AWS Homelab Money

AWS IoT Button

AWS IOT Button

Back Story:

My AWS Solution Archictect certification is due to expire in the next 6 months and given I have not done a huge amount with AWS since getting certified I thought it was worth kicking the tyres again and running a few bits and pieces within AWS. One of the first things I did was move my blog over to AWS lightsail.

In addition to the  above I thought I would purchase an AWS IOT button  and have a play. The setup for these is now MUCH simpler with the introduction of the iOS and Android  setup apps.

Part 1   Button setup to email

To start with I just wanted to do something easy so I set it up so that with a press of the button it would send me an email via SES  This was to get to grips with the button check I had the comms setup correctly etc etc. I chose to use one of the prebuilt python functions for this. It deliveries a basic email like the below.

[codeblocks name='Pythonmail']

Part 2 IFTTT integration

Once i had this working I then decided to hook it into my Phillips Hue setup to turn the lights on or off. This was done mainly with the help of  this post from Joseph Guerra This wasnt quite straightforward as IFTTT have renamed some of the parts of the site. Joseph did a great post explaining this, however where he describes maker this is now called webhooks within IFTTT.  This is the full code that i’m using ( just with my key masked

[codeblocks name=’IFTTTLambda’]

Part 3 Monzo

Once the AWS to IFTTT integration was setup the next steps were quite easy.   Monzo is becoming my goto bank for most things.  They recently announced IFTTT integration so I wondered if i could hook my IOT button into Monzo.  I decided to create an action that when my button was pressed it would move £1 into a savings pot.

First you need to login to your IFTTT account and then add the Monzo channel.  This is pretty straight forward if you do from your phone where IFTTT and Monzo is installed.

I then went back to IFTTT on my laptop  to create the new applet using the create link

Then click on the + icon and drill down to find the webhook section

Then you need to check that the eventname on the webhook matches the AWS lambda event in my case I am using “buttonpress”

This should complete the “this” section, Now you to sort the “that”

Click on the plus and select the Monzo service with an action to move money into a pot ( Within the Monzo app I have already created a savings pot called IFTTT)

At the end of the process you should have something that looks like the below

If everything is setup ok a button press will move money over in a few seconds.


Money Saving ( UK Version)

I recently got back from an amazing conference in New Orleans. This was the VeeamON conference and I was invited as part of the Veeam Vanguard programme that I am part of.

A lot of the UK Vanguards all travelled out together and after numerous discussions, it became clear that a lot of them were paying more for UK and international banking. They were also not capitalising on the deals available for getting rewards where they did need to spend.

I will detail below what I currently do; who I bank with etc.  The deals I am on may not be available or right for you.   YMMV

I have split this across three posts as it’s very text heavy:

1. UK banking and rewards

2. Maximising credit card deals

3. Minimising costs when travelling


UK banking and rewards 

I currently have a number of UK current accounts

Barclays Bank (Main Account) This is my main account where my salary gets paid into.  Financially it is not an amazing account it pays 0 credit interest and is not very cheap if you go into the overdraft.  The overdraft is large (carry over from my student days).  Most of my direct debits are paid from this account and I try to have zero balance in this account all of the time.  There are three reasons why I keep this account around.  1. The iPhone app is amazing – it pretty much does everything I could want from a banking point of view.  Managing balances, standing orders, and direct debits is easy.  But the app also covers all the more complex features.  I have organised a loan and mortgage straight from the app (I did need to visit the bank for a quick meeting with them for the mortgage). The loan took about 5 mins, with 0 personal interaction.

2. Barclays is a fast bank.   It’s hard to quantify this, but I mean transactions show up much quicker than with other banks. This helps me manage money more easily.  I also have an SMS alert set up so if I am ever overdrawn I can move money from another account easily.

3. The final reason is I have Barclays Blue rewards.  For this, I pay £3 a month and they pay me £16, i.e. net £13.  This is broken down as £7 for standard banking, £3 for home insurance, £5 for Barclays mortgage , and £1 for the Barclays loan.

This gives me a net £156 per year, and is not classed as taxable income.

Nationwide FlexDirect 

Although the Flexdirect account is a current account, I use it primarily as a savings account. It currently pays a massive 5% on up to £2500, so I always have this balance.  This will pay me £125 for the year (gross).

By having this account I am also entitled to a Flex Regular Saving account. This also pays 5%, however you are limited to paying in £500 a month.   Over 12 months, this would give me £162.50 in interest (gross).

Nationwide FlexPlus

This is a new account for me. It costs £10 a month but the benefits are more than worth it.  I took it out mainly for the Worldwide travel insurance but it also includes mobile insurance and European breakdown cover, and a number of other perks.  Before I opened the account, I didn’t have mobile insurance and I have expensive phones so this increase in cover is useful. It will allow me to cancel my AA breakdown easily paying for the £10 a month account fee.  It also pays 3% interest, this will likely earn me £10-20 for the year.

TSB Classic Plus

The TSB account also pays 3% interest and I tend to split my spare cash between this and the Nationwide FlexPlus.  I have two small direct debits on this account, and they pay a £5 reward for this plus an additional £5 for using your debit card 20 times in the month.  This isn’t that hard to achieve.

£120 rewards

£10-20 Interest (gross)

First Direct 1st Account

First direct give you a good bonus if you switch to them £150 (which I did), they also give you a £500 overdraft on good terms (£250 free).  So I always have this account at -£250  and have that money in one of the other accounts listed above.   They also have a regular savings account that I take advantage of; putting £300 a month in (max allowed).  This should give me £97.50 for the year.

Total savings for current/regular saving


Total for the year should be £841, however I am likely to need to pay tax on some of the savings interest.