Savvy Savings Rather Than Crazy Couponing

 

I may or may not have mentioned that we are moving house next month. I can’t wait! The new place is twice as big as this one yet only a few streets away. Of course it will look even bigger than it actually is as I just don’t don’t have the furniture to fill it.

As you will know if you’ve read the blog before, I am loathe to pay full price for anything. I shop around, I wait for sales or offers and I grab a bargain when I can. Recently I have realised that in order to get what I need for the new house (we need a dining table and chairs, wardrobes for all as we are leaving fitted ones behind, a cot bed / single bed for Taylor…..) I am going to have to start being more savvy and as part of my new-found determination to save money on my purchases, I am going to become a voucher queen.

Many of you will have seen the coupon frenzy shows where people literally spend hours clipping coupons from newspapers and magazines and in the end manage to get their shopping for basically nothing. I am too lazy for that level of voucher collecting, and doubt it is achievable in the UK like it is in the US so am instead using an online site for vouchers. I’ve searched through several before now and signed up to newsletters etc but have found this discount site to be the best of the bunch. It is easy to search and categorises discount vouchers dependant on how they work ie which ones are voucher codes and which ones are current site offers. There are both online and printable vouchers available from a wide variety of retailers and I have already saved money.

To be honest I had forgotten just how expensive moving house can be. When you include the moving costs, decorating, new furniture, new curtains and everything else that seems to pop up, making savings where you can is the only way to go.

I never pay more for my utilities and services than I need to, I use cashback sites to claw back some of what I have paid out, I meal plan and have managed in recent years to cut our grocery bills significantly. These small changes have saved me hundreds if not more over the years however now is time to give the budget queen within a bit of a shake. Moving two months before Christmas was never going to be easy however with discounts available to take the edge off house move items and gifts, I reckon I can just about keep within budget. I’ll let you know!

Keep your eyes peeled for more posts on moving on a shoestring, cutting costs and adjusting to a new budget that works with our new house.

My question for all of you today is….
What has been your best discount code or voucher saving? Mine was a code for 50% off toys and free delivery for Debenhams a few years ago which saved me a small fortune at Christmas and meant that Kieran had a huge surprise in the form of a vast castle and knight set that him and his Daddy spent hours putting together and playing with.
I’d love to hear about your voucher triumphs!

photo by fishyfish_arcade via PhotoRee

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A Budget and Two Boys

The lovelies at MoneySupermarket.com set me a challenge. I was given £100 and asked to see how much I could get out of it in terms of fun and activities with the boys, over the period of seven days. This challenge is based on budgeting, saving for holidays and events and to see, realistically, how far your money can stretch during the holidays which are significantly more costly than term time in relation to days outs and keeping people occupied. This is a great challenge in terms of making us think about how we manage our money.

The rules of the challenge were for me to set so I decided to include anything bought for the boys, any entrance fees / tickets and treats that were purely for the boys.

This is what we did with our £100.

1. Bought a loaf of reduce bread from Tesco for 50p and fed the duck.

2. Bought these fabulous cards from our local bookshop and have used them to find and identify bugs and beasties on walks, in the garden and even in the park (Cost £4.99).

 

3. Went to the circus – Kieran’s ticket was £8. His drink and popcorn from the flamboyantly dressed vendor carrying treats to people waiting for the show to start cost…. £6! (Note to self, bring own snacks next time). We didn’t buy the flashing wand, spinny thing or noise maker we were offered though – at £4.50 each)

4. We opened a bakery shop! We spent £13.87 on these ingredients and more, baked (tested a lot) and then Kieran sold cakes to Taylor, Daddy and I, who paid in left over sultanas – and then we stuffed ourselves!

5. We went to Stump Cross Caverns (£4.50 for Kieran to get in and £1.50 for a badge for his collection)

6. Brimham Rocks – a full day out in the sunshine courtesy of the National Trust! We did buy an ice-cream for the boys (£4.50!!) and another badge for the collection (£1).

Taylor enjoying the great outdoors!

7. Oh… and we bought bubbles for blowing off hills and rocks! (70p – gift shop prices, will be better prepared next time).

8. We bought a kite (£9.99) and have enjoyed hours of fun!! Turns out my 6yr old is much better at kite flying that I am.

9. We went to a car boot sale that we hadn’t visited before (Wiggington nr York – for my local readers – it is fantastic!). Kieran spent  £5 on a HUGE box full of soldiers, tanks, RAF planes and the like which have been great fun during the wetter days!
Taylor bought (with help) 2 x DVDs (£2.50 total) and an In The Night Garden Noisy Book (soon to be “lost”) for £1. This kept them both amused for a while.

 

Just some of the boot sale bargains arranged carefully (and some flung all over as they were blown up) in Kieran’s room.

10. We stocked up on art and craft “stuff” and generally just made a mess and laughed like lunatics while we did it. Taylor had great fun painting (washable paint my behind!). (£5.75)

This is me apparently. I think it’s a good likeness. Not sure about the green though.

11. We went on a train ride! It cost £15 return (would have cost less if I hadn’t forgotten to renew our Family & Friends railcard!) and had a great day out mooching around, seeing the sites, and playing in new playgrounds that were different to our own. We took a picnic too so it was a fairly cheap day out of you discard to rail tickets.

12. This left us with £15.20 on the Sunday evening. So we got a delivery from the local pizza place as a treat with it (there was actually 10p left over so we’ve put it in the “spends” car for next week!).

A great week packed full of fun and activities, indoors and out for less than £100! Mingled in with these activities were lots of free fun things such as running around the park, making cardboard boxes into vehicles and dens and playing football in the garden. Really and truthfully, that £100 could have stretched over two weeks however our challenge was for a week, and as we were all off school / work and what not at the same time we thought we’d have a week to remember.

The school holidays are more expensive than term-time, in food if nothing else, however this exercise has taught me that with some planning and by saving a little in advance, there is no reason why we can’t have a fantastic time without blowing the budget. We are big fans of saving up for things before we get them and will continue to do this for future holidays, for other events and of course for Xmas! It is amazing how far you can make a sum of money go when you have saved it up, have in your hand and can see it disappearing as you spend it!

Thanks to MoneySupermarket.com for asking us to take part in this challenge. We have had a fabulous time!

*MoneySupermarket gave us £100 to use for this challenge. 

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