Sunday 25 October 2015

Frugal hero(ines) 6

No prizes for guessing the last frugal heroine in this short series - Mother.

Sometimes I resented the frugality of the fifties, the decade in which I spent my childhood.  One economy which I really resented was "sides to middling".  If a sheet from their double bed got worn out the two sides would be joined together, the worn out middle bit would be cut away and the new sides hemmed to form a "new" single sheet - very economical.  The trouble was that the French seam used to join the old sides was right up the middle of my bed and not very comfortable.  I longed for new sheets (but I liked the super-soft hankies made from the remains of the worn out middles).

Christmas was a time of more extravagance but the phrase "stocking filler" was not to arrive in our language for many years.  We had a single present from our parents and maybe something small from the various aunts and uncles.  Selfish little horrors that we were we took it for granted that adults didn't get presents - I think we believed they had everything they could possibly want anyway.  However, I remember that as a small child I was not allowed to unwrap my presents until a grown-up had removed all the sellotape for me - the paper had to be saved for next year.

Mother never went out to work but she worked very hard at home.  She made all clothes for my sister and me and she even learnt shirt making but I think she decided that making shirts for my father was not successful.  However she would unpick the collars and cuffs from his worn work shirts and "turn" them, extending the life of the garment considerably.  She was always knitting or darning, unless the garden needed her attention.

In many ways I had quite a privileged childhood.  My father was a white collar worker, mother was always at home when I got home from school and I was always loved and cared for.  I had properly fitting shoes (always bought new, even if quite a lot of clothes were had-me-downs from various cousins) and I could always go on any school trip.  In retrospect I know that much of that security came from Mother's hard work.

But Mother often said No to demands from my sister and me.  No new sheets, no ripping off wrapping paper, no cheap clothes from the shops.  I suspect that sometimes I sulked and was "a little Madam" in the face of many noes, but because of her constancy in making everything last there I was aware of no hardship and there was no debt.

Thanks, Mummy.

Friday 23 October 2015

Frugal hero(ines) 5

This post is a little different from the first four in the series in that it is about a partnership of two people.  Those two were my parents and they had a partnership which lasted fifty five years.

My parents had a very united front when it came to finance.  It was a partnership in which he earned and she spent!  That sounds a bit like a bad situation comedy but the simple fact was that she had day-to-day responsibility for making sure bills got paid, food was bought and the family was kept warm and clean.  They had a joint bank account into which his salary was paid but both could draw cheques on it.

Major financial decisions were taken jointly.  When my shoes needed repairing for example, Mother would send me to the cobbler, but new shoes couldn't be bought until Father was also in on the decision.  

I am not suggesting that their budgetting strategy would suit everyone, far from it.  What I am saying though is that household finance should be discussed and discussed frequently.  When I was conducting marriages regularly I always used to raise the subject and was often horrified about how little couples had discussed money beyond the cost of the wedding.  

This partnership makes my parents financial heroes for me because right from my childhood I have known that good budgetting means getting everyone on board and communicating,  however the details are sorted.

Thursday 8 October 2015


No posts for a few days.  Life and all that.  But it's all nice!

Sunday 4 October 2015

You and your money

People who read blogs with the word "frugally" in the title will, I assume, have an interest in how to make the money last longer than the month.  We have our ways of making clothes last longer, economising on energy, cooking economically and the rest.  Undergirding all that though there has to be some sort of a budget.

Next week the Open University is offering a MOOC (Massive Open On-line Course) called You and Your Money.  It lasts for four weeks.   I've done it before but I'm doing it again because I think I have more to learn.

Quite apart from showing how to create a household budget it explores the financial services industry, explains the basics of debt and interest, compares forms of lending and generally demystifies money.

Of all the MOOCs I have done, this is the one which has had the most impact on me.  It is taught in a fun way with videos, quizzes and practical tasks as well as reading and on-line discussion