Answering your questions

Dear Reader,

Tonight, my blog is a homage to Shirley over on Taste the Goode life as she always starts her blog by replying to the comments left for her. I’m going to start mine that way today.

My first reply is to Bryallen. If you cooked for every body, made three courses and bought a bottle of wine for £17, then you have one foot in the Frugal Queen camp. If you spent that on your contribution to a meal out then that is not much money if you have a lot of money and have no debts. We learnt to say no and kept saying no. A meal here, treat there, new wotsit here and new doodah there, soon adds up. I was in serious debt (45K at the worst!) and any slip would delay the repayment which, of course, means continued addition of interest. I went cold turkey and withdrew any spending out and we didn’t eat out. We refused work do’s, didn’t go to weddings, parties, retirement functions or any where that we had to pay for entry, food or a bar. Of course, we had meals with friends and took wine or dessert as we could budget for that. We also invited friends round for meals and enjoyed their company. We went out of walks, trips and picnics and took a flask, packed cake or snacks and still went out. Did I put my hand in my pocket? Did I heck!

Recovering Shopaholic, I don’t know whether to come round and hold you and say it’s all going to be OK, or shake you and say ‘sort it!’. I decided to take hold of myself, had a word with myself and not repeat those behaviours (I know! I’m an English teacher and that’s a non-count noun, but the American version sounds ‘right’) any more. I was brutal with myself to the point of complete and utter abstention from any where that sold any thing. I made a pact with myself not to buy anything new that I could buy second hand and years later, I’m still sticking to that. I do have shopping sprees…………I allow myself £10 occasionally at the weekend for a browse round the charity shops and car boot sale. I love the rummaging and finding. I love keeping my eyes open for jumble sales and get  really really excited when I find something lovely to wear or for my home for under a £1. I totally love the £1 and 50p rails in charity shops, the dustbins with a sign saying ‘fill a carrier for £1’. If I have to buy something new, then I trawl the internet for discount and promotional codes. I’m also a convert to Poundland and Primark. I have a miniscule personal budget and I would still be paying debt now if I hadn’t stuck to it.

Make do style – I try to make every month a non-spend month. I have several bank accounts (non-fee paying of course!) and put away money every month for: car tax, car insurance, household repairs and maintenance, home insurance, boiler insurance and annually, I thoroughly search for the best deals and pay an annual fee. I pay all my bills by direct debit: water, gas, electric, TV licence, (I have free sat now so no fee for that), internet, phone (both mobiles are now pay as you go and we spend about £20 a year each as we only text), life insurance and dental insurance. We then have a ‘cash account’ , again without any charges, that we move a set budget into for food, rail pass and diesel. One account only has a small transfer each month and we put money aside for an annual holiday (we’ve only just been able to do that since paying off debt), clothing and any extras.Finally, we have a SHTF account where we add money which we now don’t touch at all. If we lose our jobs, if something major happens then we’ve got some thing there. No where near the three months joint salary that people are advised to have. We have a month’s salary. We’ve not added to it recently as we’ve reached our set target but we know we have to make it bigger as the costs increase.

Cumbrian. I now, don’t need to count every penny as, like you I know what I buy because I rarely shop. I don’t go into a shop every week and try to shop fortnightly. I buy ingredients and make bread, so I don’t need to pop out for it and I don’t eat it. We only use UHT milk and I buy ten litres of the value milk in a ‘big’ shop. I bulk buy soap powder and loo rolls and still don’t buy much at all. I have a four drawer freezer which is big enough for the two of us and can keep us going for a fortnight. I keep every receipt and buy everything with my debit card so my online bank statement will remind me of everything I bought. We never buy coffee, magazines, papers or sweets so no petty cash is needed. I shop in Lidl and they often have bargains, such as two pairs of fluffy socks for £1.99, but I buy them out of my weekly shopping budget. Also, if there’s money spare in the budget, I used to pay a debt with that every week. Now, I add that to one of the savings accounts. Even if I only have £2 spare left at the end of the week from the food budget, then I will transfer it to savings. The best week is when I’ve stretched the fridge and cupboards to last two weeks and one whole week’s food budget can go into a savings account.

Frugal Living UK – £100 for firewood is a lot of money. I’ve still managed to scrounge two pallets this week. We’ll pull them apart, saw them by hand into usable lengths and I’ll chop them down into kindling. Old habits die hard. I’m always on the look out for wood and I’ll pick it up out of hedges or off the road if it’s safe and legal to do so. We don’t light the fire every day. It’s quite warm down here in Cornwall. From November to March, I’ll need it more and it will be lit at the weekends to dry the washing. I will be able to turn the heating off and if I have the heating on, it’s set to 17 degrees. I also have a modern and well insulated house, with lined curtains and we have blankets and home made quilts. The 2 cubic metres of wood will last us through the entire winter………..unless it we get snowed in for two weeks! Let’s hope last year’s weather isn’t seen again for another 30 years!

Tana50 – In the beginning, when I decided not to spend any more money, it was really tough. It was also fun. I joined forums, looked for like minded people and with evangelical zeal, I had to spread the word. I started my blog and it will bear testimony to the ups and downs in my life. I had to keep records of debts to begin with. I used to keep debt snowball spreadsheets as I could see the debts reducing every month. I took on extra work. I tutored after school and weekends. I marked exams. I dog sat. I caravan cleaned. I ebayed. I car booted. I sold anything I didn’t want or need. We also traded on ebay to raise money. We would buy items at car boot sales, jumble sales and auctions and sold on. Every single extra penny that we earned went into debt repayment. We never kept a penny of it for ourselves. I started seeing everything as a challenge. I would read my meters and try and spend less and less every week. I reduced direct debit payments and I live a far more ecological life as I consume less. I reduced my food shopping every week. I brand down graded, then supermarket down graded. I used approved foods and Poundland for some items. Counting pennies wasn’t and still isn’t a problem. In fact, it’s great fun.

The smugness of all of this practical parsimony is that I’m debtless, have money in the bank (not much, but enough saved to pay annual bills and get by for a while if needed). I had a week’s holiday this year, I’ve been able to buy new clothes and shoes and I can make a payment towards my mortgage capital each month.

In answer to all of your questions. Was it hard? It was! Did I always like it? No! Do I sometimes get fed up? Yes! Do I suggest this is for everybody? No! Am I glad I did this and am I happy to continue to do this? YES!

Until tomorrow,

Love Froogs xxxxx

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20 thoughts on “Answering your questions

  1. Thank you 🙂 I definitely think the tough love is what I need, I do need to be strict with myself. I think I need to work through what makes me shop first as I don't think I'll ever be able to stop until I know why, and until I find those 'substitutes' so I have something to replace it with. But I think writing my blog and reading blogs like yours will help with that. Getting rid of my debt one day would be the ultimate goal and much better than having all the clothes in H&M! That is a huge amount of debt you had and I'm thankful it hasn't got that bad for me, although I know how quickly it mounts up. Thanks again for taking the time to reply 🙂

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  2. Hi Froogs,

    It's so interesting reading your answers to others' questions. Good idea! Today is a landmark day for me, I have no credit card debt, all major bills are paid, taxes done and submitted and October has only one planned expenses – the car service. I feel amazing! I've done a good budget, saved it all to my phone so I can look up exactly what I'm able to spend fortnight to fortnight. It's a great feeling to know what's coming in, where it's going and once my tax return comes back, my SHTF account will be at it's set level, finally.

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  3. I loved this Q&A Post.

    Every time I read you I feel inspired to keep trying. We only have a mortgage debt – but it's big and I want it gone.

    I also want a house so I can have my own garden and not have to deal with Bodycorp issues with owners who want to fancy up the block on with expensive cosmetic do ups when the building itself needs work to stay up for many more years.

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  4. Very good post as usual !
    It's a very good summary of your way of life.
    Even if I am now mortgage free, I still live frugally and won't change my mind about it.
    I just don't see the point of overspending, now I do it more because I practice “voluntary simplicity” (it's the translation from French so I don't know if it's the right way to say it in English.
    I only “indulge” in very good quality food products, I buy only organic products and mostly local… not cheap, but worth it in my opinion !

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  5. I think that's a really good idea, everybody likes to think their thoughts are noticed.
    Probably be impossible / impractical to comment on every one, but it's nice to know our comments are read.

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  6. Great post, September was an expensive month,that needs to be reduced during October.I fill in a spreadsheet every time money is spent.I have had to buy some expensive school books for dd for 6th form (£100 worth)Car tax and my utilities were put up last month as well.Long may this good weather go on as this will help in the long run.My debt free journey has been helped bigtime by bloggs like yours and forums,you always think you are the only person whos skint and doesnt do much but you read and find your not alone.Since i started this journey at the beginning of the year my cupboards have never been fuller,i take advantage of glitches , coupons and i have foraged this autumn.I wish i had done these things years ago as i would prob be comfortable now.Keep up the good work and i look forward to the next installment
    lisa
    x

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  7. As usual you talk very good sense, I wish you lived next door to me!!

    I am still fighting every inch of the way towards getting debt free, but it will take a while, the removal debt will be the first to go but it will take us another 13 months for that to go.

    I have booked to do a fiar at the end of November I still have some stuff left from when we did the one before we moved. I am also going through my fabric stash to make stuff for Christmas which I will also put on the stall, I have a lot of scraps I want to use up.

    There are times when I just want to say s** it, especially when OH has agreed to something and then wants me to go back on my word….ggrrrr…..at times I lack motivation too…..like this morning, just cannot find my get up and go, it got up and went!!

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  8. I'm so pleased for you and your husband. I hope to be in your shoes soon – it seems a long way off though…
    I recently found out I'm pregnant and as much as it is a lovely surprise, I am worrying more about money!
    We've got a whole nine months to shift some debt.
    Wish me luck!

    From a very nauseous follower!

    Lisa x

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  9. Fantastic inspirational post! Thank you. Have you cut down on all the extra jobs or are you going to keep going? Do you still have a lodger during the week? Teaching's tough enough as it is, but at least the “homework” keeps us away from the shops!

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  10. I love your SHTF account, I've just started one but I wish I could have given it a name rather than used my proper name. I will think of it as the SHTF account from now on! Love all your information & it is truly inspirational xx

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  11. good post, I've got a question, recently we offered a lift to two relatives in their 80's so they wouldn't have a five hour trip home on public transport(two and half hours by car) so they said yes, but when we asked for a contribution towards petrol(as it was going out of our way),they changed their minds, should we have asked for something towards petrol? whenever we've given a lift to my mum or son for whatever reason they have always offered something towards petrol.

    Josie x

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  12. I operate on very little money. The biggest expense is gas. It just seems a complete rip off. The electric not so much, even though the cooker is electric, it's expensive too but I can account for it. The heating though costs a fortune and we were literally freezing last year. I wore 6 jumpers, 4 pairs of socks and even slept in a wooly hat and scarf at one point.

    There seems little I can do to cut costs. Well I dare say there is but I have no money for any outlay at all for things like draft exclusion. There is no spare cash at all, not a penny. We are not lucky like you in so much, as it is an old draughty flat with ultra high ceilings. There is no double glazing and it never gets the sun. We have no open fire. We rent so it is as it is. I have absolutely no money to buy stuff to keep warm – 2 hot water bottles need purchasing and cost money. Quilts, blankets etc cost money – my charity shops don't seem to have those. It is so cold here that I kid you not when I tell you that although it is sweltering outside and I got red faced and sweaty, within an hour of getting home (the temperature drops as soon as the front door opens) I was putting on another jumper and thinking I could quite easily turn the heater on which would be ridiculous. Later, I will be wrapped up in a blanket watching the X factor. I have no idea what is up with this flat but it is so cold and just eats and eats money. We will be here for at least another year. Sadly we didn't have a better option before we came to live here. The previous house was low ceilings and double-glazed and we were nice and snug in winter and it was cheaper.

    Everything else is easier. I prefer to shop every day though, I find it easier to keep track of and rein in spending that way. I am not materialistic either. The only thing that does hurt is the expense of transport, even a trip to the park needs the bus which is too expensive most of the time. It is tough and getting tougher for everyone. I saw McVities chocolate biscuits in the Co-op for £2.09 yesterday – normal size. I couldn't believe it. In the last 2 weeks electricity costs £5 more a week for the same amount.

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  13. Hi Josie, If you offer me something, then I assume it comes without a cost, if you then ask me to pay for it, I'll decline politely but in my head I will think 'why bother asking if you wanted me to pay?' – If I couldn't afford to pay, then I personally wouldn't have offered. Also, people over 60 get free bus rides and they might have been insulted. You did nothing wrong but it's all about how others perceive a message.

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