What I’ve actually done this month to be clever with my cash.
I thought I’d give this a go, and potentially make it a regular feature, sharing a little about my spending and saving over the last month.
Often there are small things I’m doing that don’t warrant a whole article so this can bring them together!
My £4 comedy night
I was down in London for a week, which gave me the opportunity to save some cash on a lot of entertainment.
The first was a comedy night taking place at the Old Red Lion Theatre in Islington. Tickets for two work in progress sets were just £10, which would actually have been a bargain if that’s what I paid.
But instead I went via a seat filling website (more on these here) and paid just £4! The two comedians were great, and if I was in London more I’d be using this hack to see a lot more just like this.
My 30p cinema ticket
Another night I used up one of my Vue tickets that I’ve got via a four-month subscription offer for the Telegraph. This was free for month one, and will be £1 a month after this. All in I should get five tickets, and five movie rentals, so I’ve given the ticket a value of 30p!
I used it at the Vue in Leicester Square, which would have cost £9.99. Sadly the film, Nightmare Alley, was just average.
(Update 1 March – it looks like the Vue ticket offer has gone, so I’ll be cancelling this cheap trial early. I’ll have got two Vue tickets, three movie rentals and a year of Gourmet soc for £1, so not bad!)
My £110 theatre ticket discount
I also popped to a matinee at the Old Vic. I deliberately waited until the day to choose which production I’d head to. I was unsuccessful in the lottery for Caberet, so decided instead to nab reduced day tickets of A Number.
Day tickets vary by venue, but this theatre was selling any empty seats for £15, including ones normally labelled VIP which are listed at £125. That’s a ridiculous price, but I was very happy to get my 88% discount.
I also phoned up their box office so I could use my stash of Theatre Tokens, bought with a 50% discount via O2 Priority. So really I paid just £7.50!
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My £15 gig and CD
The last of my cheap nights out was getting to see one of my favourite bands Metronomy for just £15 and get their new album on CD included (well technically it was the other way around).
This was an album launch gig at Rough Trade East, just off Brick Lane. The record shop is quite small with just 300 people allowed in to see the show. If you wanted to see this band in a full show at London’s Alexandra Palace (where you can never see the stage), tickets are going for just under £35.
I used to go to these a lot in my twenties when they were free, but even though you now have to buy the album to get your ticket, it’s still great value.
My Co-op discount stack
I rarely use Co-ops, but there was one opposite my hotel so I when I needed a quick snack one morning I took advantage of the Co-op loyalty scheme. Every Monday there are new money off coupons and you get to choose two. I picked £1 off my shop and 50p off bakery to get an almost free breakfast.
My new American Express credit card
If you read my recent article sharing how to get more than one Amex welcome bonus IF you choose the right first card you’ll know I decided to go for the Amex Platinum Cashback credit card.
I signed up via £50 refer-a-friend bonus (though I’ve not got that cash in my account yet), which will wipe out the fee for two years!
However it took a week for them to approve my application, and I had to leave for London before I received the card. Fortunately Becky was joining me later in the week and brought it down then, but it was frustrating to lose out on the boosted cashback on that trip (I used my Chase card instead).
No wins on my Premium Bonds
At the end of January I shared how my year had gone until that date with my Premium Bonds. And there’s been no change as I didn’t in anything at all in the February draw.
With the changes to Virgin Money’s easy access M Saver account coming from 1 March I’m actually going to move some of the money out of the bonds and into the easy access account.
My wife’s lost luggage
While I was in London my wife headed to Rome with her friend to see the rugby. When she arrived, after watching an empty carousel go around and around at arrivals, it became clear her bag didn’t make it.
Fortunately her travel insurance allowed for £200 to spend in the first 12 hours without luggage, up to £400 if longer. Well, it didn’t turn up until the day of the return flight, so all the basics (clothes, toiletries etc) had to be purchased.
You’d obviously want to keep all the receipts for this, but sadly more was required. She needed certain forms from the airline to say it had been lost and again to say it had been recovered. She’s put a claim in with now, so we’ll wait and see.
But this doesn’t just show the importance of travel insurance, but also of having free data roaming on your phone. Though Becky had a copy of the policy document on her, she was also able to email me a copy too, so I could take a look. The data on the phone also helped her locate shops to buy replacements and keep in touch with the airline on where her bag was.
And the rest…
I can’t remember everything but a few extras in brief…
- I bought a £5 National Book Token for £2.70 after cashback and £2 bonus at TopCashback
- I got a £16 haircut at Mr Toppers on Goodge Street, London (half the price of what I’m charged in Harrogate)
- There was a free pack of Percy Pigs from the M&S Sparks app and 20% off fresh fish
- I picked up my last free newspaper from MyWatroise (here are details of the new rewards)
- I used my student discount at Leon (some of you will still be able to get the alumni card)
- And I made sure to get my loyalty card stamped at Dishoom so I’ll get a free breakfast next time I go
- I stayed at the budget Point A hotel, getting 10% cashback on top
- Though I’m not a fan of their culture, I managed to stack a few deals and glitches to get £30 of Brewdog beer for 20p
- I’ve bought a reduced resale ticket to see Echo and the Bunnymen in April, saving 10%, though sadly it couldn’t be combined with a discounted 15% off gift card deal elsewhere (which would have been the better option!)
- I saved £80 on a mini Hi-Fi system by buying the unit and speakers separately
Listen to Cash Chats, Andy’s twice-weekly podcast. Episodes every Tuesday and Friday.