Could this be Britain’s most frugal pensioner?
Retired lorry driver claims to live on A?2,400 year
Ilona Richards, 66, a former lorry driver who can make a bottle of shampoo last eight months and prefers to sport sturdier underwear meant for teenage boys. Ms. Richards a�� quite possibly Britain’s greatest penny pincher a�� buys most of her clothes from charity shops. She heads to the high street for boys’ pants, which she swears last longer than delicate lady’s undergarments and incur less sales tax.
A week’s worth of food will only cost this super thrifty lady A?10, while a container of dish-washing liquid can last up to a year. “I used to pile dirty dishes up on the side here and wait until there was enough for a full bowl full of hot soapy water,” Ms. Richards said. “But I realised that if I rinsed them and gave them a little scrub I needn’t bother with washing-up liquid at all.”
Ms. Richards a�� who claims to survive on an annual budget of A?2,400 a�� had never been a big spender. But she had to dramatically reassess her personal finances after an operation forced her to take 12 weeks off work. “Not long after I went back they announced they were shutting the depot,” Ms. Richards said. “I was seven months short of my 60th birthday and the time seemed right for a bit of a change.”
Since leaving work, Ms. Richards briefly went into debt thanks to an ill-fated attempt to sell burgers and bacon sandwiches from a catering trailer. “To be honest, it wasn’t the ideal job for a vegetarian and it turned out there just wasn’t the custom,” she said.
Her other savings measures include wearing extra clothes to reduce her heating bill, trimming her own hair, and going food shopping after 7.30pm when stores start knocking down prices. Ms. Richards occasionally probes mainstream stores for bargains, like the pair of brightly coloured men’s Bermuda shorts she recently bought for A?1 at Primemark. “They’re XXL, but they’ve got a drawstring, so I reckon they should be OK,” she said. She occasionally treats herself, each month splurging on four pear ciders from Aldi and a bottle of wine. A pack of four doughnuts, however, will only cost her 15p. “It’s all about prioritising what’s important a�� I believe having less gives you freedom,” she said. “I wouldn’t want to be rich as you’d be worried about keeping your money safe. If you don’t have much money you have less to think about.”
Ms. Richards is looking forward to trying out her over-sized bermuda shorts after winter, when she can sit out in the garden next to the shed she built from a couple of old pallets and wooden doors for just A?20.
But for anyone thinking of dropping round for a cup of tea beware: Ms. Richards asks guests to bring their own tea bags!

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