Tuesday, 17 March 2015

Looking at the big picture


Hello. I'm mighty pleased with the new car. It's comfortable to drive, has plenty of space inside, it looks the biz, and it was a good choice. I got a fair deal from the salesman. and saved myself a lot of traipsing around by doing the research on the internet first.   
Questions have arisen about my purchase that I would like to address here. Feel free to ask anything you like. Why did I need to change my car, could I have hung onto the one I have and kept it for many more years? Yes, I could have done that, indeed that's what I have done in the past. Run my cars into the ground, then got rid of them when they were only worth scrap value. Doing it that way means you have to save up for a longer period of time while driving around in an old knacker, wondering if it will ever get you to your destination. Not a very enjoyable experience to drive like that. I now like to change every 3 - 4 years. I had the Meriva for four years, it was time for it to go. 
Wouldn't it be better to buy a new car? No, I wouldn't buy a new car when it is going to lose a big chunk of it's value as soon as it is driven off the car sales forecourt. I can now afford to buy a fairly decent second hand one with low mileage for a lot less than the price of a new one.

This Ford was a former Motability car, it is just coming up to 22,000 miles on the clock. It was used by a disabled person and was taxed as such. Motability cars are generally kept by the same driver for three years, they are maintained throughout that period then exchanged for a new one. Most of them don't do a lot of mileage.

How can I afford to buy a car on a pension? Now that's the big 64 billion dollar question, how can I splash out £8,300 just like that, when so many pensioners are apparently struggling to pay their bills? Anyone who has been reading my blog for a long time will know the answer to this one. I am called Meanqueen because I don't like to spend money. Not strictly true, I do spend money, but on the things that are important to me.

Top of my priority list is paying for my house, non negotiable. That's paid for now, I have accomplished that. I took on the responsibility of pets, I don't insure them with a company, I self insure, I put money aside to pay for anything they need. Me and my animals have to eat, this is a flexible outgoing, I can cut corners here a lot, as you know. I have to pay my house insurance, the bricks and mortar bit. I don't have contents insurance, the money I have saved over the years would have paid for replacements ten times over if I had to fork out for anything that was stolen or damaged. Things that need replacing I will look for second hand first.

My utilities have to be paid for, but I can keep them very low. My projected totals for this year based on last years payments are £97.85 for Gas, and £106.64 for electricity. That's for the YEAR. My water bills are also very low, I'm on a meter and make savings where I can.

I pay the RAC for breakdown recovery every year, I like the peace of mind that they will come and get me if I need it. My annual subscription to the YHA is £15, I get this back many times over in budget accommodation. I look on that as a charitable donation, the YHA is a charity. I send the odd cheque out now and again to the charities I support, as and when I can afford it.

What else is there to pay for? Dentist once a year. I look after my teeth as best I can, and for the last few years it has been a small charge for a check up. Broadband and land line phone is £35 a month, the computer provides me with a lot of entertainment. The one I am using now is around eight years old, and is still going strong with little maintenance. Mobile phone is £5 a month, PAYG. They say specs should be changed every two years, I make mine last a bit longer but still have the eye tests done. I get them checked then walk out of the shop with the prescription and tell them I will come back later to choose frames. I go back when I am ready.

There are loads of ways that I save money, even a few pence here and there add up. I don't eat out, don't go to restaurants, pubs to eat, can't even bring myself to buy a drink in a pub. I don't have takeaways, yuk, horrible food. Don't go in cafe's don't have a coffee. If I think I will need food and drink when I'm out I take it with me from home. I look in cake shop windows and think, 'Good God, how much', and swiftly walk on. My self restraint and determination doesn't very often fail me, apart from the odd Magnum ice cream. And the odd bottle of wine might find itself into my supermarket trolley, ha ha.

See, I am not a miserable old git all of the time, I know how to live it up, and it's not by spending money on frivolities.My purchases are all considered and calculated, do I need it, do I want it, can I afford it. I don't need a television nor want one, so that saves me a chunk every year. I don't eat meat and my food bills are low. I cut and colour my own hair, another saving.

So, my car comes pretty high on my list of priorities, other things are shoved to the bottom, or are flexible. I don't need it, but driving is one of my pleasures, I love driving, that's why I did it for a job. I love being out and about, being able to take off whenever I please. I hate it when I am stuck in one place for too long, I need to move about.

I still haven't answered the question, How can I afford to buy a car on a pension? I use my own money which I have saved up. I don't use anyone else's money in the form of Hire Purchase, or a loan, or borrow it from anywhere else. I have been saving for a car for at least three years. I don't put money aside in separate pots, it's all in one place. I just keep it in my mind that I will need it one day and I know it's there. I don't do spread sheets, don't have to do a spending diary any more, don't download gadgets that are supposed to track your money in and money out, it's all in my head and I check my bank statements.

My annual income from the state pension and a small top up pension is £9,500. I don't need to declare that here, but if it makes things more clear then I am happy to do that, I have nothing to hide. I have stated most of my outgoings above, give or take a few things, but overall I can save quite a lot because I keep my general living expenses quite low. I know I need to save around £2,000 a year towards changing my car. Sometimes I can save more than that, sometimes less, as long as it averages out. In three years I would like £6,000 spare cash to spend, £8,000 if this Ford holds out to four years, which it probably will do.

I don't dwell on the fact that all my plans might go belly up if some major disaster occurs, I will just deal with it. But for now, I will enjoy my car, knowing I saved up for it.

Please don't take this a big brag. I have no other motive in explaining myself except that some of it might strike a chord with you, and it might give you some ideas. You must look after your own financial affairs in the way you feel is best for you. If you cannot do without your takeaways, your pint in the pub, your daily newspaper, your flat screen TV with trillions of channels, then that's your choice. But if you feel you are in a rut always consider that there might be a different way of doing things. I have a little dog here that needs a walk, so I'll sign off. I'm just going to click publish without spell checking, will do that later.
Toodle pip.

59 comments:

  1. Blimey, you have a lot of nosey people asking a lot of questions.
    I don't think you need to explain yourself .....it's perfectly obvious to anyone who reads your blog!

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    1. Hi, SSS. I take your point, but beg to differ. I think I do have to explain myself. I set up this blog to document how I can have a good life on a small income. Questions are bound to arise if I omit some of the details, people will make incorrect assumptions, therefore I need to fill in the gaps. Readers come and go, and the newer ones will not have read all the posts, so won't be up to speed with what it's all about.

      I have no problem with telling it like it is. I put myself out on the WWW, you will read about me warts and all, here on my blog. No need to gloss it over, I try to be transparent and consistent.

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  2. my dashbaord looks exactly the same on my Fiesta here in Canada.

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  3. You work hard at being frugal and saving money, so enjoy the rewards xx

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  4. Wow, you really an inspiration. Reading this makes me realize that if you can save on a pension then what the @$%! is wrong with me? thank you so much!

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  5. I think it is good of you to be so honest and open about your financial life.....you are sharing a pathway to an amazing skill. I don t think this is the whole picture though. What you dont do is whine and cry about other people being so much better off than you...you seem truly centered and happy......that is a lesson a few "frugal" bloggers should take note of when they are nursing grudges about the government not taking care of them etc.
    I love you blog and the authenticity you project....you have my respect and admiration..

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    1. You hit the nail on the head Lizzie! I second everything you have written. What an inspiration - and a fun person to boot! JanF

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    2. Thank you both, you are very kind. I try my best.

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  6. I can't believe you have to defend your choice to buy a car. It really is nobody's business, but I have to say that there was never a question in my mind as to how you could afford. You are the most conservative person I follow, for sure. We can all take a lesson from reading your blog. Good job, and congrats on the car....enjoy!

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  7. Enjoy your new car Ilona-you saved for it and I hope it takes you on many adventures. Catriona

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  8. I hope you enjoy your new (to you) car. That's the difference between frugal and cheap. A frugal person spends on what is important to her. A cheap person spends nothing and then complains or regrets! You have no regrets (or at least I hope not! :) ).

    Both my husband and I are the same as you are. We don't spend money on television, coffees out, restaurants, etc. We spend our money on what is important to us. I don't think some people realize JUST HOW MUCH money can trickle through their fingers each day on frivolities. Each single dollar is something to consider.

    Danielle from USA

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  9. Congratulations on the new car.

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  10. Expat who has been lurking following your blog for a few weeks. I enjoyed reading all the details as to how you live and purchased your new car. Well done indeed.

    We are retired and fairly comfortable but we still choose to be careful with how we spend and live our life. Today my washing is outside on the line, yes I have a dryer but prefer the fresh smell. You can take the girl out of England but not England out of the girl.

    I grew up saying cheerio and never heard Toodle pip - is that common where you live?

    Sandy

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    1. Hi Sandy. I don't think Toodle Pip is connected to a particular area, it is a widespread expression.

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    2. I think Toodle Pip comes from the war years. I could be wrong.

      Joan (Wales)

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    3. That's what I heard too. My mother told me that during the war people were hesitant to wish one another "Goodbye" in case it really was for good- so they used alternative expressions. JanF

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    4. That's a huge amount of savings on your income Ilona! You really did well and deserve the special things you save up for. You must feel extraordinarily proud, I know we readers are proud of you! JanF

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    5. I believe it was from the war years also. My mother ( born in late 1920) told me that people became hesitant to say " Goodbye" just in case it was forever, so alternative sayings came into common use! JanF

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  11. we can all learn from you- thank you for being so honest and enjoy your new car!

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  12. Lovely car, Ilona. May you have many adventures in it :-) It is no one's business how you afforded to buy it but I commend you on telling us all anyway. It might just put someone else on the path to frugality to read how well you do on a small income. Go girl! x

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  13. Nice car. Did you haggle on the price? The only time I tried I was told the price was fixed. Perhaps i should have walked away...
    Now the petrol costs have come down I might make more day trips out and about. Deb

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    1. Hi Deb. Yes I did. He tried to confuse me with numbers, and looked disappointed when I said I wasn't buying a car on the day I first went to look. I need time to think and like to sleep on it before I come to a decision. After phone calls backwards and forwards, he kept going to ask the boss, and we met somewhere in the middle.

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  14. Glad you found a newer car you like! 22,000 km is great low mileage too - you shall get lots of nice save trips out of it. I always admire your honesty and frankness and believe in the same style of living you do. We all have personal choices on how to spend our money - you spend money on things that are important to you and save on those that are not.

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  15. Enjoy the new car and many happy adventures to you!

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  16. I wouldn't have expected you to have bought it any other way. Your thrift and frugality has given you the means to have loads more adventures (documented with more pics for us all to ogle over of course) and the peace of mind of a relatively new car.

    Go Girl!!

    Linda xxx

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  17. Great post once again! Enjoy your new car Ilona.

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  18. Thanks for sharing. You are truly an inspiration. We have nothing here in our household except Ford cars. We love them. I drive a Focus ('08) and still going strong. Hubby has an Escape ('11) It's like almost brand new. Both cars keep us thrifty and wise.
    Enjoy. And drive well.

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  19. Thanks for being so open about your income, outgoings and saving - it puts everything you do in context and helps others understand how they could achieve something similar. Some people will tell you about their most intimate physical problems of their love life, (too much information sometimes, lol), but when it comes to finances they are unbelievably coy.

    Regards

    Jo

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  20. You're right - it's about deciding what is important to you and spending your money on that. We decided almost 12 months ago that a car wasn't important to us. We didn't use it much so it was just a drain on our finances, and we're much happier ( and better off) without it. Having said that, once our mortgage payments have been deducted, our income is less than yours, which is why we're doing our utmost to get the mortgage paid off. Once we're rid of that we'll have the option for my husband to retire early, and that's important to us ( my Dad died at 55, my FIL at 61 - that has coloured our judgement). We're really looking forward to retirement, as we'll have a higher income than we've ever had ( as long as there's still such a thing as the state pension then!). May you have many adventures in your new car.

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    1. Hi Scarlett. Yes, it's worrying when parents pass away before their time, makes you realize how precious life is. My dad died when he was 46, and my mum when she was 64. I'm convinced that their unhealthy life styles played a major part in this. That's why I try and look after myself as best I can. Best wishes, I hope you have a good retirement.

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  21. Hi
    That car is exactly the same as we have. Is it roughly a 11 plate by any chance, ours is a red one though.
    You are an inspiration to many many people and the fact you can save for something as large as a car is absolutely brilliant. I know it isnt easy being frugal at times, I was made redundant in October and am currently watching EVERY penny. Please keep on with your frugal tips, i need all the help i can get at the moment. Enjoy the new car
    jane xx

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    1. Hi Jane. It's a 61 plate, Dec 2011. Stick with it, don't get too despondent if you have a minor setback, just pull yourself back up again. It's hard being frugal 24/7, but the more you practice the better you become at it.

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  22. Happy new car Ilona, enjoy!

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  23. This is an inspirational post. If we all had the same income we would do different things with it. Some would manage well, some not. I love the words at the top of your blog page. "My brilliant life on a pension." Enjoy the car :)

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  24. Enjoy your new car. Debbie

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  25. Congratulations on the new wheels. I bought a brand new car in 2010, just a small economy model, but it gets MW where I need to go. That said I totally agree with you about new cars depreciating as soon as you drive them off the lot. I havejust under 15000kms on my car and it is like brand new, but I would never get what it is worth (to me) on a trade in or sale. Live and learn. I bought it when I retired and I'm sure it has many more years in it, I hope I do too!
    Totally unrelated question, do you name your cars? Mine is called Sadie, christened by my (then 5yr old) grand daughter.
    You set us all a good example, thank you !!

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    1. Hello Sheila. Thank you for your comment. No, I have never named my cars, although I do grow quite attached to them.

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  26. Congrats on the new car. Mine is 9 years old and looks like new - so much so, that someone recently stole two of my hub caps. Natalie

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  27. Hi.Oh my goodness,that lovely car is going to give you much pleasure in the future! The proof is in the pudding,m'dear,you are very skilled at being frugal and saving money for the important things in your life.You have my utmost respect and admiration.So...thank you for being you and sharing your inspiring,"brilliant"life, and teaching by example. I really like the comment you made re:someone's question as to how you can afford a new car on a pension and your reply simply was"Discipline".Your refreshing,sensible,simple,committed approach to whatever you do,is joyful to read about because you are positive and very realistic.Danke, bye for now, D.

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  28. Have fun with your new car. Vroooom! :)

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  29. Happy motoring Ilona. I've enjoyed reading all the wonderful comments, you certainly are an inspiration to all of us♥ Linda x

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  30. I like that you shared that, it is, as so many other have said, inspirational and shows others who,perhaps want to follow the same path. I love toodle pip too and sometimes swap it around, poodle tip! X

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  31. So happy you have a new auto. It is always a pleasure to drive and know it isn't on its last legs. You deserve it!
    Your saving tips are right on. No one should take that as a brag. Living within ones means is the way to get ahead and not pay those high interest rates on a loan. Someone may think, 'How can she afford that?'. They don't know what goes on behind the scene.....used clothes, cooking at home, shopping carefully, not the biggest and fanciest house, and being careful with utilities. It not only pays off when making a large purchase but there is a PEACE OF MIND knowing you can afford what you have. (Obviously I agree with your philosophy.) Enjoy your ride. Patty Mc

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  32. Congratulations on the new car, Ilona!

    I like your ideas about trading a car every three to four years. I have always driven my cars into the ground. When I last traded a car I had had it 12 years and it was worth very little. My current car is less than three years old, but just the other day I was thinking that I might trade the car after I've had it four years (even though I'm very happy with my car).

    I am 60 and I no longer want to deal with car problems and breakdowns plus, like you, I want to trade my car when it has some value. So thanks for your thoughtful post.

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  33. I enjoy reading the details of your budget. It is an inspiration! Enjoy your new wheels!!!

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  34. Great post Ilona. Life is as simple as you make it or as complicated as you choose. You have figured out what you have, what you need and what you want and made it work. Now if our governments would only follow your lead the world would be a happier, budget balanced place. Haha - no chance of that happening.

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  35. You do extremely well on your income and most people could not do what you have done. So well done. You deserve a pat on the back :-) Enjoy your car.

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  36. Enjoy your new car!! Hope you have many wonderful trips together!

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  37. Another informative and inspirational post. Love hearing how you do things. Happy motoring ;o) Caz

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  38. We think you have been so thorough. You chose the car you wanted but made sure you had a good deal. I've been following you for so long that I know how much you save by your frugal ways. All this by being careful but still enjoying yourself. We are looking forward to seeing the pics of the outings in your car. (Plus Rocky in the passenger seat!)
    Wendy (Wales)

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  39. I was wondering, do you ever use your bus pass. I use mine quite a bit......but then I can't drive. The bus fares here are very expensive.

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  40. Nice wheelz, nice to see a bit of colour on the road rather than the silver, grey and whit e cars that everyone buys thesedays.
    I like your old fashioned way of saving up and buying outright, no sleepless nights thatway.
    Most big purchases are bought on finance thesedays, the price being quoted as £x per month rather than total amount payable.
    Happy motoring.
    Dave.

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  41. I think you are amazing with your planning and budgeting skills. Well done, a great example of living it and having an enjoyable, meaningful and productive lifestyle as well.

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  42. Wonderful post! This came at a good time for me. I've been in the dumps recently; working two jobs, six days a week. It's hard to keep my eye on the prize. (Travel; anywhere..) Your post reminds me that i just need to enjoy the ride!
    Congrats on the 'new' car; "Oh, the places you'll go!"

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  43. Thanks Ilona for listing your spending habits again because I always get some new ideas and motivation to be more like you!
    Nancy from Northern California

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  44. That's lovely. Enjoy your car.

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