Some might call this title “clickbait” as I’m not nearly responsible enough to be owning my own house yet, let alone two. However, there is actually a slight truth to the title that will be explained in this post. I recently attended an event held by giffgaff gameplan that I was honestly over the moon to even be invited to. This is my second ever blogging event, the first being Bloggers Festival back in December. I have to admit that on my way there I was really unsure of what to expect; I knew that there was going to be a game involved and that we could win money for charity but I wasn’t actually sure what the game entailed. However, I was very excited to find out as I can get pretty competitive. We would also be learning a few tips and tricks on how to be money savvy which sounded right up my street as I’m currently saving for a trip to Japan in October and I need all the help I can get (lunch time shopping trips are becoming a big weakness of mine).
The event was held at Yorks Café which is part of the Ikon Gallery in Birmingham. I’ve never actually been to the Ikon Gallery but it’s somewhere I’ve been wanting to visit for a while. I’m even more convinced now that I need to go as the location is stunning so I’m sure the gallery is just as amazing. The café has a large outdoor seating area which is so perfect for Summer and luckily the weather was on our side (a rare happening in the UK) so we were all able to sit outside for the duration of the event.
We were greeted upon entry by Jennie, the organiser of the event, with a nice cold glass of Prosecco which was perfect after a long, stressful day at work. We were also very kindly given drinks tokens for the bar as well as stickers with our names and Twitter handles on. This proved to be a great idea as it meant that I could already pick out a few people that I had already engaged with online. I was amazed at how quickly I managed to get into conversation with a couple of bloggers, Abbey and Kirsty. I’m usually so awkward and shy but these lovely ladies made me feel so comfortable and we were quickly laughing and joking.
We were left to sit and mingle for a little while in the outdoor seating area and we were then called inside for a presentation led by Charlotte and Steve, members of the giffgaff gameplan team. They explained what giffgaff gameplan is all about; if you haven’t heard of giffgaff before, it’s an affordable mobile network that have recently started focusing on personal finance for their customers. They’re all about making your money go further and getting smart with your finances which is something I definitely need to get on board with. They gave us a few money-saving tips which I found really useful and I’ve actually already taken some action following these points. They advised to cancel any lingering subscriptions as they might only be a few quid here or there but if you don’t really use them, it’s a lot of pointless spending that does add up in the long run. Of course, I cancelled my gym membership upon hearing this as I probably only go about once a month at this point – whoops.
giffgaff gameplan have formed a Founders club where all of their customers can share their ideas on how to keep improving gameplan as a service. I love this idea as it’s nice to see a company that really care about their customers and what they have to say. There’s also a feature on the gameplan website where you can get yourself a free credit score check which is perfect if you’re trying to adult (I’m still shying away from that); a credit score check can help you to identify whether you have any identity fraud issues you may not be aware of or to check if you’re legible for certain loans or a mortgage. If this is something you think you might find useful, head over to the gameplan website.
After Charlotte and Steve’s presentation, it was my favourite kind of time – food time. I’d heard on the grapevine that Yorks Café has a huge outdoor oven where they make stonebaked pizzas so you can imagine my happiness when the lovely staff at Yorks brought out some huge pizzas. There was also plenty of new potatoes, salad and chips for us to help ourselves to which I definitely did – I was in food heaven with the pesto topped cheese pizza. I definitely want to go back to Yorks just for their pizzas.
Once we’d all finished stuffing our faces, it was time to play the game which was called ‘Spend or Save.’ We were asked to get into groups of 5 or 6 so Kirsty, Abbey and myself teamed up with Ellie (whom I recognised from Twitter) and her friend, Simone. Steve, who talked to us about giffgaff gameplan in the presentation earlier on, nominated himself to be our banker. Each group was given a box with the game inside which turned out to be a board game that shares a few similarities with Monopoly. The main aim of the game is to be savvy with your money so that you can retire with a hefty amount of savings on your hands – you win by having the most amount of money saved up at the end. Each player starts with £1000 and you make your way around the board with rolls of the dice, landing on spaces where you may receive money or have to pay money out. One particular scenario that made me laugh was a space where you have to pay out £100 for a takeaway – that’s definitely feast goals. There are also cards similar to the ‘chance’ cards in Monopoly which can potentially make or break your money situation. Each time you make a full run around the board, you’re given £1000 payday money as well as aging five years. You’re also given a card with different life goals on that you can choose whether to invest in during the game; you could choose to put some savings into an ISA in order to multiply the money upon retirement, get married to half all of your outgoing payments and buy a £5000 house in order to receive £20,000 upon retirement. All of these outcomes sounded great but I quickly learnt that it can all go downhill very quickly.
In the first half of the game, I was charging full steam ahead in front of everyone else. I was landing on all of the incoming funds spaces and saving up tons of money, eager to buy a house and secure that £20,000 to go into my retirement funds. I managed to do this fairly early on and to be honest, I got a little bit cocky at one point, exclaiming that I don’t usually have much luck with games and that this time was different. Unfortunately, it turned out that one of the ‘chance’ cards meant that everyone in the game lost their houses if somebody picked it up. Another player ended up picking up that exact card pretty much straight after I bought my house, something that I don’t think anybody was expecting. I didn’t want to give up hope and I actually ended up redeeming myself by saving up another £5000 to buy a second house. Unfortunately, the same fatal ‘chance’ card was picked up a second time and I lost another house. From there, I basically had no chance and ending up just about scraping by with a few hundred quid left towards the end of the game. In fact, Ellie and I basically switched situations halfway through the game; Ellie actually lost all of her money during the game (which means game over) but as Abbey had to leave the event early, she passed her lifeline along to Ellie. This ended up being a huge blessing for Ellie as she actually went on to win first prize.
Ellie was rewarded with £500 to donate to her chosen charity, Diabetes UK. The reason behind her choice was so touching; Simone, who was in our team, has type 1 diabetes and so Ellie really wanted to give back to the charity that provides Simone with so much support surrounding her illness. It was really nice to see such a generous amount of money go to such an important cause. Ellie also won her very own ‘Spend or Save’ board game to take home with her. I actually wish that this game was available to buy as I’d definitely get one for myself, it really helps you to learn how important it is to be careful with your money and all of the speed bumps you might come across in life. I definitely learnt this the hard way as I focused way too much on trying to get £20,000 rather than making sure I had enough put away for other expenses. Upon leaving, we were all gifted with a goody bag; I had the cutest purple piggy bank, a reusable coffee cup, a ‘grow your own’ plant and a few other little treats. This was such a nice touch – I’ve been using the coffee cup consistently since as you can save money in certain coffee shops if you have a reusable cup.
Here are a couple of snaps of me looking confident when I was sure I was going to win. These were taken by Elouisa who took lots of lovely photos throughout the evening, her work is fantastic and you should definitely check out her website.
I absolutely loved this event and I’d happily do this weekly. Games, pizza, socialising and a gorgeous venue made such a perfect combination – a huge thank you to Jennie for making this evening possible, inviting me along and making me feel so welcome. I’m really happy to have met some absolutely lovely bloggers who really helped me to feel like a part of the blogging community.