Wednesday, 27 February 2019

Half Term on a Budget with a Teen

Air balloon decorations above a shopping streetIt's becoming more of a challenge to find things to do with my son as he gets older, but it's also becoming more important. L is nearly thirteen and as such, he likes nothing more than to while away countless hours gaming or watching YouTube, as (he tells me) is perfectly normal at his age. As anyone who's got sucked into an angry thread on Facebook or hilarious parking videos on YouTube (that last one might be just me) it is too easy to sacrifice hours to the internet. So, I vowed to take decisive action this half term and do something appealing enough to drag a teen off the sofa every day, on a budget of under £50. For the whole week. That equates to just £10 per day and this is how we did it. 


Today was the least appealing outing of the week; the dentist. A staple of half terms everywhere, what we needed was something to look forward to afterwards. Since it's close by, we opted for McDonald's, but I was quite keen to save our budget for something more worthwhile, so we chose items from the pound saver menu. You can get a cheeseburger or McChicken sandwich, fries and a drink for around £3. If you are feeling especially tight, you can save even more money by having a drink before you go in, so you don't need to buy one. I ordered a drink for Luke, and took a cheeky swig of the water bottle I keep in the bottle cooler of my Mia Tui handbag when no one was looking! 

Money Spent: £5.00

Money Saved: £3.38 (on standard value meal price)

Budget Left: £45.00


Tuesday is Meerkat Movies day, where if you get your insurance through the Compare the Market comparison website, you can get a buy one, get one free cinema ticket at Vue Cinemas. If you don't have your insurance through the website, but know someone else who has, you can use someone else's code if they don't need it. I don't know if this is official, but I've done it a few times and they don't seem to mind. This works out really good value, because Vue have recently dropped the price of their cinema ticket prices to £4.99 at many of their venues. If you are not near one of these cheaper Vue cinemas, you can still make quite a saving on the full price anyway. Also on Tuesday is pizza or pasta for £5 at Bella Italia. You have to go on their website and print out a code, which gives you any pasta or classic pizza for the reduced price. My pasta should have been £13.29 and it was a full size portion, so it is a good way to eat well on a budget. Another tip for saving on drinks is to choose cordial and soda over standard fizzy drinks, such as Lime and Soda. These are usually at least half the price of standard brand name drinks, such as Coca Cola or Fanta. At Bella Italia, Lime and Soda is £1.50, as opposed to £3.00 for Coke. 

Money Spent: £13.00

Money Saved: £15.28

Budget Left: £32.00

A boy in a restaurant looking very happy


This is a bit of a cheat, because I get free tickets to shows at my local theatre, as I review the shows on this blog. However, I'm including it, because before I started reviewing for them, I used to enter competitions to win tickets. People often don't enter them, because they think they won't win, but you have a much higher chance of winning a local competition than you do with national ones, because not as many people enter. Keep an eye out on social media for your local theatre's competitions and you might just get lucky. If you do have a blog, it's worth approaching them to ask if you can review for them, it's really easy and a fun evening out too. We saw Tom Gates Live on Stage and it was brill. We took in our own snacks, which they must be ok with, since they search your bag when you go in. 

Money Spent: £0.00

Money Saved: £40.00

Budget Left: £32.00


Today was a trip to L's favourite restaurant. The restaurant is an all you can eat for a fixed price, which is a great way to keep control of the budget, provided it's not too expensive to begin with. Obviously, children don't eat nearly as much, so you don't always see the benefit, but this restaurant is half price for children, which offered much better value for money. We were careful to check the website for the best deal before we went and it turned out it was much cheaper to go before 5pm, during the lunchtime sitting. I have been in the evening, and couldn't see a world of difference in choice of dishes so I think this is a saving worth making. There is definitely a lot to be said for checking the websites and shopping around, as many restaurants offer 'early bird' deals where it's cheaper to dine before a certain time. You can also browse any other offers at your leisure, so you don't miss any savings from ordering under pressure. 

Money Spent: £22.00

Money Saved: £11.00 (on evening price)

Budget Left: £10.00


On Friday we had had enough of gallivanting about, so we used the rest of the cash to buy a DVD and made our own popcorn. If you already have Netflix, or Amazon Prime, you don't need to buy a DVD, but for a tenner you can get one that was pretty recently on at the cinema, so if it's one you didn't go and see, I think it works out pretty good value. Especially if you are likely to watch it more than once. Or, you could find one you haven't seen on Netflix and spend the extra money on more imaginative snacks.


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