Surprise your kids with a first-class treat from Santa
Free letter from Santa, check you’re on the electoral roll, new cheapest loans, and last chance for ‘free’ wills. These are our Money Saving Expert Martin Lewis’ Tips of the Week.
Remember, tips can change quickly, even while I’m on the programme. So always double-check the terms and conditions before spending. Plus, while I hope these tips will save you cash, don’t spend if you can’t afford it, don’t need it, or won’t use it.
Free letter from Santa for your kids
A fun one for this time of year. If your child writes a letter which includes their name and address, to Santa/Father Christmas, Santa's Grotto, Reindeerland, XM4 5HQ by Friday 6 December (don’t forget to put a stamp on it), then Santa’s elves stationed at Royal Mail will get Santa to send a personally addressed letter to your child before Christmas Eve. Just a warning though, even though more elves are working hard (so there shouldn’t be any issues like previous years), they can'tguarantee a reply even if you’ve sent your letter in nice and early, so while this is a nice freebie, it's not a definite freebie.
Or for a recommended £5 donation, the NSPCC also has elves and the money donated goes to helping children.
Alternatively, if your child is blind or partially sighted, they can get a free reply from Santa in Braille, audio or large print via special elves he stations at the RNIB. Write to: Santa Claus, RNIB, Midgate House, Peterborough, PE1 1TN by Monday 2 December and include name, age, address, contact number, and preferred reply format (either uncontracted/contracted Braille, large print including font size or audio CD). Or email email@example.com by Friday 20 December and they'll get an email reply from the big fella.
Register to vote by 26 November and check you’re not on the open register
If you didn’t know already (where have you been?), there’s a General Election on Thursday 12 December. And if you want to vote in it and you’re not yet on the electoral roll, you have until Tuesday 26 November to register. Miss it and you won’t be able to vote.
To register go to the Gov.uk (England, Scotland or Wales) or The Electoral Office (for Northern Ireland). It takes about five minutes or so, and you'll be asked for your date of birth, your national insurance number and possibly your passport number too. If you want a postal vote, you do that by completing an application form (England, Scotland and Wales) which needs to be received by your local electoral registration office by 5pm on Tuesday 26 November. In Northern Ireland the form needed to be received by 5pm today (Thursday 14 November) so it’s most likely too late unfortunately.
But importantly there are actually two versions of the electoral roll you can sign up to.
1) The full electoral register, which is used when you vote
2) The so-called open (or edited) register, which is a public version of the electoral register, and companies, for a fee, can buy the data to use for marketing purposes.
Yet while you have to be on the electoral register in order to vote, there's no requirement for you to be on the open register. So when signing up, make clear you only want to be listed on the full electoral register (there should be a tick box asking if you want to be on the open register too), and your details won't be shared with company marketing departments. This won’t affect your credit score either as lenders use the full, not open, register to check your details when applying for products – so you can opt out without worrying.
And a final note – some worry if they don’t have their polling card, they can’t vote. That isn’t true. You can vote without it – though it’s useful to keep handy for directions.
Cahoot at just 2.8% rep APR – that’s £40 cheaper than the previous best, and more than £1,000 cheaper than some high street banks' loans for £15,000.
For £5,000 to £7,5000 Admiral and Zopa are 3.4% rep APR. For £3,000 to £4,999 Admiral again is cheapest at 8.2% rep APR.
But remember this is only a ‘representative APR’ which means only 51% of those accepted get the advertised rate – others can be charged much, much more. Yet you're usually only told the rate after application, so once accepted, ALWAYS check it. And use a loan eligibility tool either from the firm or for a wider range a comparison site, e.g. Martin’s ‘loans eligibility calculator’ first, which will tell you your chance of getting a loan, but not the specific APR you’ll get.
Plus always remember to follow the Golden Rules… 1) Minimise the amount you borrow and repay as quickly as possible and 2) Pay on time (preferably by direct debit) or you may get a charge and a missed payment on your credit report.
It’s Will Aid month, book NOW if you need a will: Getting a will is so important; especially if you've assets, eg, a house, savings, or a business, and people or others you'd like to look after – die will-less and your affairs can be left in limbo for years. The gold standard, solicitor-drafted will can cost in excess of £150, yet as I warned in Sept (so you could book early) November is ‘Will Aid’ - a scheme where over 500 solicitors across the UK, will draft you a will for free, in the hope you’ll make a donation of around £100 (£180 for couples) – that’s split across nine charities they support including Action Aid, Age UK and Save the Children.
The scheme is open to anyone of all ages. If you can’t afford it, you can give less, but don’t game it as it is a charity scheme. It tends to get booked up quickly, so many are gone but there’s still over 350 solicitors across the UK who still have available appointments (more in the North & Scotland than the South), so it’s worth trying to book quickly. Enter your postcode at the Will Aid website, or call 0300 0309 558 to find your nearest participating solicitor. You’ll then need to contact the solicitor to arrange an appointment – be sure to tell it you’re calling as part of the Will Aid scheme. You can donate through the Will Aid website before you go and take a print-out of the receipt with you to your appointment, or donate once you’re there.