Money Mensch

Money Mensch: It's time to spring clean your budget

By Martin Lewis, May 6, 2010

Spring's shown its face, which means it's time to rewrite your budget. April was the big price-change month for the NHS, local authorities, utility firms and more. Normally we see a host of prices rises. Yet, as prices often depend on inflation and last year that was negative, there are some ups and downs and, with inflation now booming, we can expect big rises in 12 months' time.

The winners

● The Basic State Pension - it's gone UP!

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Money Mensch: Cash in your iPhone for £200

By Martin Lewis, April 28, 2010

Millions of people bought iPhones from o2 when it launched a few years ago, and many of those phones are now out of contract.

Yet you could still be paying a hefty £30-£45 per month tariff. But there is a simple way to slash this.

Sign up to another year's contract, still with o2, and for £15 a month you get 300 any time, any network minutes plus unlimited texts and data - the same you would pay £35 per month for if you simply carried on with an old contract.

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Money Mensch: These really are the ISAs on the cake

By Martin Lewis, April 22, 2010

While ISA (individual savings accounts) rates have had a justifiably bad press recently, they still vastly out-pay the best savings accounts. My aim is to ensure you know what you are doing.

● The Basics

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Money Mensch: Saga is top for spending abroad

By Martin Lewis, April 15, 2010

The cheapest way to spend abroad is by using the right plastic, it can easily save you £100s on your holiday spend. Yet as it can take up to six weeks from applying to receiving a card, now's the perfect time to get organised in time for summer.

While banks themselves get an unbeatable exchange rate, use your credit and debit cards and they almost always add a 'load' of around 3 per cent, e.g. buy £200 worth of Shekels and you'd pay £206. What's more, many debit cards also add a fee of £1.50 every time you spend.

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Money Mensch: Don't waste your energy on ... energy

By Martin Lewis, April 8, 2010

If you saw someone feeding twenty five £10 notes into an open fire to keep warm, would you stop them? It is a ludicrous waste of cash, yet across the nation people are doing just that to keep warm, unnecessarily putting the notes into gas and electricity companies' coffers.

Now is the perfect time to switch energy providers.

Last month the final five of the big six energy companies cut their prices. That means that if you do a price comparison then there's a level playing between the providers.

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Money Mensch: Are you entitled to a free laptop?

By Martin Lewis, April 1, 2010

Help spread the word – especially to those not on the internet.

Any families on lower incomes with children in school years 3 to 9 (roughly aged 7 to 14) may be eligible for a grant of up to £528 to buy a computer and get internet access.

The initiative is designed to help those who don't already have the facilities at home, though it can also pay for just web access for those who already have a computer.

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Money Mensch: Card tricks for the credit-score game

By Martin Lewis, March 25, 2010

Who says politicians don't do anything for us? There's a general election coming and that's good news - it's a reminder to register to vote.

You may be asking: "What's this got to do with MoneySaving?" Appearing on the electoral roll also acts as a massive boost to your credit score. In fact, if you are not on the electoral roll, it almost completely stymies your ability to get new credit.

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Money Mensch: Receiving the wrong tax credit could prove costly

By Martin Lewis, March 18, 2010

If you work or have children you may get tax credits, though the name is a misnomer as it is nothing to do with tax, it is just a payout. Even those with family income of up to £60,000 can be eligible and it can be big money for some - £1,000s a year - especially for those who pay for childcare.

However, there is a hidden nightmare in the tax credit system. This is commonly called "overpayments", though a better phrase would be "tax credit debt".

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Money Mensch: Wise up to fantastic plastic

By Martin Lewis, March 11, 2010

I love credit cards. Without a doubt, done right, credit cards are the best way to spend. Unless there is no choice, I leave my debit card, cheques and cash firmly in my pocket and bring out the plastic whenever I want to pay.

Don't get me wrong, plastic can be pernicious but, used well, credit cards can make your life easier and cheaper. People often confuse credit cards with debt. But a credit card is simply a way to pay for goods which has an optional borrowing facility. It is this optional extra that is the problem, not the card itself.

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Money mensch: Tesco loophole on reward points

By Martin Lewis, March 4, 2010

As anyone who shops at Tesco should know, you never ever redeem your Clubcard vouchers in store, as there a fiver voucher is worth just £5. Instead, convert it into Tesco Clubcard Rewards for things like days out, RAC membership, air miles and more, and its value is quadrupled. So a fiver voucher is then worth up to £20. And that can open a loophole whenever Tesco gives away bonus points, as it means you can earn more in rewards compared to the buying costs. Currently one of those type of deals is on.

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