Beat the budget and still have a life!
It’s well into the New Year and you might be starting to get back on top of the bills again, but if you’re fed up of watching the purse strings there are plenty of sites offering deals that mean you don’t have to stay cooped up inside…
For most of us the issue of money is never far from our minds, but the outlook doesn’t have to be so bleak if you just spend some time looking for worthwhile deals.
Many restaurants operate a ‘Happy Hour’ which works well for families with good offers on children’s menus. Indian and other Asian restaurants often come under this bracket, and there are also excellent deals to be had Monday to Thursday with set menus for around £10 – £12 for at least two courses in many places, although these usually have to be taken up before the prime evening seating, before 7pm. Offers like these may vary and it is always worth contacting the restaurant to find out what their criteria are – they may even make an exception if you have a large party and it is worthwhile for them to accommodate you.
Moneysavingexpert.com has lots of information on places that offer meal deals, including decent chains such as Pizza Express, ASK, Bella Italia and Zizzi. But if Italian food is not for you the website still gives you the opportunity to explore other options. Should you have Michelin stars in your eyes an experience of real luxury is possible simply by swapping a traditional evening visit for a lunchtime rendezvous. Visiting a Michelin starred restaurant at lunchtime rather than in the evening can save you mega bucks. A three-course a la carte dinner at Gordon Ramsey at Claridges costs £70, but at lunch you can enjoy a set menu for £30. You don’t get the same options, but it’s the same quality food and for less than half the price. Find the restaurant you want to visit and check their website for offers.
Moneysavingexpert.com also suggests to BYOB (bring your own bottle) as a great way to save. Restaurants put a huge mark up on alcohol. For a list of BYOB restaurants across the UK, see Wine-pages.com.
Booking online is another way to spend cannily. Dedicated dining websites allow you to browse restaurant offers and book online. Simply search for a table, book and print out the email or voucher. There are three top sites: Toptable.co.uk features everything from local pizza places to Michelin Star restaurants. For the best deals, click the 50% off button. Lastminute.com has offers throughout the UK and frequently offers 50% off food or two-for-one main courses. 5pm.co.uk offers smaller discounts but is worth a look. Deals are mostly set menus and 20% off.
Groupon.co.uk isjust one of numerous sites that will allow you to purchase vouchers for anything from a beauty treatment or spa day to great discounts on meals, which can be redeemed usually within a few weeks or months; handy if your diary hasn’t got an opening just yet.
You may decide to take advantage of a fantastic deal to organise a day quad biking or paint balling for the whole family as something fun and unexpected. These websites offer a raft of experiences and even learning opportunities with huge reductions on prices. If you are looking to buy a present with a difference then buy a Love Film subscription or a ticket to see a show.
If you do a search on vouchers and discounts a multitude of sites come up. These include, among others: www.myvouchercodes.co.uk, www.moneysupermarket.com, www.vouchercodes.co.uk, www.thebestbestbuys.com and www.hotukdeals.com.
Here you can get discounts on chocolates, flowers and fashion, travel, holidays, electronic goods and items for the home and garden. Vouchers for shopping which give you £5 off if you spend over £40 – or similar offers – which have featured for Asda and Morrisons can be useful but be careful if you don’t usually spend this much in one go. If half of your purchases end up in the bin then it’s not worth doing. But stocking up your freezer and non-perishables or items with a longer lifespan such as tinned goods, and you could make decent savings. Or you could team up with friends and neighbours to take advantage of the discounts available on bulk buys. In times of increasing hardship getting creative with your shopping style means you are more likely to come out on top!