A shopaholic who blew £5,000 over Christmas has gone cold turkey and not spent a PENNY in January – by trading services for food and supplies.
Psychology teacher Jackie Mather, 55, lavished gifts on her family over the festive period and even bought four Christmas trees for different rooms in her house.
But after looking at her bank balance she realised her spending was out of control and challenged herself to spend nothing for a month.
She lived off tinned food, emptied her freezer and even ditched car journeys in favour of walking or running.
And to maintain a supply of fresh meat, fruit and vegetables she offered ironing services, private tuition and car cleaning in exchange for everyday supplies.
“I knew that I had to take drastic action, so decided to have a no-spend January.
“Everyone thinks that I am absolutely crazy, but so far I have been successful and I really think I’ve turned a corner on my spending habits.”
Jackie, of Bramcote Hills, Nottingham, told how she bought four Christmas trees and bought everything her two sons – aged 24 and 25 – wanted.
After initially planning to have a £100 emergency budget for January she changed her mind and decided to spend absolutely no money.
She has been eating food out of the freezer and cupboards and exchanged services for any fresh supplies she needs.
Jackie reckons it and has saved her £1,500 – which she now plans to spend on a cruise.
“I’ve told all my friends what I’m up to and offered my services in exchange for food,” she said.
“This week, I helped a friend from my running club sort stuff out in her house as she is a hoarder. In exchange, I got milk, eggs and some paper towel.”
Simple supplies like petrol have now become ‘luxury’ items and she has been saving fuel by running to and from friends’ houses.
She said: “I used to spend all my money on sports massages, going out for lunch and shopping sprees.
“I used to throw out food all the time if I didn’t eat it. But now I know how absolutely crazy that is.”
Now Jackie never throws out food or spends money on things she does not need.
“One thing that I will do is not spend unnecessarily,” she said.
“I will make sure that I have a shopping list and stick to it when I go to the shops.”
Even Jackie’s husband David, 56, an electrician, has got involved in the challenge.
She says: “Although David is still working, he doesn’t spend any money for the home – as he knows how important it is to me that we take this seriously.
“Before, he would buy a take out, or pick up supplies on his way home, but now we’re entirely relying on me and my jobs.”
Jackie and David now plan to spend the money they save on a cruise to Dubai.
She says: “After January is over, we’re going to book an all-expenses paid cruise to Dubai.
“It just shows that it is possible to save huge amounts of money if you can just cut back.
“It really was extremely tough, but I would recommend others to give a challenge like this a try, but I promise it’s not for the faint hearted.”
Examples of exchanges undertaken by Jackie:
Psychology lessons – payment: Satsuma, potatoes, bananas and carrots
Hour of ironing shirts – payment: Milk and bread or stewing meat
Sort a cluttered home – payment: Eggs, bread, kitchen roll
Tidying up the house – payment: potatoes, eggs and sausages
Checking over a CV – payment: cheese, milk, bread
Check an assignment for university – payment: cream cake