Martin Lewis of MoneySavingExpert: My saving tips for 2020
PUBLISHED: 06:00 05 January 2020 | UPDATED: 09:56 05 January 2020
Most resolutions hardly outlast the Christmas turkey leftovers. Yet forget willpower, forget determination, I've designed these resolutions for action.
Shop and save for next Christmas now
Pre-Christmas is the most expensive time to buy, January sales the cheapest. If you can, buy now to save next Christmas. Plus if the cost of Christmas was crippling, instead of borrowing to repay interest later, put a twelfth of the cost aside each month, in a savings account and let them pay you interest.
Claim marriage tax allowance - you could get up to £1,150
If you're married or in a civil partnership, the www.gov.uk/marriage-allowance lets non-tax payers who are married to basic-20% tax payers transfer 10% of their personal allowance (the amount you can earn tax-free/tax yr) to them.
This year that's £250, but as you can go far back as 2015/2016 tax year it could mean up to £1,150 back.
Check if I can slash my mortgage repayments
Mortgage rates are near all-time lows. So everyone check right now if you're on the best deal. Use www.mse.me/mortgagebestbuy or MoneyFacts.co.uk to find your cheapest rate.
Then if it looks like you can save, use a mortgage broker who'll be able to home in on which mortgage lenders are most likely to accept you.
Save on energy bills
Just because the price cap is a 'fair' price, doesn't make it a good one. It only takes five minutes to put your details into a comparison site and find your cheapest - most big firms cheapest deals are only available this way, not by going direct.
If you use my www.mse.me/CheapEnergyClub you also get cashback, or if not use an www.Ofgem.com approved site.
Ditch the bank account and earn up to £175
If you didn't switch in 2019 and don't regularly sing your bank's praises you're missing out. As it's the start of a brand new year, many banks have a new marketing budget, and they're willing to pay you cold hard cash to get you to switch them.
Switch to www.hsbc.co.uk's Advance account and you'll get £175 cash bonus, or www.firstdirect.com is now giving a £100 bonus (up from £50), and many also get a 0% £250 overdraft.
With both accounts there are min pay-ins and criteria you need to meet so do your reading before applying. Plus you get access to a 2.75% regular saver.
Cut credit card interest by £100s or £1,000s this year
The easiest way to reduce credit card debt is by shifting debt to a 0% balance transfer card - this is where you get a new card(s) that repays debts on existing cards for you, so you owe it instead, but at a far lower cost, for a small fee.
Of course acceptance is the challenge for most. That's now easier to find out as many cards have eligibility checkers which give your chances pre-application.
Or you can see most top cards together in one place via comparison tools, such as the one on my site at www.mse.me/balancetransfer.
Check my savings to see if I'm being ripped off
Savings rates are dismal and dire, many have money whether in normal savings or cash ISAs at just 0.1% or less - so check yours.
The very minimum you should be getting is 1.41%, as that's the best paying easy access account, which is at www.shawbrook.co.uk meaning you can move money in or out whenever you want.
You can earn more if you're willing to lock money away, full help at www.mse.me/topsavings.
Sort a power of attorney
One in three over-65s die with dementia, and many lose their faculties earlier from strokes, accidents, and more, too. Without a power of attorney to get access to your funds, even to pay for treatment, family would need to make a hard, slow and costly attempt to apply in court.
You can do it yourself at www.gov.uk/powerof attorney or use a solicitor if you've complex affairs.