Frugal mother shares her top tips
Mother who honed her frugal habits during the 2008 financial crisis reveals how she cuts costs by dumpster diving and growing her own veg – and brings in extra cash by flogging car boot sale finds online
- Tess Bolton-Gould, 54, slashes her family’s bills with series of frugal habits
- Mother-of-two who lives near Halifax normally spends £40-£50 weekly on food
- She shares her tips on savvy spending and saving on her YouTube channel
A frugal mother who struggled to make ends meet during the 2008 recession has revealed how she slashes her family’s bills by reselling second-hand clothes and crockery online.
Tess Bolton-Gould, 54, who said that she would sometimes need to make 50p stretch several days during the financially strenuous period 14 years ago, is now sharing her savvy spending habits as Britain is gripped by a cost of living crisis.
The mother-of-two who lives near Halifax, West Yorkshire, normally spends £40-£50 weekly on food. She is also able to cover that and some utility costs through reselling.
Tess Bolton-Gould, who sometimes needed to make 50p stretch several days during the 2008 financial crisis, is sharing her savvy spending habits amid the cost of living crisis
Tess adheres to a strict weekly food plan. She even grows her own vegetables (pictured) and can make meals for as little as 30p per person to feed herself
Tess revealed that she slashes her family’s bills by reselling second-hand clothes and crockery online. Pictured, some items from one of Tess’ car boot hauls
The habit of checking skips as she passes them has stuck with Tess – as the thrifty spender recently scored a ‘huge box of homemade soaps’ (pictured)
Tess adheres to a strict weekly food plan. She even grows her own vegetables and can make meals for as little as 30p per person to feed herself, her husband Sam, 54, and their two sons, aged 18 and 15.
Tess’s 10 frugal tips
Write out your budget (all your income and expenses) and keep track of it every month.
Focus on Wants vs Needs – If you’re short of money, don’t buy anything you don’t need.
Plan your meals for the week and write a shopping list from that plan – stick to it.
Set a food budget and work within it.
Turn things off at the socket when not in use – don’t leave them on standby.
Turn the thermostat down on your heating and hot water.
If you need help, and there is help available, take it. There’s no shame in going to a food bank or claiming benefits to which you are entitled.
See what you can pick up for free – Facebook groups are great for this.
Batch cook once a week and then just re-heat daily to reduce fuel use.
Heat the person, not the house – wear layers, use hot water bottles.
Follow Tess’ YouTube here: www.youtube.com/c/TessFoodFinanceandFrugalLiving/playlists
The thrifty spender has also started to prepare for the colder months, with energy bills set to soar.
She said: ‘I’m genuinely really worried about what’s going to happen in October with the fuel bills.
‘Ours has already doubled from £125 a month to £240 and if the increase is what’s predicted, it’s going to be about £440 pounds a month – that is insane.
‘We are turning everything off at the socket except for the fridge freezer and we are avoiding using the hot tap wherever possible.’
Tess shared that she has also been collecting ‘free firewood from skips or on Facebook Marketplace for our multi-fuel stove’, saying she will be ‘using that mostly for heating’.
She added: ‘We have hot water bottles that we will use to keep warm, or under our feet at desks while we work.
‘We’ve stopped using the oven anymore and I just use a pressure cooker or air fryer instead, because they use less energy than an electric oven.
‘And I’ve stopped watching the TV – I just watch it on my phone instead because it’s cheaper.’
The frugal mother said that dumpster diving has also yielded her some useful bargains.
Remembering how she was affected during the 2008 recession, when her boys were aged one and four, Tess said: ‘There were many times we had 50p in the purse to last us a few days and it was very stressful to live life like that.
‘Shopping in charity shops and car boot sales for school uniform or toys for the kids became a way to manage.’
She continued: ‘When I used to live in the city, in Hull, you’d always drive past skips.
‘I think one of my eldest son’s first words he learned was ‘SKIP!’ as we drove past. I would always see them outside people’s houses and ask if I could take a look.
‘When the kids were little, I found a plastic slide in one skip and a garden sandpit in another – all in perfect condition.’
The habit of checking skips as she passes them has stuck with Tess – as the thrifty spender recently scored a ‘huge box of homemade soaps’.
‘I couldn’t believe it!’ she said.
While she doesn’t have a big garden, Tess makes use of the space she does have to grow her own vegetables (pictured) which cuts down her food bill
Tess said: ‘It’s amazing what you can do with a few pots,’ she said. ‘Wilko do a really good seed sale at the end of summer with fruit and vegetable packets for 25p a pack…’
Though the family are more financially secure now, Tess says her household income is still ‘significantly below the national average’ – which is £31,400 a year according to the ONS – and she is careful with her cash to make it stretch as far as possible.
‘Living frugally means even in times when it has been really difficult, we have managed to stay out of debt or only have very minimal debt in emergency situations,’ she said.
‘We have been able to save up an emergency fund of £3,000 now, so that if the car breaks down or something happens, we have the money we need to fix it.’
Tess stressed that ‘it’s so important to be careful with every penny that you earn because you work hard for your money and it’s amazing how quickly your spending adds up’.
Over the years, she has also learned how to make more money by reselling her car boot sale and charity shop finds.
‘When the boys were small, I would only have a fiver or £10 available, and I would buy some bits like a nice blouse or jumper which I could flip online through eBay and make £20,’ she said.
Tess also shared: ‘I like to buy bags of frozen chicken thighs which I will airfry and use in stir fries or rice dishes with vegetables…’
The mother-of-two who lives near Halifax, West Yorkshire, normally spends £40-£50 weekly on food. Pictured, one of Tess’ budget meals
‘Now, I go to a car boot sale or charity shop with £80 or £90, spend half or all of it, and then re-sell what I find on eBay or Facebook Marketplace.
‘Last week, I spent £72 on vintage clothes, jewellery and crockery and I made £750.
‘Once you take away the cost of postage and packaging, the eBay fees and PayPal fees, that works out as about £500 – but it’s still really good.’
Tess, who also shares her frugal tips three times a week on her YouTube channel, Tess – Frugal Living, which she started in 2017, can now easily spot a bargain.
She said: ‘I’ve always been interested in antiques and collectibles and vintage items so I can spot a vintage dress hanging up in a charity shop across the room or a 1950s jug hiding on the shelf.’
Tess, who also shares her frugal tips three times a week on her YouTube channel, Tess – Frugal Living, which she started in 2017, can now easily spot a bargain
Tess explained: ‘Meal planning is key really,’ she explained. ‘If I go to a supermarket without a shopping list, I will pick up all sorts and not actually get anything I can make a meal from…’
When it comes to food shopping, Tess said having a plan can help stick to a budget, as well as opting for ‘the most basic and value brand’
When it comes to food shopping, Tess said having a plan can help stick to a budget, as well as opting for ‘the most basic and value brand’.
‘Meal planning is key really,’ she explained. ‘If I go to a supermarket without a shopping list, I will pick up all sorts and not actually get anything I can make a meal from.
‘So I sit down at the start of the week and write down every meal there will be and then generate the shopping list from the meal plan.’
She added: ‘I will always be looking at buying the most basic and value brand, so getting the 20p spaghetti and not the £1.20 fancy spaghetti and then trying to find ways of getting as much veg in as I can – like tinned tomatoes or basic onions to keep the price down.
The thrifty spender has also started to prepare for the colder months, with energy bills set to soar
Some of Tess’ finds ready for resale. She said: ‘I’ve always been interested in antiques and collectibles and vintage items’
‘A classic in our house is basic penne pasta, with a tub of the cheapest cream cheese, sweetcorn and some onion, which will feed four for £1.23.’
Tess also shared: ‘I like to buy bags of frozen chicken thighs which I will airfry and use in stir fries or rice dishes with vegetables and then use the bones left over to make a stock for soup or stew.’
While she doesn’t have a big garden, Tess makes use of the space she does have to grow her own vegetables.
‘It’s amazing what you can do with a few pots,’ she said.
‘Wilko do a really good seed sale at the end of summer with fruit and vegetable packets for 25p a pack. I always get packets of tomatoes, and grow things like kale, cucumbers, lettuce and courgettes.
‘Things like spring onions and herbs don’t take up too much space, or salad cress only needs a bit of tissue paper to grow.’
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