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14th Dec 2016
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"Hi. This free, spam free weekly email is the key way to save. We put all the latest deals, guides and loopholes in, yet many close within hours. Don't miss out, join the 12m who get it each week."

14 December 2016
         
 
THE TOP TIPS IN THIS EMAIL
The 12 Saves of Christmas
Get paid £25 to boost your credit
Do you have a Power of Attorney?
Winter sports travel insurance £11/wk
Lock in cheap energy for TWO winters
£30 beauty box worth £146ish
18 days off work for price of 9
Personalised photo mug £3.50 all-in
Ending: Free Nationwide travel ins
Pets at Home £5 off £30 spend
Body Shop 40% off + freebie
Queue-dodging tool gets better
FREE video message from Santa
Earn 2.25% on up to £50k?
Full year's 2for1 cinema for £2ish
£25 Xmas bouquet & card incl del
 

The 12 SAVES of Christmas

Today we serenade you with our best festive savers, incl tricks and last days for free delivery, early 'Boxing Day' sales, free present ideas & make your own reindeer poo


While we may not be as romantic as your true love and can't promise turtle doves, the MoneySavingExpert singers have put our voices together to bring you a whole carol's worth of saving ideas to get ladies dancing and lords a-leaping. Many of you will have already followed our unnecessary presents plan to avoid overspending - if not, see Martin's Ban Unnecessary Xmas Gifts blog. But for those who need inspiration, here's our version of the classic Christmas carol...

On the first day of Christmas, MoneySavingExpert sent to me... Presents that cost me no money.

Christmas Don't spend loads on things no one wants. Instead promise to do something they'll value, that you'll spend time and effort on instead of money. We've created printable Christmas cheques - specially designed for you to print off and write your own promise on to give to family and friends, such as breakfast in bed, babysitting or help in the garden. For further ideas, see our free Xmas gift cheques discussion.

On the second day of Christmas... Two early sales.

Use the 'Boxing Day' sales to get presents at a bargain price before Christmas. Strange as it may seem, Miss Selfridge starts its sales online today (Wed), and Kurt Geiger starts tomorrow - both offering up to 50% off. Order now, and you should get gifts delivered in time for Xmas. Asos is also expected to start its sale on Wed 21 Dec, yet it says if you order by Fri 23 Dec you should still get the gifts in time for Christmas Day.

Plus, if you've not yet finished dressing the tree, you can now get big discounts on Xmas decorations. Our cheap Xmas decs round-up includes up to 50% off at House of Fraser & up to 30% off John Lewis. But we predict this could get even better any day now, eg, John Lewis up to 80% off. See our Christmas Deals Predictor for more.

On the third day of Christmas... Fresh reindeer poo.

Don't buy gifts - make 'em instead. Our Old-Style Thriftmas forum board shows how to make a pile of reindeer poo or snowman soup, which are tastier than they sound. Plus see how to rustle up some Old-Style decorations, cards & even Christmas crackers.

On the fourth day of Christmas... A turkey deal.

TurkeyFeeding a family at Christmas can cost you a fortune, especially with the relatives round. If you're buying turkey, lots of supermarkets and butchers have great deals. We always say, DON'T feel the need to 'upshift' just because it's the festive season.

However we know many do want to push the boat out, so we've managed to blag a posh turkey and meat deal - if you're going to do it anyway, at least it cuts the cost. It's a bundle from Market Porter that feeds 10-12 for £55 (norm £95), incl a 5-6kg free-range, outdoor-bred turkey, sausage meat, chipolatas, bacon & goose fat. There's also a larger turkey deal for £67.50. You can set the date for free delivery from 21-23 December.

On the fifth day of Christmas... (All together now) last ooooorder dates.

Act fast to take advantage of free delivery in time for Christmas when ordering online. Our Last Order Dates blog lists the deadlines for free delivery or click-and-collect for 10 of the biggest retailers. Eg, Sun: M&S, Tesco | Mon: Boots | Tue: Amazon. It also lists the latest possible date for delivery if you're willing to pay.

On the sixth day of Christmas, MoneySavingExpert sent to me... Tricks for free-delivering.

This is a fantastic way to cut the cost of delivery. Normally it's only free if you spend over a certain amount. So check what the minimum spend is & sometimes spending just a tiny bit more can push you above the limit. Eg, we found Sony Bluetooth headphones for £49.95 at John Lewis with delivery £3.50. But add £1 chocolate coins & delivery's free, saving £2.50. With Amazon orders there's a super-saver delivery tool to help.

On the seventh day of Christmas... 7 Boots a-saving.

From Friday, buy the Boots No7 City Lights Collection and you get £140 worth of No7 products for £39. It's normally £80 and contains all the favourites including day & night cream, mascara, lip balm.

On the eighth day of Christmas... Travel cards a-spending.

Yes, we know they're not a gift, but most cards add a 3% exchange fee when you go abroad, which means spending £100 worth of euros costs you £103, plus they may add other charges too. But specialist cards don't add that fee, so you get the same near-perfect rate the banks get on the day the payment's processed. If you're going away, pocket one, only for use abroad, then repay IN FULL each month to minimise interest.

Our top 2 picks are the Creation Everyday card (apply*), which has the best rates overall (12.9% rep APR on spending and cash withdrawal), and Halifax Clarity (eligibility calc / apply*) which is a smidgeon more on cash withdrawals but has better long-term feedback (18.9% rep APR on spending and cash withdrawals). For a full list, go to Top Overseas Cards. Cards can take 1-2 weeks to arrive though, so it'll be touch & go for Christmas itself.

No time to get a card or want cash before you go? Use our TravelMoneyMax comparison tool to find the best rates in seconds.

On the ninth day of Christmas... Gifts for donating.

Instead of spending all your time wandering around looking for that unique present they'll never use, why not donate to charity on someone's behalf? You fund a specific project, and they get a card telling them what you've paid for, eg, 100 polio vaccines for £13 or Xmas dinner for a homeless person for £10. See Top charity gifts.

On the tenth day of Christmas... Your rights for returning.

No one likes to give a gift that ends up faulty, yet if something does go wrong, normally it's the person who bought the gift who has consumer protection. However, if you hand over the gift receipt, or write that it's a gift and who it's for on both receipts (ie, your receipt and the store's), then this transfers rights. See Gift rights.

On the eleventh day of Christmas... Warming pipes a-piping.

If it gets cold over Xmas, and you're staying with the rellies for a couple of days, DON'T turn your heating off, turn it down. Having no heating risks burst pipes and you may even invalidate your insurance. Full help incl the recommended min temp in Leaving your home unoccupied.

On the twelfth day of Christmas, MoneySavingExpert sent to me... Train tips a-travelling.

Heading home to your true love? You can still get cheap advance train tickets, eg, Ldn to Edinburgh single, £49 on Christmas Eve. Even if you don't know your plans yet, never just assume you'll need to buy tickets at the station - some rail firms still let you book cheap advance tickets (if still avail) up to 15mins before the journey. More tips in Cheap Train Tickets.

- Want cheaper? By coach is norm the cheapest way to travel this Christmas. Eg, Ldn to Manc £13.50 rtn (50p booking fee) between Xmas Eve and NYE. You can even double-up Clubcard pts - see all Megabus Deals for more.

PS: We know the 12 days of Christmas in the carol actually refers to the days between Xmas day and 5 Jan, but we hope you enjoyed our version.

 
 
Spread the (MoneySaving) love.

If this email's ever helped you, please forward it to friends and suggest they get it via moneysavingexpert.com/tips.

 
 
 

Get paid £25 to boost your chances of getting a mortgage or credit card

Urgent: Two specialist cards currently pay you to (re)build your credit. Here are three steps to use them to the max


Apply for credit & the lender's aim is to predict your future behaviour based on your past. Those who've failed to repay previously don't do well, nor do those with little borrowing history as they're unpredictable. If that's you, you need to try to build a good recent history by, er, getting credit. Obviously that's not easy - so you need a specialist credit (re)build card. Used wrongly these have hideous interest, but right now, used correctly, two pay you. Here are 3 key steps...

  1. credit cardsCheck how you stand - free Credit Score and Affordability Score. First get a picture of what lenders think of you. Our totally free MSE Credit Club does this. It gives a free Experian Credit Score - but as lenders don't stop there, nor do we.

    It also uniquely gives you your Affordability Score, similar to how lenders assess "can they afford it?", and your Credit Hit Rate, showing how likely you are to be accepted for top deals. Then there are tips on how to improve your specific situation.

  2. Urgent. Apply for one of two cards that PAY you to (re)build your credit. Even if you've a CCJ or defaults, as long as they're over a year old, you should be able to get a credit (re)build card. However, as each application marks your file, we suggest you use our Credit (Re)Build Cards Eligibility Calc to see which are most likely to accept you. If you've joined Credit Club, you can do it via that too.

    Two cards currently pay you. Until Sunday, poor-credit specialist Vanquis's Chrome card (apply*) gives £25 cashback to accepted new cardholders via this link. To get it, you need to spend £50+, then pay (at least the min) on time each month & don't bust your credit limit for 2mths.

    Or the new Barclaycard Initial (apply*) offer gives £20 cashback to accepted new cardholders who use the card at least once. Again, you need to pay (at least the min) on time for 3mths & don't bust your limit. It also comes with 3mths' 0% spending, but if you've poor credit beware using this - it's probably only worth it if you need short-term respite from payday loans or charges for busting your overdraft limit. Even then, read our Barclaycard Initial help for how to do it safely.

  3. How to SAFELY use these cards to improve your credit score. Just put £50-£100/mth of your normal monthly spending on these cards - don't see them as an excuse to spend more. Then ensure you repay the card IN FULL each month to avoid the hideous 24.7% or 34.9% representative APRs, so there's no cost to you. After 6mths to a year or so, if you've managed the card - and all other credit - well, you should see an improvement in your credit score, provided you follow the Golden Rules...

    a) Always pay at least the monthly min on time and keep within your credit limit, else it's a £12 fee & maybe a credit file black mark.
    b) Don't balance-transfer or withdraw cash - that's not usually at the cheap rate.
    c) Still got problems? Consider getting Debt Help. Full help & options, plus possibly more cashback, in Cards For Poor Credit (APR Examples).

 

3,500 left. Lock in cheap energy for TWO winters. Protect against price hikes till Mar 2018, at just a smidgeon more than the cheapest 1yr fix. Dual-fuel only. See what you can save via a Cheap Energy Club full market comparison.


£30 beauty box (worth £146ish) incl Balance Me and Elemis. MSE Blagged. 2,000 avail. Powder beauty box


Get 18 days off work for the price of 9. Cleverly planning your holiday next year means some can get 18 consecutive days off (sorry Martin) by booking just 9. See how to max your 2017 annual leave.


Personalised photo mug £3.50 all-in (norm £10.50). MSE Blagged. Order by Mon for Christmas. Mug on a mug


Ends tonight (Wed). Free European travel insurance with Nationwide. This perk on Nationwide's FlexAccount* is being pulled for new custs. To sneak in, apply by 11.59pm (14 Dec). Then switch your existing account OR pay in £750+/mth for 3mths, and activate the insurance, ensuring you declare medical conditions. To keep the insurance freebie, you must be under 75 (those 75 or over can pay to keep it), pay in £750/mth and tell 'em if your medical condition changes. Only named account holders are covered, though you can pay to upgrade to family (and/or worldwide) cover. Full info in free Nationwide insurance.


Pets at Home £5 off £30 spend. MSE Blagged. It rarely offers vouchers of this pedigree. Pets at Home

 

BLAGGED FOR MSE

- £30 beauty box (worth £146ish), incl Elemis 2,000 avail

- Personalised photo mug £3.50 all-in Ends 31 Dec

- Pets at Home £5 off £30 spend Ends 31 Dec

- £25 Christmas bouquet & personalised card Ends Thu

DID YOU MISS?

- Martin's savings warning

- 'Free' 500 Clubcard pts & more tricks

- £10-£40 West End theatre tix sale incl Les Mis & Wicked

- Paying more than £10/mth for your mobile? STOP

 
 

Martin's Christmas message
It's even more important than a will - do you have a Power of Attorney?

Protect your family and yourself - sort a Power of Attorney this Christmas via a new, far cheaper way


It may seem a strange subject for the festive season. Yet this is a family time. And while presents under the tree are lovely, a Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) protects you & your family from the huge stress, hassle and cost if you were to lose your faculties without one. I'm passionate about this. I'm 44 & have one, but only 14% of people do. So I make no apology for pushing your emotional buttons to make you consider this. Full info in Power of Attorney. In brief...

  • POAIf you lose your faculties, relatives can't just access your money, not even to pay for your care or mortgage. 1 person develops dementia every 3 minutes, others lose capacity through strokes or accidents. It's often quick. And when your family are already having to deal with your condition, without an LPA, the only way to take charge of your finances is via the Court of Protection.

    This can be hell. As Judith tweeted "@MartinSLewis Took 12mths to go via Court of Protection for my mum. Cost £3,000", & Nellyjuke: "12mths, nightmare. Urge people to sort it before it's too late."

    With an LPA you nominate a trusted friend/relative to take control of your assets ONLY if you lose capacity. It's a bit like an insurance policy in case the worst happens. While many do wills, few do LPAs, even though they're likely even more important. Every grown-up with assets, of any age, should consider doing one. Die will-less and you don't choose where your assets go - not good. Yet without an LPA, your assets could be locked down just when they're needed.

  • New. £69.50 Which? Power of Attorney codes. An LPA is a legal document you pay the Government £110 to register (£74 in Scotland). If you've simple circumstances and know what you're doing, you can DIY via an online form. However that's a risk, while the gold-standard solicitor-drafted LPAs cost £500ish.

    A new halfway house is Which?'s legal services - you fill in a questionnaire & the LPA is populated for you, then crucially checked by a paralegal. The standard cost for the financial LPA is £139, but we've just blagged codes to get it half-price. Full info in Which? codes. (You still need to pay Govt registration fees on top.)

  • Sort future medical care & your (living) will too. I've focused on the financial LPA, but you can also set up a Health & Welfare Power of Attorney to give loved ones authority over your treatment, and a living will (officially 'an advance decision'), where you can refuse certain medical treatments if you lose capacity in future. Plus, while you're at it, do consider making a will if you don't have one.

 

Body Shop 40% off code + 'free' £14 body butter. Spend £10 online with the code to get freebie. Body Shop


Google's queue-dodging tool just got better. New LIVE data feature helps beat crowds at bars, restaurants, shops etc by showing when they're rammed... in real time. Queue dodge trick


FREE video message from Santa. Father Xmas sends personalised videos from North Pole via web/app. Santa video


The (morally questionable) way to earn 2.25% on up to £50,000 savings. Would you save at 2.25%?


Full year's 2for1 cinema tix £2ish, incl Star Wars Rogue One. Meerkat Movies trick gets 12mths' Tue/Wed viewings at Odeon, Vue, Cineworld etc. Paying full price is a Wookie error (sorry). Star Wars


£25 Christmas bouquet & personalised card incl delivery (norm £36). MSE Blagged. Other bouquets also avail - 1,000 codes in total. Ends Thu for del next Tue-Thu. Xmas flowers

 

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AT A GLANCE BEST BUYS
 

Cheap winter sports travel insurance £11/week (or £16/year)

Hitting the slopes - or preferably skiing on 'em? Grab decent cover without costs snowballing


If you've booked a winter getaway to go skiing or snowboarding, don't let booking your cover slide. If you don't sort it ASAP and you or a family member falls ill or another setback means you can't jet off, you're not protected. Full info in Cheap Travel Insurance, but here's our (don't) crash course...

  • Travel insuranceWhat does basic winter sports cover? It gives normal travel insurance cover, plus it also usually lets you ski/snowboard and covers lost or damaged gear, cancelled piste passes and medical costs from accidents. It normally excludes off-piste or extreme sports, eg, ski mountaineering, snowmobiling, tobogganing. Specialists BMC & Snowcard do cover these but policies aren't cheap.

  • Jet off more than once a year (even if you only ski once)? Get an annual policy. These cover a full year's holidays and can only cost a few pounds more than a single-trip, eg, 1wk Europe for a 35-yr-old is £11 or £16/yr for multiple trips. For under-65s, Holidaysafe Lite* and Leisure Guard Lite* are usually cheapest - exact prices depend on age, eg, £16 for a 30-yr-old solo traveller in Europe, £93 for a family worldwide incl someone aged 65. Full best buys in Annual policies.

  • Cheapest single-trip under-65 policies with winter sports. Leisure Guard Lite* tends to win, eg, 1wk Europe is £11-£18 for solos (age dependent), up to £57-£90 for families worldwide. Also get quotes from ProtectYourBubble* and Holidaysafe Lite* to compare, as they vary depending on certain combinations of age, location and number of travellers.

  • Over-65s' cover. Prices can soar but we found some decent options, eg, £51/yr incl winter sports for a 67-yr-old in Europe. See Over-65s' Travel Insurance. Related: Pre-Existing Medical Conditions Travel Insurance.

  • Travelling in the EU? Get/renew a FREE EHIC. Every family member needs a VALID free EHIC (European Health Insurance Card) for emergencies. Check now to see if yours is still in date.

 

Warning. British Gas and Npower caught out giving misleading info to switchers. Contrary to their claims, you don't need to pay exit fees if switching 49 days or less from the end of your deal. Exit fees


Ends Sun. 'Free' £6 Amazon code with £40 gift cards. Applies to selected people who haven't bought gift cards in last 2yrs, so check if you're eligible.


SUCCESS OF THE WEEK: (Send us yours on this or any topic)
"Following your email I contacted the Royal National Institute of Blind People for a Santa letter. Just received a parcel with two CDs, a toy and a bag of sweets. I now have one very happy 3-year-old son who is blind and has cerebral palsy. Keep up the good work."


34 New York MoneySaving tips. The Big Apple is a big draw at Christmas. Going? See our NYC trip tips.

 
 

CAMPAIGN OF THE WEEK

Concerned about care home costs? If you or a member of your family has encountered 'hidden' charges, unexpected fee increases, confusing requests for 'top-up' payments or similar, the competition watchdog wants to hear from you. The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) is looking at care homes for the elderly, and this includes poor handling of complaints and unfair contract terms. Find out more and share your experience with the CMA.
 

THIS WEEK'S POLL

Which comedian would make the best PM? Politics is a funny business. So for some festive fun, we've selected 35 comedians for you to choose which would make the best UK Prime Minister.

Click here to VOTE

Only mums and grandmas wouldn't cancel Christmas. Last week we asked, if you had a CANCEL CHRISTMAS button that'd make the whole thing disappear, would you press it? 41% of mums and grandmas wanted to - compared to 57% of everyone else. Bah humbug. Full breakdown in the Cancel Xmas poll results.

 

MONEYSAVING NEWS

- Top story: Chancellor says the retrospective hike in student loans is to help sell them off

- Post Office workers to strike next week - post your parcels ASAP to avoid problems

- Mark Warner Holidays orders its customers to pay currency exchange surcharge for pre-paid bookings

- Supercards temporarily unavailable to new customers - but other travel cards offer comparable rates

- Millions benefitting from fee-free basic bank accounts, but some Lloyds and RBS customers are missing out

- Ryanair rejects jurisdiction of British courts in flight delay compensation case

- Improvements to help rail passengers find cheaper tickets on track for next year

- Homebuyers' understanding of mortgages to be reviewed by the regulator

- Ovo Energy makes charitable payment after missing customer appointments

 
 

MONEY MORAL DILEMMA

Should I say it's your turn to pay for Christmas dinner? For the past few years we've had the family round for Christmas dinner, and paid for most of the food and drink. We've been invited to my sister's this year, but now they suddenly want us all to chip in to a kitty. Should I say something? Enter the Money Moral Maze: Should I say it's your turn to pay for Christmas dinner? | Suggest an MMD | View past MMDs

THE QUICKIES
- Debt-Free Wannabe chat of the week: How do you minimise car servicing costs?
- Competitions thread of the week: Win the ultimate Cornish lifestyle break for two
- Old-style board thread of the week: Secret Santa ideas
- Discussion of the week: Is it normal to pay for a trainee to cut your hair?
 
 

MARTIN'S BLOG

- The (morally questionable) way to earn 2.25% on up to £50,000 savings

DEALS HUNTERS' BLOGS

- Full year's 2for1 cinema tix £2ish, incl Star Wars Rogue One

- Get 18 days off work for the price of 9

- Where to find the cheapest Christmas chocs, incl Heroes, Celebrations & Ferrero Rocher

- Cheapest places to buy this year's 'must-have' toys

 
 

MARTIN'S APPEARANCES (WED 14 DEC ONWARD)

Thu 15 Dec - Good Morning Britain, ITV, Deals of the Week, 7.40am. View previous
Fri 16 Dec - This Morning, ITV, Martin's Quick Deals, from 10.30am. View previous

MSE TEAM APPEARANCES (SUBJECTS TBC)

Wed 14 Dec - Share Radio, 11.20am
Wed 14 Dec - BBC Radio Cumbria, 'Money Talks', from 6pm
Thu 15 Dec - BBC Radio Tees, 10.35am
Fri 16 Dec - BBC South West stations, breakfast
Tue 20 Dec - BBC Radio Cambridgeshire, 2.20pm

 

QUESTION OF THE WEEK

Q: My mum pays no tax, while my dad's basic wage is below £43,000 but is sometimes pushed above this with overtime. Are my parents eligible for the marriage tax allowance? Alan, via Twitter.

Sam McFaulMSE Sam Mc's A: Marriage tax allowance really is a no-brainer if you're married (or in a civil partnership), one of you earns under £11,000, and the other earns between £11,000 and £43,000 (these are the 2016/17 thresholds, though they change every year). If all that applies, you can claim a tax break worth up to £432.

We spoke to HM Revenue & Customs and it confirmed that what counts is how much you earn over the course of a tax year - so as long as your mum earns less than £11,000 in a tax year, and your dad's total income is less than £43,000 for the same tax year, they'd be eligible (assuming of course that they're married).

It doesn't matter if overtime occasionally pushes your dad into the higher-rate tax band, as long as his total income for the tax year doesn't exceed £43,000. If your parents claim for the current year and your dad ends up going over the £43,000 threshold, any underpaid tax would be recovered through a change to his tax code the following year. See Marriage Tax Allowance for more info and how to claim.

Please suggest a question of the week (we can't reply to individual emails).

 

'We are sorry to announce' - ever wondered how many times your train firm apologises?

That's it for this week, but before we go... It seems sorry isn't the hardest word - if you run a train company's Twitter account, that is. The social network's become one of the first points of contact for disgruntled passengers, and now the new sorryfortheinconvenience.co.uk site tells you how often your firm's said sorry - and even how many minutes it's been since the last apology. If only sorry meant they wouldn't do it again...

We hope you save some money,
The MSE team

 
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