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Weekly Email
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09th Mar 2016
Warning! This info may be out of date. Read this week's email

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"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."

09 March 2016
Martin's Briefing:Extreme MoneySavers: free £800 bank switch, tint your hair with cabbage
You're 5x more likely to be in debt crisis if you've mental health issues
Longest-ever debt shift 40mth 0%
Free tool to check your NEW tax code
Vax up to 80% off clearance code
Trick: £3.50 for many posh pies
Need to pay the TV licence fee?
CODES & VCHS. Incl Jack Wills 50% off, Asos & H&M 20% off
Google warning: many to only see ads
Free D'caster Races & Will Young gig
Urgent AI Scheme (Sentinel) redress
'I got two free gifts from Ikea'
Check for 35% off eBay seller fees
Are YOU financially attractive?

Martin's Weekly Briefing: For more tips, alerts & puns, follow Martin on Twitter

13 Extreme MoneySavers... take it to the max

- Repeatedly switch banks to grab £800 of bank switching bribes
- Tint your hair with cabbage and clean the loo with cola
- Stooze to make £100s in interest on cash lent at 0%

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. Extreme MoneySaversBANK 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 £150: Clydesdale* / Yorkshire's* Current Account Direct pays switchers £150 and gives 2% AER on up to £3k. Min pay-in: £1k/mth.
- FREE £125 + £5/mth: Until 22 Mar Halifax 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 your direct debits & close your old account. Most require a min monthly pay-in, and many ask you to switch 2+ 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, 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 to rinse your hair - 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.

Or buy Thrifty Ways for Modern Days, the book written from forumites' wisdom - all my 'author' proceeds go to the MSE Charity Fund.
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.

Now with longer 0% fee-free balance transfers, plus high interest bank savings accounts which'll be tax-free from April (see the PSA guide) stoozing is back. Full info in how to stooze, in brief:

- 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 with 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. Wear your baggageLUGGAGE-LOADERS: Wear baggage instead of taking a case. On budget airlines hand-luggage-only is cheaper. So stuff pockets with socks & 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.

Saved cash? Shout it from the rooftops.

If this email's ever helped you, please forward it to friends and suggest they get it via


You're 5x more likely to be in debt crisis if you've mental health issues...

Martin Lewis is founding a new Money & Mental Health Policy Institute to prevent this marriage made in hell

The stats are horrendous. A) You're 4-6 times more likely to have debt crisis if you've mental health issues; B) Half those seeking debt help have mental health issues; C) 18mths can be added to clinical depression recovery if you've financial problems. This marriage made in hell can be catastrophic. Stopping it would help individuals, the NHS & the economy...

  • Mental healthMartin launches the Money & Mental Health Policy Institute. Having planned it for years, this week, with a £2m donation, Martin launched the Money & Mental Health Policy Institute to be chaired by him & run by former No. 10 policy specialist Polly Mackenzie. While lenders have got better at helping people once they're in the mire, this is all about prevention - researching ideas and lobbying for change.

    And it's needed - here are just two of the many messages on it: "I ran up £35k credit card debts. Spending made me happy in my depression" and "I’m now in recovery from borderline personality disorder, but still have debts from many, many years ago due to impulse spending due to my mental health."

  • What type of solutions will the institute look at? Martin says: "Well it's just launched, so it's early days. Yet, one area of exploration is giving people tools when they're well, so they can control themselves when they're not.

    "For example, spending sprees are common with clinical depression and bipolar mania. So being able to freeze your credit file that takes eight weeks to unlock, so you can't apply meanwhile, would be useful. Also offering a 'high control' credit card option, so that if unusual spending patterns happen, the card is frozen for a set time unless a nominated trusted friend agrees to unfreeze it."
    Full video & MSE News: Beating the mental health & debt link.

  • New FREE MSE Mental Health & Debt help booklet 2016. Download & share Martin's updated 44-page Mental Health & Debt Help PDF 2016. It's packed with info on handling debts, working with banks, where to get help, whether to declare a condition to your bank and more. (Thanks to Mind, Rethink, CAPUK & others for their input.)

  • Experienced mental health issues and want to help? Please take this survey. To help the new institute build info, please fill in this short survey.


Vax up to 80% off clearance sale code. MSE Blagged. Our early access means you get first dibs on vacuums, steam cleaners etc. Last time, we were swamped with thanks, eg, "Just got a £250 Vax for £55. Very happy." Vax code

Trick: buy £3.50 posh pie, get one free, then another, and another... Buy one get lots free. Can you find 'em?

Do you need to pay the TV licence fee? Rules on who does & doesn't are set to change, see do I qualify?

Jack Wills 50% off sale, Asos 20% off code, H&M 20% off code. Lots around... 1) Jack Wills up to 50% off sale; 2) Asos 20% off code (in £4 mag); 3) H&M 20% off code; 4) Dorothy Perkins 25% off; 5) River Island 20% off £50 code; 6) Body Shop £10 off £25 code; and 7) £26 FitFlops with 15% Shoetique code. For more, see ALL codes & vchs.

Google warning. Now many will only see ads (which look a lot like search results). It now shows to up to 4 paid ads at the top, so on many smaller screens that's all you'll see without scrolling. These can include shyster versions of official sites, eg, for driving licence renewal. And while once ads looked clearly different, they now look more like natural search results - see images of how its ads have changed.



- Vax up to 80% off clearance sale code Ends Thu

- £26 FitFlop sandals via code Ends Wed 16 Mar


- Are you married? Free £212- but hurry

- Personal saving allowance means LESS interest may win

- Cheapest- EVER loans from 3.3%

- FREE £15 winter car check


New. Longest-ever debt shift 40mth 0% with lowest-ever 2.69% fee

The battle of the balance transfers has rekindled, so many can slash £100s or £1,000s off existing card debt costs

A balance transfer's where you get a new card that repays debts on old card(s) for you - so you owe it instead but at a far cheaper rate. This means more of your repayments clear the debt rather than just servicing interest, so you're debt-free quicker. And Tesco's* new card is the joint longest-ever 0%, but with a lower fee for that length than we've seen before.

The top new-cardholder 0% balance transfers
Don't just apply, that hits your credit file - find your odds of getting top cards via our eligibility calc
New. Tesco Bank* - longest 0% (not avail on our eligibility calc) 40mths 0% (20.6%) 2.69%
MBNA* - only one giving 100% pre-approval via eligibility calc Up to 39mths 0% (20.9%) 2.98%
Barclaycard* - long, low-fee card Up to 32mths 0% (18.9%) 0.89%
Virgin Money* - long low-fee card that isn't an 'up to' length 32mths 0% (18.9%) 0.99% (min £3)
Halifax* - longest NO FEE 0% card Up to 23mths 0% (18.9%) None
AA* - longest NO FEE 0% card that isn't an 'up to' length 22mths 0% (19.9%) None

  • Tip 1: Go for the lowest fee in the time you're sure you can repay. Most balance transfers charge a one-off fee of the amount of debt shifted, eg, 2.69% is £26.90 per £1,000. So calculate how long you'll take to clear debt, add a bit for safety & pick the lowest fee within that time. Unsure? Play safe & go long, even with a bigger fee.

  • Tip 2: Find which cards you're most likely to get. Applications leave a mark on your credit file, even if you're rejected. Our eligibility calc shows which top cards you've best odds of getting (sadly, we can't do it for Tesco), so you can home in on your best deal, protecting your credit file. Victoria used our calc: "@MartinSLewis thanks. I finally got my fiancé to 0% balance transfer, saved interest of £1,500."

    Plus for a few MBNA cards including the one above, we can tell people they're 100% pre-approved for that exact deal (subject to passing its ID & fraud check).

  • Tip 3: Some 0% lengths are 'up to', ie some get a shorter deal based on credit score. So we show the best non-'up to' cards too. If these do well in the eligibility calc they can be worth choosing as they give extra certainty.

  • The Balance Transfer Golden Rules. Full help & ALL best buys: Balance Transfers (APR Examples), in brief...

    a) Never miss the min monthly repayment or you can lose the 0% deal and it'll cost far more.
    b) Clear the card or balance transfer again before the 0% ends, or the rate rockets to the rep APR.
    c) Don't spend/withdraw cash on these. It usually isn't at the cheap rate & cash withdrawals hit your credit file.
    d) Unsure what to pick? Use our Which Card's Cheapest? tool.


Free £35 Doncaster Races & Will Young gig tix code. 14 May, 2,000 avail. Think I better apply right now

Last chance: Did you get an AI Scheme letter? You may be owed £100s but MUST send it back ASAP. If you got one, it's worth cold hard cash, but you must send it back by 18 March. If you chucked it, to get a new letter takes time, so go ASAP. As Rodney emailed: "Thanks Martin & team for pushing me, I got a £388 cheque". Full help: AI reclaim.

SUCCESS OF THE WEEK: (Send us yours on this or any topic)
"Got two free gifts from Ikea - a photo frame and quilt cover. I didn't know about it until I read Martin's email." See our tips to grab Ikea 'freebies' which clearly proved successful for some last week.

Check for 35% off eBay seller fees & 100 free listings. It's only for some. See How to check for eBay promo.

Are YOU financially attractive? Check your real credit worthiness, and boost it if needed. Are you a financial hottie?


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The year's cheapest b'band & line - £198 for 1yr & some get £120 shopping voucher... BUT it's TalkTalk. The beleaguered provider is back with a super-cheap deal. Yet its customer service is rock-bottom, so it's a balance. Full info plus all the pros and cons in TalkTalk line & broadband deal.

Magazine 'freebies' - £11ish Nails Inc polish, £10ish Balance Me skincare. In £4 & £2 mags. Mag freebies.

FREE £8ish cocktail / £4ish beer. Jameson Irish Mule or Heineken avail in March via Pitcher & Piano vch. Pls be Drinkaware.

FREE microchipping for dogs. Less than 1mth till it's required by law. Chip 'em free (donate if you can) via Dogs Trust.


Free tool to check your NEW tax code - save £1,000s

Warning. Legally it's your responsibility to ensure your tax code is right. Millions are wrong, costing you large

The final batch of 12m letters telling you your new 2016/17 tax-year code (starts 6 April) are dropping through letterboxes this week, and millions are wrong. If it is, legally you've only yourself to blame, so everyone needs to check theirs, or you could overpay £1,000s. As it's complex to check, our unique Tax Code Calculator helps work out if you're owed big.

  • Tax codesWhat's a tax code? They may look harmless - 1100L, 980BR, K296 - but if you're on a payroll or get a pension, these characters dictate what tax your employer/firm should take via PAYE. Millions get incorrect codes which can mean the tax paid is £1,000s out. Errors are common, especially if you've changed job, retired, have two incomes, someone's keyed in the wrong figures or HMRC isn't up to speed.

  • Free tool to check you're on the right tax code. Enter your code into our Tax Code Calculator and it'll help explain whether it's likely correct for your earnings, age and situation. If your tax code doesn't look right, it probably isn't. We've info on how to reclaim overpaid tax and if you've underpaid, what your rights are.

    Here's a recent success - Alice tweeted: "@MartinSLewis Checked tax code thanks to your tweet, and personal allowance error since July means I'm now owed £2k - thank you."

  • Check old codes - some have reclaimed £1,000s. The Tax Code Calc also lists past yrs' codes and shows how to reclaim if you've overpaid. The deadline for claiming 2011/12 overpayments is 5 Apr so go quick.


Got a Supercard from Travelex? The pilot's ending. It gives cheap spending abroad, but read Supercard news.

Parents / teachers - we need your help. How well is financial education taught in schools? It joined the senior school curriculum in Sept 2014 - how well do you think it's being taught? Martin's giving evidence to MPs the week after next. He'd love YOUR input. Feed back in the forum or tweet him with #FinEd or email.

MSE job opps. We're recruiting an energy product analyst to join our editorial team in London. Full MSE job opps.



Had a bad experience renting? If you rent and have to put up with problems like dodgy electrics, a leaking roof or worse, send your photos to Shelter. It'll use 'em to show politicians just how bad renting can be. For tips on renting, check out our 50+ Renting Tips.


What are your tips for going to the theatre on the cheap? We all know you can avoid shelling out on pricey programmes, but we want to tap MoneySavers’ collective knowledge to find really clever ways to scythe down the cost - free ticket schemes, websites which show the best seats, 10p tickets at the Royal Court and more. Let us know your tips. Share yours/read others': What are your cheap theatre tips? Past topics: View all


Should Sunday be like any other shopping day? George Osborne is considering changing Sunday trading laws in England & Wales, with supermarkets and big retailers potentially allowed extended opening hours.

Of course for stores to be open, someone has to work at them. So what are your views?

It's not all fair in the haggling war: 3,688 voted in last week's poll. While haggling is game-on with your broadband provider (99% say yes), and at a car boot sale (98% yes), it's not on at the pound shop (81% say no to haggling), pub (68% no), National Trust place etc (68% no) or the charity shop (62% no). See the full results.



- Top story: - Mother's Day couriered flowers late, missing or damaged? Know your rights

- New Money & Mental Health Policy Institute launched by Martin Lewis

- Watching BBC iPlayer on catch-up to require a TV licence 'soon'



Should I tell my network it's been undercharging me? I'm currently chasing my mobile network for a refund of erroneous charges on my bill, but looking back at previous bills I can see it's actually undercharged me on line rental for the past six months. Should I 'fess up, or just keep quiet and take the saving in place of the money I'm owed? Enter the Money Moral Maze: Should I tell my network it's been undercharging me? | Suggest an MMD | View past MMDs

- Debt-Free Wannabe chat of the week: March Challenge: 31 Things in 31 Days
- Competitions thread of the week: Dubai flights
- Old-style board thread of the week: Fancy dress party ideas
- Discussion of the week: Clothes you've worn the least


- Tiny - the littlest elephant in the world


- Buy one £3.50 posh pie, get many more 'free'



Thu 10 Mar - Good Morning Britain, ITV, Deals of the Week, 7.40am. Watch previous
Fri 11 Mar - This Morning, ITV, Martin's Quick Deals, from 10.30am. Watch previous
Mon 14 Mar - This Morning, ITV, Money Monday, from 10.30am. Watch previous
Mon 14 Mar - BBC Radio 5 Live, Lunch Money Martin, 12noon. Subscribe to podcast


Wed 9 Mar - Share Radio, 11.20am
Thu 10 Mar - BBC Radio Manchester, 4.20pm
Tue 15 Mar - BBC Radio Cambridgeshire, 2.20pm



Q: I have 9yrs' no claims bonus with my car insurance. My spouse has none and is the other named driver. My insurer says if I were to die, she'd be entitled to transfer my no claims bonus to herself? Is this normal? Phil, via email.

MSE Tony's A: Normally, yes, insurers allow the transfer of a no claims bonus to a partner or spouse if the policyholder dies, or even just becomes medically unfit to drive. We double-checked with 10 major insurers and all said they would allow it.

The spouse just has to be named on the policy at the point of transfer, it doesn't matter when they were put on it. Some insurers said your spouse must have been accident-free themselves for a certain period. Most said partners would also be eligible, not just married couples.

If an unhelpful insurer refuses to transfer the no claims bonus, the partner/spouse named on someone else's policy may even be able to start a new policy with a new insurer and use the main policyholder's full no claims bonus. Allianz, Admiral, Axa, LV and Tesco all said they'd consider this. See our Cheap Car Insurance guide.

Please suggest a question of the week (we can't reply to individual emails).


The most ridiculous news stories

That's it for this week, but before we go, check out this forum thread: "Slow news day stories". When there's not much going on but you've a paper to fill, the 'slowest' stories become fair game - classic headlines spotted by forumites include 'Firefighters rescue duck from lake' and, er, 'Woman finds a hat in a tree'. Join the discussion and share your favourites.

We hope you save some money,
Martin & the MSE team

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