The art of being frugal


After a few conversations this week with friends, it feels like the right time to post an article I’ve been sitting on for some time. I’m not an expert financier, but I am (as my husband puts it) ‘tight’ with the household purse.

So here are two lists for you.  The first: when you’re just taking your thriftiness too far.  The second: my top tips for staying on top of your finances.

You’re taking it too far when:

  1. You set up a production line in the kitchen so that you can mould the end bits of your old soap together to create a multi-coloured multi-fragrant soap bar.

  2. You consider charging for tickets at your wedding. May I just mention that my lovely husband (MLH) suggested this to me, and, with a straight face.  Oh dear.

  3. You ask your wedding guests to bring and cook their own food. Yep, you guessed it, MLH batted this idea around too – we settled on a BBQ.

  4. You find yourself stock buying toilet roll when it’s on offer, buy one get one free, 3 for 2, 5 for 3 or 10 for 6! You know it’s a trap you don’t have enough cupboard space.

  5. Everything you buy simply must be written down in a spreadsheet and you become obsessed with receipts, to the point that will not set foot in a shop that looks like it takes cash in hand (gasp – no receipts). I promise you, going to those lengths will make you neurotic and won’t actually help your monetary awareness.

  6. You announce – without fail – after getting a compliment on a recent purchase, ‘oh it was only £X from X place’ (I do this and it’s a habit I’ve got to break too!).

My top tips for managing your finances:

  1. Go through your printed/online bank balance regularly. Check for refunds that haven’t gone through and make a note of spending you didn’t really need to make.

  2. Always keep your receipts. Simple.

  3. If you’re not happy with a purchase, always complain. MLH and I recently celebrated our anniversary and we had an awful hotel stay.  I complained and received a refund on the room, the hotel also offered to pay for the drinks we purchased (champagne), so we came away £30 up. Result!

  4. Visit the ATM in between bank statements. By checking your balance regularly, you’ll (hopefully!) never find your balance a shock and you will avoid the dreaded overdraft.

  5. Talk about your money worries, or plans with your partner or a trusted loved one. Money shouldn’t be a burden on one person; it feels much better to work as a team.

  6. Have a bank account with just your allocated monthly ‘fun allowance’ in it. Once the money runs out the fun stops.  Only kidding, of course it doesn’t, but you know that if you go big, you’ll probably need to have a couple of nights in (you know the saying ‘go big, or go home!’ just switch the ‘or’ with an ‘and’).

  7. Sign up to deals you actually need. Too many sites offer the same deals worded in a different way, just stick to a couple of sites, or it can become too overwhelming.

  8. Try less spontaneous buying and more ‘planning to buy’. Doing it the latter way means you’ll always get the best deal. If you want a coat, wait it out; here could be a pop up sale or a discount code just around the corner. In fact, research the timing of past sales and work out when they are most likely to be for your planned purchase.

  9. Tell me you not that person who can only have a good time when they’ve had a drink, are you? Go out, have fun and drink water, it’s free!

  10. Sell your stuff! I love BuyMyWardrobe, Preloved and eBay.

Picture citation: Money Fsecart CC BY 2.0