Sunday, 30 December 2018

Looking Back

gypsy cobs galloping
4 of the 5 rescued and rehomed ponies at Frugaldom

Hello to all who read these frugal blogs! I hope you all had a lovely Christmas season and that you enjoy Hogmanay and the new year festivities.

I've just been updating the old forums, the ones that go back to 2010, as Ive found it impossible to retrieve the most recent ones that fell out of our reach when the software and operating platform changed. Not to be completely outdone, I succeeded in retrieving these old ones and have now redirected the domain www.frugalforums.co.uk towards them for our 2019 frugal living and working challenges. (Everyone is welcome to join us, it's free!)

Anyway, while unlocking previously archived sections of the forums and updating them as I went along, I stopped at the letter 'B' - it's alphabetical - and began reading about all our ideas and plans for the future. It's where I found this and saw just how far we had come over the past 8 years and showed that my longterm aims hadn't realy changed, apart from the fact that finding several like-minded others has, so far, proven to be impossible.

 Oct 20, 2010 #7
In the wake of today's spending review, a thought struck me when listening to the heated debates about the housing crisis, social housing and council rents. Affordable housing is still absent, in my opinion, for all of those people who don't want or can't get mortgages. If housing associations and others are going to be encouraged to provide more affordable homes, why do we still see so many derelict or crumbling properties? I would love the opportunity to develop a derelict site into a profitable business with the potential to expand on that and bring others into the game plan. All around us are derelict houses - small collapsing cottages  left to rot because owners who have inherited them can't agree how to split any proceeds from sales, or else left to rot in an effort to avoid tax. Removing the roof to avoid the roof tax has long, since, been abolished (as far as I am aware) but we now face the "problem" of these properties costing their owners up to 40% in capital gains tax. I just don't get it! Surely, in this economic climate, 60% of any surplus property sale in the pockets of the owners must be worthwhile. It has to beat zero with a crumbling wreck as your personal responsibility.

One excellent frugal business proposition would be for workers' co-operatives to raise the capital to purchase these unwanted properties to turn them into viable microholdings for those who are prepared to invest in their own futures. The cost of a brick, afterall, is still the cost of a brick. It shouldn't be too adversely affected by where that brick gets laid. Waste land, scrap land, disused sites, abandoned sites... the list goes on and on, yet the right to participate in any such project is curtailed, once again, by finances and the need for ludicrous amounts of cash. A group of like-minded individuals working for the benefit of all could surely earn a living by dividing the spoils, assuming they were able to amass the funds needed to initiate such a project in the first place?

My search continues for that first, elusive piece of land that could start the ball rolling. I don't have 50,000+ in the bank to buy a tiny building plot, nor do I intend borrowing it, but I'd be prepared to invest in a project where nobody squabbled about percentages and hours of work they contributed to the end result. All things being equal, (which they aren't) 1000 man hours equates to almost 6,000 even on minimum wage.

Frugaldom, as a complete microholding package, is a viable business proposition. We aren't setting out to become millionaires, we're setting out as frugal entrepreneurs in the hope of realising dreams. For me, money in the banks just won't pay in the long run, not with inflation running at more than twice the BoE base rate.
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Saturday, 29 December 2018

Preparing for our Frugal Living Challenge in 2019


GET READY FOR 2019

This is just a mini-blog to welcome new challengers to the concept of frugaldom and our likewise named Frugaldom project, which is based in Dumfries and Galloway region of SW Scotland.

Frugal living is about a waste not, want no lifestyle of minimising the spending to primarily clear debt and then to maximise the savings.

If you would like to find out more about frugaldom and our frugal living challenges, which have been running for over 20 years, simply visit any of the following:

www.facebook.com/Frugaldom 
www.twitter.com/Frugaldom
www.frugaldom.com
www.frugalforums.co.uk
www.frugalblog.co.uk
www.frugalshop.co.uk

We also have our Frugal Living Challenge 2019 on the moneysavingexpert.com website forums.

See you there. 

Wednesday, 14 November 2018

10 Small Business Ideas for People Who Love Nature



Almost anyone can be an entrepreneur; the only thing missing for many is a great idea. The best place to find a great business idea is to look into something about which you are passionate, for example, if you’re passionate about nature, there are plenty of business ideas with which you can run!

1. Adventure Club

A great idea for those who know the area around them and aren’t afraid of a little excitement is an adventure club!

These clubs usually consist of a leader (that’s you!) taking members on outdoor adventures. The element of excitement is really up to you and your adventure-seeking customers. These adventures could be as simple as hiking an easy trail together or as exciting as white water rafting, depending on your expertise. 

Your profits will be even higher if you are teaching your club members something they don’t know. For example, teaching people how to rock climb might come with a higher charge than group hikes.

2. Outdoor Cleaning Service

You probably already know that cleaning service businesses are profitable.

While it might take a little more time than cleaning a bathroom, you can also take a cleaning service outdoors. You can keep your services as simple as cleaning up litter in a backyard to as involved as construction clean up or even graffiti removal. Depending on the area in which you serve, one type of cleaning service might be more popular than the other.

3. Landscaping

If you love the outdoors and have a bit of a green thumb, consider starting a landscaping business. A landscaping business helps people transform their yards, gardens, or other sites into something they love and even boost kerb appeal.

It’s important to note that a landscaping business typically requires some level of education. After all, you have to know how to analyze a site, plan out a landscaping blueprint, and become familiar with local and national building codes and ordinances. It’s also important to know how to not only make a site attractive, but also how to make it safe and effective. For instance, you will need to consider factors such as stormwater management.

4. Run a Horse Stable

If you love horses, you could always make a living working with them. Simply owning horses won’t really earn you a living, but if you have land and farm buildings, then you could offer a boarding service for other people with horses. 

Alternatively, you could also teach riding, subject to the appropriate qualifications, licensing and insurances. This will give you the opportunity not only to spend time outside with your favorite animals but to share that love with others as well.

5. Small-Scale Farming

If you want to make a name for yourself at your local farmers' market, you don’t have to turn around acres of crops. Instead, you can turn your garden into a space for growing some veggies and maybe even fruits. You can earn extra by offering products as well as raw crops. For instance, if you know how to make jam, you can sell this for a higher price - again, subject to the necessary certification.

6. Dog Care

Maybe you still want to take care of animals but large animals are a little too much; maybe they aren’t your preference or maybe you don’t have enough land. However, there are plenty of animals that you can take care of while living a smaller, more frugal lifestyle.

To spend time outdoors, you can start a dog-walking business. This is a great option because there are many people who can’t take time in the middle of the day to come home and walk their dogs.

If you want to push this business to a more profitable level, you can board dogs as well. You can be selective in the dog breeds you choose to board to ensure you don’t end up with an untrained dog in your house for a weekend.

7. Start Your Own “Green” Shop

If opening a retail shop or purchasing a franchise is a bit too much, you can easily start small by opening an online store. You can also sell products that you make to a small following. You can link up with sites like Giving Assistant to help earn you a following and boost sales.

Your love of nature comes in with what you make. Maybe you want to make your own, homemade tea blends or make everyday products through a greener process. This is your chance to use your love of nature to create something of which you can be proud.

8. Open a Beauty Salon

Creating your own beauty salon doesn’t quite sound linked to nature, but it can be, with a little creativity. Think about it this way: When you visit the beauty salon, how many chemicals and ingredients damaging to the environment do you see?

As an alternative to this, you can start your own beauty salon that uses safer products. There are plenty of hair products and skin care products that you can make with completely eco-friendly, vegan ingredients.

9. Eco-Consulting

Do you already dedicate your life to green living? Is recycling and composting a part of your daily routine? Are you greener than the average person? If so, then you might be the perfect person to start an eco-consulting business!

Many people don’t live or operate their offices in the most eco-friendly ways. In many cases, these people simply aren’t sure of where to start and where to go. This is where you step in: Your business would be to help these clients transition to more eco-friendly businesses, operations and lifestyles.

10. Green Housekeeping

As we pointed out earlier, many people are willing to pay for cleaning services—inside and out. However, much like we mentioned with beauty salons, these services usually include an alarming amount of harmful ingredients to nature—and humans!

Regardless of the type of “nature” business you choose to start, there are plenty of options available. With a little creativity and hard work, you can turn your love for nature into a healthy living—in more ways than one. 

You should always check that you have any essential qualifications, permissions and/or insurances necessary for carrying out your chosen business ventures but there is bound to be something you can do that combines your love of nature with income generation.

Tuesday, 16 October 2018

2018 at Frugaldom

This is your whistle-stop tour of Frugaldom during 2018

Apologies for my extremely lengthy absence but we stepped things up a gear and implemented many changes that we hope will benefit all our friends, family and followers of Frugaldom. It has been a very busy year so far.

Here at Frugaldom, we have tried our very best to reduce, reuse and recycle as much as possible, keep wihin our strict budget and stretch every penny as far as it can possibly go. So far, we are succeeding, although progress is very slow, what with mixed weather, lack of a workforce and trying to find companies (or even individuals) who will come out to Frugaldom and do the work required.

Site of the new 'Legacy Working Woodland' and track around it.
 In January and February 2018 we organised the next area for planting the working woodland. The area extends to over 3 acres, most of that made up of clearfell and bordered by a stream. We employed the services of local workers who were on site for several days clearing around the edge of the planned woodland and sectioning it all off with stockfencing.

Fencing of the new working woodland area was completed in February 2018
 We had no sooner completed the main fencing when winter returned with a vengance, blanketing us in snow and, at times, making it impossible to drive to Frugaldom - walked, instead. However, the ponies were happy enough and kept all the paths clear. They are fed a constant supply of hay, along with access to salt and minerals, so weather isn't a factor in their feed bill. They eat like horses and cost the same to feed every day of the year.

Snowy Frugaldom
The snow ceased temporarily, allowing us two nights away to celebrate a family wedding. Many thanks go to the brave Emily who took on the unenviable task of caring for the ponies, with further thanks due to her for topping up our water bottles when the pipes were all frozen at the caravans. 😊 Such help was greatly appreciated by all concerned.

Prolonged sub-zero temperatures in March
By late February, early March, temperatures had plunged further below zero meaning all our water sources, both at the field and at the caravan park, froze solid. At that point, we were collecting water in containers from the river and carting it to and fro, relying on bottled water for cooking and drinking, with the water from the burn being used for ponies, chickens and toilet flushing! With the big freeze came gales, so more windbreak mesh was added around certain areas as a temporary solution to problems caused by driving winds.

Anneka had returned from Germany to volunteer for a couple of weeks during her break so she got more than she bargained for with on the spot lessons in extreme frugal, off grid living while we were solely reliant on river water, solar power and cylinder gas. We were also trying to keep warm in a caravan in March.

Hay feeding, poop picking and tree planting
The daily chores at Frugaldom always begin with checking water, topping up hay feeders, feeding the chickens and collecting all the dung from around the tracks. This routine is relentless - it is seven days per week and gets done at least twice a day. It means that no matter who visits, these jobs always have to take priority. Luckily, even the youngest visitors are happy to help out with most things.

Ponies out on the marshy moorland
 Whenever we got dry weather during March, tree planting got into full swing. It even got dry enough to allow the ponies out onto the marshy moor grass, where they foraged for tasty snacks among the bog myrtle and heather.

Then the floods came
 By the third week in March, the snow had all gone, the ice had all melted and the rain arrived big time! The bottom field, which is parially planted with downy birch, alder, hawthorn and willow, went under water yet again. Fortunaely, it runs off almost as quickly as it floods, so the trees within our riparian planting ground continue to thrive and the ponies maintain the 'barn owl track' between the flood land and the rest of the project.

March also brought sunshine and Mallards
March is mainly about tree plantin. We received our next 420 saplings from the Woodland Trust, thanks to them and their sponsors at Ikea, Sainsbury's, Yorkshire Tea and the players of the People's Postcode Lottery. We have received 420 saplings each November and March since we began the Frugaldom project in 2014 and have been planting each phase as either woodland or foraging hedgerow. This tree planting project  (2014 - 2018) was undertaken as part of the World War I Centenary, and will culminate on 11th November, when we will be planting the final batch of trees into our memorial woodland. Here, too, will be displayed the Ecoarts war horse.

Our WWI Cenenary Woodland at Frugaldom is planted to commemorate all the people and animals lost to a war fought to defend and protect our freedom. For this, we are truly thankful.

Tree planting and new orchards
So far, Frugaldom has been awarded a total of 3,780 saplings from The Woodland Trust and we hope to continue planting to replenish lost hedgerow that will provide a safe haven for wildlife and free foraging opportunities for future visitors to the project. Alongside the native tree planting, we are also planting orchards that include heritage variety, Galloway Pippin apples.

The Cuckoo Corral, so named because the cuckoos visit it in Spring, now has around 70 fruit trees and is gradually being surrounded by a new hedgerow of dogwood, rosa ragusa, hazel, hawthorn and crab apple. Numerous wild flower seeds have been scattered around this orchard and it will soon also become home to our herd of creel ponies. (More on this soon.) As always, we welcome your contributions towards establishing the orchards and offer the opportunity to dedicate a tree to someone special. Details for this can be found in the Frugal Shop.

Try frugal living for yourself in 2019
During April and May, major renovation works were carried out at the new cottage. This one-bedroom cottage with adjoining garden room / studio and allotment-style garden will be made available to anyone who would like to sample a frugal lifestyle experience - you'll be tending the gardens and making the most of village life while here. The cottage is located within easy walking distance of the main London to Belfast bus route, plus it has adequate secure storage for bicycles, so no need to even bring a car! Reduce, reuse, recycle and keep an eye on your carbom footprint. Sample frugaldom for yourselves in 2019 at a price you can afford. Weekends, mid-week, all week, a fortnight or a month... you decide.

Frugal Breaks at Three Lochs Holiday Park
 April saw the first of our holiday makers arriving so it was fortunate that the weather improved. Our wall of daffodils gave a beautiful display behind the caravans and despite some wet days, we had plenty of good weather that allowed our guests the opportunity to explore Frugaldom and the surrounding area.

You can bring your horse
April also saw the arrival of our first ever equine holidaymaker for one of our frugal breaks. This gorgeous Thoroughbred seemed to enjoy every minute of her therapy break, as did her owner.

Duck eggs incubating and Phase 2 cottage work completed
 May proved to be a really busy month with the next phase of work being completed at the cottage, the arrival of our first renter, duck eggs going into the incubator and the usual chores being carried out daily at Frugaldom.  The ground gradually dried up in the sunshine and the plants and trees began to grow.

At Frugaldom
 The bog myrtle (Myrica Gale) lends its name to 'Myrical', the Ecoarts unicorn at Frugaldom. As the buds and cones on the shrubs changed to deep russet, the green buds of willow began to burst into life. Down in the marshy, moor grass field, the ponies have done an excellent job of maintaining the barn owl strip, which is flanked on one side by the marsh and on the other by riparian planting of a small woodland copse of alders, edged by wetland tolerant hedging.

Ponies going out onto the clear fell
 From one extreme to another - by May, the rain had left us completely, leading to water shortages of a different kind. This led us to move the ponies out onto the newly fenced track around what will become the 'Legacy Woodland', where they had access to the stream. It also meant that they cleared the area where the raspberries will be cultivated, which is brilliant. except that part of the project needs more funds raised to cover the costs of further fencing.

Dry, hot, sunny weather
With all the mud drying up, it was time to sow seeds and organise a bit more drainage, in preparation for winter. The main track dried out beautifully but so, too, did the wooden fencing. Now we need to raise the funds to get it all re-painted in 2019 so it doesn't start splitting. We still haven't finished the post and rail fencing but have, instead, been using electric fencing run off batteries topped up by solar panels in places. This one corner isn't electrified, it's just waiting for wooden fencing but needed to be protected from pony hooves after we planted some crab apple trees, herbs and wild flowers.

Another muddy gateway drained
While the rain's away, we shall play... with mud, pipes, groundcover and gravel. Many thanks to Lyn for all her hard work in ditch digging and sorry you got so muddy. Oops! This is Harvey helping rake out the last of the stone that was used to backfill the drainage ditch after the pipes went into it. We ran out of stone and had to order yet another lorryload! To anyone who supports our project, it really is a case of every penny counts. It costs over £200 for each load of stone and to do all the drainage we need done will take literally hundreds more lorryloads. It's back-breaking work that continues almost all year round so feel free to volunteer... you don't need a gym when you can have all your exercise for free right here at Frugaldom! It's almost like your personal outdoor gym!

I'm going to cut it short now and will continue into June 2018 in my next post. In the meantime, you may like to follow @Frugaldom on Twitter, like our Frugaldom Facebook page or even join us in the Frugal Living Challenge group, linked to Facebook. For anyone who would like to actively support the project, you can contact me via the Frugaldom website or social media. Holidays can be booked via Frugal Breaks and to contribute towards the project, see the options we have available in the Frugal Shop.

You got it! We love everything frugal and strive to stretch every penny as far as possible, whether it be feeding and caring for rehomed ponies, rescuing chickens, offering frugal holiday accommodation, inviting volunteers or just simply living a good life. We're here to provide you with a really good reason to get up each morning and celebrate frugal life.

Thank you to everyone who is helping make Frugaldom a shared reality.

Thursday, 25 January 2018

2017 End of Year Round Up

Looking Forward to 2018 After a Very Busy 2017

A fast forward through the month of December with this photo blog showing some of the things we did during December.

The children started decorating a tree at Frugaldom
reusing the baubles and tinsel  from last year.

We had some old clothes to recycle so we made Mr Scarecrow,
giving him an old football for a head, a flower pot for a hat
and a broken rake to help prop him upright. He's stuffed with hay.

For extra tree decorations, we used toilet paper tubes
and salvaged food wrappers - these are our Hovis crackers!

Making bells for the Christmas tree from
old tin foil, egg cartons and wool

Our start was made from cardboard covered
in gold foil from a tomato puree tube

It snowed!

Frugaldom looked lovely in the snow,
especially around the new ponds

Frankie loves rolling in the snow

Our American visitor returned for her Christmas break
and got her first ever experience of sitting on a bareback,
barefoot, bitless pony - Willow in her winter woollies.

It was very pretty at the caravans, even if
this first lot of snow only lasted a day or so

Most of the snow fell on the Galloway hills.

The decorated tree in the mist at Frugaldom,
standing among the tiny native trees planted
as part of our World War 1 Centenary woodland

The wild-seeded Sitka Spruce at Frugaldom
came in handy - we carefully selected a lovely,
small tree and lit it up by the caravans,

Pippin the pony walking on ice!

The gorse by the roadside between Frugaldom and
the caravan park is beginning to flower in the snow.
December flew past and most of our time was spent preparing for Christmas. The budget was kept well under control and the challenge spreadsheets were totalled up for the end of the year, allowing for one final small investment in seeds and an Argos voucher for spending on bonus items that were afforded by exra scrupulous budgeting practices throughout the year. :)

 Olivia, our American student who was with us for a few weeks during summer, returned to spend Christmas with us at the caravans and then she headed further north.

Christmas shopping was done as carefully as ever, affording us a big supermarket shop and the many bargains that were available through MuscleFood. (This is my friend referral link that will also get you some meaty freebies.) And then there were all the Christmas leftovers to freeze for later use. The homemade clootie dumpling was, as always, pidding of the day and allowed our guest to sample some traditional Scottish cooking.

We spent Hogmanay at the holiday park, listening to the piper piping in the new year and watching the fireworks display.

For those of you with an avid interest in number-crunching, here are end of year results. I began the year with the customary £4,000 and spent the following from each category:

  • Groceries - spent £942.83
  • Toiletries, laundry & cleaning products - £43.27
  • Electricity - £932.83
  • Coal & logs - £40.00
  • Mobile phone - £20.00
  • Telephone & Internet - £574.60
  • TV Licence - £145.50
  • Footwear & clothing - £41.84
  • Gifts - £321.48
  • Travel - £365.00
  • Postage & deliveries - £21.17
  • Insurances - £312.99
  • Pets & livestock - £189.55
  • Misc other - £50.50
Total spend on household-related expenses = £4,000.60
Left in the 'EEK' (Everything Else Kitty) £50 Argos voucher,
Gifted Amazon vouchers, Topcashback balance (accrued from Christmas shopping online), Nectar points and a tub of loose change.

Progress at Frugaldom has come on in leaps and bounds with resurfaced tracks, drainage runs cleared out, the yard completed, more fruit trees planted plus 1,000+ more native tree saplings planted around the place. Frugal Breaks launched, offering you the opportunity to come and  visit for a short break (or longer stay, if you choose) and the bulk of the penny-pinching savings were poured into a tiny, one-bedroom cottage, complete with an out-building and a plot of garden land. The cottage is now part of our Frugal Breaks holiday lets enterprise, but more on that in a later blog post, as there's still quite a bit of work to be done.

That's it! We're now up to 2018 and the start of a brand new year. Good luck to all and please do consider joining us in our new  private group on Facebook for the 2018 Frugal Living Challenge. Don't forget to let us know if you are interested in the money saving, money making or frugal breaks when joining.