Money Mensch

Warning students against debt may be more dangerous than you think

By Martin Lewis, October 10, 2008

This is a stark warning to parents and grandparents. If you're one of those people who proudly tell your student offspring: "Don't get into debt, don't borrow a penny," then I want to wag my finger at you. It's possible that doing this will make things worse.

In an age where almost half the country's school-leavers go to university, this sort of well-meaning advice could pose huge problems to their long-term prospects. Some of you may deem this controversial, but I refuse to apologise.


Money Mensch: A warning about paper tax returns

By Martin Lewis, October 3, 2008

Bad news for those completing a paper tax return. The deadlines have changed. Last year, you had to get it in by January 31 to avoid a fine. This year it's October 31 - three months earlier. If you don't manage it by that time, you will be fined £100.


Money Mensch: Are you missing out on childcare tax credit?

By Martin Lewis, September 19, 2008

A quick boost for your childcare budget. If you or someone in your family pays for childcare, there is a chance you're missing out on a significant government entitlement.


Money Mensch: Get the best mobile deal

By Martin Lewis, September 12, 2008

The way to get the cheapest deal on your mobile phone is to wait until just before your contract is due to end.

Call your network provider and haggle hard to get a better tariff. If they won't give you one, threaten to leave and they will put you through to a department they tell us is called "customer disconnections" - but is known internally as customer retentions. They have a much greater discretion to keep you and will often allow your haggling to work.


Money Mensch: How ex-smokers can save on insurance

September 4, 2008

It's now been more than a year since the ban on public smoking came in, and if you were one of the people who gave up when the ban took effect, there is a major money-saving opportunity for you. Smokers pay a huge amount more than non-smokers for things such as life insurance, private medical insurance and income-protection policies - effectively any policy that has to pay out if you die within a set time.


Money Mensch: When withdrawing cash abroad…

By Martin Lewis, August 14, 2008

If you are off to Spain this summer, watch out when it comes to getting money out of a cash machine.

The Spanish banks have started to employ a new trick: they ask you if you would like to pay for your euros in pounds. It sounds like a good deal - but it is not.

The rate you tend to get is often a lot less than the rate you would get if you let your own bank do the conversion. So just say no.

Even better, make sure you are using the most efficient card for when you are aboard.


Money Mensch: Get free medical treatment abroad this summer

By Martin Lewis, August 7, 2008

If you are planning a trip to Europe this summer, there is one thing you should take with you - the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC). This gives you access to free or discounted medical treatment in any state-run European Union or Swiss hospital. It enables you to get treatment for the same cost as if you were a native in that country.


Money Mensch: The cheapest way to spend abroad

By Martin Lewis, July 17, 2008

There is a new “cheapest” way to spend when abroad. In the past, I have recommended using Nationwide and Post Office credit cards. But a newcomer trumps them.

It’s called the Abbey Zero, and, just like the previous two, if offers the best possible exchange rate that you can get. However, whereas Nationwide and Post Office cards will charge you if you withdraw cash on them, this one won’t, meaning it’s a new winner for spending abroad.


Money Mensch: Cutting the cost of calling abroad

By Martin Lewis, June 26, 2008

In the last six months, the cost of calling abroad has dropped considerably. Those with internet can use Skype to talk for free, but when it comes to making calls from a landline, you can get a massively cheap deal by using specialist overseas call providers’ access codes.


Save money on hay-fever tablets

By Martin Lewis, June 19, 2008

It’s hay-fever time. This means that people across the country will be forking out money on hay-fever remedies. What you need to remember is that the four main brand names — Zirtek, Claritin, Benadryl and Piriton — each has its own active ingredient. Once you have discovered what the active ingredient of your usual remedy is, by looking at the packaging, you can save cash simply by buying the generic (shop’s own brand) version of it for a fraction of the cost. This excludes Benadryl, as there are no generic versions available.