Having a Holiday on a Budget

suitcase and laptop
We all like our holidays, but they can be expensive

There is a lot of information on the internet about reducing spending on your holiday e.g. house-sitting, accruing credit card points to get flights, but this is not for everyone and it’s not something that I have got around to exploring yet. What I have done though is to try and reduce our spending on our regular holidays. I therefore thought that I would share with you some ideas about how to cut your spending.

Holiday in a cheap area

Our holiday destinations are somewhat random due to the fact that Mr Simple bought a load of ordnance survey maps a few years ago when they had a two for one offer. Many of them remain unused. Recently I have started selecting a few and getting him to choose one. I then arrange a holiday in that area. We find that accommodation in the north of England often tends to cost less than in the south.

house in the trees
Renting a house lets
Self-cater

Stay in a house or flat rather than a hotel or bed and breakfast e.g. with AirBnB. This is usually cheaper per night. It also allows you to cook some of your own meals instead of having to fork out for food every evening. Since trying to cut our household costs I have started shopping at Tesco, whereas before we used Waitrose. As a treat for holidays I do the shopping in Waitrose. In that way, even though we are catering for ourselves some of the meals/snacks/treats are nicer than we usually have.

Stay in small accommodation

Last year we stayed in a one-bedroom cottage. It had one main room downstairs with the lounge and kitchen area. The eating area was a breakfast bar with stools. The bedroom was small with very little clearance between the end of the bed and the wall. Mr Simple had to shuffle around to his side all the time, including the in the middle of the night when he needed a wee. I did offer to swap sides with him, but he said that he wouldn’t be able to sleep if we did that. The size of the cottage made us appreciate our much larger home when we came back from that holiday.

knife chopping herbs
Cooking for yourself is so much cheaper than going out every night
Cook your own meals for the majority of the week

We tend to have a meal at a pub on the way to our holiday accommodation, as it breaks up the journey. It feels less tiring when you’ve had a break. Also, you don’t have to cook a meal when you arrive, as you’ve already had your main meal of the day. We then have one day during the week where we visit a town and have a long lunch. We then stop for food on the way home. Outside of these times we cook meals in the cottage.

Plan your meals

Menu plan thoroughly so that you take as much of the food that you need as you can. You can’t take everything as some things e.g. bread, will go off, but you can take the majority. If you plan well you won’t have to pop out to the local shop. That is likely to be expensive and may involve using petrol, to get items that you have forgotten. Cooking is so much easier when you have a plan, which is also the case when you are at home.

Hiking is a great way to explore the local area and is free
Do free activities

These include walking in the countryside, cycling and birdwatching. If you followed our staycation last March you will know that Mr Simple and I enjoy these activities, which are usually free. If the countryside isn’t your thing then maybe try city/town walking tours or parks. You can usually pick up a leaflet from the local tourist information office. They often take you to interesting parts of the town that you may not discover on your own. When Mr Simple and I are on holiday in France I have often dragged him around the town to work up an appetite for dinner.

Check what is provided

Before you go check with the cottage owners what is available in the accommodation so that you take everything that you need. Be as specific as you can. A couple of years ago I asked if they provided toilet roll, to which the answer was ‘yes’. When we got there they provided only one roll, which obviously didn’t last for the week. Now I ask, ‘Do you provide toilet roll and if so how many?’ They probably think that I am a bit of a pain, but previously we have ended up having to buy more when I had loads in the cupboard at home that I could have taken with us.

If they provide it – use it

Often I take food items with us, only to find that they are provided. We always use these first before using our own ones.

tea and cake
Enjoy your treats back at your holiday cottage
Take plenty of treats

Buy treats to have in the cottage so you’re not tempted to stop at a café for tea and cake on your way home or go to the pub every evening.

Go out for lunch instead of dinner

When you go out for a meal make it lunch rather than dinner. You will find that restaurants do a cheaper lunch menu, usually with slightly smaller portions, but in my book that’s good as I can then manage three courses. This is one of my favourite things – lingering over a long lunch.

So there we are, just a few ideas for keeping more of those pennies in your pocket when you go away. I hope you found something useful and I would be interested to know how you keep your spending under control when you are on holiday.

In Praise of the Library

Libraries- an amazing and free resource in every town

Do you know everything that is available at your local library?

We all know that you can get books, but do you know what else is available? Actually I’m not sure if everyone knows that you can get books, as I do seem to meet a lot of people who never go to the library, or at least last went when they were a child.

I am a regular at the library. In fact, at one point I was reserving so many books that a staff member said that she knew our answerphone message off by heart having listened to it almost every week when she rang to say that my books were ready to collect.

I have to say that our library service is fabulous. You can reserve books online from any library in the county and they will bring it to your local library for you collect. In addition, they can request books from several neighbouring authorities for you. Each of these services is free.

In my younger days I used to spend a lot of money buying novels, but after reading them once they then usually sat on the shelf for years collecting dust. I still love buying books, but now I reserve my money for non-fiction.

I use the library mainly for novels and love just to pick a book off the shelf if it looks interesting. As it’s completely free of charge it doesn’t matter if I only manage to read a few pages and then decide to take it back. Where else can you borrow something, use it for its intended purpose and then take it back when you’ve finished and pay absolutely nothing?

Occasionally I pick non-fiction books off the shelf, normally ones about food, finances or lifestyle. We have often reserved a newly-released cookery book to see if we would be interested in buying it.  I will try out a few of the recipes and if we enjoy them then I may order it.

Download an audiobook

Apart from paper books I have also downloaded audiobooks to listen to in the car. Most libraries appear to have these available, along with e-books and again they are free.

A little bit of recent research has also shown that the following are available in libraries throughout the country, mostly for free:

  • Online magazines
  • Online newspapers
  • Researching your family tree – you may have to go into the library rather than access it remotely.
  • Reading groups
  • DVDs
  • Book prescriptions
  • Digital drop-ins – help with computers, tablets, etc.
  • Careers advice e.g. help with cvs and job-hunting
  • Researching companies
  • Business support -workshops and seminars e.g. market research resources, how to grow your business
  • Webinars
  • Free one to one business advice
  • Activities for children, e.g. craft events, messy play.

So, if you don’t use your local library, shame on you.

If you do, but it’s only for books, maybe have a look at what else they offer.

If you’ve cancelled that magazine subscription in order to save a bit of money you might be able to read it for free online.

If you miss immersing yourself in the day’s news, check out online newspapers.

Twelve Frugal Actions – a day in the life of a frugal person

Put a dressing gown on when I got out of bed

I had woken up in a house where the heating had only just come on. We don’t run it through the night. I am always colder than Mr Simple so I have a blanket on my side of the bed. If it is really cold I wear socks in bed – very sexy I know!

Made a cup of tea using tea leaves in a tea pot

A pack of loose-leaf tea from Tesco’s at £1.29 for 100g lasts for ages.

Read a library book

If you aren’t a member of your local library, you need to join today. Basically, it is free entertainment. There is also internet access, activities for children and they also run courses – all free of charge. You are paying for it through your taxes anyway, so use it.

Reading in bed is a daily treat – even better when it’s a library book

Washed using all Tesco’s own brand toiletries

Facial wash £1.50, shower gel 28p, toothpaste 50p. For some reason I cannot find some of these products on the Tesco website, but came across them on the shelf in the store.

Wore clothes I wore yesterday (and maybe the day before as well)

This follows the recommendation of Laura Vanderkam, the time management queen, who says that to save time cut down on washing and wear things more often. At nights I usually put my blouse or t-shirt on a hanger and my jeans on the chair next to the bed. I wear things more than once and jeans I might wear for several days.

Save time and money on laundry by wearing clothes more than once

Put a handkerchief in my pocket

Instead of tissues I have cotton handkerchiefs that you can wash and keep using for years.

Served breakfast on ‘heirloom’ crockery

Some of it is from our parents and grandparents, some from a charity shop when I was a student 30 years ago. Breakfast is not so frugal as it includes avocados – if anyone has any tips about buying avocados cheaply I’d be grateful to know. If I could grow them I would.

Prepared food and drink to take with me for the day

Made a flask of coffee, filled my water bottle and put last night’s dinner in a Tupperware box to reheat in the office for lunch.

Drove my nine-year-old car to the office

It has nearly 100,000 miles on the clock, but fingers-crossed I can keep it going for a little while yet.

Bought petrol whilst I was in the vicinity of the cheapest petrol station

As I was passing Tesco’s petrol station on the way home, although the tank wasn’t completely empty I still filled up as otherwise I could end up having to buy petrol somewhere more expensive.

Ate a home-cooked meal

Mr Simple made a meal from scratch for us. We eat mainly vegetarian food which is cheap and good for you.

Watched Freeview TV

We have never had cable, so have not had to ‘cut the cord’. If there’s nothing on we just turn it off and do something else.

So what does your typical day look like? How do you incorporate frugality into your daily habits? I would love to hear.