Is it just me or are we all hyper-focused on our household budgets right now? It’s a case of every little helps for sure, so here are some of my (non-tried and tested) ideas to save a bit here and there
• EVERY other article these days is offering advice on how to save money, be more thrifty and if not thrive, then at least survive in these financially challenging days. It’s all becoming a bit of a yawn, to be honest. But sure if you can’t beat them, join them, isn’t that right? So for what it’s worth here’s my (carefully calculated) tuppence worth. Although for health and safety reasons, I should point out that I’m absolutely no Eddie Hobbs. In fact, I’m not an expert on anything. Also, I don’t usually follow my own advice, so absolutely no pressure.
• Let’s get down to brass tacks and start with savings. Honestly if I’d known how tough things were going to get I’d have been more careful with my Confirmation money. I mean did I really need that Sony Walkman in the end? It haunts me to this day. Anyway my current strategy for stashing away some savings is to hoover up my husband’s loose change. Once upon a time I chided him for leaving his piles of coins on the bedside table or in various locations around the house. No more. Now I’m on it like a rocket. Some might call it stealing, but I prefer to think of it as recirculating the wealth. As for the children’s allowance, we’re all on the same page about that being mum’s allowance, aren’t we? Thought so. After all happy mum, happy house. On a more serious note, though, any unexpected gains (such as a forgotten €5 found in a coat pocket or a €2 coin found down the back of the couch) should go straight into your rainy day fund in the post office. Open one if you haven’t already.
• Lots of other money-saving articles I’ve read recently have suggested swapping clothes with friends, instead of shopping. It means you get a new look, without any of the expense. Now, I’m mad about my pals, but there’s absolutely no way I want to wear their clothes. Nor do I want them to wear mine. I’m totally OCD like that and am breaking out in a sweat thinking about it (and thinking about them sweating in my clothes). Even as a kid I’d fret if I loaned a book to someone and they turned down the pages instead of using a bookmark. In hindsight I can see that didn’t do much for my popularity. Anyway, instead, why not shop your wardrobe? It’s boring I know, but will another handbag really bring you joy once the initial dopamine hit wears off? Of course it won’t (well it might, but work with me). Or how about this: what if work uniforms became a thing for everyone? I know it’s a bit mad, but think how much money you’d save (as well as time every morning)? I’ve always had a hankering to wear one of the Aer Lingus cabin crew outfits – could it be reworked in Southern Star colours I wonder? Some food for thought anyway.
• Speaking of food, that’s where we’re all noticing a major hike in costs right now. It’s actually horrifying so what I’m going to suggest is pretty radical: make dinner with what’s already in your cupboard and fridge. Use it all up! Yes, that includes the butternut squash you enthusiastically bought last week that now looks hard to peel and chop and the (extra-large packet of) lentils/kidney beans/ chickpeas you bought during lockdown that is waving at you every time you open the press. And it goes without saying that includes last night’s leftovers (lasagne two nights in a row never killed anyone). Outside of things like bread and milk, try to stick rigidly to the weekly shop. Obviously emergency purchases of gourmet crips, and cheese, are allowed. How else are we to get through all this?
• Depending on how many kids, you have school lunch boxes are another major financial drain. All shop-bought cereal bars and little snacks now suddenly seem to cost a fortune (or else we’re just more tuned into the cost) so it’s time to pull the Kenwood out and get baking. I’m pretty lucky in that regard. I noticed a while back that the six-year-old liked to take her lunch in and out to school for a little spin. The entire thing, more or less, would return home untouched for the benefit of the dogs or the cows. I’ve wisened up of late, though, and I send her off with the same thing every day. It’s saving me a fortune. Try it if you can.
• Next to lotions and potions. You know how when you get a new body lotion you pour it over yourself like you’re Cleopatra? Stop that carry on. To shampoo your hair you need only the equivalent of a five cent piece at most, so steady on. And, unlike what the ad says, when they’re gone, they’re not gone! Cut the tops off your moisturisers etc and you’ll find ready supplies for a few more days. And make sure all members of the household know that the ‘good’ products are off limits to all but you. They’re all on the carbolic soap.
• And finally what about bringing back bartering? Not in the traditional sense, don’t embarrass yourself in the supermarket by trying to negotiate the cashier down on a pint of milk but think more of a trade in talents. I’m more or less unable to sew on a button or take up a hem, so if you do that for me, I’ll … I’ll think of something if you leave it with me. But you get the drift, a freezer dinner for some babysitting; Irish grinds for some home-grown veg (just no butternut squash I beg of you). Isn’t it worth a thought, surely?