Monzo – What are this?

I’m hoping most of you got the Jenna Marbles reference, but if not see here. I recently signed up to Monzo and I think it is AMAZING!

But people keep asking what exactly it is, along with a number of other questions, so I thought I would explain through the medium of blog. I’m going to list the questions in below with answers underneath, so if you have a specific one to ask, skim read!

1. What is it? What are this?

Monzo is a company working to create a new kind of current account & banking system. They started out in February 2015, and with their UK banking license offer users a banking app and a prepaid contactless MasterCard. They are hoping to roll out free current accounts later this year too!

2. Is there a set up fee?

No, the only requirement is that when you activate your card you give it an initial top up of £100.

3. Can you categorise transactions?

Yes! There are a number of automatic categories such as ‘groceries’ and ‘eating out’, but you can even label transactions with emojis and group them that way (double win).

4. How quickly does it update?

My new favourite thing to do when I’m out with friends, is pay for something with my Monzo card and then make everyone watch as the app updates almost instantly.

5. It sounds too good to be true!

I thought the exact same when I first heard about it, but so far there is no catch. It’s genuinely as simple and as good as it seems.

6. Is it just card payments?

No, you can withdraw cash at ATMs too, there are also no fees for using it abroad. Direct debits and standing orders are in the pipeline!

7. Where is your money kept?

With Monzo, and it displays in your app.

8. What about security?

In the app and on the Monzo blog there are loads of resources on ways to protect your money, what to do if your card is stolen etc. There are lots of other tricks you can set up too, such as using touch ID to access the app and enabling location based security – meaning the app will match your location with your card payments to flag anything suspicious.

9. Is the budgeting actually effective – has it helped you save?

So far, I’d say it is effective. You can set targets so that each month when you reach your set budget for say, eating out or shopping, you’ll get a notification warning you to cool the spending. I’m also generally more aware of my spending because I can see at all times how much disposable income I have left.

The way I’m currently using Monzo, is I’ve set myself a monthly spending budget to cover all social activities, travel, food and random things like bags with pandas on them from Thunderegg. I put that budget on my card and that’s it for the month. Then money left in my current account is just for paying bills, rent and other direct debits. Separating my money this way makes it much easier for me to see where there’s wiggle room for more saving (or spending).

I would also say that based on my own experience, budgeting is only really effective if you stick to it. Even the best app in world can’t stop some impulse buys.

10. Are there any incentives for joining?

Well, no – not monetary benefits anyway. I’ll admit that at first the idea of giving a bank my money with no interest in return, seemed odd. BUT, for me the biggest benefit of Monzo is the budgeting power. The second biggest pull is the community, one glance at their social media channels is enough to understand that Monzo is a transparent organisation with a genuine purpose and a real desire to change the way the world manages its finances. I like organisations like that.

Other things I really like about Monzo are:

Efficiency. Everything happens FAST, even people who I know signed up without a golden ticket received their cards very quickly.

Ease. It is SO easy to learn how to use the app.

Emojis. Because internet lol.

Morale Is High (Since We Gave Up Hope)

Alright everyone, can we just take a moment to stand up and cheer? This is my first theatre blog post since moving to Manchester! YAAAAY!

Okay you can sit back down. Just before Christmas I received an email from a theatre company called Powder Keg. They are from Manchester and they had a new show called Morale Is High (Since We Gave Up Hope), which they asked me to come along and review. I punched the air with a grin on my face and said yes. I was also thrilled to learn that my beloved Theatre Deli back in the steel city had helped produce this play.

I really got into seeing plays and theatre productions in Sheffield, and it’s something I definitely wanted to pick back up after I’d settled into Manc life a bit. I took my housemate along not really knowing what to expect but feeling certain that if Moor Deli had a hand in it, it would be good.

We picked up our tickets at HOME (after a very delicious and satisfying meal), then walked round the corner to the International Anthony Burgess Foundation where the show took place.

With the seats arranged in a U shape and two guitars waiting expectantly I felt sure we were in a fun and entertaining evening – in fact, that’s the word my housemate used to describe it afterwards, ‘entertaining’.

The guys from Powder Keg used a mix of song, storytelling, props and sometimes dance to tackle a very relevant issue: after the last few years, and particularly after 2016, what will the future hold? Will we be okay?

I loved how they delivered this play. Tapping into our fears, but also giving us hope (ironic considering the name). It was fast paced without being too fast, and slow without dragging. The music was fantastic too, and had me tapping my feet at every song.

My favourite story from the show was the one about Lindsey, who likes making lists. A sad ending, but a story that didn’t really feel that far off into the future.

I’m very grateful to Powder Keg for inviting me along and feel keen to see some more local shows soon. I’ve said before that one of the reasons I love theatre is because it’s a good way to tackle difficult or uncomfortable topics, and Morale Is High achieved this well.

Zouk Tea Bar & Grill

On Sunday I caught up with my friends Daisy and Sophie. We realised we hadn’t seen each other in a long time, before I moved to Manchester!

We were well overdue a catch up – it doesn’t seem that long because we message each other every single day on our Slack thread. We decided on a day in Manchester and kicked off with lunch at Zouk Tea Bar & Grill, an Indian restaurant just off Oxford Road.

There are SO many places to eat here and I still feel like I’m only scratching the surface – I still haven’t even been to Chinatown! But now Zouk is ticked off the list. Zouk is affordable but swanky – it’s a good place for a networking or business lunch, and I also think it’s the perfect venue for a large group of people too.

We were treated to three courses and a bottle of wine, which I thought was extremely generous. I went for the haddock to start, lamb biryani for main and ice cream for dessert. Each course arrived quickly and there were no delays, and as always it all tasted delicious. In fact, in all my years of blogging I don’t think I’ve ever had what I’d consider a bad meal (except of course, for my meal at Mrs Parmas in Melbourne).

The staff were very welcoming. They made sure Daisy knew which menu options were vegan friendly and answered any questions we had about the menu.

We spent a good two hours at Zouk eating, drinking and chatting. I really think it’s so important to have a close support network who ‘get’ what you do, whether that’s in relation to your career or your hobby. Without Daisy and Sophie to constantly bounce ideas off, there are probably lots of blog things I would never have done. We really spur each other on and to me that’s so valuable.

Christmas at home

Today I’m back in Manchester after about a week at home for Christmas.

As always it’s been a much needed rest, I actually feel like I’ve been on retreat! I spent most all of my time eating, snoozing, watching films and reading books, and also exercising – we managed a three mile walk on Christmas day, an almost-six-mile walk on Boxing day, and the day after that my dad and I went for a nine mile run (!).

I always use Christmas as a chance to switch off and take stock, deciding which direction I want to steer myself in next year. This time I’ve decided I want less stress and more fun.

I want to focus on doing a good job at work and to keep learning new, relevant skills. I want to keep this blog ticking along nicely without putting any pressure on myself for it be to ‘established’ or ‘professional’. It’s mine so I can do what I want.

I want more time for leisure next year. I want to do a bit of travelling and really explore every last nook and cranny in Manchester. I also want to get my second book published, but you know what? If it’s late, it’s late!

Mum’s coconut and limoncello cake

This morning I baked shortbread and cooked a vegetarian bolognese, now I’m lounging around watching rubbish films and idly writing bits and pieces on my laptop. I feel very relaxed. This is what I don’t make enough time for – time where I can be idle, even lazy!

If I’m going to significantly reduce stress in my life it means I’m going to have to stop caring about a lot of things. I need to declutter my mental space. I did this after leaving Sheffield, and possibly took it a little bit too far (always one extreme to the other me!), but bloody hell it worked.

Less stress, more fun, and giving less of a f*** in 2017!

Bundobust Manchester

Bundobust is an Indian street food restaurant that has opened in Manchester.

I’ve been to the one in Leeds many a time, and I love the food, so I’m very pleased there’s now one here too! I had to let Lima know about this place to get her verdict on the food too, but unfortunately neither of us could make the press night for the opening. Fortunately, they offered for us to try the food on a night that suited us instead.

Before photos of the food, here are my top three reasons you should come to Bundobust:

  • It’s the perfect place to bring your partner, friends, parents, colleagues or kids at any time of day. It ticks all social boxes!
  • It’s very affordable – you can mix and match the dishes and they also have a few different platter options for bigger groups.
  • The food is spot on
  • Okay, four reasons! They also serve Mongozo beer, which is my most favourite beer of all time.

Bundobust is a fun place to eat – good layout, decor, music and of course food. And now, ze photos!

You can find Bundobust just by Piccadilly Gardens and Piccadilly Station, at number 61 Piccadilly.