The Ultimate Guide To Penny Pinching

Channel 4's "Ultimate Guide To Penny Pinching" proved the skinflints more obsessive than effective...
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Last week, I was the annoying cow at Tesco who refused to leave until I got my 75p off. I clenched the Clubcard voucher with a grip tighter than Dot Cotton’s lips as the manager verified that yes, it was a Tesco’s Finest twin-pack chilled dessert, no, it was not a yoghurt and yes, I was entitled to the discount.

So, voucher junkie Judith on The Ultimate Guide To Penny Pinching should have been my kindred spirit as she rocked into Sainsburys armed with a wad of coupons like an incontinence pad. In between scooping up a shedload of bread, she prattled on about how she emailed Cathedral City to say how much she liked their cheese and they sent her a voucher.

Grinning maniacally, she snidely remarked that it was “naughty” of Cathedral City to have small blocks of cheese in such large bags. Her idea of “naughty” and my idea of “naughty” are clearly two very different things.

Tragically, she admitted that she takes advantage of offers even if it’s something she doesn’t want. But sadder still was the pitiful scene where she descended on her mother’s house saying she had “presents” for her. With barely concealed disdain, her mother asked: “What now?” and was duly presented with a bottle of Dove deodorant.

But Judith has plenty to spare because some offer netted her enough deodorant to last two years - just as well as the solar hot water system means that her family doesn’t get a shower every day thanks to British weather.

The lingering BO should make the tedious bint popular at her charity lunches - catered entirely with vouchers to save money. Naturally, she took her 15 quid cut of the proceeds to cover her costs of the “pay what you think it’s worth” lunch. As she counted the fivers and tenners, she admitted that if she was at someone else’s charity lunch she wouldn’t be as generous. Lovely.

As a bonus, he turned mildly creepy as he opened a bottle of homemade elderberry wine, a frisky 1998 vintage.

Jonathan, a poor woman’s David Essex, meanwhile, claims to save a fortune at the butchers by scouring the county for roadkill. He threw a barbecue for his bemused mates with such delights as squirrel on the menu. As a bonus, he turned mildly creepy as he opened a bottle of homemade elderberry wine, a frisky 1998 vintage. “This might be knock-out material!” he said with a Peter Stringfellow laugh that suggested the barbecue might soon turn to taxidermy date rape central.

I had to wonder if the rising price of petrol might make all his driving in an ageing around looking for skidmarked squirrels a false economy. But who cares when your obsession with never going to the butcher is so deep that there are dead rabbits in the bathtub? He must be a winner with the ladies.

Gormless koala-lookalike Stephen had already won his lady over, Rebecca the bargain bride. As someone who got married in a pair of £19 New Look flats, I’m not averse to saving cash on a wedding, but spending £35 on 35 one-quid bottles of soft drink resulted in a party that everyone would remember.

If the guests - who had to take a day’s annual leave because the wedding was on a bloody Wednesday - weren’t wearing the alcohol coat in the church hall, they were surely thrilling to the awesome table decorations. In a feat of craftiness that makes Kirstie’s Handmade Britain look edgy, Rebecca doggedly jammed sticks up polystyrene foam balls and glued sweets all over them to make bizarre diabetic table trees.

Possibly the sanest of the skinflints was Jalaj. His thoughts on raising children to not be materialistic little snots and to appreciate stuff like an outing in the park made sense in a world where Harper Seven Beckham wears $50 Chloe tights. He spends every night online scouring the internet for deals and entering every item on the weekly shopping list into a price comparison site to work out which supermarket to choose - no judgement here, I spend too much time online too.

But then it was revealed that the last time he had a “romantic dinner” with his very patient wife, they went to Pizza Hut for their anniversary. And took the kid. And he had a goddamn voucher. In a treat that surely would have loosened the knickers, he proudly said the whole shebang cost £7.50.

Still, Jalaj was very sweet, and while Jonathan was a bit morbid and the cheapskate couple should be saluted for not buying into the whole idea that a wedding needs to be a grotesque Kardashian-like affair, I just couldn’t bring myself to like Judith with the way she dragged her unwilling family into the miserly vortex and claimed expenses for catering a charity do.

Her freebie obsession drove her to feed her family loads of processed crap and she was even going to email Chicago Town to tell them her son didn’t like the pizza so they’d get another one for free. As her henpecked family percolates stinky pits because the weather hasn’t allowed them to shower for a week and the free microwave burgers give them bowels like Elvis circa 1977, I really hope the CEOs of Chicago Town and Cathedral City puts the mean bitch on a blacklist of piss-taking tightwads.

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