A couple of weeks ago, I attended a blogger event hosted by Giff Gaff Plan Smart at a location I adore; The Principal Hotel, Manchester. The event itself was all about thrifty living and the lure of a clothes swap, cookery classes and a jewellery making workshop meant that I put the date in my diary as soon as I received the invitation.
Most of us have heard of Giff Gaff mobile phones but did you know that they are also a dab hand at all things finance related? Me neither! Their Savvy Living page offers some fantastic advice and is ideal for those just dipping a toe into the often-confusing world of adulting. Heck, even I learnt a trick or two about saving some hard-earned cash.
It’s a great free resource in particular for the younger generation, such as my eldest girl who is just beginning to look at things like buying her first car, savings and household expenses (and after a quick summary of what it really costs to live independently, she promptly declared that she’s never leaving home).
She doesn’t pay many bills yet from her modest apprentice wage and got a bit of shock when we began to discuss the realities of the financial commitments that are often come hand in hand with adulthood. With a lot of practice, Adam and I have become fairly good at keeping track of our money by using a spreadsheet containing all of our income and expenditures, regularly revising this and finding the best deals on things like utility bills.
I started meal planning last year and cut the cost of our family food shop by around 40% – that’s a pretty hefty amount of money once you add it up over a year (£2,080 to be precise. Well in theory anyway as that doesn’t include my impromptu trips the shop where, strictly between you and me, I can end up spending £6 on chocolate alone).
So, back to the event. I met up with some fellow bloggers, old and new, and upon arrival, were given coloured cards to allocate us into small groups.
We’d also all brought along items of clothing that we no longer needed to contribute to the clothes swap at the end of the day. I said farewell to my vintage skirt and dresses, hoping that they’d enjoy a new lease of life (they’d been cooped up in my wardrobe for at least a year) and eyed up the other items on the rail.
First up was a jewellery making class with Hannah from Tea and Crafting. I’m enthusiastic about crafting but to be honest, am
pretty awful at most things not naturally talented. Using strips of t-shirt material, Hannah showed us how to create a handmade necklace using a similar technique to knitting.
Having never knit before, this proved a little difficult for me to get the hang of but eventually, I managed to create a passable piece of work. I was sat next to the lovely Charlie from Gin-Fuelled Bluestocking who put the rest of us to shame and created two perfect necklaces in about 15 seconds flat. We also spent most of the class chatting about cats and gin so I think she may be my new BBF.
Let’s Get Quizzical!
Next up was talk and quiz about all things money-related. Again, being a ‘seasoned’ adult (kind of), I assumed that I was pretty clued up about this topic, but alas, it transpired that I still have a lot to learn.
Did you know that missing just one mobile phone payment can have a detrimental effect on your credit rating? Or that the better your credit rating is, the cheaper interest rates you pay? Certainly worth doing your homework and seeing what you can do to help improve your own credit score.
Vegan Cookery Class
I enjoy spending time in the kitchen, however, I often lack inspiration and find that a lot of recipes in my array of cookbooks often require hard to source ingredients. I’d find myself spending a small fortune on exotic spices and only use them once or twice (like the unopened jar of saffron from 2012 that’s still lingering in the cupboard somewhere) so the idea of learning how to utilise what I already have in the fridge was appealing.
Duncan from Herb and Spice Catering showed us how to make a vegan tagine housed a filo pastry case with fresh tomato sauce and a couscous side. Vegan food isn’t something that I’ve never really had much interest in after a bad experience with tofu but I ate my words (and delicious vegetable dish) after watching him create a speedy, healthy meal using fresh, budget-friendly ingredients.
At the end of our sessions, we then took part in the clothes swap and I bagged myself two new dresses and a jumper. This got me thinking about what a great idea a clothes swap is along with saving cash and bonus, it’s good for the environment too. I’m toying with the idea of hosting one myself next month.
We were also given a goodie bag containing a meal planning book, kitchen herb planter and cute piggy bank, along with a tray of fresh ingredients and recipe cards from Herb and Spice to whip up a gorgeous vegan pasta dish at home.
Have you got any money saving tips or goals?