster on meters for four hours; and cheap and subsidised parking spaces in multi-storey car parks.<br /><br />Best of all, while the price of fuel keeps spiraling, this thing costs pennies to charge. The moral is that if everyone hates it, it&rsquo;s probably a good deal. A bit like buying shares six months ago: you would have made 50 per cent on your money.<br /><br /><strong>TWIN TEAM</strong><br />Have you got big hair? An annoying personality? Maybe you can perform discombobulated dance moves or sing terribly out of tune?<br /><br />Even if you don&rsquo;t watch the X Factor, you will surely know of the phenomenon that is Jedward. But emulating their success is harder than you would imagine &ndash; in a few short weeks they have become front-page news. They are name checked by political leaders, the subject of broadsheet cartoons and they even have their own &ldquo;squiggly&rdquo; on Sky News.<br /><br />How have they gripped the nation? Surprisingly, they have talent, just not in the traditional sense. It&rsquo;s the talkability factor. You love to talk about how much you love or hate them. You wanted to see how bad they were and they became a guilty pleasure.<br /><br />I think Jedward have quite a way to go and may well make a few million in the process. And that&rsquo;s a lesson to all job hunters. If you want people to hire you it&rsquo;s not just about being the best. You need to be talked about.<br /><br /><strong>DOG&rsquo;s LIFE</strong><br />The recession has changed our behaviour. I went abroad recently, leaving the fridge depressingly empty with just a bit of cheese and a few cans of drink. I switched off all the lights and checked the heating had been turned down &ndash; twice. I even traveled to the airport as cheaply as possible.<br /><br />Like you, I am counting the pennies. But hang on a minute: what about the dog? Barnaby is a two-year-old Basset Fauve. Yes, he can be mildly irritating and has a penchant for eating post that has just come through the letterbox.<br /><br />He can&rsquo;t stand it when I am on the telephone, makes an unholy racket &ndash; and he&rsquo;s fattest. No, he&rsquo;s not fat, but if he sees a fat bloke or lady in the street, the hackles go up and he barks. How embarrassing.<br /><br />When it came to finding a doggy care solution, could I leave him with a friend to save money? No. I had to have him collected, and walked on a daily basis by a frightfully posh kennel, costing me a small fortune. So, if you want to make money in a recession, it&rsquo;s pets all the way. They are the last personal sacrifice.<br /><br /><strong>GIVE UNTO OTHERS</strong><br />Charity is important. Governments shouldn&rsquo;t be left to do everything in a nation&rsquo;s name. You should be active in choosing where your money goes and assessing which charities are efficient.<br /><br />I recently presented World Jewish Relief&rsquo;s (WJR) annual dinner at the Guildhall. Live link-ups punctuated the event, allowing donors and benefactors to see who they were helping.<br /><br />But even these stories cannot prepare you for the harsh reality. This week I visited Moldova, one of the poorest countries in Europe. Located to the east of Romania, it is decades behind its neighbour. Of course, some have money. There are Range Rogers and Porsches, but that is a small proportion of this country&rsquo;s population. Many live off just a few hundred dollars a month. Their lives have become tougher since the fall of the USSR.<br /><br />I could tell you about the individual stories of hardship, the brave people who bring up children in the most pitiful of conditions, and the surprise that in this little country, part of the population has unofficially annexed itself and is run along the lines of the old Soviet system. It was such an eye opener.<br /><br />I don&rsquo;t expect you to run out and support WJR, although their work is impressive and not just focused on Jewish communities around the world. Yet, however hard you have been hit by the credit crunch, please think about those who are less fortunate than you. They need your help. More than ever.<br /><br />James Max is a chartered surveyor and a former investment banker. He is currently a broadcaster and presents Business and Property at 5pm every Sunday on LBC 97.3<br /><br />&bull;Victoria Bates is away<br />