Lisa Skinner has found some simple ways of making your pounds stretch further
It’s true to say that there has been little in the way of good news about the state of the economy in recent weeks. Each new day seems to bring with it news of higher interest rates, rising inflation, depreciating pensions, fluctuating markets, and increasing energy costs. As the sales of Air Fryers, blankets and wonky vegetables soar it’s clear that people are already looking for ways to make savings to their household bills. I’m a mum of four so making savings is kind of my thing, it’s an art that I’ve been perfecting over the last 12 years since I was catapulted into the world of parenthood, and the reality of the expense that comes with it, which only seems to grow as they do. I’m also a Christian, which means I have a deep conviction about how I spend my money, I know it is a gift that has been entrusted to me and the Bible leaves me in no doubt about what is expected of me when it comes to using it.
Money is a topic that we don’t much like to talk about in our churches, truth be known it’s awkward and sometimes we have a negative perception of money. Having money in and of itself is not wrong, it is the love of money that is the root of all kinds of evil (1 Timothy 6:10). We understand that we are to hold the wealth that we have loosely but at the same time we’re not to be spendthrift with it. The Parable of the Bags of Gold in Matthew 25 makes it quite clear that we must be faithful in using that which the Master has entrusted to us.
I’ve certainly been on a journey when it comes to handling money and my attitude to spending over these last 12 years. Along the way I’ve picked up some tips and tricks to help my family live well whilst also stewarding well. Below are some of these tips and tricks for money saving on two major budget areas: clothes and food. I share them in the hope that some of it will help you make savings in the weeks and months that lie ahead of us and maybe even free up some of your money to bless others with.
- · Firstly, when it comes to clothes, I always buy for our family for the following year in the sales, particularly for the children. This significantly cuts down on the cost of their clothing in general. Some of the best sales can be found at Marks & Spencer, Next and TK Maxx.
- · I often buy clothing items second-hand from local charitable organisations and recently at Clothing Swap events. It’s amazing what you can pick up, I regularly find brand new items (tags still attached) at a fraction of the original price. The ‘Vinted’ Clothes Selling App also includes an option to swap clothing instead of selling your items.
- · I do a lot of selling of old/unworn clothing (and other items) online via Facebook Marketplace, Ebay and Vinted. However, when selling clothes, I try to list pieces according to season - it makes sense that winter coats will sell better in winter. On the flip side, if we need things like furniture for the house and we don’t want to spend a fortune, I check out Zero Waste sites like Freecycle or Olio. Gumtree is also great for picking up items at a fraction of their original retail value and you can set up alerts according to what it is you’re looking for.
- · I have a friend who will sell anything that isn’t nailed down and she has been selling some gold jewellery of late, items that she wasn’t wearing and wasn’t likely to wear - the price of gold is extremely high at this time so it is a good time to sell it on.
- · My ‘go to’ stores for clothing for all the family is TK Maxx and Brand Maxx. Those with a good eye can pick up some well-known brands for all ages at low prices. Brand Maxx is particularly good for well-priced high-end clothing, quality linen and children’s toys (great for Birthday presents). Outlet villages are another great place to pick up discounted clothing if you happen to have one close by.
- · ‘Too Good to Go’ is a great App to download for food. Their mission is to make sure good food gets eaten, not wasted. Every day, delicious, fresh food goes to waste at cafes, restaurants, hotels, shops and manufacturers - just because it hasn’t sold in time. ‘The Too Good To Go’ app lets customers buy and collect Magic Bags of this food - at a great price - directly from businesses. They work with companies such as Caffé Nero, Yo! Sushi, Carrefour, Greggs, Tim Hortons and many more.
- · The McDonald’s App provides customers with exclusive weekly offers and by building up points with every purchase you can access even more freebies.
- · Our children are big fans of the Italian Restaurant ‘Tony Macaroni’, I recently subscribed to emails from the Viva Italia Group to start earning points and they sent me a £10 voucher to use in one of their restaurants. While we don’t eat out a lot, there are several restaurants near us that offer early bird deals for mid-week dining or special promotions for kids. These are great for special occasions, birthdays and the like.
- · When it comes to our weekly shop we choose to shop in Lidl, Poundland and Home Bargains. I can get most of what I need in these stores, and they tend to be more competitively priced than other big chain stores.
- · For those times when the kids get thirsty while shopping, I opt for Babyccinos at a nearby coffee shop. Thankfully, Caffé Nero, Costa Coffee and Starbucks all provide these drinks free of charge!
I look to keep on top of the latest bargains and post on Instagram: @wisdomandpennies if you want to sign up.
As radical disciples of Jesus Christ, we are called to be a non-anxious presence in a world in turmoil. For us, our hope does not lie in money and possessions, we trust that our daily bread, that which we need for life, will be provided. All that being said, we are still to be in the world, we cannot bury our heads in the sand. Times are hard for many and that may be the case for you right now. It is important to use our money wisely and to strive to grow what we have so that we can abound in generosity towards others. What an opportunity we have amid this financial storm. Proper stewardship should place us in a better position to help with important needs as they arise and enable us to respond more quickly and perhaps in a more significant way. We can show generosity to others who are struggling as we testify to the great hope and assurance that the God we worship is Jehovah Jireh, the Lord who provides. I’m often reminded of a verse that my husband’s grandmother, who lived until she was 101, would frequently recite to us,
“I was young and now I am old, yet I have never seen the righteous forsaken or their children begging bread.” Psalm 37: 25
May you know the hope of this truth in the days and months ahead as you strive to manage the finances of your own household with God’s help.