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Weekly Email
This email was sent
03rd Dec 2014
Warning! This info may be out of date. Read this week's email

Quick message from Martin - Get this emailed

"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."

03 December 2014

This week

Energy price CUTS - save £220/yr
The top 5 smell-alike perfumes
RAC £16/year: breakdown deals
Send money overseas for £1
£8 photo personalised mug for £3
Ends Fri: free £125 bank switch
12-bottle Virgin wine case £56
Travelodge 30% off code
Free £7 box of Xmas cards (via O2)
£125 beauty products for £25 via discounted advent calendars
1,000+ Kurt Geiger shoe styles £29
ALL Sainsbury's Tu clothing 25% off
3 posh home dinners £25 off code
Free New Covent Garden Soup trick
Burt's Bees £29 beauty bags
Heads up: £10 West End theatre tix
Ski/snow travel insurance £20/yr
£45 Ted Baker gift set for £22
Earn £15 M&S vch doing surveys
'Water meter has saved us £300/yr'
£5 cashback at thousands of local shops for Amex cardholders
Codes: Argos £5 off £50, Figleaves 25% off, F&F clothes £10 off £50
Christmas Deals Predictor successes
Vouchers Index: Restaurants / Shopping
Best Buys: 0% cards | Car insurance
Best Buys: Gas & Elec | Bank Accs

MARTIN'S QUICK BRIEFING: For more tips, alerts & awful puns, follow Martin on Twitter

HALVE your mobile bill?
If you pay more than £15 a month, it's likely you're wasting cash

What was your last mobile bill? For a real perspective, multiply it by 12 to get your annual spend. Our November poll was eye-opening; a whopping 72% on contracts paid £15/mth+ at an average c.£27/mth cost (£330 a year).

While mobile charges have dropped over the years, as they've morphed from simple phones to personal pocket computers that many use for everything, costs are still large. Yet our 30+ Mobile Tips guide can slash them incl...

1. If you pay more than £15/mth, ask why? Select Virgin Mobile* 12mth Sim-only contract with unlimited minutes, unlimited texts and a big 3GB of 3G data for £15/mth. So let's use this as our benchmark highest price (more options in point 3) as it should meet the needs of all but the heaviest data users. Of course, there may be some valid reasons for paying more...

- Your current contract includes the cost of a handset.
- You pay extra for 4G (where the benchmark is £18/mth, see point 4).
- You have a low credit score so can't get a contract.
- You're paying more for a really hefty data allowance.

Yet even if you've got one of these excuses, many can still cut costs...
2. Find the right contract - free matchmaking tool. With contracts, the aim's to perfectly match inclusive minutes, texts & data to your usage. Underuse tends to mean you're overpaying on the monthly fee. Overuse usually means you're paying too much for extra minutes/texts/data.

- Bill analysis: Allow BillMonitor* to log into your online mobile statement. It then analyses your past three bills to show cheaper options.

- Quick Comparison:
If you know what you want, to scan available tariffs, incl contract & Pay As You Go (PAYG), use MoneySup's* mobile comparison.

- Discounted Deals: Many resellers (eg, Carphone Warehouse) offer slightly cheaper versions of networks deals, MobilePhoneChecker* compares these.

Before you sign up to any deals use our 'Before you buy' checklist.
3. Cheap Mobiles Top Sim-only deals - if you don't need a new handset. A Sim card is the little rectangular chip you put in the back of a phone that gives it its identity. If you're happy with your handset, the best deals often come from switching Sim.

You can only do this if your handset isn't locked to one network's Sims. If it is, and the new Sim is on another network, see our Mobile Unlocking guide - you can usually unlock for free or under £20.

- Top all round contract: Virgin Mobile* (piggybacks on EE) has a Sim-only 12-month contract with unltd mins, unltd texts and 3GB of 3G data for £15/mth, which should be enough for all but the heaviest users (£20/mth on a 30-day rolling contract). You'll need to pass its credit check.

- Cheap rolling deal - no contract so you're not credit scored: Giffgaff* PAYG (piggybacks on O2) offers a range of Sim-only, month-long 'goody bags'. Eg, £18/mth gets you 2,000 mins, unltd texts & 3G data, or £7.50/mth gets 200 mins, unltd texts & 250MB. There's no credit score so anyone can get it.

- Top 'all you can eat' contract for really heavy users: If you really must have unlimited everything, Three* (with 4G) is £25/mth on a year's contract (£28/mth on 30 day rolling) or Virgin Media* existing customers get the same (with 3G) for £20/mth on a 30 day rolling contract, but it slows your download speed if you go over 3.5GB.
4. The top 4G deals. 4G is faster mobile broadband. Networks claim it's 5x faster than 3G, regulator Ofcom says it's more like twice as fast - it varies by the minute and place. You need a handset that's capable of getting it (many launched in the last two years can) and of course it costs more and means you'll likely need more data.

Again, Giffgaff* comes trumps here again, offering new custs a £18/mth bundle with 1,000 mins, unltd texts and 5GB of 4G data, or for £15/mth 500 mins, unltd texts and 3GB of 4G data.
5. It's oft cheaper to get a 34% APR loan than a handset on contract. Many people get a contract as they can't pay for flash new handsets such as the iPhone 6 or Samsung S5 upfront. Yet this is usually far more expensive than just buying the handset and getting a separate cheap Sim-only deal.

We've calculated in some cases it'd be cheaper to buy the handset direct with a 34% APR 2-year loan (typical contract length) than to take a contract. Of course, I'm not suggesting you do that. It's far better to save up for it.

Yet as a contract is a loan (they credit score you), then a cheaper alternative is to buy it on the longest 0% credit card, Halifax’s 20mth 0%* - which, done right, is free. Always ensure you meet the minimum repayments and clear it before the 0% ends or it jumps to 18.9% representative APR. Use our 0% eligibility calc to see which cards will most likely accept you.

To compare this to the cheapest contracts see our Cheap iPhone and Cheap Samsung comparison tools and top picks.

Christmas perfume

Watch Martin haggle down Mrs MSE's (then just the MSF's) contract.
Don't want to switch? Haggle, haggle and er, haggle. If you're near or beyond your contract's end you're wielding a powerful weapon... loyalty.

Tell them you want to stay, but the deal isn't good enough, then ask what can they do. If it's still not good enough ask to speak to 'disconnections', which internally is often called 'retentions' as its job is to keep you. It has far more discretion to give stronger deals. See how to haggle Mobile Bills down.

Success rates from those who tried to haggle with the major networks are Virgin 73%, EE 67%, Vodafone 65%, Tesco 62%, O2 58%, & Three 56%.

Janey on Twitter said: ‘I told Vodafone I could get deal with Tesco for half its price. It matched it. I had to push, it came down in stages from £21 to £10.44/mth. I got a free Nokia Lumia 625, unltd texts & mins & 250MB data.’
7. Can't switch network as it's the only one with a good signal? Find a cheap piggyback. If you live somewhere with rubbish phone signal and you can only get coverage on one or two networks, fear not - using a 'piggyback' deal allows you to cut your bills without your signal dropping.

There are only actually four UK networks: EE, Vodafone, Three and O2. All the others are piggybacks - they buy space from one of these four. Eg...

Tesco is on O2 | Giffgaff is O2 | Asda is EE | TalkMobile is Vodafone

So if you're stuck with a network, see our full mobile piggyback guide & list to see which you can move to (there are 30+ virtual networks), paying less with the same signal.
8. Is your credit score holding you back? Top Pay As You Go Sims. Apply for a mobile contract, even Sim-only, and most providers credit score you. If it's poor, you could be rejected. Try boosting your credit score - if not, here are the top options. They're also good for getting mobiles for teens.

- Our top pick for those with low credit scores: Unlike many other providers, Giffgaff* DOESN'T credit check you, so you can get its 30-day, month-long PAYG goody bags, eg, £15/mth for 500 mins, unltd texts and 5GB data.

- Alternative top PAYG pick: Three's* PAYG Sim costs 3p/min for calls, 2p/text and 1p/MB for mobile data (first 150MB after each top-up is free), if you top up £10. Credit remains valid for 6 months.
9. Use wi-fi when you can - find FREE hotspots. Smartphones have two ways of connecting to the web or downloading data. They can go through the phone signal, usually 3G or 4G, in which case you use up your data allowance; or the local wi-fi internet signal, in which case you don't.

Even if you've 4G, a decent home wi-fi signal will usually be faster and more reliable. If you're out, from Starbucks to Strada to McDonald's, 1,000s of cafes and stores offer free wi-fi. See Mobile Hotspots.
10. Insure the whole family's smartphones for £10/mth. Our full Cheap Mobile Insurance guide has the best deals and also checks whether you really need it and what type would suit you best. In a nutshell...

Best buy deals. All cover accident, loss, theft & have at least OK feedback, some of these deals include discounts via codes you'll see when you click:

- Any iPhone (incl 6/6 Plus).
Insurance2Go* £65/yr. Excess: £50-£75.
- Any Samsung. Insurance2Go* £57/yr. Excess: £25-£50.
- Other smartphones. Insurance2Go* £60/yr. Excess: £25-£50.
- Thick (non-smart) phones. Gadget Cover* is £27/yr or £16/yr for damage or theft only (not lost phones). You're covered up to £150. Excess: £25.

Cover ALL family smartphones for £10/mth. Or switch to Nationwide's FlexPlus* account which costs £10/mth (£120/yr) and covers all mobiles of family members in your home up to £1,000/phone (kids max age 19, or 22 if in full-time education). It also gives worldwide family travel insurance and European breakdown cover. Full info: Packaged Bank Accounts.

More info: 30+ cheap mobiles tips Related: To flog your old handset, use our Mobile Selling comparison | Cheap Mobile Roaming | Cheap Data Roaming

PS. ITV1 The Martin Lewis Money Show Fri 8pm. Thanks so much to all 3.5m of you who watched last week, proving finance has a place on prime time telly. This week: are you owed £100s from your old energy supplier?; I'll slash Zara costs (Mrs MSE makes guest appearance); energy switching Q&A and Dame Right is back.

Blagged for MoneySavers

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Get constantly cheap energy
Our club ensures you're always on the cheapest tariff.
Join free: Cheap Energy Club
Reclaim PPI for FREE
Claims handlers aren't more successful.
Free help & templates: Reclaim PPI

MSE News

Top story: Advertising watchdog to consider pre-watershed ban on payday loans
Payday loan broker crackdown
Ofgem dishes out £39m in fines over carbon emissions failures
Up to 1.5 million prepaid gas customers overcharged
'Online banking has transformed the way people manage money'
Be a MoneySaving friend, pass this on
If this email's ever helped you, please forward it to friends and suggest they get it via
Use the Money Mantras If you're skint If you're not skint
The Ones Not To Miss Wed 3 Dec 2014
Energy price CUTS (save £220/yr) - but only for the savvy
There's a cheap deals price war, just for switchers. It takes 5 minutes, so do it NOW to beat horrid winter bills

There's fierce competition out there - five providers now offer cheaper tariffs than the cheapest avail three months ago. Low oil prices mean wholesale costs have dropped, yet we're unlikely (no promises) to see standard tariffs of the Big 6 firms cut - and 92% of the UK are on those. If you are, use our easy, free Cheap Energy Club to compare & switch now.

Top picks based on typical usage - varies by region
Find YOUR actual price & full info via a top fix comparison
Avg standard tariff based on all payment methods (1) £1,330
Avg 'Big 6' standard tariff paying by direct debit £1,180
  Fixed until Exit fee Cost/yr
Cheapest short fix: New firm so no cust service feedback
Extra Energy 31 Dec 15 £25/fuel £958
Cheap short fix: TOP cust service (82% rate it great)
Ovo Energy* 12 mths £30/fuel £973
Cheapest TWO winter fix and NO exit fees (48% great)
EDF Price Promise* 30 Apr 16 None £1,040
Cheapest LONG fix; price certainty for 4 winters (48% great)
EDF Price Freeeeze* 28 Feb 18 None £1,170
Source: MoneySupermarket. All monthly direct debit, dual fuel, unless stated. (1) According to Ofgem.
  • Compare, switch and save (& get £30 cashback). Switch and it's the same pipes, gas, meter & safety; only customer service and price change. Your cheapest deal depends on usage and where you live.

    All the top deals are fixes - meaning they can't raise rates for a set time. To see if and how much you can save, plug your details into our Cheap Energy Club Top Pick Fixes Comparison which incl full tariff pros & cons.

    - All these fixes are available for dual fuel or elec-only.
    - Pay by monthly direct debit (DD) for lowest price.
    - Give regular meter readings to keep DDs accurate.
    - If you're in credit when you switch, ask for it back.
    - Switch via Cheap Energy Club and you usually get £30 dual fuel (£15 single) extra cashback and we'll alert you to switch again when your new tariff's no longer cheap. More help & cashback options: Cheap Gas & Elec.
  • Not sure how to find your current tariff? Energy statements can be confusing, see Energy Bills Explained.
  • Rate your current provider. Please vote in our Is your energy company's service any good? poll.

£8 personalised photo mug £1 code (+£2 p&p) MSE Blagged. £3 all-in. Great for Xmas. Ends Mon. Photo Deals

Ends Fri. FREE £125 (poss in time for Xmas) for switching to no.1 bank. First Direct* will give accepted switchers a £125 bonus via this specific link till Fri. It drops to £100 after. Any good? It's won every bank customer service poll we've done, 92% rate it great, and gives a £250 0% overdraft and linked 6% regular savings. When will it pay? After the 7-day switching process, you must pay in £1,000/mth (for most this just means a salary of £13,300) or there's a fee. That payment also triggers the bonus, which can take up to 28 days. Full info/alternatives: Best Bank Accounts.

Virgin Wines 12-bottle case £56 (norm £113). MSE Blagged. Newbies only. 5 whites, 6 reds & 1 x Cava. £56 if you sign up to a subscription (which you can cancel) or 10 bottles for £58 subscription-free. Virgin Wines. Be Drinkaware

Ends Thur. Travelodge 30% off code for weekend 'flexi-rooms' (incl Valentine's). MSE Blagged. It often has £19 'saver' rooms, yet popular places (eg, London's Covent Garden) have little or none avail. We've blagged a 30% off code for refundable flexible rate rooms at 450+ UK hotels. Stay 2 Jan-15 Feb (Fri-Sun only). Some exclusions. Travelodge

The top 5 smell-alike perfumes
Don't pay through the nose. We've sniffed out 20 cheap perfume tips, and rated five leading smell-alikes

It's said more perfume's bought on Christmas Eve than the whole of August. So be honest with yourself - if you'll end up buying smellies anyway, do it now, as it's usually cheaper. See our 20 Cheap Perfume Tricks guide, here's a taster smeller...

  • Christmas perfumeTop 5 smell-alikes. Big retailers incl Lidl, M&S and Next sell perfumes which, while very much not copies (how dare you even think it) do, er, tend to smell similar, with similar packaging and names to high-end brands. They're a bit like own-brands.

    We held a (non-scientific) blind smell test with 30 MSE team members. The score is the total percentage who couldn't tell the difference or preferred the cheaper one.

    1. Next Just Pink 75ml, £14 (vs R Lauren Romance, 50ml, £52). Score: 80%
    2. Lidl Suddenly Madame Glamour 50ml, £4 (vs Chanel Coco Mademoiselle 50ml, £67.50). Score: 63%
    3. Lidl Suddenly Women 50ml, £4 (vs Chanel No.5, 50ml, £67.50). Score: 60%
    3. Zara Women Gold 75ml, £18 (vs Paco Rabanne Lady Million, 80ml, £65.50). Score: 57%
    4. M&S Isis 100ml, £16 (vs Issey Miyake L'Eau d'Issey, 25ml, £35). Score: 53%

    Of course, with perfume, often the snob value is part of the present. So choose who you give it to (they're a great gift for yourself). It is worth noting, some say smell-alikes tend to be weaker so you may need more squirts.
  • 20 cheap perfume and aftershave tricks. This is just one of our 20 cheap perfume/aftershave tricks including:

    - Compare perfume prices. Use Megashopbot to compare online retailers & MySupermarket* for supermarkets.
    - Find sales & hot codes. Incl FeelUnique £10 off £40 & up to 50% off Superdrug* & Boots*. See all codes & sales.
    - Buy unboxed perfumes. Sites incl Half Price Perfumes sell testers and unboxed fragrances for less.
    - Use Tesco points. The Clubcard Boost scheme lets you double vouchers' value on smellies, so £5 gets £10.
    - Track bargains. Chart perfumes' prices using sites such as CamelCamelCamel, then grab 'em when they're cheap.

FREE box of Christmas cards (O2 Priority Moments) worth up to £6.99. Use app to redeem at WHSmith. Stock's likely to go fast. You need the O2 app (but there is a trick to get that for non O2 customers). See WHSmith Deals.

£125 beauty products £25 (via discounted advent calendar). Beauty advent calendars have boomed - many are already cheaper than their contents. Now they're being reduced, see our Deals Hunters advent beauty blog.

1,000+ Kurt Geiger shoe styles £29. Via its Shoeaholics web outlet, some were £160. Decent stock. Shoeaholics

Sainsbury's Tu 25% off EVERYTHING, incl sale. In-store clothes discount. Gets Peppa Pig PJs £9. Sainsbury's Tu

Nom-nom. Ingredients for 3 Gousto dinners for two, £10 via code (norm £35). MSE Blagged. A £25 off code makes it £10, (£9 veggie) for a 'cook it yourself' gourmet ingredient box service, eg, roast pork & candied orange, Yasai curry. You're signed up to a subscription which you can cancel. MSE staff who've tried it said "nom nom". Gousto

FREE posh New Covent Garden Soup (norm £2ish). Coupon & price reduction trick. Deals Hunters Blog

Cheapest breakdown cover: RAC basic £16/yr or AutoAid full service £41 for two
Many pay huge sums for breakdown cover, but if you're in the know, slash the cost even with the big providers

Modern vehicles tend to be more reliable. So there's a balance between the peace of mind of knowing you've a roadside rescue policy for the dark, mid-winter if needed, and shelling out large for something that (hopefully) you'll never use. We try to find that balance in our Cheap Breakdown Cover guide, here's some of the key info to get started...

  • Cheap breakdown coverAlready got cover? HAGGLE. Never auto-renew, you'll usually pay more but not get more. Instead, get on the phone and tell 'em you'll leave unless it'll give you a better deal. In our Nov poll, 84% of AA customers who tried to haggle succeeded (58% with big success), 77% for RAC. See how to haggle. If it doesn't work, switch...
  • Cheapest basic AA or RAC: This is about getting new cover via cashback sites. The top RAC cashback is £28/yr basic cover for your vehicle with £12.50 cashback, so net £15.50. The AA cashback is £28 with £10 back, so net £18. This works on higher cover but the discount's less proportionately. For RAC, if you shop at Tesco, you can also get cheaper deals. See pay for RAC in Tesco points.
  • Cheap full service cover £41. AutoAid is £41 and covers you & your spouse (or civil partner) in any car you're driving for £41/yr for home start and onward travel, as well as roadside recovery. Yet it's a 'pay and claim' policy, so it sends a local pick-up truck, you pay it, then you need to send your receipts in to claim back. Feedback & call out times are good. If you prefer a straightforward 'man with a van', Kwik Fit at £29/yr is the cheapest vehicle-only cover, which includes home start.
  • Cheapest European cover. If you plan to drive to the Continent during the year, Kwik Fit's £59/yr policy also gives basic European cover (no onward travel if you break down). For stronger cover, see European cover.

Burt's Bees £29 beauty bags (products £70 separately). 2 bundles incl lip gloss & hand cream. 3,000 bags

Heads up: £10 West End theatre tickets. From next Tue, get tickets for 1 Jan - 13 Feb performances for 69 top London shows incl Thriller Live, Ghost Stories and Horrible Histories. Best seats sell out quickly, go quick. London Theatre

Skiing/snowboard annual travel insurance from £20/yr. The cheapest annual policies (cover all a year's hols) meeting our min cover levels with basic winter sports are from Holidaysafe Lite* & Protect Your Bubble*. Which wins depends on your details; prices start at £20 for an under 36 in Europe policy to £84 for a family worldwide with someone aged 60. See winter sports travel insurance. Single trip: Use MoneySup's* comparison. Cheap Travel Insurance

Forum Hottie. £45 Ted Baker gift set for £22. From Fri. Our forumites have been waiting for this one - it's a popular bath goodies set that's a favourite for Xmas gifts. Includes body wash, lotions & scrubs. See Boots Deals.

Show Best Buys
Click the titles for full info and all our top picks
Balance Transfers Car Insurance Cheap Loans Top Cash ISAs
Longest 0%: Barclaycard*
34mths 0%, 2.99% fee

(18.9% rep APR)

Low fee 0%: Lloyds
28mths 0%, 1.5% fee

(18.9% rep APR)
Get quotes in this order...

Direct Line*
Admiral MultiCar*

Santander* (£5k - £7.5k)
5.3% rep APR

Sainsbury's* (£7.5k - £15k)
3.8% rep APR

Post Office 1.55% AER
Min £100, incl bonus
Postal. Transfers allowed

Coventry BS 2.4% AER
Min £1. No transfers
Loophole: Fixed till Nov 2018

See Card APR Examples & Loan APR Examples

Earn £15 M&S/Amazon vchs doing quick online surveys. MSE Blagged. Popular MSEers' site where you fill in surveys, watch videos and search online to earn. We've a link for you to accrue £5 and get a bonus £10-worth. Swagbucks

Success of the week: (Send us yours on this or any topic)
"We took your advice and installed a water meter as there are only two of us in a 3-bed house. Our bill forecasts a £289/yr charge. Our previous bill was £585. It was quick and stress-free. Thanks."
- see our Should I get a Water Meter? guide to find out whether you can save too, and how to grab water saving freebies.

Amex cardholders £5 cashback at 1,000s of local shops. From Sat. Register & spend £10+ at selected local shops, restaurants, etc between 6 Dec and 21 Dec and you'll get £5 credit (max once per retailer). See Amex Shop Small.

Send money abroad for just £1
If you want to send money overseas to family or friends for Christmas (or owt else) here's how to do it for less

Whether you're sending cash to your grandkids in Oz or bailing out a backpacking daughter in Laos, transferring money overseas doubles the currencies, complication & cost. Banks often massively overcharge, eg, Barclays has £25 fees & gives poor exchange rates. Full info in Cheap Ways to Send Money Abroad, here's a taster...

  • Sending money abroadSending Christmas gifts. Transferwise* allows you to transfer up to £200 in about 20 currencies (incl euro & dollar) for just £1; more & it's 0.5% of the amount transferred. You just pay via debit card or bank transfer and it'll convert it and pay it into the recipient's overseas account. Exchange rates are good. For convenience, Paypal is a useful option, but rates aren't as good. See Transfer Small Amounts.
  • Sending large amounts. Currencies Direct* (min £500), FairFX (min £600) & UK Forex (min £3k) don't charge fees and have decent rates (compare on the day). Full info: large transfers.
  • Giving to someone regularly - or backpacker? For someone trusted, eg, your child on a gap year, you could make them a 2nd cardholder on a specialist overseas credit card which gives unbeatable exchange rates for spending worldwide - they can use it whenever you give permission. The top pick's Halifax Clarity* (eligibility calc), repay IN FULL every month or it's 12.9% rep APR. Full info/alternatives: Cheap Spending Abroad.
  • If no other route, wire it. Two agencies, MoneyGram & Western Union, let you wire money almost anywhere either to a bank account or in cash (the recipient needs go to a pick up point, check there's one near). Yet they're costly, and rates and charges vary depending on amount, destination and pick-up method.
  • How safe is it? Sadly, money transfer regulations are weak - we think they should be stronger. There is no compensation scheme if the firm goes bust with your money, though some ring-fence customer funds. So use a reputable firm and ensure it holds your cash for as little time as possible. Money Transfer Safety

CODES: Argos £5 off £50, Figleaves 25% off, F&F Clothes £10 off £50 etc
On now: Body Shop 40% off code/in store | Argos £5 off £50, £10 off £100 code/vch | Asos 15% off code
From Thur: Figleaves 25% off code | F&F Clothing £10 off £50 code | See ALL codes and vouchers

Update: The Christmas Deals Predictor - score so far? Last week, we launched our Christmas Deals Predictor. So far, we're on song - with the Ikea £20 voucher, Selfridges 20% off and £10 champers all launching at the times we predicted. So, see what we're forecasting for December, and when to pounce. MSE's Christmas Deals Predictor

Show Best Buys
Click the titles for full info and all our top picks
Gas & Electricity Bank Accounts Home Insurance Landlines
Compare, switch & get cashback

Cheap Energy Club
£30 dual fuel

£34 dual fuel

£30 dual fuel

First Direct*
£125 bonus and top cust service

Santander 123*
Up to 3% cashback on bills

(£2 per month fee)
Get quotes in this order...*
Direct Line*
Post Office*
with weekend calls
£10/mth (pay a yr upfront)

Direct Save Telecom*
with weekend calls
£11/mth (pay a yr upfront)
Do a Money Makeover Budget Planner MSE car sticker £13 Travel Insurance
Show Vouchers and Top Deals

Restaurant vouchers

Discount vouchers

Top deals

The Moneysaving community
Show Money Saving Community
The MoneySaving Community

Is it wrong to buy overly generous presents?

This week's MoneySaver who wants advice asks... My brother's household has a much tighter budget than mine. It will be their daughter's first Christmas this year and I can't decide how much to spend on her. I would love to give her something that I know they would love but couldn't normally afford. However, I feel being too generous could be insensitive as it may pressure them to match that level of present-giving. Then again, spending only a token amount would seem miserly. What should I do? Enter the Money Moral Maze: Present buying when budgets differ | Suggest an MMD | View Past MMDs

Homebase Real Fir Xmas Trees
10 blagged for MoneySavers. Want one?

Do you get worse service if firms think you're a pain in the bum?

Do you work in a customer service role? We want to tap Moneysavers' collective knowledge on whether organisations put notes on customers' files who they think have caused problems (even though customers may think they've made a valid complaint). Do you warn colleagues about them on their file or verbally, and does it have an impact on how they are treated in future? Share yours/read others': Worse service if they think you're a pain in the bum? Past topics: View all

Airline: Aer Lingus Price: Flights to Ireland from £19.99 one-way Ends: Mon 8 Dec
Our pick this week is Aer Lingus's* offer for flights till 30 Apr 2015 to five Irish destinations from 13 UK airports. The sale ends Mon 8 Dec and includes taxes and charges. There is no code to enter, the price appears automatically. Extra charges warning: Avoid payment and check-in charges - see the Budget Airline Fee Fighting guide. Related: Cheap Flights, Cheap Hotels, Spending Abroad, Cheap Currency, Travel Insurance

Worst ways to blow the budget at Christmas

We asked about your biggest Christmas spending regret. Forumites were unanimous that overspending on food is rampant, while fresh trees were also said to be a waste of cash. Xmas cards are another wallet-buster that isn't worthwhile, and one forumite reported a very expensive but disappointing attempt at DIY fireworks.

Quick forum tips

Freebie of the week

Martin's blogs

Martin's appearances

4 December
Good Morning Britain, ITV, 7.40am
Deals of the Week
5 December
This Morning, time TBC
Martin's 90 Second Savers
5 December
The Martin Lewis Money Show, ITV, 8pm
Festive forecaster and energy reclaim help
8 December
Radio 5 Live, 12pm-1pm
Consumer Panel
Subscribe to podcast
8 December
This Morning, time TBC
Subject TBC.

MSE team corner

Discussion of the week

Preparing for winter

Our Old-Stylers are renowned for their handy hints on preparing for the colder months - they're at it again this year in the Preparing for Winter threads. If you're after quirky MoneySaving ideas for winter, from homemade draught excluders to stocking up on candles and tealights, head to the forum.

Cheap travel money

UK's Best Currency Rates
£100 will buy you:
Best Worst
Euro Flag 125.01 112.50
US Flag $ 155.50 139.59
Turkish Flag TL 338.30 294.11
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This week's poll: Is your energy company's service any good?

Winter’s here which means energy bills come to the fore - and poor service can cause real harm.  So we’re doing our regular feedback poll to find out how each company is performing. Please pick your firm and rate it.

Atlantic (part of SSE) iSupplyEnergy
Better Energy Supply Loco2 Energy
British Gas M&S Energy
Co-operative Energy Npower
E.on Ovo Energy
Ebico Sainsbury's Energy
Ecotricity Scottish Hydro (part of SSE)
EDF Scottish Power
Extra Energy Spark Energy
First Utility SSE
Flow Energy Swalec (part of SSE)
Good Energy Telecom Plus/Utility Warehouse
Green Energy Utilita
Green Star Energy I don't know who my energy provider is

Poll results

Should a man take paternity leave instead of a woman?

Interestingly, straight men would prefer their wife or partner took maternity leave rather than them taking paternity. Luckily, most straight women agree. Most in gay relationships would like the leave split. The results make for harmonious relationships all-round.

- 57% of straight men/men in a relationship with a woman still want the woman to take the full leave.
- 63% of straight women/women in a relationship with a man want to take the full leave themselves.
- 77% of gay people/in a same-gender relationship would split it evenly.

4,281 voted. See the full results.

Question of the week

Q: If my mother gifted her house to me and her brother, would we need to pay inheritance tax? James, via email.

MSE Eesha’s A: It depends why your mother is gifting you her house, when she dies and how much her entire estate (everything she owns or has, including money in the bank, not just the house) is worth.

Firstly, it's important to state you pay 40% inheritance tax on the value of the estate above £325,000. If it's a genuine gift, the rules state the house does NOT count towards the estate if your mother dies more than seven years after gifting it to you. But it WILL count if she dies earlier.

There is a complication that kicks in if she dies within seven years, as you can give up to £3,000 per tax year tax-free as a gift, though if you miss a year, you can carry over the previous year's allowance, so in total you could deduct £6,000 from the estate's value meaning you pay less tax.

Crucially, it won't be considered a genuine gift if your mother continues to benefit from the house after passing it on, eg, if she still lives in it (see HMRC for full exclusions). If that happens, it will count towards the value of the estate no matter when she dies. See our inheritance tax guide for more info.

 Nick's free game of the week: Fox n Roll

These dogs can’t handle being awake today

That's it for this week, but before we go, cheer yourself up with this photo collection of cute sleeping pooches (awwww).

We hope you save some money,

Martin & the MSE team

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