How to give your family and your wallet a holiday

As the school holiday season approaches many of us turn our thoughts to warmer climes and getting away from it all. But with a long heatwave predicted for the UK how about holidaying here, supporting the UK economy and catch some good deals along the way. Some money bloggers reveal the best ways to save money for essentials or the treats!Trees and grassUse the Tourist Information UK website for ideas of where to go.

Booking

Emma Bradley from Mums Savvy Savings advises that as well as picking up the ‘phone to negotiate the best prices, we should book breaks away using cashback sites. For example, Topcashback* is currently giving up to 5% in cashback for Haven holidays and up to 6% for Park Holidays and up to 12% for hotel chains and booking sites. Andrew Young from Capital Matters goes further, advising that you shouldn’t just check comparison and cashback sites, but check your credit cards too. Amex, for example, offer quite generous cashback amounts on certain travel purchasing. And you can use this on top of normal comparison/cashback discounts if you just use the card and meet the requirements.

Other credit cards give cashback for any purchases too. Reward points for supermarket shopping and credit cards can be used to make huge savings on holiday flights, ferries and hotels.

Friends and Family

Family Budgeting blogger Becky Goddard-Hill believes you get the best of everything if you involve your friends around the country! Visiting and reciprocating will not just give you a meal and a room for the night but you get to catch up with old pals, introduce their kids to yours and find the best top tips for fun in the local area. Jane Wallace from Skinted Minted Mum chips in that you can share the babysitting and not have to pay for the service! She adds “Relatives are good for this too. If children have friends on site it makes rainy days less boring and less expensive finding something to do.”

If you normally buy each other Christmas presents then use the visits to include meals out, tickets etc. which can be part of the holiday but can also be your Christmas present giving sorted!

Hotels/Guest houses

Lady Janey Jane Hanson provides some crafty ways for saving even after paying for a hotel. “Take your own champagne/alcohol miniatures/chocolates/cakes and balloons for any special occasions. These types of things are so expensive when the hotel provides them. The same with breakfasts. If you have to pay extra for breakfast, try to take your own juices, pasties, cereal pots or bars and fruit, especially if just staying overnight.”

Michelle Bailey from Time and Pence adds “Take an electric coolbox to keep in your room. Perfect to keep snacks and drinks fresh and cool and will save you a fortune!”

If you get complimentary toiletries and don’t use them, take them, as they are provided as part of your stay! You can always donate them to a foodbank or charity.Tress small tentHow to prevent problems when booking a holiday let (plus what to do when things go wrong)

Be prepared and do your research

Jennifer Dixon from My Mummy Pennies suggests you “Check out the local council website for the area in which you’ll be staying. They will usually list free events and activities that you can attend with the children rather than paying out for theme parks and attractions.”

Ask around and search the Internet for forums, reviews and recommendations for lesser known and cheaper alternatives to popular destinations such as Center Parcs.

Travelling

Kaya La Roche from the artfully named Earning by the Sea lives in Margate and often takes the family on a camping holiday in Whitstable which is less than 20 miles away! “Why spend your time travelling when you can spend that time enjoying the change of scenery?”, she questions, continuing “Other people holiday in Whitstable why shouldn’t we?! We get a swimming pool, clubhouse, beautiful beaches and the full holiday experience with none of the travel costs, or long travel times in the car with kids!”

The Money Whisperer Emma Maslin loads up the car with items to save money on holidays. She has a plug-in coolbox for picnics, takes disposable BBQs and loads the bikes on the bike rack, so there are no hire costs when they get there. She takes an inflatable dinghy, boogie boards and sandcastle-making equipment (!) so she doesn’t have the children pleading to buy things at the expensive beachfront shops.

Don’t forget to fill up the car with fuel near your home because service stations on motorways or in the countryside can be hugely more expensive! You can use the site Petrol Prices to plan where to fill up on long journeys.

Camping

Charlotte Jessop from Looking After Your Pennies and her family are big fans of camping. They choose camp sites that have access to lakes and rivers so they can swim, row and cycle with beautiful scenery. They go to sites where they are allowed to make fires, have barbecues and cook all their own food. “It all helps to keep the kids entertained AND the cost low”, she enthuses.

Hayley Muncey from Miss Many Pennies finds booking a lodge/holiday cottage/mobile home ideal. “It gives you more room for the kids to play, saves on eating out and you can also buy boxes of ice-creams to pop in the freezer. That way the kids still get the treat but for a fraction of the cost of buying individual ones!”

Your Money Sorted blogger Eileen Adamson agrees. “We have had some amazing, fun holidays staying in static caravans all over the country. Choose a gorgeous area and you have a fantastic base for exploring, and you can use as much or as little of the site’s facilities as you choose.”

House sitting/swappingHouse at top of picture, house at bottom "House sitting, swaps and other ideas for saving money on holidays

Catherine Morgan from The Money Panel got a weekend away last year in Norfolk by house swapping with another family. Catherine filled up their fridge and the house swappers filled up theirs in return.

Tim Mitchell who writes the Money Engineer, has house sat twice for his parents while they went on holiday. There were several National Trust owned places near them so they became NT members in those two years and so had lots of discounted days out.

Your rights

Well, it wouldn’t be my blog if I didn’t write something up on your rights would it?!

“You have a contract with any trader to whom you have given money. So, if you hire a caravan, book a campsite or hotel they must be as described, of satisfactory quality and where a service is provided, must be carried out with reasonable skill and care. The Consumer Rights Act 2015 gives you this protection. If the trader is in breach you will be entitled to a full or partial refund, depending on what went wrong.”

See All you need to know about booking/complaining about holidays/flights for more posts on how to save money on holidays and your rights.

Travelling abroad money saving tips

Complaining in hotels was covered on Rip Off Britain:

Logo cartoon cow at a laptop of book cover. How to Complain: The Essential Consumer Guide to Getting Refunds, Redress and Results!

 

For information, stories, advice, consumer rights and template letters GET THE BOOK! How To Complain: The ESSENTIAL Consumer Guide to Getting REFUNDS, Redress and RESULTS!

 

 

* tell a friend link. So I’ll make a few pennies if you click on that link and sign up. Then you need to get your own link and make a few pennies when people sign up using your link!

 

 

13 false economies exposed & 13 ways to not fall foul!

Many if not all of us love a bargain and frequently purchase something that we think is saving us money. Now that Christmas is well and truly over and new year’s resolutions well and truly broken let’s look back at some of our false economies and how we think we are saving money, how we are not and what we can do about them!

Woman walking 13 ways noto fall foul of false economies and 13 ways to avoid them

False economies

1) The most common has got to be Gym membership! People set this up on a direct debit, especially in January! All good intentions and visits dwindle and it would be cheaper to stop the DD and pay on the times you go.

2) Similarly, people take advantage of many online opening offers such as subscriptions to magazines, email services etc. with a significant discount such as £1 for first month and then £25 for each month after and even if they cancel the DD after this month they have lost the £25 if they don’t want to keep the service.

3) Buying yearly membership cards which give you discounts on items throughout the year but you use it twice when you get it and then forget about it so the outlay was too much.

false economies

4) Impulse buying for anything that you then don’t use

5) Supermarket deals – discounts on bulk buying and having to throw away what you don’t use

6) Not complaining and gaining redress when you buy a faulty item and buying a new one

7) Only getting one estimate for services such as building works. An estimate is exactly that and the trader could then say that the job cost more. See this post for avoiding problems with builders.

8) Not switching energy suppliers on a regular basis means, that without doubt you are losing money.

9) Not reading terms and conditions in contracts such as notice periods or fees for early termination or not be aware of your legal rights around unfair contracts

10) ‘phoning customer service numbers and holding for a long time! If this is a number that costs (helplines must be free)

11) Ordering online and not checking the postage costs.

12) False economy bargains. Frequently the more expensive t shirt last twice as long as the cheap one or the more expensive batteries last three times as long as the cheaper ones

13) Sales. Buying something that is a bargain. It really is because the reduction is so huge but you never ever use it/wear it

Tips for not falling foul of the above

1) Think carefully about taking out memberships such as the gym. Work out how many times you have to go a week to make it worthwhile and keep that as a reminder on your calendar that if you haven’t gone that many times that week you are at a loss and should think about cancelling and remember to read the terms and conditions as to how much notice you have to give

2) Keep a note of when direct debits are due and cancel them when you realise you aren’t using the service

3) Work out the value of membership cards. So, for example, a Tastecard – look at what restaurants are covered, how often you have been to them in the last year and how much you are likely to save.

4) Keep an eye out for trials for things like membership cards, Restaurant offer cards for example often have three month trials for £1 but remember to cancel the direct debit if you find that you don’t use it. Remember if you have hardly used it in the three months you are even less likely to use it as time goes by.

5) Work out deals in supermarkets. Is it really cheaper to buy the big bag of apples and waste some than buying them loose. Look out for the supermarket annoyances making you spend more!

How to Complain: The Essential Consumer Guide to Getting Refunds, Redress and Results!

 

6) Ensure that you know your legal rights. If an item is not as described, not fit for purpose or doesn’t last a reasonable length of time, you can insist on repair, replacement or refund under the Consumer Rights Act 2015 from the 1st October and Sale and Supply of Goods Act 1994 for purchases before then. (See Tips for complaining and How to Complain: The Essential Consumer Guide to Getting Refunds, Redress and Results! for all you need to know about your rights and how to complain effectively.

 

7)  Get 3 quotes, a quote is was what you should pay unless additions are agreed along the way.

8) Use a variety of switching websites to ensure that you have the cheapest deal and also any other offers that are different on different websites. The importance of doing that here.

9) Read terms and conditions of contracts and factor in any early termination fees or notice periods if you are likely to change supplier early

10) Unless you need something immediately rectifying, don’t ‘phone, write which also gives you a good record and should you need to follow up, you have an email trail and don’t need to repeat yourself on the ‘phone when you have to go through it all again!

11) Check the total and any extras before you click the “buy now” button but worth noting that it is now illegal for companies to add pre ticked boxes for additional payments

12)  Bargains – stop to think before you buy them (and I should listen to my own advice!!) For example, look at the price of the batteries, if the more expensive are twice the price they should last twice as long. With things like batteries which you may go through a lot, you can do your own testing at home as to how long they last. Keep a check on items that you buy and replace and make a note of how long they last and whether bargains really are a bargain.

13) Stop to think if you really will use/wear the discounted item. (Again need to listen to my own advice, I love a bargain!) When going to shop in the sales try and make a list of the things that you would really like/need and try and stick to these. That should help keep you foccused on spending time looking for what you want so you are less distracted by other things. Also if the shop has more than one of the item you can risk walking out and spending time thinking about whether you want to go back and get it.

Got any more false economies and how not to fall foul?