Learning to play the game

I have often remarked on the cost of this, that and the other one and wondered even more frequently how others manage to survive in the current climate.  Today I had a bit of insight on how people can live well for less and while I am sure others learned these lessons long ago I thought I would share it anyway. This way the long running frugalists can laugh at my naivity and those uninitiated can, like me, wonder how something so simple has passed them by…

The secret is vouchers… so so simple! My brother invited our whole family (not a small unit) out for dinner and my husband and I looked at the menu and sighed. We couldn’t let him foot the bill solo, nor did we wish for my dad to foot the bill so we prepared for a fairly expensive get together. This was not a cheap place and for us it was three meals as obviously we are a family rather than a couple. On top of this it is my last paid month of maternity leave so not the month for splurges really! At the end of the meal though my brother pulled out £140 worth of clubcard vouchers! I realised that while we save initially by trying to shop smart at Aldi and Iceland there are still savings to be made by shopping at Tesco. We do have cards for Sainsburys as well but have always been fairly unimpressed with their scheme (we can spend £40 on a single basket of shopping but we never see any benefit from using our cards).

The other place I have come to utilise regularly is Boots and I love my Advantage card! As there is little difference in the cost of baby food from place to place I make my bulk purchases from there. If I have a hard up month I can use my points to buy nappies, food, shampoo etc., and if I collect loads and juggle my finances properly then heck, if I fancy a new lippie or want to colour my hair I can treat myself!

In addition to the wonderful world of vouchers there is good old fashioned shopping around and this, people, is my speciality. With the advent of Google there is little I cannot research and my goodness do I love research! Darren has long speculated that I could go on Mastermind with prams and pushchairs as my specialist subject as he finds my ability to identify them (and give brief snippets from reviews I have read) while out and about something of a novelty… and it isn’t just the make, model and pros and cons I can list – the value also creeps into my evaluation. And I can do it with other things too… I will rarely buy anything without thoroughly researching it online.

At the moment we have no need of another pushchair (well, four is enough when you only have two kids!), cot etc., and have done enough medical reading to be able to identify correctly a handful of Izzy illnesses as well as my father in law’s recent pneumonia (which ridiculously took the hospital a week to diagnose and subsequently treat, but that is another very frustrating and long winded story which belongs to him and so is not mine to share). So my attention is currently directed towards doggie research. We do intend to get a dog eventually though not until Poppy is up and walking and steady on her feet (my youngest brother was 18months when we got our beloved golden Labrador Sabre – sadly fell asleep last September aged 14 – and this seemed a good age) but as with everything else I like to study up first. In this instance it isn’t so much financial – I wanted to research breeds and their qualities etc. I am now a hive of information on lhasa apso’s, cocker spaniels and king charles spaniels (I would love another lab, but Sabre was one in a million and I couldn’t help but compare another one to him – plus our home is too small for it to be a pleasing home to any of the larger breeds). Am now onto training and insurance research but as Poppy is still only eight months old I figure I can take my time! 🙂

TTFN xxxx

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