Extreme Cheapskates – Step Too Far?

I’m sure most of you have come across the show Extreme Cheapskates, whether you happen to be in the US or the UK – perhaps across the world. Here in the UK, it is shown on the TLC channel – what can be known as my ‘guilty pleasure’ channel.

We all like to budget and make savings where possible but where would you draw the line? Sometimes I see what these ‘extreme cheapskates’ are doing and actually think – ‘hang on, I am guilty of that too!’ but other times I find myself utterly disgusted!

One lady doesn’t buy toilet roll and instead uses water and soap to clean up after using the toilet. I also saw an episode where a guy takes over his colleagues leftovers from work and serves them up for dinner – despite the fact his wife has been ill because of them at least two times! He also chose to hold his daughters Sweet Sixteenth at a strip club because it was cheapest – although his daughter didn’t mind too much on the day, the family were mortified when he first broached the idea with them!

Some people on the show do have great ideas such as repurposing items, picking up dropped coins and pretending that the value stuff is really the premium stuff – I think we can all be guilty of these and they are nothing to be ashamed of. However, when I see families sharing brown bath water and not buying toilet roll – I cringe a little inside.

To me, certain items are necessities – clean water for a bath, toilet rolls etc – these aren’t luxuries for me and are included in my monthly budget. It seems that some of these people are taking their penny pinching ways too far – can living that frugally ever make somebody happy?

What are your thoughts on this?

Budgeting For A Baby

Now don’t get your hopes high yet…I haven’t got any news that I wish to share with you! However, we do plan to start trying again soon (as soon as finances allow) and we will obviously have to set an appropriate budget.

People say that you hardly notice the cost of your second child and I can believe that is true if they are the same gender as your first-born – but what if they’re not? Sure, they can live in plain white babygro’s and bodysuits for a couple of months but eventually parents will end up splashing out on gender specific clothes.

Here are my baby budgeting tips:

– Start buying things when pregnant. Obviously parents are going to start buying the big stuff before the baby comes along but the little stuff is often forgotten about in the process. Make sure to stock up on nappies, wipes/cotton wool balls, nappy sacks and bathing products for your child. Whether you plan to breast feed or formula feed, make sure to invest in a breast pump, formula and bottles just in case.

– Buy second-hand where possible. There are obviously some items that you shouldn’t buy secondhand but why not take advantage of that bundle of baby clothes you saw selling for peanuts on your local Facebook selling page? As long as they are in fairly good condition, who is to know they aren’t new? Times are hard, we have to make savings where we can. A quick wash and they will be good as new.

Take advantage of the stuff people give you. This counts for companies and friends/family alike. Plenty of companies will send you some freebies if you sign up to their mother and baby mailing lists. Make sure to join all the major baby clubs – Boots, Sainsburys, Tesco, Asda- you will get extra points or coupons. You may also find that people you know will give you some stuff they no longer need – I had a few people give us black bags crammed full of baby clothes – some were brand new! – plus we were given some nursery furniture too! Helen aka Mummy To The Max agrees with this too – not everything has to be new!

Enter competitions. It sounds silly but I entered loads when I was pregnant – especially when I was on maternity leave and had more time on my hands – and I won loads of things for Jack. I would definitely do the same should I have another child – you’ve got to be in it to win it!

Have you got any tips on budgeting for a baby?

Getting Your Grocery Spends Down

If you are anything like me, you can be a nightmare when it comes to going grocery shopping – especially if you have a fiance who is just as bad plus a toddler in tow. I do try my hardest to keep to budget when it comes to food shopping but we have all been there when you are reaching the final aisles in the supermarket, your toddler is getting irritable and you just want to treat yourself – fancy cheeses, bag upon bag of sweets, a cheap bottle of plonk – things you don’t need and it all adds up.

Whilst I do quite like shopping in the supermarket (for the first 10 minutes, anyway), I have found I stick to my budget much better if I do my shop online. The temptation to buy as much isn’t there and whilst you do see some fantastic deals online, it is easier to say no.

Never go food shopping when hungry. I broke my own rule on Christmas Eve – Steve was on nights and literally picked us up as soon as he got home at 7am, leaving no time for me to have breakfast after making sure Jack was fed and watered. This definitely wreaked havoc when it came to picking up items for the trolley and I found myself with lots I didn’t need – and a tummy full of McDonalds from across the road too!

Check out the reduced aisle. This is a bone of contention with plenty of people – they think that because something is reduced, then the quality is diminished. Yes, most reduced items have same day dates on them or the next days date – but this doesn’t mean that they are rubbish! I love popping up to the Co-Op where my Mum works and grabbing the reduced stuff – my freezer is full of meat and ready meals which were going out of date but I simply stuck in the freezer for when I needed them.

Stock up your store cupboard gradually. Bear with me here – all too often, you will find a recipe that you want to try out – only to find you don’t have this spice or that flour. More and more frequently, recipe books mention these store cupboard essentials and you have none of them! I know we haven’t got many at the minute – but we are planning to start adding a couple of things to every food shop – you will barely notice the difference and once your cupboard is full, no more going out and spending loads to make that one cake you have seen!

Finally, there is always the biggie – cut out the non-essentials. The non-essentials are different for everyone – some would say tobacco, some would say wine – but obviously everyone has their vice so no one person can be the judge of any other. However, whilst Steve still has his tobacco and I have my chocolate and we both have our fizzy drinks, we have cut down on biscuits, sweets, ready meals and certain condiments as we don’t need them! Living to a budget needn’t be hard so why make it hard for yourself!

Have you got any tips for keeping grocery spends down?