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Ok, I’ll admit it…last week, our grocery bill was a bit huge.

I felt a bit ashamed of myself as I glumly surveyed the total, and vowed that I would work extra hard this week to make sure it wasn’t quite so whoppingly scarily mahoosive this time round. It’s strange, because normally I am the budget master extra-ordinaire, with highly refined nostrils specificially developed for whiskering out bargains.

I have thus made a solemn oath to head over to Aldi this afternoon with DB2 (oh, he’ll love that!) and realign my nose to the cosmic powers of cheap produce.

In the meantime; here are a few little things that I normally do to keep the budget from flying out the window…

1) Never under-estimate the power of Poundland.

We all know Poundland, the 99p store and all the rest of those places. I think most high streets have them these days (In Exeter, we have about 7 I think…we are officially the Poundland kings down here!).

Most people will nip in occasionally for the odd thing; but there are actually a huge amount of bargains to be had in there, if you take the time to properly mooch round.

E.G: Recent purchases by moi:

 – Argan oil (normally well over a fiver in Boots; this cheaper brand is just as good and costs a quid)

– Diet coke (3 for a pound, far cheaper than the super markets sell them)

– Robinsons Summer Fruits Squash (£1.00 per bottle, normally £1.60 in Sainsburys)

– Photo paper for printing photos.

– Weedkiller (normally around £3-£4 in other shops)

I could go on. There are often quite surprising things in stock and the shelves change regularly, so I would recommend doing a weekly pop-in before your supermarket shop, just in case!

2) Got a business, or know someone who has? Get a cash and carry/ wholesale card.

I have a Makro card for my business. We use Makro for a few bits and bobs for http://www.pipsgarden.co.uk, including mail bags, paper and stationery. But I also admit I use it for personal use too – a recent bargain was 64 toilet rolls for £9 (around £12 including VAT) – when even for a ‘Basics’ 4 pack in the supermarket, you’d normally pay £2. Ahem. You do the maths…

Other bargainous finds have been huge vats of dishwasher tablets for a fraction of the cost, enormous bottles of washing liquid, lots and lots of toilet duck; basically, if you can store it, it pays to buy in bulk from a wholesale supplier.

3) Check out Approved Food!

Now, I just want to emphasise here, I am not paid by Approved Food to promote them, ha ha! It is a genuine love of the company and what they do. Basically, they buy in bulk from suppliers who have lots of food going out of date, and they sell it on to us for dirt cheap.

If you are open minded and savvy enough to realise that ‘out of date’ doesn’t necessarily mean ‘gone bad’, then check it out. Recent bargains we’ve enjoyed have been 3 kilos of white bread flour for £1.00 (normally around £4.50 in the shops), 10 packs of nan breads for £1.00 (normally about a pound each, so this was a great saving!), 10 packs of korma curry paste for a pound (normally a pound each…£9 saving…nice!) and 3 packs of pasta for £1, normally £1 each, so basically, buying three and getting two free.

Hunt in charity shops:

A bit of an obvious one; but it seriously can save a fortune. I recently found some lovely kids books in one, for 75p each; in fantastic condition; normally at least £6 each in the shops. I’m also a total bookworm, so charity shops are a godsend for me too; the rate I get through them. I’ve also found some great clothes from charity shops, including ironically, the wooly jumper and jeans (Topshop no less) that I am wearing today! Do they look ok? Yes! And more importantly, in total, they cost £6.00. A lot cheaper than the £50 they would have cost if I’d have purchased them new.

Birthdays and Christmas, do homemade!

Ok, I’ll admit, I did a home-made Christmas last year and it nearly killed me. It seriously took AGES. But I’d do it again. Allow me to explain…

Even though I sweated blood and tears over it all to produce suitably nice home gifts, it was so totally worth it, because people were really touched that I’d bothered. It meant way more, which made it way more meaningful for me too, rather than just heading to the shops and grabbing any old thing off the shelves. The below piccie isn’t great, but this is the sort of thing I was rustling up; customised tops for people; appliqued cushions (despite not being able to sew, won’t be doing that one again…) and massage oils, which are very easy to make!

Its quite fun budgeting really…who needs loads of money, eh?!