Destination England

Our journey from debt to England…and everything in between!

Archive for the ‘England’ Category

How I Plan to Save £153.80 With London Pass

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Ah London.  There is no city on earth like it.  Mention the word “England” and most likely “London” is the first city they’ll think of.  It is full of things to do, places to see, and people to meet.  One question that I get asked by my friends in the states who have yet to go is “What is there to do in London?”  I think the more appropriate question is “What isn’t there to do in London?”  It has something for everyone it seems.  Museums, art galleries, theaters, castles, fine dining just to name a few line the streets of London. With so many attractions for tourists (and probably some locals), one question I asked is “How do I get the most bang for my…uhm…quid?”  The London Pass is a great way to see many attractions, and save money doing so.

What is a London Pass?

“The London Pass is a ‘smart card’ – like a credit card with a computer chip inside – which allows you completely cash free entry to your choice of 56 London tourist attractions.” – source

You can purchase a pass for anywhere from 1 day to 6 days.  Here is a list of attractions you gain access with the London Pass. With this card once it is activated, you gain access to anywhere the card is accepted, and there are 56 different attractions.  Simply put, the more you see, the more you save.  The site boasts up to £186 on a six day pass, though I am skeptical on that number.  For us, we reached what I would consider a more realistic savings.  These are the places we plan to visit with our six day pass, along with the entrance cost.

  • Kensington Palace        £12.50
  • HMS Belfast    £10.70
  • Shakespeare Globe      £10.50
  • St Paul’s           £12.50
  • Hampton Court Palace   £14.00
  • Jewel Tower     £3.00
  • City Cruises      £11.50
  • Tower Bridge   £7.00
  • Tower of London         £17.00
  • Jason’s Canal Boat Trip            £8.50
  • The London Zoo      £16.80
  • Windsor Castle £15.50
  • Eton College     £6.00

That would total £157 each, or £314 for both of us.  We paid for two £160.20.  So with the London Pass we’re saving £153.80 for two people on those attractions!  The savings continue to grow the more places we see, but with a baby, we’re taking a conservative approach on seeing these attractions.

But Wait There’s More!

What else can you do with the London Pass?  They offer transportation savings, various restaurant deals, shopping deals, and more.  Plus, for those who need to exchange currency – they offer commission free money exchange at Bureau de Change.  With these deals the savings just keep adding up. Also, it allow you for “fast track access” eliminating the lines and queues.

What’s the downside?

The only downside I found is that the time limit starts from your first swipe, and the ticker then expires the number of days after. So for example, if you activate the Pass on Monday, it will expire on Saturday.  My personal wish would be to be allow to stagger the days over the period of a couple of weeks or a month.   Other than that, there’s no real down side I can see.

Is London Pass Worth the Cost?

I would venture to say yes.  Due to the savings you get on attractions alone, You definitely are saving money.  Again, the longer period of a pass you buy, the more you boost your savings.  Factor in the other additional savings the card offers, this is a great way to get the most “bang for your quid” in London.  I’ll be sure to let you know how our experience turns out.  Fingers crossed!

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Written by Jas

April 27, 2010 at 4:55 pm

Free Diabetic Prescriptions!

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Last night Sarah and I made our way to our local pharmacy to pick up our prescriptions and something for dinner.  Upon walking in there was a big sign that said “Free Diabetic Medicines!” and listed five common medicines used to treat diabetes.  Two of which –metformin and glipizide – I happen to be on!  I spoke with the pharmacist to confirm (because this sounded too good to be true), and indeed they were free. So how does this help the budget? I’ve broken down the costs we spend on prescriptions.

My Prescriptions:

  • Metformin – $8
  • Glipizide – $6
  • Lisinopril – $4
  • Simvastatin  – $4
  • Vitamin D – $6
  • Byetta – $40
  • Needles – $5 (this every three months)
  • Testing strips – $25

Sarah’s Prescriptions:

  • Birth Control – $10
  • Vitamin D – $6
  • Thyroxin – $6

I’m spending roughly $94.67 a month for my prescriptions before this offer.   My wife pays about $22 for her three prescriptions.  That brings our monthly total to around $117 a month. With getting metformin and glipizide for free, that saves $14 a month, bringing the montly total to $113 a month.  So by saving $14 a month, I’m saving $168 a year!

Moving to England looks to bring even more savings for us on the prescriptions front.  According the NHS website, prescriptions have risen to £7.20 for a prescription – I will assume that is for a single 30 day supply, £28.25 for a 90 day prescription, and £104 for a year long prescription. So using that math, my six prescriptions would cost £43.20 a month. Now, my wife is also on medication, which would add three more prescriptions, bring the total to £64.80 a month.  Keeping the £ and the $ relative, that’s cutting our prescription costs in half.  That being said, reading further down on the site, I found this:

Medical exemption (MedEx) certificates are issued on application to people who have:

  • A permanent fistula (for example caecostomy, colostomy, laryngostomy or ileostomy) requiring an appliance or continuous surgical dressing.
  • A form of hypoadrenalism (for example Addison’s disease) for which specific substitution therapy is needed.
  • Diabetes insipidus or other forms of hypopituitarism.
  • Diabetes mellitus, except where treatment is by diet alone.
  • Hypoparathyroidism.
  • Myasthenia gravis.
  • Myxoedema (hypothyroidism requiring thyroid hormone replacement).
  • Epilepsy requiring continuous anticonvulsive therapy.
  • Continuing physical disability which means the person can’t go out without the help of another person. Temporary disabilities do not count even if they last for several months.

Reading that, it looks looks like I would qualify for the MedEx certificate.  Also, my wife would qualify as she recently found out she has Hashimoto’s Disease, which will in all likelihood leave her with an underactive thyroid.  This means that all of our prescription costs would not cost us any out of pocket expenses.  I would be very relieved having not to worry about any out of pocket expenses for my medicines.  I’d that £64.80 a month and put that into a high yield savings account, or a college fund for Connor.  While we aren’t anywhere close to a plan similar to the English equivalent, the fact that some pharmacies are starting to offer free diabetic medicines, and antibiotics is a good start.  I’ve only seen Meijer and Giant Eagle doing this, but a google search revealed a chain called Publix is offering free metformin to its customers.  Hopefully this is a trend that will continue to help combat the rising costs of prescriptions!

Written by Jas

April 25, 2010 at 12:04 pm

What Am I Reading? 4/21/2010 Edition

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10 more uncluttering things to do every day @ unclutterer.com – This article hit on some sensitive areas that I need to work on in my day to day.  These are areas I’m going to try to make a commitment to focus more on (especially #4 and #5!)

100 Things to Do During a Money Free Weekend @ thesimpledollar.com – This list has some really great ideas for inexpensive or free activities to spend on a weekend!

Parents Should Teach Kids Finances, Not Just Schools @ frugaldad.com – My parents never really taught me how to handle money, and it was a bitter lesson, I’ve had to learn the last five years of my adult life.  Having a son now, one thing I want to impart to him is how manage his finances.

Flights resume as ash fear recedes @ bbc.co.uk – This is a big concern for us right now, with a flight to England looming just 39 days away.  I’m relieved to hear things are getting back to normal.

George will bring Spring… @ crookedandhiddenways – An interesting look at England’s patron saint with a pagan twist!

I’d like to make this a weekly thing, as I do come across some pretty cool articles on other blogs, and news articles.  If you have suggestions on blogs or new articles please share in the comments!

Written by Jas

April 22, 2010 at 8:00 am

Posted in articles, blog, Debt, England, Random

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The recent shut down of European flights due to the Icelandic volcano ash has had Sarah and I both a bit on edge, hoping that it ends fairly soon.  We’re a little concerned it could affect our travel plans late May.  Sarah’s parents live about 20 minutes (by tube) from Heathrow, so a plane flying overhead is a very common experience. How I wonder what it must be like with no air traffic!  I remember during 9/11 how eerily quiet and empty the sky was with all flights in the US grounded.

Nevertheless, my heart goes out to a friend who was due to go back to England for a week or so visit with family, and has to cut it short to 23 days due to the ash.  I cannot imagine how hard that will be, and hope they are able to find another way to get back for a longer visit.  We are still planning our visit to London, and things progress nicely.  Connor’s ¾ unbirthday party has been scheduled (on a side note – I love Google Calendar!).  Sarah and I have come up with an itinerary that we are happy with.  We’ve been able to secure our hotel for Marazion, and purchased a few of the tickets that we wanted.

This weekend has been a chilly, but beautiful one, making me loathe being at work where I am indoors and not even near a window.  Though according to the forecast my “weekend” should be rather nice!  I’m hoping to get the kitchen and rest of the front room packed and ready to go, this weekend, leaving the last two weekends to focus on the bedroom and our bathroom.  It doesn’t seem like a lot, but with a 7 month old it can be a chore!  Connor is at the age where everything is new and must be explored!  He is beginning to roll around to get where he wants to go, and I worry that it is only a matter of time before he’s crawling or walking…then I’m buying gates, socket plugs, locks, CCTV, shackles, manacles, and other devices to keep him out of trouble!

We have been on a kick with our Netflix account.  I received the disc that activates the Wii to use the Play Instantly portion of Netflix.  So while the movie selection is a bit on the bland side, the TV shows is pretty amazing.  My wife and I watch the first 5 episodes of the X-Files last night.  We also found quite a few kids dvds that Connor likes (Kipper, Thomas and Friends, etc).  So far we’re enjoying it, and it has confirmed that we’re going cancel our cable service for the time being, and then likely during football season, we’ll get the service with a DVR (since I work on the weekends!).

Written by Jas

April 18, 2010 at 6:58 pm

Posted in England, Family, Moving, Vacation

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Vacation t-minus …

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46 days and counting!

So we’ve decided for Cornwall we’re going to limit our trip to spending the majority of our first day in Boscastle/Tintagel and then driving down to Marazion and spend the next day down in that area visiting St. Michael’s Mount, and the surrounding area.  We are looking at hotels down there rather than hostels…I think it’ll make for a more enjoyable experience!  It is absolutely gorgeous down there.  Boscastle looks to be a very rural community, and Tintagel Castle supposedly has rumored ties with King Arthur!

We’re 46 days away from our trip back home.  Our biggest hurdle during this wait is moving into our new apartment.  After the move we’re just over two weeks until we leave.  I’m starting to get into that excitement stage.  I can feel it getting near.  We have so much we want to do within those three and a half weeks, but even if we cannot do all of it, its going to be nice to kick back and relax.

I have to tell you every time I’ve flown into London it has been dark.  The first time was a late night arrival flight, and we came down from the clouds and there she was, shining brightly.  It was an amazing site.  The second was an early morning arrival and dawn hadn’t broken yet as we descended down.  It was truly beautiful.  I’m hoping the feeling is the same with an 8 month old sitting on my lap after a 9 hour flight

Written by Jas

April 13, 2010 at 6:30 pm

Posted in England, Moving

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Long Term Goals

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This past weekend I had a bit of an eye opener.  Sarah had a really bad home sick moment.  It is times like this those five years seem like an eternity, and no matter how you spin it, five years is a long time.  I think I had lost focus a little.  While my desire for this is no less, the every day day-to-day seems to be more pressing, than something that is five years from fruition. So what can one do when you are staring down the barrel of a long term goal?  How can you keep motivated?

Keep your eyes on the prize

This might seem like common sense, but it is harder than you’d think.  With everything that happens in the day to day, sometimes it is hard to keep your focus on your ultimate goals.  We put lesser more immediate priorities before the more important long term priorities.  Is this wrong?  I would say in moderation probably not.  Some things have to be addressed.  A car breaking down or a medical bill that needs to be paid should definitely take priority.  Buying a new TV or eating out a lot probably isn’t.

Celebrate the Victories (even the small ones)

One of the biggest things that can help with “shortening the gap” is to focus on milestones or small victories that put you that much closer to your long term goal.  For me, it’s getting out of debt. I have a spread sheet with all the debt I currently have.  Every time one of those debts is paid off it is crossed out.  For me that is a victory because that’s one step closer to our goal!  Whether it’s an old $50 medical bill, or a car loan (eventually it’ll be paid off!) it’s still a win!

A long term goal is something that can be difficult to obtain due to the gap between start and finish.   You will run into times when it seems hopeless and further away than you can believe.  Just remember to keep your eyes on the prize and celebrate the small victories along the way to your ultimate goal. You will look back with a great sense of accomplishment when you can say “I did it! I’ve made it!”

Written by Jas

April 12, 2010 at 5:15 pm

Trip to England (Part 3)

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We plan on taking a trip with Sarah’s brother and his girlfriend to Cornwall while we’re there.  Cornwall is an area located in the southwest corner of England.  To be honest, I didn’t know anything about this area other than its famous for its Cornish pasties!  I even thought it was an actual city, not a region of England.  A little ‘googling’ and I found breath taking scenery, history spanning thousands of years, and pages upon pages of sites and things to do. We only have two days, but easily you could spend weeks if not months seeing all of Cornwall.

Our Route (tentative)

The plan is to leave London super early in the morning and head for Boscastle/Tintagel area to see Tintagel Castle and a few other sites in the area. Then we plan to drive down to Penzance to spend the afternoon/evening visiting the local area as well as St. Michael’s Mount.  The next morning we’re meander our way back up North, stopping at some other places yet to be determined.

I’m really looking forward to this trip.  It’ll be a new area of England that I have never been to, and Sarah has never actually been (that she can recall).  On top of it all it gives us a chance to spend some good quality time with her brother and his girlfriend. It also gives them a chance to spend time with Connor.

Please if you know of any places we should visit while in Cornwall, leave a comment!

Written by Jas

March 30, 2010 at 5:30 pm

Posted in England, Family, Vacation

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