Family Day’s out on a Shoestring

We all know holidaying abroad or even in this country isn’t cheap.  If you’re a family that is always feeling the pinch, finding spare pennies to spend on leisure is tough and that is definitely how we often feel in our household.

We took our only son on his first holiday aboard in May.  We choose May because we didn’t want the weather to be scorching hot for him (he was 22 months) but with his 2nd birthday coming up in June it meant we wouldn’t have to pay for him!  Big saving already!

Now we’re in August, everyone around us seems to be going away somewhere beautiful and hot and we’d taken a week off work to spend some family time at home.  It’s easy to think a ‘week at home’ won’t cost a penny but that really isn’t true.  There aren’t a lot of ‘free’ days out there but if you plan ahead you can definitely cut corners.  And that’s what we did!

We had a fantastic day at Longleat Safari and Adventure Park at the start of our week.  If you haven’t been it really is something that the whole family, of all ages will enjoy.  It’s not a cheap day out by no means but you can save money by ordering tickets online or if you shop with Tesco’s  (like we do) you can exchange your Clubcard vouchers for days outs.  It cost just £16 in vouchers for 2 adults (under 3’s are free) saving us £58!

We had a few odd jobs to get done at home and a trip to Ikea Southampton was needed.  We love eating out, and when the bill for 2 cooked breakfasts and 2 hot drinks comes to £4 we love it even more!  Their café is perfect for kids with a play centre in the middle with seating all the way round the edge so you watch your little ones while you enjoy some good food.

Next was a day out at Butlins in Bognor Regis.  We know of friends with children who have holidayed here and had such fun so wanted to try it out for ourselves but just for the day!  A day pass for an adult is £25 but we found a 25% off voucher meaning we paid £18 per adult, which is a little less painful on the pocket.  Entrance is from 10am-8pm and there is easily plenty for the family to enjoy and with the weather in Britain being so unpredictable it doesn’t matter if you go on a wet day as there is so much to do indoors.  The shows really made our day and definitely were the highlight – along with meeting Mike the Knight and turning our son in to a little tiger when he had his face painted.

To finish off a busy week we took a trip to Paulton’s Park.  We live just 10 minutes from the park so have season tickets so the day didn’t cost us a penny.

We stocked up on a picnic food at the beginning of the week so we wouldn’t need to buy food on any of our days out.  You could spend a fortune eating at these sorts of parks and who doesn’t love some picnic treats?

All in all we’ve had a lovey week together, taking a break from our routine and spending some family time.  But now it’s back to reality and we’ll be busy, busy, busy over the next few weeks organising our next Market at the Littledown Centre on 16th September.  We’re also on the hunt for new Organiser to join us and run markets across Dorset.  For more details email selina@littlepicklesmarkets.co.uk 

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Marketing Me Socially

This is an entry into the JoanneDewberry.co.uk blogging competition

Millions of people have heard Lord Sugar tell his story of how he started up with a van and £100, others who started with the simplest ideas and no budget but ended up with successful business’ through no money but loads of hard work and forward thinking. So many small businesses do succeed without going on Dragons Den!

Things have changed just a little bit since Lord Sugar started out but I guess the principle is still the same, you don’t need a massive advertising budget to get your business off the ground, you just have to be smart and utilise all the amazing free resources around you.

My marketing strategy for my Little Pickles Markets in Dorset basically has to deliver key 2 things, sell the tables at my market and get buyers to attend. If I don’t sell my stalls then the buyers have nothing to buy, if I don’t have any buyers then I’ll have a lot of upset stall holders, they very simply go hand in hand.

Social media has changed the way so many of us communicate there’s no denying it, I think the day I received a ‘friend request’ on Facebook from my Mum was the day I realised what a huge impact it had had of my life. I’d been using Facebook socially for years, sharing photos with family, arranging to meet up with friends, “Liking” local business’ and events that I was interested in just like millions of others do every day. When I made the life changing decision to become self-employed after having my son I knew Facebook would be an amazing resource. I could see from the local business’ how much interest they’d gained from using their page so it inspired me to create my own.

My business, like pretty much every other has competition but I hope what sets me apart from the others is the way I deal with people, make them feel comfortable and the way we operate as a family business. That kind of message is very difficult to get across on a poster but can be communicated with social media. My Facebook page allows me to get my business information across but I can also be myself which allows me to enjoy my job, if I enjoy my job I work harder at it, when I work harder the business does better and so it’s a very positive circle rather than a vicious or destructive one. By creating a friendly, informative page that isn’t just drilling home a business message I feel I can really engage with my ‘Likers’ and then they in turn spread a positive message about the business. I can “Like” other business’ and share their messages which helps build a powerful community of small business that help each other and swap favours but still doesn’t cost a single penny!

I don’t just use Facebook, also Twitter, Netmums, Mumsnet and the fantastic new Playdates sites are all very useful tools and are very effective. They all give me the opportunity to advertise my stalls in the months leading up to the market and then advertise more intensively in the fortnight before to get buyers through the door. This could be from getting RT’s on Twitter from relevant well known personalities or posting in forums. At my most recent market I took a straw poll on where the buyers had found out about the markets and over half was from social media which is proof that it works!

Little Pickles Markets Dorset allows families to save or make money through recycling their children’s pre-loved items.

Selina & Michelle – Dorset & West Totton Little Pickles Market Co-ordinator 

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