What more can I do to save money, I fretted, as I drove off. Compared to the nouveau pauvres who have started cluttering the aisles at Lidl to experience hot flushes of retail excitement over cheap frozen lobsters, I\’m an old hand. Virtually nothing enters our house – apart from the children\’s friends – which isn\’t on bogof (buy one get one free).
I use laundry balls to save on washing powder, buy loo rolls wholesale (anyone want some? I\’ve got 394 cluttering up the cellar), and make the children take spare knickers in their hand baggage to avoid paying extra for hold luggage when we fly. We\’ve got low-energy light-bulbs, too, but my husband keeps hiding them.
It\’s not as if I\’ve been missing many tricks. Already, I keep my own teabags in the office, and take a packed lunch to work. I dress almost exclusively in second-hand clothes from the Red Cross shop and, long before the emerging middle classes of India and China pushed up the price of meat, butter and basmati rice, I was feeding my family on food bought, or scavenged, from markets at close of play.
Unlike Mrs Average who wastes 30 per cent of the food she buys, I freeze dregs of red wine to make sauces, scrape fuzzy bits off leftovers and serve them again, and pass everything else on to the dog or compost heap.
I pay everything by standing order, which is probably a false way of saving a few per cent because, every now and then, a staggering bill comes in for the extra electricity and gas that I didn\’t even know I was using.
My email in-box is overloaded with messages from companies offering ways to save money: these boil down to taking out their relatively cheap loans – no thanks – or wasting half the day filling in questionnaires in order to get 40p off my next purchase of soya milk. And I\’m on the waiting list for an allotment.
In the meantime, eager for the buzz that comes from paring another few quid off the out-goings, I have just planted two apple trees. They should be just as pretty as inedible cherry trees, and will mean a reduction in my Braeburn bill. "Oh, but home-grown apples are manky," wail my children. "Shut up," I shout back.
They really are biting, aren\’t they?