To cut down, can mean to fell, as in cutting down a tree, but it can also mean to reduce, and in the recession lots of people are having to cut down on stuff.

When I visited my gran, usually once a week, I used to get 6d from her: Half of this, 3d, would go into the bank and the other half on a cone from the Italian café next door to gran’s.  When I was about seven my father began to give me pocket money too, but it was rather erratic, and asking for it was one sure way of ensuring it would not be forthcoming. Most weeks it was a shilling – that was 6d for the Saturday morning cinema, 3d for a comic to read and swap, and 3d for sweets. No thought of saving any of this entered my head. However, if I was given extra money then I would be allowed to spend some, but most had to be saved. So, for most of my life I’ve been a saver. 

Nowadays it works rather differently. When my current account rises above a certain level I pass the money into our joint account to pay the family bills, and then from that money any extra goes into our savings. I am however doing a full time college course for which I don’t get a grant, so saving is minimal, but it still goes on.

To be honest, we have got most of the things we need and it is only when an item wears out or breaks that we spend anything on new stuff, and even then only if the item cannot be fixed.  In addition, I have got more clothes than I can possibly wear out, so rarely buy these, although I do buy such things as scarves and bags to add variety.

During this recession everyone has been talking about “the cuts”, and there have been lots of articles in the press and other media; TV programmes like Super Scrimpers, all  about how to save money, make do and mend etc. The only problem is I am already doing most of the things mentioned. Not to mention that some of them are just plain silly. One television cook for instance, married to a multi-millionaire, did a programme about picnic food, claiming it was so much better to make your own, and  that she didn’t like plastic containers, so bought very expensive gold card containers, probably from Harrods.

Another pundit suggested separating two ply toilet tissues into single ply! They had actually counted the sheets saved: about 100 a day, but what about the wasted time?

There is even a web site which suggests not eating for one day a week.

How about cutting down on buying pre-prepared meals, or fast food instead? This definitely doesn’t mean not eating well. This week I made enough tomato ketchup to last us months. It cost me about £1.20 that is the cost of about one medium bottle of shop bought stuff, which doesn’t taste nearly as nice. The recipe came off the internet, the basil came from the village herb planter, the tomatoes from a nearby company which buys up the goodies when the expensive supermarkets overbuy and the onions were from a local grower. My daughter won’t eat any other kind but home-made now, so I have a job for life. It took about half an hour to produce 3 litres. When I give one jar away the recipient will then provide me with plenty of clean jars to fill with other goodies.

What I like most about this, is that I can individualize it as much as I like, in this case I added Cajun herbs and spices, sweet peppers, chilli and an apple or two, but at other times I’ve added Herbs de Provence or an Italian based mixture of herbs.

What about you? Do you like those expensive hand-made breads which end up costing more than the filling for your sandwiches?  We recently had a curry evening. The naans alone would have broken our budget if I hadn’t made them myself. As it was we could afford to invite as many people as we wanted and the cost was barely over that of an evening curry for two people from the take away.

I don’t always act sensibly though; send me a seed catalogue and you are highly likely to get an order, even after a summer such as we have, which sometimes means every seedling required intensive care if it is to survive.

But I’m sure you have your own priorities.  I wonder how much pocket money you used to get. And what are you not prepared to cut down on?