Five Fabulously Frugal things I have done this week, 2nd June 2017

Another week gone, and a muggy one at that. It has been expensive in some ways,  I have a lot of family birthdays in May and June. So I need to at least achieve five fabulously frugal things!

Frugal thing no. 1

Last night I did a small shop in Lidl. We didn’t need that much as there is a lot in the cupboards, but I did intend to splurge on some steaks and salmon as we have a family meal tonight for my daughter’s birthday.

I was pleased as I found some marinated salmon with Lidl’s orange 30% off stickers, so bought a couple of packs along with a reduced chicken, some mince and a couple of the chicken Kievs as an easy tea for my daughter, who works shifts. Unfortunately no reduction on the steaks but I only needed two of those. I was surprised at the total as I was in a discount supermarket and had done quite a small shop for the week. I checked my receipt and – get this – the cashier had charged me £26.70 for a box of six eggs!! Because she was too busy chatting to her colleague rather than concentrating on the job in hand she somehow hit x30 after the price. Sigh! It’s a good job I am on the ball.

They cannot be serious!

Frugal thing no. 2

I remembered the amazing deodorising properties of bicarbonate of soda to combat my kitchen bins. They had become a bit ripe in the heat, especially the food waste one. It has so many uses that every home should have a big bag for frugal cleaning, personal care and getting rid of smells. I blogged about this yesterday.

Frugal thing no. 3

On Sunday I went to the boot sale. I got some great finds to resell. I am doing quite well at the moment and it is a really useful income stream for me. This prompted a blog post on How to Present clothes on eBay. So many people go to the trouble of listing items but the photos are so poor potential customers can’t really see what is on offer!

On a similar note, I met up with fellow blogger Faith Archer on Saturday in Hadleigh in Suffolk. Faith runs the More With Less blog. We had a tour of the lovely charity shops in Hadleigh and I bought a top for work and a couple more items that I will list on eBay.

Frugal thing no. 4

I mentioned my darling daughter has a birthday today. She asked for a jacket from Nasty Gal (no, I hadn’t heard of them either!) so I checked on Top Cash Back to see if they were on there and they were – with a generous 8.4% cash back on purchases. I only recently signed up with this site and have made just three purchases. I already have £34.50 on my account! This is a good habit to get into when making online purchases I think. If you join using the link above I will receive a small referral fee.

Frugal thing no. 5

Ages ago I mentioned that I had bought a copy of Gardener’s World Magazine because it had a 2 for 1 card on hundreds of open gardens around the UK. We have used it once but used it again for a return visit to the beautiful Helmingham Hall in Suffolk. As well as getting money off the entrance price, we packed a good, frugal picnic and a flask.  I have so far saved £16 by using this card; well worth the cost of the magazine!

I’m linking up with this Cass, Emma and Becky in this week’s ‘Five Fabulously Frugal things I’ve done this week’ linky. Check out their frugal achievements this week! What frugal things have you done?

 

Should you ever buy branded groceries?

I quite enjoy the adverts on TV for Aldi, where they compare an expensive brand of coffee, tea or whatever with their own version. The message is that theirs is just as good, but cheaper!

When I initially started trying to save money on my grocery shopping the first thing I did was dump the brands wherever I could. I tried all of the supermarket basics first. Some we liked and some we didn’t. Value/Smart Price baked beans were a definite no-no, unless included in a veggie stew. Loo rolls didn’t last as long but were worth buying as they were so much cheaper. Value bacon may not look as good but it tastes pretty similar. The kids ate the biscuits even if they didn’t arrive in fancy packaging. I now wouldn’t dream of buying anything other than a basic fruit juice either.

Where we didn’t enjoy the basic products, I moved up to supermarket own brand. Most we liked, but occasionally we still resorted to a branded product.

With the advent of the discount supermarkets such as Aldi and Lidl, the situation has improved even more. Most of their own products are very good quality and as cheap or even cheaper than the old style shop own brands. I have found them to be better overall. 

I might consider something from a range such as a Tesco Finest if it is on offer but I have found some of these are disappointing. I think they are a marketing ploy and another way to squeeze a bit more money out of their customers. 

Generally speaking if I buy a brand it is because 1. I really like it more than the alternatives (such as my Millicano coffee mentioned in yesterday’s blog post) or 2. It is a really good price. I don’t need to pay for a company’s expensive branding – they pay marketing people a lot of money to work out how to make us spend our wages. I bet at least half the time if people did a blind test to decide which product was branded and which was a supermarket’s own brand they wouldn’t be able to tell the difference. So, if you really want to save money on your groceries chuck out the brands and try some supermarket own labels!

Frugal Friday 

Having fallen asleep in bed at 8.30 on Thursday night (almost unheard of) I actually had some energy after work yesterday. I picked up DD3 and we went to Lidl to get the week’s groceries as it isn’t usually crazy busy and it’s easy to park. We only spent £44 but will need to get some bits from elsewhere over the weekend. Hopefully I can keep to a £50 budget.

Dinner had to be as easy and uncomplicated as possible so I stuck some sweet potatoes into bake whilst we were out. We cooked up some omelettes and veggies when we got home for a speedy frugal supper. I am a fan of simple food!

Our lodger is proving to be extremely easy to live with. It is a Monday to Friday arrangement so we have the weekends to ourselves, but even during the week we don’t see much of her. She makes her dinner when she gets back from work and we have a little chat in the kitchen then she either goes out or disappears to her room for the evening. Last week she was only here Tuesday to Thursday – I feel guilty taking her rent!

I wish she was staying longer but at the moment she plans to go to Camp America in May and I will have to readvertise. I will enjoy it while it lasts.

Does anyone else have a lodger? How are you finding it?

There is no shame in bagging a bargain!

From time to time I  see acquaintances when I am shopping in one of the discount shops I like to use. Some of them look embarrassed and make silly comments. Yesterday morning a work colleague I saw in Lidl looked sheepish and said, ‘Let’s pretend this is Waitrose.’ I said ‘No – all the clever people shop in here now!’ I could have said, ‘You’re kidding – I wouldn’t be seen dead wasting my hard earned cash with their prices!’ I will save that for next time 😀.

Why are people embarrassed about shopping smart and bagging a good deal? There is no shame in being sensible with your money, even if you are loaded.

If people compliment me on something I am wearing and it was secondhand on eBay or from a boot sale, I tell them. If I can get a really nice work outfit for £8 in decent condition instead of £40 new, why wouldn’t I?

I love getting a bargain. I got quite excited when I found big blocks of cheddar on offer in Lidl for £1.99 yesterday. I bought two as they have a use by date in May. If you are passing, pop in and grab some! 

I have a plan for my money which means squeezing every bit of value out of what I have. So I will do my shopping wherever I get get best value cheapest. 

If you are a bargain hunter, and carefully watching your bank balance (however large or small that might be), don’t be ashamed – be proud! 

President of the Aldi fan club!

I love doing my food shop at Aldi. I can see why the discounters have got the big supermarkets running scared. I have shopped at my local one since it opened 4 years ago. To begin with it was very quiet; the car park was empty. People took a while to catch on. Then the recession hit and folk started to actively look at ways to save money. Now the car park is usually full, and I try to avoid going at the weekend as you can’t even get in unless you are there on the dot of 8 am.

I have heard all kinds of comments about Aldi that really quite annoy me. A Facebook friend suggested that only chavs and the great unwashed shopped there, but went a bit quiet when I told him that I rarely noticed this when I went in to do my weekly shop. I have since seen him in there!! A colleague’s wife said she wouldn’t be see dead in there in case people thought she was short of money. In my experience it is frequented by all sections of society and I have often seen brand new BMWs and Jaguars parked next to the old bangers like mine. Most sensible people enjoy a bargain!

For those who are on a low income, and for people who need to budget like myself, shops like Aldi, Lidl and now Kwiksave are an absolute Godsend. Yes, you have to change the way you shop and they may not sell absolutely everything you want. I have to go elsewhere for the Lactofree products I use and my gluten free flour. However, I find now that I plan my meals around what I know is likely to be in stock. I really enjoy the smallness of the stores and that I can get round and stick to my list in a very short time span without being distracted by clothes and household goods that I can’t afford and aren’t on my shopping list. I still manage to find some nice treats for us all – the chocolate and alcohol is excellent! The quality generally is brilliant; you just don’t have such a huge choice.

If you haven’t tried doing your main shop at a discount supermarket, then I urge you to do so. I estimate that I save around £30 a week by doing so. Not to be sniffed at! If you aren’t fortunate enough to have one locally then try the Value and Basics brands. If you read her blog you will see that a Girl called Jack practically lived on Sainsbury’s Basics and it doesn’t seem to have done her any harm….