Well I’m into day 4 of my ‘year without spending’ and I’m yet to feel even the slightest pinch (well OK I admit I was tempted by a 2GB Flash Drive for 99p from Aria, and a 500GB External HD from Tesco, but I managed to resist). So today two major challenges, one was to downgrade my Virgin Media cable package, and the other one was to go grocery shopping without spending any more money than necessary.
Firstly, the Virgin Media issue. Since moving into our new house (and back into a cable area, as we have lived in a nature conservation area of Manchester for 6 years with no cable, and no gas for that matter) we have been enjoying the complete Cable package from Virgin. This includes the XXL TV Package with Movies and sport, plus 20meg broadband and unlimited telephone calls for a fixed fee. The bill was coming in at around £95 a month after I haggled some discount off Virgin when we moved in back in July. Now with the discount, the TV package was great, with the exception that we have taken to sitting in front of the V-Box all night. This isn’t healthy and it got to the stage where we looked for crap to watch on the TV.
For years we have been Freeview users, being early adopters and even having a great PVR box, however it was all ditched for the shiny V-box and subscription. So after months of vegging in front of the TV, and paying a lot for the privilege, I have finally cancelled the subscription. That’s right, I called virgin and cancelled our TV. No more Sky Sports, no more Sky Movies, no more on demand choice content and music videos, and it feels great. I have dug out our freeview PVR box and ditched the V-box. We can now watch a range of good TV, and if there is nothing on we can switch it off, or watch a pre recorded programme we actually have an interest in. Instead of sitting through night after night of Dog the bounty hunter and Cribs, we can watch decent TV or none at all.
I also considered downgrading the Broadband and Telephone package, but we really do benefit from the free call allowance, and I do hammer thr broadband daily so after haggling a good discount (£30 a month for XL 20meg broadband and XL telephone with free calls) I am now £65 a month better off, and what’s more we both have more free time in an evening!
The selection of Freeview channels and content in the UK is pretty damn good, and the fact that I can pause and rewind programmes (yes like Sky+ and V+) without paying any subscription fees.
Secondly, Asda. Thanks to the great advice by Rebecca Ash in her book The Spend Less Handbook, we armed ourselves with a list and refused to deviate from said list, only buying what was planned before we left the house. Surprisingly shopping this way saved us a lot of time and stress in the supermarket. We seemed to be in and out in no time, with everything we needed, and actually ended up spending in moderation for a change. That would be my top tip for saving on Groceries and ensuring you don’t splurge on the BOGOF offers and other clever marketing scams, write a list!