COSMOPOLITAN CONTRACT The money diet
This is an agreement made by A Person Trying To Save A Bit Of Cash This Month,
1 THE SORT The Thrifty will begin by making a budget spreadsheet. She will input her essential outgoings for the month – food, bills, rent, Netflix, beauty subscription box – and spend two hours fiddling with Excel to decide which is the most frugal-looking font. Eventually she will add up the columns and discover that she spends more in Topshop than she does on council tax and heating. She will hide her credit card in the freezer.
2 TIGHTENING THE BELT In an effort to stop giving half her wages to M&S Food, The Thrifty will buy a big bag of lunch supplies. She will make a stuffed pitta with hummus and salad for lunch in the office kitchen, telling everyone it only costs 75p when you break down the cost of ingredients! Which she has. When a collection envelope comes round for Janet’s leaving present, she will put in an IOU for a hug.
3 THE BIG STRETCH To save money on transport and justify cancelling her gym membership, The Thrifty will decide to start walking everywhere. In order to motivate herself, she will buy a new fitness tracker (only an extra £35 for rose gold!), a new pair of trainers and two extra cans of deodorant for her desk drawer. But you have to spend money to save money, everyone knows that.
4 THE PERSONAL TOUCH Instead of buying a birthday present for her best friend, The Thrifty will decide to economise by making something. She will lose several evenings (and some blood) to hand-sewing a… a thing. Is it a blanket? A wall hanging? A tea towel? To make it look more special, The Thrifty will end up buying a gift bag that inexplicably costs £5.50. “I’ve always wanted a dreamcatcher!” the friend will say.
5 TRIMMING THE FAT To avoid going out for dinner, The Thrifty will invite everyone round for a night in. “I’ll just cook a big, cheap stew!” she will say, choosing an easy Nigella recipe which will turn out to involve pine nuts, saffron and a special type of oil that costs £4.79. The Thrifty won’t buy any wine, hoping everyone will bring some. They won’t. She will end up serving some limoncello she won in a raffle.
6 CUTTING BACK The Thrifty will volunteer as a model for trainee hairdressers, which will end in tears when they confuse Zooey Deschanel with Zoë Wanamaker. After her eco-friendly reusable cup dribbles coffee all over the inside of her bag, The Thrifty will switch to her back-up strategy: being aggressively smiley to Pret baristas, in the hope of blagging a free flat white. Eventually one will ask, kindly, if she is in pain.
7 TREAT YO’SELF The Thrifty will find herself composing a furious allcompany email to ask who took her last pitta from the fridge, typing,“Whoever did it OWES ME 37p!!!” She will go to Janet’s leaving drinks to rinse the company bar tab. By 9pm, she will have bought a round (of extortionately overpriced craft spirits). By midnight she will be in an Uber with a KFC family bucket and a Euromillions ticket, doing an ASOS haul on her phone. In the morning, she will wake to find her Visa card in the sink, surrounded by defrosted peas…