KEEP CALM AND CARRY ON THIS CHRISTMAS
Research into the state of the nation’s ‘Christmas spirit’ in the face of economic hardship has revealed that families are adopting the quintessentially British maxim, ‘Keep Calm and Carry On’.
According to the findings of a study by OscarUK.co.uk, the leading concessions website for over 50s, over half (55%) of families say they will go back to the traditional values of the festive season to help them emerge from this year’s celebrations with happy memories and finances intact.
Although two in five people (40%) said they would be cutting down on Christmas this year as there isn’t the cash for mountains of presents and all the trimmings, almost a third said they didn’t need money to have a great festive season. Being with family and friends (44%) is what makes a happy Christmas.
Over half of those surveyed were looking to cut back on spending by making their own Christmas presents for loved ones and planning a Christmas they could genuinely afford. Over a quarter (27%) had wisely already budgeted for festive spending.
Peter Simpson, Managing Director at OscarUK commented: “The message of Christmas is the same underneath the tinsel and the TV ads. We found that people are facing up to Christmas by prioritising what’s important, and it seems that being with family and friends is at the top of the list when it comes to Christmas wishes.
“The festive season can bring a great deal of stress for some people as they struggle to deliver an even more special Christmas than the year before, but what’s clear from our research is that in these tough times, people are resisting the pressure to over-commit financially and focusing on keeping control.”
Indeed, shopping trends on the high street reflect the desire to re-capture the values and pleasures of Christmas past and the nostalgia it brings. Traditional toys are making a comeback according to legendary toy shop, Hamleys, with Pudding the teddy bear, retro editions of Monopoly, Cluedo and Risk, and traditional rocking horses tipped to be best-sellers.
Oscar UK, which brings together thousands of concessions, benefits, savings and offers on its website www.oscaruk.co.uk, has developed the following Keep Calm and Carry On Christmas tips for scaled down festivities but maximum fun.
Make your own rules: Don’t be pressured into extravagant dining and expensive gifts to match previous year’s celebrations. Plan a Christmas to match your pocket.
Identify priorities: Think about the happy memories of past Christmas celebrations and what made them so special. Remind yourself of these special moments when you’re getting anxious about preparations.
Set Expectations: Everyone is feeling the pinch and so by scaling down expectations for no-one will be disappointed.
Invest time not money: Think about ways to make the season special without lavish spending and focus on time together. For example, get crafty and creative this Christmas and make gifts. Or, share a meal and each other’s company instead exchanging presents.
Involve Others: If you are hosting Christmas lunch, why not ask family and friends to each bring along a contribution. Suggest a Secret Santa for gifts for relatives or friends and set a small budget to make sure people don’t break the bank.
Says Simpson: “As a nation we are very resilient to tough and stressful times and what this research shows is that despite a lean economic year, people are looking forward to a Christmas doing what matters most, and that’s being with family and friends.”
We may all be watching the pennies this summer – but our recent survey suggests that despite the freeze on more costly European holidays – we are more than happy to spend our time on short breaks in the UK.
The true meaning of this ancient, awe-inspiring creation has been lost in the mists of time. Was it a temple for sun worship, a healing centre, a burial site or perhaps a huge calendar? Surrounded by mystery, Stonehenge never fails to impress. There are many tours available of the henge including this one with globetrips which is just £24.95 at the moment. But if you fancy mixing it up with a quick culture fix – you could combine a visit to Bath or Oxford.
If you’ve never visited this part of the world before then you may well be surprised at how spectacular the views are from the Gorge. It’s an area packed with beauty, natural history, heritage, wildlife & challenges. So if you fancy an outside adventure – there is something to please everyone. You can book online for just £16.45 per person to get access to the caves, gorge top walks, look out tower and much more.
The White Cliffs of Dover are an official icon of Britain as well as an extraordinary beauty. They have been a symbol of hope and freedom for centuries as embodied in the Vera Lyn song from WWII. You can enjoy their special appeal through the seasons by taking one of the dramatic clifftop walks an on a clear day you can see French Coast. Learn more about the fascinating military and penal history of the cliffs and savour the rare flora and fauna only found on this chalk grassland. Find some fantastic ideas for great days out in the area for free – or under a fiver – or stay from as little as £45 prpn.
The Giants Causeway
Northern Ireland’s iconic World Heritage Site is home to a wealth of local history and legend. Explore the basalt stone columns left by volcanic eruptions 60 million years ago and search for distinctive stone formations fancifully named the Camel, Harp and Organ. Stride out amongst the beauty and charms of the local area, take the rope bridge challenge at Carrick-a-Rede or get a taste of one of Irelands oldest distilliery’s at Bushmills. Getting there isn’t cheap – with flights starting at £25 or ferries from £69 per person, you may need to take a couple of days to make the most of your visit.
If you fancy the great outdoors for a little luxury – try these holiday lodges for less than £500 per week. For those with a little more adventure – rekindle your camping spirit this year. You can have a 2 day taster break for £65 per stay. Remember Grandparents and Kids stay free…
Let Snowdon Mountain Railway take you on a journey of a lifetime to the rooftop of Wales. Snowdon, at 3,560ft dominates the landscape of Snowdonia National Park in North Wales. Claim this mountain peak, the highest in Wales, as a lifetime’s achievement. With stunning scenery and awe-inspiring views it’s all part of a great day out for you and your family in North Wales. Prices start from just £12 for an early bird adult single fare. Operated by steam or diesel trains.
A visit to York Minster is your moment in the long history of northern Europe’s greatest gothic cathedral. You’ll see traces of every age from the Roman occupation of York onwards to the future of this working and worshipping church. If you come away hungry for more – then you won’t be disappointed with the rest of York. From it’s ancient walls and the shambles to street entertainment or historical re-enactments at the Dungeons or the Jorvik Centre. You will be amazed at just how much history you can fit into a day.
If you go by car – don’t forget to make the most of any fuel savings. Trains are cheaper if you book in advance – you can save upto 70%, where you can also get a cheap Railcard to make the most of your savings. National express have 2 for 1 offers and travel from as little as £9.
Win a Summer bird feed hamper
Summer is upon us and it’s the perfect time to head out in to the garden and see the wildlife right on our doorstep. We’ve teamed up with celebrity bird-watcher and TV personality Bill Oddie to give one lucky member a Bill Oddie Bird Food Hamper!
If you have a small or balcony garden – you can still enjoy the pleasure of fresh produce with some innovative planting techniques and natural sunlight inside. Check out these great ideas at Urban Allotments.
Our research asked why the baby boomer generation is choosing to holiday in the UK this summer - has the pension crunch really taken it’s toll?
84% of us have changed holiday plans this year
One in four are taking more holidays in the UK as its cheaper than going abroad
We are online savvy and use the internet to plan ahead, save money and prevent arguments!
According to our recent survey 84% of us have changed our holiday plans this year, 30% are taking mini breaks instead of holidays and one in four are taking more holidays at home.
The weakening pound means that holidays in Europe are increasingly expensive so millions of people in the UK are cutting holiday costs by taking staycations, mini-breaks or day trips this summer rather than going abroad.
It is a sad fact that over the past four years, the pound has fallen by more than 20 per cent against the Euro, pushing up the cost of our favourite sunshine holidays to destinations such as Spain, France and Italy.
According to you guys, the top six reasons for holidaying in the UK are; it is easy to organise (60%), it is easy to travel (59%), the beautiful scenery (55%), the historic sites (46%), the internet allows us to research and plan our trips easily (44%) and going back to places which remind us of happy childhood holidays (26%).
Over three-quarters of you online savvy peops use the internet to plan ahead and nearly half (46%) look up money off vouchers or find directions - perhaps to avoid arguments!
The UK’s 21 million over 50s have been some of the hardest hit during the recession and 20% of us are watching what we spend due to inflation or worries about our pension. It’s no wonder that we are choosing to cut back on holidays, opting for mini-breaks and holidaying at off peak times in the UK. What do you think - is the pension squeeze the only reason you are choosing to stay in the UK ? Is the pension squeeze effecting you in other areas? Join our forum today and post your views on this subject…..
Spring has officially sprung – and is bursting its welcome way into our lives once more.
If the recent sunshine and higher temperatures aren’t enough to tempt you back into the wild outdoors to blow away those cobwebs, then maybe some of our seasonal OFFERS and ideas for getting out and about might…
Days out mean different things to us all – whether your ideal day is getting away from it all on a lovely spring walk, a gentle cycle ride through the countryside, or being inspired by one of the many gardens that we can visit around the country, you are sure to find inspiration and ideas around your region in our concessions database.
If you have the grandchildren over during the School Holidays, remember to check out the National Trust, the Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust or Woodlands Trust who are all providing a little bit of fun over the holidays.
2 for 1 at Drayton Manor Theme Park for adults and kids.
Travel off peak for FREE using your bus pass to most destinations. Book at least 7 days in advance to get apex fares on train tickets – but don’t forget that if you travel regularly you can buy a senior railcard for £26 and get an extra 1/3 off all travel when you flash your badge.
If you come across any great offers whilst you are out and about – don’t forget to let us know. firstname.lastname@example.org
New Year resolutions mostly start with the idea of getting rid of some terrible habit – give up smoking, put the loo seat down after use (although I have always kept to the command which used to be in all British Rail toilets – ‘Gentlemen lift the seat’), clean gardening tools before you put them away, that kind of thing. If you have no bad habits, then resolutions are more challenging to find. Personally, I struggle.
So we at Oscaruk thought that thrift resolutions might be a good idea for New Year 2011, in keeping with the spirit of the times. Our Thriftometer is a highly scientific way of measuring the thriftiness of an individual, and of their resolutions, honed to perfection by testing on the Scottish member of our team.
A lot of the ideas which sound thrify are often wrong. I have never understood the idea that you should look after the pennies, and the pounds will look after themselves. Just plain logic suggests that if you look after one pound, you have managed to look after 100 pennies in one go – surely a more efficient way of doing things. It’s a bit like buying frozen peas and not putting them in a bag, it’s a lot better to use the bag approach and look after them all at once. There is no benefit I can discern to putting a kilo of loose frozen peas into the boot of the car, however much care you put into each individual pea. And don’t think about mushy peas not in a tin.
My first tip to save real money is to stop buying the Sunday papers. The whole objective of these papers is to make you feel inadequate, either because you are not famous, don’t eat out at top restaurants, live in unfashionable interiors, wear last year’s clothes, and generally are a hopeless case. If you don’t read them, then you won’t know just how unfashionable you are, and you won’t waste money trying to catch up.
Tip two – be your own insurance company. Instead of taking out lots of little insurances on individual items, put the premiums into your own savings account, and use that when things go wrong. OK, insure the big things, but not your printer, coffee machine, camera, mobile phone, cat, and so on. I just took out breakdown insurance on our cars – for an extra £40 they would guarantee to pay me up to £100 for overnight acommodation. Is that really worthwhile? In 40 years of driving I have never had to stay overnight because my car broke down. The cat is fit as a fiddle, and he’s 12 years old. Peace of mind is a nice lump sum in your savings account, not the vague prospect of one night in a Travel Lodge.
Tip three – wear reading glasses when buying, preparing, or eating food. This also works as a slimming plan, as the more your glasses magnify, the less you buy/prepare/eat. Only drawback is that they do steam up a bit, but the fog does clear eventually.
So, you should score well on our test if you wear reading glasses, but don’t use them to read the Sunday papers or to fill in insurance forms for trivial things, and you look after the pounds rather than worrying about all those pennies rolling around on their own. And, rather like Dr Johnson, take a Scottish person around with you at all times, just to make sure.
Take the strain off your purse strings with www.oscaruk.co.uk’s money saving 12 Days of Christmas tips.
With Christmas closing in fast, the panic and stress of what to buy and how to pay for it is crossing the minds of many of us this year. So what should you do if money is going to be tight at this expensive time of year? OscarUK, a specialist online discount and concessions website for the over 50s, is on hand to take you through 12 key steps that will help you retain control of your finances as well as offer some great gift ideas, so you can keep your cool this Christmas and enjoy the festive season, without breaking the bank.
1. TIS THE SEASON TO SET A BUDGET
Get clever with your cash this Christmas by being organised and prioritising what you really need. This year, plan ahead and take a bit of time out to think through all of your spending for the festive season. Set a limit and stick to it! If you put away some money each month you won’t feel the expense in one go. You could try out the budget planner on www.budgetbrain.com to organise your spending.
2. IT’S THE THOUGHT THAT COUNTS
Make your present list fit your budget. It sounds simple, but it’s so easy to get tempted into splashing out on expensive gifts that blow the budget. Why don’t you write a list of all the people you’d like to buy gifts for and how much you’d like to spend? Use this as a starting point and then work through the list to create a realistic budget.
3. KEEP YOUR EYES PEELED
Spread the cost of Christmas by keeping an eye out for bargains in the run up to the festive season, storing them away for the big day. Look out for one-day-sales, discount vouchers and online offers making the most of available promotions - take a look at our featured concessions on our website www.oscaruk.co.uk for promotions and discounts in the run up to Christmas. If you’re planning on travelling to see family and friends, get your hands on a free Bite Card from www.bitecard.co.uk. This gives you 20% discount off food at railway stations across the UK. Come the January Sales, why not stock up on cards, decorations, wrapping paper and stocking fillers for next year?
4. HAVE A CREATIVE CHRISTMAS
Presents aren’t all about the price. Why not add some creative flare to your Christmas by making homemade gifts such as jams and chutneys, biscuits and sweets. Or surprise family and friends with an e-card this Christmas, or even an animated video card. Sites like www.jibjab.com allow you to upload your friends and families faces to make funny video clips with greetings on them. You’ll cut your costs as well as being kind to the environment.
5. TAKE A FREE LOAN THIS YULETIDE
In an ideal world, leaving your credit card at home when you shop is the best way to curb over-spending. But if you really need to spread the cost, make sure you choose a credit card offering a 0% interest introductory rate for as long a period as possible. Search online on sites like www.money.co.uk for the best credit card deals over Christmas; just make sure you repay it in full before the rate rises!
6. A BAUBLE’S A BAUBLE; A CRACKER’S A CRACKER
At Christmas, everyone wants to add some glamour to the celebrations, but don’t splash the cash unnecessarily. Seek out budget trimmings, or recycle old ones, and select own brand labels for the crackers and trimmings to reduce the bill – no one will ever know the difference!
7. SKYPE CHRISTMAS WISHES
Chat to family and friends for free via the web, using software such as Skype, allows you to natter for as long as you like with friends. You’ll save a small fortune on your phone bill on Christmas morning!
8. SECRET SANTA
When buying for friends, why not agree a budget and secretly draw names out of a hat for who needs to buy for whom. It means buying just one present, rather than many, lightening your load and adding a bit more fun and mystery to receiving gifts!
9. SHOP CLEVER
Shop around and avoid impulse buys. In the scrum of the high street at the peak of the Christmas shopping season, value for money can be forgotten. Research the best deals online before hitting the high street, or better still, avoid heading out in the cold weather and shop online in the calm and cosiness of your own living room! Stores often provide discounts for those buying online instead of in store. Use cash back websites such as www.quidco.com and www.topcashback.co.uk to receive a kickback from the gifts you buy – this may even pay for the delivery!
10. FAMILY GIFTS
Don’t waste cash on giving unwanted gifts simply for the sake of giving. Rather than spending on smellies, novelty socks and stocking fillers, consider vouchers for a clothes store, the theatre, entertainment or music vouchers are ideal if you’re not sure what the person wants, as they can choose the gift themselves!
11. FESTIVE FOOD
Plan your Christmas menu, write a shopping list and stick to it. Stock up on store cupboard and freezer items to cater for unexpected visitors, safe in the knowledge that it won’t go to waste. Take advantage of supermarket offers and loyalty points to maximise savings on your Christmas Fare.
12. RESCUE RECIPES
Don’t throw away the left over’s! Use the Turkey to make a delicious winter curry! Check out www.lovefoodhatewaste.com/recipes for some great recipes to rescue the left over’s from your Christmas feast. If you’re going out as a group to celebrate the festivities, have a kitty of money for drinks so you don’t have to worry about getting rounds in! Entertaining at home can also save cash, join up with family and friends to buy in bulk to keep costs down. If everyone contributes to making the evening a success, from bringing a bottle to cooking up part of the meal, it will really bring the costs down.
We all know that this time of year can be stressful and the festive season is fraught with potential financial pitfalls, but these clever tips from OscarUK show that careful planning and sensible budget making can ensure you have a happy Christmas, that doesn’t break the bank!
To find out more, and to take advantage of the offers mentioned above, please register at www.oscaruk.co.uk for our weekly e-mail guide to the best offers and discounts around. Also, visit the new interactive forum for ideas and savings at www.oscaruk.co.uk/forum.
· Influx of Grandparents to holiday resorts this September as they look to relax after stressful summers
· Two thirds (61 per cent)1 of grandparents regularly looked after their grandchildren for up to 40 hours a week this summer
· Grandparents saved UK families £4.7 billion2 in childcare
With the kids back at school and Grandparents starting to feel the after-effects of the long summer break, money saving website for the over 50s, OscarUK.co.uk, has revealed a new phenomenon sweeping the nation– The Grey Getaway – with this weekend (11 September) set to be the busiest of the year for holiday travel of the over 50s.3
New research by OscarUK has revealed that after 2.8 million4 UK grandparents changed their holiday plans to look after grandchildren this summer, saving their families a staggering £4.7 billion2 in childcare, 61 per cent3 are jetting off during September to recover, causing an influx in UK and European holiday destinations.
Peter Simpson, chairman of OscarUK, said: “Looking after the Grandchildren full time during the summer break can be a stressful and often expensive time for Grandparents, with an estimated two thirds (66 per cent) 5 having paid out for new and exciting activities and some (15 per cent) 5 even funding extra special treats, such as new computers.
“September is usually the time of year when the over 50s can start preparing themselves for the countdown to Christmas, but this year there is a surge in the number of Grandparents going on holiday to relax before it all begins again in the October half term!”
To help, OscarUK.co.uk has brought together a new set of special offers and discounts designed especially for the Grey Getaway so that generous grandparents can relax on their holidays and only worry about the weather!
OscarUK.co.uk, which recently launched a new forum facility for members, can provide yearly savings of up to £1,249 6 per person in the UK. Discounts range from membership of associations, to football league season tickets and National Express half price fares.
Your opinions matter, so if you want to be heard then you can join Opinion World today and get the chance to win £5000.
… Dolce Hotels and Resorts is running a competition where one lucky son of a gun will win their very own private suite for a year… and for the weekends they are busy, they can share the privilege with ten of their bestest friends and family. It’s a simple online application, open to anyone, All you need to do is log onto www.dolceprivatesuite.com, choose which European City you want a hotel suite in and enter a few basic details. As with everything… terms and conditions do apply. Competition closes April 29th 2010.
Dolce Hotels and Resorts is a collection of 4 star hotels located in breathtaking regions including Barcelona, Paris, Brussels, Provence and Frankfurt. www.dolce.com