Rosie Millard: Thrifty Living

A little incentive for the children is music to their ears

I AM OUT in bosky Amersham having lunch with my husband's cousin, an accountant. Let us call him Charles. Charles is in buoyant mood, although as the July Tax Moment nears, he has had to cope with wails of panic from his myriad clients who suddenly find themselves looking at a big bill from the Inland Revenue. I, having saved up to cope with my Moment, am as buoyant as Charles is. We both agree what a silly-billy the "comic" Jim Davidson is, since he never spotted his Tax Moment, consisting of a £4 million bill, was heading towards him. He is now officially bankrupt and living in Dubai.

The only way to cope with taxes, as I'll tell Nick Nick when I'm next in Dubai, is to anticipate them and plan for them. No matter how thrifty you are, you must arrange a separate account, preferably at another bank, and drip-feed money into it from your main account throughout the year. It needs to be in a separate account because then you won't be tempted occasionally to reverse the drip-feed back into your overdraft. When the Tax Moment is near, simply dip into this account, and deal with it. Ditto your quarterly VAT Moment. It's taken me 20 years to figure out how to perform this simple operation.

Charles figured it out years ago. He is very savvy. "Accountancy is just about adding up figures," he says modestly. "But for other people. Quickly." Interestingly, it seems this thrifty thing is spreading among his clients. I explain that thanks to this column, I have had some fascinating saving tips from readers, who do things such as cart their own G&Ts around with them when they fly. "I know! I've heard of people bringing their own wine into restaurants these days!" says Charles. "And I've met people who have a fantastically thrifty way of cruising." What, kerb-crawling in Amersham? I'm not sure I want to hear this.

"No, no," says Charles hastily. "Cruising! On ships!" Oh, sorry.

"People have started taking their own cases of wine on board with them, and keeping them in their cabins. I don't know if the liners charge corkage, but it's a fantastic way of saving money. You just bring on your wine, and make sure you give the wine waiter at your table a big tip afterwards. On my last cruise, there were about 10 people next to us all merrily drinking their own booze." I make a mental note to remember this, next time I'm cruising around the Bahamas, or indeed, to Dubai.

Anything else? Charles leans towards me. It's all about schools. In Buckinghamshire, the 11-Plus still reigns supreme. Those who pass it gain entry to a clutch of top-rate, free grammar schools. And so, as Charles puts it, it was a question of dangling a bit of money over his offspring in order to save many thousands of pounds further down the line. Told you he was savvy.

Mind you, so were they. "I tutored them myself," Charles explains. "And I offered them quite a lot of money if they got, say 80 per cent. Quite a bit more if they got 90 per cent. And an awful lot if they got 100 per cent." This approach, although probably not for the faint-hearted, appeared to work a treat. All his children went to the local grammars. One even got 140 per cent in the 11-Plus. I nod my head. In North London word has got out that if you want to get your child into a decent state secondary school, but live outside the catchment area, the thing to do is get them in via the music ticket. What you need is Grade Five in one instrument, and basic competence in another. By the age of 10. It's a tough call, and rather like a tax bill, must be carefully planned.

I know parents who are currently whipping their six-, seven- and eight-year-olds through the Associated Board Grades in oboe, flute, bassoon, even harp. As Tim Rice once wrote, any dream will do. As long as it's orchestral, or piano. I acknowledge my wish to stay within the state system may or may not have something to do with my desire for my eldest child (eight) to pass her Grade Three piano, taken last week. Indeed I, like Charles, utilised blatant bribery. Not hundreds of pounds, but a daily handful of Smarties. Three for a perfect set of scales. Four for a perfect set of arpeggios. Five for a perfect set of broken chords. Six for a full house. The result will be out next week. After which I suspect we should pay a visit to the dentist.

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

News
people
News
A survey carried out by Sainsbury's Finance found 20% of new university students have never washed their own clothes, while 14% cannot even boil an egg
science...and the results are not as pointless as that sounds
News
Dominique Alderweireld, also known as Dodo de Saumure, is the owner of a string of brothels in Belgium
newsPhilip Sweeney gets the inside track on France's trial of the year
News
Cumberbatch was speaking on US television when he made the comment (Getty)
people
PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Tom DeLonge, Travis Barker and Mark Hoppus of Blink-182 pictured in 2011.
musicBassist Mark Hoppus and drummer Travis Barker say Tom Delonge is 'disrespectful and ungrateful'
Sport
football
Arts and Entertainment
Olivia Colman and David Tennant star in 'Broadchurch'
tvBroadchurch series 2, episode 4, review - contains spoilers
Sport
cyclingDisgraced cycling star says people will soon forgive his actions
News
Britain's Prince Philip attends a Garden Party at Buckingham Palace in London
people
Arts and Entertainment
Ed Sheeran will play three sell-out gigs at Wembley Stadium in July
music
News
i100
News
Lena Dunham posing for an official portrait at Sundance 2015
people
Arts and Entertainment
Under the skin: Sarah Kane in May 1998
theatreThe story behind a new season of Sarah Kane plays
Arts and Entertainment
Preening: Johnny Depp in 'Mortdecai'
filmMortdecai becomes actor's fifth consecutive box office bomb
Sport
Bradford City's reward for their memorable win over Chelsea is a trip to face either Sunderland or Fulham (Getty)
football
News
Lars Andersen took up archery in his mid thirties
video
Finacial products from our partners
Property search
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

    Ashdown Group: Client Services Manager - Relationship Management - London

    £30000 - £32000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: A highly successful, int...

    Recruitment Genius: Credit Controller / Customer Service

    £18000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This rapidly expanding business...

    Guru Careers: In-House / Internal Recruiter

    £25 - 28k + Bonus: Guru Careers: An In-house / Internal Recruiter is needed to...

    Recruitment Genius: Tax Assistant

    Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Tax Assistant is required to join a leading ...

    Day In a Page

    Woman who was sent to three Nazi death camps describes how she escaped the gas chamber

    Auschwitz liberation 70th anniversary

    Woman sent to three Nazi death camps describes surviving gas chamber
    DSK, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel

    The inside track on France's trial of the year

    Dominique Strauss-Kahn, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel:
    As provocative now as they ever were

    Sarah Kane season

    Why her plays are as provocative now as when they were written
    Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of a killing in Iraq 11 years ago

    Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of another killing

    Japanese mood was against what was seen as irresponsible trips to a vicious war zone
    Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

    Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

    One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
    The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

    The enemy within

    People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
    'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

    'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

    Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
    Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

    Autumn/winter menswear 2015

    The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore
    'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

    'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

    Army general planning to come out
    Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

    What the six wise men told Tony Blair

    Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
    25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

    25 years of The Independent on Sunday

    The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
    Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
    Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

    Smash hit go under the hammer

    It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
    Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

    The geeks who rocked the world

    A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
    Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

    Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

    Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea