Oct
14
2020

MoneySavingExpert's Money Tips Email

14 October 2020

THIS WEEK: Over 50 ways to save, incl... PayPal users warning, WINTER IS COMING, negative interest rates, Prime Day, 50% off toys, last chance self-employed help, cheap iPhone

Plus... last chance self-employed help, cheap iPhone
                                                           
 


 

WINTER IS COMING...
So here's our 13-point plan to save £100s or £1,000s in time, incl...

Urgent cheap energy | Free flu jabs | £60 full-service breakdown cover | New 'Pick Me A Tariff' energy tool | £5k home improvement grants | Cheap boiler cover | Cheaper to leave heating on all day?


Winter is coming - both literally and figuratively. Days are getting shorter and colder, and the pandemic news is enough to send shivers through us all. While winter doesn't technically start until December, don't dawdle - that's too late to sort things out. Use our checklist NOW:

  1. The Warm Home Discount helpline opened on Monday. This scheme gives those eligible £140 off energy bills. If you were receiving the main element of the pension credit benefit on 5 Jul 2020, you get it automatically (provided your energy supplier is part of the scheme). You should get a letter and if you need assistance or to confirm your details, the helpline's now open. 

    Yet if you're on means-tested benefits such as income support or income-based jobseeker's allowance, you must apply. Not every energy supplier is part of the scheme, so if you're eligible and yours isn't, check out moving to one that is (all the biggies are). See Warm Home Discount help

  2. Free & cheap flu jabs. Demand's understandably high - some pharmacies have stopped offering appointments. Check if you're eligible for a free jab, and if not, where to find one from £8, in free & cheap flu jabs.

  3. ENDS THU. Cheapest big name energy deal, E.on 1yr fix - many can save £200/yr. MSE Blagged. Until 4pm on Thu, there's an E.on 1yr fix direct debit deal (unfortunately not available for existing E.on custs) for dual fuel or elec-only - after the usual £25 MSE dual-fuel cashback it's the cheapest Big 6 deal. And it's only £1/yr more on avg than the market's cheapest, though that's from a small firm.

    And even though the price cap, which lasts 6mths, dropped recently to the equivalent of £1,042/yr, this fix will still save those on typical use an avg £197/yr compared with that. You'll need to have smart meters installed (if possible) if you don't already have 'em.

    The tariff is a blagged deal, so it's only available at this rate via us, so the link goes via our comparison. Or better still, you can switch in a range of different ways...

  4. Unsure which energy firm to switch to? Let us PICK YOU A TARIFF. Many people are put off switching, as they get a long list of results in comparisons, and are unsure who to select. So we've recently launched a tool that does it for you - it's whole of market, and INCLUDES THE E.ON DEAL above, if that's your winner.

    With the Pick Me A Tariff comparison, you tell it who you use now and your preferences, and it uses that to match you to your perfect tariff. Or even better, via the same system, the new MSE Autoswitch picks you a tariff now and every year, as you just get an annual email with details of your new top deal, which you can then switch to with a 1-click verification.

    Do have a play, and there's more info via the links.

  5. Slash the cost of car breakdown cover - £60/yr full service. When cold weather hits, the consequences of breakdown are worse, as you (and the kids) don't want to be stuck when it's freezing or wet. Full info in our Cheap Breakdown Cover guide but here are just a couple of tips:

    - AutoAid full service £59.99/yr. AutoAid* covers any car you and your spouse (or civil/common law partner) drive. Crucially, unlike basic policies, it includes home breakdowns, onward travel if you can't continue your journey and mis-fuelling, plus help if you're stuck in snow, ice, mud or a flood. Similar AA cover is £100+ for couples. More info in our AutoAid review.

    - With AA and RAC, always HAGGLE at renewal. Breakdown firms are among the easiest to haggle with. Some 88% of AA and 85% of RAC customers who tried got lower rates in our most recent poll. Ian emailed: "AA renewal family cover came in at £472 and I ended up at £249 - less than last year. I was reluctant to move to another provider. Well worth ringing up and asking." See Breakdown Cover Haggling.

  6. Free £5,000 to cover home energy-efficiency improvements - but go quick, as there's a strict time limit. The new Green Homes Grant scheme gives homeowners and residential landlords in England up to £5,000 to cover as much as two-thirds of energy improvement costs. Plus, those on some benefits can get 100% of costs, up to £10,000. The scheme is complex and has some problems, but it will lead to big gains for some. However, you need to get on with it. Our full Green Homes Grant guide takes you through all you need to know.

    Some on certain benefits can also get free insulation and boiler grants. However you get it, insulation can cut energy bills by £100s/yr and keep you warm - though it's not right for all.

  7. Is it REALLY cheaper to leave the heating on low all day? Find out the truth behind this and 17 other common energy conundrums (eg, should you paint radiators black?) in Energy Mythbusters.

  8. Slash boiler cover costs by £100s. Don't feel you need to get boiler cover from your energy provider - they're not linked. In fact, in some cases you may not want it at all, as most new boilers are reliable, and self-insuring (putting cash aside each month in case of a problem) can work well.

    Yet if boiler cover is right for you, check you're on the best deal by doing a quick comparison. Our top-pick comparison site is uSwitch* - you can add MoneySupermarket* and Gocompare for a wider spread.

    Even if you don't switch to a new firm, you may then be able to haggle with your existing provider, as Rita did: "Was a loyal customer for over 30yrs - received a renewal quote of £531. A quick check on comparison sites confirmed I could get similar cover for a lot less. Called my existing provider and they revised the renewal quote to £251, a saving of £280." See our Cheap Boiler Cover guide for full help.

  9. FREE winter car check - battery, wipers, windscreen etc. Before any long journey on icy roads, it's a wheely good idea to check your motor is winter-ready. Halfords' winter car check examines battery health, bulbs and wipers etc.

  10. Find where your stop 'male chicken' is. (If we used the correct term, this might go to your spam box). Everyone should know where their stop-thingy (rhymes with lock – the mains water off-switch) is. Winter is a crucial time, as if your pipes freeze and burst, you'll need to turn the water off to prevent huge damage, which can cost thousands to repair. See how to turn your water off.

  11. Over 66 or on benefits? Check if you're due winter cash from the Govt. As well as the Warm Home Discount scheme, there's other help available:

    - Winter fuel payments. If you were born on or before 5 Oct 1954, regardless of income you're eligible for this up-to-£300 one-off payment. If you get certain benefits, eg, pension credit or jobseeker's allowance, and you're over a certain age, you'll usually get it automatically. If not, you may have to claim. Full info in winter fuel payments.

    - Cold weather payments. If you get pension credit or the 'support for mortgage interest' loan, you automatically get £25 for every seven straight days it's zero degrees or below from Nov to Mar. If you're on certain other benefits, eg, universal credit or income support, it depends on your circumstances. See cold weather payments.

  12. Stay toasty with a DIY sausage dog. Some simple draughtproofing can also help beat the cold. Thrifty tips include making a sausage dog draft excluder, lining your curtains with fleece or blocking draughts with a 'Chimney Sheep' - see thrifty heat-saving tips. Plus, on the MSE Forum there's the Winter Prep thread, where MoneySavers share ideas.

  13. Are you forced to choose between heating & eating this winter? It's a disgraceful choice, but sadly many face it. If you do, check if you're eligible for help, via special free advice services.

    - In Eng & Wales, see Simple Energy Advice or call 0800 444 202.
    - In Scot, contact Home Energy Scotland on 0808 808 2282.
    - In NI, contact NI Energy Advice or call 0800 111 4455.

    Also see our Housing & Energy Grants and Debt Help guides.

--------------------------------------------------
Beat the winter financial blues 
The Martin Lewis Money Show LIVE, 8.30pm Thu, ITV


"This week, I'll be carrying on the theme above about winter, with a warm televisual broth to quench the fiscal blues (someone should write that tune) - plus updating you on all this week's consumer need-to-knows. And of course as we're live, you can tweet suggested questions to @MartinSLewis but you must use the show's hashtag #MartinLewis. Do tune in 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.

 

 
 

Could negative interest rates hit UK savers?

The Bank of England is investigating negative interest rates - check your savings now. Locking in to a cheap fix is an easy way to provide certainty

A quick explainer from Martin: "There have been many reports this week of the Bank of England writing to banks to ask if, hypothetically, their tech is prepared for negative interest rates. So unsurprisingly many people have tweeted me to ask if UK savings rates will go negative - where you pay to save, rather than banks paying you. I think mainstream savings going negative is unlikely, but plausible (I explain more in this BBC 5 Live interview on negative interest rates, incl mortgages).

"However, this is yet another signal of the gravitational pull that's seeing savings rates drop rapidly. So if you want to gain some rate certainty, the easy option is to put aside what money you can, and lock it away into a top fixed deal. Rates there aren't high, at just above 1%, but that's still more than most are earning right now. The team have put together current savings best buys below."

Important: As rates are changing rapidly, all product links below go via our Top Savings guide so we can amend there if needed. All accounts have the full UK £85,000 savings safety protection.

  • Lock in to the top fixed savings rates. With fixed rate savings, the rate is, well, fixed... But to get that rate you're agreeing not to take cash out during the term. Here are the top payers: DF Capital 1yr fix 1.18% AER (min £1,000 deposit) | Aldermore 2yr fix 1.15% AER (min £1,000) | UBL 3yr fix 1.4% AER (min £2,000). More options in top fixed savings.

  • Top 'easy-access' savings at 0.96% - but rates are variable, so could drop at any time. Here you can take money out without notice. Yet the top payer has some restrictions: Coventry BS pays 0.96% AER (min £1), but only allows two penalty-free withdrawals a year. For true easy access, West Bromwich BS pays 0.9% AER, incl a fixed 0.3% bonus till 30 Nov 2021, giving some rate certainty in this time (min £1,000). See top easy-access savings for more.

  • Got debts or a mortgage? Overpaying often beats saving. For many, rather than saving, the best thing to do right now is clear debts. With costly debts such as cards or loans, this is a no-brainer - see our Repay debts or save? guide. However, with savings rates so low, many would be better off overpaying their mortgage with savings too. The links have a full explanation and include calculators to play with.

  • Can you UP the interest? Some can earn 50%, so check... 
    - Low income? Get a 50% savings bonus. Check the Help to Save scheme to see if you qualify.
    - First-time buyer? Get a 25% boost on savings via a Lifetime ISA.
    - Saving monthly? Get up to 3% interest. See Regular Savings.
    - Pay tax on savings? See if a cash ISA is more suitable.
    - Saving smaller amounts? Earn 2.02% on up to £1,000. See interest-paying current accounts.
    - Not sure how much to put away? An array of autosaving apps can decide for you.
 

Warning: PayPal to charge a £12 'inactivity fee' - how to avoid it. Starts in Dec. See full PayPal fee warning.

FREE £125 in time for Christmas if you switch bank now. HSBC newbies can get a free £125 by switching to its Advance account*. The cash comes 30 days after the switch completes, which means if you do it now you get it a month before Christmas. To qualify, you need to switch - incl 2+ direct debits/standing orders - within 30 days. You must pay in a min £1,750/mth - effectively this is its way of saying you need to earn equiv to a min £25,600/yr, or have that in household income if it's a joint account. We'll do a full round-up next week, or check out our Best Bank Accounts guide for full HSBC eligibility and more options.

Amazon Prime Day: £19 Echo Dot, 20% off Amazon Warehouse and more. We're midway through Amazon's two-day discount promo. One highlight is the cheapest-ever Echo Dot. It's also offering 20% off Amazon Warehouse, the hidden part of its site selling returned/mildly damaged products, so you may be able to find even bigger reductions. See the deals and duds in our Prime Day analysis.

50% off toys at Morrisons (and Sainsbury's rumoured too), incl Lego, Playmobil and more. If you're planning to put away a few gifts for the 'ickle ones before Christmas, now's a good time and it helps spread the cost. Toy sales

Debt threats VICTORY - Govt agrees to end distressing default letters. A campaign by Martin's charity the Money & Mental Health Policy Institute has succeeded in getting the Govt to change the law to stop forcing firms to send threatening debt letters. This should help reduce the 100,000 who try to take their own lives each year due to debt.

 
 

Martin: Urgent Covid SELF-EMPLOYED & EMPLOYMENT news... plus what the Chancellor's finance plans reveal about life going forward

For months the Chancellor was plain - furlough won't be extended when it ends on 31 Oct. Then on Friday he announced something that looks like furlough, smells like furlough, but, apparently, isn't furlough. The new furlough Job Support Scheme extension will see the state pay salaries for workers who can't work due to local or national lockdowns. Below I explain it and urgent info for the self-employed too.

As always, all the latest info is in our constantly updated, in-depth Covid guides on... Travel rightsEmployees | Self-employed & ltd co | Finance & bills | Benefits | Lockdown life 

  • ENDS MON: The 2nd Self-Employment Income Support Scheme grant - DON'T assume you don't qualify. The deadline to apply for the 2nd SEISS grant is this Mon (19 Oct). It's a non-repayable, taxable grant, worth up to £6,570, made up of 3mths' worth (of 70%) of average trading profits. HM Revenue & Customs should've contacted those who are eligible, but many may be put off applying, as you need to declare an adverse impact due to Covid since 14 Jul. Yet don't panic, as that could just be, say, a reduction in trade, staff illness or extra PPE costs. Our What counts as 'my business is affected by Covid'? guide walks you through it.

    A 3rd and 4th grant are due, though we've only details of the 3rd, which is for far less, just 20% (not 70%) of profits, and it looks like there is no boost available to this to make it equivalent to the new furlough-ish scheme (below). Full info in new self-employment grants.

  • New. Job Support Scheme EXTENDED - state pays 2/3 of salary if businesses are forced to close. Two weeks ago the Chancellor launched the 6mth-long Job Support Scheme, set to replace furlough from 1 Nov. It gives state support for those in "viable" (his word) jobs, who can work some but not all of their hours.

    This was extended on Friday for businesses forced to shut their doors because of local or national lockdowns, eg, pubs, restaurants (incl for waiting staff at restaurants that become takeaways). The state will cover 2/3 (67%) of an employee's wage, up to a max £2,100/mth. Employers are only responsible for any national insurance and pension payments needed. Full info on what we know so far is in Job Support Scheme help, but we await Govt responses to lots of our questions, eg, "How does it work for those on zero-hours contracts?", which we'll add when we hear.

  • Want to know how the Govt expects coronavirus to progress? Follow the finance. A final thought. In March, many hoped things would improve in weeks. Yet what was telling was that the initial financial support measures were set to run at least to the end of May. Now support schemes are set to last until next March and the new 'furlough-ish' measure is deliberately flexible, allowing firms to move in and out of it. That seems to be a signal that it expects some individual areas to move up and down the lockdown levels more than once over that time.
 

Get £40 cashback for investing £400. MSE Blagged. If you plan to 'robo-invest' - where investments are selected for you based on your attitude to risk - then after fees, this Wealthify deal is equiv to a 9.5% head start, though you'll need to keep the investment for a MIN 6-7mths. (The fact we've included it here doesn't mean we recommend Wealthify, as we don't do investment tips - it's just if you're going to use Wealthify anyway you can get cashback.) 1,000 avail. Robo-investing cashback

Save money with beauty lookalikes, eg, Anastasia Beverly Hills eyeshadow palette £46 vs Aldi's own-brand £6, saving 87%. Many stores sell own-brand items that mimic designer brands - often called 'dupes'. See what you could swap to save in our Beauty Downshift Challenge.

Ends Tue. 6% boost on Tesco shopping via its 'Christmas savings' scheme. Pay in £25-£360 by Tue and in Nov you'll get it back with an up to 6% bonus on top, as Tesco vchs. You don't get savings protection though. Full info on how it works, plus similar schemes at Asda, Co-op, Iceland and Morrisons, in Supermarket Christmas Boost.

Ends 11.59pm Thu. 64GB iPhone SE with 4GB data - NOWT to pay upfront. MSE Blagged. With the iPhone 12 launching, now's a good time for deals on older models. EE newbies can get the iPhone SE with 64GB storage* (via this link from Fonehouse) with unltd mins, texts and 4GB/mth of data for £21/mth. That works out as £504 over the 2yr contract, £146 less than the cheapest deal direct which has less data (though the monthly cost will rise a few quid from March as EE's announced price rises for next year). More in Cheap iPhones and Samsungs.

80% off a month's supply of 'tailored' dog food (eg, just £5 for £25 worth). MSE Blagged. Put in info about your pooch (eg, breed, age, dietary needs) and Tails.com creates a recipe for your furry friend. Newbies only. Tails doggy deal

 
 

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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)

Market's cheapest: Utility Point 1yr fix, save £198/yr
Cheapest Big 6: E.on 1yr fix, save £197/yr
Want us to help you pick a tariff and switch you yearly? Try MSE Autoswitch

Savings incl £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*), both 2.8% rep APR

Standard b'band & line rent: Shell Energy equiv £15.83/mth
Fibre b'band & line rent: 
Shell Energy equiv £17.74/mth
Superfast fibre b'band only (no line): Virgin Media equiv £21.23/mth

Free £125 for switching: HSBC Advance
£100 to switch + £3/mth: 
RBS Reward

 

Kam made massive savings, £500, SWITCHING to multicar insurance.
Peter made massive savings, £880, DITCHING multicar insurance

Only one way to settle this... FIGGGHHT (or more prosaically, read on, where we take you through it)

A multicar policy is one that covers, er, multiple cars at the same address. It's pointless for some, a big winner for others. As these two show... Peter emailed: "Multicar insurer wanted £1,600 for three cars. We shopped around - total with three separate policies, including my son's car, is £720." Yet Kam told us the opposite on Facebook: "I saved £500 by sticking both my and my wife's car on a multicar policy." So should you split up or get together? We're afraid the only way to find out is with a bit of online elbow grease:

  • Our handy multicar rule of thumb. Much of the issue here is about renewal quotes pushing up the cost. So the rule of thumb is simple: if you're on a multicar policy, check separate policies to see if you can save; if you're on separate, check multicar. And as we explain below, this works even if your cars have different renewal dates.

  • Top multicar options (incl £90 John Lewis voucher). Comparison sites only compare premiums for one car at a time - they don't give multicar policies, so you'll need to check these manually. The three specialist multicar options are Admiral MultiCar*, Aviva* and LV*. For LV, if you go via this link, you can claim a £90 John Lewis or Love2Shop vch (sent via email within 120 days).

    If you have different renewals, these three let you set up a policy at your 1st car's renewal, while the other car(s) stay with their existing insurer until their renewal. See multicar split renewals for how to do it. If the savings are large, it can be worth multicar-insuring all your cars straightaway - see switching not at renewal for how.

    Other insurers keep policies separate, but give discounts if you insure multiple cars with them. These include More Than* (15% off), Axa* (up to 15%), Esure* (10%), Privilege (varies) and Sheilas' Wheels* (10%). Meanwhile Direct Line* and Churchill offer multi-policy discounts - ie, if you already have home insurance, you get a discount on your new car policy (and vice versa). This is all about trial and error though.

  • ... and ALWAYS compare against cheapest standalone (ie, separate) policies. Just use a comparison site for each vehicle. We usually say to use as many comparison sites as you can, but here, use MoneySupermarket* as a starter. If it's cheaper than, or getting close to, the multicar premium, then try Confused.com*, Gocompare* and Compare The Market* in that order to find the very cheapest prices. (Why? See comparison order.) If MoneySupermarket's results are a lot more expensive, then it's unlikely to be worth checking the others. Plus, if you've more time, check our list of hot deals comparison sites miss.

For further help and many more cost-cutting tricks, see our Cheap Car Insurance and Under-25s' Car Insurance guides.LV*

 

Tesco Clubcard warning - you've only until Jan to swap points for Avios. Full info in Tesco Avios news.

SUCCESS OF THE WEEK:
"Used your BT haggling techniques and slashed my phone, TV and broadband bill. I was charged £86/mth, but after threatening to switch got the same package for £36/mth, saving £50/mth."
(Send us yours on this or any topic.)

 

CAMPAIGN OF THE WEEK

Help stop dangerous loan sharks. Government body the England Illegal Money Lending Team says it's recently seen more people turn to loan sharks, as a result of the pandemic. To fight back, it's launched an app (available for iOS and Android) that makes it easier to report illegal lenders - and to find help if you've fallen victim to one. It also has tips on how to spot a loan shark and a tool to find alternative legitimate lenders. See full info on the Stop Loan Sharks app, or how to report loan sharks in Scot, Wal & NI.

 

THIS WEEK'S POLL

Do you just head to Amazon when you shop online? Retail giant Amazon reportedly accounted for nearly a third of all online spending in the UK last year, suggesting it's the first port of call for many. So tell us - do you compare prices when shopping online, or head to Amazon out of habit?

When it comes to customer services, MoneySavers say it's still good to talk. Last week, we asked how you prefer to contact customer services - over 6,000 of you responded. Despite many firms' call centres having been swamped recently, phone was the most popular contact method overall, with 42% of the vote, while 33% preferred live chat and 23% email. Younger MoneySavers were keener on live chat though - 58% of under-35s said it was their first choice, compared with 23% of over-50s. See full customer service poll results.

 
 

MONEY MORAL DILEMMA

Should I share my 'free' £50 voucher with my partner? My partner and I are moving house. I look after our household bills to ensure we're always on the best deal, as my partner doesn't have a clue, though we split the costs equally. I've sorted the broadband for our new place - it's the same speed but cheaper, and includes a 'free' £50 voucher. Part of me wants to keep this to myself as I arranged the deal - part of me thinks that would be unfair. Enter the Money Moral Maze: Should I share my voucher? | Suggest an MMD | View past MMDs

 

Amazon Prime Day - Is it any good? Plus 20% off its Warehouse
Toy sales - Incl up to 50% off at Morrisons and Sainsbury's rumour
Beauty dupes - Can £6 Aldi eyeshadow replicate a £46 one?
Tails.com - 80% off a one-month supply of 'tailored' dog food
Fonehouse - 64GB iPhone SE, 4GB data £21/mth, ends Thu

Asda - £7 pizza, side and drink meal deal
Co-op - £5 pizza and beer meal deal
Iceland - £5 off a £40 online spend for students
Papa John's - 40% off a £25 spend, ends Sun
Vodafone - Free £2 Costa Coffee muffin via VeryMe app

eBay - 'Up to 70% off' fashion outlets
Glasses Direct - Varifocal glasses from £49
Ikea - £10 off £75 voucher for students, ends Sun
John Lewis - £100 e-gift card with big electrical purchase
Oxford University Press - 25% off university textbooks

Easy methods for making ginger cordial at home. Fire up
Homemade liqueur ideas for Christmas gifts. Not quite a wrap
Chance to win a Beeswax Wrap Co. bundle. Busy bees

 
 

MARTIN'S APPEARANCES (WED 14 OCT ONWARDS)

Thu 15 Oct - This Morning, phone-in, ITV, 10.55am
Thu 15 Oct - The Martin Lewis Money Show, ITV, 8.30pm
Mon 19 Oct - Ask Martin Lewis, BBC Radio 5 Live, 12.20pm. Listen again

MSE TEAM APPEARANCES (SUBJECTS TBC)

Mon 19 Oct - BBC Radio Manchester, Drive with Phil Trow, from 2.25pm
Tue 20 Oct
 
- BBC Radio Cambridgeshire, Mid-morning with Jeremy Sallis, from 12.25pm

 

WHAT'S IN YOUR ULTIMATE MONEYSAVING FRY-UP? 

That's all for this week, but before we go... we recently asked about burger toppings - now we've challenged MoneySavers to build the perfect full English breakfast. There's a strict £6 limit (we had to keep it MoneySaving, of course), so what will you order from the MSE cafe? So far the 50p black pudding's been a surprise hit, while many reckon the £1 beans are overpriced - and egg-cellent work from the MoneySavers who tried to haggle down the price of items. Check out the menu on our MSE Greasy Spoon Facebook post and let us know what you're having... 

We hope you save some money,
The MSE team