Friday, 3 January 2014

A Happy and Frugal New Year to One and All for 2014

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.

Finally, let's not forget the full recap of 2013 before proceeding into 2014 and answer the question on some lips - did I succeed with last year's challenge?
YES! Here is exactly how last year's budget panned out in the end and it should be noted that this is for a household of 2 plus any guests, visitors or holidaying friends or relatives:
Groceries, toiletries and cleaning products - £964.80
Electricity - £807.18
Coal - £219.40
Logs - £180
Other - £74.91
Mobile - no need for one
Telephone/Internet - £377.27
TV license - £145.50
Footwear and Clothing - £144.56
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
TOTAL - £3,960.30
As you can see, this left me with £39.70 from my original £4,000, so it has gone into the savings pot for some added frugal fun in 2014! Some of the items listed above are non-essentials, like a home telephone, Internet, television, pets and gifts for others. My contingency funds were sufficient to incorporate several excursions:
  1. A fund-raising walk to the summit of Ben Nevis 
  2. Visiting the Giant's Causeway - included here
  3. Walking across the Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge - included here
  4. Taking my grand daughter on her first ever adventure with frugal gran
You can see from the above that 2013 was far from dull. Throughout the year we had guests to stay, family visiting and entertained several friends. Several smaller challenges were included within the year, all paid for themselves if they weren't included in my personal budget. 
Many thanks go to those companies that chose to sponsor some of our mini-challenges during the past year. Special thanks, also, to all the friends and relatives who continue to support (or even just tolerate) what many see as my eccentric lifestyle and, finally, a deeply heart-felt message to all the friends and family of our dearly departed friend known to most on here as JayJay - gone too soon but never to be forgotten as a core member of our little frugaldom group.
Feel free to join us for the 2014 frugal living challenge, as we set off, once again, to live life on a budget. Once again, my personal challenge is to run the household on £4,000 for the entire year, thus allowing me to avoid any debts and still afford some fun along the way.
I hope to be able to fully document progress both here and in the forums, but real life takes time to orchestrate in a meaningful way when balancing it with what's most important to you. We all need to prioritise and leave space to enjoy living our chosen lifestyles.
NYK Media, Frugaldom


  1. Happy New Year Nyk! You remain my constant inspiration and I love how you live your life.

    Sft x

    1. Happy New Year, SFT! Hope you enjoy all your exciting travels in 2014. :)

  2. Well, a wonderful year for you in so many ways but no doubt you will impress us all with you 2014 new talents :) I bought a slow cooker when I got home and bit the bullet...made soup out of all the veggies in the fridge; not brilliant but all eaten!
    Looking forward to seeing you in the summer but if you come up to see yer Maw give me a call and I'll try to see you.
    Have a brill 2014!!!!

    1. Well done, Gill! Hoping to see you again when up for the Schiehallion walk but planning several trips over the coming year - got to get those McGonks out and about the place! LOL :)

  3. Happy New Year Frugaldom! I am hoping that 2014 is just as good as 2013 for you...if not better :-) Looking forward to following along!

    ~ Pru

    1. Hi Pru, Happy New Year to you and yours, hope 2014 is a good one for you, too. :)

  4. Hi
    Very interesting to see the figures so thanks for posting. I was just wondering about council tax?

    1. Hi Sandra, see my next blog post after this one about Council Tax. :)

  5. Happy New Year NYK !
    Congratulations on being under budget in 2013. You are a constant inspiration to me. I fell off the frugal wagon about 8wks ago. Illness unfortunately incorporated in a couple of emergencies left me worn out and extremely cross with myself that I hadn't coped better :(
    I'm in the process of trying to get back on the wagon, and have started today to work out my budget for the next three months. Hoping sincerely to stick to it.
    It's you that inspires me and gives me the optimism to try harder!!
    Take care dear lady. May you have a fantastic year and heaps of good fortune for your challenge! :).

    1. RW I will look forward to seeing you back in the forums soon - it's the ability to pick yourself up, repair any damage and then climb back on again that matters most, otherwise all is lost. Keep up the good fight, and best wishes for 2014! :)


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