Warning - this post might be a bit disjointed, I have spent a week playing around with it, and now I need to press the publish button and move it on. There is reference to another blogger here, but this is because she asked a question. Most of the post is not aimed at anyone in particular.
There was such a lot of interesting feedback on my 'Getting off the Treadmill', post, that I feel inspired to add a bit more to it It seems to me that there are two main reasons why people might tighten their belt and watch their pennies. The first is that they have decided to get off the treadmill, reduce the stress of working all hours, and reduce their spending. A self imposed downshifting if you want to use the buzz words. The second reason is that their circumstances have changed and through no fault of their own, they find themselves with less disposable income. It may be the loss of a job, a decline in their health, or the breakdown of a relationship which has caused their financial difficulties.
I belong in the first camp, I chose to work less hours because I was no longer enjoying my job. After my operation in 2008 I lost my job because the depot closed, and I spent the last seven months of my working life on Job Seekers Allowance. This was reduced to £36 a week, because I had an insurance policy which paid my mortgage. It was a real struggle to make ends meet, I watched my bank balance shrink drastically. But to be perfectly honest I wasn't particularly bothered about my loss of income, I knew I wouldn't starve, I just had to be more carefull. Getting to 60 was a relief, the state pension kicked in and I knew I could afford my outgoings if I was very carefull with my spending.
Three years on and I am still surviving, thanks to all the practice I have had on managing on less. Wean, you ask if I have a secret or if I really am Wonderwoman. To give you the figures my state pension is £7985 a year. I qualify for the full amount because I had 41 years of contributions. On top of this I get a small private top up pension (taxed at source), which I paid into in the eighties. Net it is £968 a year, so just under £9,000 a year in total. I am also eligible for Council Tax Credit because my income is below their threshold, and I have no savings.
Reading your blog, Wean, my outgoings are quite a lot lower than yours. You are in rented accommodation. I pay £78 mortgage a month. I don't know how much you pay but I would struggle to pay the rents up here. I have stopped paying anything off my mortgage capital as the interest rate is low, and I want to spend any cash left over on days out/holidays, and to save up for my next car. Wean you have more cats than I have so you will be paying more than me in vets fees, food, etc. I am going to stick with two for a while because I can't afford any more. You appear to be paying a lot more than me for your utilities. Maybe your home comforts are a priority for you, and heating is important. My house is a basic shell which provides me with shelter, I prefer to save my money for going out.
In answer to your question, there is no secret and I am not Wonderwoman. My good life is all down to the choices I have made and it works for me. It is also down to my attitude, to be happy with what I have, and not yearn for anything more. It is a mistake to look around and see what other people have, and base your own aspirations on what you see.
Right, let's look at the second camp, those who find themselves in difficult financial circumstances, through something that has happened to them in their life. The feeling that you cannot do anything about things which are beyond your control is not very nice at all. As an example, I let someone take over my life for a while, and it was destroying my confidence. I couldn't change him, but I could change how I dealt with the situation, and that was by taking back what he had stolen from me, my control.
It seems to me, and I am surmising here, that the people who have frugality thrust upon them are the ones who find it hardest to cope. They didn't want to lose their job, or have their marriage break up, or become incapacitated, it just happened. It's much more difficult to pick up the pieces and start again. To have enforced lifestyle changes is much harder to come to terms with than choosing to make the changes yourself. If you have had it all, then lose the lot it must be devastating for anyone to deal with.
This blog is to record my take on life, the way I look at it, with optimism and hope. It's about my methods of managing with less. Less of everything, stuff I don't need stuff I don't want. If anyone can pick up a few ideas from it that's fine. I am not saying do as I do because everyone has their own ideas on what works best for them. People should deal with their own situations in the best way they can. Wean, I didn't say, 'quit spending and you will have plenty of money'. If that's what you saw then you read it wrong, or maybe I didn't explain myself very well. The key word here is 'enough'. Quit spending on things you don't need, so you have enough for the things you do need. It's all down to what your priorities are.
I have said this many times over, only buy what you need. Think about every penny you spend, and I say this in general terms it's not aimed at anyone in particular. Say to yourself, do you really need this, before opening your purse. If you apply this strict rule to yourself you will find you will reach a point when your priorities change. What seemed so important to you before will get taken out of the, 'something I need', category and put into the, 'something I want', box. And those 'wants' should be what you are saving up for.
If anyone is really struggling I suggest you run your household incomings and outgoings like a business. Write it all down, every penny which comes into the house, and every penny you spend. Even down to the odd choccy bar or magazine. Don't anyone base their needs and wants on what other people have.
I have been rambling on long enough here. I'm going to take my lunch to sit with Scruff and watch the tele for an hour. Bye bye, catch up with you soon.
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