Hi all, I am copying this comment here, from Claire, so you can see she has prompted me to write this post. Thank you Claire, I wonder how how old you are. I think you may be younger than me and have a differnt perspective on life.
Hi there, I really enjoy your blog, one thing that I am suprised about though is that you have no savings, why doesnt the meanqueen have any savings?
Another thing though that I wonder if you would comment on is that all this frugality is all very noble, but doesnt there come a point where it is "easier" or more effective to earn more or extra money rather than cut back, because eventually you will reach a point where there is nothing to cut back from and one wonders then whether you are effectively living in poverty?
First point, Why don't I have any savings? It has never been my intention to save money and never spend it. It seems daft to me to have money lying around doing nothing, besides, I am not clever enough to work out the best place to invest it, and that would be one more headache. When I left school I wanted to earn my own living and pay my way, which meant I would have to save up for the bigger things I would need, like a car and a deposit for a house, or holidays. It was also very nice to be able to eat out, socialise, and buy nice clothes, though there were times when I had to stop spending for a while in order to save up. So there was a lot of juggling going on. I have not racked up any debt, preferring to only buy what I could afford to pay for.
I have an emergency fund in my one and only bank account, this is for emergencies. I keep £3,000 in there, in case my car blows up, my cats get sick, I need expensive dental treatment, or if something happens to the house which is not covered by my insurance policy. If I need to use it then I will, it's not long term savings. In the past the balance has dropped right down to one mortgage payment, when I needed to pay out for something, then I started to build it back up again.
If I had spent a life time of saving and had a tidy lump sum put away, each year the value would have dropped a bit. Say I had 20 years of savings, maybe £10,000, with the interest rates as they are now, and the cost of things going up, my money would be losing value. I am not brilliant at working the figures out, I am only going on what I read in the press. Look at all the people who have put money away, going short to save up for old age, their nest eggs are diminishing daily. They are not able to enjoy the pensions they thought they would be getting.
I am a 'now' sort of person, what matters to me is what happens in the immediate future. None of us know what is in store for us tomorrow, so saving for the long term is not for me. Others may need the comfort of having a bit of cash put by, they feel vulnerable without that cushion to fall back on. I feel liberated by not having loads of money to worry about.
In answer to the second part of your comment. I think I will start by asking you a question if I may, what is your definition of living in poverty? The way I see it is that people in Africa are living in poverty, we are nowhere near that stage in this country. Being in poverty means you don't have enough to eat, and you don't have shelter. I doubt very much that I will be in that situation.
Would it be easier to earn some money rather than to cut back on spending? I have worked for 45 years. For the last few years I went onto part time working because I was sick of my job, I wanted a better quality of life. I deliberately reduced my income and reduced my spending. Now I am 62 and it would be very unlikely that I would get a job. I wouldn't want to go back to my old profession because the hours are long, and there are no vacancies in my area. So what other work could I do? Anything manual I suppose as I am not qualified to do anything special.
So, just say for instance that I got a job in a bar, or a shop, or a factory, at minimum wage, the first thing that would happen is the tax man would take a big chunk of it. Charming, and what would I get out of it? A few extra pounds to spend maybe, but spend it on what, when I already have enough. Job satisfaction perhaps, I don't think so. If I got a job it would have to be something which would tax my brain, something that I really wanted to do, I am not willing to settle for less. I don't know where I would find that sort of job.
Claire, you make the same assumption that 90% of the country make, that you need more of everything to have a good life. The other 10% have seen the light, and me and quite a few others know that less is best. Will I reach a point where there is nothing to cut back from? No I don't think so. My life from now on is heading towards my death, it makes sense to me to reduce the amount of stuff I have, and to eventually spend all the money I have. From the moment you are born you build your life, there comes a point when you no longer need to do that, and you start dismantling it.
Look at it from another angle. Take a typical family, mum, dad, two kids, and two wages coming in to service the lifestyle they think they need. They want the latest flat screen TV, they want several holidays a year, they want designer clothes, gym memberships, flash cars, and a big house. They do anything to get these things and end up with mounds of debt and all the worry that goes with it. When does it stop, when does it all end? You buy more, you want more, you need to earn more to pay for more. It's like a mouse running ragged on a spinning wheel. Why not turn it around. You buy less so you don't need to earn as much. You work less hours, you have a better quality of life because money does not own you. You get off that spinning wheel.
Do you know it is such a relief that I can be me, that I can do as I like. I wake up each morning with a good feeling that it's going to be a wonderful day. I don't need to get a job because I don't need any more money. I have reached the point where I have enough.
I am not willing to trade my time for a few extra pounds in my purse. I wouldn't be any happier than I am now. There is a saying, Time rich, Cash poor. I am not even poor, in fact I am very rich, it makes me smile. Every morning I wake up and say, 'Thank you for this lovely day'.
Claire, I hope this has been of some help to you. If you are young and you, 'dont get it', I can honestly say that you will eventually.
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