Up for a challenge? I usually am. You only have to mention something which sounds interesting and I'm there - ready to give it a whirl. So when the nice folks at Most Wanted asked me to take part in their 'Do More With Less' project, I agreed.
The aim was, in these frugal times, to find thrifty ways to make your money (or in this case, Voucher Codes' money) go further. Sure - I could do that. So I put my thinking cap on - I was overdue a good project to get my teeth into. Surely I could dream up as a thrifty alternative to full priced ways. I had a look at some of the on-line sales that abound this time of year. Lots of lovely yarn calling my name, plenty of good fabric offers abounding. Craft books galore, with their promise of possibilities.
But in the midst of this virtual shopping spree, a little voice of reason was whispering in my ear. Did I have to buy something tangible? Did I really really need any more stuff when life is already crammed to the gunnels with the stuff we have accumulated already. I only had to glance across at the mountain of magazines in my living room to convince myself of that.
I'm no minimalist saint - I've confessed before to having a little hoarding issue, where magazines are concerned. I think they are my weak point because as relatively low priced items, they tend to be picked up on impulse and function as a handy little reward to myself (low calorie too). But when I look at the piles of them at the bottom of my bookshelves and calculate their monetary value, I feel ashamed by how much I have spent on them.
Perhaps that's the problem - their reproachful presence lingers on, when really they should have been an ephemeral pleasure. Their cover price doesn't represent the ownership of the printed form, it signifies a payment for a few hours of escapism. Sometimes we need to indulge ourselves and spend a little sanity money, but we don't want to be constantly reminded of our frivolous splurge.
And a small solution occurred to me. So I bought an annual subscription to Martha Stewart Living. Less expensive than buying single issues. And I opted for digital, which means that I don't pay ridiculously high 'import magazine' prices, I get it about a month sooner than I would receive the paper copy and there is no addition to my teetering pile of paper. Lower cost (less than £15 as opposed to well over £5o), less paper clutter, same itch scratched - the need for a small self indulgence.
That's the 'less' taken care of then, which just left the 'do more' bit of 'do more with less'. Determined to get maximum benefit from my first issue, I cooked dinner from a recipe suggestion (Salisbury Steak - very good - big thumbs up from the menfolk). And then I took the paper copy of Mollie Makes that was lying about and I made myself complete the little project that came free with the magazine.
And what did I learn? If you need something, it's great to shop around, get a good deal, take advantage of a promotion. But make sure you have correctly identified the itch you are hoping to scratch. A little splurge is so much more pleasurable when you don't have to feel guilty about it. How are you treating yourself?