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Value for Money - Week 6

Monday, 12 October 2009

Having scoured the country for the best bargains during the month of September, you'd think they'd have all dried up. Well that's just not the case!

Back with yet more astoundingly good deals is the best bargain hunter in town,Dearbhla Lennon.

As the recession has officially taken hold, people are no longer spending their dosh willy nilly! The people of Ireland are demanding value for their hard earned cash and are not content any longer to put up with overpricing and unnecessary overspend.

In this strand we'll be looking at everything from supermarket deals to online steals, prices at the pumps and frugal fashion finds.

Dearbhla Lennon - there once was a deer hunter, now there's a bargain hunter.

Dearbhla is probably one of Ireland's best known dancers, having starred in four runs of "Celebrity Jigs N' Reels". Dearbhla Lennon began dancing at the tender age of two under the expert tuition of her mother, the legendary Móna Ní Rodaigh. She comes from a family steeped in traditional Irish music and dance, her entire family talented in one or other discipline.

Having achieved multiple accolades at regional, national and World Championship level, Dearbhla went on to represent Ireland at numerous International & Celtic Festivals throughout the world, from Galicia to Zambia and many in between, dancing for both dignitaries and underprivileged, Presidents and orphans.

Aged just 17, she was invited to join the original cast of Lord of the Dance, where she subsequently performed as principal dancer (in both female principal roles) for over five years, touring in such places as North/South America, Europe, The Middle East, South Africa and Australia. Her first principal role was opposite the renowned Michael Flatley.
Dearbhla debuted as principal female dancer with "Riverdance- the show" in 2005 and traveled extensively in this capacity, performing in theatres across the Far East, Europe and Egypt.

Dearbhla graduated with a first class honours degree in Journalism and Media Communications in 2004. She was also awarded "Student of the Year" at Griffith College Dublin. Later that year Dearbhla worked with Riverdance director John McColgan in his highly acclaimed production of the play 'The Shaughraun' for the Abbey Theatre Dublin. During her time at college, she worked as both a fashion model and dancing teacher, having obtained her TCRG exam in 2001 and her ADCRG certification in 2008. She continues to teach dancing alongside her mother and sister Ciara; their school being one of the world's most successful- last year alone, they took home 17 Gold World Medals; the success continued this year with the schools highest ever medal count.

Some of the highlights of Dearbhla's dancing career include performing on The Academy Awards, performing for Prince Charles at The Royal Gala in The Royal Albert Hall, The opening of the 2003 Special Olympic Games (in front of an 80,000 strong live audience), The BBC Proms in the Park (where she performed as a soloist), winning RTE's 2007 'Celebrity Jigs N' Reels' with her partner Gavin O'Fearraigh and representing Ireland at the 2008 Eurovision Dance Contest.

After a brief period as a print journalist, having had a number of magazine cover stories, Dearbhla began working in television in 2005, both in front of and behind the camera. Currently working as a roving reporter for RTEs "The Afternoon Show" she has also recently been involved in an Irish language series for TG4 where she is being followed as she learns to play the concertina! Her most recent project will air on TG4 in the Autumn where she takes the hot seat as a judge on An Jig Gig, an Irish Dance talent show.

One of Dearbhla's favourite pastimes, is hunting for bargains and she is a self-confessed value vixen!

Value for money 1:

Beautiful Blooms

What better way to say "I love you" than flowers for no reason whatsoever. Why wait until a birthday or Valentines' day before you pick up some beautiful blooms for your loved one?

With the great value there is at the moment in terms of supermarket flowers- there has never been such a good time to pick up some posies to bring home to your honey.
Most of the major supermarkets are offering great bunches and bouquets for as little as €2.99. We have the best of them here today.

Aldi have a special offer on flowers beginning this coming Thursday- October 15th.
Their premium bouquet is €9.99 and this comprises of 12 Grand Prix roses, but they have gorgeous classic & rose bouquets (with 20 roses!) for just €5.99. Aldi also have a special offer on Rose bushes starting the 15th with first grade English grown rose seeds for just €2.69 each.

Tesco Ireland says they "stock a wide range of flowers suitable for all budgets, tastes and occasions."
Tesco's Value offering starts at €2.99, leading in to their mid-price bouquets for €7.99, and their premium "Finest*" bouquets for €14.99.
Tesco says their "Finest bouquets are offered to compete against Florist bouquets which would be at least 2-3 times more expensive. These bouquets are filled with roses/lilies etc".
Tesco also offer bouquets of coloured roses for €6.99 and €8.99.
The added advantage with buying flowers in Tesco is that you earn Clubcard points.

Probably the best in terms of price at Lidl is their €2.99 roses bouquet (10 stems)
Bouquets start from €4.99, Classic mixed bouquet - €4.99
Luxury bouquets are €9.99 (special items include carnations, lilies and roses and more)
Other flowers- Iris (€2.99 7 stems) and are the only supermarket currently selling Single Head Chrysanthemums (€7.99 for 7 stems), Freesia (€3.99 for 9 stems mixed with Phoenix leaf)

Marks & Spencer:-
Marks & spencer do a range of optiosn again, from small bunches of carnations to mixed bunches - they range from €2.99 to about €50.00. M & S also put a guarantee on their flowers to last a certain number of days- for example their "cool summer bouquet" at €9.99 is guaranteed to last 5 days.

Value for money 2:

Swap 'til you drop!

Swapping is the new shopping, and rather than throwing unwanted goods out (often ending up in landfill sites) people are becoming a little more economically & environmentally aware by swapping!

Whilst clothes swaps have been about for some time, the concept of swapping just about anything has been slow enough to gather momentum, but since times have become tight, people are more likely to check out swap sites than to run to the stores.

There are so many great new/nearly new items on swap sites, it all seems to make sense.

Irish websites:- and are just two such sites that have been set up recently where people can barter items for goods & services they need. Some might call it shopping neutral, others might call it making sense- either way it's a concept that's sure to take off!

The best bit about swapping is that you don't always have to have something material to swap with. You can use skills/services/labour to barter for things you really want. For instance- you go onto one of many websites offering things for sale and you see a phone you really like. You might be able to swap lessons in French or guitar lessons for the new phone. Perhaps you would be willing to clean someone's house in return for a designer handbag?

If you don't own a computer or don't have access to the internet, it might be worth asking a family member/friend to help you with this as there are great things to be found so you don't want to miss out. Perhaps you could swap something of yours in return for a second-hand PC!

If you're skilled in any field, you should consider swapping these services in return for goods. The ancient Egyptians used to do it- why not us!

Popular Irish Swap sites include:-

Value for Money 3:

Ennis Fashion week!

According to their website- www.
"Ennis Fashion Week is an innovative event that offers you an enhanced shopping experience in the 'Boutique Capital of Ireland'

Not only can you avail of superb special offers in our exciting range of fashion and beauty boutiques but you can attend workshops, fashion shows and other fashion-related events. There are also special short stay offers in local hotels."

Running from October 17th- This Friday until October 23rd(next Friday) there promises to be great value on offer in the self -proclaimed Boutique Capital of Ireland in the coming days.

There are a number of free events during Ennis Fashion Week and anyone attending the week long festivities including 5 individual evening events can do so for just €85. There is also a great accommodation package available from 2 local hotels. Irish Rail will also be running a promotional offer on rail fairs to Ennis during Ennis Fashion Week.

Value for Money 4:

Student Steals

Being a student can be difficult at the best of times with money being a constant issue on a daily basis. Shopping for anything other than basic needs is a pipedream for most students but with many high street shops offering discounts on production of a student I. D card, this can often make unaffordable purchases affordable!

Don't forget- Mature students can also avail of these offers on production of your I.D!

There are squillions of high street stores that offer student discounts, in fact if it's not advertised, be sure to ask as most chains offer some form of discount. On average it's roughly 10% but it can be more/less depending on the individual store.

Champion Sports - 10% (15% if you have a Student Travel Card)
Topshop - 10%
Dune - 10%
Burton - 10%

This is nothing new I hear you say!
Well, some Irish websites that I came across offer all the latest news on deals & offers from clubs & bars to stores, restaurants & services:-

According to their website:


"Student Travelcard is Ireland's leading student discount card offering exclusive discounts of up to 40% on Irish Rail, DART, Dublin Bus and LUAS. As well as that, you can get over 200 discounts nationwide on production of the card in-store as well as online using your unique card number." and

"Backpocket is a €5 discount card for students that works along the same lines as the student travel card. You can register for your backpocket card on their wesite.

"Studentsmart" is a student discount, entertainment and information resource website. There is no sign up or card offer, it simply advertises good student deals around the country. You can log on and check out deals available in your area.

Value for Money 5:

Brilliant book bargains - but not for reading.

By registering online with you save up to 80% on the price of audio books and the best part is that there is a free two week trial for you to decide whether or not the service is for you. In fact, downloadable books are roughly 30% cheaper than hardcopy versions anyway, so this is definitely the way to go.

During the free trial you can avail of either one book (regular package) or two books (premium package). At the end of this you can cancel the service if you feel it's not for you, but you can hang on to your audio- books, so it's a win win situation really!

The first thing that comes to mind when we think of audio -books is that they're only for people with visual impairments. Whilst this is a large part of the audio book market, so too are commuters, travelers or people who are just not in a position to curl up with a mug of tea and a good novel.

Even those out on an evening run can keep up with their Maeve Binchy or Dan Brown without having to turn the pages while you jog.

What often happens is that people get so engrossed in their audio book that they end up taking the long way home or end up driving around the block a few times before they have to turn it off!


Audible is the UK's largest provider of downloadable audio books with over 30,000 titles in stock:- "From crime and thrillers, to biographies, self-help and languages, we've got something for everyone. And because we love books just the way they were written we've got thousands of unabridged titles so you won't miss a word."

Take the example of the new Dan Brown book "The Lost Symbol" which retails with a RRP of Stg £24.46, Amazon do a good deal on it at £17.12 but if you register with, you can get it for £7.99 (which is the monthly fee for one audio book)!
If you're a total bookworm and would get through more than one book in a month, you can register for the premium package at £14.99 per month, which gets you two books in a month. Any books you download after this will be at a slightly higher cost but still much less than the high street. Bear in mind that each book is about 18 hours long - so chances are you might only squeeze in the two!

Another thing to note is that audible do unabridged versions of books so that you can get the whole story unlike abridged CD versions.

Websites Featured: