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 May 2022.
You can also listen to me talk about this month on my Cash Chats podcast
Getting repeat switching money
One of the downsides to most offers is you can only get them once. Well, there were two massive deals in May that I’ve been eligible for even though I’m an existing customer.
The first is the latest version of the Lloyds Bank switching deal. Previously you were only eligible if you’d not had a switching bonus from the bank since April 2019. But now that date has moved to April 2020. And I switched back in late 2019.
So I’ve put in an application to switch an extra, unused account into my existing Club Lloyds account and should get the £125 this week. Here’s more on the offer.
You can check the date you previously got the bonus either in your account – look for the switching bonus payment. If you have closed the account then check your credit report to see when you opened it. The latter will obviously only work if you know you got your bonus around the same time.
Another big Amex welcome bonus
I’ve also been accepted for my third Amex welcome bonus of the year. Yep, third. Normally you can only get these if you’ve not had a card in your name in 24 months, but there are two cards that have different rules. First the BA Premium Plus (which I got in March and downgraded to the free card once I triggerd the bonus) and now the American Express Platinum credit card.
I’l earn 60,000 bonus points, up from the usual 30,000. I’ll have to spend £6,000 in six months, but that’ll be achievable as I’ll move everything I can across.
I chose this slightly lower bonus than the 65,000 on offer via the refer-a-friend scheme (ending 7 June 2022) as TopCashback had £35 on offer. I decided I’d rather have the cash than more points.
On top of the bonus I’ll nab two lots of £50 credit from Harvey Nicholls and I’ll be able to use it on the forthcoming Shop Small promotion.
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Merging my O2 and Virgin Media accounts
Becky recently switched from Three to O2, and this allowed us to link it with our Virgin Media account for something called Volt. You should be able to link the accounts online but I had to phone up to make sure it worked ok.
As long as you are a customer of both (and have the accounts under the same name and address), Volt gives you a few handy benefits. When it came to our broadband we got our speed upgraded by one level.
For Becky’s phone the main benefit (as far as we’re concerned) is free worldwide roaming via the Travel Bolt-On. This will be a big money saver. There was also double data, though it’s unlikely she’ll ever use that.
I think this makes deal makes it well worth considering both O2 and Virgin Media when you next come to switch. I wouldn’t go direct to O2 as better deals can often be had from third parties and comparison sites. Equally, make sure you check out cashback sites to save more on top.
Setting up ethical investments
I’ve finally got over my analysis paralysis when it comes to ethical investing. This isn’t a topic I cover on the blog or any of my channels in any detail as I’m no expert – but I do know the importance of regular investing.
But every time I tried to find a fund that adhered to my principles, I’d find it still included the like of Amazon, Nestle and Facebook. Some even still contained big oil companies.
However after much research, I plumped for the Big Exchange, run by the people behind the Big Issue. I’m using it for regular investing, rather than any attempt to time the market, and I’ve set up a direct debit to move over £250 every month. So far, it’s up 3% which I’m pleased about in the current climate.
A gift card app hack
Gift cards can be risky. If you forget about them they could expire, and if you lose them you will lose the cash. Plus refunds issued are often back on the gift card.
But they can also be handy ways to get extra savings. Whether it’s a cashback site payout or special deal, I’ll often pick up gift cards with up to 20% off and use them for things I know I’m going to buy and not return.
This usually means supermarket vouchers, but I’ll sometimes buy ones for retailers like Ticketmaster too. There’s no chance these won’t get used. However the frustration has been not always having them on me – but I think I’ve found a fix.
The app Stocard has been a feature on my phone for years so I can store my loyalty cards and not have them all in my wallet. Well, it turns out you can scan any barcode and save it. So I thought I’d give it a try with gift cards.
It’s been largely successful. Waitrose vouchers (20% off thanks to offers via Monese) scan great on the self-service tills, though my one attempt so far at Asda didn’t succeed. That was a manned till though so I plan to try again next time I’m in a store.
Local discount vouchers are still a thing
Years ago I was an avid user of sites like Groupon. I’d regularly pick up vouchers for cheap nights out, such as bargain cocktails and events. But then I stopped. The offers deteriorated, I left London and then the pandemic happened.
But I picked up a couple of these local discount vouchers in May. The first was a £50 voucher for £25 to use at a decent local restaurant. The other two hours of karaoke in London for £25 rather than £100, with cashback and a discount code bringing the price down to £20.
It’s worth looking at sites like Groupon (where I got the Karaoke), TravelZoo and TimeOut (London only) for these kinds of offers, but don’t ignore local news sites (that’s where I picked up the meal voucher).
Obviously these kinds of deals are only worth getting if the destination is any good. I’ve seen plenty for places you wouldn’t visit. But you also need to pay special attention to the terms and conditions.
Both of my vouchers could only be used Monday to Thursday, which limited when they could be used. The restaurant voucher was also only valid for a month. In fact, May went so fast that I very nearly forgot about using it. But we sneaked in last week with a Monday night out.
And the rest…
I can’t remember everything but a few extras in brief…
- Another interest rate rise means my mortgage payments have gone up again
- Bringing my First Direct debit card to the First Direct Arena in Leeds for an Alan Partridge show got me and my friends fast track entry and a free water and ice cream
- I’d normally steer clear of £13 cocktails (plus tip) when cheaper options are available but the LDN cocktail at GA Kings Cross was so good I went back for more the next week
- Monese offered 20% off gift cards again so I snapped up one for Waitrose
- O2 Priority once again provided some decent discounts and freebies, with 50% off Theatre Tokens and some free Odeon tickets
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