Paying less with pride

Posted July 16th, 2007 by Penny Wise

I met my first (obviously) Simple Saver male the other day! Ali and I were in the dreaded supermarket, as restocking was necessary after our holiday. There he was with his two children in tow, perusing the cereal aisle. He knew exactly what he was looking for - a special on cornflakes - and got his children to grab several bags. I was also on the hunt for cornflakes but as they took the last four bags I reached for a different brand instead. 'Oh no - you must grab some of these!' he said, handing me two of his bags. I told him it was fine, no need but he insisted, 'No, go on, they're a great price - we don't need them all, do we kids?' What a nice chap! He was so insistent that in the end I felt he would be offended if I didn't take them but all the same I was very grateful. He and the kids continued on their merry way, discussing what they could have in their lunch boxes for school next week and as I watched them continue happily round, I felt so proud of this man I had never even met! What a great job he was doing - he was more up to date on all the specials than I was and they were all engraved in his brain - not written down on a scrap of paper like mine were. It might sound really odd but it actually made my supermarket experience a whole lot more pleasant knowing there was another shopper in the vicinity who was just like me; who cared more about what was on the inside of the box than the fancy packaging and was proud to be paying less. Hooray for the frugals!

The weekend was beautiful - clear, crisp and sunny. Unfortunately this fine break in the weather was so unexpected that I had already geared myself up for a cleaning frenzy and while everyone else was out enjoying the sunshine, Penny the Plonker spent the entire weekend inside, scrubbing, scraping, wiping, polishing - you name it. In fact, by yesterday afternoon my hands were so sore and chapped I had to ask Noel to peel the potatoes for dinner! To be fair though, it wasn't your every day clean. I decided it would be a good idea to swap two rooms of the house completely around. Actually, it was more out of necessity than whim. This Saturday is Ali's birthday and his birthday present - a pool table - is being delivered, not that he knows about it at all. Something as large as a pool table probably sounds dreadfully extravagant for a nine year old but a quick browse on eBay and Trade Me showed as we had hoped, that you can pick them up for a dime a dozen. Another big plus is, as we discovered on holiday, it's a great game that all the family can play, whatever the weather. Yet another big plus is, it has absolutely nothing to do with wrestling, which is currently the big obsession in our house! Unfortunately the only room big enough to house a pool table is the one Noel and I currently work in, so this left us no choice but to transform the current playroom into our office and vice versa. That was a big enough mission in itself but I could have made it a good deal smaller had I not decided to choose the same day to clean the oven and completely dismantle and clean the shower as well.

Liam was staying at a friend's house and Noel and Ali did the sensible thing and got the heck out of the house while I was doing this. I confess, I don't clean the oven anywhere near as often as I should (does anyone?) and the shower screens have always been awful; I'm sure they were for many years before we moved there too. In my infinite wisdom I decided that my usual SS cleaners were not going to be up for the job - nope, these were really tough jobs and they were going to need PROPER cleaners instead (oh, how I laugh at myself now!) So I sent Noel off to buy me some oven cleaner, a bottle of glass cleaner and some EasyOff Bam (a so-called super duper nothing-else-beats-it cleaner). I started early in the morning and did the oven first. The oven cleaner was rubbish, didn't shift a thing so Plan B was needed. I checked out oven cleaners in the Vault and made up a spray bottle of ammonia and water. I just about keeled over from the honk but once I had recovered I ran a warm bath - not for me, for the oven racks! I added a scoop of washing powder and left them to soak for a couple of hours. While they were all soaking I went to tackle the shower with my spanking new EasyOff Bam. I soon renamed it EasyOff Bum as it didn't bring anywhere near the amazing results I had hoped for - in fact it was downright useless, all it did was take off a big patch of the surface on one of the shower walls (and yes, I did read the instructions carefully). Over the past four years I have hoped desperately for sparkly shower screens but it certainly wasn't going to be with this stuff, so it was back to the Vault again for inspiration and at last - AT LAST! I have the crystal clear shower screens I knew were hiding behind the gloom all along. All they needed was a rub over with a paste made from bicarb soda and a little water. I wanted to buff them up to make them super shiny and tried the glass cleaner but found that only made them look smeary. Not to worry, I had my Happy Hanna hat back on by then and knew what would do the trick. A cloth in a bucket of water with the juice of half a lemon added - no streaks and a lovely fresh smell in my new squeaky clean shower!

Back down to check the oven and I could not believe how well the ammonia spray had worked, I have never had such an easy time doing what is usually a loathsome task. My yukky oven racks and trays were soon restored to shiny silver too after their bath soak. If you have never tried this before, you won't believe it! No elbow grease needed, it just wipes straight off. I only wish I hadn't bought those other daft expensive products before learning the hard way but by now it was on to swapping the rooms around and I knew there was only one product I was going to need as I went - a bucket of hot, soapy water! It took six hours solid to get everything exactly as I wanted but I have to admit, the two 'new' rooms look really good and the boys love their new spacious playroom - even if they have no idea why we insisted on swapping yet. I'm not sure about the starfish and sailing boats on my office curtains but I daresay I'll get used to them!

Thanks to some smart menu planning I shouldn't have to buy hardly anything this week but there is one hint I have recently discovered which I am definitely going to try. It's one of those ones which is so simple you wonder why you haven't tried it in the first place but I never have. 'Use your receipts to keep foodbills down ' is a simple tip but one I believe is going to save me a lot of money. Just because I am managing to stay within my allocated grocery budget each week, I am still a bad one for letting the kids sneak in extra lollies and fizzy drinks, not to mention my magazine splurges. I think if I actually kept my receipts from Mr Patel's for a week or two, I would get a huge shock as to how much I am still wasting on unnecessary items. So I'm going to put it to the test! Unfortunately thanks to my wonderful menu planning I'm not sure when I shall need to go again but when I do, I shall be ready! It's just as well I don't need to spend much as I have to take my car to a mechanic this afternoon, it's doing all sorts of funny things. At first I put it down to sitting in the cold for a week while we were away but it soon became obvious that the problem was more serious than that. When I had to turn around and go home on Friday half way to taking the boys to a birthday party for fear of breaking down in the back of beyond, I knew something had to be done. I'm really not looking forward to finding out what the problem is, I hope it's not too serious!

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