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!
Love Froogs xxxxx