As a teenager, I recall my mum complaining when the cost of petrol went up from 4 shillings and fourpence per gallon in the late sixties and later swearing to give up beef when it threatened to approach £1 per lb.
In the eighties we were paying 15% interest on our mortgage and I wasn’t working. (There wasn’t much childcare around back then and what there was cost a small fortune, so working wasn’t an option for some years – even though I’d been earning more than my husband prior to number-one-son.) There was Tupperware and similar work-from-home options, but I never ended up with much in the way of income – just more Tupperware and the occasional hostess trolley.
I see no point in playing the blame game about our current situation. The world has been in a two-year economic halt and Putin is bombing half the world’s wheat supply. If he doesn’t care about his own country’s anger, your rising blood pressure won’t bother him.
We’re living on pensions, but I know I spend too much compared to those single-income, penny-pinching decades. I could spend less if I put my mind to it.
I have the example of an older friend (now deceased) who I used to take shopping. She had raised three children alone, working two meagre part-time jobs in the days before benefits and with no support from her ex-husband. By the time I knew her, she said she’d never been so well-off (on only her state pension and housing benefit) but old habits tend to stick, and she hated to waste anything.
She passed on a lot of tips.
It’s probably time I put them into practice…
She would never turn on her oven to cook a single item. Her cooker would be stuffed with casseroles, cakes, bread… full with whatever she had prepared for cooking. Needless to say, her freezer bulged.
She found it hard to pass by a bargain, which filled her freezer even more. She died before lockdown, which would have given her cabin fever, but she could have lived off that frozen food for months.
As my gran used to, she would boil bones for stock or soups, often getting these free from local butchers. Staff on butchery counters in the supermarkets knew her from the days before me, when she had travelled to them by bus.
When cooking veg (some of which she grew herself in pots) she used the whole plant. Stalks of cauliflower and brocolli were chopped into casseroles, leaves were cooked along with the heads and nothing went to waste.
She was a keen craftswoman who made her own greetings cards. She knitted dolls and other items for appeals and fundraisers, using wool left over from bigger projects, such as Christmas jumpers for grandchildren. Unused materials were never thrown away.
I am sure more of her tips will come back to me as I put my mind to cutting back on our spending.