Time spent doing the things you love with family and friends may well be priceless but you don’t need to spend a fortune. Which? members share their tips on how to save money when you’re making it happen.
Every month we survey thousands of Which? members to see how they save money on everyday bills, services and purchases. You can see the full range of our members’ money-saving tips by trialling Which? for £1.
Between May and June 2015 we asked 644 members how they saved money on days out and leisure. This is a selection of their best ideas.
How to save money on days out
Plenty of members recommended joining the National Trust, which gives free entry to 575 sites across the UK.
The National Trust for Scotland costs £72 for a family membership. It gives access to all National Trust sites in Scotland and 300 other sites across the rest of the UK.
For days out in London, there are plenty of two-for-one deals available for those travelling by train. Check with your train company before travelling.
You could also cut a huge chunk off your fare by following our 10 tips for finding cheap train tickets.
Cut the cost of cinema and theatre tickets
Many members told us how they saved money by investing in a cinema’s membership card.
A £197 Cineworld annual membership, for example, allows unlimited free entry to all UK Cineworld cinemas (there’s a central London supplement). Alternatively, a £30 WhatsOnStage Theatre Club membership gives entry to off-West End shows and discounts on West End ones.
Some members told us about the free cinema tickets they received with packaged bank accounts. With a Club Lloyds account you can get free Vue cinema tickets, and there’s no monthly fee attached to the account provided you deposit a minimum of £1,500 each month.
Others explained how they were entertained for free by signing up to be in live television audiences, using websites such as sroaudiences.com or the shows page on the BBC website.
Find out more: How to avoid hidden ticket charges – see our consumer rights website
How to save money on eating out
Email lists, websites and smartphone apps were cited as key sources of discounts and offers at restaurants.
The vouchercloud.com smartphone app is a particularly useful tool, often knocking 25% of the bill and sometimes as much as half.
If you eat out regularly, it’s also worth becoming a member of the Gourmet Society discount scheme.
Our 50 ways to save money guide features 10 tips on reducing the cost of eating out.
Grab a gardening bargain
We received plenty of recommendations to join a local gardening club by green-fingered members.
Some members suggested buying seeds at the end of the season and sowing them the following year, although the results varied when Which? Gardening tested this.
Using specialist nurseries instead of general garden centres and joining loyalty schemes were also mentioned as ways to save on plants and tools.
Find out more: Gardening factsheets – detailed advice on how to care for your plants