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Resourceful is a newsletter about spending less, reducing stress and living within your means.
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Everyone has a story like this, I’m sure. I was once telling my housemates about a pair of black Nike trainers I’d just copped for a fiver from a charity shop in Peckham, saying how “I’ve wanted a pair of black Nikes for ever but couldn’t justify buying a pair at full price.” Minutes later, I logged on to Facebook, and there in my sidebar was several links to Nike outlet shops, all with thumbnails of black trainers.

Something that’s become totally normal on the internet in the past five years or so is the constant stream of targeted advertising everywhere online. What is even more nuts is how this technology is now being translated to offline life (aka life). In Australia, secret facial recognition cameras in shopping malls are scanning people's faces to capture their reactions to certain adverts - and this data is sent back to advertisers as user feedback, so they can tailor future ads more specifically to their demographic. The vice president of the company behind the technology reassured The Guardian: “[It’s] no different to Facebook popping up ads you might be interested in and social media picking up people based on their clicking habits or the shopping that they’ve done.”

It all feels a bit dystopian, doesn't it. I’m currently making my way through Zadie Smith’s essay collection Feel Free, and in the essay Generation Why?, she says:

“With Facebook, Zuckerberg seems to be trying to create something like a Noosphere, an Internet with one mind, a uniform environment in which it genuinely doesn't matter who you are, as long as you make 'choices' (which means, finally, purchases).... To ourselves, we are special people, documented in wonderful photos, and it also happens that we sometimes buy things... To the advertisers, we are our capacity to buy, attached to a few personal, irrelevant photos.”

You can read the entire essay for free here.

I’m not trying to turn you off social media or make you feel bad for scrolling, at all. I still have a Facebook account, mostly because I think it can be a genuinely useful tool for my journalism work and for pages like Terrible Art In Charity Shops where people post photos of terrible art they find in charity shops all over the world.

However, something I've noticed about being off Instagram for the past six months is that I have no real desire to buy new clothes anymore. When I used it more regularly, I followed way too many ASOS Insider influencers and would click the little shopping bag icon to add their to-die-for outfits to my own ASOS shopping bag. On top of that, say if I searched ‘black pinafore’ on Google, a sponsored pic of a black pinafore would likely land on my Instagram feed within the next few hours. That eventually became too icky for me, and I felt trapped in a way-too-specific advertising bubble. So, I quit Instagram, and the temptation to spend my free time shopping online isn't as strong as it used to be. 

I do think more conscious use of social media = a calmer quieter, mind. A calmer, quieter mind leads to more mindful spending. Remember those sidebar ads for Nike outlet stores might be offering you a 30% discount, but if you chance your luck and believe in the power of the 'thrift store gods', you might be able to haul a £5 pair at your local charity shop instead.

Read this.

Think offline.

A list of things that I'm grateful for this week. What are some of yours?
  • Hands down the best thing ever: ditching the morning smartphone scroll and replacing it with a perfectly brewed coffee and a few chapters of a new book
  • Local walking groups
  • Pet Sounds
  • Unexpected, inconsequential surprises
  • Corn flakes
  • Judd Apatow films
Save cash.
Get £175 for switching to HSBC. I was gifted a total of £200 when I made my First Holy Communion aged 8, which seemed like a pretty good reason to officially become a Catholic. The bank account I opened - my first - was with HSBC, and it's the reason why my signature is so ridiculously celebrity-like as I had to dream it up on the spot at the Peterborough branch of HSBC as an 8-year-old. Anyway, HSBC is offering a tasty £175 for switching if you're from another bank. You have to pay in at least £1,750 a month and have a few direct debits going out every month. If you're interested, check out more info here

Level up on your finance knowledge. Ever been curious about investing your money? Me too, except I know very little about how it all works. VestPod is a London-based collective aiming to educate women about money, and they're holding a workshop for beginners on 13th March. Tickets are £35, but I'm pretty sure that'll pay for itself once you start putting all that return/investment knowledge to good use. 

Eat this. 

Keen bean spring pasta, a recipe by Sam Dando
Serves 2-3

This dish is a delicious way to coax a bit springtime flavour into your kitchen. It’s fresh and light and turns only a few ingredients into a meal that’s greater than the sum of its parts. To make this an even more frugal endeavour, you can use dried beans, leaving them to soak overnight and then cooking according to the packet instruction (usually bring to the boil for a few minutes and then simmer for about an hour on low heat) until they are nice and tender.
  • 1 leek - halved lengthways & sliced
  • 1 can of cannellini beans (or any bean you like) - drained & rinsed
  • 1 lemon - zest & juice
  • 3 cloves garlic - finely chopped/minced
  • 300g pasta of your choice
  • ~1 tsp chilli flakes (adjust according to taste)
  • 4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to season
  1. Bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil and salt until it tastes like the sea.
  2. Heat a frying pan over medium-high heat and add 2 tbsp of oil. Once shimmering add your leek slices and cook for 4-5 minutes stirring occasionally, then add the garlic and chilli flakes, mix well to combine and let cook for another 4-5 minutes until the leek softens and starts to turn golden.
  3. Meanwhile, heat a smaller pan over medium heat and add 1 tbsp of oil. Once shimmering add your beans, season with a little salt and cook, stirring occasionally, until they take on some colour and the skins start to crisp up.
  4. Drop your pasta into the water just after you have added the garlic and chilli to the leeks and cook for 2-3 minutes less than the packet instructions, until they are almost al dente. Then drain, reserving ~100 ml of pasta water.
  5. Once the beans are nice and crisp add them to the pan with the leeks and mix well. Zest half of them lemon over the pan and the juice of half the lemon to start with (adding more later if needed). Cook for 1 minute before adding the reserved pasta water and the pasta.
  6. Mix everything well and let cook for another 2-3 minutes stirring regularly until the pasta absorbs the liquid in the pan and is al dente.
  7. Turn off the heat and add taste. Add the remaining lemon juice if preferred and season with salt and plenty of pepper to taste. Serve with some nice crusty bread and enjoy.
Now, take me somewhere fun
That's all folks! Thanks for reading this newsletter. Want to share money-saving tips or compare frugal lifestyle notes? Reply to this email - I'd love to chat. Or, if you enjoyed it, forward on to a friend. 
Resourceful is curated twice a month by Tara Lepore.
Recipes are thoughtfully rustled up by Sam Dando.

Visit her website

Copyright © 2018 Tara Lepore, All rights reserved.

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Praediniussingel (try saying that after a few beers), Groningen, The Netherlands

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Resourceful · An extremely messy desk · Groningen, 9711AB · Netherlands

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