LEE BOYCE: Get fixing to beat the cost-of-living crunch

What an inspiration the Market Harborough Fixers are.

As we report, the Market Harborough Fixers team of hard-working volunteers in the Leicestershire market town give up their Saturday mornings, come rain or shine, to mend broken kettles, lamps and record players brought in by locals.

It really is noble work.

Make do and mend: The Market Harborough Fixers give up their Saturday mornings, come rain or shine, to mend broken kettles, lamps and record players brought in by locals

They’re not only stopping items heading for landfill and giving them a new lease of life, they’re saving their neighbours money at a time when every penny counts.

Their ingenuity reminded me of the time I was in a panic over my daughter’s birthday present. 

Brooke was days from turning three and after trudging around the High Street for an afternoon, I’d come away empty-handed.

The next morning, I was walking to the local coffee shop and spotted a nearly new bicycle in a skip on a driveway.

On the way home, it was still there. So I knocked on the door and the owner revealed he’d chucked it out in a home-moving frenzy. 

Could I take the bike? Yes, no problem. My prayers answered. The Princess bicycle (RRP £100) — all cleaned up, with tyres pumped and tassels added — made the perfect birthday gift. Not only did Brooke love it, she had no idea it was second-hand.

More and more, I see families in my neck of the woods in Essex putting out perfectly salvageable items with ‘free, take me’ signs. 

All they need is a bit of Tender Loving Creativity to jazz them up. Take a look around your neighbourhood when you’re out and about.

If a shred of good comes from this cost-of-living crunch, let’s hope it’s a return to old-fashioned values of ‘make do and mend’. 

Wouldn’t it be great if more youngsters got to experience the thrill 15-year-old Charlie must have felt when the Market Harborough Fixers salvaged his grandparents’ old record player?

I can just picture young Charlie listening to the sounds his grandparents heard 50 years ago. It’s a money-can’t-buy link to the past. And who knows, perhaps one day he’ll pass it on to his own grandchildren.

I hope our report inspires you to venture up to the loft, or even create your own circle of volunteers who can turn their hand to repair work. 

It’s a terrific way to save money and stop our landfills swelling — one sewing machine, radio and Princess bicycle at a time.

Pension tinkering

Why can’t politicians just leave pensions alone?

We’re facing huge pressure on our finances and yet Treasury officials are said to be considering a raid on retirement pots.

According to reports, new Chancellor Jeremy Hunt is considering cutting tax relief on pensions in a drastic bid to boost the Government coffers.

Six years ago, his predecessor George Osborne tried something eerily similar — only to scrap the idea after coming under fire from a Money Mail campaign that was fuelled by anger from our readers.

Our views haven’t changed: politicians must keep their grubby hands OFF our nest eggs.

Don’t make us dig out the old newspaper cuttings from the Mail library and send them to Downing Street, Jeremy!

Supermarket hawk

My wife has started calling me a ‘supermarket hawk’ when we head out for groceries, which I’m not sure is a term of endearment or scorn.

You see, I insist on a forensic inspection of how items are priced per gram or litre, or even per sheet of toilet roll.

As eagled-eyed readers will have noticed, occasionally bigger packets are worse value for money than the smaller ones, which flips logic on its head. 

Examples I spotted at the weekend included pasta, frozen peas and biscuits. Even some items on offer were more expensive than smaller packs.

Mrs B wasn’t as impressed as I thought she’d be. But supermarkets are there to make profits. If they can sell you items you don’t need and baffle you with pricing, they will!

Have you spotted any supermarket price madness? Email me at the address below and join my (proud) hawks club.


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