Being frugal can be fun: save the planet as well the pounds

MORE than 50,000 people are expected to visit the Festival of Thrift, a “fun, free and frugal” event where they can learn how to save money and protect the environment.

Reuse and recycle is the philosophy of the event, at Lingfield Point in Darlington, Co Durham. The festival attracted 27,000 people to its debut in 2013. The year it takes place on September 26 and 27 (

Stella Hall, the festival’s director, said: “With a little effort, many of the items that are thrown away each day could be easily repaired. Websites and apps such as Pinterest and Instagram are great for inspiration. Learn to fix zips, musical instruments and old electronic items rather than chucking them out.”

We asked for tips on how to be frugal. Here are some of our favourites.

Think thrifty

When we’re feeling particularly good we have a competition to see who can use up things in the fridge in the most creative way without buying anything new. SM, Swindon

I get coffee grounds from my local Costa Coffee to use as a natural plant fertiliser on my smallholding. I’ve seen a huge improvement in the quality of my vegetables. KF, Cwmbran, South Wales

Put red lentils in all stews, casseroles, curries and soups. They’re great for adding bulk and making the other ingredients go further. CB, Bedford

Swap things you have a surplus of with others. Join a food-swap group or a local Facebook group. You will be surprised how easy it is to declutter what you’ve got and acquire what you need. SB, Stedham, West Sussex

Walk rather than drive the kids to school, and take advantage of second-hand uniform sales. MH, Leicester

Shred old bank statements, mail and newspapers, soak them and then squash them into paper logs for the fire. This not only saves you the cost of firewood, but helps with data security. AJ, Battersea, southwest London

When removing make-up, rinse cotton wool pads first so the first bit of your product doesn’t just moisturise a pad. WM, Kempston, Bedfordshire

Dragging a rubber-soled shoe across a carpet picks up all the dust and animal hairs that a vacuum cleaner won’t get. LT, Bristol

Write a weekly menu plan and buy what you need rather than what you think you could use. Don’t fall for the “deals” in the supermarkets either: it may be “cheaper” but it is still money in their pocket, not yours. Always think: “Will I use it?” SC, Corby, Northamptonshire

Have your car’s MOT done at a council test centre rather than a garage. They don’t usually do repairs so they’re less likely to find faults with a vehicle. SM, Hastings, East Sussex

I used to spend about £16 a month on face and body scrubs and products but now make my own using half a lemon, half a cup of sugar and a teaspoon of olive oil. It can be stored in a jar and lasts for up to three weeks. AM, Horley, Surrey

I work in London and live in Cornwall, so I drive more than 500 miles regularly. I use a ride-sharing app, BlaBlaCar, to reduce fuel costs. On most trips I take two or three people. With each contributing £20, I can recoup about £120 a week, or £6,000 a year. HW, Probus, Cornwall

Swap clothes instead of buying new. I do a dinner at home every six months, and everyone brings a bottle and a pile of unwanted clothes. After the meal, everyone looks through the clothes and takes anything they fancy. Any surplus goes to a charity shop. OS, Islington, north London

I’ve saved about £140 this year by using pre-paid currency cards when I travel, exchanging about £1,000 for trips to Ireland, France and Dubai. They eradicate unexpected bank charges. They also help me budget and avoid carrying cash. KS, Clerkenwell, central London

We review our mortgage regularly so we don’t end up paying more than we need to. Our fixed rate came to an end recently and moving onto the lender’s variable rate would have seen our payments rise £30 a month. By shopping around we found a new fixed rate that saved us about £120 every month. KM, Bath

Melt down the stubs of candles and pour the wax over fir cones to make firelighters. AM, Newcastle upon Tyne

Do your supermarket shopping online so you can see before you buy how much the total basket comes to. You can then get rid of things if you’ve gone over budget. BF, Wadhurst, East Sussex

Going big on interest and cashback current accounts has saved me a fair bit of cash. TSB’s Classic Plus is a good deal as you can open two accounts per person [one must be a joint account]. It pays 5% interest on balances up to £2,000. I’ve earned about £150 interest over a year. HS, Wimbledon, southwest London

I used a potato to rainproof my car windscreen when the wipers were broken — I’m not sure how legal it was, though. Cut the potato in half, rub the cut side on the window and it keeps the rain off. NG, Shoreditch, east London