MARTIN Lewis is the UK's most influential consumer champion and after trying five of his money saving tips you can understand why.
I like to think I'm savvy with my finances as I write about it every day after all.
But if truth be told, like many others I often use the excuse that I can never find the time to check over my finances.
In reality, I should put it down to a general lack of motivation to get things in order.
So I set myself a test over a single week to see how many Martin Lewis tips I could follow.
I had a browse on MoneySavingExpert.com to get me motivated to take action.
For me, it was most important to make sure that I was saving money where I could, but also ensure that I wasn't missing out on any cash where it was due.
The test was a resounding success and while some tips took longer than others I managed to save myself over £1,000 in cash.
Here are the tips I followed and how much I saved – plus how you can do it too.
Monday – 5 minutes, £3.16
In typical Govia Thameslink Railway fashion, my usual train to work was not on time.
Most read in Money
Brits on Universal Credit risk huge fine for failing to report 13 key changes
UK's 20 cheapest areas to buy a home revealed…with homes from £117k
Inside tragic story of lottery winner who scooped £7.5m but lost it all
Thousands of families can claim free cash payments of £190 – how to apply
But today, the delay was longer than usual and I knew that this was the perfect moment to whip out my phone and check to see if Martin Lewis' advice could help me out.
It costs me £12.70 each way to get to work – meaning I usually spend around £25.40 on the days that I'm in the office.
This is expensive and considering my peak time train into the city was running 21 minutes late I wanted to see if I was due some sort of refund or compensation.
Shockingly passengers are missing out on up to £100million every year by not claiming for delays and cancellations according to MoneySavingExpert.
After reading this I didn't want to become one of these statistics – so I took action.
On the advice of Martin Lewis' team, I visited the train operating company's website and made a claim through the delay repay scheme.
It took less than five minutes.
Thameslink allows travellers to apply for delays that last 15 minutes or more and as my delay was 21 minutes I was entitled to 25% of the journey cost back.
After filling in the online form, and attaching a screenshot of my digital ticket, I was in line to get £3.16 back.
While that might not seem like much, it adds up over time if there are regular delays.
Plus on longer trips that are more expensive, the more money you could get back.
I'll be sure to keep launching a claim every time this happens now that I know how simple it is.
How you can claim delay repay:
- Make a note of how long your delay was as well as the reason for it
- Keep hold of your tickets and if they're digital take a screenshot
- Visit the train operating company's website and find out how much you can get back
- Fill in the delay repay claims and upload a scan or photo of your ticket to prove you were travelling on the service
- You'll usually be able to choose how the compensation is paid out to you – either by a refund to your bank account or a credit card
- Make sure you apply for delay repay within 28 days of travelling as you won't be eligible to claim after this period
Tuesday – one hour, £1,000s
I received a letter in the post from HMRC the week before and it was still sitting unopened on my desk with countless other bits of junk mail and I'd completely forgotten about it.
That was until I unpeeled the envelope to see that my personal allowance would drop from the usual £12,570 for basic rate taxpayers to just £70 from April 1.
At the same time, my tax code was now showing as BR.
The personal allowance is the amount you can earn each year tax-free and I was surprised to see that mine wasn't showing the full allowance as it had done in previous years.
To check out what was going on here I headed straight to MoneySavingExpert.com to use their tax code calculator.
After filling in my salary and predicted tax code, Martin Lewis' tool said that the BR tax code referenced in my letter is actually commonly used for second jobs where all your extra income is taxed at the basic rate of 20%.
The handy tool then said that if you don't have a second job you could end up paying £1,000s more in income tax.
Now I don't have a second job and I've worked for The Sun for nearly 11 months so I put it down to an HMRC filing error.
At the time I had just under a week to go until the new tax year so I frantically phoned HMRC.
Martin Lewis advises people to call the government department directly if they think their code is wrong.
I have to admit, this was the least fulfilling part of my day as I was stuck in the HMRC call queue for over one hour.
Was it worth the wait? Of course, it meant that I would no longer be at risk of paying more income tax than I needed to.
How to check and challenge your tax code:
- You can find your tax code on your payslip, PAYE coding notice (P2) sent between January and March or via HMRC's online services
- You can then check it's right by inputting it into online calculators – like the one of MoneySavingExpert.com or on the HMRC website
- All you need to hand is your pre-tax earnings and your tax code
- If it suggests that you're in the wrong tax code you'll need to contact HMRC to amend it
- Call the HMRC income tax hotline on 0300 200 3300 and make sure you have your National Insurance number to hand
Wednesday – 15 minutes, £528
The dreaded mid-contract broadband price hike was just weeks away and I learnt that Virgin Media was upping its bills for cable customers by 13.8%.
Our TV, broadband and home phone bill stood at a whopping £140 a month when I last checked and the thought of a hike on top of this was worrying.
But Martin Lewis is a sucker for encouraging households to slash their telecoms costs and now was prime time to put his haggling tips to the test.
Some 85% of customers surveyed by MoneySavingExpert.com in December 2022 were successful in negotiating a better deal – so I was super confident.
In the many cases, switching providers if you're out of contract can also bag you savings.
I wanted to stay with Virgin Media because of their superfast internet which I can't get with other providers where I live.
It's worth remembering to check service as well as price when you're haggling.
I phoned Virgin Media and instead of asking to be put through to billing, I asked to be put through to their cancellation team.
It's a tip recommended by Martin Lewis, who calls the cancellation and disconnection teams "the Holy Grail" when it comes to haggling because the person you speak to is looking to keep customers.
I was shocked at how easy this actually was – after just 15 minutes on the phone, I'd managed to haggle our contract down from £140 a month to £96.
That's a saving of £44 a month – or a whopping £528 a year.
The best part is that I also got a free broadband speed boost on top of this huge price cut.
How to haggle a cheaper deal:
- The first thing to do is find out what the cheapest deal on the market is and use it as a bargaining tool to get a better offer from your provider
- Sites like MoneySuperMarket and Uswitch all help you customise your search based on price, speed and provider
- Take your cheaper rate to your provider and ask if they can match it
- It pays to be polite when getting through to someone on the phone, as representatives are less inclined to help rude or aggressive customers
- If your provider won't haggle, you can always threaten to leave
- Companies don't want to lose customers and may come up with a last-minute offer to keep you
- If all else fails and you're out of contract you can switch providers
- If you're still in contract be aware there may be a cancellation fee, so check first before leaving
Thursday – 5 minutes, potentially £1,000s
My pension pot or should I say pots regularly played on my mind.
With the average worker having around 11 jobs over the course of their career, many end up with multiple small pension pots.
But having multiple pensions creates a risk of people losing track of their savings.
It's estimated that some 2.8million pension pots are lost and worth an average of £9,470, according to the Pensions Policy Institute.
In total, these lost pots contain a whopping £26billion in untapped savings.
I didn't want to become part of these grim statistics so I sought to understand whether it was worth merging my two defined contribution pension pots.
According to Martin Lewis' MonesySavingExpert.com, consolidating pension pots can cut your fees, and reduce admin and paperwork.
But Martin frequently warns that consolidating your pension pots isn't for everyone and those who are on final salary or defined benefit schemes should be very careful as they can lose out – but this doesn't affect me.
My previous workplace pension was set up at Aviva and I wanted to consolidate the pot with my current workplace pension provided by Scottish Widows – and it was super easy.
The best part was, I didn't even need to pick up the phone.
Scottish Widows has a quick and easy online form to request a transfer and the consolidation of an old workplace pension.
There was no charge to transfer and consolidate my pot – but you'll be told if you face a change depending on your own circumstances.
All I had to do was fill in my National Insurance details and my old pension policy number and left Scottish Widows to do the hard work.
There was very little difference in fees, so while I didn't necessarily save on this I reduced the chances of losing track of my savings.
After spending just five minutes following this tip I can rest easy in the knowledge that all my pension savings so far are easily accessible in a single pot.
How to consolidate your pension pots
- First find out your transfer value, which is the amount you have in your pension pot and any details of exit charges by speaking to your pension provider
- To start the transfer process, you'll need to apply to the pension scheme that you want to transfer to – most providers have an online transfer process
- When you’ve submitted the application to the provider, they'll usually contact your existing pension provider or scheme administrator to arrange the transfer
- Your pension provider must move your pension across to the new scheme within six months from the start of the transfer process
- Consolidating pensions together can be quick but check carefully first that you're making the right move as it can depend on your financial situation, the type of pension you have and your retirement plans
- If you're unsure, consider seeking independent financial advice. You can use Unbiased or VouchedFor to find a recommended advisor near you.
- If you're over 55 you can get free advice via Pension Wise. While others can use The Pensions Advisory Service.
Friday – six weeks, £55
I've held a stocks and shares ISA with Fidelity since I was 18 and have regularly saved into it each year tax-free.
This type of ISA means my money is invested in the stock market and the value of my investments can go down as well as up, but in the long term I hope it'll give my savings a boost.
While Martin Lewis doesn't offer investment advice he does have an extremely useful explainer on stocks and shares ISAs on his website.
One of the key topics that come up is whether it's worth switching platforms to take advantage of lower charges and I'd been meaning to look into this.
After having a browse online and listening to friends and family's recommendations I was keen to move my investments in my Fidelity ISA over to Interactive Investor.
For my own circumstances, Interactive Investor requires a lower minimum investment than Fidelity and comes with a free trading account – which is not available on the Fidelity platform.
Fidelity's platform fees are generally lower but I don't rate its user interface and other features.
Interactive Investor doesn't charge platform fees and it has a better-suited range of investments opinion.
Customers pay a flat £9.99 a month fee to hold the account – whereas Fidelity customers pay 0.35% on savings up to £250,000 so Interactive Investor's platform can be cheaper to use.
So following a final read of Martin Lewis' advice I weighed up my options and checked for any hefty exit fees.
In the end, all I had to do was set up a new ISA with Interactive Investor and initiate a transfer using a simple online form which took less than five minutes.
I saved £55 a year on fees from switching.
If you're worried about high platform fees or aren't enjoying your current platform's offering – it's well worth transferring your ISA over to a new platform.
In the meantime, I'm still waiting for the transfer to complete as it can take over six weeks before your investments move over.
Read More on The Sun
My son was ‘edited out’ of school picture ‘for ridiculous uniform breach’
Britain’s Got Talent rejects who went on to find success after failed audition
If you have another type of savings like a cash ISA or easy access account then it's always worth checking if you are getting the best rate of interest.
How to transfer a stocks and shares ISA:
- Open an ISA with the company you wish to move to
- You'll then need to initiate a transfer online in your new account
- You can often do this while opening an account – or you can log in and transfer at any time
- Your new platform will request the transfer and you can opt to transfer your current investments or cash all of it out into your new ISA
- Websites like MoneyFacts and price comparison websites such as Compare the Market, Go Compare and MoneySupermarket can help you compare bank accounts
Source: Read Full Article