As most of you will know, I don’t tend to cover a lot of blogging events. Not that I actively go out of my way to avoid them- I generally find myself needing to be in several different places at once these days, so opportunities are pretty thin on the ground (I know, it’s a hard life). So when I was invited to the giffgaff Plan Smart bloggers workshop, I decided to get stuck in and give it a go. Because the finer things in life can cost a lot of money. And I need to figure out how to be thrifty with my spending instead of blowing all my wages on a faux fur coat. Again.
In case you’re not already aware, giffgaff are a pretty big mobile phone company; they’re currently sponsoring a few well-known TV shows, if that jogs your memory. They’re now looking to expand their brand, and develop ‘Gameplan’- an app that helps you manage your money efficiently, as well as giving financial advice. They’re also offering free credit reports and support your savings goals, with a few savvy budgeting tips thrown in for good measure. Not too shabby eh?
The venue was the beautiful Principal Hotel, one of my favourite buildings in my home city. Decadent, but with that classic industrial Manc edge. If you haven’t paid a visit already, I implore you to do so- it’s an architectural delight.
After a quick brew and chat with some lovely fellow bloggers, we were then divided into three groups for our workshops. I was teamed up with some pretty amazing gals who were super welcoming, and put me at ease straight away.
For our first activity, we spent time making fabric jewellery with Hannah from Tea and Crafting. Our aim was to create our own ‘knitted’ necklace by using a hand plaiting system from fabric cut from old T shirts. A pretty nifty upcycling idea.
Hannah’s ridiculously good at home jewellery crafting, as was everyone else in my group- it was safe to say I was a bloody shambles. I have a track record for managing to sew myself to sewing machines in the past (I’m still not entirely sure how I’ve managed it) so not the biggest of surprises. I’ve therefore included some snaps of our day from the amazing Elouisa Georgiou, so you can see what the jewellery SHOULD look like as opposed to my pitiful attempt. Massive shout out to Hannah for having the patience of a saint.
Next on the agenda was a quick quiz about finance. Putting our knowledge of savings and credit scores to the test, it was interesting to learn how extensive your financial history can be investigated, and which of your spending habits can be monitored. I was pretty average at the quiz, but at least I’ve come away with a deeper understanding of how important it is to manage my money properly. Kudos giffgaff.
Our last class was with the wonderful Duncan from Herb & Spice, who gave us a cooking demo. This was the part of the day that I was most looking forward to; as much as I adore going out for Michelin star meals, it’s certainly not the sort of thing I can do every week. Unfortunately. I therefore wanted to find out more about elegant dishes I can create myself at home, whilst being mindful of my cash.
Taking us through a budget friendly, vegan recipe, Duncan showed us how to prepare an absolutely knock out dish of Moroccan spiced sweet potato, spinach, apricot and chickpea parcel with spicy tomato compote. It might sound flashy, but it’s actually pretty simple to make, and you can get the whole thing done within 20 minutes. And as expected, I demolished my portion within seconds.
To finish our day, we were invited to take part in a clothes swap, and gifted with a rather generous goodie bag: there was a very useful meal planner, a recipe kit from Herb & Spice, a little piggybank, and the most adorable window box full of herbs. The essence of our day packed into one handy bag.
I have to say, I’ve been pleasantly surprised by my day with giffgaff. While it may not be the sort of area that I generally cover, it’s been wonderful to meet up with so many fellow Manc bloggers, and learn lots of helpful money-saving tips along the way. I’ve come away feeling more confident in my approach to saving cash, as opposed to frittering it away at the drop of a hat. And considering how blasé I am when it comes to spending, I think that’s a pretty big achievement in itself.
To find out more about giffgaff Gameplan, visit: http://www.giffgaff.com/gameplan/
View Elouisa’s portfolio, including her snapshots of our day: http://www.elouisageorgiou.co.uk/Commercial-Photography/Search-Lab/GiffGaff/High-Resolution/