Vouchers – save ’em, spend ’em or fritter ’em?
First up was planning a trip out this afternoon. We have two credit cards that we use. We try to use the Amex one first as they give us generous cash back that is paid once a year. I used to get it paid in cash but it is returned to the account and simply taken off the bill. It felt like I hadn’t received anything at all really.
There are a limited number of options to take it in vouchers and Waterstones is the most appealing. If you have the vouchers, you get 10% more too, which is nice. We received the vouchers recently, exciting! I adore books, and shopping for them is one of the few types of shopping I enjoy. They sent three credit card sized Waterstones cards with no note of how much was on them. Then a couple of days later, three more arrived. Rather confused by now, we tootled off to Tunbridge Wells and asked them to tell us how much they were worth. I know that we should have had about £135 from the card statements.
We had about £150 (can’t remember exactly now), so the second lot must have been the 10% extra. When we paid for our books, I also used a full Waterstones loyalty card, filled up another one and used it and received back a third card with several stamps on. Each loyalty card was worth £10, so £20 was taken off the bill and it meant free money was being produced from free money. Oooooooooh!
We only receive this cash back or vouchers once a year, and can’t carry them over, so don’t have much choice on when we get them.
These are the books we bought today, without spending any cash at all, and we still have £60 left! Staying true to my “one in, one out” rule, as I have for clothes, I will now have to sort out 12 books to go to the charity shop. I don’t want to start accumulating books again.
Marks and Spencer
The second choice of credit card is the Marks one. Each transaction gives us points and every now and then we get sent M&S vouchers which are valid for ages. That length gives us many options.
We use one of the credit cards for absolutely everything that we can. Buildings and contents insurance if there isn’t any additional charge, any mot or servicing for the car, all petrol (our local garage also takes a Tesco loyalty card, so we get a few points on that as well as the credit card ones) anything from Wickes etc for the jobs Mike does, all grocery shopping, all online shopping, and anything else that we spend money on.
When we first started getting the Marks vouchers we pondered what to do with them and after much thought we decided to spend them on lovely Marks and Sparks food, food we otherwise wouldn’t have got. So their meal deals, ready meals, pizzas, delicious puddings, lovely cheeses, whole chickens, fresh berries and sometimes, a plant or flowers. Absolutely NO socks, knickers, towels, clothes or anything practical at all.
If you get Marks vouchers, you could use them in many different ways. Spend, save or fritter – spend them on fripperies as soon as you get them, they’re free money after all and if you’re skint, fripperies are in short supply. Or use them to ease the strain on getting essentials; save them until you have enough for a weeks worth of shopping; use them to buy gifts, or give them directly as gifts. If you aren’t skint, perhaps you might like to give them to a food bank or other charity. Or save them as long as is practical (they do have an expiry date, but it’s two or three years) until you have a significant amount and use to buy something more expensive than you would otherwise have got.
For Amex Waterstones vouchers, we could keep them for up to two years, spending small amounts at any time. At the till, they take off what you have spent and give you back your voucher with an updated balance. There is also the option of giving them as gifts, either directly, or use them to buy the gifts to give.
Although Mike wanted a couple of novels, I felt that I should get books that I wanted to keep and get novels from the charity shop, the library and friends.
After Waterstones, we went off to the pictures and watched the new Star Trek in 3D
Shortly before we went out, it was drawn to my attention that the Mail Online had published an article on Thrifty Lesley. It’s a mixture of old stuff and the last post on the Mixed Veg Dauphinoise. It’s created a lot of interest! Aldi and two radio stations have been in touch and we’ll be talking tomorrow. And a warm welcome to the many people who have signed up for email notifications of new posts today. By the time we came out of the film, my phone had a long list of people joining in. It is always great to get new ideas and fresh eyes. waves hello!
So when you get vouchers, what do you do with them – spend, save or fritter?
Take care of your family and your budget
Before putting together the meal planners, Lesley surveyed what was needed. Of the existing 14 budget meal plans, most are cheap meals for 2 people so can be sized up or down. Others are cheap family meals for 4 people, or meals for one