Welcome to 2014 and a Brand New Frugal Living Challenge!
The annual summary:
Thank you, once again, for the continuing support in my plight to beat the budget year upon year and I wish every one of you success with your own.
As you'll possibly already know, 2014 marks 15 years since I first published a frugal living challenge. I had, however, had quite a bit of practice before that while getting out of all sorts of financial sticky wickets; having expensive hobbies never comes cheap, so we need to live with the consequences of unbalancing any budget.
It is 28 years since I got married, learned to bake bread, first slow cooked and taught myself how to prepare a chicken in a way that stretched it far enough to feed the household for at least a week. It is also 11 years since I got divorced, but why even bother with the hindsight thing? Just keep on moving forward and correcting whatever mistakes you can in as simple a way as possible - no matter how long it takes! But that won't help the newcomers to Frugaldom, so here goes for another Frugaldom recap - please feel free to refresh my memory if you've been with me since the start and I've forgotten anything important.
Back in the 80's I had hens, ducks, lambs and quail, along with cats, dogs, horses, ponies and even a donkey. We'd had the miners' strike, which wasn't easy for anyone attempting to start newly married life in or near a mining village. We also had what could loosely be termed the collapse of Fleet Street, bringing with it a revolution within the newspaper industry. (Looking back, this could possibly have influenced my decision to enter the world of publishing in the late 90's.)
By the late 80's, interest rates had, once again, sky-rocketed while, at the same time, domestic rates were replaced with the Community Charge - the Poll Tax to you and me! This combination financially crippled many of us. Times were rather difficult - I think I can safely say that without fear of criticism.
Onwards and upwards, we did manage to cling on for dear life, scrambling along the route of self-employment and living on the tiniest of budgets. Blah, blah, blah... they abolished the Poll Tax and introduced the Council Tax, but we eventually lost MIRAS (Mortgage Interest Relief At Source) and there were cracks appearing in the Endowment schemes... need I go any further? Perhaps I will, just to mark such a momentous occasion.
We developed from home-based business to commercial premises. By the end of 1990, things weren't looking so bleak after all... barring the fact that our shop was located on the edge of western Europe's largest hot strip steel mill! The next major blow was dealt in 1992!
As a word of caution here, and I can speak with the voice of experience, I suggest you never sign contracts of any description without first reading and, more importantly, understanding every word of the small print. 60 months may not sound very long-term but when you lose your income and have signed on the dotted line, you are legally bound to pay - creditors show no mercy.
So here I am, 28 years further down the line and still counting pennies in the hope that my experience can help others find their way through their own financial storms. I am still self employed, pretty much still doing the same things I have always done but with a much deeper understanding of how to slash the overheads and beat my own budget. It took me until 2007 to reach debt-free status and, from all of that, I learned the most valuable lesson possible - the real differences between needs and wants.
Welcome to 2014 and yet another year of budget-busting, frugal fun!
In the eyes of some, this lifestyle is often seen as poverty-stricken - it isn't!
We are living well below the breadline - yes!
We can't possibly have any quality of life - yes we can!
Contrary to the latter very peculiar belief, I have everything I could possibly need: friends, family, home, hobbies, the ability to make do and mend, a reduce, reuse and recycle attitude and, above all else, a huge reservoir of experience in frugality that allows me to live well within my means while affording me the luxury to freely share my knowledge with others, without the need to capitalise upon it.
Coal - £219.40
Logs - £180
Other - £74.91
Mobile - no need for one
Telephone/Internet - £377.27
Gifts - £336.76
Transport - £98.45 (I no longer have a car, but this includes train and ferry fairs)
Postage and Deliveries - £81.05
Home Insurance - £164.64
Pets, miscellaneous, contingency - £365.78
- A fund-raising walk to the summit of Ben Nevis
- Visiting the Giant's Causeway - included here
- Walking across the Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge - included here
- Taking my grand daughter on her first ever adventure with frugal gran