Friday 13 October 2017

Scottish Friendly's No Spend Weekend Challenge

Money just seems to disappear when you have kids, right? That is one reason I said yes to getting involved with Scottish Friendly's no spend weekend challenge and I think I did well. Come and read all the ways we had fun as a family without spending money.

My lovely friend Cass at Frugal Family often talks about no spend days and to be honest I had never heard of the concept before. So simple but yet completely alien to me and I kept meaning to give it a go but it never happened. So this weekend challenge was a good chance to put it into action and see if a spender like me could go cold turkey! I wasn't expecting miracles if I'm honest.

Friday After School - Pressing Fresh Juice!
Once a month all the families who live together in our community come together for an event to engage the children and we eat together.

This month we were focusing on harvest and how good God is in all He provides in our life. We all went down to the walled garden in the grounds of our home and gathered some fruit and veg and then set about cleaning, preparing and pressing the fruit to make fresh juice to have with our dinner. We ended up with apple, apple and rhubarb and apple and beetroot juice.

We had a great staff dinner of pasta or jacket potato with bolognaise, cheese and salad and of course the fresh juice and we finished off with melon chunks from melons grown in our green houses.  JJ and my husband headed off to church for his youth club and the girls and I had a game of monopoly before bed.

Saturday Morning - We Headed into Hastings
First thing my husband and I had our flu jabs so we did those and then dropped my husband and son off at the train station as they were going up to London. Whilst they did have free tickets to the London Dungeon as my parents had collected tokens from the newspaper, they didn't have a spend free day as their treat was already agreed upon before I took up this challenge, so it was my girls and I who focused on being spend free on the Saturday.

We headed into Hasting as as I had some jobs to do, a couple of things to take back (so money coming back into my account) and a parcel to post (pre-paid by Amazon) so no cost with those. The girls wanted to go to the cinema but I couldn't find any way to get free tickets so I had to say no. I have Groupon at the moment which give me 3 Odeon tickets for £15 and I get discounted tickets for Cineworld with my Tastecard + but the only cinema I can get totally free tickets for is Vue (by using Nectar points) and there isn't one anywhere near here, such a shame!

They weren't too dismayed though as I had managed to convert some nectar points into Caffe Nero vouchers and we could all have a drink for free. For 350 nectar points you get a drink of your choice. I had a large latte and the kids a frappe milkshake, they were pretty happy with them, just look -

Next we headed down to the seafront to have a walk, play in the park and collect some large stones. Miss E particularly loves painting stones and giving them to people as a gift. She'll often write words on them like Love, Peace or Be Kind and they make nice little gifts. Our plan was to paint the stones on Sunday after church.

After all our walking we were getting hungry and it was time for some lunch after an early start. Of course we weren't supposed to buy any lunch and I hadn't packed a picnic so it was lucky I had Tesco Clubcard points that I could convert for Pizza Express vouchers and the great thing is that you don't have to do this a long time in advance as they email you the codes straight away. You get £10 to spend for £2.50 worth of Clubcard vouchers, which is a great exchange rate. I enjoyed a Padana pizza and the girls had the kids meals, which include three courses and a babychinno drink and as we all shared a jug of water there wasn't a penny to pay at the end. My kind of meal!

Most of our meals out are paid for by vouchers I gain from points like Nectar or Tesco Clubcard but recently I've also found that I can cash in my Quidco earnings for various restaurant credits and often there is an uplift on the cash-back money you've earned. I got 15% extra on my recent withdrawal by taking a restaurant card I can use at Toby Carvery or Harvester. I love having a super cheap or totally free meal out.

Saturday Afternoon - Girls Pamper Time
Once home the girls were adamant that as the boys were not about we should do something girlie and have a pamper time. The first job was making some bath bombs from regular household ingredients - bicarb of soda, cream of tartar, food colouring, scent and cake sprinkles. Miss E loved this and some of the bombs got used in a bath that night.

Next we did nails and make up and after, both girls wanted to try their first face-pack with cucumber slices on their eyes. They do make me laugh, it was all so authentic with towels on the bed, fluffy bathrobes, lit candles and dimmed lights.

After our pamper time and baths/ showers we snuggled up on the sofa for Saturday night TV - our favourite, X Factor and Casualty. We had some home popped popcorn and enjoyed our time together.

Sunday Morning - Church
As a Christian family it is important to us to go to church and have time worshipping Jesus and learning more. This is something we enjoy doing and of course it is without cost as all are welcome in church. We enjoyed a good talk on staying connected to God, our church family and each other.

Sunday Afternoon - Visit to Bexhill
As it was a beautiful day it had seemed a shame to go to church and then straight home so I packed a picnic before we headed to church and we made our way over to Bexhill-on-Sea. This is probably my favourite seaside resort in East Sussex as it is so pretty and really clean and well presented.

Often the kids take their scooters or roller-skates and enjoy going along the prom as it is nice and flat but today I set them a photography challenge. They were all given the prompt of 'circle' and I asked them to take as many photos as they liked and then before bedtime to submit just one photo to me as their entry and the winner of the best photo would receive a prize. They all took this quite seriously and my husband joined in too. It was such a fun activity and completely free.

We all headed into the De La Warr Pavilion too, this is a wonderful building with amazing architecture and it has a very nice cafe/ bar but we avoided that on this occasion and just had a look around at the free exhibitions. Both that we looked at were by Roy Voss, one was an enormous sculpture of a pier with views out to sea and the other was a collection of old postcards with one of the words picked out for each. The De La Warr is a great place to go to see art with your kids and to start a conversation about what they like and what makes a good piece of art.

By this point it was getting late in the afternoon and the kids had all been really good so we did give in and buy an ice cream for each of us. Di Paulo's is an authentic Italian gelateria and they make the best ice-creams, so we each had a single cone and spent £11 for the five of us.

With our ice-creams in hand we headed down to Egerton Park and the kids had a play and fed the ducks. Our neighbours have chickens and this kind of feed is perfect for the ducks, so we had taken some with us.

The lengths Miss E went to for a good photo!

Sunday Evening
As it was a school night the kids and I stayed home and relaxed and my husband went down to the campfire on site here and had a time of worship, hot chocolate and fresh cooked waffles! It was a great end to a fun weekend.

In Conclusion
When I compare our spending over this weekend to a regular weekend I think we did really well. Normally I wouldn't hesitate to say yes to the girls request for the cinema and we'd have probably had a fish and chip lunch out on the Sunday. So being aware of my spending did make a difference and I am going to keep on focusing on making savings where I can and having dedicated no-spend days. I'm also going to check out all the money saving tips from Scottish Friendly.

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