Friday, 25 January 2013

Frugal Friday

Growing up, one of my favourite TV shows was The Wombles - who were, as we now know, the earliest real exponents of the "Reduce, Re-Use, Recycle" Principles. "Making good use of the things that we find" is of course an excellent plan, but more important still is surely "Making good use of the things that we have".

Casting an eye around the flat, and with Frugal February being planned, I started thinking about the wealth of things that we have that we can indeed make excellent use of, in order to avoid needing to spend money on more.

Entertainment: I have a large pile of unread books. Some I got as presents at Christmas, others have been passed on to me after Mum has finished with them and still others have come from the windowsill in the common area outside our flats, where we all leave books we have finished with for others to take. Either way I have, I reckon, the best part of a years reading, if not more. No need to be buying more at the charity shop, then! We also have a reasonable number of DVD's of films we both enjoy and will be happy to watch again. We also have active RSPB & National Trust Memberships, giving us access to literaly hundreds of places across the country to spend an afternoon, a day,l or just a few hours, at minimal or no cost. We also have CD's, TV, the radio, and lots of board games.

Food: Our freezers, larder & storecupboard are well stocked with provisions and there should be no need to buy other than fresh food (Fruit, Veg & Dairy) through February. The Approved Food couscous mountain is still apparent, and there is rice & pasta aplenty. Bread flour too - this was bought in bulk on a "3 for 2" offer before Christmas, and enabling us to cut the cost of our home made bread even further the yeast was bought directly from the supplier, butter was made from that reduced price cream the other week, and other ingredients are also in stock. HRH The Cat will be in no danger of starving either - we spotted that the local pet superstore had a special offer on her food recently so she now has her own little stockpile!

Toiletries: An essential item this, at least in so far as the basics are concerned, and in practise most of us prefer that little bit extra. I'll confess happily enough that nice smellies are definitely a luxury I enjoy, although I use very few "top end" products these days, and those that I do are asked for as Christmas or birthday presents. I utilise Boots "Christmas Shopping evenings" to stock up on most of what I require for the year, meaning I buy what I would buy anyway, but get given additional reward card points as well just for spending on that specific day. This, combined with items received as gifts, means I am currently plentifully supplied with all the lotions, potions and more personal requirements I shall need for quite some time. In fact, I have committed already on my "Simplify It 2013" challenge that for the next year I will only buy toiletry items when I have actually run out of an item and have no more in stock.

 The National Trust's Oxburgh Hall
Clothing & Footwear: I try to maintain a list of items that I could ideally do with buying if I see them at the right price. For main items of clothing I buy from Charity shops where I can - with a bit of careful searching it's possible to find almost unworn t-shirts for example, and I often manage to add to my vast and varied collection of scarves. Footwear and underwear I usually buy at sale times, or from outlet shops. For nightwear it's hard to beat good old Primark - I'd far rather buy cheap and replace when they get grotty! I'm also not afraid of a bit of repair work when required - I darn woollen socks which would be expensive to replace for example - usually using remnants of wool from other people's knitting projects - which means I have some surprisingly colourful socks! A while ago a friend was astonished to hear me mention repairing a pair of trousers that had gone through in the gusset - her reaction was surely I would just buy a new pair? To me this seems mad if the required repair is just a simple one! Later on in "Simplify It 2013" I'll be concentrating on sorting out my wardrobe.

Cars: MrEH's car "Bessie" is serviced annually, when she has her MoT test in March. This way we can be reasonably certain that things are in order before she goes through the test, and also keeping her servicing fairly close to the recommended mileage for her make & model. My Clio "Gracie" requires servicing at 12,000 mile intervals - and this means that her annual overhaul could get slightly later each year although in practise it is usually done just before we head off for our holiday as she does over 2,500 miles in a fortnight then so it's reassuring to know before setting off that everything has been given a clean bill of health. They are both diesels, and so should be capable of extremely high mileages - in fact Bess has already gone past 160k miles. Thanks to them being diesels we get quite high miles per gallon out of them too - Gracie averages close to 60 miles to the gallon, and Bessie just a little less. Most importantly is the fact that, even allowing for the running costs and diesel, having the cars actually saves us money as without them out annual commuting costs to and from work would be in the region of £7000!

Ourselves! : Legs to walk with, rather than using the car, and to walk for fun as well. Hands to cook from scratch rather than buying processed, pre-prepared rubbish. The skills to make meals from all sorts of oddments from the freezers, larder, fridge and storecupboards, in a sort of mad "Ready Steady Cook" inspired way. The ability to be content with having quiet time, as well as going out and "doing things". A Blog to rant on when things prove a bit tricky, or, the alternative, to sing and shout on when things go swimmingly well!

The next "Frugal Friday" post will be the first of "Frugal February" so I'll be summarising how we intend doing things for week one.



Scarlet said...

I'm having great fun using up the things that I have during the attic makeover. I know that it's going to be so satisfying to have transformed the room and not spent a single penny, and my determination to achieve that is making me look at everything with an even more creative eye than usual. I also have a stack of books to read - all passed on to me by my Mum. Maybe when the attic room is finished I'll be able to sit up there and read them!

wendz said...

I'm a big fan of repairing clothing - I do it all the time. (I have a tunic dress that is so full of patches it's getting ridiculous.) But I buy my socks from Primark (and PJ's) and generally chuck 'em out when they get holes. Having said that, they last surprisingly long.

Most of my books come from charity shops and I have begin giving them back when I am finished with them, instead of hoarding them. It was getting silly, having so many books piled up. It's so easy to hold onto stuff.

Anonymous said...

Having recently made a big move from Wales to Essex at very short notice with nothing more than a suitcase and two parker knoll chairs I have to say that having few possessions is so refreshing. That said I really need to be stocking up on some essentials such as baking dishes, pans etc. My storecupboard isnt too bad at the moment with tinned and dried goods. I will watch and learn from your frugal friday month.

Wean said...

I've just remade a sweater dress into a sweater and hat, made a rug from pre-used fabrics, made several pairs of legwarmers from the sleeves of old sweaters and am working on some patchwork curtains at the moment.
There's nothing wrong with repairing clothes.
You're welcome to visit my blog !

Robyn said...

Scarlet, Mum and I do the book-swapping thing too - in fact it's now become tradition that she gets a big box of charity-shop books as part of her Christmas present!
Wendz - I usually end up with Tesco for socks, theirs seem to last quite well and they are a fairly good fit on my size 4 feet - most "4-7" sized ones are too big!
CC- a Fridge. That's one possession you DEFINITELY need! ;-)
Hi Wean - love having new blogs to read so will certainly pop over and have a look at yours! It always amuses me when folk are sniffy about you repairing clothes rather than just replacing - I can never see why really, just seems logical to me!