Twisting and Turning - Taking the Frugal Route.
This is the route I chose to take about 15 years ago. To many, it looks like it's all downhill through a rather bleak landscape, with nothing to look forward to but reaching the bottom, when things will hopefully level out and allow time to relax, go with the flow and even enjoy the ride.
It's the frugal route, it's the needs prioritising the wants, it's the saving combatting the spending and it isn't easy to navigate if you happen to take your eye off the road, even for a brief moment.
Here's the latest update on my 2012 Challenge:
Groceries, Toiletries, Cleaning - £1,200.00 (-£18.59)
Electricity - £800.00 (£15) probably won't be enough, but will try to make it last.
Coal - £245.00 (15p)
Logs - £165.00 (£4.75)
Other - £64.50 (£6.25)
Mobile - £10.00 (£5) there's no signal here, so why feed the thing more than it needs?
Telephone and Internet - £318.00 (NIL)
TV - £145.50 (NIL)
Footwear and Clothing - £50.00 (-£16.07)
Gifts - £60.00 (-£69.59)
Car - £750.00 (£12.59)
Postage and Deliveries - £47.00 (-46p)
Home Insurance - £75.00 (£75)
Household Pets - £70.00 (£9.77)
Total remaining from £4,000 = £23.81
As you can see, there were a few fluctuations after switching about balances. I deducted £100 from car budget and switched it to groceries and I didn't renew contents insurance - my contents are minimal, to say the least. Gifts budget is something I need to really work on, as I am so easily tempted when it's for family. That HAS to stop and I have to make much more of an effort to handmake gifts. Trouble is, you can't handmake things like concert tickets. (Nor do I want to become that crazy old lady who gives strange creations to grandchildren for Christmases and birthdays that they hide and then only produce when granny visits!)
Clothing budget went over because I bought some leggings, hi-vizibility vests, gloves and hats for all the extra walking and cycling we'll need to do, now that the car's gone.
On the 'EEK' front - this stands for Everything Else Kitty - over the past year, I have raised an extra £1,808.80 from sales, winnings, vouchers, cashback, interest on savings and cash gifts from family. There was also a small payment from the scrappy when the car got put to sleep, plus there will be another few pounds due at end of the month from savings interest - a pittance - and, hopefully, a couple of months' worth of road tax refunded.
Over the year, I have spent £1,806.46 outside of the strict household challenge budget - pretty much spending it as I get it - but I did use the bulk of my Amazon vouchers (transferred from Topcashback* and Nectar points) for gifts, cat food and bulk buys, plus set up my new micro-business for my part in the 2013 Frugaleur Challenge. (McGonks!) I still can't thank Frugal Queen enough for her activation of that love bomb! The explosion after shock is still rippling through Frugaldom whenever the post man knocks on the door (like he did today, again)!
The EEK (Everything Else Kitty) is what pays for that little bit extra in life, so it is a very important part of any frugaler's annual budget. If I don't have it to spend and want to steer clear of all debt, then I can't spend it without earning it as extra - over and above my normal or regular income. It should be noted that my 'EEK' earnings, even when added to my regular income, still don't come anywhere close to the national minimum wage, nor even the income tax threshold, but I do still pay my self-employed National Insurance Contributions, despite falling below the threshold for those, too! That's my only current contribution towards a retirement pension!
In comparison to others, I feel rather rich on my meagre income. The house is paid, there are no debts, each penny is my own. I am choosing to forego the car, I choose to live on a tight budget while saving what I can, I houseshare with a like-minded frugaler (read that as well-trained) and I choose to live this lifestyle because it's what I enjoy doing. Many people can't accept that fact and think I should buy a car, get a 'real' job (self-employed from home apparently isn't real 'work') and then throw a heap of cash at the renovation to get it done quickly. Hmm... of those people, I'd rather have my lifestyle than their's.
What you'll see is a meandering path that leads us safely through the rocks and hard paces of life, gently rising from the depths of debt - be it loans, credit agreements, hire purchase, credit cards, binding contracts or mortgages - to scale the heights of financial freedom.
Along the way, we'll pass all manner of exciting and beautiful things that help us achieve our goals - smooth curves, gentle slopes, some spectacular views and, if we are lucky, some fellow travelers following the same route. It's sometimes weary and sometimes precarious, but it's heading in the right direction. A few fellow travelers will be passing us on their way down, descending the fast route, spending their cash less than wisely. These are the friends we try to waylay, in the hope they may turn around and accompany us back up the winding road, rather than risk plunging over the edge or hitting rock bottom unexpectedly faster than they'd thought possible. Others will be heading in the same direction, perhaps at a different speed, either overtaking us on their way or being overtaken by us when our own speed is faster than we realised.
At the end of the day, when we look closely at the reality of this 'meandering rollercoaster', we may all be on the same path. Finding ways of feeling good about it all the time can be tough. Some days we simply need to take a break, or even backtrack a little so we can survey the lie of the land and then take a run at the next hill. On such a life changing journey, and that's what your adventure into frugal living can be, nature has provided for every creature to rest awhile and recharge. You just need to turn over any rock to see what's lurking below it, then decide which you'd rather be, or else decide why you'd rather be who you are and carry on regardless.
As a final offering, this is what some folks think of me when I'm of less than cheerful disposition, shall we say!
More than just a little nippy, or just plain 'crabbit', as we Scots normally put it. :)
Photo credit 1: Photo credit: snarl / Foter / CC BY-NC-ND
Photo credit 2: Fuschia Foot / Foter / CC BY-NC-ND
Photo credit 3: NYK Media, taken on the beach nearest to Frugaldom
* Referal link for cashback