Monday, 10 June 2013

Old-Fashioned Thrift

Over recent years, due to the recession and a change in personal circumstances for many of us, we probably consider ourselves to be exercising ‘thrift’.

Paying bills by direct debit to ‘spread the cost’, stocking up on cheap supermarket offers, making use of discount vouchers, swapping branded products for shop’s own, limiting treats and so on are all ways that we try to cut our costs.

However, the so-called thrift measures that we employ today aren’t quite on the level that I remember from my childhood (cue violins). Not that we actually suffered then as such, but people’s priorities have changed, and some now consider themselves hard up if they can’t afford the latest gadget or sunshine holiday.

A survey last year revealed that many young women would rather go without food than cut back on trips to the hairdresser/manicurist/tanning salon!

As a child, I remember the excitement when my family acquired our first chest freezer. We visited our local frozen food warehouse (Cartiers in Rochester), which also sold bulk-sized containers of grocery items. Once all the purchases were safely stowed away at home, my mother proceeded to break down the costs of all the food items, calculating how much each sausage/pie/bag of crisps/chicken portion actually cost, noting down the prices. From then on each time that an item was used, the cost of it was placed in a specially allocated jar. If I wanted a bag of crisps, I would either ‘buy’ it with my pocket money, placing the necessary coins in the jar, or my mum would ‘treat’ me and put the money in herself. When the original supplies ran out, there was enough money in the jar to re-stock them.

Early on in my married life I had one of those cash boxes with little compartments marked ‘gas’, ‘electricity’, ‘food’ and so on. Once the required amounts of money had been allocated to each, then I knew that any ‘surplus’ funds (if any) were available to save or splash out on a treat.

I don’t use any of these actual methods today, but I do collect odd coins until they are sufficient to use for a treat, and in a more 21st century way, accumulate loyalty card points to pay for ‘extras’. Some of you may collect supermarket savings stamps, putting a few odd pounds on your card at each shop, to help buy supplies when things get tight.

Personally, I would never sacrifice food or skimp on other essentials to pay for beauty products or treats, but hope that by employing a bit of good old-fashioned thrift, careful budgeting and a little of the ‘make-do-and-mend’ mentality, I can afford not only the necessities, but the odd little treat too!

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