Money Mensch

Money Mensch: Plastic fantastic

By Martin Lewis, November 11, 2010

Do you have a Nationwide debit card for the fee-free foreign transactions? It's time to dump it.

This month a raft of fees have been added so it's no longer cheap. Yet you can still spend cheaply abroad, getting the best exchange rate, by using a specialist overseas-spend credit card. Just ensure you repay the balance off in full every month.

Most cards add a hidden 2.75 per cent 'load' to exchange rates. Yet the Halifax Clarity is load -free worldwide and has no ATM withdrawal charge - though you pay 12.9 per cent APR on the cash withdrawn, even if you repay the balance in full.

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Money Mensch: Don't be left out in the cold this winter

By Martin Lewis, November 4, 2010

It is time to batten up the hatches. Winter is on its way, and if you want to keep the bills as low as the temperature, you need to act now.

That is not a flippant statement: many of the changes you need to keep costs low take time to set up. Those who knee-jerk react once their feet are buried six-inches-deep in snow are likely to lose out.

So follow my checklist below to ensure you are fully prepared for the costly months to come - and hopefully the extra cash in your wallet will keep it insulated.

● Cut £300 off gas and electricity bills before winter comes

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Money Mensch: Earn one year's interest in a day

By Martin Lewis, October 28, 2010

Supermarket savings schemes offer a great loophole.

You are supposed to save up all year with your chosen retailer, such as Tesco, Iceland, Wilkinson, Morrisons and more, then it will add up to a five per cent bonus on a specific date.

Yet to ease administering, most shops add this bonus on a set day. For example, Asda adds the bonus - up to four per cent - on 22 November; so simply stash what cash you want to spend the day before and you still get the reward.

Though of course all that money must then be spent at the specific retailer.

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Best start saving for Chanucah - 2011

By Martin Lewis, October 22, 2010

Chanucah may still seem like a fair bit of time away but it is vital you prepare for it. Far too many cry poverty in January and blame spending during Chanucah (or Eid, or Christmas). Yet with some decent pre-planning, you can keep the costs right down.

Here are my top tips for future festivities.

● There is still time to spread the cost

The best time to start saving for Chanucah is a year before. During Christmas for instance, the average family spends £600; spread over the year that's just £50 a month.

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Money Mensch: November's the time to get a will

By Martin Lewis, October 14, 2010

Die without a will and those left behind may not only face grief, but could be hit by a host of practical and financial issues too; as severe as banks locking access to money. So regardless of age, consider a will if you have assets, such as a home, savings or business, or people you want to ensure are looked after.

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Money Mensch: Take a swipe at credit card rate-jackers

By Martin Lewis, October 7, 2010

Every credit card customer wields a secret power to say "no" to any interest rate rises. Yet few know they have this force - better still, once you understand it, you can use it to get yourself super-cheap, long-term credit card rates.

Too many people have been unnecessary victims of rate-jacking, blissfully unaware credit card firms are riding roughshod over them, but I think it is time that changed.

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Money Mensch: Look out for unfair overseas iPhone charges

By Martin Lewis, September 28, 2010

A warning to anyone who took their iPhone abroad this summer. Even if you turned your data roaming function off in the UK before going, I've heard a good number of cases of erroneous charges when the next bill arrives.

It seems a few phones have had a glitch that means international roaming doesn't turn off properly overseas so apps are still connecting at a cost of up to £8 per megabyte.

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Money Mensch: Student loans: do your homework

By Martin Lewis, September 21, 2010

The halcyon days of interest-free student loans have just ended. And this isn't all about fresh faced 20-year-olds - if you're one of the 3.7 million graduates who haven't cleared their debt yet, even from 20 years ago, beware.

Last month, the official student loan company interest rate was, at worst, interest-free, and some were even shrinking. Yet, from September 1, what you actually pay depends on when you started your studies.

Pre-1998 student loans

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Money Mensch: A hot new deal: free solar panels worth £10,000+

By Martin Lewis, September 16, 2010

It is possible to get free solar panels - from companies like Isos Solar and Home Sun - worth £10,000 and which can reduce your electricity bills by a sizable amount.

This may seem phenomenal at first but the free panels aren't quite as generous as they appear. If you get them fitted free, while you keep the estimated £100 a year saving, you can't remove them for 25 years, plus you forfeit your right to an £800-a-year payment from the government as a thank you for giving the national grid the excess electricity you have generated. Instead, the panel company gets to keep this cash.

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Money Mensch: It's time to hang up on those cold-callers

By Martin Lewis, September 7, 2010

It's time to slam the door on unwanted doorstep sellers, close the letterbox on junk mailers and put the handset down on unsolicited sales callers. We have now more rights than ever to be left alone.

Britain's "big six" energy companies finally waved the white flag after a brilliant campaign by Trading Standards and Consumer Focus. They have promised that their doorstep selling teams will no longer cold call at any property showing a "No Cold Callers" sign in the window or door.

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