Alex Hart

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Downsize Me!

So Phase 2 of my new life is well and truly underway.   University has started, I am busy in our business, organising more fundraising and also settling our homestay HJ, in at home.  My starting over episode screens this Sunday (7.30pm on Vibe TV) and this will close the first chapter for me.

One of the compromises I committed to, in exchange for for giving up my executive salary was to ‘downsize’ my spending. This of course was music to my husband’s ears.

Ever tried it? Well if not, let me tell you it is not as easy as it sounds!!!  A couple of years ago I bought a new car. Shiny black with tinted windows, heated leather seats and a turbo boost that when you put your foot down (practically my favourite thing about driving) it leapt forward quietly with satisfying speed and ease. It had several annoying features which I won’t bore you with, but it was comfortable and more importantly it was mine.  This particular model however guzzles petrol at a terrifying rate. Every trip to the city and back cost $30 and let’s not even discuss the cost of new tyres!

Bye Bye Baby!So, if I am to truly downsize aspects of my spending, the car had to go. Letting go proved to be surprisingly difficult and caused me to sulk big time – until I thought about all the things I still want to do (e.g. go back to Argentina this year!). After that, the decision was easy. My new car is cheaper to run, easier for parking and still a lovely shiny black.

Bye Bye Baby!

The next thing to tackle was the weekly shopping bill. One of the big drawbacks of marrying a serious foodie is the effect that it has on your waistline, and your wallet (Faro really is one of my favourite shops). “You really have been living well!” was how our doctor put it when he did a health check. Losing weight is essential for my health and also my personal wellbeing.  Cutting out the ‘crap’ processed foods and alcohol from our daily diet and planning our meals properly also saves us money – it’s that simple.

Sadly the cats don't get the idea of downsizing their food!

Sadly the cats don’t get the idea of downsizing their food!

Changing our eating habits also means eating out less. Being based in the countryside I don’t miss that as much as I thought I would and instead it means when I do go out its more enjoyable.

The garden has been full to bursting with fresh produce this summer and we have been living like the old TV show – “The Good Life”. I have a pantry stuffed with preserves and pickles and a freezer full of wonderful beef (God bless William and Harry).  I am almost at the stage of never wanting to see another courgette (zucchini) again and I confess that I couldn’t quite bring myself to make marrow jam. I have however had lots of delicious passata made with the sweet tomatoes that are still appearing daily. The autumn veggies are in the ground and I can see lots of lovely winter casseroles in my future again without the price tag

Finally, the other area I have committed to cut down on is spending on my wardrobe. When I finished work I emptied out my wardrobe and carted huge bundles off to various charities. It was very cathartic to do this.  I had far too many things in there that had never been worn – including a brand new suit costing over £300 I had had shipped out from Jermyn Street in London still with its labels attached.

Samantha Hannah (“Starting Over”, Choice TV) taught me how to put together an outfit and how to truly have a capsule wardrobe (don’t you just love that phrase!) Now, nothing gets purchased, unless it fits in with my lifestyle and what I already have and I can visualise exactly how and when I will wear it. Instead of the old dark, cramped wardrobe, I now have space so I can see everything. I even keep my accessories with the outfits so I have no excuse not to be well turned out every day!

Brilliant! Plus it makes shopping so much more fun and takes the edge off the fact that I can’t just flash the plastic every time I see a fab new pair of shoes…..!!!

As for the other stuff – skincare and haircuts – well what can I say? In my view a girl has got to have some pleasures and we deserve to look our best– right??