Claim £2000 a year free childcare from the government
**Top packaged bank accounts, free £2,000 per year to pay for childcare, up to 50% off toys at Tesco and £160ish of beauty products in £42 advent calendar. 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.
Possibly £500+ of family mobile, travel and breakdown insurance for £156
Some bank accounts aren’t really bank accounts – they’re packages of insurance with a bank account pegged on. These are known as packaged bank accounts and the insurance is in return for a monthly fee. While they’re a waste of cash for many who have upsold them without need, if you’d be shelling out for the insurance anyway they can be a winner. For a full rundown of the pros and cons see Martin’s packaged bank account best buys – and reclaiming guides.
The long-term top pick for many is Nationwide’s FlexPlus account, yet from next week it is cutting the 3% interest it pays on up to £2,500 for those in credit, which has caused anger for existing customers. Yet having crunched the numbers, for families at least, it’s still easily the best buy. You pay £13/mth fee (so £156/yr) and get worldwide family travel insurance including winter sports cover up to your 70th birthday, family smartphone insurance (so if four of you in a house with smartphones, this is worth hundreds) and UK and Europe breakdown cover for the account holder.
The key to deciding if it’s right for you is to work out which of these policies you’d normally buy anyway and add up how much they cost per year, then compare to simply paying the annual fee.
For couples, Co-Op’s Everyday Extra account can come out on top. It has a slightly more expensive £15/mth fee (so £180/yr), but provided you do paperless billing, pay in £800/mth (equiv to a £9,750 salary going in), and have four direct debits coming out, then you can sign up to its Reward scheme that pays you £4/mth making it cheaper (and get paid 5p per debit card transaction up to £1.50 a month too). The account offers worldwide family travel insurance including winter sports cover up to your 80th birthday, plus smartphone insurance and UK and Europe breakdown cover, but only for the account holder, which could be worth over £400/yr in total.
Parents of under-11s can get £2,000/year free from the Government to pay for childcare
It’s half-term, meaning some parents will be facing extra childcare costs. So it’s a good point to remind you of the Government’s tax-free childcare scheme offering up to £2,000 per child towards childcare per year – it’s too late to apply for this holiday, but be sure to check if you’re eligible for the future. 100,000s are eligible for this and are missing out – though I understand why as the scheme hasn’t run too smoothly.
To do it you must work 16+ hours a week (both if in a couple), earn under £100,000 whether via employment or self-employment, and be paying for childcare.
Open an online account via the Government’s Tax-Free Childcare site – then, for every 80p they put in, the Government will add 20p up to a maximum amount of £2,000 per child (£4,000 if your child is disabled). So if your childcare bill is £500/mth, you’d pay £400 and the remaining £100/mth would be picked up by the Government.
All the money in the account must be used to pay for childcare, which could include holiday activities and after-school clubs as well as nurseries, playgroups and so on. The crucial element is that your childcare provider must be registered with a regulator, such as Ofsted.
The scheme’s available for parents with children who are 11 or under (or until they turn 17 if they have certain disabilities).
For those still on the old now-closed childcare voucher scheme, it can be worth switching if you’re at the high end of childcare costs, but if you’re costs aren’t too big, stick with the voucher scheme.
Up to 50% off ALL toys at Tesco: Tesco’s the latest supermarket to offer a stock-wide toy sale, both online and in-store – great if you’re stocking up on kids’ Christmas presents and know what you want. There’s up to 50% off all toys including brands such as Lego (has at least 20% off), Pokemon (at least 20% off) and Paw Patrol (at least 25% off) until 30 October (though it’s best to check early for bargains as stock is likely to go fast). About a quarter of the toys have the full 50% discount including a 2-pack of Transformers figures for £15 (was £30), Disney Princess 6 dolls set for £12.50 (was £25) and a Paw Patrol vehicle set for £22.50 (was £45). As always, you should compare prices to make sure you’re getting the best deals.
£160ish of No7 beauty products for £42: The popular Boots beauty advent calendar is back, with 25 full-size and mini No7 beauty and skincare products including mascara, nail polish, eyeshadow and creams. It’s available to everyone from 7.30 am today (24 Oct) in store or online, though delivery’s £3.50. Those who signed up to its online waiting list before Tuesday, were emailed a link allowing them to get the beauty calendar yesterday (23 Oct), a day early. It’s usually snapped up fast, so go quick if it’s something you want.