How much do you earn in a day? Is it over £1,000 after tax – if so, don’t bother reading this. For everyone else, taking a day to work through their finances could be the most lucrative day of the year. So here are my top ten things to try.
To inspire you before we start, here’s a tweet I got from payattentionpls who tried it: "Saved £2,000+ switching card and £370 on internet, phone, TV. Gas and Elec next."
1. "I got £338 back because I wash my work uniform"
If you wear a uniform to work, and that means anything from a simple logo’d polo shirt to full nurse’s attire, but have to pay to wash, repair or replace it yourself, you may able to reclaim cash in tax overpaid over the last six years. Often we’re talking about £60, but in some cases it can be much more. For full help on how to do it, see mse.me/uniforms
2. Free £100 for switching to top customer service bank
Firstdirect.co.uk pays £100 if you switch to it. As it’s been head and shoulders winner in every customer service poll I’ve ever done, that’s a corker. Though it’s only for those with £22,800+ salaries or you’ll pay a fee. It's also possible to get an extra £25 on top, full info at mse.me/bankaccounts
Alternatively, the new Santander.co.uk 123 account charges £2 a month (plus you must pay in £500 a month), but pays 1-3% cashback up on bills like council tax, phone and utilities, plus if you have enough in it, gives up to 3% interest. This can add up to a serious whack for many, though, sadly, it regularly comes last in customer service polls.
3. Reclaim PPI for FREE
The swamp of adverts on the TV may make you think you need a company to reclaim missold payment protection insurance on current or old credit cards, store cards or loans, but you can do it yourself easily and for free. Sometimes it only takes a phone call – and you may be entitled to £1,000s back.
Over £440m was paid out in December alone. If you're not sure whether you had it, have lost the documents, or need help, both my PPI Reclaiming guide at moneysavingexpert.com/ppi and which.co.uk have free template letters to send off and FAQs.
4. Act now to slash the cost of summer spending abroad
Most credit & debit cards add a hidden 3% load, so spend £100 worth of euros and it’ll cost £103. Though the extra isn’t broken out on your statement.
There are four load-free credit cards: Halifax Clarity, Post Office, Saga (over 50s) or Select (for Nationwide FlexAccount holders ONLY) that give PERFECT rates worldwide. So pocket one of these for spending abroad, pay it off in full and you get perfect exchange rates.
If you fail to repay each month (not worth bothering with if you will), you’ll be charged between 11.9% and 16.9% representative APR depending on the card.
5. Reclaim £1,000s of forgotten savings, investments and premium bonds
There are billions of pounds sitting in forgotten accounts – may be yours or a relative’s. For old bank accounts, savings and premium bonds, use the free mylostaccount.org.uk. For pensions, it’s The Pension Service, unit trusts the Investment Management Association, and investment trusts The Association of Investment Companies.
6. Cut credit card interest to 22 months 0%
If you're racking up interest, get a NEW card balance transfer. It pays off other debts so you owe it instead, at a lower rate. The longest 0% deals right now are Barclaycard and Halifax, both offering accepted new cardholders 22 months 0%, though Barclaycard’s fee is lower at 2.9% of the amount transferred, compared with Halifax’s 3.5%. More info and options at mse.me/btsIf you’re doing this, then there are a few rules to obey. Always clear the debt or shift it again before the 0% period ends or the rates jump to 17.9% representative APR. Never spend on these cards, as the spending isn’t at the cheap rate, and never miss a monthly repayment or you’ll likely lose the 0% deal.
7. Get £1,000s council tax rebate
Up to 400,000 homes in England and Scotland are in the wrong bands. If you successfully challenge it, you could be due big money. One of my site users did this in February, and cut her bill to £350 year with a £2,470 rebate from when she’d moved in.
To check, first compare your band to neighbours’ in identical or similar properties to see if it’s higher. Then work out roughly what your house was worth back in 1991, as that’s what the bands depend on. It’s much easier to do than it sounds – full help & free tools at moneysavingexpert.com/council
8. Try the back of the sofa cash challenge
Research says over £40 million may be down the back of our sofas alone, never mind car seats, trouser pockets, old handbags, winter coats and more. So have a spring clean rummage and see what you find. If you are really lucky, there could be an old mobile, which you can flog it to the best payer by comparing mobile buying sites.
9. Easy £250 saved on gas & electricity
This is dead easy. A typical home on standard bills pays £1,320 a year, the same on cheapest tariff £1,020 - so switch. Just go onto a Consumerfocus.org.uk approved comparison site to find the cheapest price.
10. Reclaim £100s in lost Tesco vouchers Many lose or forget 'em
But it's now easy to claw back unused vouchers and only takes a couple of minutes. You’ll need to go to Tesco Clubcard online and enter your details to access your account. Click on 'Your vouchers' on the left-hand side column and you should see a table listing the vouchers you still have to spend.
These can be printed off for used in-store or online. I’ve come across people who got back hundreds of pounds of vouchers.