Thrifty Living: Help! I'm suffering from seasonal mini Boden disorder
Saturday 18 March 2006
And so, it shall come to pass that, just as the first jingle from the ice-cream van comes tinkling from the nearby park, the Mini Boden catalogue shall flop on to your doormat, and verily, the children of the household will take up their customary stance around it.
Aggressively positioned in the hall, that is, black marker-pen poised, ready to indicate which elegant summer garments from the aspirational pages they would like you to purchase. "But Mummee, we have no clothes," they wail. At this point, you have to stand firm. Not only against their pleading (which is more about having a nice big box arriving in the post than anything else), but also against your lowly wish to parade your child before other parents in Johnnie Boden's finest.
"But what is the alternative? Hooded tops and trainers!" says my friend Janie, aghast. "My children are not going to wear trainers." And why not, I ask her. Alright, it's taken me four children, eight years and a £40,000 overdraft to realise it, but £3 trainers from Woolworths are as good, or bad, for children's feet as Mini Boden Two-strap Sneakers (£19). Plus, you can try on Woolies stuff, which you can't with Boden, unless you take a day out of your life to visit the Boden shop, which is situated on a distant planet called the Hanger Lane Gyratory System.
So what if Janie's children are wholly clad in Petit Bateau, I say to myself as I throw the Mini Boden catalogue away. Since my financial "realignment", the Junior Millards have been almost wholly clad in Woolworths and the Gap sale rail. They have one "smart" outfit, ie, it doesn't feature a hood, held in clean readiness for Grandparent Touring Duties.
Child No 3 also has a wildly expensive sparkly shirt that I bought (at her request) in a moment of parental weakness. Parental Weakness is to be avoided as it bows to nothing other than the desire of the parent to show how much they love their offspring. It is what most children's outfitters depend on for their profit margin.
In my instance, however, Parental Weakness was justified. No, really. Child No 3, (who is, in fact, three), had leapt into the deep end of the Virgin Gym pool without her water-wings, and no one saw her do it. Apart, that is, from Tom the chunky lifeguard. Wonderful Tom, who jumped in and hauled her out. I bought Tom a bottle of brandy and Child No 3 her sparkly top. Once I'd stopped wailing hysterically.
Aha, I hear you say. Virgin Gym - that's no way to save money! Well, not if you don't use your membership. Or only use it intermittently. Then you're into the realm of the £70 swim, which is about as useful to your current account as Seasonal Mini Boden Disorder. No, to save money you must spend lots of time at the gym. Instead of going shopping. Then you'll save lots of money, and probably get slim into the bargain.
Anyway, gym membership comes under Treats, and you have to have treats. I got an e-mail this week from Julia Cazorla, who sounds like a bona fide Thrift Queen, and gave me lots of tips, one of which is to "include a sense of luxury in your life as an essential". The twist is that you have to find ways within your budget to afford it. Her approach is rather hardline, I must admit. It once included visiting a local mosque rather than going to Asia on holiday, which is creative budgeting on a scale I suspect even Alvin Hall could not have dreamt up.
Julia likes fresh flowers, but she buys them from the market at a knock-down price; she loves a good cup of coffee, so she forgoes public transport in order to get her caffeine fix. "I've walked countless miles over the years to save the bus fares that I've budgeted for, to finance the cappuccino habit I couldn't otherwise afford," she writes.
To indulgent parents, she advises getting out of the power struggle over pocket money and "sharing the bottom-line budgetary reality" with the children, which sounds a bit of a mouthful. I suppose it could work. Particularly as my "bottom-line budgetary reality", as far as the Junior Millards are concerned, is on a par with their taste, in other words, trainers from Woolies and hoodies from the market.
Thrift tip: get to know your public library rather than spending yet another £20 in Borders.
Mark Dampier: 'We're on our own in retirement. They've pulled pensions to pieces'
Questions of Cash: I don't use Amazon Prime, but my credit card bill says I do
Buyers beware of new-build home headaches
Crippling PFI deals leave Britain £222bn in debt
Pension freedoms: How to deal with cold calls from scammers
- 1 BBC election debate: The one photo that summed up the whole 90-minute leaders debate
- 2 A bottle of wine a day is not bad for you and abstaining is worse than drinking, scientist claims
- 3 18th century sex toy found in 'toilet of sword fighting school' in Poland
- 4 'I wish my teacher knew...': Young students share their 'heartbreaking' worries in notes
The only black face in the Ukip manifesto is on the page about overseas aid
Ukip is the only main political party to not address LGBT rights in its manifesto
If I’m being racially abused I don’t need a white stranger with a saviour complex to rescue me
BBC election debate: The one photo that summed up the whole 90-minute leaders debate
Religion isn't growing, it is becoming vigorous in its demise, says philosopher AC Grayling
Russian warships in English Channel 'to conduct anti-aircraft and anti-submarine military drills'
iJobs Money & Business
£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £45,000: SThree: SThree Group have been well e...
£50000 - £667000 per annum + excellent benefits : Ashdown Group: IT Manager / ...
£13000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Scotland's leading life insuran...
£40000 - £45000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: Training Programme Manag...
Day In a Page
With space for an equestrian business, a greenhouse for growing your own veg, a wine store and a gym; this five-bedroom home has all the ingredients for a country retreat.
This four-bedroom home has exposed brick chimneys and a vaulted ceiling in a breakfast room that's ideal for summer entertaining - the doors open to the patio and garden.
The decked roof terrace of this two-bedroom flat is perfect for summer drinks while large windows and ample storage space make for a light and spacious interior.
Surrounded by approximately 15 acres of grounds, this six-bedroom grade II-listed home has been extensively refurbished yet retains many period features.
This four-bedroom home comes with a two-bedroom cottage and commercial office, with planning to extend, in a stunning courtyard setting.
In a pretty Norfolk village, this four-bedroom family home is surrounded by landscaped gardens, with even a self-contained annex for guests.
A few miles from the seaside at Perranporth, this four-bedroom farmhouse sits amongst nine acres of idyllic grounds - including a lake and two barns used as holiday lets.
This five-bedroom home is arranged over three floors of a converted Victorian hospital, offering spectacular views of the Pentland Hills - only three miles from the city centre.
This four-bedroom detached home comes with grounds that span to approximately 2.5 acres, as well as two large patio areas and a double garage.
This four-bedroom cottage is a Grade II-listed town house, well-located for the thriving market town of Nailsworth.
A four-bedroom apartment on the ground floor of a stunning period property in North Yorkshire, with two kitchens and a large south-west facing garden.
This high-spec two-bedroom home is part of a smart collection of new flats at Beaufort Park and has a large decked balcony that's perfect for summer drinks.
Capitalise on the fabulous views of Trevone Bay by taking two homes and creating one spacious boutique B&B. Just a cliff-top walk from Padstow.
Overlooking a golf course, this six-bedroom Edwardian detached home spans four storeys and retains many period features including the original, operational servants' bells...
On the edge of the city, this six-bedroom home comes with an outdoor swimming pool and a large garage block that has annexe potential.
In a Grade II-listed manor just outside of Bath, this three-bedroom home is arranged on two floors with a skylight in a vaulted roof line.
Open the living room's bi-fold wooden doors to reveal a retro-style kitchen, and a conservatory leading to a paved garden at this three-bedroom home.
A Grade II-listed, four-bedroom home, in a charming Somerset village, with a two-storey studio that could be converted into a holiday cottage
A modern four-bedroom Victorian home, within walking distance to the high street
A luxury apartment in the Gothic mansion of Wyfold Court in Kingwood, offers six bedrooms spread over three floors and a turret
This school conversion, near Stockwell Tube, oozes New York loft style. The one-bedroom flat features double height ceilings and exposed brick work
This six-bedroom Georgian home is on three floors with open fireplaces, a two-oven Aga, an annexe, and cottage gardens with outbuildings and a car barn
High Crest House covers an impressive 9384sq ft, with almost three acres of grounds including a tennis court and summer house enclosed by electric gates
A six-bedroom farmhouse with separate accommodation in converted stables. Situated in the village of Church Aston, within walking distance to the market town
A two-bedroom flat with under-heated walnut floors and bespoke built-in storage. The Tube and Clapham Common are a short stroll away
A refurbished seven-bedroom townhouse with staff quarters, cinema room, superb gym, steam room and plunge pool
A minimnalist four-bedroom home designed to the highest spec, featuring glass walls and a kitchen space lit by a glass roof
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 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
Windsor Castle overlooks this three-bedroom Victorian cottage located on one of Windsor's smartest roads
A boutique mews house, set around a central courtyard, with three bedrooms and a private roof terrace
A four-bedroom farm-conversion with three bathrooms and two reception rooms
A two-bedroom detached house with ensuite bathrooms and a sun-drenched decked terrace, £750,000
A modern and spacious two-bedroom, penthouse flat with two bathrooms in a prestigious development
A beautifully renovated five-bedroom terrace with three reception rooms and a courtyard garden, £700,000
A four-bedroom period house which has been extended to provide almost 2,500sq ft of living space, £675,000
A pretty three-bedroom Georgian home with a 22ft drawing room and a master suite with a balcony, £525,000