Rosie Millard: Thrifty Living

Hard times: my overdraft is up to the limit again

Well, I felt very smug this morning as I made up three pints of chicken stock. Obviously, as a committed vegetarian and Peta supporter, I'm not going to eat/drink it myself. But it felt good to be using the carcass for something wholesome, as stock surely is, rather than just bunging it out. The chicken provided last night's roast chicken supper for the Junior Millards, and will also impart a chicken pie for them. I know, only two meals. That is half of what my friend, Thrift Queen Laura can source from a single bird (as we home cooks call it), but then maybe she is buying giant chickens. Capons, even.

Plus, I also had the exquisite pleasure of going to a press lunch yesterday (great thrift move this, get someone else to give you a three-course meal, plus wine, while you pretend to be interested in what they are trying to spin you). As I sat down, a fellow hack said to me: "That's a fabulous dress. Where did you get it?". I savoured the moment for a beat before saying "Tesco!" loudly.

"Must have been a very BIG Tesco, then," I heard her grumble. I suspect she was hoping I was going to pull a face and urgently whisper "It's from Temperley", and then she could say "Oh, yeah, look at you, Life of Thrift, eh? Ha ha!". Such is the merry dance of irony we journalists love to perform when we meet one another over a free slap-up meal.

Of course, there is no such thing as a free anything. This week, my Switch stopped being a flexible friend, in other words I am once more up to my overdraft limit, and thus have once more been trying to exist with NO MONEY.

From last Monday I have lived on about £1.30, and I must tell you, it is tricky. Parking, for one thing, is impossible. I was forced to drive to Amersham for a VAT session with my lovely accountant Peter, and when it came to parking I had to rely on what was in the ashtray, which is not used for ash, since no one smokes any more, but in which, I vaguely recalled, resided a few ancient coins.

Let me confirm that getting a 20-minute Pay and Display ticket solely from 2p and 5p pieces takes a very long time. Happily, Peter didn't see me standing by the ticket machine paying in pennies for 20 minutes. His opinion of me is low enough already. One of my cheques to him bounced once.

When I was eventually able to leave the ticket machine alone, the meeting was worth it, however. "I have good news for you," he said. "Oh, Peter. You are an angel. Don't tell me. I have no VAT bill to pay this year!" No, it's not that good. But my bill has been scaled down considerably, he tells me. "You should be paying the flat rate, Rosie. Which is much lower than 17.5 per cent." Well, hoorah and thank the Lord.

Apparently if your annual taxable turnover does not exceed £150,000 (well, yes), and your total turnover is not more than £187,500 (again, oui), those nice people at HM Customs & Excise say you don't have to go down the normal route of paying out 17.5 per cent VAT on your services provided, and deducting from that the VAT on purchases.

So, continued Peter, whom I was liking more and more by the second, I qualify for the flat rate, "which in your profession, is just 11 per cent". Compared to 17.5 per cent, that is very nice indeed. All I have to do is tot up how much I have earned, including the 17.5 per cent VAT I have charged for my services, and calculate 11 per cent from the total. "That's how much your VAT will be. Actually, in the first year of joining the scheme, you get a 1 per cent discount." Peter, I have always admired you. Now, however, my admiration is almost as boundless as my overdraft.

I drove home with a song in my heart. Which went along the lines of "11 per cent flat rate, hooray". When I got home the Junior Millards rushed up at me with their normal song, which goes along the lines of "Mummeee! Have you got us a treat?". Well, no. Unless you count the 11 per cent flat rate, that is. I then opened the paper, only to read a book review of someone who had managed to not spend money for a year. A year! And I can barely manage seven days.

Rosie's Thrift Tip: Skip the blow-dry at the hairdresser. Walking home with wet hair will save you about £40. Tell them you are in a hurry, if it's just too embarrassing otherwise.

Independent Partners; request a free guide on NISAs from Hargreaves Lansdown

More than 90 years of car history are coming to an end with the abolition of the paper car-tax disc
newsThis and other facts you never knew about the paper circle - completely obsolete today
people'I’d rather have Fred and Rose West quote my characters on childcare'
Life and Style
The new Windows 10 Start Menu
Arts and Entertainment
There has been a boom in ticket sales for female comics, according to an industry survey
comedyFirst national survey reveals Britain’s comedic tastes
Bruce Chatwin's novel 'On the Black Hill' was set at The Vision Farm
travelOne of the finest one-day walks you could hope for - in Britain
footballManchester City 1 Roma 1: Result leaves Premier League champions in danger of not progressing
Arts and Entertainment
Gay and OK: a scene from 'Pride'
filmsUS film censors have ruled 'Pride' unfit for under-16s, though it contains no sex or violence
Life and Style
Magic roundabouts: the gyratory system that has excited enthusiasts in Swindon
motoringJust who are the Roundabout Appreciation Society?
Arts and Entertainment
Hilary North's 'How My Life Has Changed', 2001
booksWell it was good enough for Ancient Egyptians and Picasso...
Finacial products from our partners
Property search
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Money & Business

    Trainee Recruitment Consultant - Birmingham - Real Staffing

    £18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: Real Staffing are currently lo...

    Trust Accountant - Kent

    NEGOTIABLE: Austen Lloyd: TRUST ACCOUNTANT - KENTIf you are a Chartered Accou...

    Graduate Recruitment Consultant - 2013/14 Grads - No Exp Needed

    £18000 - £20000 per annum + OTE £30000: SThree: SThree are a global FTSE 250 b...

    Law Costs

    Highly Competitive Salary: Austen Lloyd: CITY - Law Costs Draftsperson - NICHE...

    Day In a Page

    Ebola outbreak: The children orphaned by the virus – then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection

    The children orphaned by Ebola...

    ... then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection
    Pride: Are censors pandering to homophobia?

    Are censors pandering to homophobia?

    US film censors have ruled 'Pride' unfit for under-16s, though it contains no sex or violence
    The magic of roundabouts

    Lords of the rings

    Just who are the Roundabout Appreciation Society?
    Why do we like making lists?

    Notes to self: Why do we like making lists?

    Well it was good enough for Ancient Egyptians and Picasso...
    Hong Kong protests: A good time to open a new restaurant?

    A good time to open a new restaurant in Hong Kong?

    As pro-democracy demonstrators hold firm, chef Rowley Leigh, who's in the city to open a new restaurant, says you couldn't hope to meet a nicer bunch
    Paris Fashion Week: Karl Lagerfeld leads a feminist riot on 'Boulevard Chanel'

    Paris Fashion Week

    Lagerfeld leads a feminist riot on 'Boulevard Chanel'
    Bruce Chatwin's Wales: One of the finest one-day walks in Britain

    Simon Calder discovers Bruce Chatwin's Wales

    One of the finest one-day walks you could hope for - in Britain
    10 best children's nightwear

    10 best children's nightwear

    Make sure the kids stay cosy on cooler autumn nights in this selection of pjs, onesies and nighties
    Manchester City vs Roma: Five things we learnt from City’s draw at the Etihad

    Manchester City vs Roma

    Five things we learnt from City’s Champions League draw at the Etihad
    Martin Hardy: Mike Ashley must act now and end the Alan Pardew reign

    Trouble on the Tyne

    Ashley must act now and end Pardew's reign at Newcastle, says Martin Hardy
    Isis is an hour from Baghdad, the Iraq army has little chance against it, and air strikes won't help

    Isis an hour away from Baghdad -

    and with no sign of Iraq army being able to make a successful counter-attack
    Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

    Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

    The exhibition nods to rich and potentially brilliant ideas, but steps back
    Last chance to see: Half the world’s animals have disappeared over the last 40 years

    Last chance to see...

    The Earth’s animal wildlife population has halved in 40 years
    So here's why teenagers are always grumpy - and it's not what you think

    Truth behind teens' grumpiness

    Early school hours mess with their biological clocks
    Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?

    Hacked photos: the third wave

    Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?