This is a work in progress. Expect it to be incomplete.
Inspired by others, here is a list of gadgets, tools, software and services that I use for my life and work.
For banking and finance
For business banking I use NatWest, mostly because they give you the excellent FreeAgent online accounting software for free, which is worth £100s/year, and this benefit far outweighs any fees.
Having said that, if you are shopping for banks then NatWest is excellent with good customer service and great online and mobile apps. But always check the fee sheet. Different businesses benefit from different fee structures and they can become costly.
I do a lot of small foreign currency transactions and NatWest’s fees were a bit ridiculous for that.
I had a Tide business account for a while (poor – avoid!) but switched to a Monzo Pro business account . I use it as a top-up card account for those small monthly amounts which incur a fee from NatWest, and for foreign currency transactions. This has saved me those foreign transaction fees, and Monzo is generally awesome, but there was one US-based supplier that they just couldn’t pay, and text-chat-based customer support doesn’t work for me, so I struggle to see how it could be my main account.
I also encourage people to check if a bank is actually a bank. Some of the new “challenger” banks that pop up are not actually proper banks: they are re-sellers of eMoney services. They don’t have banking licenses and it’s unclear if your money is safe as they are not strictly part of the financial services compensation scheme (FSCS).
Monzo and Starling ARE proper banks, Tide and Coconut are not. Always read the terms and conditions and know what you are getting into.
There’s other things worth checking too: Can you pay in cheques? What are customer service options? Etc.
And avoid HSBC. Terrible ethically, awful online banking and apps.
The Ltd Co needs a proper accountant and I am super happy to be a client of Gold Stag Accounts. Martin is incredibly proactive and helpful, and really fun to work with (accountancy is NOT boring!). Drop him a line if you need an excellent accountant at a very reasonable price
What Martin does for accountancy at Gold Stag, Ashley Baxter does for freelancer insurance at With Jack. Super-personal and friendly service, incredibly organised, pro-active, and not expensive. I’m also really happy to be supporting an independent insurance provider. Highly recommended.
I currently use a 2020 M1/Apple Silicon MacBook Pro. After 7 years of robust, reliable operation my beloved late 2013 MBP got bricked during the update to Big Sur and, after some wrangling, Apple replaced it with a brand new machine. There were some early Apple Silicon teething troubles and incompatibilities, but those are mostly resolved now and it’s a great laptop (aside from the range of ports and inability to upgrade any of the components – it’s still not actually a “Pro” laptop).
I’m not heavily invested in the Apple ecosystem, but I do like what Apple’s software gives me and the range of tools and utilities available.
In my office I have an old Apple 24” Cinema Display. This isn’t high DPI (retina) but that’s fine. I got it for free when someone was throwing it out. It’s a good screen with Thunderbolt/mini display port interface and built-in USB ports, and (crappy) camera.
It’s not the best monitor, but it serves my needs!
I’m not much of a keyboard nerd. I got through about 3 wired Apple keyboards before ditching them for a Logitech K375 wireless. It’s not the best keyboard ever, but I’m happy with it and it’s lasted longer than the Apple ones. I kinda MUST HAVE a keypad and proper arrow keys.
When I’m on the go (and for the home office) I have a Logitech K380 which is a really good little thing with odd shaped keys that are actually quick to get used to.
For a mouse, I had a Logitech (gosh they make good stuff) M705 Marathon Mouse for many years. It’s bomb-proof and fits me well and I would buy it again and again and again. But I couldn’t buy one when mine broke so I upgraded to the cheapest MX Master that I could (actually this special edition which is cheaper but only on Amazon) and I would now buy that again and again!!
I’ve tried one and I find the Apple Magic Mouse incredibly poor ergonimically. It kills my wrist. I don’t know how people use them.
I also have a second-hand Apple Magic Trackpad and this is great for zooming and panning around large graphics documents, and I use it when screencasting/recording as it’s quieter than moving the mouse around my desk.
As a note on peripherals. I sit and use these things for many hours a day. They are primary tools for my work and quality is important. £100 may seem like a lot for a mouse or a keyboard, but if you’re using it every day you want something good quality that will be reliable, comfortable and last. I wouldn’t hesitate to spend this much on a decent peripheral.
Because the MacBook only has 2 USB-C ports I need connections. So I have:
- Anker 7-in-1 USB Hub which, importantly, has an Ethernet port
- Anker USB-A to USB-C Adaptors
- Choetech Mini Display Port to USB-C adaptor to connect to the Apple Cinema display- this works fine, you don’t need a more expensive model.
A few years ago I converted to a standing desk…