Money Diary: 6 Months Of Cashback

In a very special Money Diaries spinoff this week, we're looking into the world of cashback aka the money you can earn back into your account just from making everyday purchases.
We hear from a woman who uses the American Express® Platinum Cashback Credit Card* for everything from her online toilet roll order to meals on holiday in Singapore. Sharing six months of purchases from March to August, this Money Diary reveals how every purchase, big and small, adds up to cashback rewards.
"I’m a financial accounting consultant living in Bristol with my boyfriend. We’re currently renting and saving up to buy our own place next year. I had a pay rise last year, so I’ve been saving the additional income for this. We’ve been looking for a flat in Bristol city centre (perks of not owning a car) but haven’t found anything in our budget with the space we want. Hopefully we’ll find the right flat soon as I can't wait to have a place that I can decorate, paint and hang pictures. 
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I've had the Platinum Cashback Credit Card for almost two years and like the idea of earning a little money every time I use it. I now use the Card daily for almost everything, including personal items, meals, subscriptions and weekends away.
I usually spend most of my monthly allowance on makeup and food. Makeup has always been my passion; growing up, I would play with my mum’s makeup, and always had the brightest eyeshadows on. And I love checking out new restaurants – I’m glad I have many friends who are always up for trying new things with me. 
This year, however, I have been more aware of my spending, adding things to a wish list I have on my phone and waiting for sales. My New Year's resolution is to avoid impulse buying and instead plan in advance what I want and give it some thought before I order."
Industry: Financial Accounting Consultant
Age: 26
Location: Bristol
Salary: £40,000
Six months of food and drink, and the cashback.

March

Bought a weekender bag for all my upcoming trips away. It was on my wish list for so long, and was quite cheap. I try to see my friends in different cities once a month so I need a bag that’s big enough to pack some clothes and a toiletries bag, and light enough that it doesn’t hurt my shoulder. I usually use my work bag for the weekend trips, but I thought, Why not have a dedicated bag? This way I won’t have to pack and unpack my laptop and work files every time. (£26.49 – Also bought a belt for my boyfriend as he really needed a new one.)
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Later in March I had my chartered accountant graduation, and paid for the tickets to Edinburgh on my Amex (£59.35). It was a relief to finish the exam and training. I thought A-levels and the final year exam at university were tough, but nothing could compare to the chartered accountant exam. I am not sure I could do it again. 
My parents flew from Singapore to attend the graduation and I took them to a seafood restaurant to celebrate (£60.50). Since my mum was visiting, I also bought some of her favourite face masks and a face massager for Mother’s Day (£67.38). 
My dad visits me a few times a year as he has to travel to Europe for work, but my mum only visits me at most twice a year. I try to go home at least once a year to see them and the rest of my family, but I don’t think it is enough. I miss them so much when we are apart, but I still don’t think I can move back to Singapore. 
I wanted to learn how to cook more Singaporean/Malaysian food so I bought a cooking book for my e-reader (£1.99). My boyfriend rated the food I made 8/10 (it could be that he just loves me). Have I mentioned that I am terrible at cooking?
The student discount on my music streaming subscription was ending so I started shopping around for any discount codes. I try not to pay full price for anything unless I really need it and I can’t find a discount code. Sometimes I add things into my basket, fill in my details and close the window before actually checking out. Some retailers then send you a discount code to get you to complete your purchase! 
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Found a premium video subscription that offered shows, offline videos and music for just a few £ more. The offline download is useful when I'm in the gym and need to double check my form and posture for some of the moves (£11.99 a month).
Signed up to a laundry capsules subscription service – glam! (£4.20) It worked out cheaper than buying from the supermarket, and they send you a pack every few weeks (which means never having to skip a laundry day because I forgot to buy detergent).
Total spend: £578.55
Total cashback: £7.23
Not all purchases are mentioned in the diary entry. Cashback is calculated at 1.25%.
Six months of household purchases, and the cashback.

April

April was the month I decided I needed to get serious about my fitness and nutrition. When I first started exercising I made a lot of progress, but I’ve been stuck in a fitness rut this year. After talking it out with my boyfriend, I decided it was time to up the ante. I set up a subscription to a meal prep company for my dinner, which made it so much simpler. I am not good at cooking anyway, so for me, it was worth it. (£35 a week)
I also signed up for an online PT service. I've always loved going to the gym for weightlifting and HIIT exercise, but struggled without a proper workout plan. When I first started going, I was scared to go to the weightlifting area without my friend. I felt like I didn’t belong there, but good headphones with pop music playing helped me. Also, I would work out in the morning when there were fewer people around, which meant I could try out the moves I learned online without feeling judged.  
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Since I wasn't a complete beginner, it was cheaper for me to hire an online PT. We had a video check-in every week and I learned so much from her. She sent me a weekly nutrition plan, which she would tweak based on my preference every week, and a workout plan every month. (£204 a month) 
My friend and I went to Paris for the Easter holiday weekend, our first time travelling together. I bought tickets for the Arc de Triomphe and Sainte-Chapelle online so that we could skip the line (£29.41). They were a similar price to what we would have paid if we'd queued at the attractions anyway. We got lost on our way to the Eiffel Tower on the last day and almost missed our flight! We ran for the train to the airport and got there 15 minutes before departure. Annoyingly, the flight was then delayed because they had to refuel. At least we got our cardio in! The trip was fun, I really like Paris and would love to visit the city again. 
Found my moisturiser online for half the price! I bought two to stock up (£20.24). Also found heel cream for my boyfriend (and for me to steal sometimes), mascara and nail polish for spring (£27.73). I ran out of shampoo so bought a set online (£29.10). I love shopping online because I can do it in my PJs or on the train journey home.
This month we also decided to buy a bean chair for the living room in case guests came over and our two-seater sofa ran out of space (£73.94). Of course, neither of us has had any guests over since buying it... 
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Total spend: £868.18
Total cashback: £10.85
Six months of fashion and beauty buys, and the cashback.

May

I bought an e-book about money to read on the train to work every morning (£4.99). It came highly recommended in the R29 UK Money Diary Facebook group, and I want to start saving more. Reading a book about finance feels like a very grown-up thing to do...
Decided I needed some new work trousers, and walking to the train station in a dress is never comfortable. The shop had a sale and the ones I had before lasted almost four years, so I bought the exact style in two different colours (£65). Also picked up a back-up of a serum that I love and a cream bronzer (£70.48). I wanted to try a cream contour and most reviews I read mentioned that a bronzer stick is so easy to use so I thought I would try it. The website had 15% off and there was an American Express retailer offer so I received extra cashback. I love the retailer cashback offers because it means that I’m getting a discount on top of my American Express cashback. I usually check the offer tab on my American Express App before shopping. 
May was a slower month for me. I usually work at least 10-12 hours a day and getting home before 8pm is rare. This month I was able to sneak in a little trip to London to see friends (£32). Most of my friends moved to London after university, so it makes more sense for me to travel to London to see them than the other way around. I try to do this often, and we go to new coffee places or just walk around Oxford Street, shopping. Someone always has something they want to buy, so we can give our opinion on it. 
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I booked the train ticket for this trip to London in advance so it ended up being cheaper than a bus ticket. It also meant that I didn’t have to get up extremely early in order to meet my friends for breakfast. As we’re all foodies, the weekend was all about eating. I had shakshuka for brunch (£20), fried rice for lunch and Peking duck for dinner (£42). 
Later in May I visited a friend in Bath (train £5.35) and had afternoon tea with her and her daughter (£24). We had often talked about meeting up but something always got in the way so it was nice that it finally happened. 
Had two subscription deliveries for the month, for refuse sacks and toilet rolls (£24.30). If there is one thing I have learned from living alone, it is to stop buying cheap refuse sacks. It’s actually cheaper to buy the heavy duty sacks because you don’t have to double up the bags when they’re heavy! The laundry detergent subscription I signed up to in March didn’t work out. I missed the smell of my old detergent so I ordered six boxes, and added some dishwasher detergent to the basket too (£30.28).
Total spend: £869.87
Total cashback: £10.87
Six months of lifestyle subscriptions and purchases, and the cashback.

June

Travelled to Singapore for two weeks for my annual trip to visit family, and bought an e-book on personal development and self-improvement to read (£0.49). I started watching videos on the Law of Attraction and the book talks about it in detail. It was also recommended by an influencer.
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My parents were so happy to have me back that they took me out for breakfast, lunch, tea, dinner and supper. It's a thing in Singapore to eat five meals a day, sometimes even more. I always feel guilty for being so far away from them, so I offered to pay for most of the meals. I paid for two on my American Express Platinum Cashback Credit Card* (£68.67). 
I struggled with the heat and missed being in the UK. Thank goodness for air-conditioning. It was nice to see my family and friends again, but trying to see everyone was close to impossible. Whenever I am home I struggle to balance out how much time I should be spending with my family and how much I should be spending with my friends. 
My UK friends requested a few Asian beauty products from Singapore so I did some shopping. They agreed to pay for the foreign transaction fees too. I also stocked up on my favourite liquid eyeliners, which I can’t live without. They are so fine and last long on my eyelids (£90.71 altogether).
My flight was delayed by a few hours, so I had to buy another ticket to get back to Bristol. As it was close to 9pm and I had to work the next day, my only option was to travel to Bristol via train. Luckily there was one just 45 minutes after I got into Heathrow. (£39.85)
When I arrived home, I noticed the washing machine smelled funny. After trying the vinegar and baking soda solution without much luck, I bought limescale and detergent remover online (£19.08). It worked brilliantly and my clothes smelled fresh again.  
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Later in June, my boyfriend and I went to Torquay for a weekend trip together (train £95.60). We did not plan any big holidays this year as my boyfriend has used up all of his annual leave. We settled for just a weekend away in Torquay, which we paid for last year. It was nice to be doing something together instead of staying at home in front of a film. 
In not so glam June news, I needed a replacement screen protector for my phone and found one online that had good reviews but was still affordable (£13.48). I drop my phone a lot, but thankfully I’ve never had a smashed screen in my life – just plenty of cracked screen protectors. 
Total spend: £541.52
Total cashback: £6.43

July

I finally booked an appointment for lip fillers! I’ve been researching it for the last 10 months and decided to do it as a birthday present to myself. I chose to go to a doctor to get it done in case of any complications, so it was more expensive than what most places would charge (deposit £150). 
I had sleepless nights thinking and worrying about everything that could go wrong, but on the day everything went fine. My lips were swollen for the entire evening and I looked like I had hit a pole but they look perfect now (additional payment £80).
Started a new project in Glasgow, four days a week for two months. It’s probably my third favourite city in the UK (after Bristol and London) and I had a list of restaurants to eat at every night! The project wasn’t too stressful and we finished around 6pm each day, which meant that I had plenty of time to go out for dinner. 
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While in Glasgow I squeezed in a solo cinema trip to watch a horror movie – none of my colleagues like them (£8.70). Earlier in the month on date night, my boyfriend and I rented a movie online instead of going to the cinema, because there was nothing good on. It was cheaper than a cinema ticket and we could spend the day in our PJs (£4.49). We are both homebodies, so we try to stay indoors as much as possible. We usually only go out for brunch, to restaurants that do not deliver or watch movies with really good reviews.
Also managed a quick trip to London this month to see my boyfriend’s best friend who visited from Italy. We went to an Indian restaurant for lunch and everyone loved it. As my boyfriend paid for breakfast, I paid for lunch. (£15.58)
Total spend: £672.41
Total cashback: £8.41
Six months of travel costs, and the cashback.

August

Last month in Glasgow! My taxi rating has gone up by 0.4 points after being in Glasgow for two months. I think the drivers there are nicer. My client took the team out for dinner at our favourite restaurant and paid for it. It was a little bit sad to say goodbye as I actually enjoyed working with the team and the client was really nice, making all the morning flights worth it. However, I’m looking forward to waking up a little later on Mondays.  
My audiobook trial subscription ended so from August I had to pay £7.99 per month. Not quite sure what I would like to read or listen to next, any suggestions? I also caved in and re-subscribed to the music streaming service (£9.99). I tried to get family plan but no one wanted to subscribe with me. :( 
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Spotted a promotion for the cleanser that I love to use, so bought a few of the same thing (£27.26). I used to try new stuff all the time but now I’ve found what works for me, I just buy the same products and take advantage of sales. I also bought my first concealer ever! (£16.20) Okay, it’s not my first ever, but it’s the first concealer I’ve bought in the last eight years. I’ve been waking up at 4am for flights and my eye bags were making it look like I hadn't slept at all. I tried it once and I don’t understand how to use it. 
Had my annual review chat at work. No promotion since I just got one last year but managed to negotiate a pay rise and a Bristol project closer to home, with a promise of a promotion next year. 
Total spend: £336.22
Total cashback: £4.20

The Breakdown

Food and Drink: £1,409.68
Lifestyle: £742.40
Clothes and Beauty: £1,118.96
Travel: £381.36
Home: £214.35
Total spend on the Card: £3866.75
Total cashback: £48.33
This represents cashback earned from six months of spending, and is calculated at 1.25%. Cardmembers are paid cashback annually. Please find full terms below.
*Representative 28.2% APR. Annual fee applies. Terms, conditions and exclusions apply. 18+, subject to approval. Cashback is paid annually. New Cardmembers get 5% cashback on your purchases (up to £125) for the first three months of Cardmembership. Spend £0 to £10,000 and receive 1% cashback on all purchases. Spend over £10,001 and receive 1.25% cashback on all purchases. Promoter American Express Services Europe Limited is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority.
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