May
13
2020

Archive: MoneySavingExpert's Money Tips Email

13 May 2020

Over 50 ways to save, incl... furlough to Oct, cut council tax, Brit Gas fix ends, easier 0%, 50% savings boost, Halifax warning, Fitbit tips, 2 specs £14, baking hacks

This info may be out of date. Read this week's emails
Plus... Halifax warning, Fitbit tips, 2 specs for £14, baking hacks
                                                           
 


 

Martin's coronavirus update

16 NEW need-to-knows incl: 
Furlough till OCT | Self-employed support's live | Easier 0% debt shifts | 6 new-cust bounce back loans | 50% savings BOOST | NHS & care worker freebies | Voucher refunds & more

Hiya. In England at least, from today (Wed), rightly or wrongly, we're in phase two - a light easing of restrictions. As part of that, the Chancellor's thankfully announced skeleton plans of elongating the furlough scheme until October.

Yet while the scheme's been lengthened, its scope hasn't been extended. The mood music is loud and clear - the aim is to gradually reduce the state's outlay on financial support. And this noise will likely drown out the despairing cries of those who have fallen in the cracks - recent job-switchers, newly self-employed, limited company directors and more. It's tough to see these groups now being added into any schemes, when the policy direction is to contract the cost.

So it's a case of trying everything you can that's available. As ever, for the latest information, and detailed guidance on how to support yourself, see our 7 constantly updated guides...

Coronavirus employees' help, incl furloughing rights
Coronavirus self-employed & small ltd co help, incl income scheme
Coronavirus finance & bills help, incl mortgages, energy & TV
Coronavirus travel rights, incl refunds & insurance
Coronavirus life in lockdown, incl MOTs, food & entertainment
Coronavirus financial FAQs, commonly asked Q&As


And finally, as always, while we strive for 100% accuracy, please give us just a touch of wriggle room - things are changing all the time.

The 16 NEW coronavirus financial NEED-TO-KNOWS

1) Furlough scheme extended until October. Scant details so far but Chancellor Rishi Sunak has announced the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme will be extended until October from the original June cut-off.

- Until July: The current scheme is extended a further month until July, and will work exactly the same as now. In other words, if furloughed you can't work for your employer (though with permission you can work for others).
-  Aug to Oct: Employees will stay on 80% of income, but be able to come back to work part-time for their employer, though then employers will have to contribute to the furlough cost. The Chancellor has said he'll provide full details of how this works towards the end of this month.

For updates, and my instant analysis, see furlough extension news.

2) Self-Employment Income Support now LIVE (Wed) - three key tips, incl if you're turned down. From today, those eligible for the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS) can apply to get 80% of average profits up to £2,500/mth to cover March to May's income. For full info, including who's eligible and how the amounts are decided, see our Self-Employed Coronavirus Help, but the key info to know right now is...

- All invites to apply have been sent, but not necessarily received: Letters, texts or emails have been sent to eligible people with dates to apply between 13 and 18 May (though miss the date and you can still do it later). They mightn't have arrived though, especially the letters, or if you've not updated your contact details. If not, and you think you should have got one, use the Govt's SEISS eligibility checker to see if you're eligible, and get your appointment time. 

- Govt eligibility checker says you're ineligible? Check details & try again: First check all details especially your UTR code and national insurance number - if they're put in wrong, it'll go wrong. Even if they're right, try again, as if you tried early last week, some people's files weren't uploaded and so they were incorrectly told 'no'. If that doesn't work, and you filed your 2018/19 tax return very late, try again this evening (WED), as the final data upload was due last night (Tue), but give it a bit of time to be safe.

- Feel wrongly rejected? In most cases you're not eligible: Many people are sadly being surprised by ineligibility. The two big reasons are: 1) self-employment isn't 50%+ of earnings, as you've not counted all other earnings from pensions, savings, employment and property etc, 2) you stopped self-employment or changed for a period. So the first thing to do if you're ineligible is to go through the SEISS eligibility info in detail to check.

- Still feel wrongly rejected? You can review: If you're still convinced you're eligible, you can ask for the decision to be reviewed online or by phone - though things are only likely to change in a smattering of cases. If you're still unhappy after that, you can escalate it all the way up to an HMRC adjudicator. Full details in how to challenge an incorrect SEISS decision.

3) Will the self-employment scheme & mortgage payment holidays etc be extended too? Nothing's been announced yet. Frustratingly No.10 again turned down MSE's request to ask questions at the press conference - I would've asked the above.

Staggeringly, we're now in a position that the self-employed scheme ends in three weeks (it currently covers March to May pay) but the employment scheme lasts for five more months. It'd be perverse not to extend it. Though there's (unsubstantiated) talk of the income threshold being cut from the max £50,000 profits. Updates will go in Self-Employment Help.

As for payment holidays, most are still available to apply for, and will continue to be for at least a month, and most last three months after application. Whether it's a formal regulatory extension or simply pressure put on big banks to extend the holidays for those in need, I'd be surprised if these weren't extended. I suspect we'll hear this month. 

4) Paying CREDIT CARD interest? It's getting a bit easier to shift debt to 0% - try this ahead of payment holidays. A few weeks ago we revealed data showing that getting accepted for top 0% balance transfer credit cards to shift existing debt to was getting tougher. We've run the data again and it seems we've just about turned the corner: the proportion who won't be accepted for any card has dropped by a tenth, though it's still far higher than when this started.

This is important. A balance transfer is where you get a new card that repays debts on existing cards for you, so you owe it the money, but at 0%. Cutting the interest means more of your repayments clear the actual debt. Use our 0% eligibility calculator to find cards most likely to accept you...

If you can't afford to clear your credit cards, you can't afford not to check out if you can get a balance transfer.

 
As Antoinette tweeted me on Monday: "@MartinSLewis thanks to you I've just swapped my credit card balance on a soon-to-run-out 0% to a new 27mth 0% with a 1.2% fee. Thanks."  This can save £100s or £1,000s.

Of course, you can apply for a 3mth credit card payment holiday until at least Thu 9 Jul too. Here you make no repayments, but interest still racks up. So it's only for those struggling, to do as a last resort to help cash flow.

Theoretically it's better to apply to shift debt to 0% first, then later on apply for a payment holiday, so there's no interest. Though it's unlikely that most struggling so much that they need the holiday will be accepted for a new card.

5) Now six banks allow NEW customers to get bounce back 'one-year interest-free, payment-free' loans. Last week the Bounce Back Loan Scheme launched, allowing small businesses to get £2,000-£50,000 loans with no interest or payments in the first year, then 2.5% annual interest for five years (though they can be paid off early at any time).

The reason for including biz loans in my consumer finance email is we got the Treasury to confirm that they can be used TO SUPPORT YOUR USUAL INCOME, especially useful for those missing out on other support measures.

But there have been some teething problems (tiger-sized teeth in some cases), especially with Barclays, and to a lesser extent HSBC and Santander. Plus many sole-traders who legitimately bank via a personal account have been told they need to open a business account, and that has been tricky for some. Yet now six banks let non-customers apply, either straight or if you quickly open an account with them first. 

6) 50% SAVINGS BOOST via Help to Save now available to 100,000s more - OPEN NOW to use later. A tiny silver lining to the sad fact there are 100,000s more people claiming universal credit (UC) is that many more are now eligible for the Help to Save scheme. It pays a 50% bonus (max £1,200) on top of savings. Obviously saving now is tough for many new UC recipients, but you can OPEN IT NOW WITHOUT PUTTING CASH IN and it's still usable once things improve - even if you're no longer on UC. Full help is in our guide.

And of course getting into the savings habit is crucial for individuals and taxpayers. It builds financial resilience for future crises, builds good financial habits, and reduces future reliance on the state.

7) Your Self-Employment Income Support payment won't affect past universal credit, but may affect it in the future. If you've claimed universal credit, and are now due a Self-Employment Income Support Scheme payment, don't worry, even though it's a payout for March to May, it won't impact the universal credit you've been paid for those months.

However, it will likely reduce future payments. In some cases it may be worth delaying applying for SEISS by a week or two (which is allowed even if you've got an appointment) so that it falls correctly in your universal credit period. Read more on timing SEISS correctly for UC.

8) Starts Fri (probably): Insurance payment holidays - car, home, travel, boiler, life, private medical & more. Regulator the Financial Conduct Authority is due today (Wed) to confirm its insurance proposals that will likely be in force from Fri. This should mean people struggling due to coronavirus can ask for the following (though do check our coronavirus insurance rules update once it's been announced in case things change).  

- Payment holidays for 1-3mths on request: This is for those paying insurance monthly. As that usually means they lent you money to pay 'em upfront, there's interest and it'll still rack up, so only do it if needs must.
- Waiving cancellation fees for those ending policies.
- Reassessing policies on request to ensure suitability: For example, if your car mileage has dropped substantially, they shouldn't charge fees to change that.
- Remove 'unnecessary' extras on request: For example, if you want to drop 'key cover' as you're not driving, it should be allowed free of charge.

If you've already tried and been turned down, assuming the rules are confirmed, try again on Fri. Full info in insurance hols.

PS: This is the first of these payment holiday schemes where the announcement has been delayed. The fact it doesn't seem to have just been rubber-stamped may mean some changes are due. 

9) NHS & CARE WORKER staff freebies & discounts. We've updated our popular blog that lists NHS freebies so it's now our NHS and care workers' freebies and discounts blog, making it clear which offers are doffing caps only to NHS workers, and which also doff to care workers. Offers for both include unlimited mobile data and food discounts.

10) Accept a voucher rather than a refund, and it's unlikely you'll be able to claim on a debit/credit card if the firm goes bust. I've been seeking confirmation on this for a while, and now I've got an answer, but it isn't great. If you've had a cancelled flight, by law you're entitled to a refund within a week, and the Competition and Markets Authority says other sectors should generally give cancellation refunds too.

Yet many people are accepting vouchers - either rightly as they want to help the firm, or wrongly because firms are flouting rules, have refused refunds or made them difficult to get. 

In the travel sector, some firms are issuing 'refund credit notes' which are, they say, protected by ATOL - though this is untested. But most vouchers are just a call on the company, so if it goes bust you become a creditor and are unlikely to get money back.

When that happens in other circumstances, I always say use  chargeback  or Section 75  to try to get a refund from your plastic provider. I asked the  Financial Ombudsman if this could work here and in a nutshell it told me: "If a voucher is offered in full and final settlement of a claim, it might mean you aren't later able to make a Section 75 or chargeback claim." So this is all dependent on the T&Cs. Full info in chargeback on vouchers.

11) Hope for supply teachers as umbrella firm Orange Genie furloughs based on average pay. Due to the way the pay is structured, many umbrella firms are furloughing supply teachers at 80% of national minimum wage. We took up the cudgels on this, and three weeks ago I got HMRC to confirm in a quote that effectively furlough could be based on actual pay. Legal advice from the Law Society and unions supports this.

Unfortunately, an industry trade body pooh-poohed it, and even effectively suggested that the HMRC quote may not be kosher (I'm as kosher as they come). So it's good news that one big umbrella firm has joined some smaller ones in furloughing based on average pay, adding £100s to monthly pay packets. I'd politely ask other umbrella firms to consider following suit, to provide decent support for our hard-working educators. More info in supply teachers' furlough.

Hope for agency supply teachers too...

Lucy emailed us: "I want to say thank you. I'm a supply teacher working through an agency (not umbrella). I did a screenshot of your zero-hours contract furlough info and emailed them. As a result, I'm being furloughed, backdated to 6 April. 

"Sadly I can't be furloughed from my other zero-hours role. But I'm happy I'm getting something from somewhere - 80% of something is better than 100% of nothing. Thanks very much for the info you gave." Minor details have been changed to protect anonymity. 


12) It's tax credit renewal time - this year, it'll be automatic for most. Yet still, TELL 'EM, TELL 'EM, TELL 'EM if things have changed. New benefits claimants get universal credit, but millions are still on the old tax credit system. HMRC is starting to send out tax credit renewal letters - you should receive them by 31 May, in advance of the 31 July deadline...

- This year, most get a letter with a BLACK line on the front page: This is a 'renewal notice', so just check everything's correct. If it is, do nowt and your tax credits will renew automatically. If your circumstances have changed though, you have to let them know. Full help in black line tax credit letter.

- If you get a letter with a RED line, you must reply: This is a 'declaration form', so you need to check the info's correct. Even if there's no change, you must return the form or renew online. Do nowt and your tax credits could be stopped. Full help in red line tax credit letter.

For the last decade, at this time of year I've reminded you that if anything changes, at any time not just renewal, TELL 'EM, TELL 'EM, TELL 'EM, and I'm doing it again today. This includes changes in income, kids leaving school, moving in/out with a partner, hours changes and more - all may affect what you're due. So tell 'em.

If not, you could be underpaid or overpaid (sounds great, but you'll end up having to pay it back, even if spent - see fight unfair tax credit overpayments).

PS: Not sure if you're getting all you're entitled to? Use our 10-min Benefits Calc to check.

13) Working tax credits won't be cut if you work less due to coronavirus. The Govt's confirmed those who claim working tax credit will be treated as working their normal hours until the date the furlough and self-employment support schemes close (even if you're not using either). So that's now at least Oct, ie, if you're now working under 30hrs/wk (16hrs for parents, those aged 60+, and those with disabilities) you'll still qualify. More in our Coronavirus Benefits guide.

14) Am I legally due a holiday refund if I'm unable to go as I can't quarantine for 2wks on my return? I've had lots of questions on this. The short answer is no. The fact you'd have to quarantine after your holiday isn't the travel firm's fault, and if you've paid for a holiday, it's available and it's legal to go, then under the law it's likely to be your issue not the firm's - though some may agree to help out.

Frankly, it's all a bit theoretical, as right now the Govt advises against all but essential travel anywhere, with no end date. When quarantine comes in, it's due to apply to anyone coming into the UK, excluding from France or the Republic of Ireland (which leaves a likely soon-to-be-closed loophole of stopping off in Paris on the way home to avoid it).

So this really isn't worth considering until it's a more realistic scenario. We'll update you on the changes then.

15) Dental nurses' furlough still unclear, and not likely to get clearer. We've been chasing this and promising you an answer for weeks (well done MSE Amalia for not letting go), but sadly we just can't get decent clarity from the state on it.

Most practices do a mix of NHS work and private work, leaving many practice owners unclear how the Treasury's furlough guidance works in conjunction with NHS funding rules. It is clear that practices can furlough employed nurses and other staff, paid in proportion to their private income. 

But as NHS funding is still being provided, the expectation is for dental nurses to be available to volunteer to be redeployed to support the NHS in tackling coronavirus. So practices are wary of furloughing (even if redeployment isn't possible) without clear Treasury guidance. All it'll tell us is the furlough scheme "may be appropriate". To see what info we've got, read dental nurses and furlough.

16) What you can now do (in ENG) that you couldn't before. Not about money, but to finish, just in case you haven't seen it, take a peek at the Govt's 'what's changed' info.

-------------------------
The Martin Lewis Money Show LIVE (from home)
EVERY Thu at 8.02pm (after NHS clap) on ITV


In this week's must-watch Thursday financial briefing (if I say so myself), full easy-to-understand explainers on the latest furlough and self-employment news, and a huge wad of MoneySaving tips. As we're live, you can set the agenda by suggesting questions, just tweet me @MartinSLewis using the show's hashtag #MartinLewis. Do watch or at the very least ask a quick-typing friend to transcribe it.

 
 

DON'T believe the fake ads on Facebook
Lots of scam ads that litter social media lie that we or Martin promote Bitcoin, binary trading etc. See Fake ads warning.

 

 
 

10 ways to cut your council tax bill - including payment holidays, challenge your band, discounts, spreading the cost and more

Council tax is a serious pelican (big bill), yet many assume they get their bill and they have to pay it in full as a done deal. That's not correct. Ever since Martin launched his check & challenge system back in 2007, we've been campaigning and explaining the ways to slash your council tax bill. And with people struggling right now, it's never been more important, so here's the top 10. Of course, council tax only applies in England, Scotland and Wales; those in Northern Ireland are on a rates scheme.

  1. Many councils are offering payment holidays to those struggling - but only if you ask. There's no one-size-fits-all rule, so we asked 20 councils. Only one said it would not offer a deferral, while of those that may do, it's still judged on a case-by-case basis and the deferral length varies, so there's no certainty. See council tax payment holidays.

  2. On universal credit / benefits / low income? You may be able to get your bill reduced. Council tax reductions are long-standing discounts of up to 100% off bills for those on benefits or a low income. As this isn't backdateable, the sooner you do it, the sooner your bill will be reduced. The amount depends on your circumstances and the council, and on top of the discount, in England, you may also get £150 off your bill backed by a £500m Covid-19 hardship fund.

  3. Up to 400,000 homes are in the wrong band - check and challenge to save £1,000s. If you're in England or Scotland, use Martin's council tax check & challenge system to see if you're in too high a band. If so, you can get it lowered and a backdated payout - we get success stories in regularly, from people saving £1,000s.

  4. 100,000s missing out on the 'severe mental impairment' discount worth £1,000s. If someone has a diagnosed SMI, which includes some with Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, strokes and more, they don't have to pay council tax if they live alone, and get 25% off if they live with one other grown-up. Plus some councils backdate it, leading to paybacks worth £1,000s. Sadly, this has been wildly underpublicised - but our severe mental impairment council tax discount guide will take you through it.

  5. Those living alone (or with under-18s / live-in carers) can claim 25% off. You can claim this single person discount, and if it's been going on a while, you can backdate it.

  6. Moved home since 1993? You may be owed £100s in council tax credits. Council tax is paid monthly (sometimes annually) in advance, so you're often in credit when you move, and you're entitled to that back. In 2019, we established that about £230m is unclaimed - see how to reclaim overpaid council tax.

  7. Disabled or caring for someone with a disability? You could drop a council tax band. If you live in a larger property than you would need if you or another occupant were not disabled, eg, you have an extra room for treatment or space to use a wheelchair indoors, you may be able to drop a band.

  8. In England? You can ask to pay over 12mths. Council tax is normally paid over 10, but ALL councils in Eng must allow residents to pay over the year, which helps to spread payments. See pay over 12mths.

  9. On pension credit? You may be due a reduced bill. All those on the main element of pension credit are due a reduction, and some on the savings element are too. See pension credit council tax for full info.

  10. Full-time students are disregarded for council tax purposes. So homes with just students living there don't pay. If there's a mix of students and non-students, the home gets a 25% discount. See students and council tax.
 

11 Fitbit MoneySaving tips, incl save £65 with the right colour & add free Fitbit features to your phone. With many walking/running much more, we've a feast of Fitbit tips.

TWO pairs of prescription specs for £14 - cheapest it's ever been. MSE Blagged. We feature this deal regularly but never at a better price. Incl free delivery. 2020 vision

Martin: 'Santander 123 now deader than a dead duck as it cuts savings interest again - DITCH IT.' A reminder of big news from last week - yet another interest rate drop on the once-great Santander 123 current account. Interest dived from 1.5% to 1% last Tue, and when that cut was announced in Jan, Martin said the account was a "dead duck". Yet from Aug the interest will drop AGAIN to 0.6%, but the £5/mth charge remains. As you get the SAME bills cashback via its £1/mth Santander 123 Lite*, and you can double savings interest to 1.2% by just switching cash to an easy-access account. Full analysis in Ditch Santander 123.

Warning. Halifax Reward customers - it's making your mind up time. Well, it should've been Eurovision week so we're channelling Bucks Fizz. Halifax is overhauling its Reward account on Mon 1 Jun and you've a decision to make by this Fri. It's increasing the reward to £5/mth from £2/mth, but with much stricter eligibility terms. You'll need to pay in £1,500/mth, AND either spend £500/mth on your debit card or keep £5,000 in the account with no interest. See Halifax Reward - Should you stay or should you go now? (Did the Clash do Eurovision?)

Baking hacks - swap hard-to-find ingredients, eg, fizzy water instead of eggs. Keen baker MSE Rhiannon gives her tips and rounds up the best swaps to stop your baking going bad.

13 FREE ways to learn something new, eg, languages, guitar/piano, qualifications & more. We've used our MoneySaving skills to show you how to learn skills at home for free.

 
 

Ends by Fri. Cheapest British Gas fix in 3yrs and E.on's super-cheap 1yr fix. Typical savings on both are £340+/yr

Last week, we told you three cheap energy FIXES for switchers had launched, all with 100% green electricity. These let you lock in rates (though what you actually pay depends on usage) on the back of the unthinkably low oil price. This week's news is that two of them are being pulled, likely as so many of you went for 'em, such as Sue who tweeted: "@MartinSLewis Thank you Martin, I switched supplier this morning and have saved £600/yr."  We've ordered the tariffs by end date.

Savings below are compared to the standard tariff PRICE CAP of £1,127/yr on typical dual-fuel use (more than 50% of users are on one of these tariffs). As YOUR winner depends on use and region, all links go via our Cheap Energy Club for an accurate comparison, and because it gives switchers £25 MSE dual-fuel cashback if we can switch you (which you don't get direct).

  • Ends 4pm Thu. E.on's cheap 1yr fix. SAVE £344/yr. MSE Blagged. The E.on Fix 1 Year Exclusive April 2020 tariff is for dual-fuel or elec-only new custs to E.on. This price is only via our Cheap Energy Club. You need to agree to have smart meters fitted if you don't have them already - they'll be installed for free once lockdown's over.
  • Ends Fri (or sooner). British Gas's cheapest tariff in over 3yrs (incl 'free' boiler cover). SAVE £346/yr. MSE Blagged. This is the cheapest fix from a Big 6 firm. The dual-fuel British Gas Energy and Boiler Cover May 2021v4 1yr fix is for new Brit Gas custs only and comes with a year's boiler cover included (this normally costs £30/yr, so cancel it after the year if you want to avoid that). It's told us the tariff will end this week, but won't confirm the day, so it could be any time.

  • Cheapest 1yr fix on the market. SAVE £361/yr. The Tonik Green Super Power (1 Year) v3 fix is for dual-fuel and elec-only custs. We don't know of an end date, but cheap tariffs can always be pulled at any time. For those willing to spread their wings beyond big names, this is what we call the cheapest fix on the market. There is one cheaper, but it has a very poor service rating (it will appear if you do a full comparison).

    Tonik's own service rating in our last poll is superb, at 89% 'great', but in recent weeks we've seen a spike in billing and switching complaints, likely on the back of an IT system switch. We wanted to let you know this - it says it's all sorted, but we're still monitoring to check.

  • Switching is easy - little changes apart from service and cost. Switch firm and it's the same gas, same elec and same safety, the only thing that changes is the customer service and who bills you. Your supply isn't cut off as part of the process, while no one visits your home unless you want or need smart meters (though installations are paused for now). See our switching FAQs for more help.

    Though please don't call firms unless you really have to. Their phone lines are clogged with vulnerable customers needing help due to coronavirus finances right now. You can do everything online, so please try to.

 

200,000+ water-saving FREEBIES, eg, shower heads & garden hose nozzles. It's Water Saving Week, a time to think about how much you use, particularly with so many of us at home all day. To help there are 100,000s of freebies available - but what you can get depends on your supplier. Free water-saving gadgets

Free 'Amazon delivery trick' tool. With Amazon, delivery's free if you spend £20+, but if just under, instead of shelling out up to £4.50 on standard delivery, a handy tool finds cheap items (eg, for 30p) to take you over, so it's free. It's more useful than ever, with most non-grocery shopping now online. Free Amazon delivery tool

Kids got Coventry BS's junior ISA? Its rate has dropped - switch to earn more. A best buy for a long time, but its rate has just been cut from 3.6% to 2.95%. That's not bad, but you can transfer it, to earn up to 3.25%. For the alternative accounts, see Top Junior ISAs.

Ted Baker 30% off full-price items. MSE Blagged. Valid till Mon. Ted Baker

 
 

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AT A GLANCE BEST BUYS

Longest 0%: TSB* up to 30mths 0%, 2.95% fee (19.9% rep APR)
No-fee 0%: 
Santander 18mths 0% (18.9% rep APR) or 20mths 0% if you're a NatWest/RBS customer (19.9% rep APR)

Get comparison site quotes in this order:

  1. MoneySupermarket*
  2. Confused.com*
  3. Compare The Market*
  4. Gocompare*

Then check insurers they miss: 
Direct Line*
Aviva*

Cheapest for £5,000-£7,499: Tesco Bank 3.4% rep APR (1-3yrs)
Cheapest £7.5k-£15k:
 
Cahoot 2.8% rep APR

Standard b'band & line rent: Plusnet equiv £14.83/mth
Fibre b'band & line rent: 
Shell Energy equiv £18.83/mth
Superfast fibre b'band & line rent: TalkTalk equiv £21.95/mth

1-3% cashback on bills: Santander 123 Lite
2% interest fixed for a year: 
Nationwide FlexDirect

 

SUCCESS OF THE WEEK: 
"After reading your guide and finding a broadband deal £17/mth cheaper than my own, I rang to haggle with my broadband provider and cut my bill. Hey presto."
(Send us yours on this or any topic.)

 

THIS WEEK'S POLL

Do you eat food past its best-before date? With most of us having to limit trips to the supermarket and some staples in short supply, cutting down on food waste has never been more important. So when you find food at home past its best-before date, what do you do?

Two-thirds of MoneySavers have switched energy in the past year. Last week, we asked when you last switched your energy provider or tariff (and, for those that haven't recently, what was putting you off). 3,700 people responded - and we were pleased to see 69% have switched energy in the past 12 months. For the 5% that have never switched at all, the most common reason was because they think it's just 'too much hassle', while those who haven't switched in over a year say they're just happy with their current deal. See full energy switching poll results.

 
 

MONEY MORAL DILEMMA

Should I accept payment for doing my vulnerable neighbours' shopping? I'm going shopping for two vulnerable neighbours who can't leave their homes due to coronavirus. They insist on paying me what they would for a supermarket delivery - £3.50 each - even though I've told them I'd do it for free. This is more than twice my fuel and parking costs, so I feel like I'm taking advantage of them by taking the money. Enter the Money Moral Maze: Should I accept payment for doing my vulnerable neighbours' shopping? | Suggest an MMD | View past MMDs

 

NHS staff freebies & discounts - Incl those for care workers
Fitbit MoneySaving tips - Eg, £100 Versa Lite (norm £150)
Learn new skills for free - Eg, languages, musical instruments
Glasses Direct - Two prescription specs for £14
Ted Baker - 30% off full-price items code

30+ free mobile games - Eg, Mario Kart Tour, Call of Duty
'Free' retro SNES games on Switch - Eg, Donkey Kong, Zelda
Red Dead Redemption 2 - How to play it for £1
Nintendo Switch Online - Trick to get it for a year for £3ish
'Free' PS4 and Xbox games - Monthly via subscription

Pandora - 10% off full-price items code
Free sport re-runs - Incl all of Euro 96
Pick My Postcode - FREE £200+ daily prize lottery
Amazon Prime - Six months' free trial for students, incl Prime Video
Ciaté - £60 nail polish collection for £20 delivered

Easy to access free BBC audiobooks, eg, Pride & Prejudice
Send a smile with a free postcard from Innocent
Need a mental boost? Here are some random acts of kindness

 
 

MARTIN'S APPEARANCES (WED 13 MAY ONWARDS)

Thu 14 May - This Morning, phone-in, ITV, 10.30am
Thu 14 May - The Martin Lewis Money Show - Coronavirus Special, ITV, 8pm
Mon 18 May - This Morning, ITV, 10.55am & phone-in, 11.30am
Mon 18 May - BBC Radio 5 Live, Ask Martin Lewis, 12.15pm. Listen again

MSE TEAM APPEARANCES (SUBJECTS TBC)

Mon 18 May - BBC Radio Manchester, Drive with Phil Trow, from 2.25pm
Tue 19 May
 
- BBC Radio Cambridgeshire, Lunchtime Live with Jeremy Sallis, from 12.25pm 

 

'I ORDERED A CHICKEN... BUT SIX EGGS CAME INSTEAD': YOUR FUNNIEST SUPERMARKET SUBS

That's it for this week, but before we go... with more doing online food shops, we've taken a light-hearted look at substitute items you've received when supermarket computers have chosen some strange alternatives (of course, that's no reflection on the wonderful supermarket staff and delivery drivers)They've included strawberry jam instead of strawberries, a beef lasagne replacing beef sandwich slices and a kilo of potatoes instead of crisps. Another MoneySaver had to laugh when a chicken was replaced by six eggs, while one parent had to explain to the kids why they were sent a pair of boot laces, rather than strawberry laces. See our Funniest Substitutes Facebook post for more, and let us know yours. 

We hope you save some money, stay safe,
The MSE team