Hello. If anyone wants to ask me anything I will try and answer, I'm not saying I know everything, I don't, but if I can draw on my life experiences and share some of the knowledge, I will try and help.
Gam Kau posed a question yesterday.
I love your frugal ways and your lifestyle. Healthy, wealthy (in the way that counts!) and wise. We can all learn from you. I was wondering, did you ever go through a point in your life where you weren't so frugal? It seemed to take me until middle age to pull myself together and be properly frugal.
Years ago, if you had mentioned the word frugal, I wouldn't have known what it meant. I suppose I was frugal though, but didn't know it at the time. I was taught to save up for the things I wanted, and plan my spending carefully. My mum was my teacher, she managed to keep the family clothed and fed with a roof over our heads, on very little money. We never had pocket money, there wasn't any spare to give us. We had treats now and again, like a shilling to go and buy sweeties at the corner shop. Sometimes only sixpence, we could afford four blackjacks or fruit salads for one penny, or a big gob stopper. We learnt from an early age to chose the best we could for the money we had. We saved our birthday and Christmas money to buy something bigger.
When I left school I got a job in a shop. I wanted to buy a trouser suit from a rather posh ladies clothes shop, but didn't have enough. Mum allowed me to put a deposit down and pay weekly out of my wages, she signed as guarantor. I had a little payment book, and every Friday, I went in the shop and paid the installment, before I bought anything else. Then I went home and paid my mum her board and lodgings money. I contributed to the household income as soon as I had my first wage packet.
I left home at 18 and got a bedsit in Blackpool, now there was no mum to fall back on if I ran out of money, it was down to me to budget properly. I had a job, my rent took up a large chunk of my wages, then I had to be careful with what was left, to buy food, a bit of money for going out, and the electricity meter. I remember walking almost everywhere then.
A few years later I went back to live at home for a while, then I got a rented flat, preferring my own space. All the jobs I did at that time weren't particularly well paid, I worked in shops, offices, and factories. When I got to 27 I found lorry driving, and my wages then increased enough to be able to buy a house. I was paid the same as the men from the start. It wasn't fantastic, I was never going to get rich from driving, but I reckoned that doing something I loved was a far better prospect than being stuck in a job I hated. The money almost didn't matter to me, as long as I had enough. And to make sure I did have enough meant not spending more than I earned.
I was skint when I got my first house, lived in chaos for a while until I saved up to pay for renovations. Slowly things began to get a bit easier, then I sold and plunged all my money into a bigger house. Then I was skint again, but able to keep up with paying for everything. The only time I borrowed was from an ex boyfriend who lent me £3,000 to replace windows and a door which were falling apart. He didn't want any interest, and I drip fed the payments back into his bank account. All was paid back in a year.
Apart from a mortgage, I have never taken out a loan from a bank or a lender, and never bought a car on finance. I just couldn't do it. That would be spending someone else's money and I wasn't entitled to it. What I did do once was to remortgage so that I could afford to change my dilapidated clapped out old van to a half decent second hand car. I needed to be able to get to work. I already owned more than half my house, so I reckoned that the money was mine to use for a car, so I could earn money to keep up the repayments. As I previously mentioned I never missed one mortgage payment. Paying for a roof over my head was priority.
I have juggled credit cards in the past, to take advantage of 0% interest, but that was mainly to help the cash flow for my business. Buying stock with plastic, selling it, and paying off the bill when it came through the door.
I must admit that long term saving was never on my agenda. I try to keep a small buffer for emergencies, that's all I need. I have no desire to amass great wealth, money was never a motivator in my life. There are far more important things.
That's the wealth side of your question answered I think. What about health? I was skinny when I was a teenager, and through most of my twenties, then I put on weight when I became a lorry driver, through unhealthy eating. No time to sit down for a proper meal, always snacking, goodness knows what I put my body through. At least I didn't get a beer and fried breakfast belly like some of the men, I gradually crept up to almost eleven stone. Mind you with the physical hard graft I was doing, an extra few pounds didn't matter. Some of it was muscle and I needed pretty strong biceps and shoulders to assist with all the lifting I was doing. My last driving job was pretty easy going, mostly driving, so I didn't need to be strong any more. I started to look after myself, cut right down on the snacking, always took my own pack ups. The weight dropped down to a more acceptable level, and now I am back to 8 and a half stone.
So, I'm not sure if I have answered your question, 'Did I ever go through a point in my life when I wasn't so frugal?' I suppose the answer is no. I can't say I went off the rails, went on a spending spree running up debt, spending money I didn't have. It never happened. I am the only one responsible for how I live my life, it was always up to me to earn enough money to pay for what I need. My mathematics are simple, the money coming in on the one side, has to be more than the money going out on the other side. That's what I was taught, and that's what I have lived by. I haven't been swayed by seeing other people with more than me, and I don't feel one bit envious of those who have far more than I have. I am sorry if that makes me sound smug and self righteous, I don't mean it to be.
Hope that has helped. I think as long as you stick to the simple rule of not spending more than you earn, you can't go wrong. Paying interest on a load of debt is chucking money away. I have paid a lot of interest on my mortgage, but that is better than paying a load of rent which I won't see one penny of again. You mention pulling yourself together, Gam Kau. That is up to you. Don't beat yourself up if you don't quite manage to get things right. You fall down and you keep getting back up, and you try again. I made some daft decisions when I was younger, everyone does. As long as you admit to yourself you are on the wrong track you think oh chuffin hell, I shouldn't have done that, and you change direction and get yourself on the right track.
Good luck to everyone with finding the right way for you. There will be a few dead ends, but eventually you will get there. Thanks for reading. Toodle pip.
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