How to give your family and your wallet a holiday

As the school holiday season is upon us many of us turn our thoughts to warmer climes and getting away from it all. But with this long heatwave  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 grass

 

Use 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:

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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!

 

 

How to make sure your wedding goes royally well…

The Royal Wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle takes place on Saturday 19th May.

We can be sure that there will be no shortage of people involved in the planning and that there will be no scrimping and saving to put on the wedding of the year. The wedding planning website Bridebook.co.uk puts the cost (without security and the honeymoon) at some £1,969,873. By comparison, the national average spend on a wedding is still a staggering £17,913.

What if you are planning to get married and you don’t have these resources but still want to reduce the risk of things going wrong, as well as ensuring you can get the best of what you can afford? Four  money bloggers and I take a look at how you can save money and make sure the big day still goes well.

You could take a leaf out of the royal couple’s book and invite people and tell them to bring their own food! (Those members of the public with a golden ticket). But perhaps more useful ideas are shared below.

Venue

Harry and Meghan will tie the knot on a Saturday at St George’s Chapel, Windsor, which is out of reach of the average bride and groom But Fiona Elizabeth Hawkes from the blog Savvy in Somerset provides some great tips on how you can still get married somewhere special.

 

  1. Try going for midweek or a Sunday service for a cheaper deal. Most weddings are booked for Saturdays and reserved over a year in advance, so family members shouldn’t get have trouble booking time off work that far ahead.church pews
  2. Alternatively, if you’re feeling brave, leave it right up until the last minute – venues often have massive discounts if you book 6-8 weeks in advance.
  3. Look for smaller quirky venues that don’t normally host weddings – there will be less of a premium than a regular venue.
  4. Have a celebrant or friend marry you on the day, rather than a vicar or registrar and do a cheap 2+2 ceremony at registry office before or after the big day.

Flowers 
photo of Emma Maslin

If your budget doesn’t quite bloom to involving floral bouquet creations from The Crown Estate and Windsor Great Park, Emma Maslin from The Money Whisperer has some suggestions:

 

  1. Ask your florist and venue about moving arrangements between the ceremony and the reception. For example, ceremony aisle ends can be tied to back of top table chairs, signing the register flowers can be used on the top table, etc.
  2. Consider where you want the most impact and focus the money there. If people are looking at the brides amazing bouquet they won’t care that the flower girls have wands wrapped in ribbon instead of their own bouquets.pink background strip 3 boxes variety of flowers boquets
  3. Seasonal flowers will be cheaper, so ask what is going to be in season for the date of your wedding, rather than going with your first choice of flowers.

The dress The name of Meghan’s dress designer is still under wraps, but Kaya La Roche from Earning by the Sea dismisses the need for you to fork out a huge sum of money for a dress you will only wear once. Here she suggests some ways you canbe stylish without the designer price tag:

 

  1. Buy a second-hand dress, you can get dresses that have never actually been worn if a wedding has been cancelled, and even if they have been worn it’s usually only once!)
  2. Ask family if there is one that can be handed down to you and add personal touches to make it your own.
  3. Buy a dress that wasn’t designed to be a traditional wedding dress from a boutique, as some beautiful designs are available at a fraction of the cost.

Catering
Harry, Meghan and guests will be tucking into something that most of us probably won’t even be able to pronounce, even less be able to afford. (Their cake is being made by Claire Ptak at Violet Bakery and prices on her website show a wedding cake for 150 people is £784.80. The royal wedding guest list is 4,040 people, tasty work if you can get it).

photo Faith Archer

 

But Faith Archer from the aptly named blog Much More With Less cooks up some ideas:

 

  1. Food and drink can be a massive part of your wedding budget. Think about what’s really important to you:fabulous food, in which case you might
    want to invite few guests to a more intimate wedding, or feeding hordes of friends and family in a lower cost way, with perhaps a buffet or hog roast.
  2. Get married late afternoon 3pm and focus funds on just one meal late afternoon rather than catering for lunch and early evening.
  3. If you aren’t bothered about a fancy wedding cake, get a local bakery to whip up a delicious cake and use fresh flowers to decorate it.
  4. Check with the venue if you can bring your own booze, as even if you pay corkage, it could work out cheaper.Tables of plates and glasses big plate in middle with salmon and dressing

Honeymoon
Save on any holiday! See Don’t get blue this Monday, get away from it all… 

Lots of other  money bloggers and I  joined forces to give you 15 tips on saving money when choosing and booking holidays! We look at turning the tables and playing the travel companies at their own game, so you can save money when you book your trip away whether here or abroad. Good huh?

Preventing Problems
I see a lot of people who have some bad memories of what should have been the best day of their lives. Whilst you may want to save money, be careful of how you do it:

  1. It may be tempting to ask a friend to take your wedding photos or make your cake but that could quickly give rise to problems. Will you get your money back if something goes wrong with the cake? What will happen to the friendship if the photos are shaky and blurred?
  2. Don’t rely on review sites, including those on social media sites, they could all be false. Try and get personal recommendations of services where you can.
  3. Discuss in detail what you want and what can be provided with service/product providers. Put ALL agreements in writing. Deadlines, costs, detailed descriptions and even a picture (such as for a cake), if appropriate.

wedding cake groom and bride with white frill round them flower either side

  1. Your rights
    What if you have done absolutely everything possible to prepare for the big day but something still goes wrong? I’m on hand to ensure that you don’t get fobbed off!
  1. Under the Consumer Rights Act you are entitled to services carried out with reasonable skill and care. So, if your hairdresser cancels or the cars are motorbikes, you can claim redress and, if applicable, any consequential loss. (e.g. having to pay extra for another caterer, etc).
  2. Under this Act, all products must be as described, of satisfactory quality and free from faults. So, if your cake was burnt or half the flowers were dead you can claim a partial or full refund, depending on whether you still used them.
  3. Collate your evidence. Take photos or video, and include this with details of what was agreed compared to what happened. Put your complaint in writing, being assertive but polite.
  4. Be objective, set a deadline for when you expect a response and what you will do if you not receive an acceptable response, such as going to the Small Claims Court.

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

 

If you do have any issues with good or services see Top 20 Tips on how to complain effectively.

Get the book How To Complain: The ESSENTIAL Consumer Guide to Getting REFUNDS, Redress and RESULTS!

 

I’m taking part in the Monday Money linky with Lynn from Mrs Mummy PennyFaith from Much More With Less and Emma from EmmaDrew.Info go see them for more money saving ideas!