Why I am frugal #2

 Hello Dear Reader,

 In answer to a query, why is someone ‘middle class’ with a good job and plenty of money frugal? I’ll try and explain.

I grew up in the council house my parents still live in, where we seldom had enough of anything. My fantastic and loving parents are resourceful people who grew veg, made clothes, caught fish and could bring us up on next to nothing.  We often didn’t have enough food, heat or clothing and sometimes hid behind the furniture in the dark to stay out of sight of the rent man. Mum and dad did their very very best and are struggling to this day.  I know what it’s like to be skint.

I didn’t have a ‘proper job’ until I was thirty seven and it took me years to pay off debts accumulated  and now I’m able to save. I can only do so by living carefully. If I ran a bath every day, if I had the central heating on every day, if I shopped without budgeting, then I wouldn’t be able to save money. Un-metered water costs £1400 a year in Cornwall (so I save money with a meter and rationing what we use) Our local tax is £1800! I still have to be careful.(I have to pay this and I save up for it annually) I don’t have that many working years left in me as my profession is not for the old. You can’t slow down but have to keep going at a rapid pace, keep up to date, keep changing and moving forward and that will not be that easy when I’m in my 50’s.  I need to be ready to downsize and do a different job, which will pay less, which means I have to save every penny I earn now and to do that, I have to be frugal.

I’m also disheartened by consumerism. There are more important issues to worry about. No one needs to worry about a new sofa or TV. Let’s just focus on looking after our friends and family and those around us in our local communities. We are constantly bombarded with advertising that tries to convince us to consume. Day time TV talks about the ‘must have look for the party season’. We must all go on a diet to get into the ‘LBD’ and get the ‘smoky eyes’ that look ‘oh so seductive’.

We save all we can and pay off as much mortgage capital as we can as I’d rather do that than waste it. I do buy what I need. Last year I bought sensible flat shoes and a waterproof coat of good quality which will last for years. I also bought new work clothes that will equally last a few years. When we’ve bought white goods in the past, we’ve bough AAA rated goods and we still have them and they have lasted years.

I was a mum at 19 and my son was 18 before I got a ‘proper job’ so I brought two children up on minimum wage. At one stage, to get by I worked in a school as a teaching assistant, evenings in telesales and weekends in care work and fitted in university, just to get by. I’ve worked as a cook, cleaner, bar maid, care worker, nanny, farm labourer, shop assistant, beach cleaner as well as fitting in being a mum. I’ve always had to budget, to save, to put money by for school uniforms and shoes, school trips, kid’s hair cuts and birthdays, for camping weekends and books. It was only very recently that I’ve been able to put away money for out future.  We’ve just faced DB’s salary being cut by 10% and we’re both public sector workers who will have to put more money into our pensions and will get less at the end, meaning we have to more than double our own contributions to get what we originally hoped for. We will have to be even more frugal in the future!

We all have our own reasons for being frugal and I appreciate it isn’t what most people would have chosen. I always thought that I would have holidays, posh clothes, hair dos and meals out when I got a ‘proper job’ but in reality, I can’t do that and save for the future. We all have our reasons.

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15 thoughts on “Why I am frugal #2

  1. Not that anyone should have to explain how they live their lives to anyone, I fully appreciate everything you have said here and agree with it. Why is it though, that leading a careful but full and happy life causes comments. Maybe for the same reason that an older man with a much younger woman is 'deemed' acceptable but the other way around causes comments!

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  2. I love reading your blog and find it really inspirational. I raised 2sons by myself and saved for everything, just like you. Since ill health finished my tutoring career, I have had to watch what I'm doing financially. Paying the mortgage is a struggle but I eat well and don't waste anything. That's why I love your blog. There's always some idea I can use to help me with the budget.
    Many thanks xx

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  3. I too am from a family who had to watch every penny. I left school at 16 to work – I was determined that I would stand on my own two feet and pay my way, which I did. Years later, after a sad marriage where money had been an important factor ie earning it, spending it, wasting it, I met my OH who was a single parent, struggling but happy. We have spent the last 30 years being poor, being rich, being poor again The two sides of the coin are the same in terms of happiness – the difference is we are now poor through choice. I know friends/family think we are mad, having effectively retired at 50 and scratching around for a living, but we don't have the desire for the consumer stuff that we had 30 years ago. We do alright, and we are happy.

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  4. Froogs, you DO NOT HAVE TO EXPLAIN OR JUSTIFY. I,for one,think you are fantastic,and your blog helps me immeasurably. I am very grateful for it,and therefore,for you.
    I am not well off financially,but am very well off in that I have a loving family and I do my utmost to make each £ streeeeetch as far as possible. That helps us all,and you are helping us and thousands like us. I had [now,sadly deceased]relatives who were wealthy, and I mean WEALTHY business men. They didnt waste. There is a famous family story of when once ,my uncle found a good loaf of bread, in a wrapper, in the dustbin,he brough it inside , toasted it and made very one have it for dinner.He was a multi millionaire builder,large house,sauna,holiday home,small yatch,gardener,cleaner…….you get the picture. He abhorred waste and he always bartered for a good deal. We are as we are. God Bless You Froogs,my life is better for you being here.

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  5. I was going to say the same thing about not having to explain how you live to anyone. My parents didn't have much money either and we lived in a small 4 room apartment but you know something? I count those years as happy years because our family was very close and they helped one another out. My husband and I have two grown daughters and we now live on half the money we used to have. I am happy with the fact that I have a nice, small house, heat, food and necessities and I love reading your blog every day. I look forward to the next great idea I get from you. You do not have anything to explain. You are living your life the way YOU want to and you are happy. That's what matters.

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  6. You're such an inspiration! I wish I would have been so insightful when I was your age. I thought I'd be young forever, have a well paying job forever, and the same husband for the rest of my life. But none of that happened and when I was 50, I realized, too late, that I'd squandered what money I'd made from all those years of working. By the time I was 55, my son had gone out on his own and I was alone. The only work I could get was a part-time job making minimum wage. No one wants you when you're “mature”….no matter how much experience and education you have.

    I admire you for being so smart and disciplined.

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  7. You don't need to justify the frugal choices you make. Given not only the economics facing most people at the moment its far better for the environment and the wider world to buy what we really really need rather than squander the earths resources needlessly. That surely should be the case for those that could maybe do with being a bit 'meaner' ha ha in their lives.

    And whats wrong with doing that even if you have oodles of spare cash.. hey in that position ) Financially secure, good investments etc etc could people with loads not just give more to charitable causes than squander on goods and gluttony surely that would be far more moral and then they could truly preach to other people about how wonderful they are with their money, their generosity blah de blah.

    I love your blog – from someone facing debt and only a tiny bit of in encurred from wasteful ness and want the rest circumstantial through negative equity and redundancy I find it so very inspirational. Yours one the first frugal blog I came across when working part time and ever so worried about the future.

    My thanks Froogs DOn't ever change!!!!!

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  8. My husband and I also work in the public sector – I have clocked up 38 years! Although I did start at 18. Now in our mid 50's we are retiring in the next few months. We have raised our three children and supported each of them financially through university. We paid off our mortgage 4 years ago. All of this has taken careful planning and thrifty living but in no way have we or our children ever felt short changed. We have never owned or used credit cards. What shocks me now is the view of colleagues who find it difficult to believe that I am in a position to retire and enjoy some together while we are still young and fit enough. My thriftiness is being talked about as 'meaness'. Not that i'm bothered. I'm sure you do not need my advice – but do carry on you are certainly on the right road.

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  9. you write so well yo should do ebooks or seminars. Some people like myself, in the beginning didnt know where to start. By reading blogs like this we can see the way. And follow in others foot steps.

    If you were in my area and you were doing a work shop I would come to see you. Pad and pen in hand. What better way to learn by following a real persons journey rather than a Politician telling us to shop to save the economy, but get out of debt, because that is the problem with this country.

    Like all the rest I thank you for writing your posts.

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  10. Even though I am no where near as frugal as you I really enjoy your blog because you seem to live and eat well on a budget, which I admire. I find your blog interesting and inspirational. Everyone knows credit is just a fancy word for debt. In Australia, the cost of living is very high and we pay almost 50c in the dollar tax, so I am always fascinated to see what things like food cost you. I have a blog and get snarky comments from time to time, I think the delete button should be your friend.

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  11. Froogs, you are an inspiration. I don't know whether someone with a sharp tongue has kindled a defensive feeling in you about your chosen lifestyle, if this is so then simply look on them as either unenlighted and thus to be pitied or so wealthy (financially) that they don't understand the choices you are making and the enormous pleasure that comes from the simple things in life.

    You do have a choice about the way you live – you could have all the things that you go without; the posh clothes, holidays and hair-dos. You could have them now … and pay for them later. As my economics teacher would have said, “It's all about the opportunity costs”, what the posh clothes etc would cost is not the £ you pay for them but the other things you could have bought with that money (extra mortgage capital payments, savings, putting money aside for big, unavoidable bills like council tax – all of which buy you the real commodity; peace of mind). However you have chosen to only buy now what you can pay for and leave enough left over so that you can make some choices about how you live your life in the future – what you've chosen is to free yourself from the slavery that is debt and you've accepted that such a choice for your future requires some sacrifices in the present. For those who don't understand that choice your lifestyle may well look unnecessarily restricted, but that's not your problem. You are doing what you can to share with others who are making the same choice as you (and some whose circumstances mean that it's a necessity not a choice) some tips on how to make that lifestyle a little easier and comfortable.

    Voices like yours are precious beacons in the foreboding dark of consumerism – keep burning brightly Froogs for those of us on the same tortuous journey out of slavery.

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  12. There are some excellent comments here and I would just like to echo a couple of them in telling you that you should not HAVE to justify your writing. Lots of folk, me included, find your posts inspirational and very useful.

    That you have given a background to your reasons for living your frugal lifestyle will help your newer readers and followers I guess.

    Keep on doing exactly what you are doing (and letting us share in snippets of your life).

    Sue xx

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