Tuesday, 18 October 2016

Do not despair, make it a challenge.

Hello. We wake up this morning to more doom and gloom in the press, inflation is rising and we are all going to have to pay more for the things we need to give us the life that we aspire to. But wait a minute, not everyone will suffer, those of us who understand the difference between a need and a want, will still be able to adjust our finances to get the best possible deals. We know it's all down to juggling, and from the comments I get from my readers, most of us have got it about right, so this post is not aimed at you. 
What do you do when you can't afford to buy new clothes from a High Street shop? Answer, you go to a charity shop, a car boot sale, a rummage sale, a garage sale, accept hand me downs, swap clothes with friends, look on ebay and the free sites. 
What do you do when you can't afford expensive brand name foods? Answer, you try the shop's own brand, you buy the Value and Basics labels, you shop around in different places, you get to know the prices of everything you buy on a regular basis, you look for reductions, offers, and out of date reductions. 
What do you do when you can't afford your utilities? Answer, you check how many kw's you are using per annum and go on the comparison sites and look for a better deal. You contact your present provider and ask them for a cheaper tariff. You use less gas, electricity, and water by not switching things on until it is absolutely necessary. Flick a switch, turn a tap on, it will cost you.
Petrol is going up, how can you spend less? By driving correctly, not rushing about, no harsh braking or fast acceleration. Plan your driving by what you can see ahead of you. There's been many times when I have seen a bend or a junction up ahead and have slowed down by just taking my foot off the gas, when the car in front has approached it at speed, then slammed their brakes on. Remove all the clutter from your car, more weight uses more petrol. 
Shop around for literally everything. Think about what you need, then look in different places to get the best price. Give yourself time before you sign a cheque, open your purse, or put your card in a machine. Be very aware of what you are spending your money on. Absolutely no impulse spending, go home and think about it. 
Put a little money aside every week or month, into a savings account. Doesn't have to be much. One day you will need a new washer or fridge. Your car will eventually conk out, if you have planned and saved it won't be so painful when you come to change it. I've had my car almost two years, I started saving as soon as I got it, there will be enough in the pot when I come to change it. 
If you enjoy a few extras at Christmas, start saving on January the 1st. If you like a summer holiday, have a pot for that. Write a plan on a piece of paper, you don't need fancy electronic gadgets to keep track of your money, a notebook does the same job. The miles I do for my walking challenge are recorded on a calendar, I don't need a gadget for that. Pen and paper is all you need. Keep a spending diary, record every penny you spend, look back on it often. 
All this is common sense, and a lot of you who are a similar age to myself will know what I am talking about. It's the younger people who are struggling, those that don't get the benefit of savvy parents to teach them, which I feel for. 
Right, so what do you do when you are really struggling to make ends meet? All of the above, but what you don't do is BORROW. Loan companies know people will be struggling once inflation rises and gets a grip,  they will be increasing their advertising to reel in all those who don't know which way to turn next. The sharks are waiting for the kill.
Do not fall for it. MSE is full of posts from people who are in such a mess with their finances. They know they have been living beyond their means, and know they will never have a life if they don't try and do something about it. Borrowing is too easy. Spending someone else's money is too easy. If people can't afford to pay for something, how are they going to afford the repayments? Look at the figures below, found on a random web site. Borrow £3,000 to buy a car. It takes three years to pay it back. You will have paid £5,143 to this company if you borrow from them, and you will be left with a scrap heap of a car worth nothing.   
What did I do when I started driving? I bought a battered old Bedford van for cash saved. Changed it for another slightly better van, then worked my way up with more old vehicles. I went to car maintenance classes at the college to learn how to do the basics. And at long last after years of driving around in a vehicle which I could never be sure of it getting me there, I now have a decent car. 
So, don't despair if the cost of living is going up, try and keep one step ahead. Appreciate what you already have. Find ways of staying in control, make it a challenge, don't let the buggers beat you. There is Life after Money. 
Thanks for popping in, we'll catch up soon.
Toodle pip

46 comments:

  1. Hi Ilona, I think you are just wonderful! Such practical, sensible advice. You are my walking inspiration as well: I had a day in bed feeling unwell, but I made myself go for a 5km walk after dinner and felt heaps better for it. The rain stopped as I set out, and the sky and clouds looked so beautiful. Shame I was the only person outside to appreciate it.
    Loretta xx

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  2. Good post. It's worth remembering that inflation has only just reached 1% (it was previously so low that all the commentators were actually worried about the prospect of DEflation not long ago), and the Bank of England's remit is to keep it at 2%. So, although the media are making a big thing of it, it's still half of where the govt and the bank think it ideally should be.

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  3. love this post. you are so right. NEVER BORROW unless you want to buy a house and then make it a modest one that is well within your means.

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  4. Great post Ilona. Mu hubby and I do lots of what you talk about. We have just sold our 4x4 because it was so expensive to run. We have now bought a gret car that belonged to a registered disabled man and has been very well kept and will last us three or four years I think. We are about to sell the triler we bought to move our belongings to get here so Jon can buy a 1973 or older Land Rover as this will have no tax and be used as a utiity vehicle. I'm just about to start a little savings pot for Christmas and we are doing the same for our holiday next year after Christmas. I buy lots of clothes from charity shops and Jon gets t shirts for work, too. I have never been bothered about buying branded food, or goods in general and now we have our cooking, heat and water on the Rayburn (which we bought for £26, refurbished for £250) we are running an economy drive on using too much elecricity. Love your posts as you are a woman after my own heart in a lot of respects - although I don't think I could bring myself round to the idea of wearing boys pants, don't think hubby would enjoy that! x

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  5. Brilliant Ilona you said it all.
    Why not send your post to the national newspapers, that should be published on the front page.
    As you say, to our generation it's common sense and comes naturally because we grew up being taught to make do and mend.
    I had Domestic Science lessons at school, I bet that is not the case now.
    I loved those classes and still put into practice what I learned then.
    Thanks Ilona, you are a marvel.
    Pam in TX.xx

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  6. I am with British gas and do like them for both my fuels, so tend to stay and get the best tariff from them, I get a discount for having both fuels with them, a discount on kph by being direct debit and have just signed up for the free electricity on a sunday between 9-5 tariff, so we shall see if that brings my bills down a bit, got to think carefully to not use more particularly but time my washing, electricity use for a sunday and reduce on other days. it will be interesting to see if I can bring my monthly bill down a bit, by doing that and saving on other days. I like all your points, I feel like I'm wasting money at the moment and need to reign it in a bit, took my eye off the ball so to speak, nothing outrageous just lots of pressies for me and it needs to stop now until I'm back working again. x keep up the good work spreading your message. Julie T

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  7. Great post Ilona, there are things we call all do but I think many just can't be bothered thats why they end up in debt. I will be doing some posts in the next few weeks on what I am doing to save.

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  8. Thanks for this....you are a flippin diamond, you are.Keep the faith

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  9. Brilliant post Ilona, I just hope the people that need to read it ... read it. As you quite rightly say we have a whole generation of would be frugaleers coming up that have received no training or advice from their parents and it's posts like these in blogland that they need to be able to find.

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  10. Ha ha don't let the buggers beat you, yes, my thoughts exactly! Great post as so true that it is the young ones who need to be shown the way. Thank goodness for the internet and being able to access advice from people who know what to to do and how to do it. I think posts like this help everyone to retain their fighting spirit, bless you.

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  11. Common sense advice, as always. JanF

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  12. All good advice, I made a list of your tips when I started to read your blog that I could do and were apt for me; I now write every single penny spent on a calendar (easy to forget if I get 'cashback' in a shop and then 'gulp' but not now when I reconcile the calendar with the bank statement every month); I buy own brand tins etc, mostly can't tell the difference and search for the reduced fresh fruit and vegetables; gave up the tumble dryer (what a waste of money - dry outside or in poor weather indoors on clothes horses); batch cook in the electric oven which will make about 25 -30 portions to freeze otherwise rely on gas hob and grill; wear more jumpers (I will not pay the greedy utility suppliers in the UK unless I have to); also now plan my car journeys to incorporate many errands/appointments instead of 'popping out' in the car; I re-use sink water/collect rain water in buckets to use for cleaning and flushing the loo; I found out having a 'named driver' on my car insurance brought it down so put that on and am on the friend's to bring that down; I use the library instead of constantly buying books; all these tips from you Ilona, and I have saved HUNDREDS OF POUNDS, so thank you. Amanda

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    1. Thank you Amanda. It's good to hear that you are on top of things with your money saving. I would be a happy bunny if everyone was so savvy with their finances.

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  13. I know this might be contentious but quite a few of the under 30's I meet have absolutely no idea of 'budgeting'; they go and get credit/store cards etc (good grief! I don't have store cards - whatever for - have a 'Nectar' card to get the points on fuel and got a Barclaycard 4 years ago when I went on holiday, paid for it and used it whilst there, got home, paid the bill in full and cut the card up). My suggestion, would it be a good idea, I know it sounds a bit patronising but for the school-age children to have a course in the curriculum about the evils of credit/how to budget/basic cookery skills etc, from what I can gather, but education has changed so much since I attended, none of this is being taught by many parents so perhaps it would be a good idea to introduce into the schools. By the way I met a 23 year old last week who thought you cooked a chicken breast on the grill 2 minutes per side - I won't be going to her house for supper... Amanda

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    1. No Amanda, it would not be 'patronizing' to teach children the realities of home finances/budgeting, because it is basic math and they could start it in first grade. A basic bookkeeping course is in order along with how to read a loan contract and fill out a job application. We are doing a disservice to our children by not teaching them the skills that everyone needs to be able to function as 'adults'. That's just not in the UK but in the USA too.

      And to continue my rant every child should be taught which end of a needle to hang onto, plus how to plan, shop and cook simple balanced meals for a week. I also, think every child should have to take a basic home maintenance course so they know which end of the screwdriver to hang onto plus how to operate a hammer. Oh...and time spent in a kitchen garden for the school they attend, would allow them to know where the groceries they eat come from; maybe some chickens and a dairy cow or two wouldn't hurt either. The fresh air would do the teachers and the kids a world of good.

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    2. My friend's son-in-law teaches high school math here in America and last year he taught a class on personal finance. It included budgeting, calculating interest, how to but insurance etc. Unfortunately the class is only an elective so not everyone takes it.

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  14. Yes I agree 100% with all your good advice. Dave Ramsey recommends buying a car that is old and cheap, then paying yourself the 'car loan' that you would have taken out to buy a decent one. Change the car after a year using the 'car loan' money. Keep upgrading - but with no debt. There is very little we really need in life and there is always a way.

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  15. Best post ever! On any blog -anywhere!

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  16. Agree 100% with your post.

    It does seem to me that at some period there was a mood swing and no matter what the attitude of entitlement became rampant. Simply charge it! My house must always be at a perfect temperature even if that involves the central heating or air conditioning. No thought of putting on a sweater, opening a window.

    Yes Dave Ramsey does have some good advice and well worth following.

    Take care.

    Sandy

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  17. Great advice. Unfortunately there are always people out there trying to persuade us we should have this or that. Saying no has improved my life. Make do and mend is another that we could do far more of to.

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  18. I work with a lot of young people (under 30) and most are from families that taught them how to handle their finances...they pack their lunches, have side jobs and pay their student loans back as fast as possible...only a few are living above their means, and boy do they annoy the rest of us complaining about their bills...if only they would see the light! thanks for another great post...

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  19. Married for 56 years and have always turned the collar and darned the socks of the hubby. After coming into an inheritance, we thought of changing our habits, but being frugal has been a part of our lives for so long, we just can't change. ha

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  20. Best post ever, Ilona and like how you've concluded it with the title of your blog which is what it's all about :) Louise (from your old town)

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  21. You are just the tonic we all need. I was having a down day but feel quite uplifted now. Super advice and a inspiration. Best post ever.

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  22. I had to borrow money to replace rotten windows in the Victorian house I bought. No alternative

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    1. I borrowed some money from an ex boyfriend about 25 years ago, I needed two new windows and a new door. He didn't ask for any interest, and as I was working it was easy to pay him. He got back exactly what he lent me.

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    2. Thanks for your reply Ilona. I love your blog and your sensible advice x

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  23. Good advice Ilona. I was out with my daughter and two grandchildren today both well into their 20s and we got to talk about saving. I tried to explain if you are careful with money and savie pennies where you can you will then have money to buy the little extras that make life a lot easier and enjoyable. I said I still darn socks and do mending when necessary. They thought using the bag the bread came in to put rubbish in was a good idea also it helps the environment. My daughter has learnt a lot from me in the past and I hope the grandchildren learn from her. Thanks for all your advice Ilona.
    Hazel c uk

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  24. Just watched Victorian slum on bbc2. My word that was poor. We have such a lot to be thankful for. A roof over our heads and food in our bellies, anything else is just window dressing. I feel so grateful for what I have, though it was earned through hard work, I hope I never take it for granted.

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  25. Great post! I agree with Pam in Texas that this should be on the front page of the newspaper.

    Growing up, my parents were very thrifty and I hated it. But now I am so glad that I learned from them. In my 20s I got into a bit of credit card debt. It wasn't a lot but it took "forever" to pay it off and I learned my lesson and now pay my credit card in full each month. I know several people my age, 60s, who are still in a lot of debt. I couldn't live that way.

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  26. Iona, you have it exactly right.

    There is pretty much only one thing I would add, and I am curious if you/any of your readers have noticed this...

    WATCH the till at the checkout...that is, watch what prices come up on the cash register screen. CAREFULLY.

    with only one person, it is actually tough to do, if you have many items, so we try to shop in pairs.
    One puts the groceries on, etc, one watches the till screen.

    At least every second week we find a price rung up wrong, often seriously wrong, and sometimes many items. It used to be I thought it an innocent mistake, someone hadn't changed the computer prices on the till, but it happens so often and ALWAYS in the store's favor, I think it is a marketing scam.

    Couple days ago, I was discussing this with someone, and they shopped at Walmart a few weeks back, got a huge cart full. All in all, it still seemed the charges were too high, so they made the cashier wait, while they checked the bill. Instead of one roaster, they had been charged for three, and there were two other similar "mistakes" on their bill.

    Myself, have very often see an item for reduced sale price in flyer/on store shelf, and the price which rings in is much higher.

    so

    check the cashier till each time.

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    1. Good advice, I cannot always see what is on the screen but always check my bill before I leave the store and agree I have had several mistakes which I have told the manager about and got a refund. You can not be to careful. Hazel c uk

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    2. hazel c UK

      we find "mistakes" so very often...often substantial. Seriously think they (store manager) uses this as a profit technique. After all, them keeping their jobs/bonuses depends on having a profitable "shop" ....

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  27. I hope you don't mind Ilona but I have just put a link to your blog on mine. I think everyone should take a good hard look at how they deal with their finances and everyone should read this particular post.

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  28. I just LOVE your frugal living posts like this cause we totally speak the same language! People are always talking doom and gloom about how things are going to get worse and we will need sooooo much more to live on as time goes on. My living expenses have been about $30,000 per year for 3 decades - even tho I sometimes made more income than that. It is a matter of discipline, common sense, adjusting my spending and planning.

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  29. I finally took some of your advice and spent about an hour on the phone yesterday with both my cable tv/internet provider and the phone company. After a bit of back and forth I'm giving up a bit on the tv but gaining double my internet space, all while saving $60/month. I'm paying the same for my long distance pkg. on the phone but getting a better option with none of the former restrictions and I've switched to another basic phone option and saving $20/month there. Now I just need to ensure that $80 difference gets into savings!
    Fridge, freezer and pantry are pretty full at the moment so planning on eating down quite a bit and saving towards the Christmas stock up, Don't drive and already get a good deal on my transit pass through work so that is sorted. And yesterday I sat down with a new Accounting Book to list everything going in and out so that I can start to keep a much better track of things than I have been - will get there in the end.
    Thank you for the reminders.

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  30. Good post, the problem is everyone is spend spend spend attitude to life, the must have's.they wonder why they don't have any savings.Take cars for instance, unless you really need a car, what is wrong with public transport. one car is not enough families have three or four now,They are usually huge big cars that cost a fortune.

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  31. I am loving this discussion prompted by Ilona. Plan on reading back through it all again to pick up tips. WE have boys aged 9 and 10 and they are very used to us going into charity shops. We plan on buying a cheap car for each of them when they are old enough and Jon will teach them how to look after it. I will ensure when they live away from home at college, uni whatever that they have some good basic skills to feed and look after themselves. They alread have jobs around the house to earn their pocket money like feeding the chickens and chopping logs, yes, with an axe. Children are never too young to learn where money comes from and where it goes. We talk to them quite openly when we know we have to cut back on spending here and there but we are not mad spenders by any stretch so it all helps. We don't have a credit card and the boys know why. Such a good post just to give us all a reminder.

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  32. Brilliant post Ilona. I have just noted the items we budget on - save ten pounds a month each of us for the car and holiday fund (latter is a caravan trip), We put fifty pounds each aside every month for the rates. I buy two pounds worth of supermarket saving stamps each week, starting after Christmas. We shop once a week in town, doing everything at one go. If we run out, too bad.

    A school friend and another friend who lost a lot of weight pass clothes on to me, and I rarely buy them for myself, last big purchase was an outfit two years ago for my son's wedding. We've recently changed our internet provider - hassle, I admit, but saving twenty pounds a month.

    Our 4 x 4 car is dear to run, but like I said, we have a caravan, and we plan every journey with real stinginess!

    It is FUN trying to beat the system, and how thankful I am that we both grew up in homes where spending was a luxury, and hard work was rewarded. I pity the youngsters nowadays. My grandson's ex wife, just had her second relationship since the breakup, and on benefit can afford to go to the races! Time benefits were looked at carefully. In my first job, I worked with a retired National Assistance Board employee. He told us that at one time employees had to look throughout the houses of those in receipt, and see what food was in the cupboards. What a good idea!

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    1. To Anon from Australia. If you are looking for your comment I have not published it. No need to be sarcastic, it's not allowed on here. Go and vent your displeasure somewhere else.

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  33. Some great comments here, it's interesting to read your thoughts. Thank you for joining in.

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  34. Hi Ilona, I have followed your blog for years (and froogs too), I was diagnosed with breast cancer 3 years ago and things had to change drastically. Although my hubby and I worked full time we had to change our lifestyles dramatically and took leaves out of your book. When hubby was made redundant, we paid off the mortgage, we have no debt and are financially stable, because we changed practically everything financially. I look at your blog everyday for inspiration and so admire what you do. Keep up the great blog and life!! Love what you do, Carol xxx

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  35. You have always been the greatest at all of the things listed. I do mini-whats in the fridge challenges. If it was only me I would eat porridge (love it with cinnamon and raisins with milk) more often to keep costs down but hubby is a bit fussy so I make fabulous meals out of nothing. I only buy when on sale and in season. The only fruit we have in the house are apples free from my Mom's friend and veggies all bought cheaply as they were on sale. We eat meat but almost 100% of it is discounted. If you buy everything at a discount funnily enough you have a wide range of products to eat. We eat at home 99% of the time except when hubby is on the road for business and most of the time his clients have to pay for that. We eat out when we travel which is what I tend to spend money on. Most days all my clothes are from the thrift store (except undergarments which I buy online to get cheaply in my size) and I love it. The thrill of the hunt. I am getting so good at it I now occassionally buy things to resell. Like vintage christmas ornaments as I collect them (pre 1970s). When I get too many I purge them by reselling them at 4x the price or I hang on to them :) A nice frugal hobby.

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  36. So, so true. My daughter whilst growing up has had many privileges but few indulgences. She was given an excellent education but we could not afford the clothes and gadgets that everyone else had. It was hard because 'belonging' and being 'like the others' is so important to young people when they are growing up. Somehow we got through it all and today as a young uni student she happily packs a lunch, manages without a credit card, can cope without the latest phone, wears op shop clothes, and survived sharing a car with me to now driving a 'hand me down' car she was given by a grand parent. Studying full time and working 2 jobs (and even more during breaks) has taught her that she has to work very hard for the little she earns and that she has to think twice before splurging her money on something that she really does not need.

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  37. Such a great post Ilona, it's always useful to go back to basics, and think about your spending in all manner of ways. You would probably think me wasteful, as sometimes I can be, but I did just get through my first winter basically without turning the heater on (well I did for an hour or so on the really cold nights, i.e. about 6 times), which kept my electricity bill at summer levels. I wore a jumper and sat under a blanket on the couch. I do think more about what I spend, what I buy- just thinking about it you find lots of ways to save money that suit you. Two weeks ago I came across this blog Save Money Fast with Fives- which is basically suggesting not to spend a 5 dollar note if you get it. I started doing this "for fun" and I have saved $70 in the past two weeks without noticing it at all. Not sure what I'll do with my money in the end, (maybe put it towards my next trip to Paris?) but it's really quite easy, effortless saving.

    https://savemoneyfastwithfives.wordpress.com

    I usually follow recipes when I cook, even though I'm a reasonable enough cook, but you usually need to buy things for that. A few times recently I've been using up what I've got in the fridge, I see it as a Masterchef style "Invention Challenge", it's quite fun, creative, and you get a nice meal too. I've invented a couple of soups that way recently and always think of you when I do it. Keep up the good work. Louise

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