Thrifty | Spend less on VAT?
A lot of what we spend goes on VAT and even more on various duties on tobacco, fuel and alcohol. I read somewhere that some of the worst drivers in the UK are here, where I live in the West Midlands. We eat while we drive, drive without shoes and have other weird driving habits it seems. I read this morning of the worst speeding offending areas and we weren’t even in the top ten. I drive now to save on fuel and that means driving smoothly in the highest gear that is appropriate. It seems a speeding conviction can also cost around £200 when you have paid the fine, costs and your insurance has been increased.
Other things that are taxed heavily are tobacco and there are powerful health reasons why we should avoid tobacco products and there is help available from the health service to give up smoking. If you can’t go more than a day without alcohol, then you may need help to get your drinking under control too. Using alcohol to help control the affects of stress in your life, isn’t a great excuse for drinking too much.
I will admit to buying sweets in the supermarket, it was 200 grams of pear drops a couple of weeks ago and last week 200 grams of jelly babies! I have put an inch on my waist as a result of that and all the oven chips I have eaten in the past couple of weeks. There is VAT on sweets and so by cutting them out, we can lose weight and save money; with less going to the government.
This week I am thinking about the garden and have already planted some beans in a tub. I think it’s still too soon to plant anything else, but I have started a little herb garden and want to grow lettuce and tomatoes. I find that saving the seeds from commercially grown tomatoes can be a good way to grow tomatoes; they tend to withstand the chilly weather better and can be grown outside. Just save some seeds from a tomato, put them on a tissue to dry out and in a few weeks time plant them (including the tissue) in compost in pots and put them on windowsills. They will grow quite tall on the windowsill and when they are at least 6 inches high plant them in a large tub outside or in the open ground in the garden. The tomatoes might not ripen on the plants, but picked green will soon ripen on a window sill or wrap them in brown paper and put them somewhere dark in a cupboard.
Many families have fish and chips on a Friday as a treat and it saves cooking, but it costs around £15 for a family of four. I bought 4 pieces of haddock for £2.79 at Aldi and did fish, chips and peas. It cost less than £1 for my meal and because the fish wasn’t battered it was less fattening and healthier. I also used oven chips to make it easy to cook. The haddock cooked in a pan in about 5 minutes so it’s a frugal meal and saves a lot as an alternative to the fish and chip shop that has to charge you 20% VAT. On a Friday, it’s a good idea to try to make every meal frugal. I tend to have to egg, chips and peas for dinner and that’s even cheaper and works out to about 65 pence or less.
This week I’ve had egg and chips a couple of times, chicken and chips is also frugal, stir fried pork with rice was another nice meal. Then I had some really healthy salads; the gourmet prawn salad wasn’t so cheap, but I used some pink salmon rather than a lot of expensive prawns. I need oily fish for the vitamins and so my sardine salad was healthy and frugal. I also made a shepherd’s pie and hope to get some diced or minced lamb or turkey today to make more of those. I think bacon is expensive but a couple of rashers with eggs and tinned tomatoes is yummy and reasonably frugal.
I’m a coeliac and so I can’t eat bread, but if you’re lucky enough to be able to eat bread there are all those yummy things like beans on toast to choose from. I don’t have dairy products either and so no cheese on toast or cheese salads for me! You can also cook a chicken on a Sunday and make yummy chicken and salad sandwiches on Monday. I had to make do with the left over boiled potato fried with bacon, tomato and egg for Monday lunch! If you like spicy food and it agrees with you, you have even more choice. Vegetable curries are very cheap to make and full of flavour.
I’m hungry now…
Frugal tip: If your clothes aren’t usually dirty or stained then use a cheap liquid detergent to wash them and add a stain remover such as ‘Vanish’ for things like tea towels that get stained.
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