Tag Archives: thrift



This is the month when we’re tightening our belts, usually financially; but also at  the other end of the spectrum we’re slackening our belts ,and wondering why did we eat  yet another slice of Christmas cake? Because its delicious, that’s why! But of course, those extra kgs come to roost, generally around our mid-sections.

So I offer a few thrifty tips, none of them exercise or gym related.

On the topic of food, there’s  the idea of Meatless Mondays,  don’t explain, apologise, or introduce  it to the family, just do it.  When they moan, ask if they would like Christmas gifts in December 2020 ? because this is the first step toward that target.

Obviously fast food deliveries to your door is a no-no.  And a blanket ban on fast food at any location, for that matter. Its expensive, and  unhealthy, as  we all know, don’t we? Not to mention soggy and lukewarm. Yuck.

Lastly  here’s the cracker: Do not go to the January sales. Unless you have a specific object in mind, and have been saving up all year for that  big purchase e.g. a new fridge or a TV.  Sale buys are often disappointing or rash, once reviewed soberly at home, away from the frantic grab and run of sales. And you will have spent more money you don’t actually possess. See the agitated smoke rising from your credit card? I rest my case.

Happy January!










In early February I realised I kept coming across articles dealing with facets of the same theme : living frugally. For example, in a most unlikely local publication, the YOU Magazine, there was a feature article on Living Frugally. Somewhat ironic considering the desperate poverty afflicting many of South Africa’s citizens, but not everyone in SA is living on the brink. We have a nice thick layer of fat cats, purring contentedly, insulated by corruption; but that’s another story.

The article  featured an American woman, who is famous in the US for promoting thrifty living. I didn’t note her name, but she’s married, lives in Utah, and has four kids. Seems she‘s often on American TV explaining the principles. I read  her suggestions and didn’t find any hints that were new to me – I’ve been living frugally for years and could teach her a thing or two! But that’s by the by. The point is: thrift is headline news.

De-cluttering is another current buzzword. I’ve seen blog posts and print articles, as well as TV programmes urging us to either Keep it if its precious, Donate if its excess, or Turf it out if it’s well and truly finished.

 I had an interesting conversation with a German friend  on this topic, and she said that as a ‘War Baby’ i.e. born in the early to mid 1940’s, she tended to hoard possessions, because “I might need it one day”.  She attributes this mind-set to early childhood when everything had to be kept, ‘just in case’, because of war-time rationing and shortages.

I can relate to this, as I was also a War Baby. We were living in Central/East Africa, and suddenly there were no imported goods, due to war-time disruption of shipping. Our mothers had to haul out their sewing machines and knitting needles and get busy, making clothing for the entire family. Our Clarke’s sandals had the toes carefully cut out, so that our growing toes could spill over the edge of the sole. Going barefoot wasn’t an option, due to the dreaded jiggers in the sand.

Another minor trend, has been blog posts on Minimalism for Writers. When I consider some popular blockbusters like the Game of Thrones series, or the Ken Follett novels, or gigantic novels like the Goldfinch, this might not be such a bad idea!

A  book-related de-cluttering tip is this one: every time you acquire a new book you must donate or sell a book from your shelves. Hmm. I’m not quite so sure about this one. I love my books, and enjoy their presence in my home. I loan them out and share them, but they need to come home to Mama at some point. I’m prepared to re-cycle, live on lentils, wear hand-me-down clothes, but this book-turfing idea fills me with horror! Not for me.









It’s ridiculous, I know, but I just can’t stop myself. They say old habits die hard, and it’s true. I know you’re going to laugh –  feel free. One of my persistent habits is my inability to throw away kitchen foil.  After using it to  cover a cooked dish before putting it into the fridge, I carefully rinse it off, wash it in hot soapy water, rinse again, smooth it out and leave it in the sun to dry, before folding and storing it for re-use. By now you’re shaking your heads and saying: Huh? But WHY ??

I’ll tell you why. For a period of about six years, kitchen foil was unobtainable – it was a luxury, along with kitchen cling-wrap, chocolate, MacIntoshes’s toffees, South African wine, and a massive list of other products that we all used to take for granted. In a word: sanctions. In Rhodesia during the mid-1970’s we had a trade embargo slapped on us by the British Government, and apart from vital commodities like fuel and mechanical spares, the minor items of life were also removed from our grasp. We had to live with fuel rationing, which was calculated to virtually the last drop, and you learnt to plan your driving very carefully so as to accomplish the maximum tasks with the minimum driving around. But we managed. And kitchen foil was a happy memory from easier times. There just wasn’t any, and if you did succeed in obtaining a precious roll, you guarded it with your life and used it sparingly, again and again and again.
During my first years of living in South Africa I remember watching aghast as
South African women cheerfully ripped off generous sheets of foil to double-cover a small plate of food, or double-wrap leftovers.  It was all I could do to stop myself from leaping on them shouting, “Stop! That’s enough – you’re using too much!”  and then on other occasions watch people rip off the foil covering, crumple the foil into a ball and drop it in the trash can … oh, the horror!

Of course, I could label my quirk as THRIFT, which is a good word, we should all be thrifty, eco-conscious citizens, should we not?  I cannot tell you how it cheered me to read an article which revealed that HM Queen Elizabeth keeps string, in a certain desk drawer, thriftily saving it for future parcels. Apparently it was a habit she cultivated during World War II when Britain faced austerities on every level, and as I said at the beginning, old habits die hard.  On the other hand, I do wonder whether her Majesty still wraps her own parcels – somehow I feel there should be a white-gloved footman bearing away the gifts on a silver tray, to be wrapped and parcelled by some lesser minion in a Palace storeroom. Times have changed, even in royal palaces. These days I bung gifts into a padded, ready-to-seal white bag (all sizes available) no string required, and that’s that. But I do still own a monster ball of brand new string.

At one time I did have the instructions for crocheting dishcloths out of string – now that’s  super eco-thrifty – maybe I’ll churn out a few and use up the redundant string? Or maybe not; my To Be Read pile of books is beaming invitingly at me ….