Saturday, 12 November 2016

Money matters

Hello. My Saturday musings. It's very easy to get into bad habits. Lapses of concentration, following the crowd, taking your eye off the ball, daydreaming, and drifting along in a robotic way can cause you lose track of the many alternative ways of doing things. There is a thin line between going on automatic pilot, and becoming obsessed. with sticking to how you have always done it.

My money saving efforts have become routine over the years, they are embedded in my personality. Being mindful of how much I spend and what I spend it on comes naturally. It takes no effort at all to take care of my needs first, and if there is anything left over, I have money for a few wants. This is how I have always done it.

I have a few food items on my needs list, and thankfully they are also good for me, like coffee, eggs, bananas,  vegetables, and cheese. Everything else is what I would like to eat, but could manage without it. My eating habits are generally very good, steering clear of anything that might do me harm. My self control while out and about near shops is very strong, I ignore all advertising and don't do impulse shopping.

So, my money management skills have held me in good stead, I am at the point where I can relax a little. I can afford to move a few of the wants into the needs category. But this is where I'm struggling. This line down the middle is not moving. My good habits of spending frugally are blocking my way, and are in danger of becoming bad habits.

An example. I have been putting the heating on for an hour or so, just to take the chill off. But, I still sit here with a dressing gown on over my clothes. Then I get hot and instead of taking the dressing gown off I  turn the heating off. I have it in my head that I don't need to spend money to keep warm.

Another example, I still save my bath water for flushing the toilet. I don't need to because I can afford to pay my water bill. But it doesn't seem right to pull the plug out and let it all go down the drain when it could be put to better use. And it doesn't seem right to flush fresh water down the loo when there is an abundance of grey water available.

Another example. I could afford to eat out, but I can't see the point in paying over the odds to sit in a noisy place and eat god knows what with other people, when I have delicious healthy food at home.

So you can see that my good habits are becoming a little bit restrictive in a way, and are in danger of becoming bad habits. Maybe I ought to be working towards becoming more flexible.

Last month I had a letter from my small private pension provider. Basically they would like to get rid of me out of their system. They offered me a lump sum, quite a sizable lump sum, to pay me off. I have been receiving a bit from them for the last ten years and it has been a nice little top up. Before I retired it was what kept me going, along with a couple of small jobs. I have had a word with my financial adviser, aka my best friend Carol, and I have come to the conclusion that as I hope to be alive in twenty years time, I would be losing out if I was to take the money and run. Hmmmm, I could splash out on some luxuries, or one big luxury, but I can't think of anything I need. I could probably spend it on the house, but that has never been a priority with me. It's still standing, is weatherproof, and it doesn't have to look like a show house. So, for now I will carry on as I have been doing and in ten years I will be the winner as I carry on receiving the pension.

It's 'orrible outside, raining. I will do my three miles later but it's not worth going anywhere else. So on with the sewing. Thanks for popping in, enjoy your Saturday. We'll catch up soon.
Toodle pip

38 comments:

  1. we have been down to Thirsk to see the knitted poppy display. We needed to give the car a run to charge the battery. it was tempting to suggest lunch out but I resisted and we came home. its dry now so we will have a cycle ride in a short while. enjoy your day.

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  2. Ilona, treat yourself if you want to and can feel you can afford it - extra heating, have the odd meal out etc, but keep saving the water if you can (just my advice). As to your private pension, you said Carol had advised you and I'm sure she has but be warned - my own private pension which can't be 'cashed in' for another 3 years if I did that would cost me 20% in income tax i.e. if I took the lot as a lump sum the government want 1/5 of it, so I won't be doing that. I have to stress these are my circumstances so everyone should look at their own individual cases. Amanda

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    1. Hi. My friend Carol is an accountant, so I trust her judgement. I did take into account the tax implications. It pays me to keep my emergency fund low.

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  3. I say their only likely to be a bad habit if impacting your quality of life (or someone else's). If eating out isn't value added keep your home meals.Saving water of course helps your finances but also helps environmentally so if reusing isn't a bother, go ahead and keep reusing. I admire you most for your sense of self satisfaction-not for your frugalness. It is a special life to truly be happy with what you have, do, and spend your time with.

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    1. I could have written Sam's reply. It's a balance, as long as your needs are fulfilled and your life isn't negatively impacted, trudge on.

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  4. Are you continuing the walking challenge next year? I don't eat out very often either I can cooker nicer at home that some of the stuff I've been served up.

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    1. Not sure yet, Dawn. I am not planning to record everyone's mileage here, I want people to take charge of their own records. After the first year I'm hoping that everyone is in the mindset to take control over their own destiny.

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  5. How you live, Ilona, is how most people - both poor and not-so-poor - lived in the early 1950s when I was a child. We had basic food, and heating was just a coal fire in the living room and if we were lucky, a paraffin heater in a bedroom if anyone was ill. We can't put the clock back and personally I'd not like to revisit those times again, when food was on ration and what we had was pretty poor quality, too. People have a rather rosy view of war time rations, saying how we were healthy. We weren't, we just weren't obese. I would also say keep your pension. None of us knows how long we have left to live, but with a pension, this is security in case you live 20+ more years; a lump sum would diminish, as you might (although unlikely, I know) nibble away at it.
    I would always spend money on my home first and foremost, as it pays to fix the roof when the sun shines, as the saying goes. If you don't enjoy eating out, then don't. Simple as that. If there's money to spare, consider some good quality shoes which are new to you and not someone's cast offs (not that there is anything wrong with charity shop buys, you have gained some marvellous bargains, but it would be lovely for you to have some brand new shoes, or a brand new coat - however, knowing you, you'd resent £100 plus on shoes or even more on a coat!) I would always spend money on warmth, food, and my home, and that includes making my home 'nice' (not a word I like, but it's the best I can come up with right now), such as flowers, lamps, throws, cushions, pretty décor. And, of course, my books - I never resent money spent on books. I shower rather than bath, don't allow the tap to run while cleaning teeth, fill my oven when I use it, and cook food from scratch ('convenience' food is a can of chopped tomatoes) and I don't stockpile food, not even when it's on offer. I have a well-stocked larder, but that means one item of all our needs and as soon as something is used, it is replaced. We have a 16 year old car (a good one and roadworthy), we seldom have holidays because we don't feel they are necessary, and we own our home. What more could we ask for? But then, as I say, I'm a child of wartime parents, we lived frugally. Not all the habits have remained. I don't save all my jiffy bags or rubber bands any more, because I have no need of them, but all the same, I shudder at the waste, even when I recycle things and know they are doubtless being shoved into landfill or shipped by container to China.
    Margaret P

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    1. Ilona did buy new walking shoes just a few months ago and they were over £100 I believe.

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    2. Yes, I had totally forgotten that, Barbara, thank you for reminding me.
      Margaret P

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    3. Yes, they were £100, Barbara.

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  6. All extremely sensible musings here, personally I would maybe compromise a bit with saving the bath water and maybe buy three or four cheap buckets and scoop enough water out of the bath to fill them and then pull the plug on what is left. You can line them up in the bath for flushing the loo, but they can also be carried down to wash the car or something similar. It means the bath can be wipe out easier and would be empty for most of the time. But you know best what works for you.

    You're probably spot on with your choice in not cashing in your pension. If there is no need of a lump sum to do something constructive and necessary with, getting the monthly payment as you are used to it, is probably the best long term solution.

    We all do what's best for us. In our case LH had a pension that would not have paid out a useful amount each month so we did cash it in. It meant that we had to pay some tax on the amount we received, but the money we got meant we could pay a largish sum off the mortgage saving us a lot of interest.

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    1. Sue, yes I would do that with the buckets for the bathwater - I'd not want cold, used bath water in the bath until I had finished scooping it out (in a manner of speaking) to flush the loo for the next 7 days until next bath night.
      Margaret P

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  7. Money matters?
    Naw we're gonna live on love and fresh air!

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    1. LOL that's what we believed in the 60s, didn't we? And thought our parents were spoil-sports for telling us to quit chasing rainbows and unicorns.

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  8. I agree with all the above, you are probably better off having a pension as a monthly income, it may keep up with inflation whereas if you have money in the bank you will have to pay council tax and there's no interest at the moment so it will quickly be worth less. I did retire early, I paid off my mortgage and have a monthly pension income I can just survive on, but I choose to continue working part time for an agency now and then. I have a few years to wait till I can get my state pension, but I'm comfortable and not worried. It is a very individual choice. When you start being frugal for financial reasons, it makes you think outside the box and you discover other reasons to change your habits; climate change, pollution, animal welfare etc. I find it a challenge to do things differently, perhaps a bit bohemian but you need to determine what is a real human need. So many people go cold in winter because they are afraid of debt, that's wrong. It is a human need to keep warm, that doesn't mean wearing Tshirts and shorts with the central heating on though. I could afford to be really extravagant but I don't want to be, I have other principles to consider.

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  9. well, if you truly are content as are, then I am not so sure any need to change.

    in reading your blog, I know you have commented that you have splurged in your holiday accommodation a time or two, and that seems very nice..

    also, I wonder if you could sort of think of a few things in your head that make you feel luxurious/ bit spoiled/even more happy/ etc., and maybe make a plan to do/buy one or two of these a month?

    sometimes in saving towards/looking towards something/some event it might well bring more joy/contentment into your life.

    I have read so very many times that anticipation of something/someone/some event is more than half the fun. Might be time to give yourself some "anticipation"?

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  10. Ilona everyone's priorities are different!. I need heating or I am miserable, central heating only costs around 5 to 10 p an hour!.first hour heating is on central heating boiler is on it goes crazy as house cold, after that just maintenance heat! mine is on 24hours cost £60 a month. worth every penny!.

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    1. £60 a month would make me cry. I would be spending a lot of time in warm public buildings to get my bills down.

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  11. You and I are the same age. There's no reason to stop what you are doing. I figure old age will prevent things down the road. You enjoy saving. So saving is good. Nothing wrong with what you are doing. In a few years you may not be able to lift a bucket of water to flush the toilet.

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    1. I echo Angie's comment. Carry on saving and keeping fit. If you're happy without the luxuries then so be it, just treat yourself now and again. You never know what's around the corner as I can testify to. Above all, enjoy yourself.

      Joan (Wales)

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  12. You're in automatic pilot regarding your routine, at the moment until something happens to change it.
    I try to be frugal and cut back on my heating whenever I can, however, if I feel low, achy or in pain, I don't hesitate to turn it on, for me heat is a comfort, cheers me up and I find the Warmth is relaxing for the muscles and eases my pains, and is good for your circulation if you are unable to move around a lot. Being in a freezing house is my idea of hell. On mild and good days I keep it off. open windows to let in fresh air, central heating can be drying for the skin when on all the time. In everything it's good to find a balance that suits each person need.
    You seem to lead a fairly balanced life which suits you and as long as you are happy with it why change it.

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  13. Sound like you are comfortable in your life, right now. What has made you feel the need to consider changing the way you live your life? Living your life on your own terms, at peace with yourself, is the only way to live as far as I am concerned.

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    1. Hi. I don't want to change the way I live. All I am thinking of is the possibilities to occasionally move away from the rigidity of frugal living, and perhaps try and be a bit more flexible.

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  14. When I first met Lovejoy we ate out all the time lovely lunches on the weekend dinners after work etc it was fun and we could afford it we even went to the Fat Duck Heston Blumenthals place in Bray which and I know this will shock some people cost us nearly £600. We have no debt or mortgage but we don't eat out anymore. We have less than half coming in now we're living on pensions and we like to travel so eating out has been abandoned to save money lol. What I'm trying to say is if you can afford it and you want to do it then eat out. Restaurants are a fab experience in my book and although I am a good cook I still think eating out is a wonderful thing to do. In terms of your pension my lovely mum is 86 fit and healthy and drawing her small private pension which makes her life a great deal easier topping up her state pension. She is 20 years older than you Ilona and you look like you're set for a least that long so it's a no brainer keep your pension going. Don't feel guilty about eating out putting the heating on or anything else you may want to do life is for enjoying and having fun as you well know x

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  15. I had to smile the other day. Hubby and I were popping out to visit a friend of mine for coffee. I got a text asking whether Tony drinks coffee. If not could I please bring a teabag.. Guess who I thought of straightaway? :-) I know what you mean about frugalising becoming a bad habit. I teach crafts and it is really hard for me to turn away offers of free goodies. So much so that my craft room became nothing more than a storage container for other peoples junk... It would take me a hundred years to use it all up. I no longer used the craft room to craft in. I had a huge destash at the beginning of the year and passed loads of my stash onto other people. I now say No Thanks' when offered crafting goodies. I still have a long way to go to create the lovely calm craft space that I initially had, but I am getting there.

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    1. Your story is a great example of changing a frugal behavior once quality of life is impaired
      I now turn down offers of clothes for my daughter when she has plenty as her drawers and closet was bursting and in chaos.I happily found my friend someone who was in need and grateful as they have three daughters.

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  16. Hi Ilona, I cannot go without heating here in NJ (USA) in the winter. It gets very cold here most winters and my bathroom pipes and kitchen pipes would freeze. We've had the bathroom shower pipe freeze last year and that was with the heat on! So aside from being comfortable and warm, it is a necessity on most winter days and nights to have heat on here. I do set the thermostat at a reasonably low temp and it automatically goes down lower at night. I think that once in awhile everyone likes a treat, whether it's a small thing like an ice cream or a coffee out or a nice night at the theatre or a movie out. No need to go overboard, just once in awhile which makes it special. I don't give advice as a rule but since you are wondering if you would enjoy a change once in awhile, I think you would enjoy that. You have really been so good about taking care of your needs and making sure you have money for all basics so why not have a little change if you can afford it. Hope you have a great day and have a treat! Arlene in USA

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  17. I'll be in the minority and say I think that you should lighten up on your frugality. It sounds like you want to but don't want to feel like you are caving in. You're not, you are still frugal even with a few spending luxuries.

    If you are cold and have a normal amount of indoor winter clothing on, turn on the heat. I like to be comfortable in my home. For me living in a hot climate it is using air conditioning.

    Eating out once in awhile can be fun and does not have to be expensive. I do it for the social aspect, but trying new cuisines is fun also.

    Being in America, I don't know much about your pension system. But I agree that taking the monthly payments is better than a lump sum. The only caveat is that I've read that some UK pension companies have gone bust so if you believe there is any possibility of that then take the lump sum.

    Ilona, I am single like you and have decided that I'll treat myself once in awhile rather than have a stash of savings since I don't have children to inherit it.

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  18. Another interesting topic. We do do some frugal saving stuff in our day to day living and also some spending too, maybe some of yours would suit us but some would not.

    I have three pensions, one small one is a little over £30 per month and like you it will take well over twenty years to break even. A dear friend of mine died two years ago, aged just 62, she was well and enjoying life one minute, became ill and gone the next. Her plans were to retire at 63 and enjoy her pension years with her hubby, it never happened.
    So if they ask me to cash in my small pension pot I will do so based purely on what happened to my dear friend, life can be so brutal and very fragile to plan to far ahead. Rae x

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  19. When you come and collect your table legs I'll treat you to a night out in a Brixham restaurant to break the habit of not eating out. xx

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    1. See you in half an hour. Jo

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    2. Thank you for the invite. Maybe in the spring

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  20. You need to live a bit..we are all dead a long time

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    1. Why do you feel you need to tell me what to do?

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    2. I lost my Mum and Dad within six months and they were less than 70years old. Made me realise life is for living..no offence meant..sorry xxx!

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  21. I find you really inspiring - someone who really does live life to the full.

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