Austerity really is ruining my breakfast..!


I like to see where I can make savings. Small ones mainly but importantly ones where I feel we are not losing out. Take for example fuel. Instead of driving like a man possessed, foot flat to the floor one minute then stamping on the brakes the next. I have modified the way I drive, I cruise more, let the car slow down more and use my brakes less and gently. This simple change has seen my fuel bill go down quite considerably. The household heating also came under scrutiny. Now we do not heat the garage and in areas of the house where we seldom spend any time, we have turned the heating down a couple of notches. It’s taught us to be a bit more considerate, taught the children to turn off the lights and close the bloody door. Overall, it’s been no real hardship and no real effort has been required.

This is nothing new, my parents taught us the value of saving, of not being wasteful. They had come through tougher times, times when it wasn’t the planet or the economy that made them frugal, no it was just being about not wanting to waste things. Food was always eaten, a clean plate was the only way off the table and back to the telly, a brick in the toilet cistern was a simple way to reduce wasting water and as for being driven to school. Forget it. The bike they bought me for Christmas wasn’t supposed to be a toy, it was a mode of transport. Things like this rubbed off and I continue to this day to generally take care with my resources.

But my frugality often tends to backfire on me. Someone somewhere takes pleasure in seeing me spend time and effort in my personal austerity drive, then mucks things up. A brick in our toilet cistern gets discovered by the children and, for whatever strange reasoning they have, they decide to pull it out for a closer look, it slips from their grasp, cracks the cistern and leaves me with the cost of a new loo. My 30 or so litres of water saved over the months amounted to 5 euros, the cost of a new crapper, not including fitting, 350 euros.

I drive to the petrol station, I drive like my Grandma. My economy gauge in the green all the way. Excellent. Well it would have been had I not forgotten my wallet. Now I have to drive all the way back home and do the whole thing over again. The drive home and back the second time is now less considerate as grumpy me is now in a rush so again, any saving has been cancelled out.

I even have one of those ‘a bag for life’ bags they sell at the bigger stores. Now that they charge you for plastic bags, this is handy to have and I for one don’t want a mountain of plastic forever clogging our planet. Mostly though I forget to take it with me when I do the shopping so end up buying their plastic bags anyway, and the last time i did remember it, the handle broke. At the time of writing, I am currently on my 6th bag for life. Quite what they mean by ‘for life’ then is beyond me. Thank you Mr. Marketing man at the supermarket chain for selling me a bag for life that will only last a few weeks and thanks again for realising this problem and solving it by then selling me the plastic bags I will need as a consequence.

Now, one of my less clever plans has been causing some grief in the household recently. I say household but by that I mean only me. Mr. Marketing man at the local supermarket has started offering milk at the ridiculous price of just 56 cents. In the past I have sampled cheap milk and in the past I have ended up throwing the stuff away, nevertheless I am a sucker for a bargain and remembering my past mistakes, I buy just the one carton. If it is awful, I’m hardly out-of-pocket. If it tastes good, I’ll be back later to buy a lorry load. Expecting it to be coloured water, I was surprised that it was actually rather good. Not up there in the taste department with the Cravendale’s of this world but certainly on a par with our current choice and half the price!!!! Sold. I came back that afternoon with enough milk to feed a village. A large village at that.

So far all is well. I’m feeling good and no complaints from the family. But no. That someone up there somewhere just had to throw the boot in. Didn’t let it happen on the trial run did they… No. They waited until I’d made the mother of all milk purchases. What’s the problem..? I will tell you. My son likes apple juice, he would probably bathe in the stuff given half a chance. So he always has a couple of cartons of apple juice in the fridge. And it just so happens that the packaging of my cheap milk is green and white, which is the same colour they have used for his apple juice. Each morning, half asleep me, in desperate need of a cup of coffee before I can even begin to think, talk or do anything, wanders zombie like to the coffee pot, fills it then makes for the fridge, mistakes the apple juice for the milk and only realises the error after I have already stared pouring.

If breakfast cereal comes before coffee, the same thing happens only this time my Cornflakes are now contaminated with juice. My frugal side originally tried disguising the taste of the apple juice by adding more milk than one would normally use. But the juice is the bully in the flavour stakes here and fights it way onto my taste buds. I now just throw away my breakfast or coffee and start again. If I have just used up the last of my Cornflakes, it’s even worse, I am left with no option but to eat the children’s choice of cereal, some awful chocolate rubbish that is purchased for the simple reason that inside is some useless plastic toy they so desperately want.

So thank you again Mr. Marketing man at the supermarket chain. Thank you for the clever idea of producing exceptionally low-priced milk and thank you for approving a packaging design so close to that of your apple juice that I mistake it daily for the milk. Instead of saving my hard-earned cash I am now having to buy twice as much cereal and twice as much apple juice to compensate for the wastage you have caused me. I am also being grumpier in the mornings than usual which in turn is making me irritable during the school run which reverts my driving style back to the man possessed I mentioned earlier which is therefore costing me more in fuel.

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