Autumn is certainly upon us, here in southwest Scotland. The first frost arrived here two nights ago with the plummeting temperatures, but clear skies also mean sunshine, so that's an added bonus. If only it could reach the washing line by the back door for long enough to dry the laundry!
As we tumble through the final quarter of 2011, my mind has been wandering mora and more to the 2012 frugal living and moneysaving challenges that lie ahead of us. With so many price increases, the budget is being stretched beyond all recognition.
In 2007, running a household on £4,000 really was a dawdle, thinking back on it. Over the following five years, I pulled the purse strings tighter and tighter, cramming more and more ito that same budget, squirreling away every available penny that could be saved. It paid handsomely. By 2008, I was debt free and piling all those extra pennies, that soon became pounds, into savings pots for all manner of items and events.
Daughter's 21st birthday brought a joint-celebration by way of her engagement. We catered for over 100 friends and relatives, bringing two families into one and spreading the costs to make it a party night to remember. There was also a housemove for us, after the sudden death of our thirty-something year old landlord.
The following year, there was the big wedding. Again, everyone pulled together and bride and groom had a wonderful day spent with all their friends and family, before a good old shindig in the evening.
The year after that was son's 21st, but he opted for money towards his car, which was probably for the best, as he really needs that for travelling to and from work. (Country living has its drawbacks, especially when it comes to employment and proximity to towns, with regards to fuel costs.)
That brought us up to 2010, when we really thought we were getting on top of things with the savings. By then, there was a grandchild scheduled for arrival. She duly arrived on Hogmanay, in good time to herald in the New Year.
So far in 2011 - what can I say?
We had a few problems over Christmas and New Year involving neighbours, landlords and their out of control dogs. Anyone who has been following Frugaldom will know the stories, anyone else will need to trace back the blogs to find out more. In summary, H lost his income, the car packed in completely, meaning it had to be scrapped, and we were served an eviction notice that involved all sorts of to-ing and fro-ing between lawyers. The positive outcome of all that was that we had the freedom to say 's*d the lot of you', cash in the savings and buy this house.
We moved in here at the start of June 2011. As you'll have seen by previous posts, the house was more of a wet shell, but it was affordable, it has a spectacular garden space and there's huge potential for development both outside and in, so we fell for the dream and leapt at the opportunity without as much as a sideways glance.
In the beginning, we had no plumbing - all the pipes had burst over the two winters the place had lain empty. But we have a stream running through the bottom of our garden, so we had the pleasure of making frequent trips to and from that stream collecting buckets of water to enable us to 'flush' the toilet. It was fun while the sun was shining, when it rained we needed the buckets to catch the water that was running through the back roof.
It's now November and we have been in here for 5 months. We now have safe electricity, all the plumbing we require and a serviceable backboiler behind the open fire that heats the water and three radiators. We also have a window in our bathroom, a front door and a solid roof over the kitchen. Life is grand: We simply need a ceiling and a back door to complete the elementary repair works. Tomorrow sees the start of the next phase - pulling down the old kitchen ceiling.
With savings depleted, the £4,000 per year challenge will need to continue but I am making one small concession - an extra £1,000 in 2012 so I can incorporate the Council Tax. If anyone else would like to join me in the next year, challenging your household to some frugal living and moneysaving, you'll find all the details in the frugal living forums via http://www.frugaldom.com/
There are challenges for almost everything moneysaving you can conceive, from saving loose change to homemade ifts and growing your own vegetables. We have challenges about how to earn more money as well as how to cut costs on most things we need in life. It promises to be a very interesting year ahead and I would love it if a few more would join our merry band of frugal heroes. Make the most of your money, get rid of your debts and start saving for the future you really want. Don't put off starting or risk missing an opportunity, be prepared to take life as you find it and make it into something good. Life is too short for stalling the start of your dreams.