Wednesday, 16 January 2013

The Financial Situation Seems to be Getting Worse

Another One Bites the Dust!

 
After hearing the devastating news of our favourite online grocery supplier ceasing trading, contingency plans have had to be made here in Frugaldom. The loss of ROSSPA struck us a mighty blow in the wake of giving up on owning a car, as the online fresh produce supplier was the ONLY only who would deliver to our door - no need for cars, buses, taxis...
 
Alongside ROSSPA, it looks like we could be losing our only shoe store from the town - DE Shoes - and then there's the recent losses of Comet and now Jessops and HMV. Our high streets are being decimated and there's not a thing we can do about it.
 
Recently, I learned that our village lifeboat is under threat - changes in legislation mean they must replace the lifeboat or else risk being sunk by red tape. Perhaps this is something we CAN hep save!
 
Port William Lifeboat (PIRSAC) is an independant lifeboat operating in Luce Bay and Wigtown Bay. It is registered as a charity (Port William Inshore Rescue Service, SC027347) and the lifeboat is crewed by volunteer's 365 days a year, tasked to service by Liverpool Coastguard. It receives no funding other than what the group can raise locally, so our trip to Ben Nevis with the McGonks is being used to help raise some of the £65,000 that's needed to help replace the boat. Please join us on McGonks' Facebook Events Page to follow our progress.
 
Thanks to the MSMSecretSanta challenge partnering Frugaldom with Frugal Queen, many of you on here will know that the subsequent 'love bomb' and secret Santa gift brought me a mountain of crafting materials for my 2013 McGonks project. Thanks to this, I have been able to make several McGonks and have now listed them in a charity auction to kickstart the fundraising for the lifeboat. You can access the charity auction at http://frugaldom.ebid.net/. (We're still waiting to hear the outcome of the Moneysupermarket.com Secret Santa Challenge.)
 
What now?
 
How will the loss of my lifeline to groceries affect the Frugaldom household budget? With no car and no supermarket within 20 miles, there are no other delivery options. ROSSPA had been a God-send for us ruralites, offering reasonable prices and overnight delivery. I'm guessing that it was the delivery that killed it - charge backs, refunds, lost or damaged items... they all add up and can kill a small business stone dead in no time if the cash flow hits a problem. So, how are we going to redress the balance of losing our only delivery service that brought fresh butcher meat and veggies to Frugaldom?
 
First, I'll focus on further costcutting, while getting fit  enough to climb a mountain and trying to raise much-needed funds for our local lifeboat. Main item on the home front is the grocery challenge. With £912.50 to last a full year for two of us plus any guests or visiting family, things are going to be pretty impossible if I need to rely on a local corner store that's 7 miles round trip and where bread costs £1.80 per loaf!
 
 
The above is going to be the salvation of the Frugaldom grocery budget challenge and I have just received my latest order, thanks to al of you guys who read my witterings onlone. The 'refer a friend' links have been brilliant, paying up to £5 in store credit for each friend who registered and ordered. My credit, over the past year, has amounted to £98 and that buys an awful lot of groceries in a clearance outlet.
 
We have the garden. OK, so we bought the house with almost a quarter of an acre of garden and then found out only half of it was suitable for growing anything, on accounts of the flood levels from the burn that runs through the bottom of it but, with luck, the little orchard we planted will survive the occasional saturation. The ducks don't seem to mind and the hens, so far, have been wise enough to stay up higher than the winter water levels, so we can still have eggs when our feathered friends are laying.
 
Vegetable-wise, the top half of the garden will be devoted to things like carrots, onions, brassicas and peas, as these are the things we use most. Potatoes I can buy locally by the sack at around 40p/kilo and I have patio tubs for things like salad leaves, radishes and spring onions. The recycled plastic greenhouse will be used mainly for peppers and tomatoes, plus I have plenty of strawberry plants, herbs and soft fruit bushes.
 
For the past few years I have been trying to get some sort of growers and producers co-operative formed so we can trade fresh produce. I got as far as arranging landshare and the owner registered a few acres as a smallholding so we could rear a few pigs: I needed people to join the group but, although they were all happy to trade for fresh produce, no one was prepared to travel to cultivate said land.
 
At the weekend, we dragged out the bikes and cycled to the above to see the owner and to estimate the distance from here to there. It's 4.5 miles, so not all that long by bike even when you pedal as slowly as me. It means we're within fairly easy reach of a rather well established orchard, land for cultivating and woodland that can produce fuel. All we need to do is work out numbers of hours we can dedicate to the project and how best to proceed. Houseshare, of course, will not agree to rearing 'meat' of any description, so there still lies the problem of sourcing that. All I can think of for now is the little Co-op store about 10 miles from here but I'll need to be fit to cycle there and back with a box of groceries. I do have a small cool bag, so I'll also need to devise a way of securing it to the back of the bike.
 
Toiletries - I have stacks of these, probably enough to keep me going for another year. Toilet rolls, however, aren't the easiest things to juggle on a bike, so I've been thinking about where to store a bulk pack, if I can buy them online and have them delivered at a decent price. Suggestions for cheap loo rolls appreciated.
 
Bread & milk - I have 3kg of milk powder and always try to have a few litres of UHT milk in stock. The local store currently charges £1.43 for 2 litres, which shouldn't be too difficult to carry home on the bike inside the cool bag. I also have a friend who visits most weekends who is happy to pick up milk from the shop on the way past. Bread... that will be homemade or nothing, as will cakes and biscuits. I have quite a plentiful supply of assorted flours in stock, thanks to Approved Food and the similarly trading Food Bargains.
 
My latest 'Approved' order arrived this afternoon, so I'm now stocked up on really cheap ham stock cubes and more cappuccino. Having been expecting the delivery, I soaked a bowl of split peas overnight and now have a big batch of pea & ham soup in the slow cooker. (I need to source an affordabe supply of red lentils.)
 
Sorry it's such a lengthy and wordy post. Once I start, I can forget to stop - I'm the same out walking or cycling, hence the reason my 10 mile bike ride at the weekend ended up being just over 20 miles. Oops! :)

23 comments:

  1. The Regatta Outlet orders arrived! (Friend orderd similar kit to me through my Topcashback link.) Everything is great, I am hugely impressed by our matching 'minty green' waterproof jackets. If you happen to be in Fort William during May bank holiday weekend, you won't miss us! :)

    ReplyDelete
  2. If you don't already have a cock and a drake, they might produce some chickens and ducks for the table, not essential to have special equipment, and 2 extra fowl to feed won't cost much?

    Them what about a few rabbits? They don't take much housing, easy and cheap enough to feed, breed like, well, rabbits, grow to cooking size very fast, and and country boy knows how to kill, skin and gut them.
    Very healthy meat as well, no fat, and the skins can be turned into furry McGonks.

    Maybe houseshare could be persuaded they're pets?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm a registered poultry and game breeder,have worked with/bred them since the 80s and grew up on a beef farm. As long as I'm housesharing here, there'll be nothing bred here for the Frugaldom table. No point in even getting into that conversation in this household as all out domestic warfare would ensue. :)

      Delete
  3. Its a shame your friend can't pick up fresh milk/frozen food at a cheaper price and bring it with them. We freeze all our fresh milk until we need it. Could you get extra growing space by utilizing tyres. Maybe if you can get a stack of 4 or 5, work out where the flood would come to and put a pierced growbag or something on that particular tyre. Fill the ones above and you might be able to grow something without it growing. I once knew someone who had a tyre wall, painted white and they grew loads of stuff in it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Friends are from the village, but I can hitch a lift into town with one of them now and again. :) We've also had the lengthy debate about stacked tyres and we have the bottom half of the garden fenced off beyond any flood area. As per previous posts, we haven't been here long enough to see how far up the flooding can come, so we had dainage put in to prevent it flooding up to the duck pond. :)

      Delete
  4. Could this be a frugal opportunity for you? Could you and friends get together a cooperative and sort your own orders out in bulk? Split the difference between you?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Been trying to do that for years, Gillibob and used to do similar during the late 80s and 90s before relocating. It was great, but that was when we were all in the same area. Aout here, its as if nobody needs to be that frugal and of those who may, we're spaced out 20 to 50 miles apart, so delivery/collection makes it les than feasible. Difficult situation to explain, but I'm hoping you can understand. We are in no way remote, I just choose to live what some might call a very unconventional lifestyle. :)

      Delete
    2. Thanks for the explanation wish i could come up with a feasible solution for you. :-)

      Delete
  5. Great interesting post here. Been toying with the approved food company but so far have not taken the plunge.

    ReplyDelete
  6. I cannot fault Approved, there always seems to be something available on extra discout or, like today's rice pots, FREE. Once you have registered you'll can get your own friend referal link and start earning store credit then spend that they even accept it to cver delivery charges. :)

    ReplyDelete
  7. I usually buy my shoes on line as I tend to buy the same brands over and over and I dont really wear fashion shoes. I use Zappo here in the States. They have a free return policy.
    The price of toilet paper has gone screeching up here - I think I am going to rig up some kind of bidet system. There is a girl in NYC who does it, cant remember her name. Easier if you live alone. We have Craigslist here for advertising anything including ride-shares.
    Could you hook up with someone in the village and share the cost of petrol on occasions.
    Dried milk is great, better if you make it the night before and refrigerate it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Nowadays, it seems we can buy anything online - if it wasn't for having access to the Internet, I'd never have even considered attempting to live in a semi-rural location without a car. :)

      Don't fancy the bidet system for here, bit cold with no central heating and think of all that extra washing with no way of drying it... first trip to Aldi and it'll be stock up time on loo rolls, plus I can ask any of my pals who are in town to pick me up a pack. Has to beat saying 'buy a cake' or similar. LOL

      Delete
  8. I'm really shocked and disappointed to hear that ROSSPA has ceased trading. I received my first order from them last week after reading about them on your blog and was really pleased with the quality of the meat and salad produce and was looking forward to using them again.
    Although I don't have to rely on them in the same way as yourself it is sad that their business has closed as they provided a good service. Good luck finding new meat supplies.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. ROSSPA closure came as a big shock - I knew there had been a few issues with delivery system but didn't realise the extent of it. It never actually bothered me if an order had a bit of a bash in it or took 48 hours to get here, the stuff was always were well packaged with plenty of ice packs. Mind you, that alone must have cost them a small fortune, perhaps they forgot to factor in the costs of providing stuff like that.

      I did attempt to get a group together here to share a bulk order from butchers, but for some weird reason, some people appear to find this offensive. When I dared to ask a local baker/confectioner about sharing a sugar order (for my jam, marmalade & lemon curd making) they dropped all association with me like a ton of bricks. Gobsmacked as to why, but some people actually treat you as if you are trying to engage them in some sort of 'rip them off' con. Totally weird. I had no problems order sharing with friends in the 80's and 90's in my home territory but, then again, my friends there were ones I'd grown up with and knew were in similar situation as me - trying to make a pound stretch into a fiver. :)

      Delete
  9. What about sandbagging to stop the floods? Or there anyway to slightly alter/divert the lay of the land to not stop but ease the flooding?
    Kiwi Fi

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. We've been here for the best part of 2 years and it's only the recent, exceptionally heavy and prolonged rains that have caused the flooding. The ducks have the run of what will hopefully become the orchard if the trees all grow. Apparently, with what we have already done (cleared a load of rubble from below the bridge), it should have alleviated the problem a bit and I'm also hoping it's a rare occurance. Thankfully, it doesn't come anywhere near the back of the house. :)

      Delete
  10. Just ocurred to me - what about hunting or do you know any hunters in the area, or is it something you would consider ?

    ReplyDelete
  11. Costco have started doing free deliveries in the uk for items like toilet rolls. You don't have to join to order although you would pay a bit extra than members. You have to order two x48 packs of toilet rolls but you'd be well stocked up!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. If you could send me the link to their online shopping site, that would be great! Thanks :)

      Delete
  12. for some unknown reason if Itry to reply on the iphone Blogger just will not allow it!! Rant over I'm on the laptop.
    Have you thought about a cycle trailer. we've had one for over 30 years. It started life as a kiddie trailer but we use it for shopping now. It will hold a full weeks shopping.
    Maybe try on Freecycle as someone may have one they no longer want.

    ReplyDelete
  13. Yes, discussed with local bike shop, but no to Freecycle, as we have no transport and nobody about here is on Freecycle, Freegle, LETS or any of the other groups of which I'm a member. I can't even get them to come here and collect free stuff I try to give away during decluttering.

    As per previous posts - I am just slowly getting used to cycling again after a gap of 30 years. We discussed the trailers as a way of dragging 25kg of firewood per bike back from the forest but I'm a long way from being fit for that. LOL

    ReplyDelete
  14. as you are on the internet a lot why no try doing Swagbucks to earn you Amazon e-cards and stock up from there once a year? You can get referrals and they will earn you more Swagbucks which means it will be faster for you to earn. I know Amazon is not the cheapest, but if you're getting the products for free anyhow it's better than nothing? I earn around $25 a month from doing it.

    If you do decide to give it a go please would you sign up under my referral?

    http://www.swagbucks.com/refer/Appleby

    Also if you want more info and tips just pm me though the forums,

    Gill

    ReplyDelete

Many thanks for taking the time to comment. All comments are moderated to help prevent system abuse by spammers, time-wasters and chancers, so your comment will not appear until it has been manually accepted for publishing. This will be done as soon as possible - I check for updates regularly. We are on GMT - London times.