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London on a shoestring

Guest blog post written by Natalie Schoon.

The husband of my friend S always rolls his eyes when she mentions something along the lines of “discount”. He has no problem paying full price, and really thinks she’s being a bit silly. Have recently introduced one of my other friends to the idea of 2 for 1, and unlike S’ husband, he really seems to get the hang of it pretty quickly. I love a good bargain, and will shop around. It’s most likely the result of my upbringing in combination with being Dutch. In the end, no matter how good your income is, central London living is just not cheap. So, S and I actively look for discounts. Not necessarily because we have to, but just because we can. To us it’s like a national pastime, even though we have different nationalities. Last minute theatre tickets, student discounts (yes, we are both also students), 2 for 1 offers and more. If you agree with my friend’s husband that paying full price is a good thing, you may want to stop reading now. If you’re more inclined to get better value for money, have a look at the following list which admittedly is incomplete and in random order:

Clip a virtual coupon
Check vouchercodes for all sorts of discount vouchers, 2-for-1 deals and freebies in a handy list which pops into your mailbox on a weekly basis. You might not need them, but they’re just there if you want them.

Get someone else’s incentive
Check Quidco – any sales discounts normally paid to websites when you click through from their site, back to you bar the first £5 or so per annum

Local discounts
Betterbankside is a good example here – The Buzz card only applies in Bankside (from Tower Bridge to Waterloo Bridge) and is designed to support local businesses. It doubles up as a Wedgecard which is supporting your local business is in any case a good thing, and you get a discount for shopping locally. Although some of these businesses will still be more expensive than any of the chains, I for one happily pay a little more to have a more individual local High Street.

Back to School
Student discounts are amazing, but you’ll have to invest in the course and with the recent hike in school fees that might not prove to be very cost effective, but if you’re considering to be a student anyway, it’s a nice little benefit

Local theatres
They often have discount schemes for residents, the Young and Old Vic being good examples for the residents of Southwark and Lambeth

Clip a newspaper coupon
Free movies, books, discounted entry to all the big amusement parks and more. The only thing you have to do is buy the paper and collect the coupons.

Rail card
Particularly interesting if you are doing a bit of off-peak travel, and you don’t even have to go that often to make it worth your while.

Take a train somewhere
With 2 train tickets a lot of 2-for-1 deals are available. Live next door to where you want to go? Not to worry, you could always get a ticket for a short distance and still get the discount. Waterloo to London Bridge works…

Take someone else’s word for it
Find out more about moneysavingexpert for all sorts of money saving tips, be it the best insurance, discounts or savings rates.

The final option of course, is to just ask. You’ll be amazed what you can get. Or not as the case may be, but it’s still worth a try.
Anyway, better stop while I’m ahead, or S’ husband will never speak to me again. He already thinks I’m a bad influence.

Click here to read more blog posts from Natalie Schoon.

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