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Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Coding and Saving

The other day I met with a senior spokesman from the Money Advice Service, who said, during the conversation, that as people generally find it hard to budget but like to spend, it is right to focus on helping people to spend wisely, joyfully and responsibly.

His view was that this would enable people to start making some savings each week that, over time, will go towards helping them have a more secure financial future, or pay off debt.

I agree with this actually. It is too easy to tell people 'stop spending'. You might as well try to reverse the ferromagnetic fields that keep the world spinning around. People like to have things. Nobody likes going without. So it is important to find different ways of budgeting and spending. Ways to reduce the food bill without reducing the number of items.

For example, I have recently employed the following:

Swapping my £10:00 a time fresh chicken for £4.50 frozen chicken. Both British, both from Tesco, both good quality, but a saving of £5.50 a time. I always freeze the chicken anyway to make it last longer so why was I paying for fresh?

Lingering at the Amazon till. I know, I know, tax investigations and drone technology aside, I am grateful for the computery cornucopia that is Amazon. You can get deals ... and if you leave your items in the basket without checking out, then log off, you will find that a week or so later, there is a 'price change' in your favour - sometimes £4 to £5 worth of savings by waiting with a full basket instead of buying immediately.

Voucher codes. I have always used these and printed off coupons for half price dinners or discounts on items I want at the till in supermarkets. However this time I trialled a use of PromotionalCodes.

This is basically a site that aggregates online retailers, keeps note of all the available discounts by said retailers. It provides codes to users to put in at the checkout to get additional discounts on goods. I have been wary of such things in the past because sometimes individual retailers still offer better deals to 'loyal' customers. For example mum gets Hotter discounts in the post which I found to be as good if not better than the ones via the site. However, PromotionalCodes can also obtain exclusive discount codes that you cannot get elsewhere; for example earlier this year, it had exclusive £20 off anything at and 10% off all hotels at

Therefore, like physical shopping centres, virtual ones need to be browsed. I found two very good deals through PromotionalCodes. One was from chocolatier Thorntons. While deals were available directly, the code I used for a discounted 'tea for two' set ensured that I paid no postage and packaging - saving me nearly £6.00. So not only half price but free delivery. I was not sure of the 'use by' dates however as you cannot check this online. I had intended this for a Christmas present for a young couple we know. It was fingers crossed for a 2016 use by date on everything, not a 2015.

Sadly one item was dated December 2015 but the rest were well 2016 so I shall buy its replacement and give my friends the set, and use the other one myself. No waste, no harm. But Thorntons should make it clear to buyers that all items need to have a long shelf life, or give people buying online the option to check the date before they buy.

The second item was a set of iridescent wine glasses in variegated colours. This was from Scotts of Stow - which does have sales from time to time. Again mum gets this catalogue so I had a frame of reference. But while Scotts was offering 10% off these glasses, the code I got through PromotionalCodes meant that I received a total price that was nearly £10.00 off the total - a 20% discount in total. As these were for an anniversary gift for friends of ours, and they read my blog, I won't give actual numbers!

Verdict so far
For Christmas and other occasional presents, this is a very good site. For those exclusive offers or discounts on delivery charge, I would recommend people to try it out.

However always shop around. Sometimes retailers themselves offer better discounts to their own loyal customers than they will offer through aggregation sites such as VoucherCodes or PromotionalCodes. That said, for time-strapped people such as myself, having something all in one place, like Amazon, really makes a difference.

If I can save time and money and get organised weeks ahead of Christmas, then this has to be a good thing.