10 Tips for Saving Money

For those that know me, I’m often seen as a very frugal… (okay, tight!) person. I’m always looking for ways I can save money.

Anyway, here are 10 tips I’ve found useful.

  1. Pay subscriptions in USD where possible

    1. Most global businesses have their base pricing in USD, so other currencies will face less preferential pricing.
    2. Whilst this doesn’t save as much as it used to (due to an ever worsening exchange rate), it can be around 10% cheaper to pay in USD (even taking into account GBP>USD conversion fees).
    3. For example, Spotify charge US customers $9.99/mo (~£7), whilst Brits pay £9.99/mo.
  2. Use cashback sites

    1. Sites such as TopCashback and Quidco ‘track’ your purchase and give you a percentage of the sale back in cash a few months later. There’s really nothing to lose, so sign up if you’re not already using a cashback site.
  3. Audit your monthly expenses

    1. If you’ve got a few minutes to spare on a Sunday afternoon, take a look through your bank statement or PayPal account, looking for any odd transactions. You’ll thank yourself later.
    2. Also, decide if you really need that Spotify Premium, Amazon Prime, Netflix or Sky TV account.
  4. Buy own-branded products where possible

    1. There’s often a stigma around buying own-brand goods. However, the difference is generally insignificant – apart from the fact that brands have massive marketing budgets that they need to pay for somehow!
  5. Prepare your own packed-lunch

    1. You’ll be amazed at the amount you can save. If you’re in the office 240 days a year, buying a £3 sandwich everyday will set you back £720. If you prepare a packed lunch (~£1) instead, you’ll save £480/year.
  6. Buy used or refurbished products instead of new

    1. For high value items such as an iPhone, it’s worth buying new so you have the warranty.
  7. Add more to your basket to qualify for free delivery

    1. If the online store offers free returns, you could even return any unwanted items later.
  8. Buy essentials in bulk (if you’ve got the space!)

    1. For household essentials such as kitchen roll, toilet paper and dishwasher tablets, you’ll often find bulk packs are discounted.
  9. If you’re not in a rush, consider buying from China

    1. Using websites such as AliExpress, you can buy almost anything that you’ll find on Amazon, eBay or in retail stores, but often at half the price. You just have to wait a few weeks for delivery.
  10. Make use of any other discounts that might apply to you;

    1. Student Discount
    2. NHS Discount
    3. Emergency Services Discount
    4. Armed Forces Discount
    5. 60+ Discount (OAP)

ALWAYS haggle if you’re

This excludes Chinese sellers – you’ll usually end up with a lower quality product.

Company Behind Narrative Clip Files for Dissolution

Just now I got this email from Narrative, the Swedish company behind the Narrative Clip; “The World’s Most Wearable Camera”.

Hello dear Narrative user,

We have some important information for you.

On September 26 2016, the company Narrative AB filed for voluntary dissolution. While this means that the Narrative team can no longer continue sales and support of the Narrative Clip, we are committed to secure the future use of all existing products currently in customers’ hands. 

We will release a tool to allow you to download your existing content from Narrative’s servers and to access new content on your Clip. Keep a look out for further details on where and how to get this tool. Our main focus now is to make sure your content is safe.

For future support on your product, please join the user supported Facebook Group “Narrative Lounge“.

We started Narrative in 2012 with the vision to make moments more easily memorable and enjoyable. It has been an amazing experience to make this vision materialize over the years, with thousands of Narrative users all over the world wearing the Clip on their most precious moments. We hope and believe we have changed something for the better.

Thank you for all your support,

The Narrative Team


Sadly, despite gaining multiple funding rounds over the past few years, it looks as though the road has come to an end, though at least they seem to be making an effort to ensure their existing userbase still has a useable product.

I never bought a Narrative Clip, though I loved the idea. Perhaps I might’ve bought one eventually.

Don’t Pay FedEx’s Customs ‘Advancement’ Fees

For a while now, FedEx has applied an ‘advancement fee’ of £12 to shipments arriving in the UK which have customs charges applied.

The reasoning for this is half-valid in my opinion. When a shipment gets off the ramp at the airport, if arriving from outside the EU, all need to pass through Customs (shipments from within the EU may be X-rayed, but aren’t liable for any import fees).

Rather than HMRC handling the shipments directly, FedEx employs their own clearance agents to work on behalf of HMRC (likely to expedite shipments), the wages of which need to be accounted for.

Also, unlike some other carriers, FedEx pays any fees immediately to HMRC, which enables them to deliver the shipment with minimal delays.

However, my reasoning against this fee though has always been that FedEx should factor in any clearance fees to the shipment cost.

So here’s a solution if you’d rather not throw £12 away in addition to your VAT. Important to note that Import VAT is legally required to be paid – there’s no reasoning for this to be avoided.

Their ‘advancement’ fee on the other hand is totally unenforceable, and quite cheeky in my opinion.

So simply put together an email (I’ve provided a template below, just add the invoice number and tweak parts as needed). Use the subject line ‘Customs advancement fee’ or similar, then send it to send an email to [email protected] (if you’re in the UK. Other countries will have a different email).

Dear FedEx,

This is in reference to invoice #xxxxxxxxxx.

After having bought xxxxxxxxxxx from China, I understood there would be the possibility of VAT due on receiving them.

I was however surprised to see an additional section for a clearance administration charge of £12.

Since China is outside of the EU, I of course will pay the VAT due.

However, I refuse to pay the clearance admin charge of £12, since at no point was I made aware of, nor did I agree to, any terms and conditions which clearly stated that I would be liable for any such charges.

At no point in the transaction and subsequent delivery was any contract for a clearance administration charge made between FedEx and myself.

I paid the supplier for delivery, and would expect that any international clearance fees be factored into the initial cost of such a shipment.

If you want to pursue further charges for delivery or administration or the terms upon which goods are shipped, I suggest that you take it up with the company who shipped the goods initially.

Therefore, I request that you update this invoice to reflect no admin fee, and once that has been done I’ll make immediate payment.

Please let me know when this has been done.

Kind Regards,


Note: The above worked for me on 5 consecutive occasions with FedEx, though I can’t vouch for it with other carriers. Definitely worth a shot though.

Let me know of your successes!

Amazon’s Returns Policy Rocks!

So last year I had a problem with a pair of AKG K451 headphones I bought back in. Out of the warranty period, I wasn’t expecting anything, though jumped on live chat with Amazon and thought I’d give it a try.

Usually, you’d be told the warranty period had ended.

But this is Amazon. After more than 2 years, and despite the fact I bought from a third-party seller who was only using Amazon for fulfilment purposes, they gave me a free returns label and refunded me when I sent them back.


More recently, I had a pair of walking boots that after wearing one of the boots had the insole slip to the back. A quick live chat with Amazon, and they said I could send them back for a free replacement.

Even better, they sent me a replacement before I even sent them back.


It does make me wonder what happens to these returns – whether they get thrown out, returned to the manufacturer, or what. Possibly a future blog post?


P.S. If I’d have bought in-person from a store, the Consumer Rights Act (formerly Sale of Goods Act) would apply.

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