Welcome to issue two of Broke in Bristol – the blog that helps you save money, make money and socialise (with or without the kids) on a shoestring. Every week, we’ll be letting you know about the best deals and local events to help you live life to the full on a budget. This week it’s our half-term special!
Any parent knows that school holidays are a squeeze on the purse strings. But if you look hard enough there are plenty of free and cheap things to do in and around Bristol – including free childcare! Yes I kid you not, Bristol has four free adventure playgrounds and, if your children are eight and over, you can register them and leave them in the capable hands of the play workers.
These adventure playgrounds are staffed by skilled play workers who ensure every child feels safe and has the best possible time. Little Miss Diva loves the Felix Road Adventure Playground in Easton, but there’s also free play at Lockleaze Adventure Playground, Saint Paul's Adventure Playground and Southmead Adventure Playground. Top tip – send them with a friend or sibling. Younger children from aged 5 can join in too, but must be supervised by an adult.
It’s certainly been a busy start to the half-term holidays with Little Miss Diva invited to two birthday parties this week. So for the second week in a row, we had to find a birthday present that looked more expensive than it actually was. And, once again, Asda came up trumps. We bought Gothic Angels with accessories, reduced from £7 to £2.50! They may have all sold out by the time Broke in Bristol goes live, but Asda in Bedminster seems to have a crazy offer on every week – so it’s definitely worth popping in.
Best broadband deals
For me, it’s that time of the year when I shop around for the best Broadband package. My requirements are simple: speedy unlimited internet for the cheapest price I can find. I begrudgingly accept that I have to pay for a landline that I never plug in; and I’m not interested in fancy TV channels.
Mr TalkTalk wanted to know why I was thinking of leaving. I told him that I was looking to save money and thought I could get a better deal elsewhere. After determining my requirements (which hadn’t changed) he then recommended a more expensive package! Needless to say, I will be dumping Mr TalkTalk because he’s an idiot.
If, like me, you’re looking to change your Broadband package then you’ll be glad to know that I’ve done all the leg work for you! Sky is currently offering broadband free for the first 12 months which increases to £10 a month after a year. Of course you still have to pay the £17.40 line rental but it does include a £100 M&S voucher if you sign up online. I’m tempted to give Plusnet a try, because it’s offering free unlimited broadband for a year, which then increases to £9.99. Line rental is £16.99 and there’s £50 cashback on offer.
EE is offering Unlimited Broadband and weekend calls for £1 a month for 12 months (plus £17.50 line rental) which then increases to £9.95. If you don’t want to sign up to a contract, then TenTel is offering flexible broadband with no contract. Its Hello Broadband 5 package costs £2.99 plus £15.99 line rental and the £35 connection fee will be waived if you commit to six months. TalkTalk is just as competitive, but I don't think it's great customer service to try and upsell to customers who are looking to save money.
I can see clearly now
I can’t get my head around why some people still pay full price for prescription glasses. I’ve been buying mine from Glasses Direct for some time now and I can’t fault them. They've got 50 per cent off until 3 June and they're also offering customers a free second pair! Use code 50GD to claim your discount. I bought two pairs for £32 and they're the nicest frames I've ever had!
There’s also no need to pay full price for contact lenses. The trick is to visit a high street optician to let them check you're suitable to wear contacts. Once you’ve finished your free trial, pop your prescription details into Daysoft and save up to £198 a year! I pay £12.48 for a month’s supply and I don’t wear them every day, so they often last me between two and three months.
Gimme some free stuff
At some point this week I need to pop into IKEA. It’s not the most exciting day out but I do like the fact that you can leave the kiddies in the play area and shop for 45 minutes in peace. Bliss! IKEA is also now running its prize giveaway which means it’s the perfect time to go if you like free stuff. They’re giving away free hotdogs, gift vouchers, holidays to Sweden and more to shoppers with an IKEA Family card. Just buy something in-store from Monday May 30 and make sure you scan your card. If you haven’t got one already, they’re pretty easy to get hold of, just sign up here.
Don't pay full price for parking
Do you remember last week when I talked about renting out your parking space? Well there’s also good news for drivers who work in the city. There is no need to pay full price if you’re looking for somewhere to park in Bristol – whether it’s for a couple of hours or long term, Just Park has cut-price parking spaces in car parks and private driveways across Bristol. These are often up to 70 per cent cheaper than pay-and-display parking and we’ve secured 20 per cent off your first booking exclusively for Broke in Bristol readers! Just enter code BROKEINBRISTOL20 at the checkout.
That's it for this week folks. It’s been a fantastic first week for Broke in Bristol, so thank you so much for your support. If you're looking for free or cheap things to do, head over to the What's On page. Please don’t forget to subscribe to the Broke in Bristol website, like our Facebook page and follow us on Twitter so that you can be the first to know about the best local deals and events happening in and around Brizzle!