Rosie Millard: Thrifty Living
Beating the devils thrice and things to do during Lent
Saturday 10 March 2007
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.
- 1 Malaysian cyclist could face disciplinary action after 'Save Gaza' gloves protest
- 2 Is Gideon Levy the most hated man in Israel or just the most heroic?
- 3 Fifty Shades of Grey trailer provokes moral outrage from US parenting groups
- 4 McDonald’s removes chicken nuggets from the menu in Hong Kong amid major food scare
- 5 Students offered grants if they tweet pro-Israeli propaganda
Malaysia Airlines MH17 crash: Vladimir Putin is given 'one last chance' to end hostilities in Ukraine
The 'scroungers’ fight back: The welfare claimants battling to alter stereotypes
The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering
Arizona execution lasts two hours as killer Joseph Wood left 'snorting and gasping' for air
Malaysia Airlines MH17 crash: Ukrainian military jet was flying close to passenger plane before it was shot down, says Russian officer
Malaysia Airlines MH17 crash: Massive rise in sale of British arms to Russia
iJobs Money & Business
£600 - £650 per day: Orgtel: Conduct Risk Liaison Manager - Banking - London -...
£18000 - £23000 per annum + Comission: SThree: SThree, International Recruitme...
£280 - £300 per day + competitive: Orgtel: Test Analyst, Edinburgh, Credit Ris...
£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £40,000: SThree: SThree Group have been well e...
Day In a Page
A three-bedroom 16th-century home with an aga kitchen, private gardens and heated outdoor pool, in Hadleigh
A three-bedrom home in sought-after Queen's Gate Mews, with Italian marble-finished bathrooms
Surrounded by glorious countryside in the village of Udimore, sits this impressive four-kiln oast and barn conversion
A five-bedroom house in the picturesque village of Kettlewell, north Yorkshire
An 18th-century former coaching inn with original staircase, open fireplaces and beams throughout
A Grade II-listed Georgian town house with three bedrooms and a south-facing courtyard, near Arundel Castle
Feel on top of the world at this über chic penthouse on the 37th floor of one of Europe’s tallest blocks.
A Grade II-listed Victorian villa with six bedrooms and two further cottages, all with spectacular sea views
A grade II-listed, Georgian cottage with mature 50ft garden, perfect for summer entertaining
A magnificent Georgian pile with turrets, seven bedrooms, a heated pool and four acres of gardens
Fairoak Farm has five bedroom suites, gym, outdoor swimming pool and golf course
Chic two-bedroom river-fronted flat with a private lift that delivers you directly to your home
A spectacular seven-bedroom Tudor pile, once owned by Henry VIII, with 18 acres of land
A seven-bedroom Georgian property previously used as a picturesque wedding venue
A split-level flat in a church conversion with two en suite bedrooms and 1,200sq ft of living space
A three-bedroom bungalow situated behind an impressive stone wall, £645,000
Windsor Castle overlooks this three-bedroom Victorian cottage located on one of Windsor's smartest roads
Chapel House is a former vicarage with nine bedrooms in the beautiful Upper Wye Valley
A five-bedroom B&B and separate owner's accomodation with potential for conversion
Enjoy summer by the Thames in this two double-bedroom converted warehouse in Rotherhithe village
A one-bedroom, luxury apartment with private gym and concierge service in Moorgate
A four-bedroom house in Hermitage Gardens with three reception rooms and landscaped gardens
A seven-bedroom Grade II-listed property with a separate self-contained apartment
A five-bedroom Victorian house with three reception rooms and galleried landing, £695,000
A six-bedroom farmhouse with five acres of land in a former cloth-making village
A secluded seven-bedroom detached house with large private garden, £490,000
A three-bedroom cottage overlooking Sarratt village green with open fires and solid oak floors
A three-bedroom maisonette flat in a Grade I-listed, Georgian townhouse in a sought-after location
A one-bedroom apartment located within a private gated development, north of Turnham Green
Look forward to a brighter future at two-bedroom Sunny Cottages, ideal for Londoners looking to downsize
A three-bedroom red-brick cottage with outbuildings and pretty gardens, £200,000
This three-bedroom flat within a former textile factory spans the corner of the fourth floor and has a balcony
A charming four-bedroom Oxfordshire cottage with oak floors and chunky-beamed ceilings, £465,000
A beautiful one-bed flat in a sought-after portered block, with access to Norland Square communal gardens
A one-bedroom flat within a Sixties school conversion with high-spec design and open-plan kitchen, close to Lambeth North Tube, £435,000
A 17th century four-bedroom house, with open fireplaces, cellar and pool, £600,000
A three-bedroom, coach house with luxury open-plan living space and contemporary breakfast bar