While I have no intention of turning this into a thrift blog – there are loads of those online and they do a much better job of it than I could – I’ve nevertheless found that, far from finding life on a budget difficult, this year has so far had the effect of setting my inner miser free, to run amok around the local pound shops, throwing multipack tins of catfood in the air and cackling.
I’ve always suspected I had a tight streak and, lately, this has been confirmed. I’m taking an almost masochistic glee in trying to get by on next to nothing: the tighter the budget I squeeze myself into, the more the miser groans contentedly. So it is that I spend a part of each day working out how little I can get by on – walk to shave a bus fare off here (rain? what rain?), make do with that odd-shaped lump of whatever that is in the freezer there, and hey presto, each day is a triumph of frugality. I may be soaked and retching, but at least I get to do that for free. That said, I still try to be relatively ethical in my shopping, and get as much as I can in the independent shops round where I live. Oh yes, I try as far as possible, when it comes to not spending money, to keep it local.
I’ve found myself joining quite an elite group as a result of this push for thrift, a group I like to call the Yellow Meanies. You’ll find us gathering from all walks of life, normally around dusk, poised with our little baskets over our arms, in the food aisles of M&S, twitching and swooping, looking for the elusive yellow sticker. You can spot a Yellow Meanie by the way they move swiftly and efficiently up and down each aisle, scanning everything, stopping at nothing until suddenly, and disconcertingly, standing stock-still and delving into random shelves. For members of my new gang, it doesn’t matter what it might be adorning – eel and eye pie, weevil linguine – if there’s a yellow sticker on it, it’s going in the basket. I love stalking fellow meanies as I make my way round M&S, to see which of us has the most random basket. The end result of this is that Yellow Meanies often sit down to fairly eclectic meals. But we’re not talking any old mishmash- it’s M&S mishmash. And the miser, well, he cleans his plate every time.