Wednesday, 11 February 2015

Think Thrifty

As you know from Monday's post, Hubby and I wanna move house this year, so we're saving our pennies and paying off our debt as best we can. There are countless articles and blog posts online about saving money and thinking thrifty,
and this is just one more to add to the pile...

1. Proper Planning = Delicious Meals All Week Long
Did you know that UK households throw away 8.3 million tonnes of food each year? This costs the average family £680 per year, £680 that could be put to much better use. Ever since I moved out of home seven years ago, I've made meal plans. At the beginning of each month, I draw up a menu and list down the ingredients I need. I then do an online shop from Asda, which is topped up with weekly visits to Aldi.

I've found some great yet cheap meals, including southwest pasta, burrito bowls, vegetable omlette, and veggie-friendly spaghetti bolognese, all of which appear on my menu plan at least once a fortnight. Love Food Hate Waste is a great resource for finding recipes that'll use up anything that's going out of date or needs using up.

2. Make Do & Mend
Originally launched in June 1940 as part of the British war effort, ‘Make Do & Mend’ is making a comeback. During World War II, clothes were in short supply, with adults given just 36 ration coupons to spend on clothes per year; but with a man’s suit costing up to 22 coupons and a ladies raincoat 16 coupons, high fashion was an unknown commodity, so recycling and mending were the orders of the day. Issued by the government, ‘Make Do & Mend’ leaflets offered advice on using all valuable resources, including making dresses from old curtains and underwear from old sheets!

Although these days we won’t need to go to these extremes, I still heed the thrifty message – make do with what you have so you don’t have to buy new clothes unnecessarily. Although I'm trying not to buy new clothes unless old ones don't fit or are beyond my repairing skills, the more creative amongst you can give old tops a new lease of life by adding new buttons or by turning old jeans into denim shorts (Hubby did this just last week)! 

3. A Domestic Goddess… On A Budget
Our supermarket shelves are lined with an array of cleaning products, but did you know there are natural, cheaper alternatives that can do the same job, sometimes a better job? I regularly use bicarbonate of soda and white vinegar in particular. Bicarbonate of soda can remove any manner of sins and stains (a teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda on a damp cloth works just as well as expensive cleaners) and is pretty cheap, costing just a couple of quid for a 1kg bag. White vinegar lifts limescale from stainless steel sinks and plugs better than anything you can buy from the cleaning aisles. 

Don’t just tackle the cleaning with DIY gusto – those odd jobs around the house are usually a lot simpler than you think, so don’t call someone out to look at them until you’ve had a go yourself. Professional handymen can cost £70 per hour, so why not invest in a ‘how to’ book or search YouTube and learn how to fix those odd jobs around the house that you can easily take care of yourself. 

4. That’s En-ter-tain-ment
All work and no play makes Laura a dull girl – it’s all well and good saving for a rainy day but if you never socialise, with friends or family, you’ll soon lose touch with people you love. Anyone on a budget can still socialise – look out for deals at local cinemas, such as Cineworld’s Unlimited Card which is just £11.99 a month and you can see as many films as you like at any time of the day, or (until the end of this month) take advantage of Orange Wednesdays! If you’re prepared to put some time and effort in, why not register at where you have the opportunity to see most new movies before they’re released, legally and for free.

If you enjoy a nice meal, why not swap restaurants for meals at home. The success of the Channel 4 show ‘Come Dine With Me’ has encouraged more and more of us to invite the ones we love round to our home for a dinner date, rather than go out and pay over the odds for something you can recreate at home for a fraction of the price. You could even organise a 'bring-and-share' evening and ask everyone to bring a different dish; although I've only done this once, it was a huge success, which actually makes me wonder why we haven't done it since?!

Early morning takeaway coffees, bought from the cafĂ© two doors down from work might do wonders for our mood, picking us up and getting us ready for the day ahead, but this early-morning pick me up can make a huge dent in your purse. Instead of taking the easy route and buying a takeaway beverage, pick up an electric filter coffee-maker (for as little as £20) and packets of ground coffee (which can be purchased for under £2 from all major supermarkets) and make your own; if you usually buy a coffee every day of the working week, you’ll be saving money within two weeks! If everyone in your office also indulges in a takeaway coffee, why not suggest splitting the cost with them so everyone saves. I have a stash of tea bags and milk at work so I can have as many brews as I like during the working day for about the same price of one takeaway cuppa!

5. Priceless Playtime
Although I don't have children, I do have a Pinterest board ready for the day that I do, so I know there are a heap of tips and tricks out there to entertain kids on a budget. For example, homemade playdough, which is quick and easy to make, can keep children amused for hours. All you need is: two cups of plain flour, one cup of salt, two cups of water, two tablespoons of cooking oil, four teaspoons of cream of tartar and a few drops of food colouring. The classic method involves mixing all the ingredients together and stirring over a low heat on the hob. Once the dough looks like mashed potatoes and pulls away from the sides and clumps in the centre of the pan, remove it from the heat and allow to cool. Knead vigorously until silky-smooth then divide the dough into balls. To colour, make a divot in the centre and drop some food colouring into it then fold the dough over, working the colouring through the dough. That’s it, it’s now ready to give to your child. Store in an air-tight container.

Other great ways to amuse the kids for next-to-nothing is by making castles, cars and anything else you can think of from cardboard boxes, take them to a garden centre or pet shop to look at the animals instead of paying to visit a wildlife park or even join a toy library.

What do you do to keep an eye on the pennies so the pounds take care of themselves?

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