The modern equivalent of lions and tigers and bears, obviously. It’s April! What have we all been doing? I’ve been working. I’ve been saving. I spent a bit of cash on a cheap holiday to Italy. There have been weddings. There was Easter. A lot of weather has happened.
Here’s a little update on my thrilling life of trying-to-be-good-with-money. I’m going to talk about 1) Bank Accounts 2) Cash Back 3) Tax 4) Bears…no not really.
Paying for bank accounts
I bank with Nationwide. I have always had excellent customer service. In March I phoned their savings line, just to tell them I was depressed that all my savings rates were so low. I had an ace result – the woman on the end of the phone spent ages checking and explaining to me that if I closed one of my current accounts I’d be eligible for a 5% saver. I did this – I closed the current account I had in my own name and kept the joint account open, and have now opened a lovely 5% saver. I can put £500 a month into it, either by saving, or just moving money from very paltry ISAs or savings accounts that give 0.5%.
Nationwide sent me two letters this month, one to say I can have more credit on my credit card, thank you very much – but I don’t use it as it only gives 0.5% cashback and isn’t as good as one of my others for trips abroad.
The second letter was advertising the FlexPlus current account for which I would pay £10 a month. This is the first time I’ve seriously considered it – but I decided it’s not now.
- I’d get more interest – 3% on up to £2,500 which is a whole £1000 more than my TSB current account (which is free).
- I could get UK/EU breakdown + recovery. If I had a car.
- 12 months extended warranty on appliances. I don’t own any, we’re renters. If I was buying some though, do the appliances have to be brand new? I might be buying second hand or reconditioned. Also, what is an ‘appliance’? Is it a laptop? I wonder.
- Fee free overdraft – haven’t used an overdraft since August 2015 but it is always nice to have one for emergencies, although with this one you can only have an emergency in the first 3 months and then it charges you for said emergency. Emergencies limited, short term emergencies only.
- Commission free ATM cash abroad. I already have one of these through another bank, and a very good ‘abroad’ credit card (thanks to MSE). See here for info to suit you: MSE travel money.
- Worldwide family phone insurance – this would be great in a few months if I have to trade up my poor 19 month old HTC for something more fancy. Actually I’d like the world’s most indestructible smartphone, made of adamantium, and dragon-proof.
- Worldwide Family Travel insurance – nah. I have a cheaper version of this already, and I’m not traveling outside the EU, until we leave the EU when I’ll be travelling outside the EU all the time.
Collect Cash Back.
We’ve collected on Asda, Holland and Barrett, Wilko, Boots.com, Jones the bootmaker, Stansted Express trains, various hotels and the Wordery bookshop. I like to convert my free cashback into Amazon vouchers for that extra 3%!
Check your tax…later in the year.
It’s a new financial year, hurrah! I always check to see if I’ due a tax rebate, as for the last 2 years working as a nurse in the NHS, I have been due over £2,000 in tax rebates.
I didn’t think working as an NHS nurse was a peculiar or special circumstance – although we are becoming rarer – however, if you’re like me and you’ve done both regular and ‘bank’ work (doctors are called locums, nurses are called ‘bank’) in an effort to earn more money or gain extra skills, HMRC tax calculations will be more fiddly. I’ve worked for 2 NHS Trusts with their own Nurse Banks this year so I have FOUR payroll numbers, FOUR sets of wageslips and FOUR departments who need to churn out end of year reports. Come and work in the NHS, kids, it’s great – you get to have regular meetings with the Police, Social Services and Security, there’s loads of blood, gore and icky body fluids to splash about in, and HMRC will imagine you are earning £60k instead of £22k.
HMRC seem to have made telephoning and asking questions more difficult – for both of the last 2 years I just rang up and asked. I’ve registered for HMRC’s new web Personal Tax Account doodad – it’s fairly useless if you want to query your tax, but handy if you want to check your tax code/tax calculation. I tried twice today to get through to an adviser, my advice is to hang on the line doggedly until they redirect you to a real person (called an agent, maybe MI5 are doubling up with HMRC to cut spending) you’ll also have to dodge answering a survey and listen to a lot (8 minutes) of dodgy muzak jazz. In the end I got through to a fantastic adviser called James – he explained to me the vagaries of processing NHS payroll information, assured me it would right itself as each part of the NHS I’ve worked for submits its end of year reports, and promised me that if I haven’t received a P800 by the end of July, I can phone back and be grumpy.
Mrs P ,(who isn’t a financial adviser, but is dead good at bandaging).