Summer might be officially over, but in some parts of the country, the sun isn't quite finished yet. We're eating outside, drinking al fresco, going for long bike rides and runs, and soaking up the last of the unexpected sun. If you were expecting to be in hibernation by now, there's every chance you haven't budgeted for any of this. Fortunately we have the freebies to help you enjoy the late summer for less. And if your corner of the UK is well and truly into the autumn, we have a freebie to help with that too.
Free bike pump and water bottle
If you're inspired to get out and about on two wheels, then this freebie might come in handy. If you're on the O2 network (including pay-as-you-go) then you can download the O2 Priority app and get loads of great freebies. At the moment there's a free bike pump and water bottle on offer at Halfords. Just pop along to Halfords, use the app to get your code, show it to the cashier, and pick up your freebie. The deal runs for another two weeks - or until stocks run out - so it's worth going sooner rather than later.
Free Energy Drink
Anyone planning to use the hot weather to exercise is going to need to stay hydrated. Quidco is currently offering free bottles of SoBe Pure Rush energy drink. All you have to do is buy the drink from any branch of Tesco before 20th September, then take a photo of your receipt showing all the relevant information, open the app, upload your receipt, and you will get the £1.25 back in your cashback account
Free Prosecco and olives
The O2 Priority app people are on a roll. Until the end of the weekend, if you're on O2 and have the app, you can get a free glass of Prosecco and dish of olives when you order your main meal at Zizzi. Just mention the deal when you order the 'welcome Prosecco and olives' and then use the app to generate a code to show when it's time to pay. There's no better excuse to head out for a meal al fresco.
Free bottle of wine
LatestDeals.co.uk is a new deal sharing site that's poised to launch this month. The founders have been tracking down deals to get into the swing of things, and have spotted a Vouchercloud deal offering a free bottle of wine at Carluccio's. All you need to do is download the voucher, then print it or show it on your phone when two of you order a main meal (excluding sharing boards, breakfast, lunch or set menus). The offer runs until the end of the night on 30th September, so eating out is even more of a treat.
If your corner of the UK has been all about the rain, then if you venture outdoors, you're going to need some warm soup when you get back. Latest deals has tracked down a voucher from New Covent Garden Soup Company for £1 off. Just visit the webpage, click the second image, fill in the form, and then they'll email you a coupon which you'll have to print. At full price the soups can cost more than £2 each - depending on where you shop - but at the moment Morrisons has it for £1 - so you can get yours for free.
Shopping: when spending more isn't always better
Shopping: when spending more isn't always better
The wine world is notoriously snobby, and the experts will tell you that there’s no way to buy a good bottle without spending at least £25. However, a study in 2011 at the Edinburgh International Science Fair demonstrated that people could only tell the difference between a cheap and expensive wine 53% of the time - which is roughly the result you'd get from flipping a coin.
Instead of focusing on price, it’s worth looking for wine awards. In December last year, for example, the International Wine Challenge awarded silver medals to Tesco Finest Fiano (selling for £5.49) and the Tesco Finest Montepulciano d’Abruzzo (priced at £5.99).
The price you’ll pay for your hotel room depends partly on type of room you choose, but also on a host of things that have nothing at all to do with the room itself. If you shop carefully, therefore, you can get more for less.
One of the most effective approaches is to use a ‘secret hotels’ service, which gives you details of the location and facilities, but doesn't tell you the name of the hotel you are booking until you have paid.
This enables hotels to slash their prices by as much as 50% without damaging their brand. If you book this way you can easily get a junior suite for less than the advertised double room rate at the same hotel.
Logically, the longer the interest-free period on your credit card, the more you’ll save. However, it doesn't always work out that way.
If you need to borrow for exactly the length of the interest-free period, then it’s a great option, but if you need to borrow for a longer or shorter time, it's a waste of money.
You have roughly a 40% chance of being tempted by the longer interest-free period into failing to pay off the debt in time - and being hit with high interest charges. In this instance, you may be better off with a long-term low rate.
Meanwhile, if you are one of the third of people who tend to pay off their card early, then you'd be better off paying a smaller balance transfer fee for a card with a shorter interest-free period.
If you need to buy new clothes, then choosing a product that has done minimal damage to the environment is clearly a kinder option than buying from a manufacturer that doesn't care about its impact on the world.
However, you will usually pay more for an environmentally-friendly brand, and there’s a far cheaper option that’s even kinder to the environment: buying second-hand clothes.
Your local charity shops will have items in perfect condition that would otherwise be going to landfill, so by buying them you meet three great criteria: you're saving the planet, saving money and helping a good cause.
You can pay anything up to 1,000 times more for water in a bottle than from the tap, so it stands to reason that it must be better.
However, instead of necessarily paying for superior water, we're paying for bottles, transportation and marketing, which might not be the kind of thing you value
On average we drink 33 litres of bottled water every year, and at an average cost of 48p per bottle, that's almost £16. You have to ask yourself if it's worth it.
Your expensive fashion headphones may look cool, but if you look around among the professionals, they won’t be wearing them.
The very best of the professional headphones cost the earth, so they're not a money-saving option. However, if you set a budget and check out the gadget magazines for their recommendations in your price range, not one of them recommends the fashion brands.
Instead of paying for branding, it's worth doing your research and paying for better sound.
We're loyal to brands for two reasons when it comes to medicines. The first is that they advertise, and they don’t mention the name of the active ingredient, so if we have a specific problem, all we know to ask for is the brand.
The second is a matter of trust, because we know the brand, and we can see it costs many times more than the generic versions of the same thing, so we trust that it is better.
In reality, the active ingredients are exactly the same, and if you don't know the generic drug that you can substitute for your expensive brand, you can simply ask your pharmacist - and look forward to spending a fraction of the amount your usual brand name medicines will set you back.
Pedigree pets are incredibly expensive. Even common breeds like springer spaniels will cost you several hundred pounds, while rarer breeds can set you back thousands.
It’s easy to assume you are paying for a well-bred pet, which will be free from medical problems. However, the breeding process means that pedigree pets tend to be prone to far more medical issues - which end up costing a fortune.
A mongrel dog or a moggy will often rack up far fewer vets bills, and there are usually an enormous number looking for new homes at the local rescue centre.
There’s an enormous advertising industry, pouring huge resources into convincing us that the more expensive beauty products are the best. In some cases this may be true, but it’s also worth keeping your eyes open for the cut-price beauty products recommended by the experts and winning awards.
A couple of examples stand out from recent coverage, including Boots Protect & Perfect for £23.95, which was so hotly tipped that it had a waiting list before its release in May last year. An even more affordable option is the £1.69 Bottle O’Butter moisturiser, which flew off the shelves thanks to an endorsement from the beauty press a while back.
Often in the mobile market, the more you pay, the more you get. So if you want a flash phone, all you can eat data, oodles of airtime and endless texts, you'll pay through the nose. The question you really need to ask yourself is whether you need all of this.
It’s worth checking your statements each month, and going back to look at them for the duration of your contract. Check your average use, then look at any extra you would have paid for the months when you went over this. In most cases, those who are paying for the very biggest mobile packages could save substantially by downshifting.