Wednesday, 2 June 2010

home economics: the sequel

Oh dear. Just totted up what I've actually spent in the last seven days as opposed to what I think I spend, and am genuinely appalled. How have I got through £260 without anything decadent to show for it? The only things I bought for myself were an intray to sort out my overflowing pile of invoices (tax deductible, maybe?) and a mint plant from the garden centre.
OK, it was a bad week for presents: wedding anniversary, niece's birthday, housewarming for a friend. The silliest thing on it is £35 for a couple of months' supply of the dog's stupidly expensive diet food, as instructed by vet. I could hire it a macrobiotic chef for less.
Nonetheless. The efficiency savings hitherto announced are coverdue. Inspired by David Laws's first decision at the Treasury - cancelling the office potplant budget - it's time to get cracking, or my downshifted career will last approximately as long as, well, David Laws's.
So far have identified the following grievous wastes of money in this house:
1. Leaving the immersion heater switched on for, like, ever (that would be me).
2. Leaving every single electrical appliance in the house on standby constantly (my husband)
3. Buying aubergines. I don't really like aubergines, but buy them for the odd recipe in which I don't mind them, and then never do anything with the inevitable leftover half. I have wasted literally POUNDS on inefficient aubergine use over the years.
4. Parking fines, congestion charge fines (him again), library fines and extra charges for overnight delivery because I never order birthday presents in time (me).
When the Treasury made £6 billion efficiency savings, they axed advertising budgets and management consultants. We are what you might call between management consultants right now, but a flick through the bank statements reveals I still pay a £4.99 a month subscription to lovefilm, despite giving up on them after a couple of scratched DVDs. Ha! No longer. There is also a subscription I forgot to cancel for a childcare website through which we didn't find a childminder months ago (top tip:'s list is free). Zap goes another £12.99 a quarter. This is quite fun.
Then I turn the thermostat down a degree (even though the heating's not on) and turn off everything electrical that is blinking: washing machine, laptop left plugged in and half-on, microwave. I turn off all the lights in rooms we aren't using, feeling virtuous.
My son, who is playing in the kitchen, complains that if the lights aren't on in the livingroom simultaneously 'I'm worried little people will come from under the sofa and bite me.'While demonstrating the lack of snarling little people under the sofa, I find some missing Lego. I bet George Osborne is having similar experiences all over Whitehall.
Next step: the axeman cometh for the supermarket shop. Aubergines are just the beginning.


  1. We set up an online spreadsheet in November when we were wondering whether we could afford for me to give up my job and logged everything (I mean *everything*) we spent. It was quite interesting, but with six family birthdays and Christmas coming up, not to mention a trip to Canada, somewhat unrealistic. In an utterly horrifying way. And I speak as someone who's spent nearly £1000 online in the last two days on beds and stuff to put on them (downside of a larger house).

    Anyway it was actually a really interesting way of working out where we haemorrhaged money (and I am planning to restart it, just as soon as I've stopped spending horrifying amounts on a regular basis). If you'd asked me in advance I'd have said we frittered away money on books and cds. But no. It's food. Switching to a non-Waitrose area may prove to be very good for me.

  2. MMm you've got me thinking that I need to make a few spending cuts at That's Not My Age mansions. I'm from up north and hence a bit of a tight wad but Mr TNMA (a southerner) is the complete opposite. We haven't got a car so we don't do a big weekly shop, we just buy things as and when (actually he does all the shopping, I just order the veggie box online), which is not the most economical way to shop. So, this has got to change. Perhaps I should buy Mr TNMA one of those wheelie shopping bags like my nan used to have(?)

  3. I've got a solution to the rotting veg (aubergine or otherwise) in fridge situation - and it's strangely fun/rewarding. Open fridge - identify what needs eating and then shove ingredients and 'recipe' into google. Invariably comes up with interesting ideas for stuff you'd never have thought of making so you end up feeling doubly virtuous as not only are you using everything up in frugal, go straight to the top of the home economics class way, but you are also being creative.

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