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How are you thrifty and how are you less so?

(55 Posts)
confusedandemployed Thu 08-Jan-15 15:50:03

Reading the threads on here, it's made me think about how frugal we really are. We have made huge inroads into our 'disposable income' spending, but we still don't consciously do very much to save money. For example:-

BETTER. I have improved here. I meal plan and shop mainly at Aldi / Lidl. Food bill reduced from £100 per week (DP, me and 20mo DD) to about £40-50, with an extra £10-15 for cleaning stuff, toiletries, loo roll, nappies etc.
HOWEVER - I am fanatical about not running out of anything. It means that I've always got to go to the shops, even when I don't. I reckon I spend probably £20 on things which really could wait for several weeks / months to be bought.

HMM. I almost always buy my clothes from charity shops, or Tesco / Asda at a push. I look out for good names (Boden, White Stuff, Fat Face etc) and will rarely buy anything less (for want of a better word) than Next or M&S. I do online surveys and ask for vouchers for Christmas / birthday. I currently have over £100 in vouchers to spend in John Lewis.
HOWEVER - I can't seem to stop 'bargain hunting' in charity shops. I buy clothes just because of the name / quality, rather than actually needing them.

DD's clothes are mostly hand-me-downs or supermarket bought. Her shoes are Clark's sale bought, and I recently bought her boys' shoes as no girls' shoes in the sale. Felt odd about that, but it was a good decision - they are much harder wearing!

DP almost never buys clothes and when he does it's either charity shop or with a Fat Face voucher he had for Christmas / birthday. His pants come from Sports Direct or Asda!

Gas / electricity:
NOT GOOD. We do not do much to save money other than turn lights out. We tend not to plug in things we don't use, but those we do use are often left on standby.
We have a wood burner, but the radiators in all the other rooms are left on. We don't use the burner enough; we have an inexhaustible supply of free firewood so we have no reason not to use it.
I have recently switched dual fuel providers using MSE so hoping to see a benefit here.

OK. We have 2 cars and usually need them both for commuting (shocking public transport). We pay annually for insurance / tax when we can afford to do so.

SO SO. We don't go out often but do enjoy the odd bottle of wine at home. We've always got something in. We have a takeaway every fortnight-3 weeks. When we do go out it's only to the local pub, but we don't worry about what we spend.
We take DD to the play centre 1 x week (£3.50), to playgroup 2 x week(£3) and occasionally out for cake (about £4) and swimming 1 x week(£4). We take her to the swings, the park, rhyme time, to see GPs, dog walking etc etc i.e. as much free activity as much as possible.

How frugal are you? I'd be interested to know where other people save money and how easy they find it. I know I can do better.

Grumpyoldblonde Thu 08-Jan-15 16:12:35

Oh, I think you may be my frugal doppelganger, I do everything you do, going to be checking back to this thread to see what other people are like.
I also have a fear of running out of anything (have a loo roll obsession) actually I am very glad of that now as I have a really bad virus that means I wont be up and about for a good couple of weeks - the crisis I have been stockpiling food and household items for has arrived!

chanie44 Thu 08-Jan-15 18:19:44

I try and cut back on things like food so we can spend money on luxury items and treats. For example, I do the main food shop in lidl/aldi and then asda for the rest.

I probably could cut back further, but wouldn't be time worth my time (which is something I'm short of).

wobblebobblehat Thu 08-Jan-15 19:15:16

Very similar to you actually.

I meal plan and buy in LIDL/ALDI or wherever something is on offer (often double check on I am also very good at a spotting a yellow sticker from 500 yards! I do have to make a concerted effort not to buy things that are not on my list. I'm getting there but it's taking time!

Majority of my clothes come from charity shops. I too have a bit of a shopping habit in that regard. I do sell quite a bit of stuff on eBay though. Wardrobe is a bit packed at the mo so i need to shift some bits.

I do review our bills (electricity/gas/telephone) quite often though. We leave the central heating on at 18 degrees all the time. Probably a bit naughty but it works for us and our bill isn't extortionate.

We do have a bit of a chip shop habit (every one to two weeks). We do also eat out. Don't always worry about that so much but I do sometimes have a look for vouchers for restaurants, cinema, etc.

fuzzpig Thu 08-Jan-15 19:22:45

Well we are spectacularly frugal with transport since we don't have a car grin

I think our biggest issue is with food spending, we don't plan as well as we should and stuff gets wasted.

Clothing not an issue as we both hate shopping so we just make do. I am gradually losing weight anyway so no point in spending right now.

Electricity... fairly good I think. DH especially is always turning lights off when not in use grin

Our weakness is stuff like DVDs and games but we set a budget for this nearly 3 years ago now, we record it in a little cash book and everything blush it works brilliantly as we can still be frivolous but knowing it won't break the bank

Pensionerpeep Thu 08-Jan-15 19:34:48

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

zippyandbungle Thu 08-Jan-15 19:36:50

I used to be quite good but now I have teens I find it doesn't matter how frugal I try to be, every month it's something Unbudgeted for.

However, I do meal plan and shop in lidl which has saved a lot.

My clothes are now DDs hand me downs, DH gets clothes at Christmas and birthdays and that lasts him.

I do spend on holidays and weekend breaks although I do carefully research and try and get a lot for our money.

I could walk more rather than drive but sometimes time is just too short.

We do eat out more than we need to but this is DHs guilty pleasure, however we rarely go to a pub. DH doesn't drink and I'm a lightweight.

confusedandemployed Thu 08-Jan-15 20:33:02

Thanks so far, it's interesting to see how many people are similar to us.
fuzzpig although I do meal plan I'm not averse to a bit of a rapid rethink if there is good stuff reduced or on offer. It's often a good way to save even more cash. I have yet to be in a supermarket when the mythical "£10 beef joint for 75p" reductions happen though. I need to go to Tesco at 9pm, not bed!!
We used to eat out a lot, but since DD it's more Pizza Express type places - and I save my Tesco Rewards vouchers and exchange them for restaurant vouchers (you get £20 for every £5).
Keep 'em coming, this is fascinating!

confusedandemployed Thu 08-Jan-15 20:36:19

Oh and grumpyoldblonde, hope you feel better soon and don't put too much of a dent in your loo roll stockpile!

Wellieswithaholein Sat 10-Jan-15 13:19:50

Frugal on-
I don't believe in this investment clothes malarkey as all clothes date and wear out eventually and I will only buy the odd designer item second hand if I really want it. Mostly shop in New Look and H&M and have cut back. DH clothes shops once a year.
Always shop around for insurance and change providers.
Only buy cheap white goods and never take out the warranties.
Run a small car between us. I walk to work.
Always take snacks, drinks and picnics on days out.
DH takes packed lunch.
Overpay the mortgage every month.
Eat out for special occasions only.
Now have a small garden- our old one cost us £££'s to maintain.

Not frugal on-
Food shopping and dog food-false economy for me, but I do meal plan.
Holidays- but DH's bonus pays for most of them,
Going out places,
DCs presents,
DC have school lunch.
DC's shoes, clothes and activities.

Save over a third of our wages each, every month.

GreyjoysAnatomy Sat 10-Jan-15 14:33:44

I'm fairly frugal!!

I don't meal plan but I do cook everything from scratch, including bread/biscuits etc, no pre made food in the house. I only use frozen veg (unless it's something you just can't buy frozen- sweet potatoes, aubergine etc). We buy the frozen veg from Iceland and the rest of the shopping from aldi. with the exception of certain things like seeds which I buy in bulk online. Shopping bill for the month is roughly 200 including cat food/litter and cleaning supplies/toiletries. Family of 5, 4 cats.

Clothing I go for a mixture of making my own, charity shops/ebay and high quality brands. I only buy when we need something and I don't have the time/material to make it (unless it is a particularly good deal eg last summer I bought our winter jackets from trespass for about 70 percent off. Knew we would need them, just not immediately). <disclaimer, I used to be a professional dressmaker and do realise other people are not always able to make their own!>

Travel is 10.50 per week each for me and dh, that's a week bus ticket for our area and is all we need. Then there is approx 20 per month spent on taxis to get home with the groceries.

Gas/electric, I got my yearly projection for gas today actually and it works out at 41 per month. Electric is just least than that at around 38 per month. Heating is on a timer, electrical items are mostly off when not in use and we tend to be in one room a lot of the time so rarely more than one light on at a time, with the exception of the bathroom light of course!

GreyjoysAnatomy Sat 10-Jan-15 14:37:51

I save lots too, I have two savings accounts, two ISA's and a cash saving system in the house too.

I do fun things too honest! grin

GetLow Sat 10-Jan-15 14:46:44

Mixed picture, really.

We make the effort now to meal plan and have switched from food shopping at Waitrose/Sainsburys to mostly Aldi with a few Sainsburys bits. Got our weekly food bill down from £150 to £100, which is good.

The kids clothes come from Asda and Tesco mainly, and their shoes are Sports Direct cheapies. Not looking forward to them going to secondary school and getting all brand conscious about clothing!

I've switched a fair few of my cosmetic/toiletries brands to cheapo stuff, but still struggle with a bit of a beauty product addiction!

I was a big clothes shopper - nothing designer or anything but I would easily spend a couple of hundred pounds a month on clothes. I left my job in May to become a SAHM for a bit, though, and so havent bought any clothes or shoes at all since April. It actually feels quite good! I have become much better at accessorizing and putting outfits together out of what I have got now.

We dont save currently. We have big credit card debts from a tight time a few years ago and so we are paying those off at the moment. I'm about to cut my credit cards up, actually!

I drive a modest car and limit it to essential journeys only (school run, big food shop). Take public transport where possible or walk.

Our heating bill is pretty huge in the winter, but I refuse to scrimp on that.

Clothes - very rarely buy anything full price and happy to buy good brands from charity shops too. I think carefully about what I want/need and then look for the best bargain, but I don't buy Primark/supermarket stuff. Would rather wait and have something a bit better quality.

Food - we meal plan. I'm veggie, so that's cheaper, and everybody else is almost veggie at home (they might get the odd chicken or sausage if they are very lucky!).

No car, but seem to spend plenty on bus and train journeys!

We got the loft insulated, and that has made the gas central heating more efficient, so we don't need it on as long.

Our biggest luxury is eating out, and we do that a lot - at least once a week, although it's usually for breakfast or a curry, rather than anything extravagant.

We're over-paying on the mortgage, so are saving a bit less currently, but I hope we'll see the benefits of that soon. Then I intend to have some lovely holidays!

judydoes Sat 10-Jan-15 15:28:36

Greyjoys do you mind my asking where you get your seeds from? I really don't want to stop buying them, but they're working out expensive compared to other things I buy.

I am frugal as hell with most things. Mortgages, I shopped around and used a broker and got the best deal.

Food shop, I always buy veg near their BB date, then I cook and freeze them.I shop at certain times to make sure I can do this. I go through a lot of salad so I shop several times a week and just buy it and eat it that day where possible. (I wish we could grow our own but just isn't possible yet, I will do that as soon as I can).

I shop at Aldi/Lidl, Asian supermarkets and online. I buy cleaning and household stuff from poundshops and use soap nuts for washing.

We don't eat meat.

I go on freebie sites and buy xmas/birthday presents well in advance from eBay or collect presents throughout the year.

We bought our house very cheap anyway, and it needed a lot doing to it but I utilised freecycle, gumtree and pre-loved for things we needed.

I change utility suppliers but have been put off doing this since I had a MASSIVE issue when swapping last time.

Car insurance, swap around definitely. Sometimes It's taken me the best part of a day to find the best deal but definitely worth it.

I buy clothes and furniture items in charity shops, I actually enjoy this much more than new, you never know what gems you'll find.

Found a cheap family run gym rather than paying for names.

Days out, take picnic and take dogs out for a long walk. We do tend to stop at pubs but as I'm driving the cost's minimised.

DH does my hair, and I bought a laser machine instead of going for treatment at a salon.

I learned to do my own nails although mostly, I can't be bothered anyway
I make do and mend a lot.


-I drive a sports car
-I like a night out with dinner and wine
-I get botox at least once a year.
-I buy good sportswear.
-I like weekends away we do use travelzoo though .

Oodbrain Sat 10-Jan-15 15:32:34

Food- we could do better but do eat v well for approx )£130 a week for 6.
Monthly tesco shop plus market & green grocers.

Travel- cars hmm. One v economical and currently free insurance & will be £0 tax so only paying petrol £70 max a month and the other is a guzzler but only used for the family or short distances so about £50 petrol a month.
Train v expensive but more practical than car for same price so stuck with it.
Pay for parking more than I like because I can't walk far.

Clothes- got a bit of a Primark / charity shop habit but we have just restocked growing kids so fx that's it for a while.

Fuel- gas/electric much better than 2013. Wood burner not coating much due to dh collecting wood everywhere he goes and i make logs from all the paper /card we have.

Luxuries- eating out mainly come from vouchers for pizza express!
Chips once a fortnight (£6 for 6 !)
Rather bad DVD habit blush

JoanHickson Sat 10-Jan-15 15:39:22

I am not that Frugal. I live within my means. When I had money I saved a little and enjoyed the lifestyle.

Being mean and penny pinching when you don't need to sounds like an addiction or hobby to me.

Nobody is describing anything that is mean or penny pinching.

JoanHickson Sat 10-Jan-15 15:46:44

I am sharing my opinion and observations. I am sorry if I offended anyone.

GreyjoysAnatomy Sat 10-Jan-15 15:52:30

Not at all! smile

I often shop at healthy supplies but if you Google there are loads of online companies.

For protein powders etc (I like to make energy bars, they always go down well as snacks and we are always so busy!!) I go to bulk powders they are pretty good value smile

GreyjoysAnatomy Sat 10-Jan-15 16:00:39

Joan I live within my means too, but I purposely spend less on things in order to save for the future. I could easily spend a lot more on food for eg but then I'd have no money to save, and I'd rather have the money squirrelled away so that I don't have to worry about the future and I can splurge every so often if I really want to smile

(not offended at all btw, just explaining my reasoning wink)

cigarsofthepharaoh Sat 10-Jan-15 16:22:43

I really need to improve my food shopping. I often end up lacking one vital ingredient for dinner, going to the shop and leaving with that ingredient plus about ten other things! I do have the reduction hunting instinct though - left over from my student days when we'd go to the supermarket twenty minutes before close every day and live off whatever was on the reduced shelf.

We have one small car that's really economical. But DP has her motorbike, which just eats up money. She worked such long hours at her second job to buy it in the first place so it was initially not exactly a luxury since she was working with it in mind.

The DCs' clothes are mostly hand-me-downs or sale bargains. DD is currently wearing a t-shirt I wore as a kid, as did my brother! DP has a prolific t-shirt collection, but mostly bought in the sale or just cheapy men's t-shirts so not much expense there. I have a lot of clothes but shop savvily - I scored a little black dress for £5 the other day from H&M. I shop only when I have the money though, when we're in a tight spot all unnecessary spending is totally curbed.

We do really well on energy bills. We very rarely have the heating on, don't have lights on during the day and make sure we turn things off. The DCs often share a bath and DP and I just have short showers. We also look carefully for the best deal to suit us.

Our biggest "luxury" expense would be babysitters but we have an arrangement with friends - we take their two once a fortnight, and they take our DCs the other week. We eat out maybe once every two months, and rarely have the DCs with us. Both of us go to a bar with colleagues after work quite often but not to expensive places.

Reading that, we really don't seem frugal at all. But we save elsewhere - we live in a very cheap area of town so our rent isn't too high.

Buddy80 Sat 10-Jan-15 17:57:44

Great idea for a thread smile

We are very frugal on clothes, will try and look after them and mend where needed. Shoes, not so much - for my DC's I tend to spend.

We are really trying with the food budget. But I do sometimes wonder if it would be cheaper on the electric/time/mess to buy ready made sometimes. We do buy expensive meat from the buchers, but you really can tell it is worth the money.

One of my 'false economies' is probably gardening and all the cost(s) of soil, bulbs, etc.

Also, all the trips taken in the car too

ProfYaffle Sat 10-Jan-15 18:09:26

It's interesting what you say about charity shops confused. I've recently banned myself from going into them as I'l always coming out with stuff we don't 'need' as such but is interesting and cheap. I was spending a fortune on being frugal!

fridaymaltersers Sat 10-Jan-15 18:14:04

Food: Quite good, often shop on special offers/yellow stickers and meal plan from the freezer. Non-frugal bit is that I tend to go to our nearest shop which is a Co-op. Lidl is a bus ride away and would need a special journey. I also tend to stock up on things, but I don't see that as bad really, I buy storecupboard/freezable things on multibuys so they'd get eaten eventually and it's cheaper than buying when they're not on offer. DH gets free meals at work, DS gets free meals at school and I take my own lunch instead of buying so that keeps costs down.

Travel: Very good, as me and DS have free bus passes and DH has a subsidised pass from work. No car (city centre living). Also use disabled rail cards/discount rail cards for longer journeys.

Utilities: Good, we're not actually all that penny pinching and will leave lights on/things on standby, but our combined bill is £50 a month for both gas/electric. Down to having a smallish modern, well insulated flat I guess.

Clothes: Not bad, but I still buy too much unnecessary stuff because I've seen it 'on sale'. I can't resist a 70% off bargain! I could probably not buy any clothes for several years and still have enough outfit permutations to wear a different thing each day.

Housing: Mortgage is high due to area, but on the plus side it's been a good investment and we won't have to move up the housing ladder due to having more dc. Overpaying plenty with bonuses. Running costs are low as it's a modern, practical flat rather than a characterful house with garden. And the area is very central so no costly commute for DH.

Luxuries: DS is disabled so we get cash payments to take him on days out, so that basically costs very little. We also get money to cover things like gadgets, games etc. We get discounts on things like cinema and theme parks as well. We spend a fair bit on holidays, but only have a proper holiday once a year mainly due to finding a time we can all take off together.

We eat out about once a month, and don't scrimp much on that, but it's one activity we all enjoy and it's a bit of an occasion for us. We also have some sports/arts related interests which can be expensive, but it's part of our social network and we are happy to spend on that. We don't spend money on books or DVDs although that is mainly to avoid clutter.

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