I wrote a while ago that part of being a good steward of the money God entrusts us with is making sure we get good value for the things we need to buy, and wrote about how we can get taken advantage of if we simply renew insurance policies or utility contracts with the same company year after year.
Several people asked me if I had any other tips. I'm not looking to turn into any sort of Martin Lewis replacement, but one thing that never ceases to amaze me is how much you can save on train tickets by buying separate tickets for the various bits of the journey.
Just to give you an example if right now (5pm on Wednesday afternoon) I decided to go and visit our son Jacob in Swansea by train who has just finished his second year exams (hooray), if I went to Bracknell train station and bought a super off peak single to Swansea it would cost me £78.70. However, if I bought a single to Reading, then at Reading station went to the ticket office and bought a super off peak single to Swansea, the total cost of those two tickets would be £45.30, saving me £33.40. Bizarrely I'd save another £2.10 if I got off at Wokingham and bought my ticket to Swansea from there. You'd have a job to get off at Wokingham, buy a ticket and get back on the same train, but there's nothing to stop you buying all the tickets in advance to get the saving and not have the hassle of buying tickets along the way.
I don't know about you but to me that's just seems ridiculous, and a real rip off for anyone who just trusts the rail companies to give you the best deal.
I travel quite a lot by train to various church events, preferring it to travelling by car where it makes sense, and I always feel a big real responsibility to make sure I get the best deals, knowing the money that's being spent has been given by our community. One really helpful resource is this page, which is part of the Money Saving Expert website. There you can put in journeys and it will give you the best ticket option with one split in your journey - you can sometimes save more with more than one split but this is a great start.
Please don't just take my advice but do your own research, and be aware that if you start buying tickets for specific trains (which can save you even more money) then those tickets are only valid on that train - I've had some very exciting journeys across London trying to get to Kings Cross on time after a Bracknell to Waterloo train has been delayed!
Hope that's helpful for someone,
Ps - I also found recently that if you have a wireless credit or debit card you can use it instead of an Oyster card to pay for the tubes and busses in London. I had an Oyster card but when I found this out cancelled it and got £25 back from the credit stored on the card.
Pps - please don't anyone write me off as some sad penny pinching person loathe to spend money on anything! I'm a natural spender and love being generous - I just want to have as much as possible to sow into people and situations that need it, rather than wasting it by paying too much for stuff!