Bargain Hunting on the Web

Posted on: October 20th, 2010 Posted by

When we think of bargain hunting and coupon collecting, many of us conjure up images of rifling through magazines, armed with a pair of scissors so that we don’t miss a trick. That type of bargain hunting is not obsolete, but thankfully the Internet is now providing a much more instant and relevant way to find great deals on the items you need or want.

Much of this shift has happened by word of mouth on social networking sites like Twitter; people hear of a good deal and they send it onto their friends or followers. This is good for the company offering the promotion, as their name gets exposure and shows them as generous, when all the while customers get a good deal. It works for everyone. If you’re already using social networking sites but aren’t seeing anyone recommending coupons and deals, then you just need to tweak the way you use them a little. We recommend you install Seesmic for your phone or PC, which allows you to do an advanced search on the keywords that interest you, for instance ‘restaurant vouchers’, ‘restaurant deals’ and ‘restaurant coupons’. The tool then scours each and every tweet sent the world over, and sends the ones containing your keywords/keyphrases back to you.

Seesmic really is a great tool, but it doesn’t actually guarantee top quality offers. What we mean is that the tweets you receive might be directly from a manufacturer promoting their product, rather than giving you a decent amount of money-off. To find the best deals, we recommend online communities and shopping ‘portals’ like Buxr.com. Content is created by consumers, for consumers here so there’s no promoting going on. What’s more, the site has its own voting system, where users rate any deal posted onto the site. That means easy distinction between dud voucher codes and genuinely great ones in the blink of an eye!

The final site we think is essential for bargain hunting and coupon collecting is Remember the Milk (rememberthemilk.com). You may have heard of this site before, as it’s a very popular way to organise events and activities online. Many people, however, use it in a different way for coupon collecting, whereby they input a coupon’s code as a ‘task’ due on the date that the coupon will expire, or a few days beforehand. Then, every coupon or voucher code is sent to you in an email and you don’t forget about it. You can coordinate coupons with events, too, such as a 2-for-1 voucher for a theme park on the day of your child’s birthday, or 20% off wine on your wedding anniversary. Remember the Milk is an incredibly versatile site with a simple concept, so you can alter it to suit any kind of bargain hunting.

There’s no need to ditch magazines and leaflets when it comes to bargain hunting, but adding the Internet to your coupon collecting repertoire is a great way to get the best deals. The websites that we’ve mentioned in this article will definitely help you find good money-off promotions, but it’s also a good idea to use your intuition. Search engines will always bring good deals if you use the right keywords, so be sure to do regular searches for coupons on your favourite items, and on your favourite shops too.

Self Catering Holidays and Stress

Posted on: October 12th, 2010 Posted by

Not everyone likes the idea of waking up early in the morning to go hiking along a glacier, whereas for others that would be a dream come true. The fact of the matter is that not all holidays suit everyone, and the difference between catering and self catering excursions is a big one.

Holidaying in UK destinations like the Outer Hebrides, or North West Wales might mean you’re spoilt for choice on self catering accommodation, but the catered options are a little thin on the ground. If you look closely enough then there are always Bed & Breakfasts in these areas, but for a large family, camping or renting a cottage may be the best option. If you’ve never been on this type of holiday before, however, the big question remains: “can I cope with self catering?”

If you are quite self sufficient at home then a self catering holiday is often a huge joy. Sampling the local foods and delicacies and grocery shopping outside of your usual busy schedule means that this responsibility doesn’t seem like a chore, but still gives you day-to-day routine. Of course, self catering in an area that uses the same currency, or one that you’re used to will be the easiest option, but that’s not to say it’s not impossible in other areas too. Self catering also works extremely well if you have fussy eaters in your family, or those with allergies/intolerances, as you have complete control over what they eat. In these respects, self catering can prove much less stressful than staying in catered accommodation, where there’s much less room for manoeuvre.

However, even with all this in mind there’s no promising that a catered holiday won’t be stressful too. Whether you end up stressed or stress free depends largely upon your own personality, and preferences. Before you rush to book your catered holiday, ask yourself whether you prefer to be in control of things like mealtimes and cleaning, or whether you’re happy to stick to a specific schedule if it means you don’t have to cook or clean. Are you the kind of person who feels guilty if they’re not doing something? If so, a self catering holiday may suit you quite well. The lack of work still means you are relaxing, but the cooking and cleaning means you’re still busy enough to feel useful. On the other hand, if your lifestyle means you often eat out and you have a cleaner, then suddenly being thrust into that role on a self catering holiday might mean it’s not such a treat after all.

The success of a self catering holiday will also depend on your family dynamics. If, for example, you have four children and a nanny at home to help out, then a self catering holiday without the help will make it twice as stressful for you. Going on holiday with your family and your parents, on the other hand, will mean you’ve got lots of help on hand and more time to relax.

Considering your personal preferences and your family dynamics are important in determining whether your self catering holiday will be a success. Don’t forget to pay close attention to your destination, though, and remember that there’s nothing wrong with going to the same place twice, if you really enjoy it there. Holidays are personal occasions that can take many forms, so don’t feel you should opt for the first package holiday you see.