Tighten your belt, austerity rules
Rosie Green takes a long, hard look at her family finances and gets ready for the post-Christmas fiscal clawback... in her very own way
rosie green on the post-Christmas fiscal clawback
We’ve feasted on Waitrose’s Dark Chocolate & Orange Stollen Wreath, we’ve pulled the “premium” crackers and we’ve hesitated in front of the Prosecco… and then bought the Champagne. We’ve indulged.
I stopped pressing “view balance” when getting cash out circa mid-November.
Just like when driving my car through a narrow gap, when it comes to my fiscal situation, I’ve been closing my eyes, holding my breath and hoping for the best.
And now it’s the month of reckoning. The pine needles have dropped, we’re in possession of a lot of relish (relish appears to have replaced candles as the gift du jour), and our financial reserves are more depleted than Gove’s friendship circle.
So it’s operation clawback. Here’s how I’m doing it…
Sending those free Red Cross notecards as thank-you cards. OK, so they are thinner than a supermodel turned sideways, but now is not the time to be spending on those Smythson bumblebees. And if there’s a free pen to write with, so much the better.
Suspending your ethics. I mean not totally, but eco kitchen rolls, chickens that have been tucked up under duvets at night, fish that have been caught using the tickling method – these are things that are all for the good times.
Eating the freezer. After months of decadent purchases, it’s time to tackle all the Tupperware filled with unidentifiable brown meals that pre-date Harry and Meghan’s wedding. And the pellety peas. And the half bag of frozen prawns.
Going own-brand. You know, like that TV show Eat Well For Less? is always suggesting. But they’ve never seen the nuclear fallout that occurs in our house when own-brand tomato ketchup is produced.
Ditto the ersatz Shreddies. The only good thing is, my daughter is prevented from voicing her objection too vociferously because of the dry mass of cardboardy-ness welded her mouth together.
Shrieking at the kids if they try and print anything (when did printer ink become more expensive than gold?).
Putting another jumper on and turning down the heating. Which is really depressing, right? Now we’re all walking around looking like we’re in fat suits. It reminds me of a particularly thrifty flatmate who told me once during a big freeze that “snow insulates”.
I know these are First World problems, and we’re not hunting squirrels for dinner. Yet. In fact in the first few weeks I quite enjoy the hair shirt virtuousness.
Filling up your posh hand soap dispenser with Aldi’s Jo Malone rip-off version. Regifting from the drawer.
(Just check to make sure those glasses aren’t engraved. Been there.)
Getting back into the black is like a heroic mission and it can feel good.
Sometimes, though, austerity backfires. Like the time Alpha Male bought a thousand tins of 3p beans at Kwik
Save and found them utterly inedible.
Those type of faux prudent purchases make you fall off the non-spending wagon. I start off practical, justifying my spending with the future savings that the buy will deliver. That bread maker to make cheap bread? £99.99. Containers from Lakeland for efficient kitchen management? £30+.
Then I, ahem, buy a very, very nice coat. I justify it by completing a cost per wear analysis (59p if you’re asking). Hmm. But back to austerity.
Brown mush and single prawn anyone? I find it goes extremely well with relish.
“In the first few weeks I quite enjoy the hair shirt virtuousness of the project”