Ilona Richards is Britain’s stingiest woman, but it’s a title she is proud of. The pensioner lives on just $5000 a year in government entitlements, and believes that you can do the same.
“I love life, and it needn’t cost a fortune to enjoy it”, says the 66-year-old retired truck driver. “I make do and mend being very careful with my spending, only buying what I need”.
Ilona says she has “no qualms” about buying secondhand from charity stores, rummage sales or even skip diving. The thrifty retiree has even saved enough for regular holidays and a good car.
She lives with three cats and a dog, and walking is Ilona’s hobby. She has taken extensive hikes throughout England, which are all free of cost. “It’s all about keeping fit and active”, Ilona says.
“The only money saving tip you need is, if you don’t have the money to pay for it, you don’t buy it. This takes a lot of discipline when you see loans pushed at you from all angles”, Ilona says.
But what are Ilona’s best practical tips for living a fulfilling life, even on the pension? Read on:
1. Save on laundry costs
“Wash your clothes inspect them to see if they really need washing. Sniff them, do they smell, are they crumpled, have you spilt anything down them, are they stained? If you answer no to these questions, you don’t need to wash them”, says Ilona.
2. Drink wisely
“Instead of tea or coffee, drink hot water with a dash of fruit juice. You can get a lot of drinks out of one bottle of squash. A lot cheaper than coffee and tea bags”.
3. Grow your own food
“Have you space to grow some vegetables, even in pots. (For example) grow salad in an old washing up bowl. Make some drainage holes in the bottom with a drill”.
4. Check your bank statements
“Companies push you towards direct debit because they know many people forget about them, they can go on taking the money for ever. Have a de-clutter of your bank account”.
5. Shop at discount stores
“Check out food prices in the discount stores in town, only when you’re passing… While I am there I check the (dollar) shops (like the Reject Shop, Crazy Clarks, Dollars and Sense). I pick out the best prices from all the shops”.
6. Drive less, walk more
“Keep your car use to a minimum. Can you walk or cycle instead of driving..? I save up my car miles for longer trips, it means I can afford more days out and weekends away. Keeping my car miles low means I can get a cheaper insurance policy”.
7. Reuse your grey water
“Don’t let the bath water go down the plug hole, leave it in the bath… Then use it for washing the car and flushing the toilet. Get another use out of it to save you money”.
8. Buy different cosmetics
“Buy children’s tooth brushes, they are a lot cheaper than adult brushes. A smaller head to brush for longer, gets into all the crevices. You don’t need a massive brush in your mouth to do the job correctly”.
9. Eat leftovers
“If you live alone scrape every last bit of food out of the pan, then use it again for the next meal. Cuts down on the washing up, saves money on heating the water and wash up liquid”.
10. Don’t waste water
“Don’t stand around under a hot shower after you have washed yourself. It may feel nice but it is costing you money. Turn it off and get out. You have a clean body now, so dry yourself quickly”.
11. Reconsider electronics
“Use rechargeable batteries. Expensive to start with, but cheaper in the long run. Better still buy solar powered gadgets, and gadgets that have a wind up facility to recharge them, (for example) a torch or radio”.
12. DIY washcloths
“Use wash cloths instead of paper towels. Cut old sheets and towels into squares about the size of a face cloth… They can be used for all kinds of cleaning jobs, for mopping up spills, for polishing, cleaning windows, kitchens and bathrooms”.
13. DIY gifts
“Make gifts instead of buying them, source free materials. Have a look at the stuff you throw out, the packaging, can anything be used again. Colourful card, ribbons, greetings card, fabric, wool. Can you make something with it?”
14. Have cheap hobbies
“Find a hobby that costs very little or no money. There’s a lot you can do outdoors, like my own hobby of walking… Take a pack up so you don’t need to buy food while you are out”.
15. Cook with frugal ingredients
“Throw in any vegetables you have, maybe some rice, or pasta, tin of baked beans. (Or) bulk it up with oats, add spices and sauce mixes, stock cubes. Heat it (and) eat it. Delicious!”
16. Save on plastics
“Don’t buy small plastic food boxes and bottles, use free ones. (Such as) margarine tubs, ice cream tubs, coleslaw pots, drinks bottles. I have a cupboard full of saved plastic pots and bottles, it’s surprising how many uses you can find”.
17. Be mindful of electricity
“Unplug all electrical appliances (and) gadgets in your house, then only plug in the ones you must have on, like the fridge. Switch off things you aren’t using and nag the children (or grandchildren) to do the same”.
18. Use less chemicals
“Use the least amount of washing up liquid that you can get away with, you don’t need lots of foam. Pouring chemicals down the sink is bad for the environment, and bad for your purse”.
19. Don’t waste food
“Tidy your food cupboard, use everything in date order (and) make sure you haven’t got food becoming inedible. Food is a precious commodity, it is criminal to treat it as a throwaway item”.
20. Shop at markdown hours
“Go (grocery) shopping between 5pm and 9pm, when (shops) reduce prices of goods on their last date. The closer you go to 9pm the cheaper they will be, but you take a chance on whether there is anything left”.
21. Save on beauty
“If you want a cheap haircut contact your local college, the students will give you a trim for a knockdown price. Don’t worry you will not come out with a higgledy-piggledy hairstyle, there are supervisors present to watch the trainees”.
22. Record your spendings
“Keep a notebook in your kitchen and record all your spending daily, then try and work out how you can reduce it. This is a must for everyone trying to cut down”.
23. Visit the library
“Use your library. Read the papers and magazines for free in a warm place, most have free access to computers (or) read a book. I love the library, I can spend many a happy hour in there”.
24. Snack right
“Make your own sandwiches for work, don’t buy expensive snack food from shops, and cafes. In fact always take your own food out with you”.
25. Ditch the gym membership
“Don’t join a gym for exercise, incorporate walking into your everyday life, it costs nothing. Joining a gym is a complete waste of money, you don’t need it”.
Will you be following Ilona’s budget advice? Or are her methods to extreme for you?
— Best My Song (@bestmysong) January 25, 2016