How far would you go to save money?

Monday, 23 January 2012  |  Admin

Extremely FrugalIt's all very well being frugal, but where do you draw the line? Do you obsessively cut out coupons and refuse to buy anything unless you can get money off it? Have you got a drawerful of receipts from past shopping trips which you use to monitor prices every time you make a list? Do you hop between countless savings accounts each time the introductory rate ends in a desperate bid to evade low interest rates?Or do you take it even further than that? Let's look at some of the ways in which people have really taken being frugal to extremes - and why some of the ways aren't as crazy as they may first appear…Eating RoadkillBack in June 2011, a British show called Come Dine With Me aired a rather unusual episode. The show features a group of strangers who take it in turns to go to one another's houses for a dinner party, one per night over the course of a week. Each person is judged by the others and the host with the highest score wins £1000.This particular episode featured one Alison Brierley, a roadkill recycler, wild food cook and forager from Harrogate, North Yorkshire. Alison makes the most of the animals which have been hit and killed by drivers on our roads, although she only uses them if they are fresh, intact and free of disease.I asked Alison how she can tell which animals are suitable for consumption. Here are her tips for making sure your bounty is safe to eat:"How we do we know it is still fresh? Most people think of pancake flat red mush when they think of roadkill and this is far from the truth. But, how do you really know how fresh it is? If you saw the accident happen then you know it is definitely fresh. If you didn't, only pick up those that have 'bounced' from being hit cleanly once, preferably from the side of the road. Avoid animals that have been badly damaged or ruptured internally. Check the animal carefully before stuffing it in the boot of the car (gloves are recommended and a plastic bag or tarp). Good indicators of optimal freshness are - clear eyes, living & active fleas and fresh red unclotted blood (if any, but a bloody nose is common). Rigor mortis sets in early, then the body will relax again hours later, so if it is stiff it could be still fresh, but keep in mind the previous tips when judging time of death. The skin will move much more freely on the muscles if the carcass is fresh. Listen to your nose... if it smells rotten, don't take it. If it smells ok on the outside, but when you open it up it smells very iffy don't eat it. Mild stomach gas is usually ok and a bit of poop may be normal too, so use your instincts on this until experience tells you otherwise. Cold climates are better for freshness; nature makes a great fridge sometimes. Be careful in hot weather, bugs find the dead quickly, so do not pick anything up with maggots on it. Obviously, don’t pick up something that’s been run over a couple of times!It is also essential to research the kinds of diseases certain wild animals can catch or carry and what signs to look for. Cooking or freezing the animal thoroughly will kill practically all nasties, including Toxoplasmosis and even Rabies. As you can see, you need to know what you’re doing, but it’s not rocket science!! If in doubt, ask someone else’s advice who knows what they are doing. "Should you try it?As well as the obvious money-saving aspect of this diet, there are also ethical and health benefits. Again, Alison is the expert here and in her words:"Eating roadkill is definitely healthier than meat laden with antibiotics, hormones, and growth stimulants, as most supermarket meat is today. Road traffic casualties never knew what hit ‘em – if you pardon the pun! They did not experience what it was like to be factory farmed, castrated, dehorned, or de-beaked without anaesthetics, they did not suffer the traumatic and miserable experience of being transported long distances in a crowded truck, and did not hear the screams and smell the fear of the animals ahead of them on the slaughter line. Ethically, I know what I would rather eat!Wild food foraging is about more to do with being in tune with nature and our bodies. Some of its benefits are that it uses less packaging, less chemicals, less food miles and contains less pollution; it fosters biodiversity; our bodies 'understand' these natural foods, therefore cancer and other physical ailments are minimized because our immune systems are boosted naturally."So, If you can stomach the thought of eating roadkill, and are confident you can pick out the animals safe for consumption (follow Alison's tips until you learn to recognise the signs for yourself), then I'd urge you to give it a try. If you've ever eaten pheasant, hare or rabbit in a restaurant and almost broken your teeth on the buckshot, you'd probably relish the chance to eat the gamey goodness without the fear of fillings afterwards!FreeganismTaking it one step further are Freegans; they abhor the wasteful society we live in and strive instead to repurpose as much as possible from our discarded goods.There are many practices which have become second nature to Freegans. You've probably heard of 'dumpster diving', or urban foraging. Quite simply, it means looking through dumpsters and skips to find discarded items which still have some use left in them.Freegans can get anything from books and CDs to sofas and wardrobes if they know where to look. Food is also a very common thing to be salvaged in this manner, with the majority coming from grocery stores and restaurants. Cans and packages are often trashed if they become dented or ripped, but provided the tin or inner lining isn't punctured the food will still be perfectly safe.This might sound a little unsafe on first reading, however Freegans are well used to spotting which foods are still safe for consumption and are happy to pass that knowledge, along with the best places for foraging, on to others.Should you try it?It's all down to knowing where to look. The large dumpsters at the back of shops, especially supermarkets, are great for finding food close to or just past its sell-by-date. I've found a few good finds in the bins at the back of a local charity shop; they often get more donations than they can find room for so the excess just gets thrown away – I've gotten books, CD racks and even shelving units in this way.If you think you'd like to give Freeganism a try, search on the internet for a group local to you. They will be happy to answer any questions you may have and share with you the best spots for foraging. Even if you don't embrace the lifestyle whole-heartedly, you'll be surprised how much money you could save just by doing a bit of foraging now and then.This guest post is from Louise. "Louise is a financial author for MoneySupermarket, the UK price comparison site. She loves living life to the extreme, and that includes saving money!"

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