Here in Hadleigh the sun continues, the grass has gone crispy yellow and the children are slogging through to the last week of term (eek). I’m trying to cram in as much as possible before the holidays hit, including a slightly surreal work trip to London.
So here are my five frugal things this week:
Given a free S’ip by S’well water bottle
On Wednesday, I headed down to London for a summer holiday session, followed by the surreal experience of Christmas in July.
The “Beach Budget Ready” event at Studio B in Kensington was packed with expert tips to cut holiday costs. I then plunged straight into the festive season at Christmas in July, where brands display Christmas ranges to be unleashed later in the year. Think baubles, cards and wrapping paper, Christmas cocktails, gifts and food.
I left with loads of inspiration for frugal and sustainable presents and ideas for my money-saving Woman&Home column, even if the Royal Mint £5,000 crackers containing gold trinkets might not make it onto my wish list…
I also came away with assorted samples. The fabulous bunch of flowers in the picture at the top of this post came from the Fairtrade stand, for example.
But by far my favourite goody bag gift was a S’ip by S’well reusable bottle.
The bottles come in a range of funky patterns, but they are also very well designed. I’d heard about the company because a friend in the US knows the founder, Sarah M Kauss, and raved about the bottles. S’well bottles are made from double-walled stainless steel, so they can keep drinks cold for 24 hours and hot for 12 hours. They also stay condensation-free, so you can stuff them in your bag without everything else getting damp.
Not a cheap choice – S’well bottles seem to sell from £25 up at places like John Lewis.
But long term a decent reusable bottle should cut the cost of buying drinks when out and about, and also cut down on environmental damage from single use plastics. Save money, save the planet – I’ll drink to that.
Kept growing the avocado
Remember when I started trying to grow an avocado plant from a stone? (This post)
Eight weeks on, and I haven’t managed to kill it yet! In fact, the stone has sprouted a root out of the bottom and a shoot out of the top. The root is now so long the seed has been promoted from a tumbler to a pint glass. So we’re one step further along the ooooh 10 years to producing any avocados.
Any expert avocado gardeners out there, with advice on what to do next?
Leave it in a glass? Plant in a pot? Bung it in the garden? I’m keen to keep it alive if possible.
Clawed money back from Thames Water
Thames Water has turned all high tech, sending out texts about our annual bill.
Seems we actually used less water than expected, so had built up a £77 credit on the account. Given the choice of paying less each month over the next year, or getting a refund, I texted back asap to request the cash. I’d rather we benefited from our money instead of the water company.
There’s always a risk of running up a credit with any utility bills you pay by regular direct debit. So it’s worth checking your gas and electricity bills too, submitting meter readings, and asking for a lower direct debit in future if you did pay too much.
Won with an East of England Co-op competition…
…although sadly it wasn’t the eco car!
Our local Co-op is running a new promotion, where for every £5 you spend you get a scratch card. Match 3 identical symbols, and you get a small prize. So far, we’ve won 50p off Sourced Locally products (used against a bag of Fairfields Farm baking potatoes) plus a small bag of Marriage’s plain flour. It all adds up!
Even if you don’t get an instant win, you can still collect letters to enter a prize draw for a Toyota Yaris. I figure lots of customers won’t bother with the scratchcards, let alone collect all the letters in ‘East of England Coop’, attach them to an entry form, and return it to the shop.
So wish me luck in finding the remaining letters needed in my attempts to win a car.
Claimed a delay repay refund and taxi fare
Recently, my train trip was delayed for more than two hours. Apparently, some bright sparks decided to chuck a trolley off a bridge at a train, smashing the overhead power lines.
I decided to claim ‘delay repay’, available if your train is held up by 30 minutes or more. Turns out you can actually submit a form online, with a photo of your ticket, rather than having to post off a paper form. (Claim here for Greater Anglia, check websites for other train companies)
Greater Anglia refunded the whole £52.30 cost of my return ticket. My tickets aren’t normally so expensive, but it was a return fare from Suffolk to Gatwick, early enough to catch a plane.
However, because I got back so late, I also had to pay for a taxi home from the station . Originally, my husband was going to collect me with the kids in the car, but he’d had to put them to bed before I rocked up close to 10pm. I couldn’t even get a cab from our nearest station (no rank, unable to find a firm taking bookings at short notice late on Fathers’ Day) so I had to get off a stop early and travel further.
There was no space on the delay repay form online to mention other losses, so I emailed customer services at Greater Anglia with a photo of the taxi receipt. They replied, and sent a cheque refunding the £33, so I’m glad I asked. I’d rather have got home on time, but I’m certainly grateful for the refunds.
Now – over to you. Hit me with your top frugal success this week, I’d love to hear! Bung it in the comments to inspire other readers too.