Rosie Millard: Thrifty Living
If we're having to downshift, let's lose the wheels as well
Saturday 29 September 2007
Well, there's always the car. To be got rid of, that is. I know I've just given up my black cab habit, but how about dumping the car and reappraising my love affair with Computer Cab? The average annual cost of a family-size car must be around £3,000, what with insurance, tax and those pesky parking fines, not to mention the Congestion Charge. Well, to spend that on cabs I figure you'd have to take 300 long-ish trips a year, which is going it some, even for me. And that's before petrol – which, for our giant Volvo, almost requires a sub-prime mortgage every time you visit Shell. Last year, my accounts reveal I spent £500 on taxis and £1,000 on petrol – so even if my taxi usage went up by 50 per cent, I would still be saving about £3,300.
Of course, everyone is having the same sort of idea. My neighbour told me about a friend of his in Notting Hill who has just given up her car addiction and now relies on cabs or hire cars for those key weekend family outings to, er, DiggerWorld. Hire cars are great. Nothing accelerates quite like a hire car. In our case, as family outings to DiggerWorld etc are always marked by someone throwing up in the back, nothing smells quite like a hire car.
How much is a hire car for the weekend? About £80. So you'd have to hire one 37 times before you start spending anything like what you're spending on the Volvo. And no one could want to go to DiggerWorld every 10 days, no matter how wonderful it is to gambol around a muddy field in north Kent, driving JCB tractors or trying to knock down skittles with a demolition ball. Plus, a hire car is not only clean every time, but you can try out different styles, colour schemes and upholstery trims every week, which satisfies the Anna Wintour in me.
So, the idea is this. Get the family Volvo in a state to flog it. First, hammer out that giant dent inflicted by moi en route out of the Barbican car park. Whoever thought that putting huge, invisible concrete pillars in a car park was a smart move needs their head examining, but there we are.
So, get the Volvo mended. And, of course, disinfected. Then sell it. And start living without a car. Immediately I suggest this, Mr Millard starts finding fault. Well, there are all those golfing days and cricket matches that he absolutely has to go to. Not to mention essential food-buying trips to Lidl, now that we have given up deliveries from Ocado, tesco.com and (sob) The White Company.
All right, on to Plan B. Sell the Volvo, which does about two miles to the gallon, and invest in (yippee) a chic Mini, which does about 200. For big family trips, hire a car. Or go by train, which scotches the throwing-up option.
Investing in a tiny motor is delightfully counterintuitive. Rather than becoming like other people with giant families, who tend to say things like: "Well, you know, when we decided to up the stakes from two children to three, Justin said it was high time we invested in a people mover," we're doing the exact opposite. Now that we have four children, a nanny and a dog, we are dumping the seven-seater Volvo and proposing to go for a) public transport, and b) a tiny thing seating three, at a pinch.
Clearly worried that his sporting equipment will be imperilled, Mr Millard calls attention to the minuscule boot of the Mini. "We should really have a tiny hatchback," he says. There is, of course, already a Mini hatchback out there (the Clubman), but since this has just come on the market and – get ready for it – manages to retail for an eye-watering £16,000, it sort of defeats the money-saving point.
I think we should hang the golf clubs and go for something utterly tiny, like a Smart. Or one that runs on electricity. So, not only no Volvo, but also no wallet-draining moments at Shell. I'm the one with the three-pin plug attached to my car. I think the electricity means we'll even evade the Congestion Charge.
I could also avoid signing the children up for hugely expensive after-school and half-term sports classes. What with the average speed of traffic in London, I could use my almost nil carbon-footprint electric motor for any bags, shopping etc, and train the children to get fit by running alongside it as I pootle down the Euston Road. Talk about achieving two fashionably sound ideas with one brainwave.
Simon Read: Frozen in time - the expat British pensioners who deserve a better deal
Bargain Hunter: From The Outsider to 1984, catch a cut-price classic, read it in the rye
Donald MacInnes: My wasted hours in the retail deserts of Dixons-Carphone
Money Insider: Smart alternatives to the pensioner bond
Bank-beating exchange rates on your international payments
- 3 The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
- 4 Phil Neville backtracks on Tomas Rosicky 'I'd smash him' comments from Match of the Day 2
- 5 SAG Awards: Fake applause track interrupts Reese Witherspoon
Nigel Farage: NHS might have to be replaced by private health insurance
'We would evict Queen from Buckingham Palace and allocate her council house,' say Greens
French court convicts three over homophobic tweets, in case hailed as a 'significant victory' by LGBT rights campaigners
Greece elections: Syriza and EU on collision course after election win for left-wing party
George Galloway condemns 'racist, Islamophobic, hypocritical rag' Charlie Hebdo at freedom of speech rally
British Muslim school children suffering a backlash of abuse following Paris attacks
iJobs Money & Business
£30000 - £32000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: A highly successful, int...
£18000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This rapidly expanding business...
£25 - 28k + Bonus: Guru Careers: An In-house / Internal Recruiter is needed to...
Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Tax Assistant is required to join a leading ...
Day In a Page
Hibernate during winter and make your living during the summer at this busy guesthouse with panoramic sea views, in the village of Lynton
A four-bedroom penthouse next to the Tate with direct views of St Paul's from two floors of luxurious living space
A four-bedroom detached home surrounded by spacious gardens and woodland, close to New Pudsey
An 18th-century, three-bedroom home near Langstone Harbour built from ships beams with vaulted ceilings and wood burning stoves
A five-bedroom semi-detached home with a mix of period and modern features in a popular and convenient location
This five-bedroom red-brick beauty overlooks the village green and sits in just under two acres of land
A three-bedroom villa with self-contained flat, minutes from Lake Windermere
A deceptively spacious, beautifully presented Georgian home with 3000sq ft of living space and five reception rooms
A five-bedroom Victorian home with four receptions, superb gardens and paddock in Pembury
An eight-bedroom house on the south side of the The Green with cinema, wine cellars and summer house
This 17th century beauty is full of rustic cosiness, while the detached home office means you can also run a business
Four exclusive apartments in a Grade II-listed former medical school with 2,275 sq ft of living space and 18ft ceilings
A five-bedroom terraced house on the popular Peterborough Estate, ideally located for both Eel Brook Common and South Park
A state-of-the-art farm-building conversion on the former Cliveden Estate, with 11,420sq ft of internal space, cinema and wine cellar
A three-bedroom, 15th-century cottage with original features in the picturesque village of Sissinghurst
A six-bedroom terraced house with large south-facing roof terrace, cinema room and wine cellar
A new seven-bedroom home built in Queen Anne-style with swimming pool and parkland views in Mortimer
A listed, four-bedroom farmhouse in the rural hamlet of Rushall with detached barn, four acres of gardens and paddocks
A first-floor flat with two bedrooms, a spacious reception room and communal grounds in a leafy part of London
A three-bedroom flat with a spacious rootop terrace and balcony, accessed from a private gated courtyard
A Grade II-listed pile with six bedrooms, stables and 39 acres of grounds in Standlake
A two-bedroom flat with boutique hotel-style interiors, close to the foodie haunt of West End Lane
A two-bedroom flat in a beautiful old vicarage, with many original features, close to the city centre
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