Welcome to Broke in Bristol – the blog that helps you save money, make money and socialise (with or without the kids) on a shoestring. Let me introduce myself. I’m Ms Broke in Bristol and I’ve decided to start this blog because – yep you guessed it – I’m broke and I live in Bristol.
I’ve always been thrifty but leaving my full-time job eight months ago to work for myself has thrown up all sorts of challenges – mainly the having no regular income challenge! Even I’ve had to step up my thriftiness a gear...
Don’t get me wrong. You don’t have to be skint to be savvy. Maybe you do have to be hard up at some point in your life to learn the skills of making your last tenner stretch – but then most of us have been in this position at some point, haven’t we? Who hasn’t struggled to make their salary last the entire month? And to be frank even when I’ve got money, I’m happiest when I’m getting the best value for it.
Every week, I’ll be letting you know about the best local deals and events to help you live life to the full on a shoestring. So if you live in Bristol, or are thinking of visiting this wonderful city anytime soon, this is the blog to subscribe to!
Working self-employed as a writer certainly has its ups and downs and at times it's been a case of living hand-to-mouth. But on the positive side, working from home has enabled me to cut back on unnecessary expenses. I’ve sold my car and now walk and cycle everywhere. It certainly helps that my other half Mr Spendthrift has transport (they do say opposites attract!) as I do understand going car-less isn’t for everyone. If, however, you’re thinking of doing the same, why sell it on Ebay when it costs you at least 10 per cent to do so? I listed mine on Gumtree and Trade-It for free, which has saved me more than £200. And it sold within a month, happy days!
Not only have I saved money on road tax, MOT, insurance and petrol, I've also rented out my parking space. That’s £80 a month for nothing – thank you! It's only rented during office hours which means that Mr Spendthrift doesn’t have to search the streets looking for a space to park in the evening – that might just tip him over the edge! Popular areas of Bristol include the residential areas around Temple Meads station, Cabot Circus, Broadmead and Stokes Croft. You may still be able to rent it out in other parts of the city too, check out yourparkingspace.co.uk and justpark.com
One thing's for sure, the money I make renting out my parking space will be spent on shopping! You've got to have some treats in life and the Tesco summer Clubcard boost can help you treat the whole family for less. The event is now in full swing and allows you to swap £5 worth of Clubcard vouchers for a £10 boost, which can be spent in selected departments in store and on the Tesco Clubcard website until 23.59 on 26 June.
Last year I exchanged my vouchers for a Friends and Family railcard, which has saved me a small fortune on rail travel. This will cost you £15 in Clubcard vouchers and saves you a third on your travel and 60% off your kids’ travel, so long as you're travelling with kids aged between 5 and 15 years. This year, I'll probably treat the family to a meal out at Bella Italia on Baldwin St (£2.50 worth of vouchers gives me £10 to spend on my bill). This is the last time Tesco is running its Clubcard Boost event – so make the most of it!
Still on the theme of shopping, did you know that you can sometimes abandon online shopping baskets to tease retailers into giving you a discount code? I stumbled upon this by accident when shopping at H&M and I now do this deliberately. It doesn't work for every company but it's certainly worth a try.
It's lovely when your kids are invited to birthday parties but if they're asked along to a few in one month then the cost of buying presents certainly adds up. I found the perfect present this week – a Minions Illumi-Mate Dave lamp selling for £6 online but reduced to £3 in Asda, Bedminster. Grab one – before they run out of stock.
Sometimes when things are really tight you may need to earn a little extra cash. Have you thought about taking part in market research surveys? You won’t qualify for every survey going, but when you do you’ll earn yourself a cash gift of up to £100, just for answering questions about anything from maintaining your car to where you shop. They usually last between one and two hours, sign up to Bristol-based takepartinresearch.co.uk to find out more.
The worst thing about being broke is the effect it has on your social life. I meet up with a friend, Ms Skint Single Mum, at The Brunel in Bedminster for Wine Wednesday most weeks and we share a bottle of wine for a fiver. Given, it’s not the best wine I’ve ever tasted but it’s surprisingly drinkable – so much so that we often have a second bottle! There are four Hungry Horse pubs in Bristol and all their pubs are currently running this offer (subject to availability).
That's it for this week – I hope you've enjoyed my first blog. If you're looking for free or cheap things to do, head over to the What's On page. Have a brilliant bargain-filled week and please feel free to share your money saving ideas by either leaving a comment or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. And don't forget to subscribe or like our Facebook page to be the first to hear about the best local deals and cheap events happening in and around Brizzle!