Wednesday, 3 July 2013

Needs and Wants of a Frugaler

The Age of Frugaldom

We've lived in the plastic age, seen the rise of microchip technology, gone from just having the BBC on terrestrial TV to having over 100 digital channels, learned of holes in the ozone layer, global warming and peak oil and we now hear tell of future power cuts because the National Grid simply isn't expanding capacity as quickly as we demand the use of it electricity.
In part I of this strangely convoluted series of posts, I listed the very basics of what we need and want out of life. This was followed by part II, which looked at some of the world population's biggest fears - Financial instability, Global Warming, Extremist groups / terrorism and Nuclear developments. Now I'm going to recap and elaborate on a few points, for those of us who plan on preparing ourselves for frugal retirement rather than risk being left with nothing.
Please note that none of this constitutes financial advice in any way, shape or form - these are my personal thoughts, nothing more.
What do we NEED?
Food and Water - requires fresh air, fresh water and growing substrate for basic foodstuffs
Clothing - requires basic materials for weaving into fabric
Shelter - requires construction and building materials 
Energy - for heat, light and everything else associated with energy production
Good health - Nutritional diet and health care when needed
Fitness - Income dependent, but the more disposable income people have, the more they seem to spend on how they look and feel.
Where do we begin when attempting to safeguard our own future?
I am going to begin at what I perceive to be the start of a long and winding road, but will travel in the knowledge that the road can come to an abrupt end at anytime, so all my investments need to be transferable to family to help  prepare them for their own futures.
FOOD - Keeping a good supply of nutritional food in the cupboard is great. However, fresh food is no good for long term storage, it needs freezing and that needs a guaranteed power supply. Investing in alternative sources of energy has to be worth considering.
Stockpiling all those household bargains that we know we'll use in the future - toilet roll mountain springs to mind - helps us keep ahead of the game, especially in a crisis involving the sudden depletion of savings or loss of the household income. That's always a scary prospect. Here we would need to fall back on whatever we can grow, rear, make, produce from home, but growing or rearing it takes time and we may not have that much of it if income dries up and savings have all gone.
How about investing long term in growing space and everything needed to ensure that it can be as productive as possible? It needn't be acres of land, poly tunnels and a limitless supply of manure and fertiliser; even the smallest spaces can be utilised in a productive way, if we know how!
Likewise, knowledge of what's safe to eat when foraging is helpful and knowing how to preserve food is paramount. We might even be looking to traditional skills, like making/using potash and other DIY plant foods and fertilisers.
Investing in companies that develop and market such products could be a good place to start for your pension fund, if you have some spare cash to risk. Tesco and Sainsbury's seem to be doing OK, all things considered! I sometimes wish I'd invested a few pounds into Associated British Foods PLC ten years ago, even if the biggest proportion of their net profit now comes from the clothing industry by way of Primark.
WATER - can we be assured that there's enough of the stuff to go around not just now but in the future? We pretty much take it for granted here in rainy Scotland, but we aren't totally exempt from droughts. Investing in technology that can produce safe drinking water from alternative sources could be another good place to start trickling some long term investment funds. I always thought fuel cells sounded like ideal solutions to energy and I believe water is their waste by-product. If you really want to get into the nitty-gritty of water solutions, read about the International Space Station and what's known as the Environmental Control and Life Support System (ECLSS).
CLOTHING - As adults, we shouldn't really drastically change shape all that often, sour size should remain pretty stable throughout our lives, barring severe medical issues and pregnancy. We don't need two wardrobes filled with clothes and 30 pairs of boots and shoes, we simply need appropriate climate/weather wear. Now I do know that even the most frugal of us can be tempted by shoes but do we really need all that many? Clothing-wise, there's really no reason why we shouldn't keep a bottom drawer for future use because as time has adequately told, what goes around in the fashion industry almost invariably always comes back around. Wellies will never go out of fashion by anyone who ventures outdoors in the rain.
SHELTER - Clearing off all debts, including any mortgage, is great. This not only reduces the future cost of living by way of us having no mortgage or rent to pay, it also ensures that we cannot lose the roof over our heads, short of some unforeseeable disaster. Shelter from the elements and a safe haven from the outside world has to be seen as a basic need, regardless of how large or small your living space might be. 
Some people say that investing in property is out-dated, but let's face it - we all need a place to call home. At the rate the population is expanding, available building space is fast reducing. In all honesty, I can envisage the use of smaller and smaller living spaces, perhaps to the extent of self-sustaining micro-communities springing up in our midst - the static trailer parks of the future. (Another good reason to hold onto any land you may already have and invest any spare cash into eco-friendly construction companies.) Just to be doubly safe, I bought a tent!

ENERGY - Oh dear, where should I begin so as not to rattle too many cages? It is a fact that our main sources of energy are fossil fuels and nuclear power, there is absolutely no escaping that. It is also a fact that if the infrastructure isn't in place to keep up with ever-increasing demand, then we will face shortages. How they deal with those shortages could be two-fold; prices will continue to increase so we are 'encouraged' to use less, plus there could be rationing during peak times. As demand grows, so, too, must supply and that means extending the capacity of network while also spending billions upon billions of pounds trying to generate enough power to pipe round that supply system.

Willing individuals have little effect on this inevitable process, so governments will be forced to take action and enforce energy saving measures on us all - households and businesses alike. We know we need energy, so we should be investing in good, environmentally friendly, renewable sources using what we have readily available to us - the natural elements. I've been keeping an eye on hydrogen fuel cell development for some years now, but recently added in the carbon-based graphene technology. Whether or not cold fusion, the LENR energy catalyser or solar docking stations ever come on the market remains to be seen, but it's probably best to keep an eye on those developments, too.

I'd still love to install solar power to the shed and concoct a way of deriving power from the little stream that runs through the bottom of the garden, but technology is not my strong point and the stream floods halfway up the garden during extreme and prolonged rain.
HEALTH and FITNESS - I've already invested in pedal bikes for the household and some discounted outdoor wear for walking. I do have a heavy-duty pair of steel toe-cap wellies that got worn when working around cattle but I was serious when I mentioned investing in a decent pair. Did you know that Hunter Wellington Boots were originally designed for walking in Scotland's rugged terrain and combating its unpredictable weather? And they now come in a multitude of modern, jazzy, snazzy colours, designs and finishes!
I lumped health and fitness together to keep this shorter than it might have been - I'm not managing that very well, I always have far to much to say when I get onto the topic of frugal living and all that can be done while living the lifestyle. Healthy eating is something I need to really focus on, as it's not easy keeping sufficient fresh fruit and vegetables and a reliable, healthy source of protein in the house when living nowhere near well-stocked shops, butchers or greengrocers. No delivery vans here other than the fish van, but that's probably good for the frugal budget as I am not tempted to overspend on non-essentials. The price of fresh fish is beyond my frugal grocery budget, so I'm sorry to say that I don't support that local business.

Finally, frugal living is also about frugal ways of working, so saving at home is just one side of the coin. Playing this 'game' in a working environment is where we coined the term 'frugaleur', which basically means a frugal entrepreneur. If you can earn your own living in a frugal and sustainable way, investing wisely and creating a business from what you have around you, then why not try it? what have you got to lose, if the basic premise is starting from scratch with nothing?

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  1. Another wise post Nyk. I have managed to combine my exercise with my work as a I work as a cleaner these days and am fitter than I've ever been.

    1. My problem is condensing everything into just a few posts when finances and lifestyle are my favourite subjects - can you imagine just how much I TALK?! If there was a way of losing weight through chattering, I'd look anorexic! Hmm... no I wouldn't, I'd talk with my mouth full! LOL

  2. For those who are interested in LENR, alias Cold Fusion, it is becoming industrial at fast pace... in few ears if not few quarters...

    I've written an executive summary, fed by my tech-watch on LENR forum:

    a huge blackswan, yet ignored as any paradigm change is.


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