Wednesday, 11 December 2013

My pledge to myself to live within my means

I've been thinking about how I spend my money, where I spend it, and what I spend it on. It's all very well saying you must have a budget, but what someone may see as an essential, others might think it is a frivolous purchase. For instance, I don't think putting loads of slap on my face is going to make me feel any better, wearing a mask is not for me. Others may enjoy decorating their faces. I am not going to enjoy forking out £40 for a meal in a restaurant, but I am going to feel ecstatic tucking into a plate of fresh steamed veg at home, made up from yellow sticker shopping. Others might enjoy going out and not having to cook and wash up. Buying clothes from a conventional shop on the High Street is a very rare occurrence for me. The last time I did it was to buy walking trousers from an outdoor shop, which I couldn't get from a charity shop. It wouldn't bother me if they closed all the fashion wear shops. I do not need to be in fashion, I invent my own style. Others might like to be seen as trendy.

Coffee shops are springing up everywhere, I don't feel the need to pop in one when I am out, the prices are daylight robbery. If I am going to want a drink, I take it with me from home. Putting the heating on at home, that's another expenditure that I scrimp on. I sometimes 'treat' myself to an hour of central heating when it is really cold, but I have to switch it off because I find it unbearably too hot. I go in other people's houses where they have the heating on and I can't stay more than half an hour. My body is acclimatised to fresh air, my windows are open, my back door is often open, and I move about a lot. I have worked outside in all weathers for years, I cannot abide stuffy rooms which send me to sleep.

I've been thinking about how I live, and how I decide what I spend my money on. It all boils down to me being in control of my money, and not letting it control me. I have a set of rules, my own recipe for living within my means. You might have one too, but yours may be different to mine. It's whatever works best for you. If you are not in debt then your way obviously works, you are winning. If you are in debt you might need to revue your rules and make up a new recipe. Something is amiss, money is leaking somewhere.

I'll post up my set of rules, maybe it will help. My pledge to myself to live within my means.

1. Before I buy anything I always think, do I really need it? It might be fun to buy it, it looks nice, it's shiny, but how long is the pleasure of something new going to last? Maybe a day or two, then it will get put in the cupboard with all the other stuff I didn't need.

2. I will not be bullied into spending money, for anything I don't want or need. Every purchase I make will be because I have thought about it, and because I can afford to pay cash for it.

3. I will not shop on the internet. I tried a couple of eeeeebay purchases once a long time ago, but not any more. The internet is awash with stuff I don't need or want. I will not get sucked in.

4. I will not be bullied by junk mail, and leaflets through the door, wherever they come from. I class them as begging letters, they want to steal my money. Even mailshots from charities get ignored. I give what I can to charities, when I want to give it, I do not feel guilty binning their letters.

5. Charity chuggers get the same treatment from me, those that stop you in the street and want you to sign up to a direct debit. I ignore them, I will not be contributing to their wages. As above, I do give to charity, but they are the charities of my choosing, not those who pester me.

6. I ignore all advertising. Inside shops and on shop windows, on the internet, door to door sales, and telesales. We are bombarded by it, there is more and more every day. I don't even waste my time reading it, or listening to it. If I watch a programme on itv player or channel 4od  I nip onto another page while the adverts are on. They have set it up so you can't fast forward.

7. I understand the value of my money. It is the money I worked hard for, the money I paid in taxes in 45 years of employment. It didn't come easy, I sweated for it. It would be nice not to need any money at all. There is a romantic notion that you can live without money, people have tried it, but it's not sustainable for a long period of time. At some point you do need some money, and you need to learn what it can and can't buy you.

8. Scams were mentioned in another blog, there are a lot of evil people about. They are looking for victims that they can steal money from. Beware, don't get sucked in. Don't give your bank and credit card details out to anyone who telephones you. They pretend to be your bank, usually with a story that they need to check something. Don't believe them, they lie, they are after robbing your account. Don't fall for the smooth talker if you are visiting dating web sites. No matter how genuine the story sounds. Scammers are expert at sweet talking people into thinking they are in a relationship with them. They prey on the vulnerable and the lonely. Grooming someone for a sting can go on for months, the sob stories are endless, please send me some money for my mother's operation. Don't believe a word of it. Best to keep your money and be lonely, than hand over all your hard earned cash and find yourself destitute and in debt.

9. If you carry money and cards around with you, make sure they are safe in a zipped pocket, or a closed bag with a long strap diagonally across your body and keep hold of it. Do not carry it in a handbag in your hand, or a pocket which will not fasten, or one of those long handled bags which just goes over one shoulder. Bags can be snatched by someone coming up behind you.

10. The only cash machines I use are those which are inside a branch of my own bank. I do not withdraw money from a machine in the street, I don't trust the hole in the wall outside, anywhere. It's very rarely that I run out of cash, I plan how much I am going to need and make sure I withdraw it from my bank. If I am away from home and see a branch I will do a quick calculation in my head of how much I have and if I need to top it up. Sometimes I might make a small purchase from a supermarket, pay with a debit card, and ask for a cash back.

11. I always check my monthly bank statement. I don't do internet banking, I don't trust it. I have one credit card and always check the statement and pay it off every month. I don't know how much credit I can have on my card, I don't need to know, I never go anywhere near it. My card is used for convenience, I use it because I know I have the cash in the bank.

12. The best way of keeping track of your spending is to keep a notebook with you. Write down everything you buy, and how much it cost, even a chocolate bar or a packet of crisps. I did this for a long time, it was an eye opener, you don't realise how much money is leaking from your purse. I don't keep a notebook now because I am so disciplined not to buy anything I can't afford or don't need.

Well there's twelve of my tips to give you food for thought. You may have some to add to the list. Feel free to tell us your tips for looking after your money, and getting the most from it.

31 comments:

  1. Good, practical advice! It is amazing how much money I actually have each month when I don't spend it unwisely!

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    1. Yes, I find that Lynda. If I stop spending I get a nice surprise when my next statement arrives.

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  2. I quite agree with you what a person feels is a need may not be the same as another but it doesn't mean they are wrong/stupid etc. they are just different and march to their own drum. I personally feel my horses are a need but have happily given up meat, heating, holidays etc to pay for them and not have debts.

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    1. I sometimes have to remind myself that someone might need to clean their bathroom with wet wipes, although I think they are potty, ha ha.

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    2. I agree Su...my horses and other pets are not an extra but just part of my daily necessary expenses....I wouldn't even count them as want! Also, it is cheaper than paying a psychaitrist....! They are good mental therapy and get me outside...

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    3. I go to a local market on a Friday every two weeks and buy my fresh vegetables (I'm a vegetarian). My spend is less than ten pounds. On that same day, if I need to go to a supermarket to buy any regular items (eg loo rolls), I get these items. For every item that I need, I know the price of it in all the supermarkets within my walking radius. If I see any price reductions I buy that item from the cheapest shop (I also buy these in multiples because I know that I have the money in my bank). I am never loyal to any one shop - don't kid yourself into thinking that these supermarkets are helping you in any way - they want to part you from your cash. Also, I do not buy many things ready made - I make all my meals from my market vegetables and consequently as my food is home made it is therefore hand made and better than anything mass produced in a factory. Food labelled as 'The Best' range is not the best - it is mass produced in a factory. In the Summer, I grow a lot of my own vegetables and cut down even further my vegetable purchases from the market. I still have some potatoes and onions left over from my summer harvest and a freezer full of hand picked fruits. Happy saving! Natalie x

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  3. Regarding points 4 & 5 , we had someone knock the door recently for a well known charity asking if we would donate. I told the chap that actually we already donate as we have a monthly dd set up to them , upon hearing this he then proceeded to ask if we would increase the dd to which I politely told him no !! Like you I donate as to when/whom/how much I want too !

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    1. I've heard about those tactics before, it happened to a friend of mine. I suppose they ask because they get commission on the sale.

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  4. For purchases I do need to make, I always shop around. I have no problem asking for discounts either. Sometimes it works.

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  5. I have 2 local charities dear to my heart and all my charitable donations go to them. I know how the money is spent and where it is spent and believe you me it is not spent on fancy ad campaigns or pens through the post. Every single penny is used wisely and has direct impact on the recipients.

    Like you I don't have a TV and when watching catch up on the commercial channels I go off and do something else. I have probably seen one Xmas ad this year and that was because I was sewing something I couldn't put down. I watched a man in the Post Office the other day sending around a dozen cards to US and Aus at £1.28 a time - the money he spent would feed me for a week!!

    Linda xx

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  6. A lot of your 'rules' are mine too, it's good to have your own set of rules and to know how elastic you will let your own boundaries become.

    I make sure I only buy what I need and not just a lot of what I want, I think once you realise the difference things become a lot easier.

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  7. With regards to Point 9 - I use to work in a rough area where handbag snatches were quite common and a couple of ladies who I worked with were victims of this. To make sure it was harder for anyone to snatch my bag I use to put my cross over body bag on and then put my coat on over the top of it.

    Some chuggers now don't ask you to sign up for a DD but just give them a one off donation which does not go into any tin but straight into their back pocket. I just think that could be money going towards a pint after their work - I always give them a wide berth but I do donate to charity shops themselves.

    Elaine

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  8. I think most of us on this site are frugal people and watch carefully how we spend our pennies. I do give to an animal charity and a few weeks ago they rang me one evening asking if I could up my donation, I told the very nice young lady a firm no as I live on a pension and I give to only certain charities I feel need some help. I can never understand why people are so silly giving bank details to total strangers, then complain when they get stung . I like you Ilona will not do internet banking, I do not trust it even tho my daughter who works in banking insists its safe, Like Ilona I worked jolly hard, had 3 children which I brought up alone from them being youngsters and what money I have now I watch carefully as when you do not work anymore nothing is going into the bank so frivolity spending is a big no no I have good skin so do not need face paints etc and there are enough things in the closets etc to keep me going during the seasons for many years
    Danneke

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  9. Now we are out of debt we find it easy just to keep following the frugal habits we adopted while clearing it. I still buy yellow sticker items on a regular basis and stock up at Aldi which saves a fortune. We don't go near the other shops unless we need to buy something and after we've researched prices thoroughly to see where we can buy it cheapest. I have always kept a money book to record all incoming and outgoing money from our bank account, so I know to the penny exactly how much is in our account. If something tears or breaks, we attempt to fix it ourselves. Only when it is beyond repair will it be replaced. Like you, I don't do fashion. Most of my clothes are second hand or charity shop purchases, and many items have been darned or stitched to repair them. I object to charities coming to my door with the high pressure talk. I will give to the charities I want to give to and not be pushed into it on my doorstep. The biggest way to watch your money is not to listen to anyone else or feel pressured by anyone into spending just to fit in/look fashionable/have the latest gadgets/be the same as everyone else etc. Just go your own way. Well said Ilona!

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  10. I agree with most points. I do Internet banking. Never been a problem, actually I thought it was something I would never do, but it's been good for me.
    I am a charity fundraiser, we get paid by the hour regardless of how well we do, not by commission. It's all done on the phone but only to people who already give to that particular charity.
    Risemary

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  11. Hi Ilona,
    Just wanted to say that I read your blog (nearly) every day, and that this is one of my favorite posts you've written in a while! What a fantastic list for all of us to keep track and on our budgets. Loved it!!! Thanks so much for all you do - you are an inspiration.
    ~Christina

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  12. Hi Ilona,
    Thanks for such an inspirational post. I read (nearly) every day, but rarely post a comment. I love this 12-point list of things to keep in mind to keep us on track, and on budget. I can't begin to tell you how much I enjoy your posts - when I read your blog, it makes me crave more fresh steamed veggies! haha
    Hugs,
    Christina

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  13. I love your blog posts, they are so helpful and inspiring to me. They help me want to be a better person and keep pushing my own limits. I can't thank you enough.

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  14. Love your post today, I enjoy them every day actually! But reading your post today really inspires me to keep on track, living my frugal life, and living well within my means, thank you so much! Xx Carol.

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  15. Thanks for the inspiration Ilona, you are a daily tonic!
    You keep me thinking and I appreciate that.
    Pam in TX.xx

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  16. One person said they can afford to spend more money but after being thrifty for years they don't do it. I think it gets to be a mindset after a while, and you don't have to think about being thrifty; it just comes naturally. I see people spending quite a bit of money on lottery tickets, as well as clothing and all the latest gadgets. Not me; I have to save my money so I can have trips to England!
    Maggie from US

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  17. very engaging post, a lot to think over, thanks for sharing!

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  18. Great points and advice. I hear friends try to so easily justify that odd coffee or treat but I can't. Especially in todays financial climate.

    X x

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  19. Enjoyed this post thank you! One big change I have made this year, starting January, was to keep every grocery receipt. Any food/toiletries/cleaning stuff went into a tin and I kept a running tally. I did this basically because I didn't have a clue how much I actually spent each week or month. Sometimes I spent a lot, sometimes hardly anything. I made it a bit of a challenge to spend less each month. I can see a pattern as the year went by of spending less and less - it was working! I think it's called micro managing your money, sometimes its the small things that add up. Debbie

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  20. Did your friend give you the inspiration to wtite todays? Is it a Nellie Pledge?
    I like your twelve commandments and find them easier to live by than the other ones although i cant say i've ever coveted my neighbours ox.
    My daughter was walked to the bank by a chugger to get her details to write on the forms, he waited outside while she walked in,straight through and out of the door at the other side.
    Dave.

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  21. With point 6, I've never understood why people are so easily swayed Ilona.
    I don't ignore adverts, far from it, sometime's I even laugh at them but as far as encouraging me to spend money goes, they simply have no effect on me.

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    1. Sue,

      When I used to have a tv and the ads came on I would watch them and try and work out which emotion they were trying to trigger in the viewer (envy - keeping up with the Joneses with a new car, fear - my family will die from all these germs if I don't buy so and so's disinfectant, nostalgia - buy a certain loaf of bread to recreate the good old days) The other way to keep us amused was to mute the ads and then put your own commentary in!

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  22. Ilona I happily curse you ever day when taking a shower. ..yes...I love body wash...but since moving in to care for my elderly mother I vowed to use up her stashfof bar soap. ..will take about ten years! so thanks for helping me save...

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  23. You mention coffee shops and the scandalous prices and it reminded me of when i did a run for Costa. I did all the services heading north on the M6 and as far as Dumfries. I got peckish later on and was going to get a drink and something to eat until i saw the price.
    As the day went on and i got further behind schedule the last one had closed but the service area cafe took the delivery in and gave me a drink which none of the Costas did.
    As for the time schedule, i think they send 2 athletes in a sports car with a box each to time the job.
    Dave.

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  24. Great common sense post from you again Ilona. In fact so was a previous post about not making cake at home because you could be tempted to eat too much of it. I can see the sense in it I've just got to persuade myself to do it! I'm so greedy. lol

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