Oct
28
2020

MoneySavingExpert's Money Tips Email

28 October 2020

THIS WEEK: Over 50 ways to save, incl... 2x Nectar, WFH tax back update, McD’s deals, £18 FAST Virgin b’band, free Xmas £125, Nando’s free deliv, M&S beauty box, Covid support latest

Plus... M&S beauty box, Covid support latest
                                                           
 


 

15 stay-at-home MoneySaving tips - incl up to £124 WHOLE YEAR tax relief if required to work from home just ONE DAY | Nando's free deliv | Slash energy bills | Netflix hacks | Home Halloween help


Here we go again... In large parts of the country many people are once more having to spend extra time sitting on the sofa or kicking their heels in the kitchen due to restrictions on meeting people, going to work, shopping, eating out and more. Plus getting outdoors is trickier than when the pandemic first struck due to colder weather and shorter days.  

So to help we've rounded up our top ways to save whether you're working from home, trying to have fun at home or looking after your mental and physical wellbeing at home. They're worth knowing whether everything's rosy financially, or you're one of millions struggling.

  1. Updated. Required to work from home, even for ONE DAY, since 6 Apr? You can claim tax relief for the WHOLE YEAR. It may sound too good to be true, but as we told you last week, it is true, and is worth £124 for some. This week Martin's added a video explanation to his updated Claim tax back for working from home blog, plus important info for those who do self-assessment, and for couples.

  2. It's back. Free Nando's delivery trick but only till Sun - great if choosing takeaway over going out. You can bag free delivery (norm £2-£4ish) for a few days. For full info on how to do it, flock to our 9 cheapy Nando's hacks.

  3. Save £100s on your energy to combat rising bills. Join the 10,000s who have signed up to our new, free, easy MSE auto-compare-and-switch tool to save £100s EVERY YEAR. As we're at home for longer and with the weather turning, energy bills could quickly soar, so a cheap deal is key.

    To help you save right now and then every year after, we launched MSE Autoswitch last month, and it's great for those who want to stay on a top tariff, without any effort (though not avail in NI, sadly).

    Simply tell it your priorities (eg, price, service, name you know, green, fixed, exit penalties) and it compares and picks YOUR top whole-of-market tariff based on that. Then annually, with just a one-click verification, it autoswitches you to YOUR new top deal, based on those preferences. Have a 2-min play - don't worry, it's totally free, and you're not committed until you confirm.

    Many can save big, such as Diane, who emailed: "Autoswitch is brilliant. I'm 82, and the hassle of trawling through energy firms will end."

  4. Save from the sofa and chill with our 20 Netflix hacks and 23 TV tricks. With many sat in front of the telly for longer, we've updated our Netflix hacks incl a NEW 'pay for 1mth, get 1mth free' deal for newbies. Plus we've 23 more general TV MoneySaving tricks, incl free box sets and when you need a TV licence.

  5. Working from home because of coronavirus? You usually don't need to tell your home insurer. Normally if you work from home - even for office work - you should tell your insurer. But in the current crisis, insurers are taking a relaxed attitude if you've just got a home office. But if you've brought expensive kit or stock home, or you've business visitors, then tell 'em. See full home-working insurance help.

  6. 12 FREE ways to learn a new skill while indoors, eg, play an instrument, gain a qualification or learn a language. If you're spending more time at home, you can use it to gain some impressive know-how. See how to learn skills for free.

  7. Gyms are closed in some areas, and some people don't want to go even when they're open... but you can keep fit for free at home. We've 13 ways to keep fit for free using online/app workouts.

  8. Got more time on your hands? Use it to slash credit or store card interest to 0%. If you pay interest on any existing card, a balance transfer - where you shift debt from one card to another, often at 0% - could be your key weapon. As acceptance is tougher since the pandemic began, use our Balance Transfer Eligibility Calc to see which 0% cards are most likely to accept you, without harming your creditworthiness.

    Cards in there let you shift debt to 0% interest for up to 18mths with no fee, or 28mths 0% with a 3%ish fee. However, those in dire straits should consider a credit card payment holiday instead, with the deadline this Sat.

  9. Had to dump the daily latte? Use it as a MoneySaving lesson for the future. Many people have been forced to give up certain habits such as buying a daily coffee on the way to the office, while others have had to cut back with money being tighter.

    Our Demotivator tool shows how much ditching a £3 daily coffee - or anything else for that matter - will save you in the long run, so you can use it to show savings you've made or for inspiration if you've not yet got into the habit.

  10. Free e-books and audiobooks, eg, Pride & Prejudice and The War of the Worlds. The pandemic has led to a huge rise in reading, so we've 10 ways to get free e-books and audiobooks via Amazon, Google, using library memberships to borrow digital copies and more.

  11. Half-term and Halloween fun at home for kids on a budget, eg, make biscuits with three ingredients and beam a tiger into your living room. While trick or treating is out for many, there's still some spook-tacular free or cheap fun to be had including printable colouring sheets and baking with simple ingredients.

    Plus often it's the little things that make the best childhood memories. So we've more creative ideas to wow kids in our 17 free (or cheap) ways to bring kids joy indoors.

  12. Hairdressers closed or feel uncomfortable going? Our home haircut dos and don'ts. Salons and barbers are currently closed in Wales and NI, and while many are open in other parts of the UK, not everyone is comfortable going.

    Of course, MoneySaving, not grooming, is our forte but to help we've collected fun tips from those who have tried a DIY haircut (or who have done someone else's hair) - plus the pitfalls to avoid so you don't end up looking like Chewbacca. Home haircutting tips

  13. Higher grocery bills? Downshift your supermarket shop by ditching expensive brands. Eating out less and being at home more inevitably means supermarket shops cost more.

    So if you've not done it before, why not attempt our tried and trusted Downshift Challenge to see how much you can cut your grocery bill? Just drop a brand level and you'll usually cut your bill by 30%. Many can't tell the difference or even prefer the cheaper alternative.

  14. How to make your own face mask from spare fabric. Coverings have been mandatory in many public places, such as on public transport and shops, across the UK for weeks and that's unlikely to change soon. MSE Rhiannon shows how to craft them from spare fabric to make your own homemade face masks.

  15. Save £100s on broadband & line while getting a speed boost to boot. With all of us more reliant on broadband for work and entertainment, a fast connection has become even more important.

    Yet millions overpay for their connection, sometimes shelling out £30-45/mth for slow speeds. So use our Broadband Unbundled tool to find the top deals available for your postcode. Plus, we've a full rundown on the current best of the bunch below.
--------------------------------------------------
How much? Sheesh. Are you missing out on £10,000s? 
The Martin Lewis Money Show, 8.30pm Thu, ITV


PS from Martin: "This week's show has a quite staggering result: a woman who, just from watching the show, got a simply enormous amount of money back (I won't ruin it by telling you here), and surprisingly it's all about the state pension. I'll be running through lots of different ways you could be missing out on big money too. As this week it's pre-recorded (as it's half-term) we aren't taking live questions, but you can always tweet suggested questions for next week to @MartinSLewis, but you must use the show's hashtag #MartinLewis. Do watch or set the Betamax."

 
 

DON'T believe the fake 'Martin Lewis' or 'MSE' ads
Lots of scam ads litter social media and even newspaper websites - some of these lie that we or Martin promote Bitcoin, binary trading etc. See Fake ads warning.

 

 
 

Ends Fri. Cheapest EVER Virgin mega-fast broadband & line - '£18/mth'

The secret to ditching rip-offs & saving £100s/yr is to pounce on short-lived promos such as this

There's another set of hot deals for fibre (ie, FAST) broadband - but you need to be quick. The highlight is Virgin relaunching its mega-fast broadband & line deal it sporadically offers, but now it's at an all-time low price, and it even undercuts some slower speeds. But it's only till Fri, and only 52% of homes qualify (check your eligibility via the link below). 

With other cheap speedy deals about too, it's good news at a time when fast connections are important, with many stuck at home. So here are the top deals (fastest first) - only for those who have not been with that firm in the past year. Note: All have at least reasonable service feedback, but with any firm you can come across horror stories. 

Top broadband & line deals for newbies
Links go via our b'band comparison which shows your postcode eligibility (all bar Virgin are avail to 95% of homes)
DEAL EQUIV COST (1) HOW GOOD IS IT?
What most, sadly, pay now
(Eg, on BT, TalkTalk etc's standard 10Mb deals)
£30-45/mth
Terrible. 9m+ are out of contract and could slash costs. Even if you don't want to switch, use prices below to haggle with your provider. 
MSE Blagged
108Mb (mega-fast) fibre b'band & line
£17.95/mth
Cheapest MEGA-FAST b'band & line but only avail to 52% of homes. Apply via our Virgin Media link by 11.59pm Fri, and it's £23.50/mth, plus you get an AUTO £100 bill credit, so there's nothing to pay for 4mths, making it an equiv £17.95/mth over the 18mth contract.
63Mb (very fast) fibre b'band & line
£21.42/mth
Cheapest VERY FAST b'band & line. Apply via this Vodafone link by Sun 8 Nov and it's £23.50/mth, but you can claim a £50 Amazon vch. If you'd spend that anyway, factor it in and the cost is equiv to £21.42/mth over the 2yr contract.
MSE Blagged
35Mb (fast) fibre b'band & line
£17.74/mth
Cheapest FAST b'band & line. Apply via this Shell Energy link by 15 Nov and it's £23.99/mth, plus you get an AUTO £75 bill credit within 3mths. So over the 1yr contract, it's equiv to £17.74/mth.
10Mb (basic) b'band & line
£14.83/mth
Cheapest STANDARD b'band & line. Apply via this Plusnet link by 11.59pm today (Wed) and it's £18.99/mth over the 18mth contract, but you can CLAIM a £75 prepaid Mastercard credit - almost as good as cash. Factor that in and it's equiv to £14.83/mth, and for many, the speed is fine. 
(1) To compare, we use 'equivalent costs' - adding all fixed costs, deducting promo cash or vouchers and averaging over the contract. Yet some firms increase prices in line with inflation annually so they could change (eg, Plusnet says it'll raise them in March).


  • Advertised speeds are more reliable than in past years. Rules have been tightened so now more than 50% of customers must get the advertised speed at peak times. Plus there are other protections in place. See how to check your current speed and 8 speed-boosters.

    - Most firms, incl those above, tell you the estimated max speed you're likely to get before applying.
    - Virgin & Plusnet let you cancel if your speed doesn't match this for 3 days straight and it isn't resolved in 30 days.
    - Vodafone gives a 15% monthly bill discount if it's slow, eg, sub-55Mb for '63Mb' fibre (just test it via its app).

  • Most will not need an engineer to visit when switching. The exceptions are:

    - Some switchers to Virgin (ie, cable) may need a visit. You'll be told before sign-up if you're in the 60% of eligible custs who won't need an engineer at all. If you're in the 40% where an engineer is sent out, they still may only need to visit the local exchange (not your home), but you're not told either way in advance, so note the risk.

    - Switching to anyone but Virgin? If you need a new BT line you'll need an engineer (eg, if ditching Virgin or it's a new home). Most firms require you to have a BT Openreach line, which is the underlying tech for most non-cable broadband that millions already have. If you don't already have one, an engineer may need to come round.

  • Switching often means 2hrs-ish of downtime. You're told the switch time in advance and it's often quick. Occasionally the outage is longer, so consider the risk, but hopefully your mobile data can cover any gap.

 

M&S Xmas beauty box: £116's worth for £20 - incl Ren, This Works & Eyeko. It normally offers a beauty Advent calendar - this year it's doing a box, but only if you spend £30+ on clothing, beauty or homeware. Not just any beauty box

Nectar double-up begins TODAY (Wed) - how it works. It's often the best way to use Nectar points, and what many collectors wait for. You can swap points from today but can only spend them on toys, homeware, electricals etc in a couple of weeks. Double Nectar explainer

FREE £125 in time for Xmas if you switch bank now. A reminder that HSBC newbies can get a free £125 by switching to the HSBC Advance account*, which also gives access to a 2.75% regular saver. The cash comes 30 days after the switch completes as long as you switch - incl 2+ direct debits/standing orders - within 30 days of opening, and pay in a min £1,750/mth (equiv £25,600/yr salary). Or Club Lloyds pays £100 within 10 days of switching if you request a switch by Mon 9 Nov. It comes with a choice of freebies such as cinema tickets, though you must pay in a min £1,500/mth (equiv £21,200/yr) to avoid a £3/mth fee. Full eligibility and other options in Best Bank Accounts.

3x McDonald's deals: 50% off & free hot drink, both for app newbies, £5 off £15 for existing users. Till Sun. Full info in 12 McDonald's Hacks, but please eat responsibly.

Ends Sat. New cheapest iPhone 11 contract we've seen: 64GB handset + 50GB/mth data for £32/mth with NOTHING to pay upfront. MSE Blagged. Last week we told you of the cheapest iPhone 11 deal we'd seen then, but now there's even cheaper, as resellers cut prices after the iPhone 12 launch. EE newbies can get a 64GB iPhone 11* (via this Affordable Mobiles link) with unlimited mins, texts and 50GB/mth data for nothing upfront then £32/mth when using code MSE99. The £768 cost over the 2yr contract is only £180 more than buying the phone outright without a Sim (so the huge data package is essentially just £8ish/mth). More in Cheap iPhones.

 
 

Coronavirus income support schemes shake-up - how revised 'furlough' and self-employment schemes will work from this weekend


If you're paid via the Government's Covid-19 income support schemes, they're about to change significantly. The Job Retention Scheme - often called furlough - officially ends on Sat, to be succeeded on Sun by the less generous Job Support Scheme. This runs for 6mths for employees on the payroll on 23 Sep, and is split into 2 parts depending on whether or not a business must close due to lockdown. Meanwhile, the next period covered by the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme grant starts on Sun. To complicate matters, the Government last week rewrote how they will work - here's the key info:

  • Employed by a business still open? You'll need to work at least 20% of your hours to be eligible for anything under 'Job Support Scheme Open'. This is different from the original furlough scheme, under which you weren't allowed to work at all. Now you must work at least 20% of normal hours (originally 33% before last week's change). If you hit that minimum you'll get 73% of your normal wage, up to a cap (see below) - but the more you work, the more you get. It works like this:

    - Your employer will pay you as normal for hours you work.
    - Your employer pays 5% and the state 62% of your remaining wage, with the state's part capped at £1,542/mth. Then you lose the rest.

    Full info, incl eligibility (which is largely the same as the current furlough scheme), in Job Support Scheme Open.

  • Employed by a business forced to close due to lockdown? Most should get 67% of their wage from the state under 'Job Support Scheme Closed'. This is a new element to help businesses, branches or departments instructed to close, but it won't cover those that choose to close themselves. That 67% is capped at £2,083/mth, while your employer must cover pension and national insurance but it doesn't have to pay any wages. Full info in Job Support Scheme Closed.

  • Self-employed? Under the 3rd Self-Employment Income Support Scheme grant that covers Nov-Jan you get 40% of profits, up to £3,750 for the 3mths. This is less generous than grants 1 and 2, which covered 80% and 70% of profits respectively, although it's double the 20% originally announced for the 3rd grant. Strangely, there's no date yet for when you'll actually be able to apply.

    But there are stricter eligibility criteria and millions are still excluded. Crucially you'll need to declare you have been affected by reduced demand to claim the 3rd grant. This is a significant change - with previous grants there were broader criteria and you could claim for any "adverse impact". More info, incl eligibility and who is excluded, in our Self-Employed Income Support guide.

  • Check what further help's available, incl new support for businesses. There's a raft of other help, incl:

    - Payment hols. Till Sat, you can apply for a 3mth break on many financial products - Martin's payment hols help.
    - New 'tier 2' business grants. Worth up to £2,100/mth to firms in Eng hit by restrictions - business grants help.
    - £500 self-isolation payments. Avail to 4m in Eng on benefits who must self-isolate and can't work - £500 payments.

As always, all the latest coronavirus info is in our constantly updated, in-depth guides on: Employees | Self-employed & limited companiesTravel rights | Finance & bills | Benefits | Lockdown life

 

Martin: 'Big cut in Universal Credit for many self-employed coming on 13 Nov – contact your MP if hit.' Payouts drop substantially in two weeks unless the temporary Covid removal of the 'minimum income floor' is extended. See full explanation in our Universal credit warning.

Struggling to feed your kids this half term? How to find 'free school meals' in restaurants, cafes etc following Marcus Rashford campaign. Many businesses have stepped up to offer free food for some kids in need - see how to find help near you (Eng only).

FREE 1mth WW ('Weight Watchers Reimagined') membership. MSE Blagged. Via cancellable subscription. Incl customised weight-loss plan, free workouts, mindfulness exercises with Headspace, recipes and more. Shedding pounds

'I've been waiting since April to access my Ratesetter cash.' 1,000s are in virtual queues to withdraw their money. Peer-to-peer investments warning

 
 

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AT A GLANCE BEST BUYS

Longest 0%: TSB up to 29mths 0%, 2.95% fee* (19.9% rep APR)
No-fee 0%
: Santander 18mths 0% (check eligibility / apply*) (18.9% rep APR)

Cheapest decent service fix: Utility Point 1yr fix, save £195/yr
Cheapest Big 6: E.on 1yr fix, save £183/yr
Want us to help you pick a tariff and switch you yearly? Try MSE Autoswitch

Savings include £25 MSE cashback if avail. Assumes typical use vs price cap. Links go via Cheap Energy Club.

Get comparison site quotes in this order:

  1. MoneySupermarket*
  2. Confused.com*
  3. Gocompare*
  4. Compare The Market*

Cheapest for £5,000-£7,499: Tesco Bank (check eligibility / apply*), 3.4% rep APR (1-3yrs)
Cheapest for £7.5k-£15k:
 
Cahoot (check eligibility / apply*) or TSB (check eligibility / apply*), 2.8% rep APR

Standard b'band & line rent: Plusnet equiv £14.83/mth
Fibre b'band & line rent: 
Shell Energy equiv £17.74/mth
Superfast fibre b'band & line rent: Virgin Media equiv £17.95/mth

£125 to switch + £3/mth: NatWest Reward
Free £125 for switching: HSBC Advance

 

SUCCESS OF THE WEEK: 
"I phoned the Student Loans Company about student loan overpayments on my husband's behalf. It kindly pointed out that, as well as an overpayment last year, there had been two previous tax year overpayments, and they would be refunding those, meaning £360 back. Delighted."
(Send us yours on this or any topic.)

 

THIS WEEK'S POLL

How often do you use cash? The pandemic has accelerated the decline of cash, with the use of contactless cards soaring and more ATMs shutting every day. So we wanted to check who's still using cash. Are you part of the cashless society?

A typical MoneySaver is married, has a university degree and enjoys Dairy Milk chocolate... See more in our seventh annual MSE census results.

 
 

MONEY MORAL DILEMMA

Should we pay for a fence panel that was supposed to be free? When we returned from a short break, we saw a fence panel between our and our neighbours' property had broken. It was on our side but the neighbours told us they'd sourced one in our absence for free, from someone they work with. When their colleague arrived with the new panel, it didn't fit and he wanted £50 for his efforts. Enter the Money Moral Maze: Should we pay for a 'free' fence panel? | Suggest an MMD | View past MMDs

 

M&S - Xmas beauty box worth £116ish for £20 via £30 spend
McDonald's - 3x deals: 50% off, free drink, £5 off £15
WW ('Weight Watchers Reimagined') - Free month's membership
Nando's - Free delivery trick ends Sun, plus 8 more hacks
FREE or cheap Halloween fun - incl baking, crafts & more

Matalan - From £9.50
Asda - George uniform from £11.50
Sainsbury's - Tu uniform from £12.50
M&S - From £21
John Lewis - From £23

Bobbi Brown - 20% off full-price items, ends Thu
Darkfield - Thriller audio show from your home, 2 tix £9ish
Lidl - Wooden toy event, from Thu
ShopDisney - 20% off full-price online code
Smyths - Half-price toy sale

Best ways to save seeds from your veg garden. Rooting for you
Tips & tricks for a first-time garden owner. Thistle be good
Chance to win a £100 Nordic Outdoor voucher. Glove it

 
 

MARTIN'S APPEARANCES (WED 28 OCT ONWARDS)

Thu 29 Oct - The Martin Lewis Money Show, ITV, 8.30pm
Mon 2 Nov - Ask Martin Lewis, BBC Radio 5 Live, 12.20pm

MSE TEAM APPEARANCES (MOST SUBJECTS TBC)

Wed 28 Oct - BBC Three Counties Radio, The JVS Show, from 11.45am, Eesha Mohindra on work-from-home tax relief
Sun 1 Nov - BBC Radio Bristol, Joe Lemer from 11.30am, Guy Anker on broadband
Mon 2 Nov - BBC Radio Manchester, Drive with Phil Trow, from 2.25pm
Tue 3 Nov
- BBC Radio Cambridgeshire, Mid-morning with Jeremy Sallis, from 12.20pm

 

ROAST POTATOES, YORKSHIRE PUDS AND ROAST LAMB: YOUR SUNDAY STAPLES 

That's all for this week, but before we go... Sunday roasts are a feature of many people's winter weekends, so now the clocks have gone back and the nights are drawing in, we asked our social followers for their must-haves. We kicked it off with Yorkshire puddings, roast potatoes and gravy at the top of the pile, but found many couldn't baa-lieve we had roast lamb languishing at the bottom. Join the debate in our Sunday roast Facebook post.

We hope you save some money, stay safe,
The MSE team