No.not all heroes wear cloaks; some are just very good with spreadsheets. As the cost of living crisis deepened, Martin Lewis was hailed as a national hero for his advice on how to save money.

MoneySavingExpert founder has won over an army of devotees, after spending months holding the government accountable in a climate of rising food prices and energy bills, and his MSE website is full of tips on how to get your folks to work harder. money.

Such is the service he is providing that one person took his suggestion that we all put £ 1 into an HSBC account and suggested: “I’d give £ 1 to a plate to give Martin Lewis a little Christmas present. a nice candle or something. to be a great teacher “.

But how much difference can his advice really make? The wisdom of the consumer champion isn’t universally relevant: While it offers a lot of advice on mortgage deals, many millennials and Generation Z people don’t own a home. Some of the schemes it recommends have specific eligibility criteria, while others are time-consuming.

Yet it is undeniable that we will all have to change our spending behavior in the coming months. So, in the name of frugality, we tested some of the MSE tips over a three-week period to see how much money we could save or earn. Here’s what we learned …

Real free money

I am a millennial woman who spends almost half of my income on rent and whose visa status prevents me from accessing public funds; the cost of living crisis has made me a ball of anxiety. Of course, I am more privileged than others, because I have a dual-income family and have no children. But the rising cost means I’m still looking for ways to save money. Which brings me to one of MSE’s most helpful tips: you can make money quickly by simply switching banks. Lewis repeatedly extols the virtues of doing so, as most banks offer some sort of cash incentive to entice new customers to switch to them. Most recently, he warned readers to switch offers from Nationwide, First Direct and NatWest, which all gave new customers up to £ 200.

I chose Nationwide, which still offers £ 200 free to upgrade to a new or existing Nationwide FlexDirect account. It was incredibly easy – I applied for the upgrade and let Nationwide do the rest of the work. Once my previous account balance was moved, the £ 200 was added to my new account within just two days of switching. This was by far the simplest and most beneficial of the tips I found on MSE: £ 200 free just to switch banks? I’ll take it. Kate Ng

I ignored my Trainline app and decided to buy my ticket from Splitmyfare.co.uk

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A piece off the commute

Train tickets have always been a major expense for those of us commuting at rush hour. And that got even more expensive in March, when tariffs rose 3.8%, the biggest increase in nine years. But since the pandemic, work patterns have changed – some workplaces, like mine, now use a hybrid model, which means employees only have to go to the office two or three days a week. A useful tip offered by the Savings Expert is to take advantage of the “divided ticket office”, ie when, instead of buying a single ticket to take you from the place of departure to the destination, you buy several tickets for each part of the journey.

As a person commuting to London from Essex, via a single 35 minute train, I was curious to see if this could save me money. To put it to the test, I ignored my Trainline app and decided to buy my ticket from Splitmyfare.co.uk. I was pleasantly surprised to find that tickets cost £ 2 less than I would usually pay this way. Helpfully, there is little to no problem as you can purchase them as e-tickets, which means you won’t be burdened with multiple paper tickets.

It may seem like a modest sum, but for someone who goes to the office three days a week, four times a month, you get an annual saving of £ 300. The problem: I found that the cheapest tickets were only available when I had at least booked a week before my intention to travel. While the savings are worth it, this method requires more organization and advance planning which can take some getting used to if you usually buy tickets just before travel. Saman Javed

Tricks for the weekly grocery store

My husband and I have minimized our weekly grocery store – we order online from Tesco and it costs around £ 40 between us. But in recent months, as the cost of living crisis has pushed supermarket prices up, it has come close. at £ 45 to £ 50. Martin Lewis offers a whole host of tips for reducing the cost of a grocery store, so I’ve tried two. The first was to buy basic products in the world food department. According to MoneySavingExpert, shopping in the global food department can see products “found cheaper gram for gram than the same product in different packaging”. The other: squatting to see if we can find own-brand alternatives. Apparently, the cheapest, non-branded items are usually found on the lowest shelf.

I find it harder to budget when shopping in person

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I walked into the shop with the mindset that I would purchase what we cook regularly and simply used his suggestions for items that would naturally fall into each category. As we already have many of the staples in our closets, all I needed from the world food department was garlic pasta which came in at £ 1.35 for 210g, compared to Sainsbury’s branded garlic pasta which cost £ 1.45 for 90 g. As for squatting, we collected Sainsbury’s branded gravy granules for 75p versus £ 2 branded jars. Other squatting deals we saw but didn’t collect included packages of own branded microwave rice for 75p compared to £ 1.40 for a Sainsbury’s own branded bag and crackers for £ 1 instead of a £ 1.70 branded pack.

However, despite these cost reductions, we ended up spending more than we normally would in a shop, with the total price being £ 60. Full disclaimer: this had nothing to do with Martin’s suggestions. It was simply due to the fact that we were shopping at a different supermarket than usual, and it was our first in-person shop in two years. For me, I find it harder to budget when shopping in person, and I’m more likely to buy extra that I wouldn’t normally do, simply because I can see them on the shelves. But overall, I found that Lewis’ shopping tips worked. Buying staples in the global food department is a cheaper option, and looking at the lower shelves has led us to bargains we would normally never see. For me, however, I will remain in my online shop. If it’s not broken … Laura Hampson

Getting paid for market research

Some of the MSE recommendations require more work than others. The website lists more than 30 sites and apps that help users make some extra cash or get gift cards in exchange for occasional marketing jobs or selling things like stock photos, so I downloaded three recommended apps from MSE: BeMyEye, Field Agent, and StreetSpotr. Everyone pays users to carry out small market research activities, from browsing pet stores to see if they have particular brands of pet food, to photographing pharmacy shelves to see how products are displayed, to checking prices and writing. product reviews.

Unfortunately, it turns out that many of these activities are not within walking distance. One “mission” offers to pay £ 6.70 to check out an exhibit in Boots in Peckham, but the return journey by bus from where I live would take about half the fare. Is it worth traveling for nearly an hour for just over £ 3, I wonder? Probably not. You have to be dedicated to save from these apps. They require that you frequently check activities and select them before someone else catches them; it takes time and vigilance. I’ve made all 11 pounds in the last three weeks, which was a nice allowance, even if it was bullshit. Kate Ng

Most people will try to save money wherever possible this Christmas

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Savings on Christmas shopping

The most expensive time of the year is upon us. While one of the funniest parts of the holiday season is the opportunity to spoil loved ones, most people will be looking to save money wherever possible this Christmas.

Lewis suggests a useful tool called Price Runner, which I have incorporated into my purchases. It is essentially a price comparison website and is extremely easy to use. Just type in the product you are looking for and you will be presented with a list of retailers who sell the product, with the price at which it is indicated. For example, research by the Adidas Adicolor Classics Teddy Fleece shows that while it retails for £ 55 on the brand’s website, End Clothing currently sells the item for £ 39. I highly recommend using this tool before making a purchase, as it lists more than two million items from over 6,000 stores across the UK. Saman Javed

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