Surviving to Thriving Whilst Living on a Budget: Our Top Tips

My grandmother used to tell me she could remember the times when she could get a night at the cinema (with treats) followed by fish & chips on the way home, and still have change leftover from ten pence! Nowadays, a visit to the cinema is an expensive treat, with the average ticket price for a family approaching £40, not including the price of snacks or drinks!

These increasing costs are not exclusive to the cinema, as prices for other forms of entertainment continue to rise, leaving many of us looking for cheaper alternatives to enjoy our free time.

With many feeling the pinch of rising prices, questions are raised around what alternatives there are that don’t cost the earth, but can keep the whole family entertained. 

According to the Office for National Statistics, between 2017 and 2018, 22% of total household expenditure was assigned to ‘Restaurants & Hotels’ and ‘Recreation & Culture’. This has been a consistent figure since 2016, demonstrating the importance of factoring the cost of a social life into the nation’s monthly household expenditure.

Living within the demanding routine of today’s world requires some down time, and for many, this is in the form of hobbies and recreational activities that can stretch the purse to breaking point. However, there are alternatives out there for those who are willing to look for them.

Many local authorities, museums and public libraries offer low-cost (and sometimes free) social activities for families and other groups. Within Glasgow, institutions such as the Gallery of Modern Art (GOMA) and Kelvingrove Museum, offer free entry and access to interactive learning experiences, such as painting and drawing tutorials, craft workshops and presentations by exhibiting artists.

There are also several money-saving activities that savvy-shoppers can participate in to maximise their consumer experience. Many of the supermarkets offer loyalty schemes, such as points, which can be saved over time and translated into cashback or money-off vouchers for later use. This can help to reduce your expenditure over the course of the year on food and household shopping – savings which can be spent elsewhere!

These loyalty schemes don’t end at the supermarket, many mobile phone companies now offer free and discounted items, such as a free coffee per week from a high street coffee chain, discounted cinema tickets and discounted lunches at well-known high-street eateries. want you to enjoy your free time (even when money is tight), so we have put together our top tips to go from ‘surviving’ to ‘thriving’ on a budget –

  • You don’t need to spend money to enjoy yourself! There are many free events out there for adults and kids alike. Check with local attractions, museums and public libraries to see what’s going on out there. In Glasgow, the Gallery of Modern Art (GOMA) and Kelvingrove are both free entry and run a number of free and low-cost workshops and events. Check them out on social media to see what’s going on!
  • Eat before you go for the weekly shop – Shopping on an empty stomach means you will probably buy the things that you don’t necessarily need. Plan your visit to the supermarket for after lunch or dinner and avoid the impulse hunger purchases!
  • Write a shopping list – Make a list before you leave the house and stick to it! Don’t be tempted by eye-catching deals for things that you do not need.
  • Coupons & Shopping loyalty ‘clubs’ – Watch out for vouchers and coupons in the post. Many supermarkets also have loyalty schemes, such as Tesco Clubcard, or Nectar Card from Sainsbury’s which offers money-back when you shop and collect points.
  • Check for perks you already have – Many bank account subscriptions include extras, such as travel insurance and discounts. Some mobile networks offer discounts and freebies on their apps, such as Orange / EE Wednesdays for reduced cinema tickets, as well as o2 Priority offering a free Café Nero coffee. Check your subscriptions for more information!

If you would like more advice on any consumer matter, you can contact on 0808 164 6000. We are open 9am-5pm, Monday-Friday. You can follow us on social media – Twitter: @advicedotscot and Facebook, Instagram:, or get ahead by visiting our knowledge centre at