Frugal Refresher Day Four – Shopping.

Hello again everyone,

Thanks for all the comments (even the parsimonious ones were interesting) and for those of you who became followers. Even if you didn’t leave a comment, thanks so much to the 1679 of you who clicked ‘Frugal Queen’ yesterday. Today is more about the easy part of being frugal, about being resourceful and about getting what you need at the fraction of the price. I suppose the title of ‘shopping’ will have to do as ebaying, jumble saleing, skip diving ect is a bit of a mouthful.

I have become vehemently anti-consumerism. I’ve also become a fan of Martin Lewis and Money Saving Expert. He’s the British version of Suze Orman or Dave Ramsay. His advice that shops, services, restaurants ect have one aim ‘to make money out of you’. Remember, where ever you go, some one is trying to profit from you. Every advert, whether in a magazine, on the radio or on TV is usually trying to sell you something that you don’t need. Insurance and car sales always try and make you feel guilty, or a bad parent, or foolish, if you don’t buy their product. The beauty ‘industry’ try and convince you that your skin will fall off your body if you don’t buy their products. Cleaning products are sold with ‘horror movie music’ to convince you that you will die of the germs in your own home, if it isn’t ‘sanitised’ My first advice to everyone is simply this – Stop shopping, you really don’t need it.

My journey into not shopping started with a social experiment of not buying anything new for a year and now I just don’t buy anything new, unless I really, really can’t buy it second hand. I struggle with clothes and have spent around £75 on new clothes and shoes over the last year. Even now, I rarely buy anything new. But as you will see, I’ve found cheap alternatives to almost everything.

1. Cleaning. Unlike a lot of my fellow frugals, I don’t make my own products. I buy the supermarket value version. I buy: washing up liquid, cream cleanser, furniture polish, bleach and scouring pads. I use old towels or rags for cleaning but I have found perfectly viable alternatives. Do not think you have to spend much money here. I use all of the value products and my house is clean enough (watch out for the ‘enough’ phrase; it will be a reoccuring theme).

By doing this, my monthly spend on cleaning products is £2.71! When I checked today, one bottle of proprietery cream cleanser was £2.35 and I can clean my whole house for that! I clean the loo, the plug holes and the floors with the bleach, a cloth and warm water, I clean the windows with warm soapy water and buff dry with newspaper, I clean the sink and bath with cream cleanser and all flat/hard surfaces with the polish. I clean the lot for pennies!

2. Toiletries – Last year, I learnt how to make my own soap and I’m still using it now. Here’s how to do it. I’ve also experimented with cheaper and cheaper toiletries and have found that none of them to be any detriment to my total loveliness! My skin has not fallen off and I’m fine! I’m using the Tesco value products for this too. I caught sight of 8p!!!!! Shower gel and tried it and discovered I was 1. clean and 2. Not dead! so I continued to use it. I also wash my hair with it. I then discovered their 18p 1 litre bottle of foam bath which I pour this into my hand washing pumps with the aid of a funnel and have filled up the bottles in the bathroom, downstairs loo and by the kitchen sink and there’s still plenty left. My hands are just as clean. I have experimented with Aldi’s Lacura products and bought their roll on deodorant 69p and their anti wrinkle Q10 moisturiser for £1.99. My personal total spend for beautification (nothing saintly of course!) is under £3 per month. I splash out once in a blue moon for perfume and bought some when I had a 50% off code from the Body Shop and spent £8 and I eeke that out to last for almost six months. I really do spend as little as possible.

3. Food – My most frugal thing I’ve done with food recently is gone on a very strict diet and stopped eating it! However, I have a budget of £150 a month of ‘spending money’ and I buy EVERYTHING I need out of that. This of course includes food for two adults, one cat and two dogs. If I do really well one month and under spend then I have spare money to go into my ‘#1 shopping account’ for the next month. We have learnt to eat very very simply. A typical day’s food for Dearly Beloved would consist of the following.
Breakfast – 2 pieces of toasted homemade bread, with margarine and homemade blackberry jam.
Lunch – Sandwich made of homemade bread, with cheese spread or marmite or peanut butter and a banana.
Supper – Homemade stew, mashed potatoes and steamed cabbage and carrots.

When you make everything your self, when you plan every meal, when you make one chicken make three meals for two people, then it gets easier and easier to actually reduced what you spend on food every week.
I’m on the Dukan diet and even I manage to do this very frugally. A typical day for me would be:
Breakfast – 2 scrambled eggs.
Snack – fat free yoghurt.
Lunch – 300g fat free cottage cheese.
Dinner – One chicken breast.

You can see, when you cut back and eat what you need and not what you want, not only do you lose weight and feel better, you spend a realistic amount of money on food. Let’s face it, if you are reading this in an English speaking country (America, Australia or the UK) then most people eat too much. Get frugal with your food and you can see how I spend as little as I do. However, feel free to go back through any of the blogs labelled ‘frugal food’ and see how bulk cooking and simple home cooked food can save you a great deal of money. I don’t suggest for one minute that anyone should give up eating, just a gentle nudge that if we want to save money then we have to eat less.

Some of my bulk cooking, frozen and ready to eat later.

4.Clothes – I have a job where I have to look smart and I do what ever I can to have new clothes for work. I do this by having a good supply of mix and match basics from Matalan and Primark. I wear these alongside good quality items from charity shops, jumble sales and car boot sales. I did have to buy a new pair of work shoes from Clarks but waited until the sales and bought some half price. I also wait for the Matalan sale and got what I need on line. I don’t stop there with the discounts either. If you sign up with Quidco you will get 7.5% cashback from any Matalan purchases and 5.5% from any Clarks purchases. I also go Charity shop shopping with a list. I needed hiking boots and found some brand new and unworn for £3 and I also needed some trainers that I also found brand new and unworn for £2.50. I tend to buy ‘smart clothes’ in greys, blacks and neutral colours so they will mix and match together. You can also search eBay in a very creative way – simply search ‘size 14 bundle’ and you will find some really cheap deals, often several items for only a few pounds, even 99p if they’ve been badly photographed. You can often repackage, take better photos to get a really good price for something. It’s July and I’ve managed to spend under £100 altogether on clothes for myself so far this year. I used to be able to spend that on a pair of shoes.

£3 walking boots – these will last me for years!

5. eBay – We have, as you may have, what we call ‘eBay money’. We sell what we don’t need, and buy what we do need. We also look out for items in auctions, jumble sales and charity shops that we can sell on eBay for a profit. Dearly Beloved buys job lots of radios and cameras in the local auction house, usually for a few quid for a ‘mixed box’. He’s well researched and knows how to sell on effectively. This is his second job. In a previous life, he was a salesman and it’s something he finds easy to do. We then build up and ‘eBay fund’ which we keep in our ‘pay pal’ account. If we need a new sink, or loo seat, or door handle, then we use our ‘eBay money’ to buy this, obviously from eBay. You can even buy holidays from eBay! We’ve bought CDs from jumble sales for 10p each and sold them for £1.50. and when you’ve bought 20 CDs and sold them on, then you can see how you build up a fund. I’ve sold: clothes, kids’ old games, shoes, books, CDs, DVDs, electrical equipment and anything I didn’t have any further use for. I’ve bought a camera, toaster, arm chair, pouffee, in fact any thing I’ve needed with my eBay fund. We get what we need, at the fraction of the price, for example, my arm chair cost £1.20, my camera £20 and we buy everything second hand if we can and then we use our ‘ebay fund’ to buy it. To sum this up, any thing ‘new’ we’ve brought into the house over the last few years has been bought from money we’ve made through ‘ebay selling’ and it could be said has cost us nothing at all.

My £1.20 ebay arm chair

You can see from all of this, that I spend very little money at all. We also keep every receipt and total what we spend every month to check that we are within our £150 a month spending budget. Food is getting more expensive and it is difficult but it can be done, especially when I spend £2.70 cleaning the house and under £3 a month cleaning both of us, you can see how there is plenty of money left from that for the food. If you look at some of the headings in my blog such as frugal furniture or frugal home, you can see plenty of examples of how we eeke everything out just that little bit further so we always have enough and just spend enough to make it good enough for us.

Until tomorrow,

Love Froogs


20 thoughts on “Frugal Refresher Day Four – Shopping.

  1. Another great informative post again – thank you! I've been Ebaying my unwanted stuff for quite a while and have been thinking about buying things to sell on so you've given me a few useful pointers there on what to get. I agree that we eat far too big portions in this country, I think we have a bit of an obsession with eating meat with our 'main' meal everyday. Also snack food is advertised so much, it's like we are afraid to feel a tiny bit hungry xx


  2. I've been cutting down on portion size for a couple of years, especially on meat and fish, and as my DH usually cooks the rice/pasta/polenta etc bit of the meal, I am trying to convince him to reduce my portion of this too.
    Another thing I have just tried for the first time is and am very pleased with what I got. And as it's so cheap, I've been able to give some away and received some cakes in return!
    I am not very good at trying new things (on the internet) but seeing the company mentioned on your blog and others' gave me the oomph to try it. I am yet to try ebay, quidco and soap making, but you never know…


  3. in sure my grocery bill was on average £ 150 week,.last month i spent £240 so its definately coming down. Through couponing i have enough cleaning products to last over a year.I tried soap making but i think i should have used hot water to disolve the caustic soda.
    I agree Martin lewis is a saint.


  4. I'm really enjoying this series. I cut dishwasher tablets in half and find they do a perfectly good job. Also windows generally do not even need soap. Just water and a clean towel to wipe them shiny. I find only the car needs to have a cutting agent lke metho or ammonia as the Aussie sun heats the cars too much. I've also discovered the joys of secondhand but find even here I can be over consumerist and have decided to use this joy to sell quality items on ebay. Just learning the ropes athe moment but it may just work as an added income which is great as I can't keep down a regular job due to health problems. Cherrie


  5. Hi Froogs, another inspirational post. I also use Aldi's moisturiser and some of their other beauty creams and products, they are both excellent and value for money. This is my little treat and a necessity as my Grandmother used to tell me when I was younger, look after your skin and your feet!!


  6. FG, You always give me new ideas. I know you have shared all this before, but I get new insights each time I read it.
    I have a knitting or crochet tip to share.I attended a free workshop where they showed a way to cut up
    plastic carry bags to knit and crochet. They had made several different items- carry all bags, coasters, tablecloths,belts, dog collars and leads.
    We have a big problem with plastic here in the US. This is a great way to recycle them.
    I do not know if they are an issue in the UK, but thought I would share information if anyone is interested.


  7. Another brilliant post. I love my little Ebay fund, and use it to buy things I need 'for free' too.

    This year we are truly jetisonning all unnecessary things in the home and selling them both on Ebay and at car boot sales. It's a good feeling to see the house emptying and the money tub filling.

    Sue xx


  8. In terms of food, I know our portions could do with cutting down. I have recently started using Cyclax for skin care and its great, particularly as I can pick it up for a £1 for a big tub, which lasts for ages from shops such as Savers or independent chemists or poundland etc. With the weather at the moment, I dont doubt that there will be problems with the harvest and increased prices as a result x


  9. Very useful and informative post.

    A few things I always do when grocery shopping is:

    – Make a list of the meals for the following week and only buy the ingredients I need to make those meals (If I don't have them in the house, obvisouly)

    – I only have a small, under the counter fridge so not much space for batch cooking and freezing, so I only cook the right portions for each one of us (1 and a half pork chops each for husband and son and one for me, for instance). This avoids leftovers but if there are leftovers they are kept in a container and used for another meal.

    – I always, always compare prices per kg/litre etc. Smart price products or value products are not always the cheapest option. I've noticed in the past that my favourite stock cubes are cheaper if I buy the smaller packet instead of the value one which is a few pence more expensive, go figure!

    – I make my own bread and yoghurts and have recently bought a slow cooker, this allows me to cook certain meats for a long time but consume very little energy.

    – When I switch on the oven I make sure I use it to cook several things at once instead of only one. For instance if I want to make cake, sausage rolls and baps. I make the dough for the baps in the bread machine but time everything so that they'll all go in the oven at the same time or one after the other.

    It's amazing how if you get in the habit of doing these little things how much you can actually save. I'm looking forward to your next post.


  10. I am so enjoying all your frugal tips especially the ebay ones. Also, it seems like your food prices are cheaper than here in the USA. Even the bargain brand soap powder here would never be that cheap. I spend too much money in the supermarket each week. I wish I could find some real bargains like the ones you listed.


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