As a northern person, you get certain phrases banded about like you don’t get owt for nowt or where there’s muck there’s brass. These have been changed into various forms over years and have now come to mean there is no such thing as a free lunch and if you are willing to get your hands dirty, there is money to be made. Nowadays you can get a plethora of products for free from companies if you are willing to review their products and spread the word. You are effectively doing the market research for them. There all at it at the moment, Tescos with their Orchard program which has just started, Proctor and Gamble with Supersavvyme, Unilever have tried, Glamour magazine are forever giving away products in the hope you will continue to use them after the trial product finishes the list goes on.
I rather like Martin Lewis. I believe he has a very good approach to money saving and as such lm on his website money saving expert, I have his books, I watch him on the tv. I’ve even gone so far as applying to work for him in London. That latest enterprise didn’t work and since I’m not so obsessive about coupons now, I don’t spend hours every day checking for the latest deal.
I like watching other making saving programs like Super Scrimpers but some of the things on there need to be taken with a pinch of salt. Some of the stuff they do looks terrible or is quite dangerous for appliances hence the on-screen warnings.
I had a very good childhood as far as arts and crafts goes. I have done practically everything over the years. Kids are very creative so are happily entertained by simple things. It’s only when we get older that money seems to be necessary to keep us in a good mood. Hobbies are a very important part of keeping us sane giving us time to think and reflect but with today’s fast paced lives they are often neglected. This is not good for our minds, bodies or wallets. The usual substitute is a trip down the pub but that does get boring after a while and is no good if you have children. We need more things for adults to do that doesn’t involve alcohol and isn’t expensive.
Travel is a thing I like to do around my local area and there are quite a few things for free if you have a residents card. This is quite a useful thing as it gives varying discounts in local shops. Other things like when the national trust has an open weekend or the students of the local university showcasing the art are good too. Walking which is what people are doing less of nowadays; is a great way to explore the local countryside so get out and see what flora and fauna is native to your area. You will be healthier, wealthier and very pleased that you did so afterwards.
Gardening is good exercise and helps you to know what food is available when keeping your bills down, what can grow in this country and in your particular micro climate, it also helps to reduce packaging and if you have food allergies as you know exactly what goes into the food. I’m sure you will find that fruit and veg out of your own garden is much tastier and better for you than anything from the supermarket. Of course, with our current weather systems, this is a thing that is difficult even for the professionals.
Cooking naturally follows on from gardening and it is a delight to eat the produce you have worked so hard to grow. As so often happens you will commonly have a glut of a particular vegetable since due to climatic conditions it will all ripen at once. This is being a good cook comes in handy as you will not be able to eat it all before it goes bad no matter how many ways you cook it. There is after all only so many ways to skin a cat 😉
Visiting friends is a thing that can be done on the cheap but requires lots of planning and is not for people whose circumstances can change at the drop of a hat. You need 12 weeks before the date of travel to get good train tickets but you will need lots of patience and the day off to coordinate anything else you need like accommodation and who is travelling with you. Train companies quite often have sales on however southern don’t. Flights are made cheaper with Clubcard/Nectar points and airline frequent flyer/loyalty points. Sometimes even credit cards give you rewards that can help you out here.
Reading is underestimated as an enjoyable way to pass the time. Libraries are free to join and full of good books. They have magazines and newspapers too. Coffee shops frequently have them too. If you have a kindle fire or a smart phone you can download overdrive so that you can borrow e-books or audio books from your local library in addition to normal ones. Amazon have a list that is updated every hour with top 100 free and paid books. Numerous other websites have books for download too. You’ll never be short of reading material again, especially with newspaper free trials online.
Shopping can be quite irksome with goods forever increasing in price but if you are clever you can play the supermarkets at their own game. Never go shopping when hungry as you will be attracted to the wrong kinds of foods. Also, try not to go with children so you can be focused and get the best deal for you rather than the store. Eye level is where the profit is, so look high and low for the best value items. Take the downshift challenge as described by Martin Lewis to see where you can save money. You may have to be sneaky and keep the branded goods packaging to put over the top of your value items to get the family to eat them at first. Money off coupons, free trials and in-store samples are all ways of cutting costs. Collecting the tokens for a free lunch box, breakfast set or whatever is being advertised is also helpful but beware the ones that require you to pay money and p+p.
Going to the cinema can be done relatively cheaply if you download a 2 for 1 voucher, have an Odeon rewards card, have an orange mobile with the Wednesdays promotion or have managed to get a ticket from Sky through their weekly promotion. Moneysavingexpert.com has pages dedicated to how to get anything free or cheap. It’s a very nice community. It deals with theatre, days out etc.
Eating out is another area where savings can be made if a bit of research is done before hand. A multitude of apps, vouchers and websites exist to save your money. Clubcard points are useful and some places have discount/loyalty cards too.
Basically, if there is a will to save money, there is a way to save money. Being time rich and cash poor it means I only need to use my imagination to entertain myself and maybe some elbow grease. Being time poor and cash rich leads to throwing money at a problem to see if that will solve it but it’s not very satisfactory. Being both time and cash poor is where you find most mothers working and looking after the kids. They need all the help we can give them. This is where the time and cash rich grandparents used to come in but now are far away.
During the war when food was scarce we were the healthiest we have ever been. Now there is too much choice and too much over processed rubbish. If we employ a back to basics approach to food, shopping and cooking we are sure to be better off. I think this can work equally well in other areas like entertainment.