Counting the cost of a great day out. Oops.

I have just had a marvelous day out with a group of wonderful women celebrating a friend’s birthday. We dined out (twice in one day!) We took taxi’s. We drank more than a few cocktails. We chatted, we shopped, we laughed and we cried. I wouldn’t change a single moment of the day. As the Mastercard advert would say: spending time with good friends? Priceless.

Except it wasn’t priceless at all. In fact, not only did I individually spend more than I would on a weekly food shop for all five of us, the husband also ordered an expensive takeaway as I wasn’t home to cook the tea.

There were loads of ways that I could have reduced the cost of the day. I could have just not gone. I could have joined them after lunch. I could have insisted on a more reasonable restaurant. I could have asked for tap water. I could have skipped cake. I could have walked. I could have left a curry in the slow cooker.

How on earth can I call myself a Thrifty Ninja when I deliberately chose not to take any of the frugal options open to me. Am I a fake? Hopelessly deluded? Doomed to failure? No. Just human, and quite frankly, I fancied a day off.

I have decided to treat the day as a positive learning experience.

1 Own up and move on.
The money is gone. I have written it’s loss down in the money book under ‘social’. I can’t get it back, but I can ensure that future ‘social’ spending is reduced accordingly. It will probably even-out over the course of a few months as long as I don’t make a habit of it.

2 It could have been worse
The fact is I could have spent an awful lot more. Visiting shops during leisure time is deemed to be an enjoyable hobby by many women and I could have bought a new lippy or mascara and convinced myself it was a little treat. I didn’t. In fact the visit to the department store made me realise how pernicious marketing is. I was overwhelmed with the promises to make me younger, more beautiful, thinner, sexier, more sophisticated and successful in return for outrageous amounts of money. And, while I am on the subject, how can a cushion cost £50? It’s just two bloody squares sewn together!!!!! Like, SERIOUSLY!!!

3 Take Advantage.
During our girly day, we visited a vintage fair. Secreted beneath a Farrah Fawcett Majors thermos flask and a Chewbakka mug, was a beautiful 1970’s floral curtain. £8 for 4 metres of florid exuberance. I have already covered an old chair with it, and intend to use the rest to put together a few cushions that I will sell. Apparently, people will pay £50 for two squares stitched together. Who knows, I may even end up making a profit on the day!

Now, does anyone want to buy a cushion?

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I would do anything for thrift….but I won’t do THAT!!

I wrote in my last blog about how much I am enjoying developing new skills that have enabled me to save a little bit of money. These have included grooming the dog, building a bike shed, and mending a loo seat. Heavens, I have even cut my own hair this week.

However, I have realized that there are some things I am simply not prepared to compromise. However much they cost, and despite the fact that hard cord thrifters may consider me to be a rookie lightweight, I am simply not prepared to budge on these important essentials.

In no particular order these are:

Eyebrow shaping
A well groomed brow takes years off a woman. Better than Botox, more effective than a facial. I have tried plucking. OW! I only got as far as completing one before taking to my bed with a migraine. I have tried home waxing, but ended up with a slightly perplexed lopsided expression. So, threading at my local salon it is, even though they look down on me like I am some kind of unkempt bag lady when I walk in. Clearly, not their usual class of customer.

Dog poo bags
Yes yes, I know. Hardy thrifters use pound shop nappy bags. But you can see the poo through them!! ARGGhHhH!!!! And, even worse, you can FEEL the poo through them!! No. No. No. I need industrial strength poo bags with the approximate thickness and transparency of a yoga mat. Thank you. I knew you would understand.

My dentist
He is not NHS. He is a private practitioner. I know that the standard of treatment given by the NHS is second to none and as could save myself a small fortune by transferring to another dentist. But I am not blessed with strong teeth, and I have a real fear of that chair. He is the only man who has ever managed to fill my molars without having to knock me out first. He is really kind and gentle and I trust him, so he stays.

My hobby

I sing in a choral society that has pretty hefty membership and show fees. Getting there involves quite a drive, and so there are petrol costs. There are lots of free choirs nearer my home that I could easily join. But over the years I have made many good friends, and joining together for a good old sing is balm for the soul. The benefits for mental well being have been proved by science and everything. So singing stays! Tra la la.

What are you not prepared to compromise?

Lots of love

Thrifty Ninja

The Shitty Side of Make Do and Mend

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I have to admit, I get more than a little peeved with the modern rose tinted take on ‘Make Do and Mend’.  Don’t get me wrong, I am not wasteful, and I try to get as much life out of every item as I possibly can.   

What I particularly dislike is the rebranding of previous generations of Make Do and Menders as happy, rosy cheeked, chirpy, patriotic types who sewed for victory and never complained. This image suits modern marketers who want us to spend our modern disposable incomes on trying to recreate the frugality of 1940’s by buying mountains of retro fabric, buttons, crochet hooks and new sewing machines.  

I grew up in a family who through necessity made do and mended, and I can honestly say that it was pretty shitty. 

The memories of my childhood are not of Mum merrily whistling as she craftily fashioned my 70’s flares into an A line skirt. The lack of money was  a constant source of tension, and discord between my Mum and Dad. My memories are of my Mum’s angry tears as she discovered Dad had stored engine parts in the oven (to warm them up for some reason) or had spilled battery acid on the work surfaces. I remember that the twin tub leaked every wash day, and the spin cycle was a bit erratic. We would subsequently have to endure a long walk to the launderette with sacs of wet washing. I remember that our house was pretty much held together with pollyfiller and duct-tape and was very very cold.  Apart from the time the airing cupboard set on fire due to some faulty wiring.  It was warm then. 

Cars were usually the main source of tension, as we could not afford to take them to a garage to be mended.  Every morning we would have to push the car down the hill and jump start it, then drive round the estate like boy racers to get the battery charged. At traffic lights and junctions one had to keep the revs very high in case of stalling. Nearby pedestrians would flee, thinking you were about to mow them down.  I even had to to do this during my driving test. 

When one car finally gave up the ghost, Dad, convinced he would have to pay someone to take it away, made our drive his own personal breakers yard.  Armed with a hammer and a saw, he reduced the car to tiny pieces, lovingly saving parts that he could use for spares.  All of which caused my Mum to have an actual breakdown, flee to a hostel, and refuse to come back until he removed all traces of the wreckage. 

So, as I grew up, not surprisingly, I began to think of being able to pay an ‘expert’ some ‘money’ to do things for me, as desirable. Car not working?- take it to a garage and someone will fix it. No tears.  Washing machine broken?  Buy a new one!  No hassle. Decorating needs doing?  Fine – I’ll see if any friends can recommend someone good. Dog looking a bit scruffy?  Book him in at the groomers.  

I see that this habit has cost me a lot of money over the years, and actually I have more skills than I think I do. 

So, whilst I am not whistling a merry tune and hanging out the bunting – I have done a few things for myself recently that have saved me a few pennies.

1 I groomed my own dog! With scissors and clippers, and he didn’t look too bad.

2 I put up a curtain pole.  With a drill.  Go me!

3 I have replaced the seal on the washing machine. 

4 I mended a wobbly toilet seat. With a screwdriver (yes, really I would have asked someone to do that for me)

Little steps I know. But important ones none the less. And as the months go by, I am sure there will be more things that I will learn to do for myself. 

Better go – I must dig for victory. I’d love to hear of things you now do that you used to pay someone else to do….

 

Jacqui xx

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Credit Card debt. done and DONE!!

I am very proud to report that this month I have reached two very significant milestones.

Firstly, I have ended the month with no overdraft.

Secondly, I have finally finished paying off the credit card that at it’s worst was £5,000.

*takes applause graciously*

This is a significant achievement. It means that the steps I am putting into place are working, and I can see definate progress.

It also means that I can now begin snowballing. This is the process by which some of the money we were using to service the credit card debt, can now be put towards paying off the remaining loans. Once the loans are paid off, that money can be put towards the mortgage etc. Once the mortgage has been paid off, we can look to spend the kid’s inheritance on one long hedonistic bender!!

So, my sights are now set on paying off a loan in one year rather than the agreed three. Three times as early. Triple-thrift! Can I do it?

Yes I can !!

I have three strategies to get this done. They are not rocket science.

1 put all previous credit card payments to loan
2 continue to budget effectively : no more overdraft EVER!!
3 Put ALL money from side hustles (found money) to the loan.

My next blog will let you know all about my side hustles…what’s worked for me, and what hasn’t.

I’d love to hear how you are taking control of your finances. Please add a comment.. : )

Jacqui