..Facilitating Fun! This is of course the reason for the fruguality, well, that, and making life more simple, easy and peaceful - quite simply though, we are frugal in our everyday lives in order that we can continue to hammer down that mortgage whilst still being able to live life, spend time with friends, and experience "stuff". We were out on Saturday when a chum said "Who else is coming on that trip to Sheffield then?"... ummmmm...."We thought that wasn't happening?" said I "Nobody else seemed that interested?" Seemingly though others WERE that interested, and had booked things like train tickets, and accommodation, already! Oops! A quick check in our "fun account" revealed that, so long as we were a bit cautious about how we did it, we should be able to go ahead and book the trip, so we gathered together our good pals Red Spotted Hanky, TopCashBack & LateRooms and got down to some online research...
The accommodation side was straightforward. We wanted to stay centrally, and, preferably in the same location as others. A quick check to see if there was cashback available through TopCashBack (there was) and that was quickly booked. Next up was the travel. We'd already decided to travel on Saturday morning, returning on Sunday afternoon, as this would save us a nights accommodation cost, and the majority of others would not be arriving until Saturday anyway. A quick look revealed nothing much even vaguely cheap going direct from London to Sheffield direct, so we broadened the net a little....I remembered that a good friend had recently booked bargain priced tickets from Doncaster to London and back, and as this particular pal happens to live in Sheffield, I figured that the travel between Doncaster & Sheffield itself must be both easy, and reasonably priced. Sure enough, I discovered that the single fare for that bit was just £4.50, and then tracked down a couple of nice £9.50 singles from London to Doncaster - result! Both of us up there for £14 each - no arguments there. The way back was always going to be slightly dearer - but again, a bit of looking, and considering of split ticketing options revealed an option for a return direct from Sheffield to London St Pancras for £20 each. As the Saturday night is likely to be fairly "lively" - the possibility of just sitting quietly for 3 hours whilst we go from A>B on the way home was too tempting to ignore, so we grabbed this with little hesitation! The bookings were made through Red Spotted Hanky again as their prices were the same as the individual train operating companies. We had £10 of free credit to use, gained from the Sunday Telegraph's giveaway a few weeks back, and were pleased to discover also that RSH are now on TopCashBack. Add to that the site's own loyalty points, gained on all bookings through them, and the cashback we get for using our credit card to pay...none of these amount to much, but every little helps!
I bet at least one person reading this has thought to themselves "Phew - that sounds like an awful faff, just to save a few quid!" and yes, it was a little time-consuming, although the more you do this kind of travel-research, the easier and quicker it becomes. I guess from start to finish I spent under an hour on the whole process - although I could have been substantially quicker. Had I just gone and bought the first return ticket that suggested itself to me, the travel would have cost us £70.50 each. As it was, the total cash cost was £29.00 each. This represents a massive saving of £82.00 on the journey as a whole - which is pretty good as an hourly rate! That we could just decide, effectively on the spur of the moment, to go and book a weekend away like this was due to a combination of our "fun" savings accounts - I have one of my own and we have a joint one, too - and canny shopping about for the best deals. We do the same thing to pay for our main holiday, and our short break over Easter - set aside money across the year in a savings account for the purpose. Cashback payments go to this as well, and mount up over the year. The Mortgage OP's meanwhile are funded by money we've gradually created as surplus from our monthly income, and extra payments over that are made from "unexpected money" - so savings on bills, the 2 months a year when Council Tax and Water rates aren't payable, and that sort of thing.
You often read on frugal type blogs that people "can't afford" this, or that, but when you look a little harder it's down to priorities. We try for the most part to make things last as long as we can, to maintain, repair and care for what we have, and when things do go wrong, there is usually a conversation (ok, it might be short, but it's still there!) as to whether we actually "need" to replace the thing. Our stereo is the latest thing to be in the firing line - the CD player stopped working ages ago, and now the rest is getting rather crackly and unreliable too. We came home a few weeks ago to find it had switched itself into demo mode and had been happily playing away all day...we have the money saved in our household account (yes, you've guessed it, we have a savings account for that too!) which would pay for a replacement, but are now questioning whether to buy another, or not. We've looked, and found nothing that we both liked the look of. We're not entirely agreed on what features we would want - an ipod dock would be handy so far as I'm concerned, and MrEH wonders whether we'd miss the tape deck our current one has (none of the new ones in a sensible price range have them) - we'd both like the radio to be a digital one....but would we use it enough to justify the purchase? We can play CD's on the DVD player, and use the laptop or Sky box for radio... For now we will look, continue to discuss, and keep our money in our bank account.