He didn't get where he is today by stealing somebody else's catchphrase.

Frugal Dougal - 2007

The Final Frugality Challenge Update

Total for December: £31.74
Total for 2007: £1,275.46

So, there you go - I aimed to save £1,500. On the face of it I've failed, although I beg to differ. £100 Per month is still a tangible sum. Unfortunately, the car break-in meant that I haemorrhaged money during the course of December. It was a shame, because I had quite a cheap Christmas. It would have been nice to fully reap the benefits and increase the total saved for the year.

That said, I could have tried harder in many other areas. I managed to do quite well with my shopping, but in other areas I could have been more aggressive. As the challenge was to save money as ethically as I could, I don't think I did badly in that respect. The Good Shopping Guide became my bible and at the same time as saving money, I managed to do so with a relatively clear conscience, so much so that my new habits have become second nature.

The challenge certainly hasn't been a lost cause. Most of the consumer choices I've probably made in not just the last year, but over the last several years have been influenced out of ethics, whether that be finance, food or clothing - it's just that there's more work to be done. For example, the fixed-rate on my mortgage comes up for renewal this year. I'm now in a considerably better bargaining position than at the start of the term and as a consequence I believe I should be able to lower my repayments, whilst using an ethical provider. I'll keep you posted on that one.

I'm also pleased to say that I've observed retailers changing their habits too (M&S is a big example). The optimist in me hopes that consumers consciously choosing to buy "good" products has spurred this on. This is a trend that I hope to see continue throughout 2008, because it'll make my life a lot easier when it comes to making the right choice on what to buy.

Finally, you could argue that the lack of a true motive meant that I had no real impetus to push the project further. For example, I don't have bailiffs knocking on my door, nor do I need to find a job. However, as you'll have seen from one of my previous postings, that might be a different matter - therefore I think I'll be continuing with the exercise, because you never know when it might happen.

It's been an interesting exercise.

del.icio.us links of the day:

November's Frugality Challenge Update

Total for November: £20.72
Total for 2007: £1,243.72

Hardly an impressive figure, but I think there's a reason for it - inflation.

Prices in the last couple months have steadily increased on most things. Whilst the news would have you believe that the current rate of inflation was at about 4%, I'd hazard that it's significantly more, more in the range of 5% - 10%. Petrol and food prices seem to have increased by about 10% from what I remember them to be at the beginning of the year. Then there's council tax and energy bills, which have also noticeably increased. In fact, most of my other bills seem to be increasing by above inflation amounts.

Whilst I appreciate that we're not back to the 20% percent days of the 1970's, inflation is still something tangible - and annoying.

October's Frugality Challenge Update

Total for October: £10.30 (Shopping) + £35.20 (Dentist)
Total for 2007: £1,223.63

"The dentist?", I hear you say? How can you save money at the dentist?

Well, I've decided to cancel my private dental cover, which costs about £18 per month. When I originally joined the scheme, it used to cost just over £13 per month, but in the space of just four years has continually increased. I got a letter through a few days ago, stating that from the beginning of next year, my premium would be about £20 per month. Things have increased well ahead of the rate of inflation and it's got to a point that I can't justify the expenditure any longer.

Time to find me an NHS dentist - this could be a new yearly challenge for 2008 in itself!

As you can see from the total above, I'm about £250 short of my target - and I doubt Christmas is going to help matters. Ho hum.

September's Frugality Challenge Update

Total for September: £19.98 (Shopping)
Total for 2007: £1178.13

Oh dear. I could have done a lot better.

August's Frugality Challenge Update

There's not much to add this time, apart from the fact that it was car-insurance renewal time. With seven years worth of no-claims bonus, I did an awful lot of searching to get cheaper cover and managed to save £30. I was also happy to change companies as I was previously covered by Tesco - someone who I no longer deal with. So - there you go. Apart from my savings when shopping, that's it for this month.

Total for August:
£29.76 (Car Insurance) + £23.60 (Shopping)
Total for 2007: £1158.15

I've now got a bit of a task on my hands. Over the next four months I've got to try and save £350. I'm not entirely sure how I'm going to do it, as most of my major expenditures for the year have now been done - but that's why it's called a challenge!

Yaa-Boo To The Horde

I've just saved myself £9/month...

July's Frugality Challenge Update

This month was a simple one. I managed to save nearly sixty quid from my water bill, which was already pretty cheap because I don't pay sewerage charges - the benefit of having a septic tank. I asked South West Water about the installation of a water meter. The surveyor came out, looked at the house and cursed when he realised there was no chance a meter would fit, because my water comes from next door. As a consequence, he reduced my bill even further due to my single occupancy (just like council tax). That's a little bit more saved.

Total for July:
£58.38 + £22.91 (Shopping)
Total for 2007: £1104.79

I have five months left to save just under £400. Hmmmmm.

Boycott List

Since I've been doing all this money-saving-by-ethical-means malarky, it means I have been asked questions by friends about which companies I won't give money to, along with my reasons why.

To save long explanations, here's a list. It is not definitive and will be updated as I remember. Wherever possible I'll get more than one source, so you get an overall picture.

Consumer ethics is a minefield. My ethics are no doubt different to yours. It's an extremely personal affair. Nonetheless, I have always tried to do the "right thing". It is one of the true areas where consumer democracy works, an example being our local franchise of McDonalds closing down due to being permanently without customers - evidence of what happens when you ignore the local community. It does work, just not overnight.

Anyway, here you go:

- Nestlé - For a full list of Nestlé's brands (and there's a huge amount of them), click here.
- Shell
- Esso
- Diageo - For a full list of all Diageo's brands, click here.
- McDonald's (1,2)
- Asda
- Tesco (1,2)
- Levi's
- Nike
- Starbucks

These are just a few and I would welcome your comments on any companies that you boycott, along with reasons why. In the meantime, if you're in any doubt on the ethical credentials of any company, you could do worse than buy a copy of the Good Shopping Guide as a reference point.

June's Frugality Challenge Update

Two-thirds of the way towards my target!

May's Frugality Challenge Update

Savings continue to be made:

1) Mobile phone - changed company, changed to a more flexible tariff - and I also get free weekend calls. Saving for the year: £35

2) Shopping - Saving for this month: £15.43

Other savings are still in the pipeline, but they just seem to be taking ages to come through. At least I'm continuing to make progress...

Total for May: £50.43
Total for 2007: £760.22

April's Frugality Challenge Update

Another month, another bit of progress. I'm nearly halfway to my target... Read More...

March's Frugality Challenge Update

The next instalment in Mr D's tight-arse challenge...

February's Frugality Challenge Update

It's been quite a productive month...


My AA cover expires this month, and to my surprise a more environmentally friendly breakdown company exists. They claim to be carbon-neutral. They also appear to be cheaper than the AA, meaning that no doubt I'll go with them instead and add some more financial savings onto my frugal challenge.

If you're interested, they're called E.T.A. (I doubt there's a Spanish office) and you can have a look here.

Alternatively, if you heard good/bad/ugly things about them, add a comment....

Frugality Challenge Update (January)

The first progress update in my frugal challenge.


Another article on my ethical money-saving challenge for 2007 - this time it's about grocery shopping. It's not as easy as it looks. Perhaps my good-shopping bible will help out... Read More...


Part of my money saving regime for 2007 involves having to change a few habits, laundry being one of them.... Read More...

Frugal Dougal

In just over a day or so, 2006 is finished and another year kicks off. It's time to think on what I want to get out of 2007. Yes, call those thoughts resolutions if you like. Read More...