Rosie Millard: Thrifty Living

Beating the devils thrice and things to do during Lent

You just need to be so damn organised. To beat the devils at their own game. It's exhausting. And so, so much easier to be profligate. Shall we start with mobile phones and their cash-back offers? I have been really solid with cash-back. Solid, and anal. Well, maybe not both at the same time. But I have not forgotten to apply for one single £50 cash-back cheque during the 12 long months of my O2 contract. I was offered three cheques, and I have remembered to apply for them all, thrice. If you do everything right, you will get a text saying "Your cash-back request has been received". Two months later, another text saying: "Your cash-back request has been accepted." Two months after that, a £50 cheque. It's just as well the junior Millards don't rely on 02 cash-back for their daily bread.

This week, I was called by Carphone Warehouse and offered a new phone. Great! "How was the last one?" said a nice Frenchman called Jean-Philippe. "Fantastic," I say. Except the camera died after I dropped the phone down the loo. There is another cash-back at the end of your contract, you see. A send-back, in fact. £20 for sending back a working phone. I will have recouped £170, or three months' calls by the time this contract is up. "You must send us ze phone, plus ze recharger, plus your 'andbook. In a special envelope," says Jean-Philippe. "Then we'll send you ze monnaie." The new phone arrives. The Send-back envelope arrives. I spend a day searching for my old handbook. I can't find it. Clearly, as well as my receipts I should have had a specially labelled pouch for my old Nokia Handbook. I'll send the phone off anyway, because they are probably recycled into something worthy. But I won't get my £20. Well, you can be damn sure I'm keeping my new handbook for the next send-back opportunity. Except by then, the goalposts will have changed, and customers will be required to send in their Cycling Proficiency Test certificates or something equally daft.

Meanwhile, as I turn my office upside down, searching for an old Nokia handbook, Mr Millard is in a money panic. This usually happens about every four months. "We are going to have to go on an economy drive," he says glumly. I laugh wildly. "Are you mad? I still have to find £15,600 for my tax bill," I cackle. "Make some soup, will you? I'm off to the zoo."

I feel I must do something with the junior Millards that doesn't involve shopping, so I take the younger three off to London Zoo, where I intend to find solace alongside the Penguins. We go and watch them walking about beside their new pool. The two-year old is delighted, since they are his favourite creatures. However, the others are not so easily pleased. The seven-year old cannot and will not stop whining for an adoptive animal. "Can't we adopt a lion tamarind monkey? Oh, mummeee, can't we adopt a cayman? Can't we adopt a pygmy hippo?" I try telling him, nicely, that as members, or fellows, or friends, or whatever middle-class, aspirational gang we are at the zoo, we already pay a small fortune to see tortoises behind glass and three aged giraffes roaming around a corner of Regent's Park. "Well, I'm going to adopt a toucan," he announces. "Today."

Meanwhile, en route to the otters, the four-year-old whips herself up into a rabid fury. "I can not believe we have not visited a shop," she yells. "I haven't brought any money with me, darling," I say, pathetically. "But I want to buy something," she screeches, tearing my coat with tiny nails. "Don't you even care about me?" How did this happen? Somewhere between the age of two, when a child can be contented by the sight of a waddling penguin, and the age of four, consumerism has sneaked in and corrupted my children. If I don't watch out, they will turn into Victoria Beckham. I frogmarch them to the bus. "I am going to tell daddy," I announce. "You are thoroughly spoiled. You are not to be taken shopping, or bought anything, for a month."

Naturally the children have quite forgotten about buying something at London Zoo and are more interested in pulling used bus tickets from the depths of the waste-bin in the front of the vehicle.

All my outburst achieves are some pretty weird looks from my fellow passengers. "Lent, anyone?" I whisper.

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

PROMOTED 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

    Recruitment Genius: Software Development Manager

    £40000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

    Ashdown Group: Product Manager - (Product Marketing, Financial Services)

    £30000 - £35000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager - Marke...

    Recruitment Genius: Compliance Assistant

    £13000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This Pension Specialist was established ...

    Ashdown Group: Market Research Executive

    £23000 - £26000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Market Research Executive...

    Day In a Page

    Isis hostage crisis: The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power

    Isis hostage crisis

    The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power, says Robert Fisk
    Missing salvage expert who found $50m of sunken treasure before disappearing, tracked down at last

    The runaway buccaneers and the ship full of gold

    Salvage expert Tommy Thompson found sunken treasure worth millions. Then he vanished... until now
    Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

    Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

    Maverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
    Assisted Dying Bill: I want to be able to decide about my own death - I want to have control of my life

    Assisted Dying Bill: 'I want control of my life'

    This week the Assisted Dying Bill is debated in the Lords. Virginia Ironside, who has already made plans for her own self-deliverance, argues that it's time we allowed people a humane, compassionate death
    Move over, kale - cabbage is the new rising star

    Cabbage is king again

    Sophie Morris banishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turns over a new leaf
    11 best winter skin treats

    Give your moisturiser a helping hand: 11 best winter skin treats

    Get an extra boost of nourishment from one of these hard-working products
    Paul Scholes column: The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him

    Paul Scholes column

    The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
    Frank Warren column: No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans

    Frank Warren's Ringside

    No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans
    Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

    Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

    The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
    Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

    Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

    Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
    Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
    Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

    Comedians share stories of depression

    The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
    Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

    Has The Archers lost the plot?

    A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
    English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

    14 office buildings added to protected lists

    Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
    Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

    Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

    Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee