For the Benefit of Newcomers to my Concept of Frugaldom
Frugal living may not be for everyone and it does take quite a bit of explaining to some who can neither see the need, nor have ever experienced the need for trying it. But it is a lifestyle choice that's made by many, nonetheless.
Having already posted about my annual household budget - the £4,000 - I would now like to go over the cost implications of everything else that needs paying. Like I already said, frugal living gave us the ability to save for and buy a very cheap fixy-up over the space of a very short period of time but I did throw in my lot with A. N. Other to buy a 3-bedroom house with a big garden rather than a small flat with no garden. But no matter which way you look at it, £4,000 just won't last a year if you need to count in rent or mortgage and any outside the household expenses, which is why none of these things are included in my £4,000.00 However, this does include the costs of working from home, some of which are tax deductible at the end of each financial year. For everything else, I have a separate kitty, known as...
My Everything Else Kitty - E.E.K.
|My Everything Else Kitty|
Everything else outside of the standard necessities are, for me, paid from my 'EEK'. This is the cash kitty that gets topped up by a tiny drip of interest from savings, gift certificates, points, cash back, winnings, sales of surplus eggs, de-cluttered goods and any cash gifts that happen to come my way at birthdays or Christmas time. Let's face it, keeping hens, ducks, quail, a cat and, now, two giant loppy-lug rabbits isn't through real necessity, its more for the fun than the frugality.
It's great having fresh eggs for cooking and baking but we can't possibly eat them all, so I trade many of them for other things and need to raise any extra cash to cover the costs of feeding the feathered and furry friends, keeping them all bedded down at night and keeping them healthy. I also have my wormery, the pet worms that help recycle household waste into liquid fertiliser that cucumbers seem to thrive on, judging by the enormous crop we had last year.
But how does my 'EEK' work in real terms?
Last year ended with an overall balance of £39.70, so that has been carried over and popped into the 'EEK' savings. On top of that, I have a voucher balance of £30.54 in my Amazon account and have just requested payment of another £8 worth of Amazon vouchers via Topcashback*, which gives me cash back on anything I buy using links from their website. There's also £7 of credit lying in my Approved Food* account, which will more than cover the postage of my next order when I need heavy, long shelf-life goods - they normally do regular offers on bread flour, which is how I can bake a loaf for around 25p.
Cashback Credit Cards
Spending £4,000 on the household budget almost exclusively paying by card means brings almost £40 of free cash into the 'EEK' by April of each year, plus whatever else I have paid for by this method. While renovating, almost all of the building materials have been paid this way and in addition to that the livestock feeding, garden-related purchases and any extras that can be added get paid this way. Last year's free money courtesy of the credit card company amounted to £68.94 and that's not to be sneezed at when you see cheap flights, train fairs, ferry fairs or short breaks advertised for less!
Being self employed means keeping up with National Insurance payments, so I have just paid out £70.20, which covers 6 months. This is not part of my household running costs, so does not impact on the £4,000. It is a miniscule sum but it is contributing to my old age pension, so I have no qualms about paying it, even on a voluntary basis when profits aren't sufficient to warrant any further deductions. My monthly savings bond is paid from what I no longer spend on cigarettes and anything else is absolutely mine to do with as I please, even if it's just a few pennies left in my (homemade) purse.
Use it up, Don't Bin it, Burn it or Bury it.
My attempt at zero waste failed dismally owing to the amount of plastic packaging that's used by many companies. Plain brown cardboard is great as it gets rolled up and used in the fire, but plastics are a total pain and need to be binned if it isn't of the type that I can reused - meat packaging, for example!
We have an open fire and a stove, so anything that is safe to burn gets recycled into fuel and used to heat the house, boil the kettle and even cook food. Recently, I was learning a bit more about recycling wood shavings into eco-fuel and I'm now wondering if it would work using the shavings from the rabbit cages and hen houses, but I'm not too sure how easy it would be to dry the blocks once they are made, or how smelly they might be to make while soaking them for a month at a time - time will tell!
I have a Paper Brick Maker* and it's great for experimenting by adding in things like dried leaves, twigs and shredded paper but, again, the blocks take a long time to dry. I guess I should really try much harder at making a stock pile of these during summer sunshine to help combat rising costs of winter coal. I shall pledge now to make an attempt on the eco-fuel from shavings using this method.
|Photos by B.B. Photography|
The West coast has been taking a real battering recently and the next potential hit isn't looking any less ferocious, so the flasks, candles, torches and hot water bottles are all at the ready plus a stack of wood piled by the stove and an open invitation extended to anyone who may be adversely affected to head up the hill to Frugaldom.
Stay safe, folks, and never forget that no matter how little money you have, your chances of subduing Mother Nature when she is throwing a strop are the exact same as any millionaire - appreciate what you have while you have it and make the most of the important things in life that money cannot buy.
PS: We're playing at 'planks'
Several of us take part in whatever free fitness fun we can find, so visit us in the Frugal Forums if you would like to take part. Right now, we're doing the '30 Day Plank Challenge' to prove to ourselves that we do have core muscles and to start toning them up in time for spring.
*I can earn a few extra points or pounds when friends join and use sites via my referral links