Monday, 5 December 2011

How To Be Thrifty And Chic

I didn't use to be particularly frugal. I'm a lover of the good things in life and for  a long time would buy pretty much whatever I wanted with little thought to the cost financially or environmentally.
Its easy to be thrifty and chic

All this changed when I had my daughter and left the security of my well paid job as a TV director to set up business on my own. Suddenly not only was my income slashed but I started to look at the world and became scared at how much we consumed, there had to be a better way. I am now quite good at being thrifty but (and this is a big but) I insist its always done in a chic way. Life's too short to reuse a teabag and I'm fairly dubious about couponing but I have learnt a few ways to be savvy with my money without resorting to cutting your own hair.
Here are my tips.
Learn To Cook
This probably sounds really simple or maybe quite patronising but no one is born with the innate ability to cook and unless someone shows you its very hard to admit you don't really know how to make an omelette or you would love to make a stew but lack the knowledge of what meat to use. If your cookery skills are quite basic consider going on a short course or better still ask a friend who is a whizz in the kitchen to teach you four or five really good recipes. In return offer to do some ironing, dog walking  or some other job in return. Once you can cook you can turn simple inexpensive ingredients in to delicious food and will eat like a queen whilst spending a fraction of the amount you would send on M and S Ready meals or takeaways.I'm loving The Frugal Cook Blog which has some lovely recipes which wont break the bank.
Learn to cook and you will eat well and spend less-the maths of yummyness

Make A Shopping List
This sounds so basic but supermarkets are designed by evil geniuses who dazzle our senses with lovely looking food and pump the smell of fresh bread through the air con to make our mouths water. To ensure you stay on budget and get the ingredients for a weeks worth of tasty nutritious food and nothing else,devise a menu plan in advance and then make a list. Don't be swayed by things on offer and don't just buy something because you get a second item free unless you already have it on your list or its a food stuff you definitely eat regularly. 
You have got to love a list

Shop From Your Couch
If you are particularly strapped for cash consider shopping on line. The small delivery charge is far outweighed by the fact that you can compare brands and wont go off reservation at the cake aisle. Another tip (which is an old Martin Lewis suggestion) is to go down a brand. So if everything you buy is "Best Of" or "Finest" swap down a brand and see if there is any discernible difference. You would be surprised at how little difference there truly is in a lot of stuff. There is a line though and being financially sensible shouldn't mean eating poor quality food. I always buy free range eggs and good quality tea and coffee. Yes I like to be frugal but I'm not a savage.
A weeks shopping done and I haven't left the house

Upcycle Yourself Into A Frenzy
Long before shabby became chic I was repainting furniture, adapting clothes and rescuing discarded items and making them beautiful. Upcycling is in my blood and it makes me so happy to see it having a "moment". With a little time and love you can breathe new life into items destined for the tip. Its creative, its frugal and its incredibly satisfying-whats not to love. For examples of projects to get you going look here.
Upcycling-its the new black
Ask The Experts
There are some amazing money saving blogs and websites out there packed to bursting with ideas, tips, offers and advice. These are the sites I regularly check into.
Hello-Can you help me be thrifty?

Special Offer Sites
Websites like Groupon and Living social are perfect if you want to have treats in your life but don't want to pay full price. If you subscribe to these sites they e-mail you every day with offers and if you keep your eyes open you can get some fabulous deals. I went for lunch with my friends last week and Groupon were offering a lunch deal for the cafe we were going to. We each paid a fiver for a lunch which included a hot meal, glass of wine and cake and tea. Who said being careful with money means you don't have fun.

me and my lovely friend Lena enjoying our £5 groupon lunch
Make Gifts
One great aspect of the new love for all things crafty is that its no longer considered strange or cheep to make gifts.This is fabulous news especially if you are on a small budget. With a little bit of time and planning you can create items people will love to receive and which will cost a fraction of buying something on the high street. 
Handmade-Thoughtful and frugal
So these are my tips for saving a few pounds whilst still living a lovely life. Its easy as (home made) pie.


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