Rosie Millard: Thrifty Living

For my saving plan, the first thing I need is a parasol

I'm suffering from credit envy. Janie, my dear friend and fellow sufferer in the fields of debt, is debt free. I think she pleaded poverty so plaintively, and so often, to her parents that they just took a deep breath and took the problem away in one stroke. I believe they offloaded her inheritance early. "So, no debt!" says Janie to me gleefully as we swelter under the unremitting glare of the unfamiliar world that is London in a heat wave. "Absolutely no debt whatsoever. Apart from, you know, a debt of love and gratitude to the parentals. I am starting again from rock bottom. All my accounts are IN CREDIT. And do you know," she continues, rather like being a student again, only one who is in her 40s, "my accounts are going to continue to be IN CREDIT. Always. I really mean it this time. I'm not going to do any shopping. Apart from buying food, of course."

I've had those moments. Not, I may add, courtesy of a parental backhander, (well, not for the last decade, at least), but from passing spasms of efficiency wherein I have taken all my debts, put them into a single lump and "paid them off" courtesy of an interest-free loan. Everything goes brilliantly for the first few months. The novelty of confident, embarrassment-free cash point use is particularly delightful. Then, as night follows day, the burden of the repayments gradually erodes away your OD-Free status and before you know it, its one visit to Selfridges too many and whoops! you're once more facing the minus sign on your statements and blushes at the hole in the wall. Plus, you now have a giant loan to cope with as well the familiar overdraft.

After Janie leaves, I wrestle with the temptation to hot-foot it to the Millard parental residence in Wimbledon, there to either demand that the incumbents therein think about starting to perish, or to burst into tears and insist they write me out a cheque there and then. But I do have my pride. Anyway, instead of sitting quietly and saving money, as they should be, I dimly recall my parents are currently frittering away their children's inheritance courtesy of a week in Paris.

I, therefore, mull things over via a refreshing swim at the Virgin Gym. I decide my plan shall be to save money by encouraging the family to spend the entire summer season in the exotic location of the back garden. I know camping is fashionable, and cheap; camping at home is even cheaper.

After the swim, I go to the garden furnishing department of a giant emporium on Oxford Street, because the first thing I need is a parasol. With the help of a delightful assistant, I select a parasol (£70), a pole with weighted base (£35), and two delightful Chinese lanterns designed to hang off the parasol (£7 each, which is a lot, but suspending Chinese lanterns from a parasol seems to be a new idea, at least in Western Europe, and you have to pay a premium for innovation). I also pick up a child's deck-chair (£25). It's very sweet. I follow my assistant towards to the till.

I envisage the family sitting beneath the parasol drinking water enhanced by ice cubes from the fridge, while my account gradually rights itself.

The bill is £144. "How would you like to pay?" asks the assistant. "Switch," I say, breezily putting my hand into my pocket where I have carefully stashed my card. It's too hot for handbags, and I am thus into minimalist mode, travelling with one credit card on my person.

Imagine my surprise when I bring forth from my pocket not the trusty Switch, but my Virgin Gym card. Same size, same shape; zero paying power. "Oh, God" I say, scarlet-faced. "I'll have to go home." The line of hot people behind me starts to agitate. Then I am struck by a brainwave. "Can I dictate the number to you via my husband?" Amazingly, he agrees to this. Mr Millard is roused from World Cup duties and obediently dictates the numbers down the phone.

I feel a bit like the Queen, namely a person who can pull off a shopping spree in Oxford Street with but a Virgin Gym card to my name. I start joshing with the assistant. "I bet this sort of thing happens all the time. You know, people trying to pay their bills with only a gym membership card!" I roll my eyes as if envisaging queues of similarly forgetful shoppers. He looks at me steadily. "No," he says. "This has never happened before."

cashl@independent.co.uk

Independent Partners; Do you need financial advice on your investments, pension or insurance? Book a free consultation with an independent Financial Adviser at VouchedFor.co.uk

Arts and Entertainment
filmPoldark production team claims innocence of viewers' ab frenzy
Life and Style
Google marks the 81st anniversary of the Loch Ness Monster's most famous photograph
techIt's the 81st anniversary of THAT iconic photograph
News
Katie Hopkins makes a living out of courting controversy
people
News
General Election
Finacial products from our partners
Property search
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Money & Business

    Guru Careers: Pricing Analyst

    £30 - 35k (DOE): Guru Careers: We are seeking a Pricing Analyst with experienc...

    Ashdown Group: Treasury Assistant - Accounts Assistant - London, Old Street

    £24000 - £26000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: A highly successful, glo...

    Ashdown Group: Sales Team Leader - Wakefield, West Yorkshire

    £21000 - £24000 per annum: Ashdown Group: The Ashdown Group has been engaged b...

    Ashdown Group: Head of Client Services - City of London, Old Street

    £45000 - £50000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: A highly successful, int...

    Day In a Page

    Revealed: Why Mohammed Emwazi chose the 'safe option' of fighting for Isis, rather than following his friends to al-Shabaab in Somalia

    Why Mohammed Emwazi chose Isis

    His friends were betrayed and killed by al-Shabaab
    'The solution can never be to impassively watch on while desperate people drown'
An open letter to David Cameron: Building fortress Europe has had deadly results

    Open letter to David Cameron

    Building the walls of fortress Europe has had deadly results
    Tory candidates' tweets not as 'spontaneous' as they seem - you don't say!

    You don't say!

    Tory candidates' election tweets not as 'spontaneous' as they appear
    Mubi: Netflix for people who want to stop just watching trash

    So what is Mubi?

    Netflix for people who want to stop just watching trash all the time
    The impossible job: how to follow Kevin Spacey?

    The hardest job in theatre?

    How to follow Kevin Spacey
    Armenian genocide: To continue to deny the truth of this mass human cruelty is close to a criminal lie

    Armenian genocide and the 'good Turks'

    To continue to deny the truth of this mass human cruelty is close to a criminal lie
    Lou Reed: The truth about the singer's upbringing beyond the biographers' and memoirists' myths

    'Lou needed care, but what he got was ECT'

    The truth about the singer's upbringing beyond
    Migrant boat disaster: This human tragedy has been brewing for four years and EU states can't say they were not warned

    This human tragedy has been brewing for years

    EU states can't say they were not warned
    Women's sportswear: From tackling a marathon to a jog in the park, the right kit can help

    Women's sportswear

    From tackling a marathon to a jog in the park, the right kit can help
    Hillary Clinton's outfits will be as important as her policies in her presidential bid

    Clinton's clothes

    Like it or not, her outfits will be as important as her policies
    NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

    Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

    A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
    Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

    Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

    The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
    How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

    How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

    Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
    From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

    The wars that come back to haunt us

    David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
    Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

    Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

    A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders