Rosie Millard: Thrifty Living

The rather too early bird catches nothing at all

Having been content for years to allow credit card companies to weave their unethical web of easily available debt around us, the Government is now in a panic, because guess what? We have all fallen for it. It is now considering sending everyone under 40 to Finance School. In order to learn what is meant by the initials APR.

Meanwhile, in the US, they don't have the nanny state to tell you to stop spending. They have Reverend Billy, who runs the Church of Stop Shopping on the web. Reverend Billy sounds like my sort of man. He is clearly as charismatic as my financial guru, Alvin Hall, and specialises in headline-grabbing antics such as advocating the Sacred State of Wal-Martlessnesss in New York (which is about the only city in America without one).

He once set up a pulpit outside the Disney store on Broadway and called Mickey Mouse the Antichrist. I'll second that. On a recent press trip to Disneyland Paris, it was clear the "amusement park" is nothing but a vaguely prettified shopping mall. The ratio of bright shiny places to spend your money in, to creaky old rides is about 36 to 1.

Its hard work, though. Being constantly on the watch for the Antichrist to appear in your shopping bag. Even when you're not at Disneyland. You have to be prepared at all times, I say to my friend Thrift Queen Laura. Before you know it, you have stopped off at Pret A Manger and have commenced munching your way through a smoothie and an avocado wrap, rather than eating home-made sandwiches at home.

Or, you have succumbed to the clarion call of Stila make-up in Liberty, rather than marched past those beautiful windows resourcefully. Or, worst of all, you have fallen for the lure of that marvellous high step up and vault into the welcoming back seat of a cab. Rather than hang out for the incredibly less marvellous experience of the 91 bus. "Are you coming over for tea this Easter?" I say to Laura. "I'd love to," she says. "But make sure you bake all your own cakes and biscuits." God, but she's a hard taskmistress.

Of course, too much advanced preparation can be plain silly. I got a letter this week from the Barbican, promising an early-bird offer.

Early-bird offers are just the thing for thrift queens, since all you have to do is fill in some form before everyone else does and you save zillions. Everyone who buys tickets online at the National Theatre knows this only too well. However, this particular early bird was a bit too early, even for moi, since it was for the Christmas panto (Dick Whittington, if you must know). Advertising Dick Whittington in March must mean the Barbican is either about to go under, or is up for a Guinness Book of Records claim.

One would have thought that by coughing up some 40 weeks before the event, during which time you could actually conceive a child and bring it to full term, you would be granted backstage access to the cast, or a cat outfit. Sadly, this was not the case. The Barbican is slashing a big old fiver off children's tickets. "We know how quickly Christmas comes around," goes the blurb. Yeah, well you don't know how quickly children can start being nightmares when a panto is in the offing. One of the junior Millards actually started hopping up and down. Before I binned the early bird.

"Come on, we're off to the garden centre," I told them. "But I want to BUY summink," whined the eldest. "Can't we go SHOPPING?" "Oh, but the garden centre is like shopping," I returned. So true. Garden centres are one of those places that play a strange alchemy on your purse - you drop £70 out of it every time you visit them. Except now I have Forward Planning. Thus I rejected the little plugs of sweet peas, each costing £4.50, and opted to go the hard way, investing in packets of seeds. I may have an overdraft of £19,000, but I also have faith in the power of a seed. I bought four packets, total cost £1.60. Now we will have all the thrill of burgeoning life to observe.

Rosie's Thrift Tip:

Spend the weekend in the garden. Have a picnic lunch and feel smug that you have saved money on eating out, as well as doing some weeding. Well, all right, probably no weeding but at least you haven't ended up going shopping.

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

Life and Style
Six of the 76 Goats' cheese samples contained a significant amount of sheep's cheese
food + drink
Russell Brand arriving for the book launch in East London
peopleRussell Brand cancels his book launch debate due to concerns about the make-up of the panel
Arts and Entertainment
JK Rowling will not be releasing a 'romance' novel anytime soon
Life and Style

Of all the computers Apple has ever made there’s only one that Steve Jobs had to sell his car to finance

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

    SQL Developer with T-SQL, Watford, Hertfordshire - £350 - £360

    £350 - £360 per day: Ashdown Group: SQL Developer with T-SQL, Watford, Hertfor...

    Chief Financial Officer

    120-150k: Accountancy Action: We are looking for an experienced CFO from a min...

    IT Systems Business Analyst - Watford - £28k + bonus + benefits

    £24000 - £28000 per annum + bonus & benefits: Ashdown Group: IT Business Syste...

    Trainee Recruitment Consultant - Birmingham - Real Staffing

    £18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: The SThree group is a world le...

    Day In a Page

    How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

    A crime that reveals London's dark heart

    How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?
    Meet 'Porridge' and 'Vampire': Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker

    Lost in translation: Western monikers

    Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker. Simon Usborne, who met a 'Porridge' and a 'Vampire' while in China, can see the problem
    Handy hacks that make life easier: New book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone

    Handy hacks that make life easier

    New book reveals how to rid your email inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone with a loo-roll
    KidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day

    KidZania: It's a small world

    The new 'educational entertainment experience' in London's Shepherd's Bush will allow children to try out the jobs that are usually undertaken by adults, including firefighter, doctor or factory worker
    Renée Zellweger's real crime has been to age in an industry that prizes women's youth over humanity

    'Renée Zellweger's real crime was to age'

    The actress's altered appearance raised eyebrows at Elle's Women in Hollywood awards on Monday
    From Cinderella to The Jungle Book, Disney plans live-action remakes of animated classics

    Disney plans live-action remakes of animated classics

    From Cinderella to The Jungle Book, Patrick Grafton-Green wonders if they can ever recapture the old magic
    Thousands of teenagers to visit battlefields of the First World War in new Government scheme

    Pupils to visit First World War battlefields

    A new Government scheme aims to bring the the horrors of the conflict to life over the next five years
    The 10 best smartphone accessories

    Make the most of your mobile: 10 best smartphone accessories

    Try these add-ons for everything from secret charging to making sure you never lose your keys again
    Mario Balotelli substituted at half-time against Real Madrid: Was this shirt swapping the real reason?

    Liverpool v Real Madrid

    Mario Balotelli substituted at half-time. Was shirt swapping the real reason?
    West Indies tour of India: Hurricane set to sweep Windies into the shadows

    Hurricane set to sweep Windies into the shadows

    Decision to pull out of India tour leaves the WICB fighting for its existence with an off-field storm building
    Indiana serial killer? Man arrested for murdering teenage prostitute confesses to six other murders - and police fear there could be many more

    A new American serial killer?

    Police fear man arrested for murder of teen prostitute could be responsible for killing spree dating back 20 years
    Sweetie, the fake 10-year-old girl designed to catch online predators, claims her first scalp

    Sting to trap paedophiles may not carry weight in UK courts

    Computer image of ‘Sweetie’ represented entrapment, experts say
    Fukushima nuclear crisis: Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on - and may never return home

    Return to Fukushima – a land they will never call home again

    Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on from nuclear disaster
    Wildlife Photographer of the Year: Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize

    Wildlife Photographer of the Year

    Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize
    Online petitions: Sign here to change the world

    Want to change the world? Just sign here

    The proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?