|Fresh quail egg omlette with organic tomatoes|
No matter where you live, there is a simple way to follow a frugal lifestyle and help beat the blues - if you have them.
What may be a luxury to someone in the town or city may be commonplace to someone from a more rural community. Think fishing, sailing, equestrian sports or even just wide open spaces, deserted beaches, bluebell woods in spring, snow-clad slopes in winter and few people around to care how you look or what you do. (Within reason, of course.)
As a prime example of the 'luxury' perception, my own children were practically reared on quail eggs. For much of their early lives (and my own, before that), they had poultry and game birds, a large garden, goats or lambs and the usual horses, ponies, dogs, cats and other assorted furry or feathered creatures. This was, and still is, our version of normal. I have things like pheasant and scallops in the freezer, prefer venison to lamb, will hopefully have a wild goose for Christmas dinner and quail eggs can be eaten like sweets. Handmade cookies, preserves and assorted confectionery, organic herbs, saffron, asparagus, freshly harvested globe artichoke... gourmet foods that stores like Harrods pride themselves in having on their shelves.
Organic produce, freerange eggs and handmade or individually designed anything can pretty much be taken for granted if you live in the country and run your suburban garden like a smallholding (or microholding), growing fruit, vegetables and herbs while keeping a few chickens. But a high-flying city career doesn't allow time for endless hours in the garden while also looking after livestock, running a household like a business, spending hours in the kitchen cooking, baking and preserving or earning a living from home. Living and working in the city means paying a premium for such 'luxuries'.
On the flip side, city or town dwellers may take other things for granted, things that those of us living in a more rural location might look upon as absolute luxuries - mobile phones (no network coverage), fast and affordable broadband, supermarkets, night clubs, clothes shops, a local gym, buses and taxis, train stations, shopping centres... even things like mains gas, water and sewerage cannot be taken for granted. The lists are endless. But we still all pay the same taxes & National Insurance, road tax, TV licence fees, petrol, diesel, oil and unit rates on utilities bills.
Annual Council Tax in rural Scotland (and many other areas) is about double what it costs in Westminster but, lest we forget, here in rural Scotland, we can buy a 3-bed house outright for under £60,000.00
In Westminster, £60,000.00 could rent you a 3-bed flat for less than 2 years. (Quite a nice flat, in Sufflok Street, a stone's throw from Trafalgar Square!)
Let's look at the financial differences between both sets of lifestyles. At the moment, the UK Government sets the national minimum hourly rate of pay that an employer needs to pay an employee. Note the bold type - here in ruralite land, there is a relatively low percentage of employees being paid by regular employers. In fact, I'm hard pushed to think of anyone I know who is employed fulltime, most are self-employed and/or working part-time jobs in order to earn their living.
The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills has announced the national minimum wage rates from 1 October 2011:
•the adult rate will increase by 15p to £6.08 an hour
•the rate for 18-20 year olds will increase by 6p to £4.98 an hour
•the rate for 16-17 year olds will increase by 4p to £3.68 an hour
•the rate for apprentices will increase by 10p to £2.60 an hour
If a frugal household can live on £5,000 for a year with no rent or mortgage to pay, how well off would that household be if all occupants earned £6.08 for every hour they worked?
With 3 adults sharing, how many hours would each need to work on minimum wage to earn the £96 in total per week to live in Frugaldom?
With 3 adults sharing, what rate of pay would each need to earn the £696 in total per week to live in the 3-bed, Suffolk Street flat in Westminster?
Interesting number-crunching result, isn't it?