Thursday, 15 August 2013

Living Below the Breadline - No Holds Barred!

What is it Really Like Living on a Tiny Income?

I don't live like this because I can afford to,
I live like this because I can't afford not to,
That's just the way things are!

I'm a fairly laid back, down to earth person who has an irritating habit of not giving a damn about money. Like everyone else I know, certain things raise my hackles and then the soap box can get dragged out and, before you know it, I've gone off on a rant. This is one of these occasions, so beware you faint-hearted, well paid, do-gooders who only ever follow the frugal living lifestyle because you over spent on ridiculous 'stuff'. Some of us may never have earned more than the national minimum wage and many more I know possibly won't ever reach those dizzy heights! But we all need to live and pay our way in this world.

So, when someone approaches me and asks me to locate a poor family to interview, I need to ask myself how to define 'poor'? Am I poor?

There's enough work to do about this place to guarantee at least 80 hours of work per week for a long, long time, between web work, DIY, gardening, housekeeping, accounts and seeing to livestock, not to mention blogging! But there's no way I could ever pay myself  £495.20 to do it all. In fact, if I look at the hours put into my lifestyle and the actual cash figure earned, it probably works out at about £1 per hour. Boy, am I poor! (Or, at least, so it would seem to some.)

So how is your day going, so far?

Mine began with some web work followed by a visit to two lots of neighbours while I was delivering eggs and arranging to do some garden duties. I baked a ginger cake (Ginger Cake Mix 450g, 4 packs for £1 from Approved Food) so there was something to have with this afternoon's cuppa. (Kardomah Cappuccino Break 99p per Kilo, bought 10kg at the start of this year.)

I'm so poor that I didn't use a main oven to bake my ginger cake, I used my mini oven, which was bought from a charity shop for £5.00 in 2008, just before my excursion to the Isle of Man. (See Bucket List tab at top of page.)

I'm so poor that I'd to have freshly baked crusty loaf served with quail eggs for lunch.

I'm so poor that after scoffing the quail eggs on toast, I'd to have some dessert - homemade raspberry ice cream topped with more of those freshly picked raspberries.
Now, as you all should know, satire is right up my street and sarcasm is never considered the lowest form of wit in this household, so I really do have to laugh out loud when I see or hear people whining about being skint when they have a household income of over £1,000 per week. What the heck would someone like me do with all that money?
I spend an average of £76.50 each week. Whatever I have left over and above that is for renovating the house, saving towards extras and maybe even some long-term investments. My life may seem boring to some, especially as I can't travel far without a car this year, but I don't need to travel to work. It's right here, at my desk.

Cosmetics and beauty treatments aren't my thing but I do like to disguise my silver streaks now and again. For this, there is henna. In fact, it's available via eBay right now with a buy two, get one free option, so I spent a whole £3.57 including P&P on beauty products this afternoon - go me!
There's no private pension, no sick pay if I get ill, no huge portfolio of stocks and shares and the interest from my savings is laughable - it amounted to £3.54 this month. But nor do I have a mortgage, rent to pay or children to support any more - my children are up and away, leading their own lives, albeit nearby. I have a half share in a fixy up and follow a frugal lifestyle... it really is that simple.
Does this make me poor?
Chances are, if you are reading this then you are probably in a similar situation to me and making the most of this golden opportunity of living your life to the max without maxing the life out your money. But look at it from the Government's point of view - on which side of the line do we fall when they're spouting off their nonsense about living wage, minimum wage and average earnings. We who earn so little MUST be affecting those mean numbers, which means the numbers at the other end of the spectrum are off our frugal scales!

Having started 2013 with a budget of £4,000 for the year and paying as much as possible up front - home insurance, annual telephone line rental, refilling the log store and, of course, my mountain-walking holiday, I find myself looking at making it through the next 137 days with just £1,219.98 to see me through to 2014. The cost of electricity is the biggest drain on resources but it's also paying for the pleasure and luxury of working from home. I don't think that sounds impossible and I don't think it sounds ridiculous - I think it sounds like a fun challenge!

Join me for my next big frugal adventure - stretching the budget to the end of 2013 before starting all over again next year.


  1. I looked at your available money to get you to the end of the year and had a quick tot up and lo and behold give or take a few pence I have got the same. Do I consider myself poor? No not in the slightest if anything I feel very blessed. How you work out what is poverty is way beyond me. I will look forward to see how we get on over the months to the end of the year.

    1. Buttercup, that's brilliant! :) Well, I mean it isn't brilliant that we've a budget of less than £10 per day to last us through to 2014, I mean it's great having like a virtual spending buddy who is in the same situation. I keep mine all listed in the Frugaldom forum but am planning to do a regular spendablog post here of how I'm spending what's left. I don't have any council tax to pay as that's already accounted for, so mine is all food, utilities, heating, cat food and whatever else comes along needing paid. :)

    2. You should meet my diddy friend Ru all of 85yrs young and has been leading me astray since I was 14! She was actually my mums friend and to say they could stir it would be an understatement. Her mum gad to bring up 3 children on her own so turned to and their modest 3 bed home became a seaside lodging house in the summer. They didn't starve. When Ru married pennies were very short and never became plaentiful but as she says she has always had the best that money cant buy. Now at 85 according to the Government as a pensioner she is living below the poverty line. You try telling her that! You will be treated to 4'8" worth of dynamite. She is very happy with her lot. My income has to pay community rates and run my car but I don't have pussy cats anymore or have another body in the house to feed so we probably balance each other up. Good to have a virtual budgeting buddy. We are GOOD.

    3. Buttercup, we have the Council Tax here, which is about £1,000 for the year at the moment. I leave this off because there's no controlling it - the Council need their money and that's it. So, in actual fact, the household probably runs on pretty much £100 per week. With only two of us here now, we each contribute £50 and have got to the stage of being a year ahead, hence the reason I can start on 1st January with £4,000 and the Council Tax ticked off in one lump sum. No car has saved a small fortune so far. :)

    4. PS: My gran, who passed away at 93, would have completely agreed with your friend Ru. Most of my neighbours here are pensioners but I don't know any who are struggling, they simply put a bit of effort into maintaining their lifestyles. :)

  2. Sometimes like beauty, poverty is in the eyes of the beholder.

    Sometimes I feel very poor but mostly I feel very rich and totally blessed that I have a roof over my head, food in the cupboards and the love of a good man.

    It's all I really need.

    I too am looking forward to following your spending antics until the end of the year. If anyone can make that amount of money last, it's you.

    1. Sue, you'll be pleased to know that the budget is 100% in hand and just looking a little out of kilter because of stuff being paid in lump sums, like line rental, TV licence, home insurance and a teeny weeny holiday that needed some suitable clothing. :) Number-crunching complete and I can now retire to bed safe in the knowledge that I've done everything possible to keep my books straight. I've only one regret in life nowadays but I'm sure that will resolve itself at some stage along the way. :)

  3. Another inspiring post from Frugaldom!

    How do we define poverty? I think many people do use money to make a judgement but I disagree with using that as a measure.

    For me it's about quality of life. Your day sounds like a good one that you've enjoyed doing what you've chosen and you've also met your basic needs (very well) so from my perspective you're very rich :)

    My budget is slighty more than yours as I still have an 18 and 19 year old to assist. I'm continually pushing them to independence so it will happen!

    Similar to you I'm reaping the benefits of veg and fruit gardening. OH THE JOY! To me it is truly luxury food that you just cannot buy! Also no 9-5 job with commuting just local part time work that suits and bartering. And no mortgage or rent due to just having a modest home.

    I also use a mini oven which is a real money saver due to reduced electricity costs. Looking at your pic mine needs a real good clean!

    I've always had low pay but I consider myself rich because it's not money that matters as long as I can meet my basic needs of shelter, food and warmth with time to garden, read and walk with my two dogs.

    1. I totally agree! If we aren't costing anyone else any money and we can afford to live the life we enjoy while stretching the budget to saving a few pennies along the way, then it's a good life. I can't wait to get this frugal home to a stage that I can have the grand children to stay over and then have fun playing a more active part in their lives. But I do get frowned upon for not earning enough income to pay income tax and that still riles me when it's the Chancellor/Government that keeps hiking up the thresholds!

  4. If my life were looked at in purely monetary terms I would be viewed as poor too- however, I am far richer than we had £60k coming in many years ago and money was spent thoughtlessly. I regard myself as far more inventive and the lifestyle has brought with it new and exciting projects, new skills and a more inventive way of dealing with obstacles. Fabulous post Nyk!

    1. Thanks, Aril. I've been reading about your Scotland tour, such a pity I missed you while here as I'm sure you'd have liked our little corner of the country. Maybe next time, when there could be space for frugal visitors. :)

  5. I didn't go to Scotland Nyk I went to Lincolnshire ;-) so you haven't missed me. Hope to come up to Orkney next year tho'!

    1. Sorry Aril, me being my usual dim self, I mixed up your post with SFT's! LOL I know fine well you're coming to visit Frugaldom once my greenman is all painted and in situ! :


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