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Weekly Email
This email was sent
20th Jan 2016
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 This info may be out of date.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."

20 January 2016
Martin's Briefing: Save £1,000 in a day
Now pre-approved 39mths 0% debt shift
Beat 25% car insurance price hikes
Phone line & b'band £136 for A YEAR
100+ supermarket coupons worth £100+
An open letter to David Cameron over the disgraceful student loan hike
Free £200 daily cash prize draw
Free £5 Valentine's card & more
Warning: Super-cheap energy switch
Hot SIM: £20/mth 4GB data, unltd mins, texts, £60 Amzn, 6mths' Netflix
Free '£500' personal 'financial plan'
3 Odeon cinema tickets £12
Whirlpool/Hotpoint 35% off sale code
Thorntons clearance - £60 bundle £20
Free A Place in the Sun Live show tix

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

Your BEST PAID day of the year
(unless you earn over £470,000)

Save £1,000+ in a day, with a checklist to overhaul your money

It's the week many bills come in. So it's time for my annual clarion call to take a day to sort your finances - even if you can't do a full day, scan the timetable to save as much as you can. As Emma found: "Following your tips so far in 2016 I've slashed Sky from £36 to £20/mth, got £150 switching bank & saved £80/mth card interest. Savings so far? £1,300."

Many families who've never bothered before can save £1,000+ for the year, making it 2016's best-paid day for all but those on £470k+ salaries.

Money Makeover07:30. Save up to £500/yr on water bills. While showering, ask yourself if your home has the same or more bedrooms than people. If so & you're in Eng/Wales, use a water meter calc to see if you can save by switching to a meter, as Carole emailed: "Never thought I'd benefit, but got a meter and my rate dropped from £65 to £18/mth. Thanks Martin." That's a £560/yr saving.
07:50. Wear a uniform? You may be due an up-to-£300 tax rebate. As you're dressing, if you or anyone in your family normally slips on a work uniform (or used to) - from branded T-shirts to nurses' kits - & you wash it yourself, you may be due up to 4 years' back tax, like forumite kevbev321: "Woo hoo - been in a uniform role for 5yrs, got a tasty £250 back." For full info and templates to reclaim FOR FREE see Uniform Tax Back.
08:10. Earn £220 switching bank. Grab free dosh - now's the perfect time as there's a bank switching price war. Switch to M&S to get £100 vch + £10/mth + 6% savings or First Direct to get £150 cash + 6% savings + no.1 service. It takes just 7 days to switch, 82% say it's easy and hassle free. Save £100s. Full info & options in Top Bank Accounts.
08:20. Grab £1,000s of childcare help. As you feed the baby or battle to get your kids to school, think childcare costs. If you pay for childcare (including after-school clubs), there are two things to check:

1) Earn under £46,000 and work 16+hrs/wk (both of you, if a couple)? Check if you're entitled to Childcare Tax Credits, worth an avg £3,000/yr.
2) If not, Childcare Vouchers let you pay tax-free, saving some £1,000s.
09:00. Save £300/yr on energy in 352 secs (give or take...). If like 70% of people you're on a big 6 standard tariff you can slash bills. Even if they all slash prices as E.on’s announced today (5% on gas, not elec, on 1 Feb) they are still hugely more expensive than the market’s cheapest.

We timed how long it took four MSE Towers newbies to compare and start a switch using Cheap Energy Club - on average it took 5m 52s saving £320/yr. And it can be more, Rachel tweeted: "@martinslewis consider myself money savvy, but just did your energy swap 'n' saved £548/yr."
09:06. Save up to £500 in minutes haggling down Sky, AA, Virgin, etc. With breakdown cover, digital TV, broadband & mobiles, if you're near or beyond the end of your contract and don't want to switch... haggle. Call 'em up, ask for a better deal and let 'em know you'll go elsewhere if not.

As Brian told us: "Rang Sky & asked it to match Virgin's Big Kahuna movies & sport - now £50/mth, down from £100/mth." See our Haggle down your bills guide for where it works best and how to do it.
09:30. Check if your books are balanced. Switch off Jeremy Kyle, things just got serious. Do you KNOW you consistently spend more than you earn? If so, you're either eating your savings or risking the build-up of dangerous debts. My Budget Analyser works through your outgoings to help work out how to get your finances in shape. Give it at least an hour.
10:50. 10 mins to check if you're due £1,000s back on council tax. Before you take a break, up to 400,000 homes in Eng & Scot are in the wrong council tax band. Use my Council Tax Check & Challenge System to check, if so, as the appropriately named Rich told us: "Thanks. I got a £4,400 refund as my band was reduced and backdated to 1993 - plus £350/yr better off in future. RESULT."
11:00. Get a free tea (or coffee). It's elevenses - time for a treat. So sign up for a free DAILY tea or coffee at Waitrose.
11:30. Bag superb exchange rates for every holiday abroad. A moment to relax and think holidays. Smash bureau de change rates whenever you go away by using a specialist overseas credit card. Grab a Halifax Clarity or Creation Everyday card and you get the same near-perfect rates banks get in every country. Ensure you repay the card IN FULL each month.
11:45. Spend a penny. No way to save here (except cut loo paper use).
12:00. Can you save £100s on food bills? Before lunch, look through your fridge & kitchen cupboards. If you spy lots of branded goods, try something different - use our Downshift Challenge Tool or 30+ Supermarket Tricks. Or take it to the next level with Extreme Couponing.
13:15. Time's ticking - are you owed £1,000s in PPI back? Don't assume "this isn't me". Even some who rejected this insurance had it wrongly added to loans, credit cards, overdrafts, catalogues & store cards without knowing.

With a time-bar on claims on the horizon, check now. Full help, FAQs & free templates in Reclaim PPI for FREE. As Elaina emailed: "Massive thanks for a £2,800 PPI cheque. I was adamant I'd never paid PPI - shows how wrong you can be."
13:45. Can you slash your mortgage by £1,000s? Rates, esp fixes, are near all-time lows. Check your mortgage now to see if you can save, read the MSE Remortgage Guide and use our Mortgage Best Buys tool.

OR first-time buyers, get £1,000s added to your deposit. If you want to get on the property ladder, take a look at the Top Help to Buy ISAs where the Govt will add up to £3,000 to your mortgage deposit savings. Also see my free First-Time Buyers' Mortgage Guide.
14:30. Slash car insurance costs by £100s (even if not at renewal). Steep price hikes are predicted this year - see car insurance help below. And check out cheapest home insurance while you're at it.
15:15. Can you slash ALL debt costs to 0%? Whether you've loans, credit cards, store cards or more, see if you can slash debt costs to 0%.
16:00. Check your tax code - if wrong, you could be due big money. Millions of people have had incorrect tax codes, so a huge chunk of the UK population has paid too much (or too little) tax. We've built a unique checker to help work out if you're owed. Use the Tax Code Calculator.
16:15. Get up to 5% cashback on all spending - you could make £200/yr. A cashback credit card pays you every time you spend on it. So grab one and use it for all spending. Top pick is Amex Everyday that gives up to 5% back - just ensure you repay the card IN FULL each month to avoid interest. Also use Top Cashback Sites to earn more when you shop.
16:30. Reclaim and reclaim and reclaim and reclaim... Many are due money in lots of areas. Here are some key ones to check...

- Did overdraft charges cause hardship? Reclaim bank charges.
- Switched energy in last 5yrs? Take 2mins to check if you're owed £100s.
- Flight delay of 3hrs+ in the last 6 years? See Flight Delay Compensation.
- Paid a monthly fee for your bank account? You can reclaim fees, as a very excited Cheryl tweeted me: "Someone give that man a knighthood. £980 back from mis-sold bank package and £200 on my energy bills."
17:15. A must do - grab a diary and fill it in. Sounds dull, but this is perhaps the most important single thing you'll do today. Grab a diary, then go through all products with timed elements - eg, car insurance, savings bonus rates, 0% cards, broadband & mobile contracts & more. Put a note in a month before each one ends to swoop & fix.
Got more time? This is the iceberg's tip - see 40+ Money Makeover Tips for more and let us know how you get on.

The Martin Lewis Money Show - Fri 8pm (repeat Sat 4.30pm)
How to boost your credit score & slash all debt costs to 0%

Last week my show was on whether your bank owes you £1,000s - if you missed it, you can watch online. This week it's about how to slash the cost of all debts to 0% and a raft of tips and tricks to boost your credit score. Do watch, or set the Betamax.

Saved cash? Shout it from the rooftops.

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New. Shift debt to PRE-APPROVED 39mth 0% card

Now our eligibility calculator can show if you've a 100% chance of getting top balance & money transfer cards

Usually the only way to see if you'll get a credit card is to apply, which leaves a mark on your credit file, hitting future creditworthiness. It's anti-shopping-around, as - if rejected - re-applying's tougher. We've fought this, giving evidence in Parliament, to no avail. So 3yrs ago we built our eligibility calculators to fight it - now we're taking it up a step...

  • Pre-approvedWhat the eligibility calcs do. Our Loan and Credit Card Eligibility Calcs do a soft search (you see it on your file, lenders can't, so no credit score impact) that until now gave odds of 0% to 95% for getting top deals, so you can home in where your chances are best. As Kelly told us: "Legend. Used the eligibility calc, got 35mth 0% and shifted £11,000 from 29.9%. Shocked by the savings." That's a saving of £4,900 if she clears the debt in 35mths.

  • What's the new 'pre-approval'? MBNA has now provided info so we can tell many people they've a 100% chance of getting that exact deal (subject to passing its ID & fraud check). There's no impact on your credit score, though of course if you then apply, that marks your file.

  • What cards can I be pre-approved for? There are four MBNA credit cards we can do it on, so far. If you get a 100% chance you have to weigh up the certainty against your chances for cards that can be a smidgeon cheaper.

    - Two top balance-transfer cards to shift existing card debts to.
    MBNA's 39mth 0% deal (2.98% fee)* is only 1mth shorter than the longest 0%, Halifax's 40mth 0% (2.95% fee)*. Repay quicker? There's MBNA's 32mth 0% (1.49% fee)*, slightly costlier than Virgin's 32mth 0% (0.99% fee)*. With all cards, bar Virgin, some may get a shorter 0%, though MBNA pre-approval includes telling you the exact 0% length - use the Balance Transfer Eligibility Calc.

    - Two money transfer cards let you pay cash in your bank account so you owe them instead. Useful for clearing overdrafts, or as a small loan. As it's complex, read our Money Transfers guide for detail, or use the Money Transfers Eligibility Calc.

  • Always follow the Balance Transfer Golden Rules. If you are taking out one of the cards above...
    a) Always clear the card/shift again before the 0% ends, or rates jump to 20.9% rep APR (MBNA), 18.9% (others).
    b) Repay at least the set monthly min, or you can lose special rates.
    c) Don't spend/withdraw cash on them, it's rarely at the cheap rate.
    d) Unsure which one? Use our Which Card Is Cheapest? tool. Full help in Top Balance Transfers (APR Examples).


100+ supermarket coupons you can print worth £100+. We've updated our list, eg, £2.50 off Krispy Kreme, £1 off Fairy non-bio. See 100+ supermarket coupons. Related: How to be an extreme couponer.

Dear Mr Cameron, please reconsider the disgraceful student loan hike. Read Martin's open letter to PM.

Totally free £200 DAILY cash prize draw. Sounds too good to be true, but it's legit. The main prize pot's just gone up from £150 to £200 a day - but forget to check it and you miss out on any winnings. Forumite sldellar says: "On my 6th check I WON and it was a rollover of £300 - wonderfully timed as I recently lost my job." Full info in Free Postcode Lottery.

Free £5 Valentine's card or free 30+ photo prints, & more. 15,000 avail. Sort now, via free £5 Snapfish credit.

Warning: Super-cheap Big Winter Energy Switch coming soon but... you MUST be getting this email or an Energy Club member by Sun 31 Jan. Our past collective switches saw 100,000s get tariffs that beat the market's cheapest. On 2 Feb we hope to do it again. Yet new rules mean we can only offer it to 'members' so ensure the email you want to use is signed up to this newsletter or join our Cheap Energy Club by Sun 31 Jan. PS: SPREAD THE WORD.



- £19.80/mth Vodafone Sim-only + £60 Amazon Ends 1 Feb

- Thorntons extra 20% off sale Ends Sat

- 30 kids books £25 delivered Ends 11 Feb

- Whirlpool/Hotpoint clearance extra 35% off Ends 31 Jan


- Bank with Barclays? Free £55/yr

- New chance to haggle following Sky price hikes

- Amazon Prime Now trick: £10 off £30 spend

- 30+ New York MoneySaving Tips


Even if not at renewal check car insurance now, before huge 25% hikes

The AA says prices could rise up to 25% in 2016, after 20% rises in 2015 - but there are ways to lock in cheaply now

Car insurance is a grudge purchase - we've got no choice. Many leave it until renewal, but with prices predicted to rise steeply again this year, everyone should check now. Full info in Cheap Car Insurance, but to drive the points home...


HOT SIM: £20/mth gets unltd mins, texts & 4GB 4G data + £60 Amazon vch + 6mths' Netflix/Spotify. MSE Blagged. Until 1 Feb newbies to Vodafone* via this link can pay £19.80/mth fixed for a year for this corking Sim deal. Factoring in all the freebies it's by far the best around. Full info & analysis: Sim-only top picks.

Free personalised 'financial plan' drafted by an IFA "worth £500". 2,000 available. You'll be matched with a local independent financial adviser to draft you a financial plan for 2016. Full pros & cons: Free financial advice plan.

THREE Odeon cinema tickets £12. Needn't be used by same person, or on same visit. Norm £5-£13 each. Odeon

Whirlpool/Hotpoint clearance EXTRA 35% off, eg, £300 washing machine £195 MSE Blagged. 35% extra off its online clearance store, incl cookers, fridges, washing machines, microwaves. Hotpoint deals

Thorntons Xmas clearance £60 bundle £20. MSE Blagged. Via 20% code for 50%+ off sale items. Choco-late


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40,000 FREE tix to A Place in the Sun Live show (Ldn & Manc) norm £7.50. 20,000 for Manchester (11-13 Mar) and 20,000 for London (6-8 May). The overseas property exhibition based on the TV show. See A Place in the Sun.

30 kids' books £25 delivered - incl Peppa Pig, Minions & Disney's Frozen. MSE Blagged. A £5 off £30 code on the Scholastic sale, which has 1,600 titles reduced incl a 10 books for £10 deal. Full info: Scholastic sale code.

Jan sales boosts - M&S now up to 70% off. Plus Debenhams has further reductions. See full Jan sales boosts.

New. THREE loans now at cheapest-ever 3.3% APR. If you need a loan and are borrowing £7,500 to £15,000, now M&S Bank*, HSBC* and Sainsbury's* (needs Nectar card) are all as low as 3.3% rep APR. Use our Loans Eligibility Calc to see which you've best chance of getting. Full help, options for all amounts and safety warnings in Cheap Loans.


New. Line rent & broadband £136 for a YEAR - equiv £11.32/mth

ENDS Tue 26 Jan. Hot cashback deal from BT-owned Plusnet slashes £200/yr-ish off typical phone & b'band costs

These days if you want home broadband, it's almost unavoidable to have it bundled up with your home phone so total up the cost for both. For standard deals with the likes of BT, Sky, Virgin, TalkTalk you pay £300-£450/year. The key to cost cutting is grabbing short-lived promo deals (or haggling based on them) - this is the latest...

  • PlusnetNew. Line & broadband £136 for a YEAR. This is a 1yr contract with BT-owned Plusnet* for line rent & unlimited download, up-to-17Mb speed b'band. Its customer service rating is strong (68% 'great' in our poll) and 90% of the UK is eligible, but existing Plusnet customers (or those who left v. recently) are excluded. To get it...

    1. Sign up. Go via Plusnet* before 11.59pm on Tue 26 Jan.
    2. Pay line rent upfront if you can afford to. It's cheapest if you select to pay £185.88 for the year's line rent upfront (equiv £15.49/mth). If not it's £16.99 monthly.
    3. Broadband's 'free' during the contract.
    If you stay after, it's £9.99-£17.49/mth (depending on location).
    4. There's £50 cashback, but sadly you must CLAIM IT. Use the link above and within 10 days of account activation you'll receive an email with a link to fill in your details for £50 cashback. Do that within 2mths and a cheque's sent within 30 days. PS: If you've ad- or cookie-blocking software, turn them off or it mightn't track.

    How it stacks up: Pay a year's line rent upfront and factoring in the cashback it's £135.88 for a year (equiv £11.32/mth). Pay line rent monthly and after cashback it's £153.88 (£12.82/mth equiv). Compare that with BT's £17.99/mth standard line rent alone.

    - What about calls? None included - calls to UK phones are mostly slightly cheaper than BT (see call costs).
    - No line/switching from cable (or in a few cases, Sky cust)? Installation's £49.99. You'll know before committing.
    - Need a router? There's an optional 'free' one available, though it charges £6.99 p&p.

  • Cheapest super-fast fibre broadband. If you want something with more speed, the current leader is Virgin's fibre b'band & line rent £440 over 18mths, get £50 vch. For our full best-buys see Cheap Broadband.


Travelex FLASH currency sale - cheap euros, dollars etc. On Thu 11am-1pm it's boosting rates on all currencies, plus until Thu 9.30am so is Sainsbury's. We're not saying they'll be top, use our Travel Money Comparison and it updates with sale rates. Yet even the best of those can be beaten - see 15 cheapest ways to get travel money.

£10-£40 West End shows, eg, Wicked, Bend It Like Beckham. 94,000 tix avail. Get Into London Theatre

SUCCESS OF THE WEEK: (Send us yours on this or any topic)
"We checked our direct debits and found we'd been paying for over 12 months of MUTV at £7.50/mth that we didn't know we had & didn't want. Thanks for the prompt :)"

FREE gym passes. Eg, 7-day British Military Fitness, 3-day Fitness First. See free gym passes.



Teachers - how effective is financial education at your school? The All Party Parliamentary Group of MPs which champions financial education wants to hear from teachers and others who've been involved in delivering financial education over the past few years. It's to find how teachers can be better supported. Give your views: APPG Call for Evidence.


How do you rate your home phone and broadband provider? Please rate your HOME PHONE and BROADBAND provider(s) on customer service (not price) over the past SIX MONTHS:

Aquiss | B4RN | BT | Direct Save Telecom | Eclipse | EE | Fuel Broadband | John Lewis | KCOM Group

Origin Broadband | Ovo Broadband | Plusnet | Pop Telecom | Post Office | Relish | Sky | SSE Broadband | TalkTalk

TenTel | Tesco Broadband | The Phone Co-op | Utility Warehouse | Virgin Media | Vodafone | Zen | Other

Half of you NEVER check your credit file... according to the 12,951 who voted in last week's poll at least. Overall 53% said they'd never checked their credit file but age seemed to be the deciding factor - 40% of those aged under-25 have never checked, compared with a huge 74% of over-65s. See the full results.



- Top story: E.on to cut gas prices by 5.1% but you can still save more by switching

- Filed your self-assessment tax return yet? Don't miss the 31 January deadline

- 'Rip-off' pension exit fees to be capped

- BT's takeover of EE given green light



Should I ask a guest to replace broken furniture? I recently hosted a gathering, and one guest brought a friend I'd not met before. He broke a unit not intended for sitting on by, well, sitting on it. It's unfixable - should I ask him to pay for it? Enter the Money Moral Maze: Should I ask guest to replace broken unit? | Suggest an MMD | View past MMDs

- Debt-Free Wannabe chat of the week: Ask a debt advisor a question
- Competitions thread of the week: Break in Bordeaux
- Old-style board thread of the week: My inner domestic goddess
- Game of the week: Artillerize
- Discussion of the week: What would happen if..?


- Hilton Hotels is suggesting that if you're broke, you should spend £129 a night on its hotels

- Open letter to the PM about the retrospective student loan hike

- Why you now need to 'join' to get a super-cheap MSE collective energy switch deal


- My 2 must-have supermarket cashback apps (I never do a big shop without them)



Thu 21 Jan - Good Morning Britain, ITV, Deals of the Week, 7.40am. Watch previous
Fri 22 Jan - This Morning, ITV, Martin's Quick Deals, from 10.30am. Watch previous
Fri 22 Jan - The Martin Lewis Money Show, ITV, 8pm. Watch previous
Mon 25 Jan - This Morning, ITV, Money Monday, from 10.30am. Watch previous
Mon 25 Jan - BBC Radio 5 Live, Lunch Money Martin, 12noon. Subscribe to podcast



Q: If you have a smart meter, can you change suppliers, given the meters belong to the company that installs them? Michael, via email.

MSE Fraser's A: You CAN change suppliers if you've got a smart meter - never assume that getting a smart meter means you're stuck with the firm that installed it. Do a comparison for your usage and location at Cheap Energy Club to see how much you could save by switching.

However, if you switch, your smart meter may stop working in 'smart mode', and just work like a normal meter instead. Unless your new supplier offers to replace your smart meter with one of its own, you'll just have to take meter readings the old-fashioned way.

The people behind the smart meter rollout are working on a technical fix for this though - once that's brought in (the latest estimate is this summer, though it's been put back several times) your smart meter should stay 'smart' after you switch.

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


What did people do before Google?

That's it for this week, but before we go, check out this thread from the forum: "Before Google, there was the library...". These days you can ask a search engine any question under the sun, but this forum discussion harks back to a world before t'internet - how DID we find answers to the big questions?

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

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