Wednesday, 28 November 2012

Frugal Living - the Good, the Bad and the Gruesome!

When it Rains, it Pours!

Trying to live a frugal life on a tight budget while attempting to renovate a house, develop a microholding in your back garden and earn a living from home is a bit of a juggling act, to say the least. Taking the good with bad, I am happy to say that there normally is some form of silver lining to the passing clouds, even if it takes an exploration team a lengthy time to find it.
Getting the week's 'bad' stuff out of the way first, as this is only Wednesday and there's plenty of time for more to arrive. (Sigh).
On Monday, some marauding animal invaded the garden and killed little 'Bunty', the runty duck. The murderous 'whatever' was neither seen nor heard, so we aren't ruling out a return visit from the mink. Nothing was seen or heard until the gruesome discovery of a decapitated pile of feathers was made, when going to see why all the ducks had run for shelter. (Hoping to borrow a mink trap this afternoon!)
It was last October, the day before my dad's funeral, that the horrid mink paid its first visit and massacred 7 of the hens, including cute little 'Dumbledorf', the miniature Silkie. 
Earlier this year, we lost a couple of ducks.
Worse still, earlier this year we also lost dear Floppity, my big, lop-eared rabbit.
This morning, Scruffy cat, our frugal mouser, point blank refused to go outside the door. Mind you, that could have been because ofthe thick frost. Even the big duck pond is frozen today.
So enough is enough - the varmint HAS to be trapped and disposed of as quickly (and humanely) as possible. With this in mind, I have 'tweeted' a friend who is visiting this afternoon, asking that they brng their mink trap for a (hopefully short) vacation.
Yesterday, after delivering the frugmobile to the garage for it's winter check, MOT and investigation of more clunks and squeaks, we received the bad news - as well as all the 'little things needing done, the back axle's 'gone' (I'm assuming they mean it's broken and not, literally vanished!?) and major motor surgery is just too uneconomical. So, absolute, frugal resolution, I have taken the decision to have the car put to sleep.
Working from home means no commuting, but the nearest village store and post office is over 3 miles from here. We aren't on a bus route and there are no taxis. However, a friend had loaned me her bike and this will now give me the impetus to attempt to cycle. It will also give me the kickstart I need to pursue a car-sharing project for our tiny street, although it manly comprises of semi-vacant holiday homes. But nevertheless, I am finding it rather exciting thinking of all the preparations that need to be in place before winter proper reaches our corner of Scotland. The re-payment meter will definitely need to go, as there's no sure-fire way of reaching the post office in a hurry in the event of another 'key' failure. Perhaps the recent one was sent as a pre-warning, reminding me that it's sometimes better to release the stubbornness handbrake and pay to go with the flow. (But I'm still loath to pay Scottish POwer £60 to remove a meter I never asked for in the first place!)
OK, less of the doom and gloom, let's get on to the good stuff.
Without having a car, I'll save on road tax, insurance, garage bills, fuel bills and further reduce the carbon footprint of the Frugaldom household. That is excellent! It will free up and estimated £150 every month, which soon mounts up towards renovation work. It will also encourage me to get out there and walk more, perhaps even affording me the luxury of real walking boots!
On the subject of boots, and carbon footpints, our local council is showing signs of edging closer to recycling, planning the introduction of 5 new bins in 2014 (but still no green waste bin). Instead, we will gain individual, smaller bins for:

food waste (outdoor bin)
glass, plastics and metals
food waste (indoor caddy)
In addition to the above, they already offer subsidised compost bins, of which I have two, and a brand new entry this year is their introduction of subsidised wormeries. (Info can be found at Being of a frugal extremist nature, I had to do a price comparison and ask about for other suppliers and recommendation... and that brought results!
I'll need to write a second post today, again, because the exploits of what happened next are rather fun but a little long to include here.
Back soon,
PS: Second post of the day is a much happier state of affairs, I promise! :)


  1. Just a thought; is it possible to switch to a different energy company, on the condition they change the meter? We had two pre-payment meters and npower changed them for nothing, not that I'm praising them; they were the biggest single factor in practically killing me and making my ME far worse.

  2. So far, nobody is offering to remove the meter free but I'm sure I could recoup the costs over the space of a year if I paid the removal cost. The other downside was some asking for up to £150 deposit before accepting former pre-payment customers onto standard meter accounts. I can understand their reasoning, but as a long-standing customer of Scottish Power who hasn't run up any debts previously, it's a bit unfair expecint a grand total of £210 up front before they switch the meter. But I will keep checking, in case anyone will do the switch without deposit & fee.

  3. Oops, that should say 'expect'. :)

  4. Would you consider an electric bike NYK I done a quick search and there was one for £389 but I am sure you could get cheaper. I think you can peddle as well to save on electric.

  5. Poppy, I was talking about those just a couple of weeks ago, even spoke to local bike shop, who is getting an electric-assisted bike in stock soon. His is of the expensive variety, mind you, but I asked about it anyway. It wouldn't cope with the hill up here, so my worry would be that the extra weight of battery, roceries etc could mean I wouldn't be able to push it up the hill either.

    I think it will be a combination of walking, occasional buses and, if I can get my knees to behave nicely, I'll try cycling again. Could work in well with my 'Get fitter, not fatter' challenge on the forums. How are your knees since your op?

  6. That's a shame, you could of had a little basket for your parcels. I live in Norfolk so no hills to worry about here.

    My knees are so much better now, really pleased I had the operation. At the start of the cold weather I did have some aches but not any more.

    I am hoping my allotment is going to help me with my get fit, not fatter challenge for 2013. I have lots of digging over to do. I may even use my bike to get me there.

    I hope you find a solution or that you learn to love the long walk.

  7. last night, I had a very interesting conversation with a fellow frugaler who lives nearby and we're now on our way to partially resolving the transport (or lack of) problem. :)

  8. so sad to read of Floppity's demise, I know how much we love our brown lop, Twitch, who lives indoors with us Down Under.

  9. Thanks, Sue. (And I just spotted my mistake in the post, the mink killed 5 hens during its first visit, leaving us with 7.) Apologies for getting that wrong. Then there was a visit from a weasel, which got 2 quail... perhaps 2013 will be better. :)


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