Friday, 18 October 2013

Frugal Friday

Looking at websites like MoneySavingExpert and their associated forums, one of the first things that becomes apparent to many people are the number of folk out there going out and doing things but seemingly paying very little for them. I'm not talking about the obvious "free stuff" like going for walks, visiting museums etc, but actually going to events and taking part in things where others have paid, or paid far more, to participate.

The first rule of this is if planning on doing something that does cost, book at the optimum time to get what you want for the best price. With train travel, for example, 12 weeks ahead of the date you want to travel you need to be glued to the internet watching for the ticket-release. The very cheapest tickets go quickly so if you want - for example, to travel to Scotland on the sleeper for £30, you'll need to be one of the first FOUR people to book for your chosen journey and route. Booking ahead for events often gets you a cheaper price than buying your ticket on the day, although you do have to watch for things like booking fees.

Of course there are other ways of reducing the cost of your train travel - we've spoken before about Megabus, who offer train & coach tickets all over the UK starting from just £1.50. They work by purchasing tickets on routes where there is always spare capacity - and as a result of this they get the tickets 6 weeks or so ahead - so if you've missed the 12 week optimum window, there's still a chance of a cheapie! You can reduce the cost of these tickets still further by converting Clubcard points into vouchers to redeem against travel - £5 worth of CC points gets you £10 travel - halving the cost of whatever you're booking. This same method works well with Red Spotted Hanky - although you frequently find "Free Credit" codes with them too - most recently through MoneySavingExpert.

It's not just travel that you can get for free or cut price - a few years ago we spent the day at Silverstone for a day of motor racing - absolutely free. This was part of the "World Series by Renault" - a series of events held annually across Europe with free tickets available on application. I was sent details as a result of being a Renault car driver, but anyone could apply online. Currently this isn't taking place on any UK circuits, but I imagine there's a good chance of it returning in the future - a great way of getting to see racing at some of the iconic tracks for a fraction of the price of F1.

Our Good Food Show tickets also come at a vastly reduced cost - there are many standard offers available for tickets at 20% discount, 25% discount or even buy one get a second half price, but for the real bargain you have to turn your attention back to those supermarket loyalty points! Our pair of tickets for the show this year have cost us £7.50 of Clubcard points each - so £15 for the two, and yet the cheapest full priced tickets available online are over £20! EACH! Consider that we would have gone anyway, and that the best deal we've seen elsewhere so far as has been 25% off, that indicates a saving of at least £15. That's before you take account of the fact that we don't spend extra in "that" supermarket to get extra points, so effectively it's free money anyway.

Also effectively free to us is spending an entire WEEK at the Great British Beer festival every year - by volunteering to work. Staff get accommodation provided, free beer, and subsidised food - although the work is VERY hard, there really is a job there that anyone can do, so if you're a CAMRA member, what's stopping you? Other events you can attend for free by volunteering include music festivals and airshows. Cut price tickets for local attractions like steam railways (Great for kids, and BIG kids) are often available through Groupon and similar sites. Many museums that charge for entry allow people in free for the final hour or so of the day - pick your favourite and work round it a section at a time!

Remember, if you want to do something first find out if you can do it, or something close to it, for free. Failing that can you do it at a substantial discount. You'll be amazed what's out there!



Marksgran said...

I've been wary of joining groups like Groupon etc. Every now and then things crop up about the deals being 'suspect' so although several of my friends have got good deals from them I've held back. I'm also now getting Amazon local deals through and so far I've not got involved in that either. Is is an age thing? I agree about the train, my son got a ticket to London from Glasgow for £15 a while back because he happened to book at just the right moment! Perhaps I'll need to investigate groupon etc more carefully and get some bargains.

Singlegirl said...

Ladies I just got my Good Food show ticket for £9 on Groupon. It's £21 on the door! I wouldn't use it for hairdressers etc that I don't know of but this was a fabby deal!

Scarlet said...

K and A always shop around for things. They got fabulous deals on room prices when they went to Budapest last year, and their 3 weeks in the DR were the same price as one of the other members of the wedding party paid for 2 weeks!
We had a really fab weekend away in Scarborough for J's 50th last year, booked through Groupon.