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08th Feb 2012
Warning! This info may be out of date. Read this week's email

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08 February 2012


MSE News

Martin's Quick Briefing

50 MoneySaving Tips for over-50s
And here's your silver saver starter for ten...

Whether 50's around the corner or long gone, the older you are the more your cash needs to look after you. Prevention beats cure, so with 420,000 over-70s households struggling, we hope our new 50 Over-50s Tips help. Here's a taster...

1. NEVER just take your pension company's offer. You needn't buy annuities (where you trade a pension for a regular income, usually until you die) from your pension provider. On £100k the best can pay £900/yr more than the worst. Live 25 yrs and that's £22,500, so always compare. Free MSE Annuity Guide: PDF, Order Printed. Pls put Annuity Mantras up in workplaces.
2. FREE cash to improve your home. There are £1,000s available, whether it's Home Improvement help, Free £300 of Insulation and more. See the Home and Energy Grant Grabbing guide.
3. Annual travel insurance can be just £30. First ensure you've a valid free EHIC card, then hone in on the cheapest travel insurance deals... Many via MoneySupermarket's comparison, when it's cheaper.

Over 50: Virgin* up to £23 Europe,* £34 worldwide.
Over 65:
Planet Earth* £46 Europe,* £78 worldwide.
Over 74:
MoneySup* various £91-£108 Euro, £135-£200 worldwide.
via Castle Cover £210 Europe, £315 worldwide.
FULL info & pre-existing conditions help in Cheapest Travel Insurance
4. You can boost your state pension. Whether it's spending a few £100s buying old National Insurance years to gain £1,000s, or deferring to up the payout, see the State Pension Boosting guide.
5. over 50sHave the 'unpleasant issues' chat, incl losing your faculties. Hopefully you'll live happily to 120, yet there's a chance... It's best to deal with it head on (see the 'death chat' tips). 1. Sort a will (see Free & Cheap Wills) 2. Compile a financial factsheet with key info the family needs to know. 3. Do inheritance tax plan.

Plus 1 in 3 die with dementia. If you lose mental capacity, unless you've a Power of Attorney already, loved ones need court action costing £1,000s to help you. Having one signed & ready to activate in advance is preferable.
Freebies & Discounts: Bus passes, TV, prescriptions, B&Q, Odeon etc. There's a wealth for silver savers, incl free bus pass at 60, TV licence at 75. Plus discounts such as a free over-50s dining card for meal deals at 100+ pubs 'n' carveries, and for over-60s there's 25% off Specsavers, 10% off B&Q, cheap cinema tickets & more. See over-50s freebies 'n' discounts.
7. Study for free. Uni isn't just for spotty teens, it's for pensioners too. There are a host of education grants for various courses available for older students. Plus with first time degrees, under the 2012 system, whether full or part time, your tuition fees are paid for you and you only need repay if you earn £21,000+ a year. So if you're on a pension, it's likely you'll never need to repay it. See student finance 2012.
Over a million miss out on pension credit. The full state single pension's £102.15, yet if your total income is under £137 or even if you've some savings, you may be entitled to a top-up above that. See Pension Credit info for more (and the benefits check-up tool).
9. Don't be loyal to gas & elec firms — it costs you £300/year. Switching's not a big hullaballoo, it's the same elec, same gas. Only customer service and billing changes and many save £300+ and get paid to do it.

Go via Energyhelpline* for £15 cashback (once) per switch, uSwitch* offers a crate of wine (worth c. £40), or MoneySup* £30 for dual fuel. FULL help dynamiting energy costs in Cheap Gas & Elec guide
Equity release is NOT a no-brainer. If you own your home, but have little income, equity release loans are sold as a way to spend its value while living there. Yet while rates sound similar to mortgages, eg 6.5%, as you don't make monthly repayments, interest compounds fast — taking £20k aged 65 can mean your dependants owe £100k needs repaying if you die 25 yrs later. See equity release need-to-knows

For FULL info plus more tips than you can shake a stick at (sorry!) see the full New Guide: 50 over-50s MoneySaving Tips

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8 Feb 2012

Valentine's deals to make your heart flutter
Call us the cut-price Cupid | Free £3.50 card | £19 couriered roses | £10 champers | FREE gift cheques

Roses are red, violets are blue, Valentine's can cost a bomb, but doesn't have to. Using nous and smarts for a cheap date means you needn't come across as a cheap lover ... PS, why not turn the sound up and play this while reading?

  • valentines dealsFree £3.50 Valentine's card code. A special code gets £5 off any Card Town card. They're £2.99 plus 50p delivery so the code covers that. New & existing customers. Or get a 4ft card for £6, full info in Free Valentine's Card.
  • Dozen red roses couriered £19. Top this year is £18.59 from Serenata Flowers* with the code gf55hgj6 (£19.99 without). Asda* is £19 and Marks & Spencer* is £19.80 if you use the code BEMYVALN from Thur 9 - Fri 10 Feb (£22 without). Full breakdown in Cheap Valentine's Flowers. Plus, we'll update this guide with cheapest IN-STORE, when prices are published.
  • valentines dealsFree Valentine's 'personal' gift cheques. Give something that costs nothing but means everything. Promise something nice (or naughty): a 'massage', brekkie in bed or suffering dinner at your in-laws. We've 3 different Free Valentine's gift cheques to print out & give.
  • 2for1ish Valentine's restaurant vouchers. Eating out on Valentine's itself is expensive. There are only a few 2for1s eg Auberge, Domino's and GBK. Yet there are a host more for the Monday (so stay after midnight and you've done it) including PizzaExpress, Carluccio's, ASK and more. Full list in Valentine's Restaurant Vouchers plus Dine In Deals.
  • £10 champagne. You can get £10 Pierre Darcys Champagne Brut NV. Other sparkling deals in Champagne Discounts.

For info & more deals see the Deals Index: Valentine's Deals. Plus people's ideas in best free Valentine's memories.

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50p BP car wash voucher (worth £6). It's back. Valid on drive-through or jet car washes. Ends Monday 5 March, perfect for cleaning the grit off. See Deals Note: BP vouchers

20% off Family & Friends Railcard | Cuts fares by up to 60%. Get a year's railcard for £22.40 (not £28). Up to FOUR adults travelling with up to FOUR kids get 1/3 off adult & 60% off kids' fares. See the Deal: Railcard 20% off

Play the Good Debt, Bad Debt video game
Originally for 15-year-olds but trickier than you think. Takes 5 mins, why not try it with the kids too?

Borrowing is a game of two halves. First decide if it's right for you then get the best rate. The govt hasn't yet agreed to put financial education on the curriculum (sign the epetition), so we hope this bit of fun helps adults and kids....

The Good Debt, Bad Debt Game
Try the 5 min interactive video quiz

(Not for iPads, iPhones, Android)

Play the Game

Also check out:

Ensure you get the lowest rate

If you need to borrow, do it as cheaply, quickly and for as little as possible. Here are the best buys. You'll be credit checked. Never miss repayments.

  • 0% for 18mths: Nowt's cheaper than interest-free spending credit cards, provided you plan & budget to clear 'em before the 0% ends. If not, Tesco* & Marks & Spencer* are 15 mths 0%. If you've a Nationwide FlexAccount* its Select card* is 18mths 0%. Beware, after the 0% ends they're 16.9%,15.9% and 12.9% representative APR. Full info in Top 0% Cards (Official APR Examples).
  • 6% APR loans: For larger amounts, loans are safer.
    £5k - £7,499: Sainsbury's* Nectar cardholders get 7.8% rep APR for 1-3 yr loans or 7.9% for 4-5yrs via this link*.
    £7,500 - £15k Sainsbury's* is 6% rep APR for 1-3 yr loans, or 6.1% for 4-5 yrs using this link* (Nectar card needed). Marks & Spencer * is also 6% rep APR, if 30+ or a homeowner.

    Only 51% of accepted applicants must get this rate, the rest can pay more, yet Nationwide's* 6.4% rep APR loans uniquely gives a 'quote without commitment'. See Cheap Loans (APR Examples).

Related: Debt Crisis Help, 0% overdrafts, Boost your credit rating

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Year's broadband AND line rental £103 (equiv £8.60/mth). Get a £50 Love2Shop voucher (Argos, Boots, Next etc) on TalkTalk Essentials*. Line rent's £114 upfront for the year (OR a £13.60/mth option) then £3.25/mth for broadband & calls. So £153/yr plus you can get the £50 voucher. See Guide: Cheap Home Phones

Discount Vouchers & Codes

Knickers coming down!
(25% off Amazon undies

£5 off £40

10% off

M&S £5 off £30 kids' clothing

15% off

Online code
Ends Tue 14 Feb

In 30p paper
On Thu 9 Feb

Online code
13 Feb-19 Feb

In-store & Online
Ends 20 Feb

Online code

See all Vouchers

Travelodge £10 sale | £29 Premier Inn. 100,000 £10 Travelodge rooms for 1 Apr - 31 Aug starts 6am Thur. 29,000 £29 Premier Inn 29 Feb - 9 Mar rooms starts today. Deals Note: Hotel Sales

Free £24 M&S vouchers with £12 Netflix 3mth trial
New online movie streaming guide | Deal puts you £12 up | Free £40 free Blockbuster in-store rentals
The latest movie war is about online streaming with the launch of NetFlix to challenge LoveFilm. For a fixed monthly fee, you can instantly watch 1,000s of movies via the web on your PC, TV or games console (unlike downloading, your computer doesn't store it). To help, we've written a new Watch Movies Online Cheaply guide. Here's a taster...

  • movie streamingFree £24 M&S vouchers with 3mth Netflix costing £12. Use this free Netflix* 30-day trial link we've blagged for MoneySavers and you get an £8 M&S voucher. PLUS pay £5.99/mth for 2 more mths & get another £16 of vouchers, so you're £12 UP and can cancel then. For just the free trial, slightly more's avail via cashback sites — full options in Netflix Deals.
  • How does Netflix compare? It's got 1,000 films, compared to 5,000+ on Lovefilm, which offers a free 30-day trial. Neither includes new releases, but you watch these without subscription on pay-as-you-go, via both LoveFilm* and Blinkbox*. Full comparison incl which do HD, can be used via PS3s etc in Cheapest Online Streaming.
  • Watch FREE movies online (legally). There are hundreds of free films online you can stream legally, incl Human Traffic, Swamp Thing and An American Werewolf In London. See full Free Movies list.
  • Cheapest unlimited downloads. Non-O2 mobile customers get 6 mths half price at £8.75/mth on the All Rounder package. Simplify Digital is offering £50 cashback if you sign up by 29 Feb, making it £11.09/mth with installation (doesn't incl line rental). O2 mobile customers get it even cheaper. See O2 broadband offer for full info.
  • Prefer DVDs? £40 free in-store Blockbuster rentals. For specific new releases, DVD rental usually works out cheaper. New Blockbuster in-store rental customers get an overnight rental free every day for their first 14 days (worth £42) and there's no subscription. For this and more, see Cheapest DVD Rental.

FULL list in our New Guide: Watch Movies Online Related: Cheap DVD Rental, Slash Digital TV Costs

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10,000 free pairs of £10 'Homebuilding & Renovating Show' NEC tickets. We've blagged tickets for the NEC Birmingham 29 Mar - 1 Apr. Full info in Deals Note: Homebuilding & Renovating

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Tell friends about us! They can get this free every week

A warning to freelancers and the self-employed. Read Martin's Freelance Tax Warning blog.

Last Chance! Get £130 free in bank price war
Take advantage of banks trying to bribe you to switch | Two top bank deals end this week

Four big banks have been flinging out bribes in a scrap to win your current account custom. One's already gone and two more top current accounts drop their promos this week. So to take advantage you need to act quickly.

  • bank bonusEnds Sun: Free £125, top customer service, 0% overdraft, 8% linked savings. (Min salary £23,100) Sign up to First Direct's* 1st Account until Sun via this MoneySup link you'll get £125 cash after 4 mths (£100 after Sun). It's topped every service poll we've ever done, has a 0% overdraft up to £250 & linked 8% regular savings.
  • Ends Sun: Free £130, 0% overdraft, 5% interest, 5% linked savings. (Min salary £14,200) Santander* gives £100 cash after 14 wks and until Sun a £30 Amazon voucher (via this link). In year one, it's got a 0% overdraft and 5% in-credit interest on up to £2,500 and a 5% linked Regular Saver. Yet it's bottom in every service poll.
  • The other hot deals. Until a week Sun, the Halifax Reward ( £14,200 salary) gives £100 bonus plus £5 each month. Never go overdrawn though or it's £1 a day. New and existing Nationwide* FlexAccount customers ( £9,800 salary) get free European travel insurance (up to age 75).

All accounts require a credit check and a full switch. You must pay in a min monthly deposit (converted into equiv salary above). FULL info & breakdown in the Updated Guide: Best Bank Accounts Related: Basic Bank Accounts, Credit Rating

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Domino's £10 ANY size pizza delivered. No code or voucher needed, just order before Sun 12 Feb. Pick up in-store for £7-£9 (depending on location). For full info see Deals Note: Domino's Deals

Forum Hottie

House of Fraser 90p socks, £1 mugs & £2 earrings. Forumites are still picking up bargains in the House of Fraser sale, ends 18 Feb. See the Deals Note: House of Fraser Deals

Up to £3,500 Warm Front grants close in 6 weeks — apply now. For improvements to central heating, boiler, loft insulation and more. Need to be on benefits/pension credit. See the Guide: Energy Grants

Say NO to credit card interest hikes
You've the RIGHT to reject increased APRs within 60 days — don't let costs increase unnecessarily

We've heard of a new batch of letters hitting doormats declaring the APR (interest) on credit cards is jumping — particularly nasty as Xmas bills squeeze pockets. Know your rights, and as our Reject Rate Rises guide says, you can tell them to stuff it. Please report APR hikes in our forum.

  • interest hikesUse your 'right to reject' if you won't borrow more. Anyone told their credit card APR will rise has a right to reject it within 60 days of getting the letter (unless they defaulted). To do this you must agree not to borrow more — but despite sometimes confusing wording, you are allowed to keep debt at the existing level, and just continue making the usual monthly repayments.
  • Lost 0% deal through late payment? If you've a 0% promotional deal and make a late payment, some credit card companies, eg MBNA, may instantly ditch the cheap deal, fine you £12, and jack you to the standard APR rate of 15% or more. Though it's your boo-boo, call it up, politely explain what happened and it may reinstate the deal.
  • Shift the debt to 0% for 22mths. If the debt's expensive, or you've lost your 0% deal, provided you've a decent credit score then cut the cost. Barclaycard* lets you shift debts to 22 months 0% for a 2.9% fee (17.9% rep. APR after so ditch and switch before then). If you've got one of those, next is Halifax* 22mths 0% with 3.5% fee (17.9% rep.APR after) and NatWest* 20mths 0% with 2.9% fee (17.9% rep. APR after). FULL info in Best Balance Transfers (Official APR Examples).

More help in the Updated Guide: Reject Rate Rises. Related: Problem Debt Help, Boost your Credit Rating

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Gatwick Express 20% off. Cut 'Anytime' and day return costs when you book online by Tues 21 Feb. See Deals Note: Cheap Train & Coach Deals

Know your travel chaos refund rights. If your flight or train was cancelled or seriously delayed due to the big freeze on the weekend, you may be entitled to money back. Full info in the Guide: Travel Rights

Restaurant Vouchers

Discount Vouchers

Top Deals

Domino's Any pizza £9.99 Amazon 25% off lingerie London shows £15 tix
Auberge 2 for 1 Debenhams 20% off Asda £10 champagne
Real Greek 7 dishes, 2 drinks £20 Gap 15% off BP 50p car wash
GBK 2 burgers £10 Morrisons £5 off £40 Family Railcard 20% off
All Bar One £5 main Brantano 20% off Free Valentine's card
All Restaurant Vouchers All Discount Vouchers More Deals

Big & Easy Ways To Save
Quick links or click the titles for full pros, cons, alternatives & more savings

See all official APR examples


Did you follow our 'get car insurance quote to get 300 Tesco points tip'? We featured this last November, just to say now's the time to check your latest February Tesco statement to ensure they're there. Deals Note: Boost Clubcard Points

Money Moral Dilemma

Should I cheque out my Nan?

This week's MoneySaver who wants advice asks...
Last year my Grandma gave me a £25 cheque for my 24th birthday. I lost it (probably in the paper recycling with the card envelope). Not wanting to hurt her feelings, I didn't say anything to her. However I found the cheque (as a bookmark in a book I never finished reading, oops), and went to cash it. But the bank told me that as it is over six months old it can't be processed. Should I ask my Grandma to re-write the cheque, or should I just take the blow? Enter the Money Moral Maze: Should I cheque out my nan? Previous MMDs: View All Suggest: A Money Moral Dilemma

Let us solve your dilemmas and answer your questions. Why not suggest a 'real life money moral dilemma' to or ask a MoneySaving question (general only, not bespoke problems) to and you may feature in this email.

spill beans

Spill the beans... your worst free romantic memories
Last week we asked you to share your best free romance memories, and there were some lovely stories. However, this week we'd like to hear about your worst ones. Spill 'em: Your worst free romantic memories Past topics: View all

Book Giveaway RESULT. Slow Cooking Properly Explained. 50 blagged for MoneySavers. Check your inbox to find out if you got one

Campaign of the week

Have you been the victim of a bailiff blag?
Debt advice helpline National Debtline's holding a #bailiffblags campaign on Twitter this week to highlight the tactics bailiffs use to gain entry to your home for the first time. Once a bailiff's already been in your house they can force re-entry. Sneaky tricks can include asking to use the toilet or pretending to know your partner. Share your experiences or check out the #bailiffblags tips. Suggest yours: Charities, community groups and campaigners send us your campaign of the week suggestion. Related: Debt Help guide, National Debtline's Bailiff factsheet.

Spill the beans... revealed your best free romantic memories
Last week we asked you to share your best free romance memories. There were some very romantic ones, including origami roses, heart-shaped sandwiches and a (different) homemade bin!

Cheap Flight Sales

Airline: Ryanair Price: £9.99 Ends: Midnight Thur 9 Feb
Our pick this week is Ryanair's from £9.99 each way sale: It says it has 1 million seats available to book on 1,000 routes till Thu 9 Feb, including some taxes & charges. To find them quickly use the FlightChecker on a £10 max search. 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

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Quick Forum Tips

Andrea's Freebies

Top pick! £5 The Smurfs DVD at Sainsbury's. Don't be blue Learn sign language pdf
£2-£4 Girls Aloud & The Saturdays CDs on Amazon. Kinda g-ooooh-d Maths & English worksheets
Sub £1 meatballs, blueberries & salsa at Lidl. Stock up Rock MP3s
£1 2L Pepsi bottle at Morrisons. Getting fizzy with it
Debt Free Wannabe chat of the week: Yeeeessss!
Competitions thread of the week: Picnic hamper
Old Style (Thrift) Board thread of the week: How OS has changed my life
More Tips: Tips, Tricks & Treats Try: Freebies Roulette
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Martin's Stuff

Cheap Travel Cash

Latest Blogs
"Wish I'd been stupid enough to get PPI in the first place"
Surprise call from Ed Davey, Energy Minister — on collective switching
A warning to freelancers and the self-employed everywhere
Appearances This Week

Lorraine, ITV1, Thu, between 8.30 & 9.30am. Real Deals.

Shelagh Fogarty, Radio 5, Thu, 12 to 1pm. Consumer Panel.

This Morning, ITV1, Mon, between 10.30am & 12.30pm. PPI and payday loans.

Daybreak, ITV1, Tue, between 7 & 8.30am. Subject tbc.

UK's Best Currency Rates
£100 will buy you:
Best Worst
Euro Flag 119.80 104.86
US Flag $ 158.36 138.97
Turkish Flag TL 271.50 235.56
Rates correct at 9pm Tues
Find all top currency rates
Compare travel cash
Find Martin on facebook! Martin's Facebook Page All Martin's Appearances Cheap Travel Money Guide
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This week's poll: Is it ok to use a 2for1 voucher on a first date?

Last week's poll result

Valentine's is coming, have vouchers finally broken through the last taboo? Is it acceptable to use a 2for1 voucher on a first date? We asked this 3yrs ago, let's see if it's changed ...

Imagine Bob asks Sarah to dinner on a first date, saying he'll pay. When the bill comes, he pulls out a 2for1 voucher – what advice would you give Sarah?

I'm a man

Bob's great with cash. Sarah, HE'S A KEEPER!


It's not an issue, Bob's still paying.


Bob's being tight. Sarah, RUN!


I'm a woman

Bob's great with cash. Sarah, HE'S A KEEPER!


It's not an issue, Bob's still paying.


Bob's being tight. Sarah, RUN!


What'll happen to house prices in 2012?

Totting up all votes, the average prediction is a small 1.3% fall over the year, with nearly half (43%) guessing no change, and a quarter bracing for a 2-5% fall.

Wildly out of sync are the less than 1% foreseeing a 20%+ boom. See the full results.

Question of the week

Board of the week

Q: With the tax year end approaching, am I likely to find a better cash ISA deal towards the end of this tax year or after the start of the next one? John G, by email

MSE Dan's A: For savers, this is THE £5,340 question (or £5,640 from 6 April). In my experience, Cash ISA mayhem takes over MoneySaving Towers from the start of March and lasts to the end of April each year, so picking the right moment can be tricky.

Knowing when the best rate launches is far from an exact science. However, there are key players that usually launch close to the best buy every year — Barclays and Santander spring to mind. So watch for them — we'll monitor in the weekly email.

It's important to realise that if you don't use 2011/12's cash ISA allowance by 5 April, it's gone for good, and as the tax-free interest wrapper will last for as long as the Government supports ISAs, if you've got the dosh now you should get it in ANY account before the deadline. You can always transfer to a better-paying account at a later date.

local moneysaving: scotland
Share local offers and tips. Recent discussions include clearance stores in Glasgow, renting in Aberdeen and car boot in Bearsden.

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Game Of The Week

Bomb it!

You'll be snow amazed by these frozen waves

That's all for this week, yet before we go, check out these stunning photos of enormous 'frozen waves' in the Antarctic. Freezy does it!

We hope you save some money,

Martin & the MSE team

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