Save money on medicines and prescriptions

Save money on medicines and prescriptions

Save money on medicines and prescriptions

Over the counter medicines is big business in the UK. Smart with Cash want to help people save money on medicines and prescriptions as these costs can seriously eat into your budget. Many people with headaches, coughs etc will pop into the chemist or a supermarket for tablets or medicine. Most opt for familiar brands such as panadol, calpol, sudafed, lempsip, nurofen as these are household names. Although they may be effective in relieving symptoms you could save money on medicines by buying generic medicines. Generic tablets may come in plain packaging but the key is check the ingredients against those named by main brands.

On a recent trip to the supermarket a family member wanted some Sudofed so I picked it up and saw that it contained Phenylephrineparacetamol and caffeine. After checking the own brand cold and flu tablets I found they contained exactly the same ingredients. Sudofed costed £3.50 for 16 and the generic tablets £1.90 for the same amount. I had long been buying generic products but this little exercise got me thinking about how much the average family spends on medicines each month. You could save a heap of cash if if you switch to chemist/supermarket own brands each time you visit the shops. All medicines sold over the counter are subject to strict guidelines from the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA).  This gives a bit of reassurance regarding minimum level of quality and piece of mind for consumers.

Over the counter price test at Boots

After visiting Boots this month here is what I found:

Nurofen 200 mg 16 tablets at Boots costs £2.49 and Value Health Ibuprofen also found at Boots costs £0.35 for 16 tablets (around a 7th of the price)

Panadol Actifast 500mg 14 capsules costs £2.99, Boots Paracetamol 500mg 16 capsules costs £0.49 (around a 6th of the price)

Calpol Infant supension 200ml £5.99, Boots paracetamol suspension 200ml, £4.99, Morrisons, Tesco and Asda do their own version in 100ml for around £1.80 which is still a big saving if you bought 2 bottles.

Lemsip 10 sachets for £3.82 in Boots, Boots Cold and Flu 10 sachets at £1.99.

Seven Seas cod liver oil 120 capsules, £9.25, Boots cold liver oil 30 capsules £0.99 (£3.96 equivalent).

Don’t just look for the active ingredients also check that they are the same strength as their branded equivalent. Have a look at the quantity in the pack. In the above examples quantities differ slightly or several smaller packets were compared against a larger branded packet. Also remember that there are secondary ingredients which the larger brands may use to sweeten the medicine or to achieve a distinctive taste. It is important to always read the labels on medicines before you take them branded or otherwise and seek medical advice if you are unsure of the dose or have a medical condition, pregnant or breastfeeding. Another trick is to check the PL code which stands for product licence. Medicines with the same PL code are exactly the same and made in the same lab even though they might be in different packages. Don’t pay any more than you need to, it’s worth a quick look before you buy.

Save money on prescriptions

You can also save money on medicines and prescriptions by getting a prepayment certificate (PPC) if you get regular prescriptions. £29.10 for three months or £104 for a full year. Pay upfront or by direct debit and may be a lot cheaper getting the certificate than paying £8.40 for each item.

Minor ailment schemes operate in most pharmacies and enable them to provide certain medicines free of charge on the NHS. Children, patients 60 or over and people entitled to free prescriptions can ask to see a pharmacist under the scheme. Prescriptions include paracetamol based medicines, headlice treatments, cold and flu remedies, antihistamines for hayfever and allergic reactions. Also available are creams and ointments for skin irritations and lotions for conditions like chicken pox. The schemes free up valuable GP surgery time and often offer more convenient times for busy families i.e. after school and weekends.

Free Prescriptions

You may be entitled to free prescriptions if you are in the following groups:

  • 60 or over
  • under 16
  • 16-18 and in full-time education
  • pregnant or have had a baby in the previous 12 months and have a valid maternity exemption certificate (MatEx)
  • have a specified medical condition and have a valid medical exemption certificate (MedEx)
  • have a continuing physical disability that prevents you from going out without help from another person and have a valid MedEx
  • hold a valid war pension exemption certificate and the prescription is for your accepted disability
  • are an NHS inpatient

There are also several exemptions for people on low incomes:

  • Income Support
  • Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance
  • Income-related Employment and Support Allowance, or
  • Pension Credit Guarantee Credit
  • Universal Credit
  • a valid NHS tax credit exemption certificate – if you don’t have a certificate, you can show your award notice; you qualify if you get Child Tax Credits, Working Tax Credits with a disability element (or both) and have income for tax credit purposes of £15,276 or less
  • a valid NHS certificate for full help with health costs (HC2)

See NHS England for more information on exemptions and how to apply.



New Lifetime ISA launches with a massive bonus

New Lifetime ISA launches with a massive bonus

On the 6th April 2017. The New Lifetime ISA launches with a massive bonus of 25% paid annually. This new type of ISA comes with some attractive incentives from the Government. With savings rates being so pitiful over the last few years it’s not surprising people aren’t saving. The government is understandably concerned that young people are struggling to put money by for a new home. Also saving for retirement is a long way off many people’s thoughts as people are concentrating on the day to day. This new account has been launched encourage people to save for their future. If you are under 40, that is born after 7th April 1977 you are eligible to apply.

ISAs are largely considered to be irrelevant due to the changes in tax allowances on savings accounts. However if you qualify and can commit to long term savings this is very much the account for you. Take advantage when the New Lifetime ISA launches with a massive bonus of 25% paid annually. Remember to open it as soon as you can to take advantage of the bonus until you turn 50.

What can the LISA be used for?

The LISA can be used for buying a house if you are a first time buyer. Just let the account provider know you are buying and they will send the money to your conveyancer. You can also use the account to save for your retirement. You can access your cash when you reach 60 and you don’t have to take it all at once. The account can be kept open after your 60th birthday or you can move it to another account. If you want to get at your cash before this there is a hefty 25% fee to pay. Probably best to leave it in there if you can as only consider withdrawing as a last resort.

Are there any limits to the account?

£4000 is the maximum you can save each year. Pay the full amount at the start or build up to that amount, it’s up to you. At the end of the year the government will add 25% bonus on top. If you can pay in the full amount then you will get £1000 at the end.

Where can I open a Lifetime ISA?

The major banks haven’t yet released any products or given a launch date so far however there are a couple of providers who say they will be ready for the launch in April. It is a matter or keeping an eye out as the new LISAs come available. If you are keen to get an account open, you can always set it up with the early providers. Once it is up and running and  you see a better deal elsewhere then you can switch providers. This is Money have more information on this and how to look for providers.

Be smart with your cash and make small changes

Be smart with your cash and make small changes

Be smart with your cash and make small changes to your lifestyle. You could make some big savings over the year just by by looking through your bank account. Have you got any old club or gym memberships, magazine subscriptions that you no longer want or use.  Switching energy suppliers doesn’t take long and can save you hundreds of pounds over the year. You could also to contact your phone and broadband company and try to get a better deal. A good tip is to do a price comparison beforehand and let them know if you can get a better deal elsewhere. Good old fashioned budgeting can take time but can be worth your while. As a result of your initial hard work you should have a list of all income and fixed costs, you can then choose how to spend the rest.

Income includes wages/salary, benefits such as tax credits, income support, JSA, child benefit, housing benefit, pensions and pension credits.

Fixed expenses could include:

  • Mortgage/rent
  • Food shopping
  • Car expenses – road tax, fuel, MOT, etc
  • Savings/Retirement
  • Utilities: gas, electricity, water, telephone, broadband
  • Car insurance
  • Breakdown cover
  • House insurance
  • Mobile phone

Don’t forget other items which might not be regular but are a basic cost such as:

  • School uniform
  • School trips
  • Clothing
  • Work clothes

Disposable income

  • Gym membership
  • Eating out
  • Nights out
  • Takeaways
  • Cinema/theatre
  • Charity donations
  • Fashion
  • Gifts
  • Lottery tickets/syndicate payments
  • TV subscriptions – Sky, BT Vision, Virgin Media, Netflix, Now TV, online TV packages

These fixed expenses can often be reduced by negotiating a better deal with your provider, changing mobile tariffs, buy a cheaper handset and switching to a sim only deal. Always compare prices at renewal of insurances and utility contracts. If you have a good internet connection and don’t need hundreds of channels switch to cheaper providers like Now TV or Netflix. This could slash your monthly outgoings as there is no long term contract. Furthermore with Now TV you can add the entertainment, movies and sport as and when you need them.

The idea of a spending budget it that once the fixed household expenses are taken care of then its up to you what you spend your hard earned cash on each month. Having the budget there doesn’t have to mean you have to go without. Be smart with your cash and make small changes whilst taking control of your cash.

Coffee on the go

We all like to get a takeaway coffee or hot chocolate with the works now and then and as its only a few pounds here and there you hardly miss it. However if you add in the odd cake or panini and go at least once a week this can be really expensive over the year. Some chains like Starbucks and Cafe Nero give you a discount or extra loyalty points for bringing in your own cup. You could keep local and grab a latte from your local coffee shop or bakery, these are often much cheaper. If you are sitting in, arrange to meet friends either side of lunchtime to cut down spending on extras like hot sandwiches.


If you find that you have money left over at the end of the month, it is a great idea to put money away for a rainy day. First of all consider unexpected costs you have had in the past such as emergency car repairs or boiler breakdown. Try and put at least three months income away but to six months would be a great buffer.

Once you have your emergency fund you can look at savings. Regular savings accounts often pay higher interest but only over a set period usually 12 months. ISA are also great savings products and its a good idea to set up a direct debit each month. You can always top up this payment if you have any extra spare cash at the end of the month.

Best free fitness apps

Best free fitness apps

Turn your mobile into your personal trainer

If you are feeling the pinch after the festive period (seems such a long time ago now) time to take action. Use your mobile or tablet to get fit, have a look at our best free fitness apps. There is anything from tracking your running, mini gym classes, nutrition and food to health and wellbeing.

Best free fitness apps to keep active

Strava Running and Cycling GPS – a must have for runners & cyclists. The cycling app measures your speed, distance and elevation as you cycle, pit yourself against other cyclists. The app displays info on calories burned, heart rate, power, and rhythm.

Nike Training Club –  another great fitness app providing workout routines based on your own fitness level.  Use it to target specific areas of the body in 15-45 minute workouts.

Couch to 5K – this app promises to get you running 5km in 8 weeks. Step by step programme for novices starting with walking/jogging and building up to being a competent runner. Great to build confidence and for anyone who thinks they don’t have a run in them. Good luck.

Fitnet – targeted workouts lasting beween 5 and 7 minutes. Use the selfie to improve your technique, see your progress over time and share with a personal trainer. The app is also compatible Apple Watch to measure heart rate and cardio zone during exercise.

Best free fitness apps for nutrition and diet

MyFitnessPal – log your food diary from a database of more than 6 million foods. Track your diet easily, no matter what you eat. Use the app to set goals whether you want to lose weight or gain muscle, it will make suggestions on the best foods and exercises.

mySugr – this is great for diabetes sufferers who can use the app to keep an eye on blood sugar levels. MySgr helps you to pay attention to food and how it affects blood glucose levels. If some days you aren’t feeling that great the app can help you see what you need to cut back on.

Fooducate – track what you eat and your activities to see your progress and achieve goals. Recipes, diet tips and access to community.

save money using mobile and tablet apps

save money using mobile and tablet apps

Save money using mobile and tablet apps

Smart with Cash have been busy looking for smart ways to save money using mobile and tablet apps. There are literally hundreds of these types of apps in the main app stores, some more useful and user friendly than others. SWC have put together a handy list saving you time and hopefully some cash in the process.

We have downloaded and used these apps ourselves and have done our best to look through the web and across the app stores looking at reviews. Apps with hidden upsells where you will be asked to pay to use extra features in the app were not included in the list. Just make sure that you update the  apps over WiFi as they can seriously use up your data. Hopefully this post will help you save money by using your mobile and we have put the apps into sections.

Cashback apps make it easy to access cashback offers whilst you are out and about and have voucher codes you can show at the till. If you are going overseas this year then there are a few handy apps you can use to make your holiday abroad easier and save a bit of cash too. When you go abroad make sure you switch off your data roaming or you could find you have a hefty bill. Within the EU the cost per MB is around 17p. Outside the EU, providers are free to charge whatever rate they like so don’t get stung.



Music Magpie

MusicMagpie is an platform for selling on old CDs, DVDs and games online. They’ve now got a free app which makes the process a lot easier and more fun as you can keep an eye on your when sales on the go.


Earn cashback on the move and keep you up to date with all the latest Printable Vouchers and deals in your area.

Voucher cloud

Vouchercloud uses your location to show you offers for shops and restaurants near you.


Save money using mobile and tablet apps with these fantastic shopping apps

Get paid cashback on your everyday supermarket shopping with Quidco’s ClickSnap

Get paid cashback on your everyday supermarket shopping with TopCashback’s Snap & Save


Parkopedia is a website that helps drivers to find and compare commercial, street and private parking on their computer or a mobile phone. Parkopedia also helps drivers by displaying parking information about a selected area and other useful tips that are submitted and shared by its users.

Download Navmii as an alternative to your phone’s sat nav as this does not use your data. You can download maps use route planning, voice prompts, driver scores, mileage tracking offline.

Google Translate offers a free translation offline without the use of data or WiFi. It also has a feature that reads and translates the text through the camera, just hover over the text.


Personal Finance

Download your bank’s app, this is great for accessing your balance anytime, making payments and transferring money. Many of the banks have apps where you can pay your friends just using a mobile number once you both have the app set up. Payfriendz and PingIt are really popular.

ATM Hunter

If you find yourself in a restaurant where the card machine isn’t working or a lovely gift shop that only takes cash then you can use this app to find your nearest cash machine.

Save on half term days out

Save on half term days out, its that time of year again and entertaining the family is a must. We at Smart with Cash want to make sure the bank holiday and half term doesn’t cost the earth and have some great money saving tips and free days out.

If you have collected the 2 for 1 vouchers on cereal packets and other household goods one adult or child goes free into Merlin attractions with another full paying entrant. Get big savings on Legoland, Chessington, Alton Towers and Thorpe park in addition to Sealife Centres across the country. If you have enough on your clubcard you can exchange them for theme park entry or buy an annual pass using £50 Tesco clubcard vouchers. You would probably need to visit Merlin attractions around 6 times per year (taking into account 2 for 1 vouchers) to get value for money. Look online for advance booking discounts at zoos and animal parks, museums, visitor centres, etc.

If you are planning to take the train to get to an attraction have a look on Days Out Guide to see if it is listed on their 2for1 promotion. You will need to register with the website and print a voucher, make sure you keep your train ticket to present at the attraction to receive your discount. Over 150 attractions are participating including the top Merlin parks and Sealife centres. London has a whole host of free days out such as the British Museum and Natural History Museum which are well worth the visit.

There are some lovely parks around the country, many of them free to enter, although watch out for seasonal car parking charges. National Trust and Royal Horticultural Society often run promotional membership deals so get out and about this year and explore our beautiful country. It might seem obvious but pack a lunch and plenty of drinks. Cafes and snack huts at the big attractions charge a premium and as they are often miles away from anywhere and want to maximise profits. You could find yourself spending as much as the entry in some cases by the time you have bought coffees, cold drinks and lunch for everyone.

If you feel like a day in, settle down on the sofa with a bag of popcorn and watch a movie. Depending on the age of your children make a den or homemade tent, have an indoor picnic, play board games, do some crafts, build robots or get a raspberry pie project to build.

Changes to credit card processing fees

The Government has recently introduced changes to credit card processing fees. The interchange fee directive, which was passed by the European Parliament in December last year is part of the fee banks charge retailers for accepting credit card payments. Great news I hear you cry, although what seems a good move for consumers is not working out so well for millions of cardholders as providers are slashing rewards and cashback rates as these fall within the directives.

M&S Bank is latest in a line of credit card companies to cut reward points, by 60% in this case. Cardholders will only receive one point for every £5 spent outside Marks & Spencer, where it is currently per £2 spend. Tesco and Capital One have halved their rewards due to the new directive. The overall affects of this new cap whether negative or positive will no doubt be debated well into the future. The best we can do is keep checking providers and move providers where necessary to make sure we are getting the most out of our plastic friends. If you want to compare credit cards check out our Best Credit Cards.

Switch your current account

Now is a an ideal time to switch your current account. Banks are offering some attractive rates on positive balances, monthly payments into accounts, linked regular savings accounts with high initial rates, gift vouchers and cash bonuses. Just to give a bit of warning, some of these headline grabbing rates only kick in under certain conditions such as having a balance between a certain amount or up to a set limit before rates dramatically change. Its important to read the small print on things like balance thresholds, timed offers, what happens when you go overdrawn before you make the switch. Now couldn’t be a better time to switch your current account as recent legislation has made it simpler and can be done within 7 days.

Switch your current account – Best for bonuses

M&S : £100 gift card and up to £10 per month on the card for a year

  • £100, 0% overdraft
  • 6% regular saver
  • If you can pay in £1000 per month from your wage, tax credits, benefits or other income you can get an extra £10 per month in gift cards

First direct : £125 cash bonus

  • £10 monthly fee but this doesn’t come into effect if you pay in at least £1000 per month, have a qualifying first direct product or average monthly balance of £1000.
  • £250, 0% overdraft

Halifax : £125 cash bonus and £5 per month*

  • *To get the £5 per month you will have to pay in at least £750 each month, stay in credit, and have at least a couple of direct debits.
  • Not great if you regularly go overdrawn as you daily fees apply on the overdraft and you won’t receive the monthly £5
  • £50 buffer overdraft then £1 per day up to £2000 overdrawn

Clydesdale : £150 bonus and 2% interest on balances up to £3000

  • You need to use the bank’s switching scheme to qualify for the bonus
  • You need to pay in at least £1000 per month and pay this amount in within the first 31 days
  • Most customers access the bank online or over the phone as there aren’t many branches outside of Scotland

The Co-operative : £100 bonus and get up to £5.50 per month

  • Sign up to the Co-operative’s Everyday Rewards scheme and you’ll get £4 each month if you pay in £800 per month and have at least active direct debits, you also need to stay in credit or within your overdraft limit.
  • If you meet all the above, sign into online/mobile banking at least once you will also get 5p per debit card transaction, up to a maximum of £1.50 per month, as part of Everyday Rewards


Switch your current account – Best for interest

TSB Classic Plus Account : Get 5% AER current account interest on balances up to £2,000

  • You need to pay in £500 per month and register for online banking and paperless statements
  • No need to set up any direct debits
  • 5% cashback on your first £100 of contactless payments every month
  • £25, 0% buffer overdraft

Bank of Scotland Classic Account :

  • 3% variable interest on your balance of £3,000 – £5,000 (you have to use a free Add-on called Vantage
  • Maximum balance of £5000

Tesco Bank :

  • Earn 5 points for every £4 spent in Tesco and 1 point for every £8 everywhere else
  • 3% interest on your balance up to £3,000
  • Up to overdraft limit – 18.90% EAR interest


  • *Switching is a lot easier than it used to be but it is worth keeping printed statements from your old bank or download statements from your online banking before you make the switch as banks can impose charges for this following closure.

Did you set up a Child Trust Fund

Did you set up a Child Trust Fund for your child between 2002 and 2011? From the 6th April 2015 New rules have now come into effect allowing people to transfer these accounts to a Junior ISA if they wish.

Child Trust Funds were replaced by Junior ISAs in 2011, however if you still have a CTF you can keep paying in and can now switch to a new rate at any time so keep an eye out for better Junior ISA deals which could make a huge difference over the life of the account.

To find out more, have a look on the Money Advice Service website

children’s finance

Top 5 smart cash tips for 2016

Top 5 smart cash tips for 2016

1. Homeowners have benefited from all time low interest rates over the past couple of years but in all likeliness these rates will rise. Check to see if you are getting the best deal by using the MSE mortgage calculator. If you can try and overpay some months over the next year.…/mortgage-rate-calculator

2. Switch utility supplier, have a look on uswitch to see if you are getting the best deal.
*It might also be worth your while contacting your previous utility suppliers by phone or post to check if you were in credit at the time of switching. Most energy companies go under the premise if you don’t ask for the refund they didn’t provide it. Check old bills if you have them or just call on the offchance. Good luck.*

3. If any of your subscriptions or breakdown cover is up for renewal haggle over the phone. It is always good to let them know what competitors are offering and say you are thinking of switching. Success rates are high for discounts on renewal but this won’t happen automatically.

4. Clean up your bank account – check your Direct Debit and Standing Order list and see what you can cut down on. Are you paying out for unused gym and club memberships, insurances for items you no longer have such as mobiles and camera equipment. You could save yourself a few hundred pounds over the year.

5. Check your savings rates – you might have an account that had an initial rate for regular payments and has now lapsed to a paltry rate or if you have a lump sum you could earn up to 3%. Check out our savings page