Tuesday, 9 September 2014

The Cost of Public Transport

James Cook of VoucherCloud has sent me another interesting infographic.

I do a lot of travel by train, especially for jobs 2 and 3, and though the figures below look like you can make amazing savings, I need more tricks than this because:

a) I may need to wait until payday to fund the trip.
b) Notice of when you need to travel is sometimes a luxury too.
c) I may not have the option to travel at the cheapest times of day (this is why I've never managed to use Megabus).
d) You may find super-off peak tickets are cheaper anyway!

Despite many restrictions to a recent journey to the West Mids, I managed to save money anyway by splitting my ticket and using the tram instead of the train for one leg of my journey.

Alternative to Northampton to Wolverhampton off-peak - £25.90
Northampton to Birmingham Stations off-peak - £18.30
Birmingham to Wolverhampton super off-peak £2.30
Wolverhampton to Birmingham plus bus £3.10
Total: £23.70

And if you wanted to go by train for that return from Wolverhampton, Virgin do a cheaper ticket for just £3.40. Painlessly saving £1.90 instead of £2.20 for a slightly longer journey. You need to weigh up the pros and cons.

So, before we get into the infographic, here are my tips on getting the most out of frequent non-commuter train travel.

1. Sure, check what the advance prices are. You have to stick to your travel times with those, though.
2. Check if National Express  can do the trip at a reasonable price, journey duration and travelling time.
3. Check Megabus, but don't expect much. I know a performer who always travels by Megabus to save money, but he's happy to wait four hours in a bus station after a gig and I'm not.
4. Check if Amazon Voucher deals have one of those amazing sales where you can spend £5 to get £10 off.
5. London Midland do Great Escapes every now and then. Can that help at all?
6. See if you can get it cheaper through Tickety Split.
7. Link your Nectar Card to as many sites as possible such as First Hull, East Midlands etc.
8. Use a cashback site to book through such as Quidco. You can't use separate voucher codes with that, but you can collect Nectar points.
9. Travelling off-peak in the South East. A Network Railcard gets you 1/3 off travel, and you can use that solo or with another traveller too.
10. Two Together can be used anywhere off-peak, advanced  and  anytime and also save 1/3. They also send you lots of deals. I've just got 4 months of Gourmet Society membership for £1 through them. Paid for itself more than once over on its first outing with me. Buy online though, it's cheaper.
11. Unless you have a voucher code, the Trainline can't save you any more money than anywhere else, and they charge a booking fee. No need!
12. Remember plus bus, save on taxis. Check Traveline to see what services you can get from a station on the way.

Oh and always take a drink with you!
(and nibbles :))

Train Fares - How Much Can we Save by Booking in Advance? - An infographic by the team at vouchercloud

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Monday, 1 September 2014

The Post-Birthday Post

Hello readers. This is Frugalwench from the future.

I wouldn't bother going there, if I were you. It's horrible. It's a bit like Warhammer:

Forget the promise of progress and understanding, for in the grim dark future there is only war the mournful poking of belly flab. There is no peace amongst the stars, only an eternity of carnage and slaughter wondering why you ate all that, and the laughter of thirsting cider gods.

I've been really pleased with how we managed the grocery budget last month and coped with my birthday and a huge convention. But it seems the battlefield is strewn with regret as I am distinctly bigger than I was before all that. I used to be a be-plaited beardy Gotrex of a woman. Now I have a touch of Ork about me. Or Orc, as Tolkien would have spelled it. Except orcs/orks probably never felt a shimmer of horror as they waved coo-ey at Saruman and started the perpetual motion-effect of a pendulous bingo-wing.

Bludgeoning instruments down for a full house.
Sauron's eye... we don't speak about Sauron's eye.
All the ates. Me ate 'em.

The thing about Orcs is that they are always hungry, but generally they don't let it affect their figure. Mind, they probably get enough of a workout, what with all the stomping and marching about they do. And the sentient creatures they gobble, alive and wriggling, probably don't have all the trans-fats and nasties of, say, cake.

If I am to have a future that is less grim, I need to do something about it. Somewhere, deep within all this corruption, there is a beautiful elf. A very, very short one. I want to be that elf! At least because there aren't any issues regarding the spelling.

I'm not sure acquiring a pair of pointy ears will help...