Five frugal things this week (13 July)

Picture of a bunch of flowers with pink and yellow roses from my 5 frugal things this week post

Free flowers from Fairtrade

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:


Picture of the S'ip by S'well bottle I was given at Christmas in July festival

Sleek and beautifully designed reusable bottle

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.

Post on how to use less plastic and cut costs

If you want to find out about S’well, and the bottles liked by Oprah, Starbucks and the Museum of Modern Art (MOMA), check out these articles in Fortune and


Picture of a shoot and root growing out of my avocado stone in a pint glass on the kitchen windowsill, for my five frugal things post

Avocados assemble

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.


Picture of the leaflet and scratch cards from East of England Coop competition for my 5 frugal things post

Less flour, more car please

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.


Picture of Manningtree station after my train was delayed and I claimed a refund

Stuck at a station

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.


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

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Pinterest size image of a bunch of flowers for my 5 frugal things post

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  1. Alice Strang
    14th July 2018 / 9:39 am

    Trespass didn’t sort next day delivery although I had paid for it. When I complained they immediately apologised and refunded me. I like Trespass again now!

    • Faith
      16th July 2018 / 5:55 am

      The way companies deal with complaints makes all the difference. If something goes wrong, but the company handles it amazingly, it makes me so much more willing to use the company again. Glad it worked out with Trespass.

  2. KJ
    14th July 2018 / 4:54 pm

    Avocados! Lovely and fun to see them sprout! You are going to need two plants to get avocados and they need to be of different gender. I would just plug it in a pot of soil now. I have plugged the seed directly into the soil without the set up you have and had success with that. Don’t forget to water! But if they are at a fair size they seem to be fairly forgiving.

    • Faith
      16th July 2018 / 5:56 am

      Thanks so much for the top tips! Will get going with a second stone, and await with interest info on how to spot the gender…

      • KJ
        23rd July 2018 / 7:31 pm

        Let me know when you figure it out… You could potentially wait for years only to find out you have two of the same gender… shutter.. 😀

  3. 16th July 2018 / 7:04 am

    Ooh I have bottle envy #5frugalthings

    • Faith
      16th July 2018 / 9:59 am

      Reckon the S’well bottles are worth it, Becky. Took mine when we headed off to Cambridge on Sunday, and the water was still cool after six hours in a hot car.

      • CraftyMum
        16th July 2018 / 4:42 pm

        Forgive my cynicism, but I would consider it ‘worth it’ too, if I had been gifted one. If you go and purchase more will be interesting….

        • 16th July 2018 / 6:49 pm

          Fair enough, I do see your point, but my husband was sufficiently impressed with my free one that he has asked for his own for Christmas. So will let you know when we do buy another!

  4. Sue
    16th July 2018 / 11:19 am

    Yep … it’s time to put your avo in a pot. Don’t worry too much about keeping the root straight, if you coil it gently it will be very happy. ☺

    Well done on getting your travel refunds, this was mentioned on television last week. Seemingly train companies are given a huge pot of money from government coffers … therefore our money … to compensate people. They get to keep any money left over every year, and they are all doing very nicely out of it as few people realise they can claim compensation for delays etc.

    • Faith
      16th July 2018 / 12:52 pm

      No way! Hadn’t realised therewas s government pot of money for train delays. I was feeling a bit guilty about claiming compensation for a delay that wasn’t the train company’s fault but due to vandals. I won’t feel guilty any more!

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