At heart, I’m a bit of a Dory! I don’t stay worried, angry, upset or disappointed for long. I just keep swimming. I was asked to give advice about staying frugal, when there’s no energy, no will, it’s the end of the month, there’s no money and everything seems against you. Well here’s the tough love coming up. You have no choice. I have no choice either. I can not go out, have my hair done, buy some lipstick and get dressed up for a night out in a restaurant. I have no credit cards at all, no overdraft facility, I have no money, I don’t get paid until tomorrow and I just have to keep going. Of course, I get totally pissed off, but it’s not a hand I’ve been dealt……I hand selected everyone of those cards and I laid them down. It’s my life and I have to deal with it.
I do a lot of work to make sure I stay on track. I get tired from time to time, so I have meals in the freezer, or store cupboard that I can pull out. I know I will have low times, so I prepare for that. I buy birthday cards in charity shops, I’d rather give the charity the money and have cards addressed and in date order, ready to send. I make gifts, preserves and soaps all year in readiness to give to people. I get my hands dirty by proactively creating a budget, down to the last carrot and I stick to it! I make sure there is enough diesel in the car to take us to the moors or the beach so I have two outings a month. I save money so I have £100 a year to spend on shoes and clothes (I have so far spent £36 this year). By doing that, I prepare for each little thing that could worry me, or cause me anxiety or get me down. I don’t have a suit of armour and life gets to me, in the same way it does every one of you. But, if you know a brick bat is coming your way, at least you can duck.
I keep going because every day is a no shop day. I don’t carry a purse or any money. I have no credit card, just a debit card and that stays at home every week day. I never pop to the shops; I only go when I’m prepared, with a budget, a menu plan and a detailed list. I check mysupermarket first for prices, I then log onto the Lidl and Aldi websites and check their prices too. I know exactly what I’m going to cook, what I’m going to buy and where I’m going to get it from. Consequently, there are very few transactions on my online bank statement.
I’ve learnt to save money too. I know it’s silly when I have debts, but remember, if my car needs fixing, my washing machine breaks down; I have no credit facilities and need to have money put aside. I can only save £25 a month, but I make sure I do. At the end of the year, when it’s still there, I don’t touch it and keep adding. The advice is to have £1000 saved up, just in case. I’m no where near there, but knowing I have something to fall back on, keeps me going when I’m worried about money, especially when I don’t have any in my current account.
I know, I can and do fail miserably. I often feel very sorry for myself. I feel isolated from the mainstream and unable to join the party. I feel like the poor kid who watched the kids with pocket money go into the village post office for sweets, when I had to stand outside and watch them buy them and eat them in front of me. But I always remember, they didn’t last long and soon enough, they were just like me, sweetless. I have had moments when I’ve been home alone when Dearly Beloved has been away looking after his mum, the house has been freezing, I’ve not been able to afford the train fare to visit a single soul and I have felt abandoned. I don’t always feel good and some days are truly shite. But I get up, and in true Dory style, I just keep swimming.
I know, there are people who are reading this who are not paid until tomorrow who have a freezer full of home grown veg, a pantry full of preserves, a dry store full of dry goods, the under stairs cupboard is full of loo rolls, the second drawer in your bedroom is full of toothpaste, talc and soap and no matter what, you won’t go without. I also know what it’s like to be 24 hours from a giro (that’s how benefits were paid when I was a single mum with my son), with the last few seconds of emergency money ticking away on the electricity meter, a scrape of marg and 2 slices of bread to give a six year old boy his breakfast, and nothing else. I know that some of you who read this, did not deal your own hand but had it dealt to you and your frugal life style is not chosen by you. I know some of you are finding this extremely hard and if you allow me, to just hold your hand gently and say quietly to you. Just hang on. You have a rough journey ahead of you, more will join you, us, me along the way. It’s not easy. All you actually have to sustain you is perseverance, determination and never, never giving up.