Friday, 20 December 2013

£2 off £10 spend at shell

Hot off the press!
£2 off £10 spend at shell (via Quidco mobile app)

It seems that all the deals I am posting on this blog seem to be fuel related, but that is only because that seems to be a popular theme this Christmas with a lot of retailers.

Here, Shell and Quidco have teamed up to bring you this discount that makes your petrol (sorry diesel engined car drivers, you'll have to sit this one out), almost £1.04 a litre. Scorching!

Download the Quidco mobile app, and sign in or create an account. (You can do this later, as you have up to 48 hours to upload your reciept). Visit your local shell station, fill up £10 and get a reciept.

When you get home, upload the receipt, via the app (take a picture with your phones camera), and voila. £2 discount.

You can do this once per day whilst the offer lasts, so keep doing it every 24 hours until your full on fuel. You wont get these prices at the pump regularly so make use of it while you can.

Wednesday, 18 December 2013

First world problems: Clutch

Just a quick note on a recent incident I have had with my car. Driving at 30 miles an hour on a main road, on familiar roads on a journey that I had been planning all morning to visit a friend. Seeing my exit come up, I began my preparations to take the corner, checked my mirrors, indicated left, knowing very well where the road would lead and that very soon I would drive past that gleaming red Porsche that I dream about... anyway I digress.

I put my clutch down to shift into second gear and lo and behold my clutch stuck to the floor and the gearstick refused to budge. This was not like anything I have ever experienced (I have quite a short driving history), in my panic, I slowed the car down to a crawl, went round the corner, and let my momentum pull me to the curb, before stopping the car and putting up the handbrake.

In the ensuing half an hour, I did some very rudimentary checks on the car, under the bonnet and in the cockpit, all to no avail. I then thought back to my insurance renewal a few months back and remember something in the terms and conditions about some RAC cover.

I rang them, (not on the 0800 number on their website, more on this in another post), the very helpful customer services woman, assured me that I had free RAC roadside breakdown cover, and gave me a number to call. Within 45 minutes, a very helpful engineer had come up and inspected the car, gave me a diagnostics and towed my vehicle to a recommended garage*.

So, the moral of the story is that it pays to check your terms and conditions and negotiate with your insurance company!

*I did end up paying £800+ for a manufacturer produced clutch with warranty (there seems to be a lack of aftermarket parts for my brand of vehicle), but that's one of the windfalls that life throws at you, you take the blow, get up and keep fighting. Without having the complimentary breakdown cover, my day could have been a lot worse.

Musings on Fuel Efficiency 2

We will start our search for money saving on fuel by looking at what we can do at the fuel pump to spend less, so here are some tried and tested tricks to fuel up the smarter way.

Shop smarter
The pump round the corner of your house may not be the cheapest, so shop around. You may save you a fair few quid, if you're willing to drive the extra mile or two. But beware, in your hunt for cheap fuel, don't drive around aimlessly for miles, the fuel spent driving may be more than the savings you will make in the end.

To save you some hassle, sign up to the daily newsletter here at If you're constantly traveling for work, there are mobile apps that will use your location to tell you the cheapest fuel within your vicinity. They will send you a daily email with a list of the 5 cheapest fuel stations within your vicinity. Hopefully that will shave a sweet penny (or 2) off the cost of fuel for you.

Use the right kind
I hate to break it to all of you wannabe boy racers, pumping your car full of Shell V-Power Nitro+ will:
  • give you negligible performance improvements (if any)
  • lighten your wallet by a significant amount
  • and who needs v-power fuel to go to buy milk and bread in a 1.2litre hatchback?
You will find that despite manufacturers for high end performance cars (I’m looking at you German car companies), recommending performance fuel, most cars do just fine on supermarket branded fuels.

Read your car's manual and find a balance between common sense and budget. Some people have had luck by cycling the better fuel once every two three weeks.

Time your pit stops
If you wait until the fuel indicator blinks on your dashboard, then you no longer have the luxury of waiting to find cheap fuel. Your vehicle needs fuel and you have to pay what the closest station demands. Plan your fuel usage for the week/month carefully, and go when you have a bit to spare (perhaps you can do this on the way to work or the school run or weekly groceries - so that you're not driving out and back home just for fuel).

On longer journeys, plan ahead. Where is your destination, do you know how to get there, do you have navigation aids (getting lost isn’t very fuel efficient), where during the journey can you stop for a break, can you refuel there if you need to?

Time your pit stops some more.
A common myth has it that visiting the fuel station early in the morning or late at night will get you more fuel than during the day. The science behind this may be sound, as fuel is stored in reservoirs underground, where it is cool. As the sun rises and the ground warms up a few degrees, the reservoirs warm up too and the fuel expands ever so slightly. A cold litre of fuel is more densely packed in molecules, than a warm litre as the molecules are less dense. So the theory is that you get less for your money when you buy the warmer fuel.

Science fiction or science fact? I cannot test this hypothesis accurately, so I’ll leave this one open to suggestions.

Play the supermarket sweepstakes
Competition is rife. Years ago, only petrol stations sold fuel and even then they were far and few between. Now though, supermarkets seem to be competing to lure customers in with both groceries and fuel all in one place. And it makes perfect sense to use them. But it gets better.

To lure customers in to spend even more, supermarkets will knock off xx% off your fuel price, if you spend a certain amount in-store.

Tesco have throughout 2013, given 5p off a litre when you spend a certain amount, and this is stackable. So do a months worth of groceries (thats 5 trips from the store to the parking lot to put the bags into your boot), and 5 receipts of £50 shopping, to knock off 25p per litre of fuel. Needless to say, do this when you have less than a quarter tank of fuel left, fill the tank in the car and take a fuel can with you and top that up for another 10 litres. Score!

Currently Morrisons have a 1p off for every £10 gift card you buy from them. Hmmm, you could use this for Christmas gift shopping (or just give gift cards) and get cheap fuel too (they are stackable). Keep your eyes peeled for discounts like this throughout the year.

Do you have any further advice for our readers, please let us know in the comments. 

This is part of a series on fuel efficiency and money saving on motoring fuel. Keep your eyes peeled for the next part in the series with further tips on getting you saving you money on your fuel expenditure.

Pre-Christmas supermarket fuel cuts

Hot off the press!
Pre-Christmas supermarket fuel cuts

Following the fuel duty freeze for 2014 announcement by George Osbourne, supermarkets are beginning to reduce fuel prices this Christmas!

Asda plans to cut fuel prices by 2p a liter on unleaded and 1p on diesel fuel. Tesco has followed suite and a spokesman from Morrisons reports that they will remain competitive.

Tuesday, 17 December 2013

Musings on Fuel Efficiency 1

Fuel prices. One of the quintessential pains in the neck of modern living, and it seems like we cannot beat it. Over time the price of everything goes up. However, fuel prices have rocketed in recent years.

So what causes this huge surge in price. In the UK it is quite simply because the TAX and import duty added to a liter of fuel is as much as the cost of fuel, which nearly doubles the price the consumer pays at the pump. I wont bore you with the details, as we cannot evade these taxes as they are applied even before the petrol comes to your station. However I can tell you how you could get more mileage for your fuel, saving your wallet from being cleaned out every time you stop for fuel. And over the course of a year this could compound to a few hundred quid!

Over the course of the next few posts, I will share some tips on how to get much better milage for your money. So fasten your seatbelts* and read on.

You can use the links below to view the rest of this series:

*Please do not read this blog whilst driving. It is an act of stupidity. 

Do you have any further advice for our readers, please let us know in the comments.

Welcome to The Smart Wallet

Cleaned out, zero balance, overdrawn, in the red - these are terms we don't like our finances to be associated with. Yet often times we find ourselves nearing the edge of this steep precipice. Why does this happen and what can we do to avoid it?

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