Archive: MoneySavingExpert's Money Tips Email

19 August 2020

Over 50 ways to save, incl... self-employ grant OPEN, Boots tricks, 18mth no-fee 0%, France help, cheapest energy fix, Nando's free deliv, redundancy rights, water freebies, 'free' Lindt

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Plus... Nando's free deliv, redundancy rights, water freebies, 'free' Lindt


12 helpers for hard economic times, as redundancies, pay cuts & small biz woes continue to hit

2nd self-employment grant NOW OPEN, bill busting, redundancy rights, free budget planner, childcare help etc

To few people's surprise, it was confirmed last week the UK is officially in recession for the first time since 2009. The trigger for a recession is when the economy shrinks in two successive three-month periods - and that's what happened in the first half of 2020, due to the fallout from the pandemic. It was the scale of the contraction in that period that was shocking - 22.1% - the biggest on record.

Things are improving, as the economy grew by 8.7% in June. Yet that wasn't enough to avoid a recession, and recovery to pre-Covid levels looks way off, with more job losses expected, especially when the furlough scheme ends in Oct.

Only yesterday, M&S said it would cut another 7,000 roles, while other big names such as BA, British Gas and WHSmith have said job losses are still to come. Plus many in work are earning less, and numerous self-employed workers have struggled to generate any income at all recently. 

So we've help for those already facing the harsh economic consequences of Covid, and those concerned about what the next few months may bring. And even if you feel financially fine, there are good everyday tips here to keep bills and budgets in good shape - which makes more sense than ever now. 

1) Now open. Second self-employment income support grant. Yet a huge 800k who were eligible didn't claim the first one - check NOW. It's been a tough time for many self-employed people, with many businesses severely affected. But on Monday applications opened for the second and final Self-Employment Income Support Scheme grant

It's capped at £2,190/mth for 3mths, making it a max £6,570 (which is taxable). Bizarrely, that doesn't cover a specific time period; you just get 3mths worth of payments.

To work out the total, you'll get 70% of your average monthly trading profits in the tax years that ended in 2017, 2018 and 2019 (assuming you worked all three) - but only up to the cap above. As it's a grant, you don't need to pay it back.

While your business needs to have been adversely affected by coronavirus since 14 Jul to claim, eligibility is otherwise the same as the first grant - eg, you must have filed a 2018/19 tax return and your avg trading profit must be less than £50,000/yr. Of course, the similar criteria mean sadly many are still excluded. 

If you're affected in any way since then, you're due the FULL grant amount based on your earnings - if not, you're due nothing. Unsure whether you're affected? Read our Can you declare your business is affected by coronavirus? guide.

2) Do a bill-busting check to get your finances ship-shape. There's never a bad time to check you're not overpaying on energy, broadband, credit cards etc. But right now, it's even more important. Our Money Makeover Checklist has it all - here are some of the biggies:

-  CREDIT CARDS. Pay interest? Save £100s by shifting debt to 0% for up to 28mths. We've the top balance transfer deals below

- MORTGAGES. Are you one of 1m+ on a standard rate? Can you save £1,000s switching? See our Remortgage Guide & Mortgage Best Buys.

-  COUNCIL TAX. 100,000s overpay. Yet a 10-min check could save £1,000s if you're in the wrong band or you're failing to grab discounts. 

- ENERGY. Switch & save £250+/yr. We've blagged the cheapest 1yr fix.

- MOBILES. If out of contract & happy with your phone, many can save with a new Sim. Eg, 4GB data, unltd mins & texts: '£6.57/mth'. See Cheap Sims.

- BROADBAND. Slash bills & get a speed boost. The cheapest fibre b'band & line in 3yrs is available at '£14.99/mth'. See more b'band deals.

- CAR INSURANCE. Never auto-renew. Instead use comparisons to slash prices, even if not at renewal. See our car insurance cost-cutters.

3) Furlough's due to end in Oct which could mean more job losses - tool up on your redundancy rights. Since April, 9.6m roles have been furloughed - this is where your job's put on standby and you get up to 80% of your salary, up to £2,500/mth.

It's been a lifeline for many, yet from this month employers have been asked to contribute - at first covering national insurance and pension contribution costs, then from September, parts of the salary too. That may prompt some to think seriously about who they can keep on. 

If you're worried your job may be at risk, brush up on your rights now. Our fully updated Redundancy Help guide includes your rights to pay, notice and holiday, and lots more. For full info on furlough rules, see furlough help

4) Do a proper budget to plan ahead - and work out if you spend more than you earn. With plenty of uncertainty, it's more important than ever to have a firm handle on your spending. Our free budget planner spreadsheet helps you analyse your finances to work out your genuine incomings and outgoings over a year (or other timeframe), which can be an eye-opener. While it requires effort to do it properly, it can transform your approach to spending and saving. 

Many tell us it's been the kick up the bum they needed to start cutting bills or cutting back. Plus our Demotivator tool shines a light on how much small spends, such as coffees, really cost over a year.

5) Looking for work? Make use of support, incl Govt jobseeker site, free training & free dry-cleaning. Here's how...

- Govt's GB jobseeker site has job tips & lists 88,000 vacancies. See Job Help.

- Claiming benefits? Free training, interview travel expenses, interview clothes etc. You could benefit from the Flexible Support Fund, with grants issued at the discretion of your local Jobcentre. 

- Some can get a free railcard giving 50% off many tickets. If you're on jobseeker's allowance or job hunting & claiming universal credit, you may qualify. See free railcard.

- Got an interview? Get your outfit dry-cleaned free. Timpson offers this perk if you're unemployed. See free dry-cleaning.

6) Beware income eaters - do a direct debit audit. Whether money is tight or not, why throw cash away? Many who check their statements for payments get a shock when they see that magazine subscription, gym membership or pay TV fee they didn't know was going out. So do a speedy direct debit audit to check you're not paying each month for things you don't use or don't need.

7) Check if you have insurance that covers job loss if you've been made redundant or are worried it could happen. You won't be able to get a new policy now that covers coronavirus-related redundancy. However, you may already have one of several types that can kick in and offer financial respite if you lose your job, including income protection cover or payment protection insurance. Do our check for hidden insurance.

8) Got a small business that's struggling? You can still apply for a bounce back loan of up to £50,000. Small businesses, including limited companies, affected by coronavirus can get £2,000-£50,000 loans. The loans are interest-free and payment-free for the first year and they CAN be used to support your income. As things stand they're available till Nov. Full info, including eligibility and how to apply, in our Bounce Back Loans guide.

9) Struggling to pay bills? Should you ask for a payment holiday? They're available for mortgages, credit cards, store cards, loans, insurance, car finance and more until 31 Oct. See What payment holidays can I take - and should I?

10) Check if you can claim help with childcare - are you due up to £2,000/yr PER CHILD? The Govt's Tax-Free Childcare scheme offers help towards childcare costs, but only a quarter of the 1.3m families eligible for the help have signed up. And if you've a 3-4-year-old, in Eng you're entitled to up to 30hrs a week of free childcare (the link has detail on Scot/Wal/NI entitlements). 

If you're not claiming either, check if you can. Plus if you already get either, remember you need to reconfirm eligibility every 3mths - important for some with schools set to go back, as Tax-Free Childcare can pay for services such as after-school clubs. See our Tax-Free Childcare guide for full help.

11) If you're on a low income, check if you can claim universal credit. The number claiming it has shot up - 2.6m more are now claiming than pre-pandemic. Universal credit is a means-tested benefit to help low earners meet basic living costs and some can get £1,500+/mth.

As eligibility criteria are complex (eg, there's no straightforward definition of 'low income') use our 10-min Benefits Calculator to see if you're likely to qualify. Also read our Coronavirus Universal Credit & Benefits guide for more info.

12) Struggling with serious debt? Get free non-profit help. Sadly, the charity StepChange has warned that 4.6m households risk building up dangerous debt because of the pandemic.

If you're in the mire, it's important to check what coronavirus-related or other financial support is available (such as those mentioned above). But if you've exhausted these avenues and are still struggling, you may be in debt crisis, especially if any of the following apply...

- You can't meet minimum monthly payments.
- You have non-mortgage debts bigger than a year's salary.
- You have sleepless nights or depression/anxiety over debt.

If so, get free, one-on-one debt-counselling help from Citizens Advice, National Debtline or StepChange. They're here to help, not judge. The most common thing we hear after is: "I finally got a good night's sleep."


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Lots of scam ads litter social media and even newspaper websites - some of these lie that we or Martin promote Bitcoin, binary trading etc. See Fake ads warning.



'I shifted debt to 18mths 0% with NO FEE. Cheers for the tip Martin'

If you can't afford to clear card debt, you can't afford not to try to shift it to a 0% balance transfer credit card

We've long told you that a key weapon to slash debt costs is a balance transfer card, and clearly it's cheapest with no transfer fee. So this week we're highlighting cards with no (or low) fees to help you save, as Ian did: "Took Martin's tip on Santander's no-fee card. Got accepted and dumped balance on it. I'll have it paid IN FULL in 18mths. Cheers." With a balance transfer you get a new card to pay off other credit or store cards, so you owe it instead, but at 0% interest, so more repayments clear the actual debt. For each £1k of debt at typical 20% interest, you save £200/yr at 0%. Two key points to start...

- Don't just apply. FIRST find which cards you're most likely to get - it's more important than ever with acceptance criteria toughening in the current crisis. To help, our Balance Transfer Eligibility Calc shows your acceptance odds, helping you minimise applications and protect your credit score.
- Go for the lowest fee in the 0% period you're sure you can repay in. Unsure? Play safe and go long.

0% LENGTH & FEE (1) HOW GOOD IS IT? (+ rate after the 0%)
Top NO-FEE or low-fee cards - ordered by lowest fee
(eligibility calc / apply*)
- 18mths
Longest open-to-all NO-FEE 0%. So it wins if you can repay that quickly (18.9% rep APR).
Existing custs only
NatWest (eligibility calc / apply*)
RBS (eligibility calc / apply*
- 20mths
Longest NO-FEE 0%, but... To apply, you must have a savings, credit card, mortgage or current account with sister banks NatWest, RBS or Ulster (19.9% rep APR).
Virgin Money
(eligibility calc / apply*)
- 20mths
- 1% fee
Low fee & decent 0% length. You're paying a bit for the extra 2mths at 0% you wouldn't get with Santander (21.9% rep APR).
(apply - no calc avail)
- 25mths
- 1.5% fee (min £5)
Higher fee but longer 0%. You're paying a bit more to get more 0% months (21.9% rep APR).
Need longer? Cards with the longest 0% period - but higher one-off fees
M&S Bank
(apply - no calc avail)
- 28mths 0%
- 2.85% fee (min £5)
Joint longest 0% card that's open to all. The winner if you need longer to repay (19.9% rep APR).
Existing custs only
NatWest (eligibility calc / apply*)
RBS (eligibility calc / apply*
- 28mths 0%
- 2.75% fee
Joint longest 0% & lower fee than M&S above, but... To apply, you must have a savings, credit card, mortgage or bank account with sister banks NatWest, RBS or Ulster (19.9% rep APR).
(1) As a percentage of debt shifted.

Always follow the Balance Transfer Golden Rules. Full info in Best Balance Transfers (APR Examples).

a) Never miss the min monthly repayment, or you could 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 higher APR.
c) Don't spend/withdraw cash. It usually isn't at the cheap rate and withdrawals hit your creditworthiness.
d) You must usually balance-transfer within 60 or 90 days to get the 0% - check what your card says.
e) You normally can't balance-transfer between two cards from the same banking group (the case for all above). But it's not always obvious, eg, M&S and HSBC are part of same group, which also includes First Direct and John Lewis.


New. 10 Boots tips incl 'up to 75% off' clearance now on, hidden beauty dupes & possible free £3.50 meal deal. MSE Becky brings you a Boots bargains bonanza.

France, Spain etc travel chaos - your refund, insurance & quarantine rights. 100,000s have had plans disrupted after the Govt extended travel restrictions. See France help, Spain help or general travel help.

Hurry. New cheapest 1yr energy fix from Shell, but it won't last long - save £250+/yr. MSE Blagged. The Shell Energy Sept 2021 v4 tariff is the market's cheapest 1yr fix on average, as it includes the usual £25 MSE dual-fuel cashback and £20 bill credit we've sorted for you. Plus it comes with 100% renewable elec. For new AND existing dual-fuel and elec-only custs, the tariff only launched this week, but Shell warns it may be around for just a few days. As prices vary by your use and region, the links go via our energy club to compare it against other fixes. You can play with the filters too, to find slightly cheaper variable rates from tiddlers.

Nando's free delivery trick this Thu-Sun only + 9 more cheeky hacks. See our 10 Nando's tips.

Ends Mon. Cheapest fibre broadband & line we've seen in three years - '£14.99/mth'. MSE Blagged. This 35Mb-speed deal for Shell Energy newbies is £24.99/mth but you get an AUTO £120 bill credit within 3mths. So it's a total £179.88 outlay over the 1yr contract, equiv to £14.99/mth. See our Broadband comparison tool for more deals.

250,000+ water-saving FREEBIES, eg, shower head & garden hose nozzle. Great for anyone using extra water while at home more, or to help manage supplies in summer, but what's available depends on your provider. Water-savers


Car breakdowns soar as lockdown eases - are you covered? Get full service breakdown cover for £60/yr or basic RAC for £22/yr

There's been a big rise in drivers returning to the roads as lots of lockdown restrictions have eased, which has led to a 160% jump in roadside recoveries in Jul compared to May, according to insurer NFU Mutual. Yet it's likely many who stopped driving during the early part of the crisis didn't renew their policy if it expired, so if you're back in your motor, now is a key time to check if you're covered. Whether you need a new policy or are overpaying on an existing one, here's how to cut costs...

  • £60/yr for full service breakdown cover for you + your spouse. AutoAid* has been our top pick for years, as it covers any car you or your spouse/civil partner drives and - unlike basic policies, which usually only cover breakdowns away from home - this covers them at home too. Unlike basic cover, it also gives onward travel for up to five passengers after a breakdown elsewhere. To put it in context, similar RAC full service cover is £150/yr, though you can get it down to £72.50/yr via a cashback site. See full service breakdown deals.

  • Need basic cover? Slash RAC costs to £22/yr. This only includes breakdowns away from your home, with no onward travel when broken down, and requires you to go via a cashback site. Via the same method you can get basic AA cover for £31. See basic breakdown cover deals.

  • Want to stick with a biggie? NEVER just auto-renew, always haggleWhen your renewal hits, don't simply accept it. Success rates for those who haggle are higher than in any other call centre-type industry. Some 88% of AA customers and 85% of RAC customers succeeded in haggling, according to our latest poll. Shelley emailed: "Following your haggling tips, I got my RAC policy cut from £146 for 12mths to £76.50 for 15mths. Thanks.See Breakdown Cover Haggling help. If that doesn't work, Green Flag will halve AA/RAC renewal prices.

  • Need travel, mobile & breakdown cover? Fee-charging bank accounts provide all three for £10-£20/mth, which can beat buying them separately. See Top Packaged Accounts.


TWO pairs of designer specs from £25, incl Timberland & Karl Lagerfeld. MSE Blagged. Not the really high-end brands, but big names nonetheless. Incl free deliv. Glasses Direct

'Free' £2ish Lindt chocolate, £2ish McVitie's biscuits & £1ish Allinson's bread etc. MSE Blagged. Via cashback app, works in store and online. Free choc and more

Top student bank accounts 2020/21, incl up to £3,000 0% overdrafts, 4yr railcard etc. It's been a turbulent time for many prospective students amid A-level results chaos, but if you're off to uni (or know someone who is), our updated guide has this year's top student accounts.

Eat Out to Help Out interactive map - a new way to see which restaurants give 50% off in Aug. Yet it still misses a few out - so combine this with the Govt postcode checker and other lists. See all Eat Out finders.

£18 Nails Inc face, hands & feet pamper set (norm £27ish). MSE Blagged. Incl four fun facial sheet masks with prints of a cat, unicorn etc, one hand mask and one foot mask. 1,800 sets. Nails Inc masks


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Longest 0%: M&S Bank 28mths 0%, 2.85% fee (min £5) or 28mths 0%, 2.75% fee for NatWest/RBS customers (both 19.9% rep APR)
No-fee 0%: 
Santander 18mths 0% (check eligibility / apply*) (18.9% rep APR) or 20mths 0% for NatWest/RBS customers (19.9% rep APR)

Cheapest fixed rate: Shell Energy, save £253/yr
Cheapest Big 6 fix: British Gas, save £223/yr

Savings incl £25 MSE cashback and bill credit if avail & assume typical use vs price cap. Links go via our Cheap Energy Club.

Get comparison site quotes in this order:

  1. MoneySupermarket*
  3. Compare The Market*
  4. Gocompare*

Cheapest for £5,000-£7,499: Tesco Bank (check eligibility / apply*), 3.4% rep APR (1-3yrs)
Cheapest for £7.5k-£15k: Cahoot
(check eligibilityapply*) or TSB (check eligibilityapply*), both 2.8% rep APR

Standard b'band & line rent: Plusnet equiv £13.99/mth 
Fibre b'band & line rent: 
Shell equiv £14.99/mth 
Superfast fibre b'band only (no line): Virgin Media equiv £19.84/mth

Free £100 for switching + monthly rewards: Halifax Reward
2.02% interest on up to £1,000: Virgin Money


"My Virgin Media broadband deal was supposed to go to £54/mth so I used your haggling tips and it dropped this to £27/mth. Keep up the good work - your website is very helpful."
(Send us yours on this or any topic.)

Want an MSE Charity grant of up to £7,500? Non-profit organisations can apply for a cash boost in our charity's latest grant-giving round, themed on 'building and developing resilience'. If you're interested, your group's project should be focused on building financial life skills, to support people recovering from the impact of the pandemic, and equip them to move forward. You can check if your project is eligible and apply via its website. The round opens at 9am on Tue 1 Sep and closes once the charity accepts 40 applications, or on Fri 25 Sep, whichever comes first.



Shop at Tesco? Help vulnerable coronavirus-hit families get food on the table. Food redistribution charity FareShare has tripled the amount of food it sends to other frontline charities since the start of lockdown. To meet this increased need, it's collecting food in most Tesco stores from Thu 20 to Sat 22 Aug. There'll be info on what items are most needed in-store - to find your nearest participating shop, and for more details, see the FareShare website.



How do you rate your broadband provider? We can tell you which are the cheapest broadband providers, but to keep our customer service ratings updated, we need your help. How do you rate your broadband provider?

'Eat Out to Help Out' scheme goes down a treat with MoneySavers. Last week, we asked whether you've used the Govt's August meals-out discount. 12,500 people responded, and two-thirds said they've already used it at least once - with 94% of those planning to use it again. Casual dining restaurants were most popular, with the likes of Nando's and Carluccio's accounting for 33% of discounts. Pubs made up 31%, cafés 18% and fine dining 10%, while just 9% of discounts were on fast food. See full dining discount poll results.



Should I return the refund I got for 'dead' plants I revived? I ordered plants online from a small company during lockdown and they arrived two weeks late looking pretty dead, so I asked for a refund and got it. I put the plants in the garden anyway, in the hope I might revive them - and now they're thriving. Should I contact the company and offer to return the refund? Enter the Money Moral Maze: Should I return refund for 'dead' plants? | Suggest an MMD | View past MMDs


Boots tips - Eg, 'up to 75% off' clearance, poss free meal deal
Nando's - 10 hacks, incl free delivery this weekend
Glasses Direct - Two pairs of designer specs from £25
Shopmium - 'Free' £2ish Lindt chocolate for newbies
Nails Inc - £18 face, hands & feet pampering set (norm £27ish)

KFC - Eg, free fries, hot wings or popcorn chicken
Papa John's - 50% off a £20 spend
Meerkat Meals - 2for1 restaurant meals for a year for £2ish
Pizza Hut - £4.25 unlimited pizza on Mon-Wed till 3pm in Aug
Dine Club - 2mths' free access to up to 50% off at 6,000 outlets

Tesco - £5 off £40, £10 off £75 on electricals code
Amazon - Students get 6mths' free Prime, incl video streaming
MOT - Free annual reminder
Caffè Nero - Free hot or cold drink on Tue or Wed via O2 app
Tails - 80% off 1mth supply of 'tailored' dog food

Have you tried decluttering the Marie Kondo way? You Kon-do it
Easy ways to organise drawers. An as-sort-ment of tips
Chance to win a car boot organiser. Fuel your tidying



Thu 20 Aug - BBC Radio London, Early Breakfast with Jason Rosam, from 6.40am, Guy Anker
Mon 24 Aug - BBC Radio Manchester, Drive with Phil Trow, from 2.25pm
Tue 25 Aug - BBC Radio Cambridgeshire, Lunchtime Live with Jeremy Sallis, from 12.25pm



That's all for this week, but before we go... a recent survey revealed cash still plays an important role for 70% of people, and it appears MoneySavers share the sentiment. From using cash to tip for good service, spending it in charity shops and takeaways, through to using it to pay the window cleaner or gardener, you've been sharing why it's still key for you. And many thrifty MSE'rs told us having cold hard cash helps keep their spending under control, as it's all too easy to get carried away on a contactless card. Let us know if cash is still a big thing for you in our Facebook post.

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