My month in money #5

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 June 2022.

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

BYOB and Shop Small helped balance expensive meals

With Amex Shop Small at the start of the month it was a great opportunity to support some local restaurants.

I really noticed prices on the up on most menus, along with some shrinking portion sizes. It’s understandable – they’re facing the same increased costs for ingredients as us, and higher rises for energy.

The better the meal the easier this is to stomach. But a few places were just too much money for what we got, even with the £5 American Express credit (times two as we split the bill and paid with our own cards to get credit on each one).

We also visited one restaurant that offered bring your own booze (BYOB). It’s been a while since we’ve done this, and it’s a decent money saver.

Though it’s often something you see at smaller Indian restaurants, it’s worth checking to see if other restaurants offer this if you pay a corkage charge. One of my favourite restaurants is Hawksmoor, and you can pay £5 per bottle on a Monday – even if you bring a massive Nebuchadnezzar.

Selling an old iPhone

We took advantage of a recent deal to upgrade Becky’s phone, which meant we had one to sell. I’m a stickler for having a decent case and screen protector, so the phone was in immaculate condition.

This is so important when it comes to getting the best resale price. I always look at CEX to get a baseline price – that’s the lowest I’ll accept.

Then I checked recent eBay sold prices as you can usually net more money there (though you have to factor in fees and the hassle of sending it). I also kept the box and all the unused accessories, which helps a lot too.

This looked like being the winner, but I also put a quick message out to my friends on Facebook – and one of my mates was keen to replace their ancient Samsung. So I sold it to her for what I’d have got minus the fees on eBay.

This was the best possible deal. I got more than I would have going direct to CEX and had less of the hassle of selling to an unknown buyer.

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Upgrading my Barclaycard

I’ve been in two minds about whether to cancel my Barclaycard. I never use it, and if I do cancel I’ll be eligible for a decent welcome bonus on the Barclaycard Avios Plus card after six months.

However, it’s my longest-running account on my credit report, having opened it for emergencies when I first went to University more than two decades ago! In reality it’s unlikely to make too much difference to the average age of products on my file as there are plenty on there more than 10 years old – but it’s something I’m aware of.

And I’ve been in no rush to do anything as I’ve six months of spending to do on my new Amex Platinum to earn the recent boosted bonus there.

In the meantime, I got an email from Barclaycard offering to upgrade me to the Barclaycard Rewards credit card without a credit check. It’s one of the best cards for spending overseas, and with a trip planned for later this year I thought it would be worth a go.

The switch was relatively easy, with the new card coming in the post a week or so later. Plus checking my credit file it’s still listed as the same product with the same opening date!

A reminder not everyone is the same as me

One of my blindspots can be that not everyone is as keen as me to get all the offers going from every possible account I can.

One of those people who like things a lot simpler is my wife, and last month she took the decision to ditch her Halifax Reward current account. This earned her £5 a month, but only if she followed some steps.

These are pretty simple, but you’ve got to remember to do them, and Becky just wasn’t interested. It’s a good reminder that you should only do what you’re comfortable and confident with.

Losing some credit

I wrote last month warning about using gift cards in case the company goes bust. Well, I lost out on around £50 credit with beer company Honest Brew when they went under.

This wasn’t money I’d put in there, instead some referral credit I’d earned over the last year. I’d put off using it as I was trying to drink less beer.

I knew there was a risk I could lose it but hoped that wouldn’t be the case. Sadly it wasn’t to be. It was far worse for people who actually saved cash there to spend on beer in the future – something I always warned against as it wasn’t protected by the FSCS guarantee.

Another beer company has taken on the credit – but you’ll have to match the spend. I’ve six months to decide if I want to use it!

Shopping around still pays off

I’ve not been buying much recently, but a visit to the chiropractor came with a strong suggestion to raise the height of my monitor.

I looked online, and as well as being largely ugly, many reviews of monitor stands showed they mainly bowed in the middle – despite what the product descriptions claimed.

Eventually I found an OK-looking but strong stand on Rymans for around £25 plus delivery. I managed to get it down to £20 using a comparison site, but then struck gold.

On eBay there was an open box version of the same product for £12.99. This basically means someone bought it but returned it. The items is checked then put up for sale at a lower price.

Then I found a 20% off voucher bringing the price down to £10.39. Plus I was able to pay with some Nectar points! A win for my neck and a win for my wallet.

Missing out on some birthday freebies

Since the last update I’ve had my birthday, and I always look forward to some freebies. Once again I had a fiver to spend at the Body Shop and also at Hotel Chocolat (though you can no longer use this on reduced items). A local bar also gave me two free cocktails and I got a G&T at a pub.

Elsewhere I didn’t do so well – and it’s partly because I had unsubscribed from some email lists. One, for burger joint Meat Liquor was by accident. I’d unticked a box when using in restaurant wi-fi earlier in the year and didn’t realise it would impact my exisiting account.

The other was for my local bakery, which does the best ever almond croissants. But they also email a lot, so I clicked unsubscribe, forgetting about the free birthday pastry. I’ve learnt my lesson and resubscribed.

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
  • The £125 Lloyds bank switch cash came through really fast – yet another easy money maker
  • No wins for me on the July Premium Bonds draw, nor the new Virgin Money draw
  • I eventually got compensation from American Express for their mistake on when I was eligible for an offer (as written about in my Metro column)
  • A couple of Shop Small credits are yet to appear, so I’ll be chasing them soon if nothing changes
  • I didn’t bother with the Monese 1.5% cashback offer as I’m spending on some Amex cards to get big bonuses – though Monese offered 20% off gift cards again so I snapped up some for Waitrose & Asda
  • I claimed cashback to get a free bottle of Ecover (a deal I shared back in May)
  • I used my free Vue ticket to see Jurassic World: Dominon and free Chilli rental to see Scream (2022), both thanks to a Telegraph deal. Really enjoyed them both

Andy’s podcast

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

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