15 gold medal MoneySaving successes of 2021 - including £7,000 council tax back, £22,000 competition win, £250 WFH tax claim
As many feel moved by Team GB's recent Olympic success, we hope to inspire you to overcome your financial hurdles and achieve a knockout MoneySaving victory by celebrating 15 of our users' best successes of 2021. Some require you to go the extra mile (for a big reward), others are swimmingly easy. On your marks, get set, go...
This article on the heroes who've made or saved £1,000s via our tips was originally written for our weekly email on Wednesday 11 August. We've updated it with all the latest info on Tuesday 17 August.
1. COUNCIL TAX - 'I reclaimed £7,625 after 28 years in the wrong band and I'll get cheaper bills in future'
Up to 400,000 homes in England and Scotland may be in the wrong council tax band because the original valuations were slapdash. It takes just 10 minutes to check - our Council Tax Bands guide has the full system.
Shaun used it to get a whopper of a reclaim. He emailed us in July: "I found we'd been in the wrong band for 28 years. Followed Martin's advice and two months later got a £6,125 refund and no council tax to pay until next year - saving £1,500 more [effectively £7,625 back]. Plus, we'll be £350/yr better off. Thank you, we're so grateful."
2. WORKING-FROM-HOME TAX BACK - 'I claimed £250'
If you were required to work from home, even for ONE DAY, during the current tax year and during the last tax year, you can claim tax relief for TWO WHOLE YEARS - worth up to £140 a year (depending on tax band). Martin's working-from-home tax back blog tells you how to do it.
David tweeted us only a few weeks ago with the max reclaim possible for a higher-rate taxpayer: "Thanks @MartinSLewis, I just claimed two years. £250 on its way to me off my tax."
3. COMPETITIONS - 'I was in disbelief when I won £22,000'
Forumite MSMD97 posted their massive win in our popular Competitions Time MSE Forum board in January. Click the link for that and similar stories to inspire you.
Here's what MSMD97 told us after we asked them about their huge success: "I won £22,222 from a Magic Radio competition. When I received a call from Emma B, the presenter, I was in disbelief. It was truly an amazing experience, and I am very thankful for people in the MSE Forum informing me of winning amounts every day."
4. BALANCE TRANSFERS - 'I'll save £1,940 in credit card interest after using your eligibility calculator to shift debt to a 0% card'
If you pay interest on credit or store card debt, STOP. With a balance transfer, you get a new card to pay off debt on old cards, so you owe it instead, but at 0% interest. The trickiest part is acceptance, so use our 0% Balance Transfer Eligibility Tool, which shows which top cards you're most likely to be accepted for before applying, and see the top balance transfer deals and help below.
It worked in a big way for Patricia, who emailed us in June: "I used the Eligibility Checker for the list of balance transfer cards and received the Santander no-fee card yesterday. I've already saved the stress of what would have been £1,940 in interest and have 18 months at 0%."
5. FLOG YOUR JUNK - 'I made £2,500 selling empty crisp packs from the 1980s'
Shops do stocktakes... most of us don't. Yet many have £1,000s' worth of items sitting in our homes that we don't use enough to justify keeping. And you might be surprised by what others are willing to pay for, such as the huge sums Karen made from selling old crisp packs. For her full story and tips to flog stuff yourself, read Karen's incredible crisp packet profit story (it's the real McCoy).
The avid MoneySaver told us her incredible tale in May: "I was going to recycle them. But I did a quick check on eBay and saw people were paying quite a bit for them, so I put them up for sale and made £2,500."
6. PERSONAL LOANS - 'I saved £1,870 by switching lenders'
If you're paying off a loan, it's worth checking if you can switch to cut costs, especially with rates from 2.8% which are close to record lows. See our Cut existing loan costs guide for step-by-step help.
Hazel tweeted us in February of her massive saving: "I always have a little think about my finances whilst watching Martin on TV. Tonight I've managed to save £1,869 by switching my loan to a different provider. Winner."
7. CAR INSURANCE - 'I saved almost £1,000 by using the three-week ahead renewal trick and paying it in one go'
Checking for car insurance quotes about three weeks ahead can save you £100s, as can moving from monthly to annual payments. Full switching help in our car insurance cost-cutting system.
Amanda emailed us last month: "I read the tip about checking quotes a few weeks in advance - I got a quote for £600/yr less than my renewal. And I actually saved £960 in total because I can now afford to pay it all in one go rather than monthly. Thank you."
8. CHEAP CINEMAS & MEALS - 'I got a YEAR's 2for1 at cinemas and 1,000s of restaurants for £1'
This is all about manipulating the Meerkat Movies and Meals promo, and Reuben took it to the max by getting it for just £1.
He emailed us last month: "My daughter wanted to go to the cinema... so I bought travel insurance for one day - it cost me £1.01. Instead of paying £18 at the cinema it was just £9, then we went straight to Pizza Hut and saved 50% on the bill."
9. PACKAGED BANK ACCOUNTS - 'I reclaimed £5,000 in fees'
These accounts are where you pay a monthly fee for extras such as travel, mobile and breakdown insurance. We often say they're the Marmite of banking - while they're good value for some, they were mis-sold on a mass scale to others. If you've been a victim, our packaged bank account reclaim tool in conjunction with complaints site Resolver can help.
Mary used it and emailed us about her colossal win last month: "I received just over £5,000 in reclaimed packaged bank fees. In 2001, I was told that due to my large overdraft I needed to upgrade my current account... I was made to feel I didn't have a choice. So I decided to apply through Resolver to see if I could claim any back. Thank you so much."
10. DEBT-FREE - 'I cleared £70,000 of debt in 10 years'
Forumite HappyNow shared their thanks for the support of the friendly folk on the Debt-Free Wannabe board to help clear their debts, joining thousands who've posted similar successes over the years. Also read our Debt Help guide, which takes you through the practical steps if you need more.
Hopefully, that'll all make you as happy as HappyNow, who posted in May of their life-changing success: "Debts at their highest - £69,579 unsecured. Debt-Free Date - 21st March 2021. My diary helped me massively. A million thanks to everyone who has ever posted on the MSE Forum to offer advice, cheer me on, celebrate little victories with me, give me a kick up the bum when needed, and make me laugh - what a resource."
11. CHARGEBACK - 'I got £770 back for a cancelled flight'
Under the scheme, if something goes wrong with goods or services you've bought, your bank will try to get the money back from the supplier's bank for you. See how to initiate a chargeback.
Ben emailed us in January: "As a regular user, I wanted to share my success for a £770 cancelled flight where I was refused my money back. In the end, I received a full refund from the chargeback."
12. HAGGLING - 'I got £610/yr off my TV, phone and broadband bill, plus an upgraded service'
The best savings usually come from switching, but if you don't want to, haggling with your existing provider can help you slash costs - full help and tips in our Service company haggling guide.
Kim emailed us in July after her huge haggle: "Got my bill reduced by £51 per month [£612/yr] PLUS had broadband level increased and got upgraded to Sky Q including Netflix and Sky Sports. Used lots of your haggling hints and tips - thanks."
13. MOBILES - 'I got a new phone and saved £380/yr thanks to your Cheap Mobile Finder'
It's got four powerful tools to help you slash mobile costs: 1) The new phone (& Sim) finder. 2) The right phone at the cheapest price finder. 3) The best phone deal in my budget finder. 4) The Sim-only finder.
Ben tweeted us in March: "Used your tips and managed to upgrade my iPhone, and cut my bill from £71/mth to £39/mth [saving £384/yr] while keeping exactly the same data, minutes and texts. Cheers."
14. WATER BILLS - 'I saved £600/yr by getting a water meter'
As a rule of thumb, if there are more or the same number of bedrooms in your home as there are people, it's worth checking if you'd save with a meter if you're in England or Wales. See our Cheap water guide for full help.
Sharon emailed us in March to celebrate an end to her leaking of cash: "Went ahead with a water meter installation. My direct debit has been revised from £67 to £18 a month - saving almost £600 a year. Thank you - I just wish I'd done it sooner."
15. MARRIAGE TAX ALLOWANCE - 'I got a cheque for £945 within four days'
Around 2.4 million eligible couples miss out on this easy tax break, worth £252 this tax year. You can also backdate by four tax years, meaning you can be due up to £1,220. See our Marriage Tax Allowance guide for who qualifies and how to claim.
Mike emailed us in February: "I never thought I could get the allowance as we were both retired. However, I read up on your site and submitted my claim, and within four days a £945 cheque arrived. A very big thank you."
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