Broke in Bristol

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Me, My Money & Monday Musings (4)


Happy birthday Little Miss Diva who is 13-years-old today! As my week has been preoccupied with what to do for my darling daughter's birthday I'm dedicating this issue to her – along with a few ideas of what you could do for your kids' birthdays that won't break the bank.

When it comes to saving money on activities and days out, planning in advance is essential. So leaving it to the weekend before meant I'd kind of failed already! First of all, I looked at bowling at Tenpin in Avonmeads but decided against it because its £9.99 burger and two games of bowling deal finishes at 6pm which would have meant we'd have to rush. They have a family offer for £25 but this doesn't work if there's less than four of you – I think they need to get with the times!

The next natural choice was to opt for the cinema and a meal. I have a Gourmet Card which gives me up to 40% off at the cinema any day of the week but unfortunately there's nothing on at the moment that my daughter is dying to watch. She asked to go to Yo! Sushi which isn't on the Gourmet Card, so although I said no, I've secretly signed up to a £1 Tastecard trial which gives us 2 for 1 meals at restaurants like Yo! Sushi. It'll be a nice surprise for her and I'll just need to make sure I cancel before the 60 days is up. I sign up for a lot of free trials and special offers like these so I always make sure there's a note in my dairy to cancel a few days before I'm due to be charged.

And although I'm not an advocate of gambling, there's nothing wrong with an evening at the arcades as a birthday treat so I've decided to take her and a friend to Playnation in Broadmead. It's like bringing the seaside to the city and I plan to give them an allowance of £10 each and be firm that when it's gone, it's gone. Wish me luck!

A trip down memory lane...

I've never been one for spending ridiculous amounts on my child's birthday party but I do always like to do something special. Her best birthday (according to both of us!) was two years ago when it snowed in March. I'd already agreed to a sleepover party with five friends and didn't have to pay for an activity because I just sent them sledging in the car park outside our house. Once their feet were frozen and they'd worked up an appetite, I fed them supermarket pizza and let them get on with it. Everyone had a great time and I had change from a tenner!

Admittedly that was a stroke of luck as the weather can never be relied upon. I have friends with children who are born in the summer who'd like to save money by organising a cheap and cheerful birthday picnic, but never know what the skies will bring. If you've got older children and a birthday coming up soon, you might want to consider City Mazes in Cabot Circus. Little Miss Diva went for a friend's birthday recently and said it was amazing! If you haven't heard of it before, it's a live escape game lasting 60 minutes for up to eight people. It's not cheap – but if you're quick there's a Groupon deal at the moment where you can take four people for £49 (half the normal price).

Some of you may think I'm really tight when I say this but I was in Sainsbury's the other day (not the cheapest supermarket I know but it was convenient and I do get 3% cashback with my UW card) and I couldn't justify spending £10 on a birthday cake when there was a perfectly scrumptious looking chocolate cake for £2.50! Seriously, Little Miss Diva does not care if it says Happy Birthday on it – put a few candles on it and the job's a good un! And yes I know it's even cheaper to bake your own but I just don't have the time or inclination.

Friends & Family railcard

On Friday I took her on the train to Southampton to spend the weekend with her dad. This is where my Friends & Family Railcard really pays for itself - I got two off-peak return tickets for just less than £30 when it would have usually been £54. We do this journey about four times a year but the card pays for itself after just one use. Although the Friends & Family railcard is advertised at £30 – you can buy it with just £10 of Tesco vouchers.

It's great in the summer too as you can get 2 for 1 on loads of attractions like London Dungeon and The London Eye – we enjoy going for a day trip to London during the long summer holidays and may even go for a bit longer this year. That’s it for this week folks, look out for Tuesday Tips tomorrow if you like a bargain when it comes to food and drink. I hope you enjoyed this issue, please feel free to let me know – Broke in Bristol - & beyond is on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter where you can share your money-saving tips with the bargain-loving community.

More from Broke in Bristol:

How to get a free Gourmet Society card.

Skint? Why not start a side hustle?

Earn £7,500 a year (tax free!) hosting students.

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