Normally we're about easy, sensible or clever things to stop you wasting cash. Yet today, to channel the Godfather of Soul... let's take it to the bridge now, like a MoneySaving machine (get on up).
The aim is to play, and make or save serious cash. Some take time, some effort, some nous. Even if the whole hog's not for you, be inspired to take a first step - eg, if you don't want to repeatedly switch bank, do it once...
1. BANK TARTS: Repeatedly switch to bag sign-up bonuses and earn £800.
Some banks bribe you with free cash to switch. Naturally we're swamped with questions from canny MoneySavers asking 'how many times can you do it?' and 'will it affect my credit score?'
Well it can be and is done. Read Stephen's story, he "switched six times in two years and made £800" - it includes lots of tips, and he's not alone, tweet me or email if you can beat it. Full run-down in Best Bank Accounts - here are the top payers right now...
- FREE £125 + £5/mth: Until 22 Mar Halifax Reward gives switchers £125 (£100 after), plus £5 per month you're in credit. Min pay-in: £750/mth.
- FREE £100 + No.1 service + £250 0% overdraft + 6% linked savings: First Direct*. Min pay-in: £1,000/mth (£10/mth fee if not).
- FREE £100 M&S gift card + £10/mth: Switch to M&S Bank and even with no min monthly pay-in you get a £100 M&S gift card, £100 0% overdraft & 6% linked savings. Pay in £1,000/mth and it adds £10/mth on the gift card for a year.
What to watch for? If you're going to do multiple switches...
- Some banks boost the free cash, as Halifax is doing right now, and others only launch short term promos - so try to pounce when they do. We update you in this email when that happens.
- Switching bank regularly can impact your creditworthiness, both due to lots of applications on your file, and lack of stability. Done sensibly it's not usually a big deal, but if you've an important need for credit (like a new mortgage deal or debt cost-cutting), don't play this game for 6 months before.
- Normally, you have to use your new bank's 7-day switching service, which'll switch direct debits for you & close your old account. Most require a min monthly pay-in, and many ask you to switch at least two direct debits.
2. WOMBLES: Pick up shoppers' receipts to claim their price match - some make £250/mth.
'Wombling' is picking up supermarket receipts discarded as litter outside stores, then claiming other shoppers' price match refunds. Stephen Auker first told us about his wombling in 2011; now he runs a group for almost 6,000 Wombles: "In Sept 2015, [40 of us] made £7,640 - in Dec 2015 we broke £10,000!" See How to be a Womble.
3. OLD-STYLERS: Tint your hair with cabbage and clean the loo with cola.
Our Old-Style forum board's jam-packed with clever ways to cut household costs, eg, forumite Lauren_1: "Save boiled red cabbage water and rinse your hair with it - it gives a slight tint when the light shines off it."
See our Sneaky ways to save money thread for more. There's also Bust grime on the cheap, eg, why not clean the loo with value cola; use homemade beauty fixes, a full list of all you need, such as conditioning your hair with mayo; and a raft more across the Old Style Thrift forum.
4. STOOZERS: Earn £100s in interest on cash 'lent' at 0%.
This is ONLY for the debt-free financially savvy - if that's not you, skip it. A stoozer is someone who deliberately borrows at 0% to save it at high interest. My own most poetic stooze back in the day was borrowing £1,000s from Egg at 0% to save it with, er, Egg at 7% - joy... And the biggest stooze I've heard of was £80,000+ put in an offset mortgage.
- Step 1: Get a long 0% spending card & do all your normal spending on it. This is how to build up the 'debt'. The top cards are Post Office's 27mths 0%*, or Sainsbury's 25mths 0% as it also gives you Nectar points (both are 18.9% rep APR after). Use our 0% eligibility calc to see what you can get. Then only make min repayments on it.
- Step 2: Save the cash that builds in your bank. As you're spending on your card, your income builds in the bank, so you can save it (always at least match the debt) at high interest, eg, in TSB's Classic Plus at 5% up to £2,000, Club Lloyds 4% for £5k and Santander 123 3% up to £20,000. See full Top Savings info.
- Step 3: Once the 0% ends, do a fee-free balance transfer. Once the 0% ends, you could use the savings to clear the debt, but now there are fee-free balance transfers, why not just move it and keep the stooze going?
How much can you make? Borrow £5,000 at 0%, earning 4% on a 27mth 0% card and when it ends you're £460 up, or you can keep it going.
5. EXTREME COUPONERS: 'I got £105 worth of shopping for £1.62.'
With a bit of work and effort you can get some jaw-dropping reductions. The easy place to start is our 150 coupons worth £140+, then take it up a notch with coupon-blagging, hoarding, storing, sorting and combining for some real Extreme Couponing.
6. FRUGAL FLUSHERS: Use rainwater to flush the loo.
You've heard "if it's yellow let it mellow, if it's brown flush it down", but some water meter users go further, such as collecting rainwater to flush the loo. For full tips see Cut water use, cut water bills.
7. SUPER-SAVERS: Grab 5% on far more savings than they want you to.
Many bank (not savings) accounts pay high interest on smaller savings, but you need to pay in a set monthly amount, eg, £500. Super-savers armed with spreadsheets use a range of standing orders to auto-move money to qualify for the pay-ins, so they can open multiple accounts saving more at high interest.
As Andy Dakin tweeted: "@MartinSLewis 8 current accounts plus 2 add-on monthly savings accounts. Maybe £1,400 this tax year? Runs itself really, so pleased I set it up." We've a step-by-step guide to doing this, see the 5% Savings Loophole.
8. RENT-REDUCERS: Move around vacant property to slash rent by up to 60%.
No, this isn't about squatting (now illegal in residential properties) - the opposite in fact. You can be a 'property guardian' and baby-sit empty properties to keep 'em safe - homes, fire stations, churches, schools and more. You pay limited rent averaging £230/mth (£450/mth in London) though you move when they want you to. Full info in be a property guardian.
9. COMPERS: 'I enter 600 competitions a day and won £50k of prizes.'
Turn entering competitions into a cash-boosting hobby like forumite Holly Smith, who enters around 600 comps per day. She said: "I've won £50,000 worth of prizes in 5 years from entering comps I spot on the MSE comping forum. It gives me a fantastic lifestyle." We've full tips, incl how to form-fill at speed, generate tiebreakers, and chat for cash prizes, in 44 Comping Tips.
10. LUGGAGE-LOADERS: Wear baggage instead of taking a case.
On budget airlines hand-luggage-only is cheaper. So stuff your pockets with socks and pants, or like forumite Bargainbarrett: "My kids never let me forget I made them wear ski clothes, padded trousers & all on the flight."
But to take it to the max, survival vests or jackets with poacher's pockets can fit spare clothes, magazines, towels - even an iPad. Here's me in one. I've also a special coat imported (for TV) from the US which can hold over 20kg of luggage - I've never braved it, more for my back than owt else. Full info in Wear your baggage.
11. DETOURERS: 'A train from Sheffield to Brentwood cost £50... So I flew home via Berlin to save £8.'
Earlier this year, the MSE Coupon Kid Jordon went an extra 1,017 miles to save money, in his blog on where the plane beats the train (though do think of the environment). Or for more straightforward ways to cut the cost, see Cheap Train Tickets and Cheap Flights.
12. SOFA SURFERS: Travel the world staying on sofas for free.
Crash on people's couches for free via a couch-surfing site - the catch is it's a reciprocal deal, so be prepared to have your couch filled too. For the full lowdown and safety info see Couchsurfing tips.
13. HIGH STREET HAGGLERS: Barter £100s off... even at John Lewis.
We all know you can haggle at markets, when abroad and with Sky, the AA and more, but you can also take it to the high street. Our recent poll found 54% of those who tried successfully cut the price at John Lewis - others reported success at M&S, Tesco, PC World & more. See 20 high st haggling tips.
Are you extreme? That's to get you started - now it's your turn... Let us know your Extreme MoneySaving tricks and success.
This article appeared in the weekly email on 9 March 2016.