Friday, 13 June 2014

Frugal Friday...

"Don't sweat the small stuff" - there's a phrase. So often this can be really relevant, but sometimes, in money-saving terms, rather less so - it can in fact be the "small stuff" that can make all the difference, and "sweating it" just a bit can make a real boost to your finances.

These chaps are responsible for the late appearance of this post! 
Later this year Scotland will be following Wales and Northern Ireland in introducing a 5p charge for supply of single-use bags. OK, 5p isn't much is it, but let's say your weekly shop uses 5 of them each time - that's 25p per shop, or a whopping £13 a year assuming you shop every week. A Supermarket "Bag for life" meanwhile costs 10p - and takes roughly twice as much as one of those "single use" bags, I reckon. And of course once bought,m when it bursts a handle or springs a leak, you can replace it with a brand new one for absolutely nothing - now that's got to be a bargain hasn't it - the new season's must-have bag for a lifetime one off spend of just 10p? Where do I sign!  If you want something a little more unique, robust and "you" then there are many different designs of shopping bags too - from the big jute tote-bags to the foldable "pouch style" ones available in so many fab colours and designs. I have LOTS, and do try to make sure I always have one or more in my handbag, and a good selection in my car. Mostly when asked if I want a bag I say "No thanks, I've got my own" but yes, sometimes I DO slip up and forget. the new charge being introduced in Scotland is now pretty much certain to transfer over to England in due course, meaning that wherever we are, down south or Oop North, forgetting to pick up a bag to take in with me is going to start costing money, so I'm committing to focus more on this in the future and join Fay in not being a "(Disposable) bag lady" any more!

Of course that's far from the only place where small savings can make a difference. We've been getting things organised for our next trip to the Hebrides - it's some way off yet but things need booking some way in advance - so far we've saved £50 from our budget figure by looking at an area we'd not thought of before for accommodation - and managed to combine actually getting from mainland Scotland to the Hebrides AND doing the flights we've wanted to do for a long while (landing on the beach at Barra) for a bargain price. While we were up there we did a little research on car hire, and have pinned that down to a price we're happy with too. It didn't take long out of our holiday, but will save us around £40 over having just accepted the list prices as advertised. That trip is even being paid for from "small stuff" as well - the odd pennies and pounds being "swept" across from our current accounts, interest earned on savings, and the cashback earned by taking the little extra time to click through from TopCashBack when booking or buying things are all being saved in order to make the trip as "cash neutral" as we can manage. Free holiday? Oh go on then! Just taking a few extra moments to research options and "shop around" can make a big difference to the money in your pocket for tea and cake - and let's face it, I'm not a rocket-scientist or a brain-surgeon whose every waking moment is vital to humanity - it's vital to me, yes, but not so much so that I'm too grand to take a couple of hours out to save myself  a few £'s!

Other "small stuff" - food waste - now here's one that bugs me. I know folk who think nothing of happily buying a big pack of bread rolls or a loaf of bread to have with lunch in the office...a few slices or a couple of rolls get eaten, the rest generally get discarded or left to go stale. How infuriating is that? Never mind the money waste on this one - what about all that precious food being left to rot, and then thrown into landfill? Another tooth-grinding irritation is the office milk - many times I've realised just too late that half of a 4pt bottle has been thrown down the sink...why? Because it's "out of date". Have anyone smelled it to see if it's OK? No, of course not, the bottle says its out of date so it must be off, right? Wrong! Food's clever stuff, mostly it will tell you if it's not OK any more, either by the way it looks or smells. Packaging is NOT clever stuff, and can only repeat to you what someone else has told it. Use your eyes, nose and brain and you can save a packet (or a loaf, or a tub...). Before we went on holiday we meal-planned carefully to use up anything that needed using from the fridge, as well as as much as possible from the freezer, and while we were away we shopped carefully again to ensure that things got used up before we left. What was left over (either because we bought the smallest size we could but there was still too much, or in one case because it was cheaper to buy a larger pack or an item) either got brought back with us or was donated to chums, who were very happy to receive it judging by the cry of "goodies!" when we appeared with the bag!

Thinking laterally can work too - we're attending a couple of events later in the summer - a music festival one day followed by an airshow the next. Both are off to the South west of us, so staying overnight is the logical answer - one of the events offers on site camping for a charge which is less than we'd pay elsewhere, so we'll book that when we book the tickets - job done! For another airshow I'm visiting, driving last year took hours as the traffic was terrible. I decided to check the cost of train travel and discovered that tickets are available for £16 return - but as this has been booked via Red Spotted Hanky using credit gained by converting Clubcard Points, it's actually only costing me half, that, which is less than the diesel would cost, and I get to sit back and enjoy the ride rather than getting hot and bothered in the car!

Are you happy to sweat some "small stuff" to make a saving? Or maybe you think that sort of thing is all to much hassle and you're happy to go with the flow regardless of whether it might cost you more?


Oops - wrote this, then promptly forgot to add a photo and schedule it to post while I was up in Lincolnshire today - sorry!

1 comment:

Scarlet said...

The lower the budget, the more important the small stuff becomes. It's why I try to do everything I need to on the day that I buy a daily bus ticket. It means that I have a very tiring day, but it saves me money, as I can't get everything I want, or need to buy, in one shop.