We're supposed to be out of here by the 7th April, according to the notice we were served at the start of February. I've been reliably informed, this morning, that 15th April will be the earliest we can even get the keys to the next place, which is currently uninhabitable!
As you'll probably all know, we follow the frugaldom lifestyle in pursuit of our dream of microholding. Smallholding is completely out of the question, as we just aren't in the financial position to look at properties with that amount of land - buying is expensive, renting can be extortionate - so it's microholding for us.
Microholding should provide a semblance of self-sufficiency with a lifestyle sustained by working from home. And before anyone cocks an eyebrow or utters a sigh, we are NOT on benefits! It always amazes me the way some people automatically assume that anyone attempting to follow 'the good life' must be shirkers or social security leeches! This is completely untrue.
- Yes, we enjoy gardening and growing our own fruit and vegetables wherever possible.
- Yes, we're comfortable sitting at home earning our crust in whatever way we can.
- Yes, we bake our own bread and make our own laundry detergent.
- Yes, we keep poultry for eggs anf yes, we sell our surplus in an attempt to offset all the associated costs.
In order to take up the challenge of saving enough to buy a house without a mortgage, I began costcutting and debt-busting around 10 years ago. It has been difficult, it has been fraught with setbacks, there have been major expenses to meet throughout that time, including daughter's 21st birthday, an engagement party, a wedding, my son's 21st and, along the way, trying to pay off previous debts and welcoming not one, but two grandchildren into the extending family. There have also been 8 house moves stretching between Aberdeenshire and Suffolk. We want our next move to be the last for many years. The family is now grown and settled into married life and work here in southwest Scotland, so the ultimate move will still see us living and working in the same area.
Becoming debt free is a most liberating experience. From thereonin, it is all about saving, so the frugal lifestyle does not stop when the bank balance moves out of the red and the reminder letters stop arriving. On the contrary, becomig debtfree urges you on to squeeze the budget even tighter in a bid to save as much as possible. We are still several years from having achieved our goals, but fate, as always,can throw a spanner in the works at any time. That spanner was the arrival of our notice to quit this house.
We have been happy here. When we arrived, the house had been empty for months. It was extremely cold and damp, there was no garden to speak of and the roof leaked - badly! However, we overcame each problem gradually - the landlords eventually fixed the roof a full 20 months after we moved in here! I have a full diary of photographs and updates of our progress turning the 'garden' into something productive. It was beginning to look like we might even achieve our dream of microholding, despite being in yet another rental.
I have to admit, the mile and a quarter long driveway that's here being lined with all sorts of foraging wonders has served us well. I have a year's supply of jams, jellies and wine stored, much of it made from free fruit, berries and flowers. I also make fresh lemon curd from our freerange garden hens' eggs. These are the things we can most enjoy about frugaldom - the release from the pressure to buy into a consumerist society. Make do and mend, preserve, bake, grow as much fruit and as many vegetables as you can and make space for some hens, ducks and/or quail. I even compiled a list of 101 things to do with eggs!
Costcutting is the most important factor affecting how much we can afford to save. Apart from the obvious things, like monitoring electricity use, cutting down on transport costs, sharing with friends, only buying what you need rather than what you want and always shopping online through a generous and reliable cashback site, I have found that grocery shopping is, by far, the easiest place to economise on a regular basis. Thanks to bulk buying, batch cooking, shopping for bargains and growing/producing our own, we have succeeded in honing our grocery spending skills to an average of £1 per day per person. I find this to be a comfortable amount. We eat well, the cupboards, fridge and freezer are always full and there's always a variety to our diet. OK, so it completely cuts out fast food, takeaways and eating out but once you are attuned to such frugal shopping, there's always a way of getting more for your money.
Being served notice to quit this house has been a blessing in disguise. We'd become too comfortable with our frugal lifestyle while saving, we had failed to realise the true damage we could be inviting through lost interest. Worse, still, we had already lost one third of our income to these hard times of recession and I suspect there could be much worse still to come. Receiving notice gave us the kick up the backside that reminded us that life is a challenge and it has to be met head on - nothing ventured, nothing gained. And that, dear readers, is how we have found ourselves in the position of buying a little house with a big garden and starting from scratch. It will leave us with no financial security net and very little guaranteed income for the foreseeable future. It's a full renovation job, both inside and out, but it's a challenge we're finally ready to meet, come what may.
I find that ordinary folks like us don't get given much of anything, let alone luck. Take the weather, for example. I feel as if we're living in one of the coldest, wettest areas of Scotland at the moment - not that there are many dry and warm parts - so that's always conspiring against us. Can you tell it's raining here, yet again? But in a funny old way, we have turned around the ill-fortune of facing impending homelessness to a positive thing. We are embarking on our next big adventure, sailing on the winds of hope and then paddling like mad to stay afloat when the reality of this all kicks in. I recently began a new challenge - find a house and move in 45 days - but we won't be able to do that. So now what? We have requested an extention to our vacating these premises date and, in the meantime, we are gathering together every single penny that we can in preparation to exchanging the lot for a fixy-up.
I hope readers will join me in the Frugaldom forums, where we share hints, tips and suggestions for debt-busting, money saving, frugal living and, dare I say it, DIY!