Taking a day to work through your finances could be the most lucrative day of the year. So here are my top ten things to try:
● So you wash your work uniform?
If you wear a uniform to work, and that means anything from a branded 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 past six years. Often we are talking about £60, but it can be much more. See www.mse.me/uniforms.
● Switch to a top customer service bank
Firstdirect.co.uk pays £100 if you switch to it. As it has been the clear winner in every customer service poll that I have ever done, that is a corker. It is only for those with £22,800+ salaries or you will pay a fee. It is also possible to get an extra £25 on top. See www.mse.me/bankaccounts.
Alternatively, the new Santander 123 account charges £2 a month (plus you must pay in £500 a month), but pays one-three per cent cashback on bills like council tax, phone and utilities. Plus if you have enough in it, gives up to three per cent interest. This can add up to a serious amount for many, though, sadly, it regularly comes last in customer service polls.
● Reclaim PPI for FREE
The swamp of adverts on television 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 and for free.
If you are not sure whether you had it, have lost the documents, or need help, both my PPI Reclaiming guide at www.moneysavingexpert.com/ppi and www.which.co.uk have free template letters to send off and FAQs.
● Act now to slash the cost of summer spending abroad
Most credit and debit cards add a hidden three per cent load, so spend £100 worth of euros and it will cost £103. However the extra isn’t broken down 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 will be charged between 11.9 and 16.9 per cent representative APR depending on the card.
● Reclaim £1,000s of forgotten savings, investments and
There are billions of pounds sitting in forgotten accounts. For old bank accounts, savings and premium bonds, use www.mylostaccount.org.uk. For pensions, The Pension Service; unit trusts, the Investment Management Association; and investment trusts, The Association of Investment Companies.
● Cut credit card interest to 22 months 0 per cent
If you are 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 per cent deals right now are Barclaycard and Halifax, both offering accepted new cardholders 22 months 0 per cent, though Barclaycard’s fee is lower at 2.9 per cent of the amount transferred, compared with Halifax’s 3.5 per cent. See www.mse.me/bts.
Always clear the debt or shift it again before the 0 per cent period ends or the rates jump to 17.9 per cent representative APR. Never spend on these cards and never miss a monthly repayment.
● 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. To check, first compare your band to a neighbour’s in identical or similar properties to see if it is higher. Then work out roughly what your house was worth back in 1991, as that is what the bands depend on.
● Try the back of the sofa
Research says over £40 million may be down the back of our sofas. So have a spring clean rummage and see what you find.
● Easy £250 saved on gas and electricity
A typical home on standard bills pays £1,320 a year, the same on cheapest tariff £1,020 — so switch. Go to a consumerfocus.org.uk-approved comparison site to find the cheapest price.
● Reclaim £100s in lost Tesco vouchers
It is easy to claw back unused vouchers and only takes a couple of minutes. 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.