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82 MoneySaving Life Hacks

Tips & tricks to save, incl free Amazon delivery tool, slash Sky bills, exploit eBay spellng mishtkes, buy stolen goods & more

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Megan F | Edited by Steve N

Updated 11 Jul 2017

life hacks

Life hacks, tricks, loopholes - whatever you call them, over the past year or so we've compiled a raft of quick-hit savvy tips so you can be cute with your cash.

We hunted high and low to gather the best and brightest life hacks all together in one quick-fire guide - from how to check if you've been hacked and muting self-service checkouts to free Amazon delivery. We've 82 so far in total, but we'll add more as we spot 'em, so watch this space.

This is the first incarnation of this guide. Please give us feedback, suggest improvements and share your hacks in the MoneySaving Life Hacks forum thread.

Watch TV and (legally) don't pay the licence fee

Many have no idea when they actually need a licence, official TV Licensing research shows - and some may be paying £147/year unnecessarily. For full info, see Do I need a TV licence?.

life hacks

Flog your rubbish for cash

It might surprise you, but you can make money from selling old loo roll tubes, jam jars, corks & more. See our Sell your junk guide for full details.

Free Experian credit score and more

There's a free way to find out whether lenders think you’re a credit dream or disaster with the new MSE Credit Club.

This revolutionary new concept will tell you how lenders rate your past behaviour, how they assess if you can afford a product, how likely you are to get a deal, and of course how to improve your rating. Mark tweeted: "Wowzers trousers. Loving MSE Credit Club - would never have bothered before. Pleased with learnings from it - thanks."

Get free water at airports for your flight

Avoid rip-off prices after security with our handy guide to airport water fountains

Free roaming trick now extended to 60 destinations

Our Cheap Roaming guide shows how to use a UK tariff at no extra cost in 60 countries and territories - including destinations beyond the EU such as the US and Australia.

Some save £100s on car insurance by legitimately tweaking job titles

Subtly changing your job title can make a big difference - eg, an illustrator is often cheaper than an artist, an editor than a journalist, a secretary than a PA.

Play with our car insurance job picker tool to read the rules and find your cheapest. For example, @fabsternation tweeted: "I saved £300+ going from creative director to marketing manager."

Eat neighbours' food for free – would you dare?

This app links you up with neighbours who have surplus grub to give away (a bit like Freecycle but for food). Once you've found something you fancy, you simply request it and if successful go and pick it up. MSE Jenny bagged some posh currant buns but would you dare? Food sharing

Check your photo licence or risk a £1,000 fine

life hacks More than 2 million have an out-of-date photocard driving licence - see what to check and what to do if it's invalid. And remember it must be replaced every 10 years (no matter how young you look...).

Slash £100s off your Sky bill

Want to keep your existing Sky package but slice down the cost of your monthly bill? Our Haggle with Sky guide will show you how. @OmicronPersei12 tried it and tweeted: "Just knocked £30 a month from my sky bill thanks to @MartinSLewis."

And it's not just Sky, either - we've similar guides to help cut bills for BT, Plusnet, TalkTalk & Virgin customers.

life hacks

Use a queue-dodging weapon to beat crowds at the gym, restaurants, Ikea etc

Get ahead of the crowd without being a VIP by being in the know about when a place is likely to be rammed. It works on everything from clubs, pubs, restaurants and even supermarkets, as Anna told us: "Used it the other day to find out when to do my food shop. Most relaxing supermarket shop ever." See queue dodge.

Get an iPhone 7 interest-free deal - far cheaper than contracts

iphone

A new iPhone's never MoneySaving, but there's a way to swerve the long-term contracts with networks and save £100s. See how to grab an interest-free deal.

Plus see how to beat iOS10 annoyances and unlock your iPhone or iPad without pressing the home button.

Amazon shopper? You're entitled to music going back 18 years

If you've bought CDs/vinyl since 1999, our Amazon music reclaim shows how to get them as downloads for free. Great for some, eg Luke, who tweeted us to say: "I got 7,654 songs on my Amazon music."

Beware though - as GingerJuice said: "Thought this was brilliant, then realised I'd bought the mother-in-law a Susan Boyle CD last year... ugh."

Wear/wore a uniform for work? Are you due a tax rebate?

life hacks

If you wash it, repair it or replace it yourself, you may be able to claim £100s back in tax from the past four years. JoJo did it: "I phoned tax man re washing work uniform. Got refund of over £100 for a 3-min call!"

Pay at least a penny on a credit card - it could be worth £10,000s

Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act 1974 is a secret financial super-hero - it means your credit card must protect purchases of between £100 and £30,000, so if there's a problem you could get your money back. But here's the clever bit: pay just 1p on your credit card and £99.99 in cash and you still get Section 75 protection.

In Scott Parsley's case, he's very grateful he paid for £300 of his £26,000 car on a credit card - if not, he could've lost the lot. See credit card penny protection.

life hacks

Don’t almost clear your card in full – clear it IN FULL if you can

If you've £1,000 debt from spending on a credit card, clear it IN FULL and there's no interest - yet only clear £999 and you pay interest on the whole grand. So if you can nearly clear it, totally clear it. If you can't, balance transfer it.

About to shop in a big-name store? Sneakily buy a gift card at a discount.

A gift card site sells unwanted cards/e-vouchers for M&S, John Lewis, Argos and more, with 2%-25% off. Gift card trick.

Want cheap drugs? How to save 70%+ on meds

Drug companies spend millions marketing 'only-use-the-name-you-know' messages - but don't fall for the hype, you can often get the same medicinal magic for much cheaper. See how to spot cheaper versions.

Bag secret scholarships and hidden grants

Amazingly, many of these student-only pots of gold go unclaimed each year. Our Scholarships and Hidden Grants guide has all the tricks in the school book in it.

life hacks

Zara shopper? The must-know trick

If you plan to go to Spain (not France, not Germany), it's Zara's home country and it sells its clothes at vastly lower prices there. Better still, you can compare before you go. Read Zara on the cheap for full details.

Check if hackers have stolen your info

The recent hacks of sites such as LinkedIn, MySpace and Dropbox mean it's more important than ever to check if you've been targeted. Find out if passwords, address, numbers or your DOB have been nicked using our Stop Scams guide.

Exploit eBay speiling mistaykes to uncover mega-bargains

Typos and erors on eBay are incredibubbly common and mean fewer peeple serching for things, so prices are rock-bottom. Use a mistake-spotter to find 'em.

life hacks

Warning: Don't use PayPal to pay on a credit card

It scuppers valuable extra protection for items over £100. For full information, read our PayPal Warning (and there's added information on debit cards too).

life hacks

Earn up to £1,000 savings interest tax–free

Changes made in April last year mean basic-rate taxpayers will be able to earn £1,000 of savings interest tax-free (higher rate £500) using the Personal Savings Allowance. Our Tax-Free Savings guide shows how some on low incomes can push it to the max.

Bag 500 'free' Clubcard points and go wallet-free

There's a new way to pay at Tesco which ensures you'll never miss out on Clubcard points again. What's more, there's an introductory 500-point bonus offer available until 3 September. See our Boost Tesco Vouchers guide.

Uncover the cheaper tariffs your mobile networks won't tell you about

When we talk about ditching and switching mobile provider to save, many say "I wish I could but only Vodafone/EE/3 works in my home". Yet there are hidden tariffs you can switch to on the same signal - see our Mobile Piggybacking guide.

life hacks

50%+ of people beat unfair council parking fines even after rejection

If your ticket's unfair, appeal. But even if you lose that, go all the way to the final tribunal and over 50% win. See Fight unfair COUNCIL parking tickets for how to do it (and see below for help on fighting an unfair PRIVATE ticket).

Buy cheaper 'advance' train tickets just 10mins before you board

Eight train firms now let you book advance tickets the day you travel - so even if you're at the station, never assume it's too late to bag a cheaper fare. See Book early, late.

Abandon online shopping baskets to bag a code

If you fail to finish a web order, shops often send codes to tempt you back, as Charlie found: "Was browsing ASOS wedding dresses then left. The next morning I had a nice surprise email from ASOS offering 20%, so I got £37 off my wedding dress."

See How to get abandoned basket discounts, including 26 stores we hear do it.

Turn your phone into a free sat-nav for 196 countries

sat-nav

If it's got GPS, convert it into a free sat-nav for the UK and 195 other countries. Plus you can download maps in advance on Wi-Fi to avoid pricey data costs (especially useful if heading abroad).

Know which keywords will boost your eBay selling prices

A lot of the time it's not what you list but how you list it that determines how the bids will go. Research shows perfumes described as 'authentic' sold for £34 on average, whereas those with 'genuine' sold for just £21. If you want to earn a bit more, check out the 130 keywords for eBay's most popular categories. See sell for more using the right keywords.

Play the John Lewis price promise to bag a free warranty

Buy electricals from John Lewis to get a longer warranty and then get it to match the cheapest price you can find. Bry used this trick and tweeted: "Did it on a Acer laptop, comparison at Tesco was £20 cheaper." Longer warranty

Pssst. Wanna buy stolen goods on the cheap?

blue peter

Fancy a new bike or bit of bling? Don't worry, it's all above board - in fact, even the police are in on it. All is explained in our full Buy Cheap Stolen Goods guide.

Always turn your sun cream bottles around

Why? Well, there's a little number on there than can save you big. See our how to make suncream last tips for full info.

The four numbers that can beat spam texts

If you're sick of PPI or debt write-off texts, beware replying 'Stop' - it works for legit texts, but if they're spam it means they know you're real. Instead, for full help to fight back see our Stop Spam Texts guide, plus also Stop Spam Calls, Stop Junk Mail and you can grab a free 'No cold callers' sign too...

How to mute self-service checkouts

Never hear 'unexpected item in bagging area' again with MSE Jordon's demo.

Free 'Amazon delivery trick' tool

The e-retail giant used to give free delivery if you spent £10. Now it's a minimum of £20 - but a very handy new tool provides a clever way around this. See Free Amazon Delivery Tool.

Never renew AA or RAC policies without haggling

In our poll of hagglers the AA was top with an 86% success rate and the RAC got 85%, so see what you could save. Dedicated haggler Kathryn said: "Every year we haggle breakdown cover - with the AA we managed to knock off more than £100 this year."

Flying Ryanair? Trick to cut the cost of checked-in bags

baggage

If you're travelling with anyone aged 15 and under and you book checked luggage or priority boarding for yourself, you'll get 50% off the same extras for up to two kids per adult (up to 15kg for luggage).

Need a loan? You could borrow more to pay less

Rates decrease the more you borrow and this has a perverse effect at the borders. For example, if you borrow £4,999 and the cheapest's 7.4%, then if you borrow £1 more the rate could be, say, 4.4% (actual rates change all the time so always check). As our loans calculator shows, on a five-year loan you'd then repay £416 less and you can use the extra cash for repayments.

Free £48/yr for Barclays bank customers

If you've got an account, there's an easy way to bag extra cash - for how, see Free £48 from Barclays.

life hacks

Energy firms can't charge exit penalties within 49 days of a fix ending

On a cheap fixed energy deal? You needn't wait to the last day to avoid exit fees - the rules actually state that you're allowed to switch without penalty 49 days before your fix ends. See our Cheap Energy Club FAQ for more - and if you're affected, use the Cheap Energy Club to compare.

Find discounted grub that restaurants sell at the end of the day

A free app hooks you up with cafés, bakeries and restaurants to grab cheap grub and prevent food waste. Find out how to get cheap leftovers.

A YEAR'S 2for1 cinema by manipulating Meerkat Movies

Our Meerkat Movies trick shows how to get a year's 2for1 pass for just a few quid. Ruth tweeted: "I go most weeks and wouldn't be able to afford to otherwise. Saved about £570 so far."

life hacks

Get up to 5% cashback every time you buy fuel

The Amex Everyday Credit Card gives up to 5% cashback on everything including fuel and train fares, so just repay it IN FULL to avoid its 22.9% rep APR and you're quids in.

The up to 5% is an introductory rate for three months (max £100), after that the cashback rate is tiered, up to 1%. For full info, see Petrol Cashback Cards.

Same supermarket, same item - different prices.

Save big by shopping in the baby aisle, the world foods aisle or avoid overpaying in the free-from aisle.

Grab 'free' coffee every day

Waitrose used to offer a completely free coffee (or tea) to its loyalty cardholders every day. You now have to make a purchase to get the freebie, but there's a nifty trick to get it for pennies. See 'Free' Waitrose coffee.

Spend 5 mins now to get unbeatable exchange rates every trip

For the very best rates every time, get a specialist cheap travel spending credit card - with a direct debit to pay it off IN FULL every month. Eg, when we checked, €1,000 cost roughly £1,000 at airport bureaux (walk-in rate), £942 on a debit card from hell and £881 on a top card (we checked in June 2017).

life hacks

Empty your piggy bank or coin jar... before it's too late

Empty your piggybanks, upend your coin jars, scrabble behind the sofa and get all your pound coins together – then spend or save ’em before October. See our £1 coin warning for full details.

How to stop a 2.7% loan costing you 20%

The cheapest loans are currently 2.7% representative APR, and that big word 'representative' has an even bigger impact. It means only 51% of accepted applicants need get that rate - the rest can and usually do pay more.

You only find out by applying and that marks your credit file. Our loans eligibility calc can help - in general the higher your odds, the more likely you are to get the advertised rate.

'I got my Amazon Prime £79 subscription back'

Our Amazon Prime Refund guide shows those charged for unwanted membership how to get it back. For example Tianna said: "Didn't even know I had it - got £79 refunded. Thanks"

Try adding mum, son or Aunt Dot to car insurance to save £1,000s

life hacks

Bizarrely, covering more people on a policy can cut costs if it brings down the risk average - see 7 tips on adding 2nd drivers.

See if you can save as much as @Faevouritexox, who tweeted: "Thanks, as a young driver my insurer wanted £5,000 but after adding mum and dad it dropped to £1,900." (PS - it's not just for young drivers)

Turn detective and uncover secret hotels for huge discounts

Secret hotel bookings on sites like Lastminute.com give you big discounts on 3-5 star hotels UK & worldwide, but you don't know the exact hotel until after you've paid... UNLESS, that is, you use our Uncover Secret Hotels tips.

life hacks

Don't pay to take luggage - wear your baggage instead

See Beat Baggage Fees for how to do it - airlines don't yet have rules to stop it.

Amazon shopper? It could be cheaper to ship it from Europe

Buying from Amazon's European sites rather than Amazon UK can be much cheaper - particularly given the strong pound at the moment. This clever Amazon EU tool checks prices across Amazon's sites in France, Germany, Italy and Spain, converts them into pounds and compares them to the UK.

More bedrooms than people? You could save £100s with a water meter

The general rule of thumb is if you have more bedrooms in your home than people you could save with a water meter - use the Free Water Meter Calculator to check.

It worked well for Jacqui: "Over many years I’ve paid £65/mth for my water bill. After following your suggestion, my current water bills are now £4.50/mth. A great saving - I wished I’d done it years ago."

Find when your student loan will be wiped

It all depends on what year you started. See student loan wiped info.

life hacks

Monthly car insurance doesn't exist - it's a hidden loan

Insurance companies simply loan you the year's cost, often at 20%+ APR, which is hardly a competitive rate. You can check our car insurers APR list but often you'll be far better off spreading the cost over a year on a 0% credit card.

Don't apply for credit cards willy-nilly - it hits your credit file

Applications, not rejections, mark your file. All other lenders see is that an application search has been made. Make too many, especially in a short time, and it can make you look like you're desperate for credit.

We've campaigned against this anti-shopping around system with no joy. So instead we built our credit card eligibility calculator which shows which cards you're most likely to get, with no credit score impact, so you can home in and minimise applications.

'I got £67 of shopping for 11p'

Source, gain & hoard 100s of product and store coupons, then combine them for huge discounts on groceries & more. Purple Sarah said: "Got £67 of shopping for 11p after store offers, coupons & my employee discount (but it's totally doable just with coupons)."

Few will reach such heights - but many will be able to cut costs using our 30 extreme couponing tips.

Book flights, hotels and car hire within 24 hours to get added DIY protection

Package holidays are protected under the ATOL scheme, so if something goes wrong you get your money back (or help coming home).

But what's less well-known is that you also get ATOL protection if you book a flight plus separate hotel or car hire within 24 hours from the same travel (not airline) website. See how to create your own protected package holiday.

life hacks

Not at car insurance renewal? Check NOW if you can save mid-policy

With prices rising, everyone should check if they're overpaying. If so, unless you've claimed you can usually switch - read switching mid-policy for the full pros and cons. Andy said: "You gave us confidence to challenge our insurance mid-policy. We were paying £40/mth, now it's £16/mth."

Bag hidden local eBay bargains

life hacks

eBay sellers often specify items, from bikes to PS4s, as 'collection only', so they get fewer bids and prices are lower. You can't search for them on eBay, so we built the Local eBay Deals Mapper, eBay Deals iPhone App & eBay Deals Android App to find 'em. Zoe said: "Love it - grabbed a new VTech Baby Dancing Tower toy for 99p (was £40ish)."

Walk away with someone else's luggage - it could be worth £100s

Ever watched Storage Hunters? Now you can do-it-yourself with lost luggage auctions. See how in our 60-second guide.

Book big-brand car hire via a foreign website

If you're dead-set on using a big name car hire firm, try booking via overseas websites as it can save you heaps. Mechelle tweeted: "Just saved £440 on my hols car hire by booking with Avis France instead of Avis UK. Thanks."

How kids can get a free Blue Peter badge - free entry to Legoland, London Zoo etc

blue peter

A Blue Peter badge can be seriously MoneySaving, with free admission to 200+ attractions. See our Deals Hunters' How to get a free Blue Peter badge blog.

European annual travel cover isn't just for Europe

Around the Mediterranean a few other countries can be included too, eg, Turkey and Egypt. So use our Europe cover loophole to see how much you can save by booking European rather than worldwide cover.

Are you due the £662 marriage tax allowance?

If you're married or in a civil partnership, you may be eligible, as @_CorinneMullins tweeted after reading our guide: "Easy - £212/yr better off. Thanks." See Marriage Tax Allowance Help.

Don't be fear-sold car hire excess insurance - get it 90% cheaper now

When you pick up the car, hire firms push up to £20/day excess cover - usually with dire warnings of problems if you don't. But you can get standalone cheap excess insurance before you go for as little as £2/day.

The answer is "I'll pay in euros" life hacks

If you're in a shop or at a cash machine overseas and are asked if you want to pay in pounds or the local currency, pay in the local currency. For why, see the Pay in euros blog.

Save £100s on school holiday flights by booking the WRONG Easyjet date

Not 100% straightforward, but savings can be huge using our little-known Easyjet Flexifares Trick.

Use hidden council 'fewer fails' MOT centres

As they don't do repairs, they've no vested interest to fail you, and many like Jemayhew say it means fewer fails: "Huge thanks. Last year ripped off - £400 repairs. Today passed at council centre with only test fee to pay." Use our UK council MOTs finder to locate your nearest.

Reclaim lost Tesco points, then QUADRUPLE them

Check if you've lost, forgotten or just have unused Clubcard vouchers via our Reclaim Tesco Points guide - and then swap them for 2x or even 4x their value. You might be surprised just how much you have. Alison was quids in: "£132 reclaimed in lost vouchers. New bikes for our boys maybe."

Find the hidden Amazon 75%+ bargains

Our Amazon Discount Finder manipulates the giant's URLs to create customised bargain basement pages for you, eg, beauty 70%+ off* and TV 25%+ off*.

Don't assume you pay less for 3rd party insurance than fully comp

It's counter-logical but if you want the cheapest cover, fully comprehensive car insurance can actually cost less.

Private parking firms can't fine you - it's just an invoice

Many tickets from supermarkets, retail parks and private car park firms do better impressions than Alistair McGowan. Some even call themselves Parking Charge Notices (PCNs) to mimic official Penalty Charge Notices (PCNs).

Yet they've no right to fine you - see how to Fight Unfair Private Parking Tickets.

life hacks

Watch how to master the art of hand luggage packing

Many hand luggage restrictions are about bag size, not weight, so our Packing Masterclass video shows how to pack more and keep it neat.

Tools analyse your mobile bills in minutes to see if you're overpaying

Give them your login - they read your bills and work out where it'd be cheaper. Do a mobile contract assessment.

The 're-book your hotel' trick – if you book with free cancellation, you can save if the price drops

Whether you've booked via a travel agent or direct with the hotel, often you'll find you're able to cancel for free up to a certain point, which is typically around 24-48 hours before your stay starts. See our re-book your hotel trick for full details.

Pay £1, get 25p off most Costa, Pret & Starbucks drinks EVERY time

coffee mug

Coffee shops aren't MoneySaving, but if you're going to spend there anyway, use our 'bring your own mug' trick to save 25p each time.

River Island, Topshop, Zara etc clothes for a fiver

We've found a way to bag surplus stock from top high-street brands for just £5. See Everything5Pounds.

Never miss a deal on big retailers' sites with MSE Deals Alerts

deals alert

Our special tool tells you whenever there's a deal for the site you're on. See how to install Deals Alerts.

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