After cutting our spending in January by a quarter (find out how here), I’m continuing into frugal February.
So here is my round up of our five frugal things this week.
Saved money on a family outing
The highlight of last weekend was heading up to London for our family Christmas present: tickets to see School of Rock. My husband and daughter both play electric guitar, so were particularly excited about the performance.
I bought the tickets during the Get into London Theatre sale, so although they definitely weren’t cheap, they were £200 less than if we’d paid full price. The sale is still running until Feb 9, if you want to check for remaining tickets.
At the last minute it looked like our plans were scuppered, when my husband did his back in the day before. In the end, we went by train instead of driving, and were glad my husband and I both had Network Railcards to cut a third off the train tickets.
We decided to make a day of it, and took advantage of free entry to visit the British Museum beforehand. True to form, we also took a picnic for the journey, to save the cost of railway catering and keep the kids occupied during the journey.
The musical was a blast, and reminded me again why we save money in some areas, so we can enjoy things like live theatre and live performances. We had a brilliant day out, and I’d far rather spend money on experiences we’ll all remember than buy yet more stuff.
Filed my tax return and avoided a £100 fine
Why oh why do I leave my the tax return so late every year?
As I’m self-employed, I have to wrestle with the HMRC website rather than having tax automatically taken out of my pay packet. Such a relief now I’ve finally filed my return and paid the tax owing. On the frugal front, it means I won’t face a £100 fine, because I met the end of January deadline.
Now that I’ve started using the 1Tap app, I’m hoping to file more promptly after the tax year ends on April 5. A girl can dream.
(More about 1 Tap and tips for cutting your tax bill)
Cut costs preparing for Pancake Day
It’s all about priorities, people. Pancake Day is a big deal in our house, and it’s coming up on 13 February. So thumbs up to TopCashback for offering money off pancake ingredients, via Snap & Save cashback.
I always check money off vouchers to see if they actually work out cheaper than the products I’d normally buy. 30p off a big brand isn’t really saving money, if I’d normally buy an own-brand version for a lot less, or it’s a weird product I’d never normally buy at all.
Currently, TopCashback Snap & Save is offering:
- 50p off a box of 6 Happy Egg Co free range eggs
- 40p off 1.25kg bag of McDougalls Plain Flour
- 30p off 1kg of Silver Spoon granulated sugar
- 20p off any 250ml bottle of lemon juice
These are all products I use, and will either use up quickly (eggs) or have a long shelf life (sugar, flour, lemon juice).
I’d normally buy a bigger bag of sugar, for a lower cost / kg, but the cashback made the smaller bag a good deal (£1 for 2kg bag, only 35p for 1kg bag after cashback).
Similarly, I wouldn’t normally splash out on branded eggs or branded flour, but cashback brought the price down enough to be competitive with own brand alternatives. It helped that Morrisons is doing its own pancake offers, with McDougall’s plain flour down from £1.41 to £1 a bag, so 60p after cashback. The money off a 61p bottle of own brand lemon juice brought it within shouting distance of buying a single lemon.
In the end, four items that would normally cost £4.07 only cost £2.67 after offers and cashback. Just go shopping as normal, then take a picture of the receipt and send it in. Get a shifty on if you want to benefit, as you can only claim this cashback until 6 February.
Plus, if you’ve never joined TopCashback before, don’t miss out on free money! They always run offers for new members. If you never signed up for TopCashback before, save money on Valentine’s Day with £15 cashback when ordering online at Thorntons* or Interflora*.
Got my husband to sign up for a savings account
In my quest to earn more interest on our emergency savings, I got my husband to sign up for a First Direct Regular Saver account, available to their current account customers, which pays 5% interest for a year.
As it’s a regular saver account, you can’t just whack in the money willy nilly. Instead, you have to pay in between £25 and £300 a month for a year, before First Direct bungs you a nice chunk of change and slashes the interest rate. Pay in the max each month, and you’ll earn £97.50 in interest.
The account is in my husband’s name not because I was trying to live out a 1950s housewife fantasy, but so we could take advantage of his Personal Savings Allowance. Basic rate taxpayers can earn £1,000 a year in interest without paying a penny in tax, and even higher-rate taxpayers can stash away £500 a year tax-free. I’m coming close to my limit, from a combination of high interest current accounts and earning 5% from the savings app Chip (more on Chip here), so it made sense to use his allowance, rather than pay tax on interest in my name.
Won a free box of Hello Fresh food
I was delighted to win a voucher for a free box of food from Hello Fresh, in a competition run by Kara, who blogs over at Your Best Friend’s Guide to Cash.
Hello Fresh is a recipe box company, which sends out raw ingredients and recipe cards once a week, so you can get cooking without the faff of choosing and shopping. I chose the Family Box, with four recipes to feed four people, which normally costs £63.99 including delivery.
That’s way more than I would normally spend when shopping for four meals. However, faced with a busy week, it’s cheaper, quicker and healthier than ordering takeaways or eating out. I can also see the appeal if we were heading off on holiday, and wouldn’t have a fully-stocked store cupboard. (More tips on what to pack to cut the cost of a self-catering holiday)
I had a look online, chose four of the six recipes based on what my kids might try, and the delivery should show up on Saturday. Will let you know how it goes, but I’ve been doing a happy dance about our box of free food.
If you’d like to try Hello Fresh, use the code FAITHHOM here* and we’ll both get £20 off a box. You can buy a box for under £15 after the discount, when choosing fewer recipes for fewer people than the mega box I ordered. Just remember it’s a subscription service, so you’ll need to press skip or cancel altogether if you don’t want more boxes showing up in future.
Now over to you – what was your frugal highlight this week? Do say in the comments, I’d love to hear!
*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!