My month in money #3 (April 2022)

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 April 2022.

You can also listen to me talk about this month on my Cash Chats podcast

Double booking a hotel

Let’s start with a mistake, so you don’t do the same! You might remember last month I told you how I was having a nightmare getting Premier Inn to accept my American Express card. In the end, I gave up and paid with Chase (getting 1% back).

Then when I checked into the hotel in mid-April the receptionist asked me which room I was checking-in for! I thought at first that one of the failed Amex bookings had actually gone through, but what actually happened was I’d held a room while I was trying to sort the payment fiasco.

This was fully cancellable up until noon on the day of arrival, but I’d forgotten I’d even booked the room! So for a few minutes, it looked like I’d be paying for two rooms and not one. Fortunately, the hotel was happy to not charge me an extra £600. Phew.

Normally I put in my calendar “last chance to cancel” for every booking I make, but overlooked it this time. A lucky escape.

More cheap London food and activities

I do really miss being able to save big on going out in London, though in reality being able to do these things less is a better money saver.

Much like my trip in February, I took advantage of a handful of tricks to pay far less than full price for the theatre and meal out.

The play was a last-minute decision, using the TodayTix app to book a £25 seat to see Ralph Fiennes in Straight Line Crazy at the Bridge Theatre (who’s website listed the same seat for £80). Normally the day tickets on the app for productions go at 10am or soon after, so I was lucky to pick one up at 5pm.

And on the way I visited my number one best-value-for-money meal in the City: the pre-theatre set meal at Hawkswmoor. For £28 I got three delicious courses which knock all other steak restaurants out of the park.

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Swapping stamps

It’s not often I use stamps, usually it’s just on cards at Christmas, but I have picked up a fair few books of stamps at cut prices in preparation. Then a few months ago the Royal Mail announced all existing stamps would be useless from 31 January 2023!

Fortunately they also set up a service to swap these old-style stamps for the new barcode-enabled design. This couldn’t be done in a Post Office – you had to post them!

So we added up our collection (a ridiculous 66 stamps with a current value of just under £53) and sent them off. And a few weeks later the new design arrived. If you need to swap any over, then all the details are here.

Big savings on streaming

Earlier last month a report revealed 1.5milllion UK households had cancelled a TV streaming service – something I like to hear. And I did the same, cancelling Disney+ once the annual pass expired. I’d paid the lower price of £59 for this before prices came up, so made the call to go all-in for a year.

But with it now costing £79 a year and with so much to watch on other streaming services, it was time for a break. However, it was short-lived as I’ve just claimed three months free via O2.

Elsewhere, I somehow managed to blag a free year of Prime Video, also via O2. This was via a new contract we took out via a third party site, which didn’t come with any streaming freebies. But upon calling up O2 to sort out an issue, the customer service agent just offered it to me! Nice (plus it means I’m still not giving any money to Amazon).

Rediscovering the library

This article is about practicing what I preach… but confession time I’ve not taken a book out of the library for years even though I’ve encouraged you all to do it.

But the other day I was walking by and thought I’d see if there was a second-hand book sale on (there wasn’t). As I entered there was a big display of new titles, and slap bang in the middle was a book I’d added to my “to-buy list” just a few days earlier: Anthem by Noah Hawley (the man behind the TV show Fargo).

I’d previously added my library card to my Stocard app (more on this in a second) so thought why not. In the years since I last did this things have moved on. I scanned the app and placed the book on some kind of magic scales. It instantly recognised the title and checked the book out for two weeks.

That’s £5 to £10 saved easily if I’d bought a physical version, and I’m using an institution I really want to survive.

Challenging a debt

Back in my March update I told you how I’d managed to freeze my David Lloyd membership without charge while I recover from injury. This month I kept getting emails saying I owed £18. I ignored these, knowing that wasn’t the case, but eventually, they texted.

This time I clicked through and was met with a threat that it’d be passed on to debt collectors with an additional £75 on top. Not good.

I contacted my local David Lloyd and they apologised, agreeing I didn’t owe any money. So hopefully that’s the end of that. But I’m going to keep an eye on this (and my credit reports) as you never know.

It’s a good lesson in why you should check emails and open post from businesses and banks just in case there’s something like this. If you don’t know a mistake has been made you can’t challenge it.

And the rest…

I can’t remember everything but a few extras in brief…

  • I saved around £30 to £35 buying three reduced train tickets in the Great Rail Sale
  • Technically this was late March (I forgot to mention it last time) but I hit the £1,000 limit on the Natwest regular saver and stopped adding new funds
  • Sadly supermarkets seemed to run out of reduced Easter chocs by Easter Monday this year – usually I stock up on some bargains but not this year
  • Monese offered 20% off supermarket gift cards so I snapped up one for Asda
  • More decent MyWatroise offers, and I’m experimenting buying similar products to see if the vouchers still work (here are details of the new rewards)
  • There was a return to the cinema (actually using my free weekly Odeon ticket from O2) and I also picked up a free Cafe Nero hot chocolate via the app too
  • And once ore I nabbed a free rental and Vue ticket from the free Telegraph trial

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Listen to Cash Chats, Andy’s twice-weekly podcast. Episodes every Tuesday and Friday.

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