So NixdMinx is catching the zeitgeist and running a Credit Crunchista Carnivale. As we are being chewed ferociously by the dreaded 'R' word here chez Potty, I have been racking my brains on useful tips to share so that I can participate in this, but I have to say that I haven't come up with anything ground-breaking so far.
There are the obvious ones of course; turning your heating down a degree or two, and making sure that if you have pre-paid mobile bills you use those minutes up each month rather than simply picking up the landline whenever you want to make a call at home.
Unfortunately that one is easier said that done for me: we live in a basement flat, my mobile is rubbish, and the moment I wander too far from the window click, the connection goes. So why move from the window, you ask? I don't know about you, but a rather demanding 3 year old screaming for chocolate / the television / contraband remote controls will usually send me racing for the bathroom to make a call in peace. And as our bathroom has no windows, well, guess which phone I normally pick up first? The end result is that I end up getting to school and nursery pick-ups early in an attempt to catch up on all the calls to my mobile that I've missed when I'm in the flat with a phone not in service. I always wondered what those harrassed-looking women frantically yabbering into their nokia's and checking their diaries in parked cars were up to. Now? I'm one of them...
But enough moaning. The Credit Crunchista Carnivale. I haven't gone as far as a girlfriend I visited this morning who has invested in her own bread-making machine (only 200 loaves and she'll have recouped her investment, hurrah!) or my beloved Husband who purchased a Nespresso machine last February, arguing that having been made redundant he would easily save the cost of it in money not spent in Starbucks, Costa and Cafe Nero. (We won't talk about the resultant caffeine highs here. But they're not pretty and I insisted he include some decaff in his 'varied' diet as a consequence...)
No, the most far reaching change I've implemented and which really has impacted on my spending is one of the most simple you could think of, and whilst it makes me feel elderly in the extreme to do it, is so embarrasingly easy that I can't imagine why I never did it before. Well, I did do it - but only on special occassions. High days and holidays. You know, when you need that little bit extra?
Have I made it sound naughty and exotic yet?
Not surprising, because it really isn't.
Each week, twice a week, I sit down at the table. I check my diary for our plans that week. I work out our evening meals for the next 4 days. I check what's in the cupboard. I write down what we need to make those meals happen, and then I go to the supermarket. And - here's the really exciting bit - come hell or high water I only buy what's on the list. (OK, OK, the odd bar of Green and Black's might make it through, but apart from that, I promise, I stick to it.)
If you have any sense, you've probably been doing this for years, but to be honest, I always thought it was something Norma Nomates did and which would remove all spontanaity from our diet. How wrong I was. Since I write my lists in a handy notebook I can now check what we ate last week and make sure I don't replicate it again too soon. (With the exception of sausages, of course, which as we all know are one of the main food groups for 3 and 5 year old boys).
Actually writing that down has made me shiver with a bit of revulsion; I knew that sharing this tip might make me feel 'middle-aged', and it certainly has. However, since technically, I am middle-aged, I suppose I just need to suck it up...
In any case, we now have less packaged pasta and a more interesting diet than we ever did before. Previously, I would wander round the supermarket picking up a little bit of what I fancied here, a bogoff there, and before you know it I would have spent more money than I needed to and have gone home to throw out exactly the same stuff that I had bought the previous week. Which had not been used and which had now gone off. So much for spontanaity.
Looking back I can't believe how slow to catch on I was to this basic housekeeping measure, but I swear, I just never thought of doing it before. Since I have, however, our food bill has dropped by around 30%. That's around £1,900 a year.
Who'd have thought that only buying what you need would save you money?
For what it's worth, that's my tip, then. Lists Rule!