Friday, 17 May 2013

Frugal Friday

We're all familiar I'm sure with the sort of frugal blog that tells you that you should always buy the dirt-cheapest of everything, not "waste money" on good quality meat, and never treat yourself to a thing. For some folk this penny-pinching approach might well work, but for us, there are things that we are more than happy to spend our money on, so this week I thought I'd turn the Friday Frugality on its head, and talk about some of the things that we ARE happy to spend money on.

Food -well obviously you need to eat, but the recent finding of horsemeat in all manner of supermarket products really underlined for me the importance of knowing where your food originates from. Almost without question, the affected items were from the lower end of the market, or in "ready meals", which really brings home the benefit of cooking from scratch! We're quite happy to spend a bit more on the meat we buy, although we also eat far less meat now, than we used to. Meat comes from the farmer's market, or our nice local butchers which opened a few months ago, and very occasionally comes from the supermarket in the form of good quality sausages or bacon. We have also just bought another whole lamb for the freezer - we did this before you might remember, I blogged about it -for us with our two freezers, this is a great and economical way of buying some really good meat, and we will get our money's worth out of every single last scrap! I don't buy pre-prepared, veggies come either fresh or frozen for the most part - unless they are bean-shaped, in which case in tins or dried, and the only foodstuff I buy on a regular basis which says "just add water" is those handy little "Stockpot" blobs. Actually, that's are a good point - branded goods. We don't buy many things in a specific brand - instant coffee is an exception, Nescafe all the way for MrEH and yes, he has tried other makes/own label etc, and he could tell the difference, and he didn't like it much. If we were on the breadline, struggling from one week to the next just to put food on the table, then he would economise happily enough, but that is not the situation for us thankfully, so there is no point in making the small detail of day to day life miserable. See also "cheap toilet paper" - not going there, either! (We pay under 30p a roll, and as we only use just over 1 roll a week, that's not something we feel the need to scrimp and save on, either!). Other branded items include Baked Beans (Branston are delicious, and when on offer, are cheaper than supermarket own brand and nicer than value ranges), Marmite (no comparison), washing up liquid (with our hard water it's those Mild Green liquid fairies all the way) and crisps. Often shopping carefully means you can buy branded as cheaply as own-label or even Value - the Branston beans I bought last week were 32p a tin - and the comparative Value ones were on the shelf at 29p - I'm very happy with an extra 3p!

Car maintenance - definitely not one to be scrimped on this. MrEH's car is now 10 years or 170,000 miles old - we've had her for 3.5 of those years. Mine is 5.5 years old with 80k on the clock. Both will most likely continue until they start costing too much money to run and will then be replaced. We use a good, reliable and trustworthy local garage. They may not be the cheapest but we know their workmanship is excellent. For tyres we use a local independent workshop - again, we could get cheaper online but we know the other chaps, they'll squeeze you in if you're stuck and even stayed late on a Friday for me once to sort a tyre on the Clio. Puncture repairs are free for regular customers on tyres bought from them

The Holiday of course - not cheap. 2500 miles worth of diesel, at least three ferries, two weeks accommodation, more meals out than we eat for the whole of the rest of the year...but two weeks of enjoying one another's company, with perfect peace and quiet, in an environment we love? Priceless! MrEH's job can be incredibly stressful - his department is desperately overworked and this has an inevitable effect in him, so we feel that those two weeks are extremely important - yes we could spend them at home but this would almost certainly lead to him getting calls from the office - by going away he gets left alone for enough time to recharge his batteries! Being frugal is great for the finances of course but it's important to pay attention to your mental health also.

Fun - yes we do go off for weekends, for days out, and out with friends, and yes those things cost money. I'm quite certain that there are bloggers out there who would scathingly tell me that I'm "wasting" that money, that we should only do things that are free, or can be done on the cheap, but do you know what, I beg to differ. Not everyone chooses to live as we do, other people have different lifestyles and ways of doing things, but just because of that doesn't mean they are not our friends, or that we don't want to spend time with them. Imposing your lifestyle on others is unfair and unreasonable in our view - and we compromise by using the tent, by staying in Travelodges and by using discount vouchers. Our social life is worth every penny of the money we spend on it, and it shouldn't be forgotten that if all goes to plan we will still be rid of our mortgage 10 years earlier than planned. Thankfully we've never been in the position of running up huge debts, we don't have expensive tastes and certainly wouldn't borrow money to finance those tastes we DO have!

What do you happily spend on because you think it's worth it? Are there branded foods that you think can't be beaten, or have you found anything that is unbeatable within the budget ranges?



Scarlet said...

I spend money on having my haircut (£30.50 every 10 weeks)and decent shampoo which I found yesterday at S/burys on a BOGOF deal just as we were on the dregs of the last bottle so I got 1.8 litres of Tresemme shampoo for £4.65. I shall be popping in again to see if the offer is still on as I bought the last 2 bottles on the shelf. If I had the available money I would pay for a gym membership for me and J. We absolutely loved the year that we had and paid for it with the last of my university scholarship money - I was awarded it for academic excellence and spent the last instalment on the gym. We used to go at least 5 times every week and squeezed every last bit of our money's worth out of it.

Marksgran said...

I agree wholeheartedly. I'm happy to use scraggy veg, even cheap toilet paper-I really like Tesco value brand but I will not scrimp on meat or fish. I like it fresh and don't often buy it when its reduced to freeze it. I too buy from the butcher but I love Debbie and Harry sausages which I get in Asda. I also bought a whole lamb a couple of times when my old boss had a smallholding and I got one from him so I knew exactly where the meat came from - his field! It was delicious and I wish I could still get it but he moved away from here so thats now out. I think we all have to do what we can to be healthy and happy and if buying a few branded goods and going an annual holiday and a few nights out is all it takes and won't leave you on the breadline then enjoy! We're only on this earth once (as far as I know) so we should enjoy our time as much as possible. Can I just also say to Scarlet she might be able to get gym membership at her local authority gym through her doctor (on prescription) for her health reasons - apparently such things are available but not widely advertised! x

dreamer said...

There are a few things we still splash out on despite spending very little overall on groceries, we like real butter, good quality meat, and decent tea and coffee.
I also spend £5 on a sewing class once a week and think it is worth every penny. I get to socialise with friends, have a coffee (filter ) and learn new sewing skills which help me save a fortune on things I then make myself.
I am happy to keep household bills low , and buy furniture and bits and pieces second hand if it frees up money in the budget to spend on what matters to us- whether that is experiences, family or whatever.

Robyn said...

Scarlet that's a great point that Marksgran makes about the gym - might well be worth chatting to your GP about that. otherwise might one of the "cheap" gyms be workable within your budget somehow? I know places like The Gym are opening up more and more and start from about £10 a month. I know exactly what you mean as well - I loved gym membership when I had it! with you on the haircuts too - mine is a should-length bob so doesn't need cutting that often but when it does I prefer to pay a little more for what I know will be a good cut.
Marksgran - fish I almost never buy reduced - although I do buy frozen sometimes, particularly things like prawns. The thing of knowing where meat comes from is why I avoid buying from the supermarket.
Dreamer - your "real butter" comment made me grin - even the word "spread" makes me cringe - if I'm going to have "butter" then that's exactly what I'll have, thanks! Your sewing class is excellent value - just going out and meeting a friend for coffee and a natter would cost you that anyway - the fact that you get the sewing stuff thrown in is a bargain!