Do you shop well for less? 


Hello Dear Reader,

I’ve sat and watched the TV show where a trendy young family are taught to live just as stylishly for a fraction of the price. The couple were not uncommon as the loved labels, brands and how they looked was important to them. We’ve all been there, we’ve all been young and worried about appearances and we may or not have grown out of it. Well, I haven’t it’s still important to me although I don’t want to spend too much money. I also want to eat well and have a clean and comfortable house and again, I don’t want it to cost me much again.

I have the opportunity every now and then to wander round a posh department store and get a feel for what I like. I’ll then take a look around stores like Primark, matalan and other similar stores and know what look I like and find a way of achieving it. That being said, I have a kind of uniform of dark straight leg trousers and tunic tops with a scarf here and there and jeans for the weekends. None of that is expensive and I can look smart really reasonably. I certainly don’t give in to labels unless I’ve found something incidentally on the clearance rail at TK Max and that’s a really rare find. I’ll also have a browse round the charity shops although they are often more expensive than the discount stores.

I keep the house clean and know it can be done without any brand names and I get everything I need from the bottom shelves in the supermarket of their basics brands and add in bicarbonate of soda that I buy in kilo bags from the DIY shop and that cleans everything from the bathroom, loo to the oven. Old towels get cut down into cleaning clothes which I use to dry the floor after washing it. I use soapy water for most things and buff things clean with a clean dry cloth. I keep laundry costs down too with basics soap powder and I use white vinegar as softener and it’s really cheap too and just a tablespoon will soften the clothes just fine. I was a brand girl once and turned to bargain brands to save money and now I use them because they do the same job just fine.

I do think we live well, we eat well, we’re smart and tidy and the house is clean and comfortable but we keep the expenses to the lowest costs possible. There are lots of things we do to live well and I’m sure you do too. There are loads of ways to live well and here’s where you can ask a question that could start with “how do you save money on…..” Or leave a handy money saving hint where you can leave advice for the rest of us.

Here’s my questions that you can help with. How do you save money on: pet care, motoring costs, travel costs, home decor …..

Until tomorrow,

Love Froogs xxxxxx

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27 thoughts on “Do you shop well for less? 

  1. I have a couple of things I have started doing, and it definitely saves me money. I have an electric oven, and unless I am actively using it, I turn it off at the wall. I also noticed the other day that the dishwasher – which is plugged into a socket in a cupboard, has a light that is on all the time – so I have started turning this switch off unless it is being used. Along with turning off the TV and DVD player at the wall so they aren’t on standby, I have definitely noticed a reduction in the electricity bills!

    The other thing I do concerns milk, With two children, we go through a fair bit of milk,and it is MUCH more expensive than what you pay – it is about a pound for 2 litres! When it gets to the half way mark, I make up 500ml of skim milk powder, and add it to the bottle.No one has ever noticed a difference in taste and it too saves money on something we use everyday.

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  2. Hi Froogs, we save by using Pet Drugs Online. They accept veterinary prescriptions and savings are typically around 50% of Vets prices. Not having flown since 1979 has certainly saved us lots of money! Holidays are always self-catering in the UK and never in high season. Spring and Autumn are favourite seasons meaning we find bargain accommodation, even when booking late, and get to enjoy the beautiful British countryside without the crowds. Every weekend is a mini staycation, with a thrifty cream tea with home made scones and jam, or cake, and saves on holiday/travel costs massively. My car was purchased new in 2013 on a 2.4% PCP. I’m overpaying so it will be bought and paid for within 4 years. An 899cc twin air engine means zero road tax and dirt cheap insurance via comparison sites (£140 last year). As my annual mileage is less than 5000 miles I intend for it to ‘see me out’ I’m 52. A modern, well maintained, low mileage car should do 25 years standing on its head. Servicing and maintenance is courtesy of my local independant garage. They are VAT registered, use genuine parts and stamp the owners’ manual so the warranty is maintained. A service costs £85 rather than £180 at the main dealer. At home, soft furnishings are home made. Cheap fabric from the Bankrupt Stock Shop for curtains, charity shop finds like shirts are repurposed into drawstring bags, trimmings for plain pillow cases, cushion covers, tea cosies, oven mitts, bunting etc for both our home and money-saving gifts. Redecorating often is costly and unnecessary. Instead, we wash down walls and paintwork with soapy water/sugar soap, run over the carpet/rugs with the Vax cleaner and rotate curtains, cushions and accessories for a fresh, new look. We enjoy living simply but comfortably and getting as much as we can for our money. Being happy with what we have and keeping more of our money in our pockets is so satisfying.

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    • I have always been frugal, so it’s hard to even think about what I’ve been doing forever as a means of saving money. When we started out we were college students–never had an engagement ring, wore a street length dress to be married in–it came with a matching jacket and also served as my “going away” outfit. My sister was the maid of honor in the same dress in another color. Little hats with a short veil–popular then. Corsages. The “reception” was at my parent’s house and was tea sandwiches, punch, cake and coffee. We had no car so took a bus on our honeymoon trip-which was 4 days in Toronto (about 90 miles away.)

      From there my husband went into the military to support us, so we traveled every year or two to the next assignment. As he was enlisted, they didn’t pay for my transportation for the first 4 years–he stayed in for 8 years to learn a trade he could transfer to civilian life. After that, he got a job and I went back to school part time and stayed home with our two kids until the younger was ten, when I started working and eventually finished my degree, and got a better job.

      We saved and worked the whole time until retirement. Vacations were usually road trips and camping. After the kids were grown we graduated to budget hotels, and now we are actually up to three star hotels, unless we know from experience that a particular two star one is nice enough, and cheap in a certain location. Travel and seeing the world has always been important to us. We bought a house when we were nearly 40 and did most of the work ourselves to fix it up as we went along. I also sewed, knitted, cooked from scratch, and still do most of those. I do more mending than sewing from scratch these days but once in a while I will make something, often for the house. We have both taken additional jobs when necessary to make ends meet. Whatever was close and convenient. My husband entertained the kids many, many weekends while I studied English literature for my degree!! He took some courses but only what was needed to get ahead in his job. He is very much self-educated as he reads a lot but he was not so interested in a degree as I was.

      I guess I’m trying to say that saving money is more a mind-set than a particular set of rules or tips—although they certainly help as well. I’ve had a garden since we bought the house and canned food and used what we grew. I will stop there as I have used enough space for now!

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    • Hi, I’ve got a query ‘re. Vet prescriptions. We’ve just paid a lot for vet care and medications and it’s ongoing. However at my vet practice we don’t get the chance to have drugs dispensed from an alternative source. They’re quick to give it in the room and it goes on the bill via computer straight to reception. My pet insurance may pay once I’ve gone over the excess which I will next week – hopefully! I can’t keep paying lots per month.

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      • If you’re in the UK, just tell your vet you want a prescription. You’re not obligated to get medication from them. There are a few websites that deal with prescriptions and you can see the price online like petmeds, if you do a Google search they will come upAll you do is order your meds and post the prescription off. Our local ASDA supermarket has recently advertised they now do pet prescriptions.

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  3. Pet care. Don’t buy any routine meds at the vet. Mole Valley or similar now do own brand dewormers, flea treatments etc for a fraction of the cost. Honestly, if you are starting out from scratch – don’t get a tricksy popular dog breed with all kinds of genetic problems, get a 57 with a bit of hybrid vigour. Don’t let your animals get FAT! Like us, half their problems can be avoided by staying healthy and slim. PS. A healthy weight on a dog or cat (or horse or goat) will probably get your armchair expert neighbours complaining you are starving them!) Learn to clip claws and (in the case of a dog) do a good bit of road work and you won’t need to!
    Now *controversial alert* if YOU eat healthy and *if* you do have any leftovers, it is fine for your dog to eat with a few exceptions – chocolate and sausage for example. Like, who leaves chocolate or sausage?! Decrease their dog food ration accordingly.

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  4. We just started taking our dogs to the clinic at the vetrenarian college in the next town. Major savings on shots and yearly visits. I’m not above going to the reduced shot clinics too. I bathe and clip my dogs as much as I can. Helps with grooming fees.

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  5. As a mun of 3 growing children, I have found that old fashioned values save money and time.
    We all sit around the table for meals, even if it is only 3 of us, our meals might be plain but everyone eats the same and there is no waste and what’s left is used for the next day, we discuss money issues with the children(not any major ones) but enough for them to understand that we say NO for a reason.I have always used menu planning,home baking, sewn a majority of my own clothes and all my soft furnishings.
    I expect my children to wear the same play clothes at least twice and not discard them on the floor for washing,we all use the same toiletries, and they understand second hand anything is better than nothing! We as a married couple have never had pocket money the house and children have always been first, but we have never gone without, if it’s that important we buy it but most of the time it’s not needed.I love my life and my family money is not a status symbol it is a means to an end, personally I hate the stuff.

    ,

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  6. I used to look after an elderly lady who used to say ” if you buy cheap you buy twice “, I think this is the case in some things, for example 18 months ago we bought the cheapest cooker we could find and it is now an ex- cooker, it is terrible to clean and the hob, hopeless! We are replacing the kitchen and have decided not to have a dishwasher ( i can wash them whilst listening to the Archers ) so that we can afford an induction hob ( comes with free set of pans worth over £100 ) and an efficient cooker as I like to cook and bake frugally, but other things like cleaning products and clothes we do buy cheaply, we also use basics range baby stuff for the bathroom. Shoes we do buy good ones but only have 2 pairs each and a pair of trainers as feet are so important to look after. We do buy a good brand of food for our dogs and give them fresh veg often, they love to munch on a carrot or broccoli stalk and bathe our spaniel before going to be clipped as that cuts down on costs. Husband takes packed lunch and flask of tea to work and our chickens give us lovely eggs so at the moment we think we have a good balance and our veg curry is a match for any take away!

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      • White vinegar is a fantastic fabric softener, it makes towels super fluffy and it also keeps the washing machine sparkly clean and limescale free which prolongs its life. You can’t beat good old white vinegar.

        I also have a constant supply of bicarbonate of soda in the cupboard and this, mixted with white vinegar, water and a few drops of essential oil makes for fantastic floor cleaner if you have wooden floors. The solution leaves no sticky residue and cuts through dirt super quick, it’s also pet friendly. We uses it daily on our floors, especially after we have taken the dogs for walks across the fields and they return with muddy paws.

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  7. Brushing my dog every day means less frequent trips to the “doggie spa” where she has only a bath, not a costlier grooming session. I am not physically able to bathe her at home, or I would do that, too.

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  8. I seem to do most of the things that you do so really I doubt I have much to add.

    We do always take our cars to the same garage. Since we moved to North Wales this has turned out to be Kwikfit. The guys there are brilliant, they know us and they know the vehicles as they do everything to them, it means that when we have a problem we can go in, get seen to quickly and sometimes for free. They always give us a Winter check free of charge and point out any problems before they become too serious.

    I use vinegar as a fabric conditioner too, people seem to think their clothes will smell like the chip shop but they really don’t you still have the faint aroma of your washing powder but clothes are beautifully soft.

    I also use it to unblock sinks along with bicarbonate of soda (thanks for the tip to buy it from the DIY shop, I didn’t know they sold it in bulk!!). Simply tip the bicarb down the plughole until there is powder all around the top, leave for ten minutes or so and then pour down a third of a bottle of vinegar (any sort will do), it will bubble up dramatically and clear the drain as it does. I end by pouring a kettle full of boiling water down, this is much better for us to do as we have a septic tank and are not on mains drainage.

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  9. hi I do almost all my shopping (except groceries) on ebay. I have saved a fortune on posh make up, nice clothes and shoes. Just make sure of your sizes before you order.

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  10. Hi,
    We’ve cut our energy bills since having our multi fuel stove installed last year and we are lucky enough to be able to walk to woodlands and a country park where we have a deal with the ranger who lets us take all the wood they’ve collected and no longer need, it means my husband and I along with our two sons have to load the car up with heavy posts etc and then unload and chop it all up but for one Saturday of hard labour equals a month of free heat or thereabouts.

    I try and be frugal with food but I do enjoy an Indian takeaway..

    I’m not one for trends or fads so decorating is very simple in this house… It’s all white walls and gloss! Always looks fresh, clean and bright and with a few key pieces of art from our travels they look great. I use the basics large tub of white for around £9!

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  11. I logged on just after watching the programme on iplayer and was pleased to see tonight’s blog!

    I buy cats food in bulk.

    I allocate a line on spreadsheet for home decor £40 as just moved home. I’ll make a list of all the things we need and if we don’t have enough we’ve agreed to save the money each month until we do. That way we won’t go over budget.

    Best thing I ever did was to never go to the shops I do it all online so I do ‘t get carried away. Good old £1 slot tesco home delivery works well.

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  12. Here’s a tip I’ve never seen. We share our pup. He’s actually my daughter’s dog. She got him while she was still living at home (3 years). While living with us we split the costs of puppy boot camp (he is the best trained dog I have ever had), food and dad picked up most of the vet expenses but she took him and made sure he was always bathed, nails clipped, ears and teeth cleaned and house vacuumed of hair. When daughter got married and moved out dad was terribly missing his best buddy so we arranged joint custody. Dad picks up pup early Monday mornings and he stays with us 3 days. Daughter picks him up and has him the rest of the week. Anytime the kids have plans dad is quick to volunteer to watch pup. We supply our own food (the same at each house) and “he’s a spoiled puppy things”. Daughter pays all vet bills and dad has more time so he takes him. This has worked great. Pup is 115 pounds so splitting this lovable goofball’s expenses is great.

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  13. For home decor I learned that shabby chic works well, white walls, wooden hard wearing floors go well with random and eclectic finds. I make all my soft furnishings. All my upholstery gets slipcovers made by me so no need for expensive carpet and upholstery cleaning. Slipcovers get washed and rugs are cleaned on a sunny day with soapy water and a brush. We don’t have pet insurance because we calculated that we hardly ever got anything back and that it was more effective to have a a pet fund instead.

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  14. Hi Froogs, like you I feel that we have a good life for less. I too saw the program that you are talking about and to be honest I really don’t understand why people are quite frankly stupid. By all means by designer if you like (I never have, even in my youth) but don’t deprive your babies of a bathroom for it! I simply don’t understand them. But that’s me.
    Lately I’ve started taking frugal to the extreme after hubs lost his job. I reuse whatever I can, bed sheets, old clothes all become rags, hubs has hankies I wash, I even have washable sanitary products. I make most our cleaning supplies, including my own washing powder.
    I couldn’t help thinking in the program last night, why are they even buying more clothes? The way to save is to stop spending. It’s not a deal if you never needed it! I have clothes that I love from 20 years ago in my uni days. I still have the same bedding and towels! I do my best to buy quality so that things last.
    I’ll keep on being frugal as we too wish to relocate to France when my daughter is older. We still do things but we try to be savvy about it.
    Keep blogging. I love to follow your adventures.
    Cath x

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  15. Hi i have been reading your blog for ages now and it is a great inspiration. I turn everything off at the wall when not in use. It drives the kids mad to find the internet off or lights off but I dont care because they dont have to pay the bill. I love old furniture , vintage chic ha ha and i have many really cheap bargains from charity shops. Our outdoor table was one someone up the street had put out as rubbish. I joke that we are almost a registered charity and love stuff for free. Saying that my victorian house is stylish and not full of old junk and clutter.
    I buy dog food in big sacks. Pet food for working dogs, like Red Mills races is cheap because it does not have VAT and the protein content etc is good. Plant cuttings from others also keep down garden costs. We have an allottment which is starting to produce cheap healthy veggies.

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  16. I would recommend people visiting their local charity shops to see what bargains they can find. I work for a children’s hospice and we have 10 charity shops. We often get brand new goods donated which we sell at much lower prices than online or on the high street. At Christmas, I got a couple of lovely evening dresses for £15 in total and I would have easily paid £100+ for them if I’d bought them new in the shops. The other thing is that when people buy from our shops they are giving to charity. 15% of our running costs are generated through our retail arm.

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  17. Don’t buy a bigger car than you need! Cheap gasoline here in the US right now means that lots of people are driving around in huge SUVs and pickup trucks. Most of these suburban dwelling people have no need for such a huge vehicle! I drive a Ford Focus I bought new 2 years ago. Before that I drove a Focus for nearly 10 years. I buy new cars and drive them until the repairs cost too much. Here in the US, most cars are gasoline powered. It’s rare to find diesel powered ones. Drive the speed limit, so you save fuel, and don’t get speeding tickets! Service your car at recommended intervals. Regular oil changes are especially important, as are keeping tires properly inflated.

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