What I’ve actually done this month to be clever with my cash.
There are a couple of thoughts behind this feature. Often there are small things I’m doing that don’t warrant a whole article so this can bring them together! Plus, it’s a great way to show that I “walk the walk” and really do follow my own advice!
So here are the key money matters from my own life in August and September 2023
Beating the Disney+ price hike
In July Disney announced that it was going to introduce adverts and also increase prices for its Disney+ streaming service. So I took action that meant neither were going to be an issue for me.
If you’re a regular reader you’ll know I don’t believe it’s possible to get value for money from more than one streaming service at the same time. This means if I pay for one it’s just that one in any month. And then once I’ve watched everything I want to see, I switch to a different one, and repeat.
Of course sometimes I don’t pay anything at all. I’ve currently got Apple TV+ for free, and had Amazon Prime Video for nothing a few months back.
And now I’ve also got Disney+ for nothing for a whole year. This was via the Club Lloyds current account. I’ve written about this a lot before (here’s my review), and if you don’t already have the account you simply open one up (here’s details of a £175 bank switch offer running this month) and choose Disney+ as your “Lifestyle Benefit”.
But I already have an account, and my benefit (Empire magazine every month) can’t be changed midway through the year.
The answer – a joint account! So I opened one up with my wife (we had to both be on the Lloyds app on our phones at the same time to do this), and hey presto, a year of Disney+ which will turn into Disney+ Premium when the new tiers launch in a month or so.
I say “hey presto”, but it’s worth noting there’s a month wait from choosing your lifestyle benefit and actually getting it. So if you have a year of Disney due to end soon, start this process up to a month before.
I was a bit under the weather last month and the GP prescribed me three different items. Since I pay for my medicines, that would be three separate lots of £9.65, totalling £28.95.
But before I could pay, the pharmacist suggested I get a prescription prepayment certificate (PPC) instead. This is effectively an unlimited subscription for a set period, either three or 12 months.
The cost for a three month one is £31.25, so it’d cost me an extra £2.30 than buying each one separately. And if I was confident I’d remain well over the coming months I possibly wouldn’t have bought one. In fact, I’ve never bothered in the past as I’d only ever had one prescription at a time.
But since I expected one of the items to repeat (which it did), I’d actually be saving cash on that in the short term. And if I do need anything else in the next month or so (hopefully not!), I also won’t need to pay again.
Plus I didn’t need to pay there and then. The pharmacy let me take my items with me and apply for my PPC online the same day. In the end I actually forgot, and only applied the next day. Anticipating it wouldn’t work, I was delighted to see I could back date it a month if I wanted.
Where these are particularly good are for those with known ongoing medication needs. Here’s more on how they work and how to get one.
Meal deal failure
Meal deals are great right? You’ll get to save some cash on all the items you want for lunch. And broadly that’s true. But they also tempt you to order more than you actually need.
If you were happy with fewer items, you’d probably pay less overall. And if you have an alternative discount, you might find that doesn’t stack with these combo promos.
I fell foul of both of these hurdles at Leon recently. I told my colleague we could use my student discount (here’s how I still have a student card) to save 15%, so we ordered our meal deals only to find that was excluded.
OK, so it’s only a few quid, but I really didn’t need (or like) those waffle fries and would have been much happier with a cheaper Haloumi wrap!
It reminded me a similar issue with set meals. If you’re tempted by two or three courses for fixed price, do just check the total cost of the items you want. Sometimes they don’t actually save you money, especially if you have the vegetarian options.
It’s also worth comparing the choices to options on the main menu. You might find you can pay a similar amount for something you prefer to eat.
Train delay fun
I’ve had two train journeys out of London back up north delayed by more than an hour in the last couple of months – and I’ve something to share about rights and refunds on both.
First, there was a cancellation on journey one for my connection via Northern Rail. This meant, despite a pop up notification from LNER saying I could get an alternative train with my advance ticket (and three members of staff saying the same), I wasn’t able to change my train out of London to make an earlier connection (I’ll just say the customer service from LNER ranged from abysmal to awesome).
So I arrived home an hour late. In theory, getting a refund is easy. But here’s the first idiosyncrasy worth knowing about. Though I bought my tickets with LNER, and the bulk of the journey (and cost) was via LNER, I had to claim the refund from the cancelled train provider Northern. I did this and got the full amount back.
Then on the second delayed trip a few weeks later, the problem was with LNER itself. If I’d known about the issue I would have been able to get a different train. Even so my actual booked train left just 10 minutes late. However it arrived in York 80 minutes later!
This time I put the Delay Repay request through LNER, and here’s where I made a mistake. Though I bought both tickets together, they weren’t a return journey. They were two singles. However I put “return” in my application, and it resulted in only 50% of the delayed single ticket price refunded, rather than the full 100%.
I’ve appealed this so hopefully I’ll get the rest at some point – but just make sure you only claim refunds for returns if it really is a return ticket.
Paying more for books
Regular readers will know I a few years ago I challenged myself to a year without Amazon. Not only was it easy, I actually saved myself money by shopping around and removing the temptation to buy things I don’t need with a single click.
However, the one area where Amazon wins on price almost every time is on books. Take the two books I picked up recently. First, the latest Thursday Murder Club title by Richard Osman. Full price is £22, but Amazon have it for £11. Then the new Lonely Planet guide to Chile. You’ll pay £11.55 from Amazon, versus £16.99 RRP.
But I chose to pay full price from my local independent bookshop, effectively losing out on a discount of £16.44. Which might not be money saving, but I think it’s clever with my cash.
There’s no way Amazon is selling big book releases like “The Last Devil to Die” at such a low price and still make a profit. Ultimately it’s a loss leader, not just to get our business, but ultiamtely to get rid of the competition.
Now, I’m in a position where I’m able to pay the full price. That wasn’t always the case, and if I was watching my pennies more, I could still have avoided Amazon and saved some money. Going to WH Smiths (price matching at £11) or Waterstones (£16.99) for the Osman title. And Smiths had £1.36 off the guidebook, while a bigger £3 was available on eBay (brand new, not secondhand – it’s literally only just been released).
Selling an old suitcase on Facebook
For more than a year I’ve had a big Samsonite suitcase we no longer need listed on Facebook marketplace. We bought it (in a TJ Maxx – the USA version of TK Maxx) on holiday one year after the case we travelled with broke, but it proved too big for our general use.
We had an offer last year, but sadly we were away for the weekend and the buyer needed it right then. And then nothing for another 9 or 10 months.
Until I decided to reactivate the listing, at a bargain £60. And this time I had four enquires – three of which were legitimate and I ended up accepting £50 cash for it. Happy days.
But the other offer, in fact the first one I got, wasn’t right. There was something off about it which I couldn’t put my finger on. But what I could see was there was very little information about the buyer, and they were pressuring for a quick buy. I wasn’t comfortable giving them my address, so I turned them down.
Now I might have been wrong, but now that user’s profile has disappeared from Facebook – suggesting they were potentially scammers! So just be careful when selling (or buying) on Facebook Marketplace.
And the rest…
I can’t remember everything but a few extras in brief…
- I took advantage of the 5.2% Santander easy access account before it went, and a 3-year fixed rate account paying 6.08% from My Community Finance.
- I went to Sheffield United vs Crystal Palace at the start of the season, paying a bargain £30 for a ticket thanks to the away game cap
- After the match we headed out for some drinks, and happy hour to the rescue! Some half decent cocktails were two for £10
- I took my niece and nephew to a local theme park, saving a fair whack thanks to a voucher from our local online newspaper
Listen to Cash Chats, Andy’s award-winning podcast. Episodes every Tuesday.