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Shoestring Cottage: Our new frugal columnist

Isobel Lawrance 31st Mar 2022 One Comment

Reading Time: 4 minutes

Meet our new columnist Jane Berry, AKA Shoestring Jane from Shoestring Cottage, an award winning blogger and YouTuber who has been writing about saving money for a decade. Each month she will be sharing her frugal wins and giving you tips on how to cut costs at home.

shoestring cottage


If you are struggling with the rising cost of living, developing a few frugal habits will help you save money where you can. In this new series of monthly posts, I will be sharing some of the knowledge I have gained over many years to show you how to stretch your household budget. 

I am really delighted to be working with MoneyMagpie to help you manage your money. Don’t forget to subscribe to the MoneyMagpie newsletter so that you don’t miss any updates. You can also find frugal inspiration on my blog Shoestring Cottage and on my YouTube channel.



How I save and make money in spring

Spring clean your finances

You don’t have to confine spring cleaning to your home. Spring is the ideal time to sort out your finances too.

Start by pulling together your last three months’ worth of bank statements. If you sometimes wonder where your money disappears, this is the best way to find out.

Check that you aren’t paying for unused subscriptions. Are there recurring payments that you can ditch? For example, did you sign up for any trial subscriptions and then forget to cancel them? Are you still paying for insurance on an appliance you no longer have? Do you have a gym membership or TV package that you barely use?


Start a spending diary

As you examine your bank statements, make a note of all the small purchases that you make on things like take away coffee, makeup and toiletries, newspapers and magazines, trips to the wine bar, cash withdrawals, sandwiches and sweets, etc. 

These purchases may seem insignificant individually, but you may be surprised at how much they total each month. 

One way to keep track of this type of extraneous spending is to keep a diary. Personally, I hang on to any paper receipts and every few days I write them in the spending section of my budget book. I am old school! I also check any spending on apps I frequently use, such as PayPal, eBay and Amazon.

Alternatively, you can use a spending tracker app or even a small notebook that you keep in your bag.

Once you have identified where your money is going, you can look to cut your spending. Could you pack a lunch to take to work and a flask of coffee, for example? Can you read newspapers and magazines for free online? Local libraries usually give free access to these via apps such as Press Reader.

You can set yourself a monthly budget for any of these expenses and your spending diary will let you know when you have hit your limit.


Bring down your bills

Once you have cut out unnecessary direct debits, take a look at your regular bills. Can you get a better deal elsewhere?

At the moment, most money experts are advising you not to switch your energy provider. However, there is no reason why you can’t try to get a better deal on your broadband (you can use our broadband comparison tool here), your TV package or your mobile phone contract.

Shop around, do some research and, if you find a better deal, let your current providers know to see if they can match it. If not, then switch and save yourself some cash.


Sell your old stuff at a boot sale

Spring is an excellent time for a declutter, so why not clear out your unwanted stuff and sell it?

The boot sale season is here, so book a pitch and make some money from the things you no longer need. Go through your attic, cupboards, sheds and garage to see what you can find. 

Car boot sales charge between £10 and £15 for a spot. Get there early to set up before the hordes descend. 

I would advise you to take along a folding trestle table (a wallpapering table will do), a clothes rail and a tarpaulin to display your wares. Also, have at least £10 worth of change, a flask of tea or coffee and some food, folding chairs to sit on, bin bags for clearing up at the end and lots of warm clothes. It can be chilly in the early morning! However, if the forecast is for hot weather, don’t forget your sunscreen as well. 

It’s much more fun if you take someone along to help or share a pitch with a friend. That way, if one of you needs the loo, you won’t have to leave your stall unattended. 

People don’t expect to pay a lot for things at a car boot sale, so price realistically. If you have valuable items to sell, you will get a better price online. Large items, such as furniture, are easier to sell on platforms such as Facebook Marketplace, where they will be collected by the buyer.


Don’t forget to look out for my column next month for more super savvy, money saving tips!


Read Jane’s previous interview:

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2 years ago

Lots of info.

Jasmine Birtles

Your money-making expert. Financial journalist, TV and radio personality.

Jasmine Birtles

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