Deals and discounts for the Manchester area and also Nationwide offers - spread the word!
Most bargains are limited time one day only offers so if you see something you like don't hesitate and buy today!
It's the week many bills come in. So it's time for my annual clarion call to take a day to sort your finances - even if you can't do a full day, scan the timetable to save as much as you can. As Emma found: "Following your tips so far in 2016 I've slashed Sky from £36 to £20/mth, got £150 switching bank & saved £80/mth card interest. Savings so far? £1,300."
Many families who've never bothered before can save £1,000+ for the year, making it 2016's best-paid day for all but those on £470k+ salaries.
07:30. Save up to £500/yr on water bills. While showering, ask yourself if your home has the same or more bedrooms than people. If so & you're in Eng/Wales, use a water meter calc to see if you can save by switching to a meter, as Carole emailed: "Never thought I'd benefit, but got a meter and my rate dropped from £65 to £18/mth. Thanks Martin." That's a £560/yr saving.
07:50. Wear a uniform? You may be due an up-to-£300 tax rebate.As you're dressing, if you or anyone in your family normally slips on a work uniform (or used to) - from branded T-shirts to nurses' kits - & you wash it yourself, you may be due up to 4 years' back tax, like forumite kevbev321: "Woo hoo - been in a uniform role for 5yrs, got a tasty £250 back." For full info and templates to reclaim FOR FREE see Uniform Tax Back.
08:20. Grab £1,000s of childcare help. As you feed the baby or battle to get your kids to school, think childcare costs. If you pay for childcare (including after-school clubs), there are two things to check:
1) Earn under £46,000 and work 16+hrs/wk (both of you, if a couple)? Check if you're entitled to Childcare Tax Credits, worth an avg £3,000/yr. 2) If not, Childcare Vouchers let you pay tax-free, saving some £1,000s.
09:00. Save £300/yr on energy in 352 secs (give or take...). If like 70% of people you're on a big 6 standard tariff you can slash bills. Even if they all slash prices as E.on's announced today (5% on gas, not elec, on 1 Feb) they are still hugely more expensive than the market's cheapest.
We timed how long it took four MSE Towers newbies to compare and start a switch using Cheap Energy Club - on average it took 5m 52s saving £320/yr. And it can be more, Rachel tweeted: "@martinslewis consider myself money savvy, but just did your energy swap 'n' saved £548/yr."
09:06. Save up to £500 in minutes haggling down Sky, AA, Virgin, etc.With breakdown cover, digital TV, broadband & mobiles, if you're near or beyond the end of your contract and don't want to switch... haggle. Call 'em up, ask for a better deal and let 'em know you'll go elsewhere if not.
As Brian told us: "Rang Sky & asked it to match Virgin's Big Kahuna movies & sport - now £50/mth, down from £100/mth." See our Haggle down your bills guide for where it works best and how to do it.
09:30. Check if your books are balanced. Switch off Jeremy Kyle, things just got serious. Do you KNOW you consistently spend more than you earn? If so, you're either eating your savings or risking the build-up of dangerous debts. My Budget Analyser works through your outgoings to help work out how to get your finances in shape. Give it at least an hour.
10:50. 10 mins to check if you're due £1,000s back on council tax. Before you take a break, up to 400,000 homes in Eng & Scot are in the wrong council tax band. Use my Council Tax Check & Challenge System to check, if so, as the appropriately named Rich told us: "Thanks. I got a £4,400 refund as my band was reduced and backdated to 1993 - plus £350/yr better off in future. RESULT."
11:00. Get a free tea (or coffee). It's elevenses - time for a treat. So sign up for a free DAILY tea or coffee at Waitrose.
11:30. Bag superb exchange rates for every holiday abroad. A moment to relax and think holidays. Smash bureau de change rates whenever you go awayby using a specialist overseas credit card. Grab a Halifax Clarity or Creation Everyday card and you get the same near-perfect rates banks get in every country. Ensure you repay the card IN FULL each month.
13:15. Time's ticking - are you owed £1,000s in PPI back? Don't assume "this isn't me". Even some who rejected this insurance had it wrongly added to loans, credit cards, overdrafts, catalogues & store cards without knowing.
With a time-bar on claims on the horizon, check now. Full help, FAQs & free templates in Reclaim PPI for FREE. As Elaina emailed: "Massive thanks for a £2,800 PPI cheque. I was adamant I'd never paid PPI - shows how wrong you can be."
13:45. Can you slash your mortgage by £1,000s? Rates, esp fixes, are near all-time lows. Check your mortgage now to see if you can save, read the MSE Remortgage Guide and use our Mortgage Best Buys tool.
14:30. Slash car insurance costs by £100s (even if not at renewal). Steep price hikes are predicted this year - see car insurance help below. And check out cheapest home insurance while you're at it.
15:15. Can you slash ALL debt costs to 0%? Whether you've loans, credit cards, store cards or more, see if you can slash debt costs to 0%.
16:00. Check your tax code - if wrong, you could be due big money. Millions of people have had incorrect tax codes, so a huge chunk of the UK population has paid too much (or too little) tax. We've built a unique checker to help work out if you're owed. Use the Tax Code Calculator.
16:15. Get up to 5% cashback on all spending - you could make £200/yr.A cashback credit card pays you every time you spend on it. So grab one and use it for all spending. Top pick is Amex Everyday that gives up to 5% back - just ensure you repay the card IN FULL each month to avoid interest. Also use Top Cashback Sites to earn more when you shop.
16:30. Reclaim and reclaim and reclaim and reclaim... Many are due money in lots of areas. Here are some key ones to check...
17:15. A must do - grab a diary and fill it in. Sounds dull, but this is perhaps the most important single thing you'll do today. Grab a diary, then go through all products with timed elements - eg, car insurance, savings bonus rates, 0% cards, broadband & mobile contracts & more. Put a note in a month before each one ends to swoop & fix.
Last week my show was on whether your bank owes you £1,000s - if you missed it, you can watch online. This week it's about how to slash the cost of all debts to 0% and a raft of tips and tricks to boost your credit score. Do watch, or set the Betamax.
Usually the only way to see if you'll get a credit card is to apply, which leaves a mark on your credit file, hitting future creditworthiness. It's anti-shopping-around, as - if rejected - re-applying's tougher. We've fought this, giving evidence in Parliament, to no avail. So 3yrs ago we built our eligibility calculators to fight it - now we're taking it up a step...
What the eligibility calcs do. Our Loan and Credit Card Eligibility Calcs do a soft search (you see it on your file, lenders can't, so no credit score impact) that until now gave odds of 0% to 95% for getting top deals, so you can home in where your chances are best. As Kelly told us: "Legend. Used the eligibility calc, got 35mth 0% and shifted £11,000 from 29.9%. Shocked by the savings." That's a saving of £4,900 if she clears the debt in 35mths.
What's the new 'pre-approval'? MBNA has now provided info so we can tell many people they've a 100% chance of getting that exact deal (subject to passing its ID & fraud check). There's no impact on your credit score, though of course if you then apply, that marks your file.
- Two money transfer cards let you pay cash in your bank account so you owe them instead. Useful for clearing overdrafts, or as a small loan. As it's complex, read our Money Transfers guide for detail, or use the Money Transfers Eligibility Calc.
Always follow the Balance Transfer Golden Rules. If you are taking out one of the cards above... a) Always clear the card/shift again before the 0% ends, or rates jump to 20.9% rep APR (MBNA), 18.9% (others). b) Repay at least the set monthly min, or you can lose special rates. c) Don't spend/withdraw cash on them, it's rarely at the cheap rate. d) Unsure which one? Use our Which Card Is Cheapest? tool. Full help in Top Balance Transfers (APR Examples).
Totally free £200 DAILY cash prize draw. Sounds too good to be true, but it's legit. The main prize pot's just gone up from £150 to £200 a day - but forget to check it and you miss out on any winnings. Forumite sldellar says: "On my 6th check I WON and it was a rollover of £300 - wonderfully timed as I recently lost my job." Full info in Free Postcode Lottery.
Car insurance is a grudge purchase - we've got no choice. Many leave it until renewal, but with prices predicted to rise steeply again this year, everyone should check now. Full info in Cheap Car Insurance, but to drive the points home...
You can cut costs now, even if not at renewal. There are two elements to this: i) Renewal within 60 days? Some firms' quotes are valid for 60 days, so if prices rise you're covered. These include Aviva*, Nationwide & LV* (see 20 long quote insurers). As @dimuthuj7 tweeted: "Renewal £521. Quote a month ago, which was honoured, of £319. Thanks." Get quotes now, then follow 'find cheapest' info below at renewal.
ii) Can you slash costs mid-policy? Use the info below to find your cheapest insurance. If it's much cheaper than now & you haven't claimed, for a £50-ish admin fee you can usually cancel your policy and get the rest of the year refunded (you won't earn the year's no-claims bonus), locking in today's price. See full switching mid-policy info. Andy tweeted: "You gave us confidence to change mid-policy, it was £40/mth, now £16."
These days if you want home broadband, it's almost unavoidable to have it bundled up with your home phone so total up the cost for both. For standard deals with the likes of BT, Sky, Virgin, TalkTalk you pay £300-£450/year. The key to cost cutting is grabbing short-lived promo deals (or haggling based on them) - this is the latest...
New. Line & broadband £136 for a YEAR. This is a 1yr contract with BT-owned Plusnet* for line rent & unlimited download, up-to-17Mb speed b'band. Its customer service rating is strong (68% 'great' in our poll) and 90% of the UK is eligible, but existing Plusnet customers (or those who left v. recently) are excluded. To get it...
1. Sign up. Go via Plusnet* before 11.59pm on Tue 26 Jan. 2. Pay line rent upfront if you can afford to. It's cheapest if you select to pay £185.88 for the year's line rent upfront (equiv £15.49/mth). If not it's £16.99 monthly. 3. Broadband's 'free' during the contract. If you stay after, it's £9.99-£17.49/mth (depending on location). 4. There's £50 cashback, but sadly you must CLAIM IT. Use the link above and within 10 days of account activation you'll receive an email with a link to fill in your details for £50 cashback. Do that within 2mths and a cheque's sent within 30 days. PS: If you've ad- or cookie-blocking software, turn them off or it mightn't track.
How it stacks up: Pay a year's line rent upfront and factoring in the cashback it's £135.88 for a year (equiv £11.32/mth). Pay line rent monthly and after cashback it's £153.88 (£12.82/mth equiv). Compare that with BT's £17.99/mth standard line rent alone.
- What about calls? None included - calls to UK phones are mostly slightly cheaper than BT (see call costs). - No line/switching from cable (or in a few cases, Sky cust)? Installation's £49.99. You'll know before committing. - Need a router? There's an optional 'free' one available, though it charges £6.99 p&p.
SUCCESS OF THE WEEK: (Send us yours on this or any topic) "We checked our direct debits and found we'd been paying for over 12 months of MUTV at £7.50/mth that we didn't know we had & didn't want. Thanks for the prompt :)"
Half of you NEVER check your credit file... according to the 12,951 who voted in last week's poll at least. Overall 53% said they'd never checked their credit file but age seemed to be the deciding factor - 40% of those aged under-25 have never checked, compared with a huge 74% of over-65s. See the full results.
Thu 21 Jan - Good Morning Britain, ITV, Deals of the Week, 7.40am. Watch previous Fri 22 Jan - This Morning, ITV, Martin's Quick Deals, from 10.30am. Watch previous Fri 22 Jan - The Martin Lewis Money Show, ITV, 8pm. Watch previous Mon 25 Jan - This Morning, ITV, Money Monday, from 10.30am. Watch previous Mon 25 Jan - BBC Radio 5 Live, Lunch Money Martin, 12noon. Subscribe to podcast
QUESTION OF THE WEEK
Q: If you have a smart meter, can you change suppliers, given the meters belong to the company that installs them? Michael, via email.
MSE Fraser's A: You CAN change suppliers if you've got a smart meter - never assume that getting a smart meter means you're stuck with the firm that installed it. Do a comparison for your usage and location at Cheap Energy Club to see how much you could save by switching.
However, if you switch, your smart meter may stop working in 'smart mode', and just work like a normal meter instead. Unless your new supplier offers to replace your smart meter with one of its own, you'll just have to take meter readings the old-fashioned way.
The people behind the smart meter rollout are working on a technical fix for this though - once that's brought in (the latest estimate is this summer, though it's been put back several times) your smart meter should stay 'smart' after you switch.
That's it for this week, but before we go, check out this thread from the forum: "Before Google, there was the library...". These days you can ask a search engine any question under the sun, but this forum discussion harks back to a world before t'internet - how DID we find answers to the big questions?
We hope you save some money, Martin & the MSE team
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