Rosie Millard: Thrifty Living
Sack the nanny? Sell the Flats? I can't give up now
Saturday 14 October 2006
What'S this? A letter sent to the editor from reader T Dance, who advises me to consider sorting out my debts with this scorched-earth policy: "Sell your two flats and sack the nanny." Very sensible, dear Dance, if somewhat radical. However, I fear I must reject your counsel. For a start, sacking the nanny would devastate the Junior Millards, who love being looked after by kind Tina from Slovakia and would be horrified to be the subject of a takeover bid by their grumpy mother. Or, indeed, father. Plus, I wouldn't be able to do any work, so my rapid debt repayment policy would grind to a halt. Second, flogging the flats (also known as my pension). What about Capital Gains Tax? No, they have to stay put. At least until the maximum tapering band (ownership of 10 years or more) hits.
The point is, I can't give up now. I am in the middle of A Project: to discover whether one can evaporate a debt of Goliath proportions just by becoming economic with the domestic status quo. Rather than by panicking and bunging it on an already-bursting mortgage.
Obviously one could downshift, sell everything, sack everyone and move to New Islington (Manchester), which is perfectly civilised, as well as cheap. But I'm a theatre critic! Think about the train fares back to Theatreland! I am thus committed to a life of thrift while keeping the show on the road, nanny, flats and all, at my base in the original Islington, a mere bus-ride from Shaftesbury Avenue.
Anyway, I have learnt a wealth of fabulous economising measures this year. First, if you want to save money you could start by thinking about your hair. I have saved about £1,000 a year by sacking my hairdresser. He was offhand, and he was expensive. He operated from a fabulous salon decorated with potted plants straight from the Brazilian rainforest. But it's only hair; is a single cut and colour really worth £250? Every eight weeks? It took me about 10 minutes last week to discover a handy local salon that offers the same service, with no Brazilian flora but saving me about £150 a shot.
Which brings me to my next tip: utilising local shops. Everyone is always grumbling about the demise of their high street; well, there is one way to ensure your local butcher and baker thrive, and that is to use them. Small independent butchers are far cheaper than supermarkets and the meat tends to be far superior. Furthermore, it is actually difficult to spend more than £10 at a greengrocer, no matter how many avocados you buy. And if your high street boasts a branch of Lidl, TK Maxx or Primark, lucky you. Economising tip No 3: use bargain shops for store-cupboard essentials, plus knickers and knitwear. George at Asda is now very hip, as is Florence & Fred at Tesco.
Yet shopping is a double-edged sword. The high street, whether local, central or indeed online, is not your friend. It is your enemy! It is out to get your money just as much as those evil people in Credit Card Land are. If you really want to save money, simply stay at home and play Scrabble, or the piano.
If you absolutely have to go out to the shops, limit your trips and make sure you don't take every last piece of plastic with you. If you have your debts riding on a whole load of credit cards (yep, that's me), then leave them at home in a sealed envelope and put only one in your wallet. Then, to deter you from using your wallet too much, hide it under all the rubbish already in your bag. Not only is it safer, but it also gives you less reason to simply stick your hand in your bag and reach for the debit card.
Also, learn how to use your oven timer. Why? Because if you prepare a meal and put it in the oven timed to go off so it is ready at lunchtime, you will tailor your shopping expedition to get back home at 1pm. Rather than the alternative, which is to stay out for hours, treat yourself to an expensive lunch and find yourself finishing the day at Selfridges where you somehow buy five pairs of shoes and a suit.
The only people who will rain on your thrifty parade will probably be your kids, if you have them. The Junior Millards weep over my abandonment of Mini Boden and have become utterly nauseated with my current mantra, "You only have one pair of feet. How many pairs of shoes can you wear at any one time?"
- 1 Woman accidentally shoots herself in the head while posing for a selfie
- 2 Isis burns woman alive for refusing to engage in 'extreme' sex act, UN says
- 3 Puerto Rico, island of lost dreams: People are leaving the debt-hit territory in droves as near neighbour Cuba's star rises
- 4 Female Muay Thai champion hustles coaches to give them a beating
- 5 16-year-old girl beaten and burned alive by lynch mob in Rio Bravo, Guatemala
As a white man, I'm surprised more women aren't tweeting the hashtag #KillAllWhiteMen
Scotland may have to leave the EU even if it votes to stay in, David Cameron confirms
Report finds that Britain's wages are the most unequal in Europe
The day that Britain resigned as a global power
Almost a third of school pupils believe 'Muslims are taking over our country', study claims
SNP fury as HS2 finds 'no business case' for taking fast train service to Scotland
iJobs Money & Business
£40-50K: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Software / C# Developer w...
£45,000 - £55,000: Neil Pavier: Are you looking for your next opportunity for ...
£45,000 - £55,000: Sheridan Maine: Are you a newly qualified ACA/ACCA/ACMA qua...
£50,000 - £60,000: Laura Norton: Are you looking for an opportunity within a w...
Day In a Page
On the market for the first time in more than 50 years, this six-bedroom home is a project with vast potential - spread over three floors of living space.
This five-bedroom home comes with a range of outbuildings including a large barn which could be converted into a self-contained granny-flat or rental.
Surrounded by rolling countryside, this four-bedroom barn conversion comes with a self-contained, one-bedroom annexe that could serve as an office or a holiday let.
Located near Harrogate town centre, this five-bedroom Victorian terrace is arranged over three storeys while a current study serves as an optional sixth bedroom.
A ground-floor flat in a country house, located a mile from Sway; this two-bedroom home would make an ideal weekend retreat on the edge of the New Forest.
On a popular residential lane in Caterham on the Hill, this four-bedroom family home offers a secluded garden and a convenient location for local schools and public transport.
Just a short walk from Westerham green, this three-bedroom cottage has a light kitchen with exposed brickwork and double doors that lead to a south-facing garden.
In a prime spot opposite the River Thames, this one-bedroom flat has an 18sq ft reception room with glass doors that open out to a private terrace.
Set in the hills above Llanwrda Village, west Wales, this 18th-century three-bedroom farmhouse has holiday-let potential from a separate barn conversion and annexe.
This charming end-of-terrace townhouse is arranged over three floors, with two double bedrooms and a private courtyard garden located at the rear of the property.
This four-bedroom Edwardian home offers a combination of original features and contemporary design after a renovation by the current owners.
Located in the University area, this semi-detached five-bedroom home is arranged over three floors - there's even a rear garden and off-road parking too.
Only a few minutes' drive from the charming town of Marlow, this two-bedroom home sits on the private riverside estate of Harleyford.
This detached four-bedroom home in Middleyard is arranged over two floors, with features that include a wood-burning stove and bespoke oak staircase.
In a row of eight detached Georgian residences, this five-bedroom home offers views of The Sound, Mount Edgcumbe and Cornwall from its impressive veranda and full-length balcony.
If you love cooking for friends this two-bedroom flat - complete with views of the iconic Battersea Power Station and an open-plan kitchen/dining area - will go down a treat.
Located above Grasmere village, this five-bedroom home is arranged over three floors and offers countryside views across Grasmere Lake towards Silver Howe.
Surrounded by the Western fells, this five-bedroom Georgian home retains many original features including panel-plastered ceilings, sash windows and fireplaces.
This six-bedroom home is set amongst three acres of grounds. Currently a large family home, Clift Hill has potential to make a B&B, subject to change of use permissions.
A former period coach house, Glebe Farm Stable is now a three-bedroom cottage with a double car barn, office, kennels and an outbuilding that's currently used as a gym.
Set sail for this four-bedroom farmhouse in Cowes. With five acres of land and an indoor pool, this home oozes character. There is even potential to let a one-bedroom annexe.
Surrounded by woodland, this five-bedroom manor house has plenty of outdoor storage space in the form of three converted loose boxes, two smaller outhouses and a woodstore.
This four-bedroom detached home comes with a double carport, useful workshop, garden and two walkways that offer views of the adjacent countryside.
With space for an equestrian business, a greenhouse for growing your own veg, a wine store and a gym; this five-bedroom home has all the ingredients for a country retreat.
This four-bedroom home has exposed brick chimneys and a vaulted ceiling in a breakfast room that's ideal for summer entertaining - the doors open to the patio and garden.
The decked roof terrace of this two-bedroom flat is perfect for summer drinks while large windows and ample storage space make for a light and spacious interior.
Surrounded by approximately 15 acres of grounds, this six-bedroom grade II-listed home has been extensively refurbished yet retains many period features.
This four-bedroom home comes with a two-bedroom cottage and commercial office, with planning to extend, in a stunning courtyard setting.
In a pretty Norfolk village, this four-bedroom family home is surrounded by landscaped gardens, with even a self-contained annex for guests.
A few miles from the seaside at Perranporth, this four-bedroom farmhouse sits amongst nine acres of idyllic grounds - including a lake and two barns used as holiday lets.
This five-bedroom home is arranged over three floors of a converted Victorian hospital, offering spectacular views of the Pentland Hills - only three miles from the city centre.
This four-bedroom detached home comes with grounds that span to approximately 2.5 acres, as well as two large patio areas and a double garage.
This four-bedroom cottage is a Grade II-listed town house, well-located for the thriving market town of Nailsworth.
A four-bedroom apartment on the ground floor of a stunning period property in North Yorkshire, with two kitchens and a large south-west facing garden.
This high-spec two-bedroom home is part of a smart collection of new flats at Beaufort Park and has a large decked balcony that's perfect for summer drinks.
Capitalise on the fabulous views of Trevone Bay by taking two homes and creating one spacious boutique B&B. Just a cliff-top walk from Padstow.
Overlooking a golf course, this six-bedroom Edwardian detached home spans four storeys and retains many period features including the original, operational servants' bells...
On the edge of the city, this six-bedroom home comes with an outdoor swimming pool and a large garage block that has annexe potential.
In a Grade II-listed manor just outside of Bath, this three-bedroom home is arranged on two floors with a skylight in a vaulted roof line.
Open the living room's bi-fold wooden doors to reveal a retro-style kitchen, and a conservatory leading to a paved garden at this three-bedroom home.
A Grade II-listed, four-bedroom home, in a charming Somerset village, with a two-storey studio that could be converted into a holiday cottage
A modern four-bedroom Victorian home, within walking distance to the high street
A luxury apartment in the Gothic mansion of Wyfold Court in Kingwood, offers six bedrooms spread over three floors and a turret
This school conversion, near Stockwell Tube, oozes New York loft style. The one-bedroom flat features double height ceilings and exposed brick work
This six-bedroom Georgian home is on three floors with open fireplaces, a two-oven Aga, an annexe, and cottage gardens with outbuildings and a car barn
High Crest House covers an impressive 9384sq ft, with almost three acres of grounds including a tennis court and summer house enclosed by electric gates
A six-bedroom farmhouse with separate accommodation in converted stables. Situated in the village of Church Aston, within walking distance to the market town
A two-bedroom flat with under-heated walnut floors and bespoke built-in storage. The Tube and Clapham Common are a short stroll away
A refurbished seven-bedroom townhouse with staff quarters, cinema room, superb gym, steam room and plunge pool
A minimnalist four-bedroom home designed to the highest spec, featuring glass walls and a kitchen space lit by a glass roof