Sunday, 19 June 2011

Never ever give up trying

I wonder sometimes if my posts come over as being a little bit smug, 'Look at me, I'm all right Jack', when there are so many people struggling to make ends meet on the little resources they have. It's true that I manage quite easily on a state pension with a tiddly private top up pension.

It was only luck that I have the top up, £64 a month after income tax has been deducted, I just happened to work for a company who made it compulsory to join. I remember at the time I was most miffed that I had to pay into it, but I suppose on reflection, the pain of trying to earn enough money to pay my bills and always keeping a close reign on my spending, is paying dividends now.

To some it must appear that I have the life of Riley, whoever Riley was. I come and go as I please, I do what I want when I want, I'm just lucky that I do not have any expensive tastes, do not have any high aspirations in life, and do not believe I am owed anything or have a right to anything.

My wisdom has come with age, I am thinking more clearly now than I ever have done. I don't have to claw my way to the top any more because I am already there, I am where I want to be. Ok, so that does sound a bit like, 'I'm alright Jack', but I can assure you that when I read about the struggles of young people to find work, to keep a roof over their heads, to make relationships work or break up, or just to find their way through the quagmire of life, I think to myself, 'There for the grace of God go I.' I feel for them because I have been there.

I was very lucky that I had my mum as a role model, but in this day and age, there are not many positive role models. I despair when the aspirations of young people are moulded by the so called celebrities who appear to lust after anything which makes them famous. A new generation is coming along which sees nothing wrong in grab grab grab, me me me, I want it now. This saddens me, because they are missing out on the very reason that they are here.

Here I go again, standing on my pedestal, I must stop doing it. It's alright for me, I have almost paid off my mortgage, which means my day to day living costs are considerably smaller than someone who is only halfway up the ladder. My only ambition when I left school was to work and pay my own way. I have almost fulfilled that ambition. It is my intention to tie up a few loose ends before I go, (don't worry I'm not ready yet),and whatever money is left will be distributed to those that need it.

But hey, that pedestal is calling me to get up there again, and it's my blog, so I am going to offer a few words of wisdom to anyone who happens to be passing. It's up to you to decide if they are worth heeding or if they are plain claptrap.

At the present time it is extremely hard to find work, to earn enough money to live on, and to find a place to lay ones head. But it has been like this before many years ago, and here we are in full circle again. Things can get better if you want them to. Try and ignore the doom and gloom, and look for the simple pleasures.

What kept me in work was the great sense of pride I had in achieving what I wanted to do. It was the challenges of work, the getting out there, I demanded my position in the the workplace. There were lots of wow factors in my job. Wow, look at my big truck. Wow, did I really take that massive load all the way to Scotland by myself. Wow, do my fellow drivers really consider me as one of the lads. Wow, have I really made it.

You have to decide what is the best route through life for you, and I urge you to think very carefully about what it is you really want from your life. Oh, you will make some wrong decisions and go down the wrong road, I did, but if you recognise that you are in a place where you don't want to be, you can take steps to get back on the right track.

Confession time. I got hooked up with the wrong blokes, and do you know why, it was because of my low self esteem, all part of my BDD. I was flattered that any man should want to be with me when I was so ugly, so the attention was a boost, even though it was for the wrong reason, if you get my drift. Thankfully it hasn't done any long lasting damage and if anything it has made me a stronger person. I will not be taken for a mug again, and now my head rules my heart.

There's more. I bought an old ambulance, spend loads of money getting it professionally fitted out into a campervan, then found it took loads more money to drive it anywhere. It was a terrible gas guzzler. Result, sold it cheap just to get rid of it, to a local charity who ripped all the insides out and turned it back into an ambulance for their club. What a waste of money.

Oh, and what about the time I thought it would be a good idea to buy a brand new catering trailer and site it on an industrial estate, and serve breakfasts to hungry passers by. That didn't last long. Getting up early, loading the generator in the back, towing it to the pitch, setting up in November, waiting for customers to come flocking, (they didn't), packing away, cleaning it out, going shopping for the next days supplies. And why oh why did I think I could hack it, doing the same routine day in day out, I hate routine. Result, I sold it to a man who had the same idea in Manchester, lost £1,500. silly me.

Now I have told you of my disasters, you will have disasters of your own, learn to get back up, dust yourself down, and fight another day. Ok, maybe not that easy for some, but you owe it to yourself to try. Nobody is going to knock you for trying. Never ever give up trying.

Right, I'm going to get down off my pedestal, you are now on your own. It's your life, do your best. When my mum died, I thought, oh heck, I'm on my own now. Nowhere to escape to, no one to go running back to, this is it. Now I am not far off the age she was when she passed away, and it makes you think. It aint a rehearsal, don't waste a minute.


  1. You make more sense than anyone I read on the internet.
    You take responsibility for your own life and you are not always crying no fair. I think you are totally authentic. You may have made mistakes (who has nt) but as far as I can see you life is and continues to be one of solid achievement. I have always lead a frugal life but you have taught me that I can really take it to a whole new level and enjoy doing it.
    How many people would stop to retrieve fresh veg that would otherwise be wasted or consistently go to the supermarket very late in the day to get the bargins - not just check them out when they happen to be there.
    I think that to live so positively and fully on eight grand a year is fantastic.
    You are my hero !

  2. Good post.
    Some people reckon that we are *lucky* to be where we are now but they don't see the 30years of hard work done by my husband or all the years of going without that we did. I don't think it was all down to luck. Like you it's taken years of hard work and being super frugal.
    Now we, or me anyway, can enjoy life. Husband still has to work as he has too many bad habits to suport. lol.

    You have worked hard to be where you are and you deserve to enjoy yourself now.


  3. Brilliant post as always x

  4. Excellent words and no, I don't think you are smug at all, just willing to pass on your experiences in an expert way.
    This is a great posting, so don't go downing yourself, you are appreciated, believe me!

    So, where are you gallavanting off to next? LOL!

    Sandie xx

  5. Hi Sandy. No away trips planned at the moment, I need to let my finances recover, what with the price of petrol etc. I will be walking closer to home, making short journeys, to satisfy my lust for the great outdoors.

    Hi Barb, I have heard that said too, which prompted me to write the post. As you say, it is not luck which brought us to where we are now, it's working hard at life.

    Lizzie, I am pleased you are enjoying your frugal life, it is fun isn't it.

  6. Excellent, I do enjoy reading your posts. There is always something that strikes a chord.

  7. What a fabulous post, but you sound as though you feel you need to justify yourself. You don't! You are a beautiful , vibrant woman, living life a it is meant to be lived.
    You Rock!!
    Jane x

  8. I really enjoyed reading that, get on your pedestal as often as you like, such good sense and I wish more people had it.

  9. You are an inspiration to me Ilona and have been since I started reading your blog a few years ago so thank you.

  10. Hear, hear. Too many people just sit on their backsides and expect to be fed, watered and have everything done for them. I've worked for what I wanted both professionally and personally and am now reaping the rewards just like you.
    Excellent post.
    Love from Mum

  11. Good advice! Why does it takes us so long to get it? I feel like I am reading a chapter from my own life!

  12. I know what you mean Wendy, even at the age of 48 I got involved with the wrong bloke. Not a silly teenager, but a mature woman, for goodness sake. I can laugh about it now.

  13. Truer words were never spoken. We each must find
    our path and walk it. I believe I learned more
    from my mistakes, and have been blessed by what they taught me. You write with honesty and from
    the heart. I am so glad I found your blog.

  14. I couldn't agree more Ilona. We have worked hard all our married life and cannot understand the current trend of wanting everything now. There's nothing like the excitement of buying something that you have saved hard for, and looked forward to. We have made financial mistakes in the past, but like you, will reap the benefits of careful budgeting and spending. Enjoy what you have worked hard for and do not feel you have to justify your lifestyle to anyone. I judge people by the way they treat others and not by the money in their pockets. You are fun, kind and thoughtful, an all round good egg. Sally

  15. Not sure if I have commented too late for you to see this but I would love more of this kind of advice and wisdom.

    So many of us (I'm nearly 40) need to reassured that being frugal now is the right path forward... that we can OPT out of this ladder of consumerism and materialism and find contentment in ENOUGH.

    I read a great quote in the book I am reading. It said:

    Sft x

  16. You're not smug. You use your resources wisely and it seems as if you always have except for one or two adventures that didn't work out, but even those were attempts to increase your income rather than just frittering for the sake of it.

    You're not saying, look I got myself a real shit heap of uselessly accrued debt, aren't I clever now that life is forcing me to economise!

    You go way beyond me - and I cannot write small to save ink! :O) - but lots of your ideas are truly excellent.


  17. I really enjoy reading your blog, there's something for everyone. You're spot on with what you say and no I don't think you're smug. You talk a lot of common sense which is a refreshing change compared to some of the stuff you can come across on the internet these days. We've all made mistakes in life, I know I have. All that has gone before is what makes you what you are today. What doesn't break you makes you stronger. I enjoy reading your blog, viewing your pictures and pearls of wisdom, info and tips, etc. It's like having a virtual "big sister/friend" and it certainly cheers me up to have a browse through if I've had a below par day. Thank you!! Love the photo you have at the top of your blog of the poppies, very pretty.

  18. A brilliant deserve your place on your pedestal, jump up whenever you feel the need, it gives you a clearer persepective anyway when you're up there!!

    I love it that your 'sorted' that you know where you are going and what you are doing. The fact that you strive hard to get there makes the arriving all the more satisfying.

    Loving your Blog at the moment.

    Sue xx

  19. Magnificent and inspirational. I am new to your blog. A link was sent to me by a friend who I think saw some of what you have gone through in what I am pondering - specifically the route you talk of. All power to your elbow, what a great life you appear to be having and thanks for your MAGNIFICENT blog, it really is inspirational! It couldn't have come at a better time for me so cheers and do keep filling the internets with your wisdom, great tips and great photos.

  20. you never come across as smug at all. I just love reading your blog, seeing pics of your travels and posts like this are really encouraging :)

  21. Bravo Ilona♥ Brilliant post. I don't know why but the song "I am woman, hear me roar by Helen Reddy popped into my mind. I have never thought you as smug, you are caring, kind, considerate, helpful, wise and the list could go on. Linda xxx

  22. Humm, I look at posts like this and think that some people don't know how easy they have it. I am not sure how much money in dollars your "top up" and pension is but I bet it is more than we will get here. We don't have any type of retirement where I work and getting another job is not an option right now. Leaving any job is not an option and mine (for this area) is not that bad.
    We don't have any mortgage to pay off because we never have had any credit because we can't afford to take on any type of loan. Just paying the bills is all we can afford.
    Schooling would have been nice but my mother couldn't afford any type of college for us. I did go back to a technical college at 40 but with the economy the way it is now, only the best with the most education are getting hired.
    Afraid I don't have any projects to tell about where I have lost money because we have never had any money to invest in any type of project where I could lose money.
    I did get married to a man who I felt was on the right track and he got back on the wrong track and I spent 10 miserable years with him getting no where.
    I now have a great guy (14 years) and we started all over but basically are still in the same place but we are happy. You don't have to have money to be happy. You can have your bills paid and live in a falling down crappy house and as long as you manage to cover the basics each week you can still be happy.
    So do I think you are smug, no, I just don't think you realize that you aren't really all that bad off. So there's me being honest. I read a lot of these blogs where people "think" they have no money and I wonder.

  23. No, I don't think you are smug at all! I drop by now and then, but today you go on my blogroll/blogroll. I really enjoy your blog.

  24. If only we knew then what we know now, hey.
    Many young people could do worse than listening to your advice. It`s only through making mistakes earlier on that we seem to learn for the later stages of life. You have a lot of good wisdom and we all love you to share it! Life is what we make it, and we better learn to make it a good one! Learning is never really going to stop. You certainly have taught us that!!!

  25. Wow.. another great post Ilona. Stand high and proud on that pedestal I say!

  26. You do talk a lot of sense Ilona!
    I think sometimes when people seem to be pouring scorn on us,it is really envy in disguise.

  27. Great post Ilona. I would love to be in your situation but being born in 1955 looks like I will have to work till I am 66 which is a drag as I have so many things I would like to do (inexpensive) but never have the time.

    However the fact I can read about you doing all these things warms my heart, so keep it up girl!

  28. Oh Ilona you are an one should ever think you are being've helped so many of us change our ways a bit at a grocery shopping has changed because of more mindless tossing things in to the basket...

    All the little things add up to being able to put more towards my student loans each month...and it's fun trying to find ways to make do and save more...

    Love your blog and don't comment nearly enough...thanks for helping me get on the right track!

  29. Another thought-provoking post, I dont know about failed projects, the biggest mistake that I made was to think that I could borrow a whole heap of money and then stick my head in the sand about paying it back!! x

  30. Well said Iiona, as always.

    I have been interested to see my two sons, now young adults, change from the peer pressured "I want it now!" philosophy into one of being frugal and careful, yet enjoying the simple things. I`m thankful that they and their partners get pleasure from a free walk in the country instead of an expensive day in a shopping mall.

    Your positive approach is such an inspiration. Long may you stand on your pedestal!

  31. love this post. love it that you recognize you're living the good life. I need to realize and celebrate this more in my own life: "I am already there, I am where I want to be."

  32. Fantastic! (No other comment needed).

  33. Hi becky, thank you for taking the time to enlighten me about your life. Very interesting. You say you don't think I realise that I'm not really that bad off. Oh, but I do. I don't plead poverty because I know I'm not poor, I have enough. My combined pension of £8,000 per year is classed as not very much at all here. Yes I have a house, but have to pay all the bills associated with it. I can't sell it because I wouldn't be able to afford to rent anywhere unless I used the capital, and there would be no point in that. I might as well stay put for the time being.

    I actually think I am quite well off, I don't have much cash, but through carefull management I have everything I need. I often wonder why pensioners are always complaining about their lot, I have a fantastic life, and it's wonderful now I am out of the rat race.

    It's very difficult to compare living standards across continents. I am rich compared to those who live in the slums of India, but I am poor compared to the jet setters who live in Monte Carlo.

    It's a shame that people are judged on their wealth, conflicts arise when people see others with more than they have. Which is silly really because even the rich get sick and die young, money counts for nothing.

  34. brilliant as always, smug, no, honest yes, just carry on being you
    Josie x

  35. Not at all smug! You worked, you played a bit and you saved a bit. My pension amount is almost half yours and if I didn't have savings I'd really struggle.When I earned decent money I very prudently put what I didn't need away, luckily.

    I have monthly amount from OH but mostly it gets given back to him when his business needs it. For me it'd be better if he didn't give me anything! It's surprising how much men eat! Try telling a man the toilet roll rule too. Also, they put toothpaste along the whole length of the toothbrush.

    I just don't think men have the 'being careful' mentality that women have. OK he is careful about things that affect him directly but just doesn't think about transferring that to household matters. Ah well!

  36. You are a wonderful inspiration to those of us that truly enjoy the simple,frugal life.

  37. Ilona you are amazing and a huge inspiration to me. Kudos to you and the way you live you life.