A new book promises to teach us to enjoy life’s luxuries without getting flattened by debt.

Ten pounds. $15.55. $15.75. Hot fury is steaming out of my pores as I watch the taxi meter tick over. $18. We’re sitting at a railway crossing a five trains have gone by. Why didn’t I take the bus home? I only took this cab because I’m in heels and had cash in my wallet. $19.5. I sit, seething, feeling like a lazy, spoilt idiot. Here I am watching my money slip away due to bone-idleness. British families are spending $67.5 less per week than before the recession hit, so surely I need to be more careful, too? A new book out this month has a simple message I can relate to. Lucy Tobin’s Ausperity: Live The Life You Want For Less (Heron Books, $11.99) suggests that you can enjoy a pampered life without being wasteful in other words, you can balance austerity with prosperity. Lucy says, “Despite frozen wages and rising household costs, we want to have nice clothes and nights out. We sometimes need to splurge on a new car or oven. This is about getting that we want for less.” I decide to try out her methods; first, an off-peak cinema screening.

Description: How to live rich & spend less

How to live rich & spend less

My husband and I book a Sunday morning 10am show for just $18 a ticket a saving of $10.5 each compared with the Saturday night. We park in a space right by the entrance, pick up two coffees and stroll into the deserted cinema. This is a revelation.

The next experiment is to haggle down a full-priced item in an independent boutique. I walk into a children’s shop to buy presents for my nieces. Two jewelry boxes are $17.99 each. Here goes: “I’m so sorry to bother you. I’d absolutely love to buy these, but I only have $30 and I was wondering (my face is beetroot)… would you be able to sell them to me for $15 each?” “Er, I don’t usually get asked that sort of thing,” says the shop lady, baffled. Crash and burn. I turn to put the boxes back then suddenly, “Hang on… all right, I can do them for a tenner each.” I’ve saved only $5.99, but I’ve got a gold star.

“The next experiment is to haggle down a full-price item in a shop”   

Saving it

The thought of economizing on food, clothes and transport makes me want to stick my fingers in my ears and shout like a four-year-old. I don’t want Tesco ketchup or Primark tights. I like Heinz and Wolford. Luckily, Lucy doesn’t mention jumble sales, but she does suggest money-saving strategies such as re-hemming trousers instead of splashing out on the latest cropped style, bulk-buying your favorite things and using leftovers from the fridge to create a dish. I find the end of a chorizo, two tomatoes and some frozen prawns. With scatterings from three packets of rice, it’s enough for two meals and saves a midweek trip to the supermarket.

Description: money-saving

Making it

I don’t have time to trade on eBay, to fill out surveys, enter competitions, sell home-made lavender pillows or take up dog-walking. Jeez, I barely have time for lunch most days. But I’ve found a suggestion I like: emptying our drawers and selling the contents.

My husband and I find two iPhone handsets, a boxed iPod Nano I won in a raffle and three old Nokia chargers. At Mazumamobile.com, our iPhones are worth $81. The Nano goes for $49.5 at Gadgetpanda.co.uk, but the chargers are worth only $4.5 each at Preloved, so we give them to a charity shop. We’ve made $211.5 without leaving the flat.

Description: Website: www.gadgetpanda.co.uk

Website: www.gadgetpanda.co.uk

By the end of the week, I feel ten years older, my husband thinks I’m covering up being fired and I can finally see the back of the fridge. We’ve saved $49.5 and made $249. I’ve set up a savings account and started using my bicycle. And my best new trick? My local mini cab company on speed-dial. Hello pre-booked, set-fee idleness for a rainy day, silly heeled treat.

Lucy’s top tips

§  Apply for free audience tickets to television recordings such as The Jonathan Ross Show, Britain’s Got Talent and Mock The Week. Find them at sroaudiences.com, applausestore.com and bbc.co.uk/showsandtours.

§  Embrace group-buying sites such as Groupon.co.uk, Keynoir.com, Wowcher.com and Wahanda.com. From spa days to clothes, the offers are based on a ‘bulk-buy’ basic, which means everyone gets a better deal.

§  Subscribe to your favorite magazines for long-term savings. Magazinesubscription.co.uk has a huge selection to choose from (including Easy Living!).

§  Use price comparison websites for hotel bookings try trivago.co.uk travelsupermarket.com but follow up with a phone call to check for hidden costs.

§  Swap your children’s games, toys DVDs and books for the latest fad at sawpit.co.uk.

§  Try before you buy at the gym before forking out for a year-long membership. filnessFirst.co.uk, LAFitness.co.uk, Nuffieldhealth.com, VirginActive.co.uk and Esporta.com offer free one-day or one-week passes.

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