Don’t mess with Mum!

It’s foggy and miserable here in Essex as my least favourite month of the year – February – approaches, but a little story my mother told me gladdened my heart.

Remember the TalkTalk saga? I’d thought it ended with the nice cheque they sent me, but not so. The other day in deepest darkest Ireland, my parents’ phone rang and it was – guess who, somebody representing TalkTalk from an Indian call centre, asking for my mother. A brave soul. My Dad handed over the phone to my mum who stood there patiently listening to the gentleman caller while Dad pottered off to watch TV. But after about 10 minutes he heard a loud voice in the hallway, shouting: “NOW, YOU LISTEN TO ME, DUCKIE!” Dad was startled to realise the shouting was coming from my mother. Normally yelling down the phone at people is my Dad’s department…

But the unsuspecting caller had foolishly attempted to sell my darling mother the TalkTalk line rental package with ‘free broadband internet’. The same one I got TalkTalked into. He spent some time extolling its virtues until poor Mamma could listen no more. “YOU PEOPLE CHARGED MY DAUGHTER FOR SERVICES SHE DIDN’T RECEIVE AND THEN SET DEBT COLLECTORS ON HER!! HOW DARE YOU CALL US!!!” My furious mother yelled at the poor guy. Hilariously, his reply was – “Er, well, madam, that’s just your opinion.” My mother was indignant: “IT’S NOT OPINION, THESE ARE THE FACTS!!!” She boomed. And for once in the call centre operator’s career, he managed to put the phone down before the customer did! I did laugh…And I felt very chuffed at my mother’s spirited reaction to my plight. Thank goodness it is all over now. Phew!

Well, the living on the state pension challenge continues apace. This week has so far been better than last week. After spending nothing on Wednesday & Thursday (hooray!) I cracked and spent £10 on some groceries and £4.00 on two magazines on Friday, which was a bit naughty but at least kept me amused on Saturday. Then on Sunday a slight mistake was sending DJ off unsupervised to do some panic grocery shopping before our friends came over for Sunday lunch. He spent £41 – before you tell me off, only £8 of that was spent on the ingredients for Sunday lunch for five, the rest was on other household items. But I’d been hoping we’d only spend about £30 like Our Christinedoes each week. Ho hum. Still, that’s £55 spent and there’s another £49.55 left, but I’m planning on booking the car in for a service and want to save as much from the budget to cover that as possible.

I’m sorely missing the Blykmobile I was trialling too which gives you 217 texts and 43 call minutes free each month in exchange for adverts linked to your user profile. Mine was a medical student’s! It was great, especially if you only use it occasionally for sending texts. And I was surprised to find that the adverts weren’t actually irritating. Unfortunately at the moment it’s only available for the 16-24 age group but I hope they considering bringing out others for the older age groups.

Right – off to Argos to invest in a little electric heater now to keep my feet warm. Visiting the Age Concern day centre tomorrow so will tell you all about my adventures there.

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7 Responses to Don’t mess with Mum!

  1. snaggletooth says:

    Well done to your Mum! Glad to hear someone "sticking it" to the call centres, \’specially if it was an unwanted call! I hate those things, the recorded ones are worse, you hang up but they;re still playing when you pick the phone back up. What happens if you need to make an emergency call? We put our number on the preference list,  ( http://www.mpsonline.org.uk/tps/  ), but still get them from, at a guess, America, (American accents anyway). We also registered with the mail preference list, (  http://www.mpsonline.org.uk/mpsr/  ), the junk still arrives though, even with names on which it\’s supposed to stop! It appears they can only stop them from this country or something.Recently, we\’ve taken to buying most of our shopping monthly, (perishables aside), and so far it seems to have saved around £50-60 a month, worth a go!

  2. piper says:

    Thanks Snaggletooth. Yes I HAAATTEEE those stupid American automatic calls.  They drive me mad!  What annoys me too is the junk mail our postman pushes through the letter box with our mail.  It\’s not got our address on it, it\’s just extra stuff the Post Office I think gets paid to deliver.  It goes straight in the recycling.  What a waste of resources. Might try out the monthly shopping thing. That sounds like a good idea, as long as you\’ve got the room to store it all I guess.

  3. Christine says:

    The once a month shopping is a good idea.  You make a list of all the staples that you use regularly (soap powder, tea bags, cereals, washing up liquid, soap, toothpaste, shampoo, tinned goods like baked beans, marmalade, lentils, pasta, flour) and if you have a freezer you can add frozen stuff as well. Set yourself a maximum based on a best guess at a weekly spend and then get it delivered from on-line. That way you don\’t get tempted by any of the goodies that you see walking round the shops. So long as you make a good list first and cover the things that you know you use then you won\’t be tempted to rush out and buy things that you forgot and get something else at the same time. You need to spend some time having a look in the cupboard first and turning out things that are three years old that you had forgotten about.  This makes sure that you do have the space for things. And you should put money by so that you can let cupboard and freezer run down so that you don\’t have a stock of things that you forget to use she said laughing knowing that it happens.

  4. Lilian says:

    Where on all your expenditure is the weekly outlay for your rent/mortgage and council tax?  It would also be interesting to know how much you\’re paying on heating, lighting, phone rental, car tax (you\’re talking about car repairs so I assume you have one) out of the weekly pension amount …

  5. piper says:

    Hi there – here is a link to the first blog outlining the pension experiment outlining the ground rules. We assume the mortgage is paid off – although many pensioners still pay have to find the money for rent – and council tax is paid by the pension credit (we\’re assuming we have no savings and so claim a couple\’s basic pension and pension credit on top).  Many pensioners have a lot less than this to live on, though but every pensioner\’s situation is different. Cheers and thanks for reading the blog.  Piper xxx

  6. Fenella says:

    Hi Piper,
    I should express an interest here,before launching in to comment, and admit that I am your aunty.I have been very curious about your experiment in frugal living and decided to visit your site because I was sending out Barack Obama video links sent on from America (whatever team you support, you can enjoy the real fervour of THIS election!) and yours was bounced back,since it was out of date – your email address,I mean.So here I am,not talking to you through Facebook,but on your own site, and enjoying pictures of all the team,save DJ,especially a nice one of my sister!
    What strikes me first,Piper, is how much easier and cheaper it would be to be frugal in France so far as buying food is concerned.Every day is market day somewhere,and the main market in Rennes where a part of your family lives,is on a Saturday morning.It is the second biggest market in France and full of colour and interest, especially as you come to know the characters who sell and buy there.It is in the Place des Lices – the place of the Lists where jousting was held – like poor old Heath Ledger\’s "The Knight\’s Tale". The key thing is buying from the producer and buying exactly what you need.You buy goat\’s cheese from the lady with the picture of her goat – and its pal, the dog – on the stall ;or one egg at a time from the bent old lady with the shawl round her shoulders who not only sells her walnuts but looks like one too. The experience does you good in all sorts of ways,even on a wet day.You can buy freshly made African and Oriental food too,swirling round in huge woks and the fish side of the market has to be seen to be believed.But fish is expensive! In fact the market reflects exactly where both  global shortages and expenses reside.If a mango says "Par Avion" then it will be dear,reflecting the cost of transportation.
    The key is, plan meals in advance, as the French do.I don\’t mean every dish but in terms of the balance.Animal protein will be in small supply on the table but cheese will be eaten every day.Fish will be when it is fresh, straight from up the road in Cancale, and a weekend luxury.There will always be fresh vegetables,but they will be seasonal.In fact that word "seasonal" about sums it up.But fresh, buy seasonal( and not imported) and buy cheap! That is the key.
    More news from France anon.
    Fenella.

  7. piper says:

    Thanks Auntie, or should I say merci!  Those veggies sound really delicious.  xxx

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