Eight simple questions to help save a fortune.
Byline: Martin Lewis
OUR starter for 10.
YWould you like to save some money? Sometimes cutting your bills
isn’t about knowing the right answers, it”s about asking
the right questions. So let me run you through my money test. Answer
each of the following questions – it could add PS100s or PS1000s to your
Has your home got more or the same number of bedrooms than people?
If so, and you’re in
England and Wales
, check whether you can make
big savings switching to a water meter (free to do, but not in
Scotland). This is because water bills depend roughly on your
home”s value, while a meter”s all about usage.
This may be serious cash. As DenwantsJFT96 tweeted me:
“Switched a few years back and now pay PS45 a month less
(that”s PS540 a year – ML).
There’s a calculator to see if you can save at Ccwater.org.uk.
Do you go abroad at least once a year? If so, there are a number of
key things to consider: 1. If you holiday in Europe, check your European
Health Insurance Card (
n abbr (= European Health Insurance Card) →
) is in date – 3 million expire this year.
Always use the official site www.ehic.org.uk. Don’t Google – many
sites charge when it should be free. 2. Get permanently perfect exchange
rates worldwide. Most credit and debit cards add a hidden 3% load, so
spending PS100 worth of euros costs PS103. Yet a few specialist credit
cards are load-free, giving unbeatable rates. Though always pay them off
in full every month, to avoid interest. Full current best list at
www.mse.me/travelcards 3. If you go away at least twice a year, get
annual travel insurance – you can do comparisons at moneysupermarket.com
and confused.com Alternatively, the fees-free Nationwide FlexAccount
(Nationwide.co.uk/flexaccount) gives free European cover up to age 73 as
part of the account.
Is your mortgage rate higher than your savings rates? With dismal
savings rates, overpaying your mortgage wins for many. First check if
your mortgage rate”s higher than your after-tax
If your mortgage rate is higher than your after-tax savings rate, it
Two big caveats: check there are no
v. o·ver·paid , o·ver·pay·ing, o·ver·pays
1. To pay (a party) too much.
2. To pay an amount in excess of (a sum due).
To pay too much.
always keep a few months’ emergency cash aside.
The impact of overpaying can be enormous – just paying an extra
PS100 a month on a PS100,000 mortgage at 4.5% saves PS18,000 interest
over a 25-year term.
There’s an overpayment calculator to work out your numbers at
www.moneysavingexpert.com/OverpayCalc Are you paying interest on your
credit cards? If so, see if you can do a balance transfer. This is when
you get a new card(s) that repays the debts on other cards for you, so
you owe it instead at a usually far lower rate. You’ll need a
decent credit score to do it.
The longest 0% deal is Barclaycard 26mths with a 3.5% fee
(barclaycard.co.uk/personal/ credit-cards). If you can repay quicker,
the Halifax card (halifax.co.uk/creditcards) at 15mths 0% with a 1% fee.
The golden rules: 1. Clear or shift again before the 0% ends or
you”ll pay the full
, which can be nearly 20%. 2. Pay at
least the monthly minimum or you risk losing special rates. 3.
Don”t spend on these cards – it isn”t usually at
the cheap rate.
Do you automatically renew your car insurance with the same
insurer? If so, this money saving sin means you”re likely
paying way over the odds. Don”t wait, check if
you”re overpaying now. Provided you haven”t
claimed, if the savings are big it could even be cheaper to cancel, pay
an administration fee and get cover elsewhere.
To get as many quotes as possible in as little time, combine
moneysupermarket.com and Confused.com, then add the big ones they miss,
aviva.co.uk and directline.com. If you have more than one car, try
Have you planned what would happen to your children if you died?
Consider cheap level-term life insurance so there”s money
there if needed (help via mse.me/lifeinsurance).
Write a will, especially if you have assets, to make sure those you
, do. This also enables you to specify your desired
guardian for your children To do a will on the cheap, you can buy
or d.i.y. Brit, Austral & NZ do-it-yourself
do it yourself
it”s simple. If not, Which.co.uk has a cheapish will writing
Have you been with the same bank for over three years?
intr.v. whinged, whing·ing, whing·es Chiefly British
To complain or protest, especially in an annoying or persistent manner.
about your bank, ditch it. Right now fee-free
Firstdirect.com is offering new switchers PS100 and it has won every
customer service poll I’ve ever run. You need to pay in
Are you nearing retirement? An annuity is what most people buy with
their pension fund to get a regular income until death. Yet many people
make the mistake of just getting it from their pension provider.
A 65-year-old with a PS100,000 pot may get around PS5,000 a year
with the worst payer, but could be PS700 more with the best.
The golden rules for annuity getting are 1. Always check what else
is out there. 2. Get a medical before buying it, in case you’ve an
undiagnosed condition – if you do, while not pleasant to hear, it could
mean you get a better rate. 3. If not sure, get independent financial
advice, as this is often a one off transaction. So if you get it wrong,
you can’t change your mind later on.
Catch Martin, founder of moneysavingexpert .com, on the The Martin
Lewis Money Show on