New Year resolutions mostly start with the idea of getting rid of some terrible habit – give up smoking, put the loo seat down after use (although I have always kept to the command which used to be in all British Rail toilets – ‘Gentlemen lift the seat’), clean gardening tools before you put them away, that kind of thing. If you have no bad habits, then resolutions are more challenging to find. Personally, I struggle.
So we at Oscaruk thought that thrift resolutions might be a good idea for New Year 2018, in keeping with the spirit of the times. Our Thriftometer is a highly scientific way of measuring the thriftiness of an individual, and of their resolutions, honed to perfection by testing on the Scottish member of our team.
A lot of the ideas which sound thrify are often wrong. I have never understood the idea that you should look after the pennies, and the pounds will look after themselves. Just plain logic suggests that if you look after one pound, you have managed to look after 100 pennies in one go – surely a more efficient way of doing things. It’s a bit like buying frozen peas and not putting them in a bag, it’s a lot better to use the bag approach and look after them all at once. There is no benefit I can discern to putting a kilo of loose frozen peas into the boot of the car, however much care you put into each individual pea. And don’t think about mushy peas not in a tin.
My first tip to save real money is to stop buying the Sunday papers. The whole objective of these papers is to make you feel inadequate, either because you are not famous, don’t eat out at top restaurants, live in unfashionable interiors, wear last year’s clothes, and generally are a hopeless case. If you don’t read them, then you won’t know just how unfashionable you are, and you won’t waste money trying to catch up.
Tip two – be your own insurance company. Instead of taking out lots of little insurances on individual items, put the premiums into your own savings account, and use that when things go wrong. OK, insure the big things, but not your printer, coffee machine, camera, mobile phone, cat, and so on. I just took out breakdown insurance on our cars – for an extra £40 they would guarantee to pay me up to £100 for overnight accommodation. Is that really worthwhile? In 40 years of driving I have never had to stay overnight because my car broke down. The cat is fit as a fiddle, and he’s 12 years old. Peace of mind is a nice lump sum in your savings account, not the vague prospect of one night in a Travel Lodge.
Tip three – wear reading glasses when buying, preparing, or eating food. This also works as a slimming plan, as the more your glasses magnify, the less you buy/prepare/eat. Only drawback is that they do steam up a bit, but the fog does clear eventually.
So, you should score well on our test if you wear reading glasses, but don’t use them to read the Sunday papers or to fill in insurance forms for trivial things, and you look after the pounds rather than worrying about all those pennies rolling around on their own. And, rather like Dr Johnson, take a Scottish person around with you at all times, just to make sure.