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For years, I tried finding a solution to my biggest financial struggle – budgeting my day-to-day spending. 

In general, I’m pretty good at the big picture stuff, i.e, my home budget. I transfer my outgoings into separate accounts and save money as soon as payday hits.

However, when trying to make my daily budget last, I really struggled to keep my balance above £10 a week before payday. 

Enter Monzo. 

I’ve used Monzo for nearly two years and it’s hugely impacted my relationship with money. If you haven’t heard of Monzo, don’t worry – I’ll be going through what Monzo is, how it’s helped me and why you should get one too. 

What is Monzo?

Put simply – Monzo is an online bank. It doesn’t have any branches and doesn’t offer other products like credit cards or mortgages that traditional banks might. 

But, it’s a certified bank authorised in the UK by the Prudential Regulation Authority (PRA), regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) and protected by The Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS). This means that your money is protected and up to £85,000 is guaranteed by the British Government if anything goes wrong.

So, it’s a bank, what’s the big deal? Well, the app has lots of unique features such as bill splitting and a virtual piggy bank, making managing your money effortless and kinda fun. 

But to fully explain how I use Monzo to budget, I need to introduce you to its flagship feature – Pots. 

Separating money using Monzo Pots

I’ve always believed that keeping all of your money in one bank account is a bad idea. But Monzo has changed my mind, sort of. 

Monzo allows you to separate your money into virtual ‘Pots’ that are excluded from your available balance so you can’t accidentally spend the money in them. 

While I still don’t advocate keeping your life savings in your current account, this feature has changed my financial life.

I currently have the following Pots:

Daily Budget: My day-to-day spending. This is explained more in the Scheduled payments section below.
Travel: I work in London, so I keep my train fare in this pot so I can always pay for my commute.
Home Savings: I’m planning to move the money to an ISA eventually, but I’ll discuss my saving habits in another post to explain fully.
Fun Stuff: I explain below.
Emergency Fund: I keep up to £100 in here for, well, emergencies.

Scheduled payments

I’ve tried sticking to a monthly budget, but I’d usually spend it all in the first two weeks and have nothing left for the month. I’ve tried weekly budgeting, but the same thing happened. 

The only way I’ve successfully budgeted is with a daily budget. 

So basically, once I’ve subtracted my non-negotiable outgoings and savings from my salary, the money I have left is divided by the number of days until my next payday and deposited into my Daily Budget Pot. 

I then use the scheduled payments feature to create an automatic withdrawal every day until the following payday.

As long as I refrain from withdrawing any more money, I no longer run out of money throughout the month. 

Fun stuff

The only problem with daily budgeting is socialising. While I may have enough money to have dinner with friends, it’s split up throughout the month. 

Before creating my Fun Stuff Pot, I’d withdraw money to pay for social events and then run out of money at the end of the month because I didn’t account for it. 

So, every month, I look at my planned social calendar and estimate how much each event will cost. Then, I put it in the Fun Stuff Pot and lock it up (more on that below), so my daily budget is only ever that — a daily budget. 

Lock it up

You can also lock your Monzo Pots, restricting access to your money for a set amount of time. You can unlock it if you really need, but having the extra step helps stop it. 

It’s another way I manage my budget. I lock my savings Pots long-term, but I lock the Fun Stuff pot until my next social event.

This stops me from taking out a fiver here and there, meaning I always have the money when bottomless brunch comes around.

Should you get one?

If you want full control of your spending habits, then I’d recommend Monzo. It’s quick and easy to set up – it took me about five minutes and my card came within two days.

Some people are sceptical about app-only banks, but I think they’re the way forward. Plus, the 24/7 customer service actually makes it a better bank than most when you have problems.

Monzo is also incredibly community-focused, taking suggestions into serious consideration with many of its features coming from customer ideas.

Have you got a Monzo card? What do you think of app-only banks? Let me know in the comments below or tweet me @amywritesthings 🐦

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Smol is a subscription-only laundry capsule and dishwasher tablet service that claims to be up to 50% cheaper than normal brands, eco-friendly and the most effective concentrated product in the world. 

After being bombarded (in a good way) with targeted social media ads, I finally swiped up and within minutes I’d started my free trial. 

It’s been six months since we received our first package and although my partner was dubious about the switch, we haven’t looked back. So, below is my totally honest, totally non-sponsored review.

How does it work?

When you sign up to smol, you’re asked a few questions about your laundry or dishwasher habits. 

  1. Do you prefer bio or non-bio? (laundry only)
  2. How many capsules/tablets do you use per wash?
  3. How often do you use your washing machine/dishwasher per week?

From there, it calculates how often you’ll need a pack so you never run out. Then, each month you’ll get an email with your charge date, giving you the option to delay the package if you’ve used less than you predicted. 

I quickly realised that we don’t use our dishwasher as much as I’d said, so I’ve delayed it a few times so we weren’t overflowing with tablets.

Once you’ve paid, your package arrives within five days. The products are small enough to fit through your letterbox, meaning you don’t have to be in for delivery. We live in a flat and our letterbox is smaller than a regular door one, and it fits perfectly!

Also, if you run out quicker than expected, you can request your next order quicker than scheduled.

Is it cheaper?

It’s great that you can get your laundry capsules and dishwasher tablets delivered to your door, but the cost is what really matters.

Smol claims to be up to 50% cheaper than your normal brand price. Personally, I never really looked too much into direct price comparisons because we’re a two-person household who put on the dishwasher and washing machine three to five times per week. 

But, for this review, I decided to investigate. So, smol’s 24-pack of bio laundry capsules is £4.50 (19p) and the 30-pack of dishwasher tablets is £4.60 (15p). 

I had a look at Morrisons, Tesco and Sainsbury’s to see how smol compares with both full-price and on-offer products. For this, I didn’t include washing powder, because I’ve never used it and I don’t know how to work it out. 

I found a few things:

On full-price branded items, it’s definitely cheaper

On most of the full-price branded items I saw, smol products are around 5-8p cheaper per capsule/tablet. And in some cases, like with Finish Quantum dishwashing tablets, smol is 13p cheaper!

It’s hit and miss when products are on offer

A few of the branded products are cheaper when on offer. For example, a 78 pack of Fairy Original All-in-One dishwasher tablets on offer worked out as 10.9p per tablet. However, a 36 pack of Ariel All In 1 Original laundry capsules is 19.4p per capsule.

Own brand items aren’t that much cheaper

Of course, there are budget options. At Morrisons, you can buy a 40-pack at 5p per tablet, but how good will it perform? The regular Morrisons dishwashing tablets are 13.3p per tablet. That’s still cheaper, but smol gives a higher-quality performance.

Does it work?

Okay, cool. It comes through your letterbox, it’s an alright price, but does it actually work?

The short answer, yes. Since switching both our laundry and dishwashing tablets, we’ve had no problem with the quality. 

I can’t do an in-depth review of the laundry capsules because we don’t have a child, pet or messy job. Our clothes don’t get overly filthy, so I haven’t tested it on tough stains. But our clothes are always clean and smell good.

If you want a mum’s review, Charlotte at mamamakesdo.com has an in-depth one.

The dishwasher tablets are also great. I worried at first because they don’t have the liquid conditioner like some of the others do, but they work really well and everything comes out sparkly clean.

Is it environmentally-friendly?

Like many of you, I’m actively supporting more ethical brands, meaning I’ve made a lot of changes to my buying habits, especially with cleaning products. 

One of smol’s major selling points is how great it is for the environment. The packaging is 100% plastic-free, the protective film is water-soluble and biodegradable and it claims that its laundry capsules use fewer chemicals than any other. 

Both products are Leaping Bunny approved (cruelty-free), and the packaging is made from sustainable materials and is 100% recyclable.

So yes, smol is environmentally-friendly and continues to improve its products. For example, before switching to 100% plastic-free packaging, it used boxes made from 90% recycled PET. This is the packaging I’m still receiving as smol are using up the old boxes before switching existing customers onto the new style.

So, is it worth the hype?

Yes! I’m very happy with smol.

The products are exactly what people want: convenient, affordable, quality and eco-friendly. I’d recommend smol to anyone and won’t go back to buying them in the supermarket.

I wouldn’t say that the product is consistently cheaper, but it’s always the same price, meaning you don’t have to wait for your favourite product to be on offer and bulk up. We live in a small flat and don’t have room to store multiple packs.

If you want to try it yourself, you can get a free trial* (£1 delivery). Let me know what you think in the comments below or tweet me @amywritesthings

This post contains a referral link, meaning I get 50% off my order if you sign up using my link.

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