Five frugal things I did this week (10 Dec)

Picture of a waterfall of tiny white lights and Christmas trees on my 5 frugal things post

Christmas lights in London

My round up of five frugal things this week seems rather profligate, with a trip to London, booze, theatre tickets and fancy chocolates. But ideal world, frugal living doesn’t mean deprivation. Instead, I’m all about making the most of my money – so bring on the cut-price fizz and chocolates!

Brought a lamp back to life

I was ready to take our dead-as-a-doornail standard lamp to the tip, but thought I should have one last try at making it work.

After unscrewing the fitting at the top, I found one of the wires had come loose from the connection. It just needed a teeny screwdriver to undo the screw, before I could poke the wire back where it needed to go, screw everything back together, and ta da a working lamp again. Total cost: 0p.

 

Picture of the header from Get Into London Theatre website, with pictures on London theatres for my 5 frugal things post

Sale on theatre tickets – bring it on.

Booked cheaper theatre tickets

Tickets for big London musicals can cost an arm and a leg. Luckily Get Into London Theatre runs a New Year’s Sale, when you can book tickets at loads of great shows during January and early February for £10, £20, £30 or £40.

I decided to push the boat out as a family Christmas present, and booked tickets for a Sunday matinee performance for School of Rock. It still adds up for a family of four – but maybe half a limb, rather than a whole arm and a leg. Certainly, we wouldn’t have gone at all, if we’d had to pay the extra £200 (gulp) for full price tickets.

Hopefully the show will be experience we’ll all enjoy and remember, rather than spending the money on toys and extra stuff to clutter up the house.

The sale is worth checking if you’re a theatre lover living near London – there are 45 shows on offer, including Aladdin, Matilda, Annie, Les Miz and Wicked. The website is a bit clunky, the most popular shows sell out fast and you may need to be flexible about your dates, but it’s still worth a try: Get Into London Theatre. Plus there are no booking fees, no fees for paying with a credit card, and no fees for posting your tickets.

 

Picture of my Network railcard and travel card for my 5 frugal things post

Money off tube travel with a Network railcard

Used my railcard for money off bus and tube travel

I zipped into London this week for a work meeting followed by Christmas drinks with other money bloggers (cheers!). As always, I used my Network railcard to save a third off off-peak tickets. The £30 cost more than pays for itself over a year.

One added advantage is that it also saves money on tube and bus fares if I buy a day travel card rather than an ordinary train ticket.

So for example, my super off-peak day travel card from Manningtree to Liverpool Street only cost £4.05 more than a super-off peak return, but included unlimited tube and bus trips. As a single tube journey in zone 1 costs £2.40 with an Oyster card, I only have to make two trips with my travel card, and I’m quids in.

 

Picture of my £2 voucher letter from Tesco Clubcard for my 5 frugal things post

Why thank you Tesco. A whole £2 in vouchers.

Cashed in on Clubcard points to cut the cost of booze

En route to the UK Money Bloggers meet up, I nipped into a nearby Tesco Express to buy a bottle of prosecco. For once my over-packing came in handy (think hefty Mary Poppins handbag, rather than a clutch containing only keys, lipstick and credit card).

I may not shop at Tesco very often, but I still had a Tesco Clubcard in my wallet, along with the entire £2 in Clubcard vouchers I received recently. I always stick vouchers in my handbag when they arrive, as they can’t cut costs stuck on my kitchen counter. I therefore saved £2 on fizz, which made the celebrations later feel even more festive.

I wouldn’t ever shop somewhere just for the loyalty card points, especially if prices are cheaper elsewhere. But if I’m shopping somewhere with a loyalty scheme, I’ll always press that plastic into action.

(Post with more than 80 ways to save money on food shopping here)

Picture of Hotel Chocolat chocolates in my #FoodBankAdvent hamper for my 5 frugal things post

Spot the big blue box at the back

Got my Hotel Chocolat subscription refunded

Hats off to Hotel Chocolat this week for brilliant customer service. Regular readers may remember I’m rather partial to their fancy chocs as a once-a-year Christmas treat – so long as I can buy them for less.

I splashed out on a cut-price trial subscription to the Hotel Chocolat Tasting Club which offered a box and free gift for £9.95 rather than the normal £22.95. Actually, if you’ve never tried the tasting club before, you can get the chocs even cheaper by clicking through via TopCashback or Quidco and getting either £3.50 or £4.50 cashback. (Click here for TopCashback* or here for Quidco*)

I then did exactly what I recommend other people shouldn’t: forgot to cancel.

Unfortunately, I only went online to stop the subscription this week, nearly a month after my original order. Too late. They’d already taken the full whack £22.95 direct debit, and yesterday the second box showed up. Ouch. That’s a lot of money for chocolate.

I rang to ask if I could return the box, in the hope I could claw back some of the cash. The nice man not only said they’d refund the whole £22.95 but also said I didn’t have to send the chocs back, but could donate them to charity. I was due to drop off my #FoodBankAdvent box that afternoon, so I was able to take the chocs straight to FIND in Ipswich. Perfect timing and much gratitude to Hotel Chocolat!

Hopefully the chocolates will brighten someone else’s Christmas, as part of a food bank parcel. Plus, I have the peace of mind that I’ve definitely cancelled the subscription…

Remember it’s not too late do a reverse advent calendar for #FoodBankAdvent! Posts about it here and here.

 

Now over to you – any festive frugal highlights this week? Do comment, I’d love to hear!

 

I’m linking up with CassEmma and Becky in this week’s ‘Five Fabulously Frugal things I’ve done this week’ linky.

*indicates an affiliate link, so anything you buy through it will help support the blog, as I will get a small commission at no cost to you. Many thanks!

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Pinterest size image of Christmas lights to illustrate my five frugal things post

 

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7 Comments

  1. December 10, 2017 / 3:43 pm

    Can’t believe I’ve not seen this blog before, it’s good stuff! I definitely fancy the theatre thingy. Probably go after the Christmas crowds have slowed down though neither of us like crowds much!!! I’m seriously impressed with Hotel Chocolate, I thought the whole point of those subscription deals was to make money when people forget to cancel!!! Lovely that they let you give it to charity too.

  2. Eloise thisissixty.blog
    December 10, 2017 / 7:49 pm

    Well done, Hotel Chocolate. It’s so nice to hear of really good customer service.
    And how kind of you – someone will get a fabulous surprise.
    As for the trip to London, saving money is about being sensible and not wasteful. It shouldn’t be about depravation. Glad you enjoyed yourself.

  3. December 11, 2017 / 2:30 pm

    Oh thats so lovely of Hotel Chocolate, what amazing customer service! Love the theatre thing too. We normally get the tiks in Aug when its kids go free month, but maybe this is better value?

  4. December 12, 2017 / 8:53 pm

    It’s funny how we end up feeling like we have to explain ourselves when we do spend some money! That’s the price of being a frugal blogger eh? You’ve done a great job this week with treating your family to a fantastic afternoon out together at the theatre as well as all the other savings… well done on such a good money-saving week!

  5. December 13, 2017 / 12:14 pm

    Fantastic finds, saves and treats! I love when a plan comes together and it definitely sounds like you are winning at it. I usually lose out with my Tesco voucher as, by the time I find out which handbag I’ve put it in, the use by date is gone. Gotta be more careful, haven’t I?
    It always happens to me too that just as soon as I pick up something to throw out, because it isn’t working, it magically comes back to life again. Recently it was the vacuum cleaner and right before that it was my iron. I hope I don’t become a hoarder, storing these stuff up. Thanks for sharing your winning ways with money.

  6. December 14, 2017 / 9:19 pm

    That is brilliant customer service from Hotel Chocolate – that is so great to hear. thanks for linking up.

  7. December 15, 2017 / 9:18 am

    Great work with the lamp – I have one in my living room that hasn’t turned on for about a year but I’ve kept it as I like it ha ha. I might investigate it today and see if there’sany hope for it 😉