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Wednesday, 15 November 2017

How hard is living without debt

Hello. I sometimes wonder if it is worth bleating on about living frugally and ways to save money, because I reckon a good portion of my readers are already well informed on how to live within their means. I feel I don't need to stand up in front of you and give you a lesson on home economics, because most of you already have your finances under control. You will have your own methods and know what works best for you.

This blog is about my Brilliant Life on a Pension, which is not only about how I save money, but why I save it and also how I spend it. I like to vary the content and not bore myself to death, and not bore the pants of everyone else, so, I cover all aspects of my life, and money saving is the defining factor.

Saying that, I think it is good to revisit money saving ideas because I get 6,000 page views a day, and a lot of those people will be looking for money saving tips. Some may have just dropped on the blog while searching, and will be unfamiliar with it's content. When I read Money Saving Expert Forum, especially the Debt Free Wannabe section, I can see just how many people are struggling with debt, and it is very sad that some of them don't know how they got there, and don't know how to get out of it. So forgive me for bleating on about money saving if you already have your finances under control, for there are such a lot out there who are desperate for some help.

So, what am I doing to save money right now. I am sitting here with no heating on, and wearing a fleecy dressing gown over my clothes. I could afford to flick the switch and put it on, but I know within an hour I would be feeling muggy, and would probably fall asleep. What is the point of wearing fewer clothes while burning money. I have just had a hot drink, and I am due to go out for a walk shortly, that will warm me up. I might put the heating on tonight for an hour if it gets a bit chilly.

I am not going shopping until I actually need something. I have a £6 off voucher for a £40 shop at Tesco. I haven't been there for a while and my food stocks are quite low, so I am planning on a yellow sticker dash sometime this week. Mind you, I have planned a visit before with a voucher and have got nowhere near the £40, and still had a trolley full, of mainly yellow stickers. However, this time I might achieve it because I have only got three tins left in the cupboard and the freezer is pretty low.

I have a bag full of free cooking apples which I am stewing on the hob for a few minutes, a great addition to my breakfast cereal, nuts and seeds. I made up a big pan of pulses, lentils, and suchlike, soaked for 24 hours simmered for an hour, and veg added. I found it a bit hard going chewing it, so I zapped it with the stick blender. Have eaten some, the rest frozen in portions to be added to stews, or eaten with pasta.

I keep myself busy with my arts and crafts, which cost virtually nothing because I have tons of materials, don't need to buy any more. My utilities bills have come and gone, and paid, gas and electric. Again they were very low because I am careful about switching things off when not in use, and I am with Ebico who doesn't have a standing charge. Now we need the lights on for a lot longer in the winter I try to have them on in one room only, I walk around with a little torch in my pocket to light the way when moving between rooms. I have a watering can in the downstairs toilet, there is plenty of rain water now, so it saves on flushing.

Someone mentioned about my coffee being a mix of two kinds in the jar. Yes, I buy Nescafe, have been drinking it for years, perfectly acceptable for me. Then I found Carte Noir, very tasty but a bit more expensive, so now I get a jar of each and mix it.

My credit card statement has just arrived, a rather hefty bill because the new tyres are on it. No worries, I have the cash to pay it. I was thinking about changing my car, updating for a newer model, but decided against it. The car I have is perfectly fine. It is due for it's MOT soon, and if it needs any work I have the cash for that. The insurance is due in January, again I can pay for the whole year, it costs more to pay monthly. Also on the statement is £75 from a YHA booking I made recently. Two nights, private room, B & B, in a lovely hostel in Derbyshire. A little treat for me.

When I go to town to pay this bill into the bank I shall combine it with a few purchases from the discount stores, Home Bargains, B & M, Poundland, and Poundstretcher. I get my pet food and cleaning stuff from those shops. I've noticed that some of them are starting to get fresh produce in, and some good prices too. I got a BIG bag of spinach from Home Bargains for less than £1. And some nice tasty cheeses for around £1. Worth a look.

A few general tips for anyone who is struggling to pay down debt. If you are serious about becoming debt free you have to be pro active and make changes to your lifestyle. It's no good saying I don't want to give up the Sky TV, the Gym membership, or the coffee on the way to work. If you want to keep the lifestyle you already have and not cut your spending then be prepared for a lifetime of debt. I see it all the time on the MSE Forum, make suggestions, and watch the resistance to any changes. Again, it's down to control, whether you allow money to control you, or whether you grasp the bull by the horns and say no more. No matter how much advice me or anyone else can give you, ultimately it's down to yourself. Being in debt is a lifestyle choice, being debt free is also a lifestyle choice. You choose.

Thanks very much for reading. Welcome to anyone who has recently found us, stick around, I'd love you to pop in again.
Toodle pip

33 comments:

  1. It's all true - I speak from experience! Being in debt is soul destroying if the debts are out of control - a constant cycle of living in negative equity so to speak. We learnt the hard way I'm afraid to say. Once the debts are gone its's an incredible feeling of liberation.

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  2. Hi Ilona, I find some of the dried vegies are still a bit like bullets in spite of a good soak and cook, I've found the pressure cooker is the only answer for some of them (chickpeas for instance). Enjoyed today's muse; I also get fed up of people saying they can't give up the things they can't afford. My mother used to say some people were "useless articles", I also mix my coffee but in my case it's Fine Blend and Dow Egberts, perhaps you've started a trend...toodle pip (now that does take me back a while) Elaine

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  3. I know you probably feel like you are preaching to the converted but I suspect many of your readers come to your blog to keep up the momentum. Hope you will do a Christmas video again this year, I passed it on to everyone I know. Thanks x

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  4. Good advice Ilona x I am happy to say that I have never been in dept(apart from mortgage; now all paid off 10 years ago)in my life. Saying that I have wasted loads of money over the years on stuff I though I needed but recently due to break up of 30 year relationship and very bad health I am managing on what I have for me and my four cats xxx

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  5. Ilona, please do not change a thing about this blog (unless you want to). You are an ongoing inspiration, and bolster my determination when things get discouraging. I would like to retire next year at 68, but first have to knock down about 6K in debt. Reading about your journey is inspiration to keep going when the temptation to give up comes along. Thank you so much for all the effort that goes into this vital piece of the goal!

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  6. I always enjoy reading your blog and sometimes find a tip or two new to me. I am frugal and highly recommend it.

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  7. I think your suggestions etc do well to be repeated from time to time. As well, you may come up with new ones...Even for folks who might be as good at being frugal as you are (and I am not), I suspect a little nudge/reminder now and then, or a new way of looking at a situation, is helpful.

    For myself, I find the more I read posts like yours/your way of life, the more the common sense/ implementation of your attitude and lifestyle, slowly sinks in (to my mind).

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  8. I think I'm sensible when it comes to stretching money.My dogs can be costly if they need to see the vet and I love to go to the sea which means I have to be careful.This week I've been eating porridge,toast and then soup for my main meal.It's mainly carrot,potatoes,celery,onions,tinned beans and spices and cabbage and spinach.I've had blood test results back and I'm not lacking B12 so no meat does me no harm.Luckily I don't have that expense.I do buy chicken and sausages for the dogs though and their food is costly.Carrots and spinach is on offer at lidl this week so that's what I will be eating now x

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  9. What a great blog today Ilona! You are spot on with your comments, and I loved the last big paragraph. Very true. My husband and I have made many changes to get to debt free and living on much less than we could, and are the happiest ever. Getting in control of our finances created peace in that part of our life, very important and worth the struggles as we learned what we valued most. Hilogene in Az

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  10. Just to reiterate what others have said, I have read your blog from"Cover to Cover"
    more than once.
    Every post I read makes me think.
    Please don't apologise for being you and putting your thoughts in a blog for us to benefit from.
    I'm on my second 1000 mile year and as my husband accompanies me we are both far fitter than we were thanks to you. Sue

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  11. I read your blog daily,infact with my first cup of tea of the day!Its good to know that there are many like minded people about when reading their comments too.Im always keen to see if there are any other suggestions to help towards my frugal livestyle!,My kitchen scrap celery is still going strong,infact the older it gets,the more stalks it seems to grow!.My mint and chives,growing in old wicker laundry basket is still growing really well.Im just not too sure wether it can be left outside in the winter?..does anyone here know?.Ive got about 10 small potatoes left from the kitchen scrap ones and about 6 lots of garlic bulbs,again all free.I am going to do this on a bigger scale next year now that ive seen that it really works.Debi,xx

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    1. Mints and chives are both perennials. They’ll be fine outdoors. You should probably take them out bit by bit til they get used to the outside weather. After that, they’ll try to take over the world!
      momsav

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    2. Thanks Momsav,They have been outside in the wicker basket since i planted them in the summer,so its good to know that i can leave them out there through the winter.Thanks!,Debi,xx

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  12. I have no debt except for the mortgage and I'm trying to pay it off as soon as possible. I'm pretty frugal, but still like to read money saving tips because I'm sure there are things that I don't know. :) Every little bit counts and the more I save, the faster I can be mortgage free.
    I love your blog Ilona, I'm sure there are many frugal readers who still find inspiration from your posts.

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  13. We have a saying in our house when it's cold: "The jumper's paid for - the heating isn't".

    We keep fleece blankets in the living room and use fingerless gloves and snuggle up with books. We use an electric fire with fake flames for the illusion of warmth (and it does actually make you feel better) but do not put any heat on with it as it gets very stuffy. We keep the temperature thermostat quite low (17 / 18 degrees) in comparison to that recommended (21 / 22 degrees) as we feel it is healthier and suits us. Debbie

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    Replies
    1. Love the jumper saying. I agree the glowing flames do make a difference, even my dog is fooled by it and moves closer when I put the glow on.

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  14. Ilona you are never boring.

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  15. I find your frugal tips very useful Ilona and they get me back on track if I've wandered off a bit and overspent here and there. I don't have my heating on during the day but I do run it in the evenings. I feel the cold a lot and even if I wear extra clothes/use blankets etc I still feel cold and I can't stand it, so on it goes. However I don't have a car and buy all my clothes in charity shops, so as you say everyone is different, and we have to decide what is most important to us.
    It is quite hard work staying within a limited budget, you have to spend time shopping around and for me it's a constant battle not to get tempted into buying things. I do eat in cafes sometimes - I hate preparing food and clearing it up so I look upon cafes as a treat. I do think credit cards and now contactless have encouraged people to get into debt because it's all so easy to just keep spending and making the minimum payments and deferring the worry until a later date. I love the mix of topics on your site, you are a fountain of ideas:). PS, I was wondering if you could do a post on energy companies - I see you use Ebico, I'd like to hear more about them and why they are a good choice. I need to switch to something cheaper but I find the whole process really confusing.

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  16. Your money saving is just commonsense to me, but as the saying goes "common sense is not so common". Regarding your coffee, I have always been a Nescafe drinker and recently found Carte Noir and really enjoy it but it has disappeared from the shelves in Coles and I can't find it in any other stores here in Australia. What a nuisance!

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  17. Hello Ilona, wise words from a lovely lady, I pop in everyday to read what you’ve been up to, your retirement sounds just wonderful to me, only another 20 years for me, sob! I live a small frugal life with a bit of travel and good food thrown in to make it a happy life. Have a lovely day.
    Fi

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  18. More and more I feel I don't need anything, kids say what do you want for your birthday, hmm. I do want a detached house desperately to get away from where I am but not in a position at present to go for it job wise. apart from that I have most of what I need, I invested in some furry boots as my feet always feel the cold in the house, and I wear lots of layers and fingerless gloves. we have an hour button now on the heater so put that on then its just the hour and no more. that tends to be nightishtime when people are due back home. I feel sleepy if I put on during the day. I have no debt and no mortgage at present, but still not in a position to do what I want which is to move. the houses seem to go up tenfold every time I look. arrhhh so frustrating.

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  19. Well I for one, really appreciate your blog - i find it very encouraging. I have finally almost paid off my mortgage but unf carry £40k in other debt - accumulated over years mainly on maintenance jobs - reckon it will take me another 3-4 years to pay back. I have stripped back all expenses as much as poss, and am grateful for any 'new' money-saving tips that i can pick up. I'm going to follow your idea of mixing expensive&cheap coffees, (also am going to try mixing wine in same way).and the torch is a brilliant idea. One tip is that I cut up newspapers (from neighbours)and use that as cat litter for my 3 cats - has saved me a fortune. Also I have a charityshop sleeping-bag which i get into in the evenings if I'm watching tv. looks ridiculous, but it is a way of keeping warm (esp if you get cold feet like me). Keep going with your blog and videos!!

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    1. if you have a shredder it would save you time cutting up the papers, that is a great idea though, not sure if my cats would have used it but would def give it a go if I get any more

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    2. I have 4 litter trays (yes really, 1 each and an extra) - i started by using the newspaper for a bottom layer and then topping up with normal litter, then gradually reducing to newspaper only. I did try the shredded paper but it got stuck between their claws unf. thx for the thought though!

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  20. It is very easy to stay debt free for me. I simply don’t want what other people want. Personally, I pay in cash for everything in a shop - actually, in cash. I don’t buy ready meals, I buy from independent retailers and use local markets for produce. My garden is productive. I simply don’t replace stuff just because I am fed up with it. Keep it looking nice, and you have invested in it. Natalie

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  21. Please keep bleating on as it is inspirational to me because what comes across is that you are a happy person and we are spoon feed nowadays that you need material goods to make you happy and you prove that it is not true. Sharon

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  22. 6000 page views say's that your blog is very useful.
    I'm just so glad that we have lived all our life frugally and working hard so that now with serious illness we don't have to worry.
    No one knows what's round the corner

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  23. Besides my mortgage I have some student loan debt to pay off...after that I'm aiming for a debt free life...it's been a long road with a huge change of no wants and few needs...one way I save on heating costs is to line my walls with hooked rugs and quilts during the winter...looks great and feels extra cozy...

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  24. Hello! I've only been reading your blog for a few weeks, so I appreciate the basic tips. Plus, even if you've read something before, it's good to have a reminder as you may have forgotten or need extra motivation to keep going.
    Some things I was taught as a kid as basic common sense, like using up all of the soap and scraping the last bits out of a jar, seem to have been forgotten. It's quite sad!
    xx Love, Katie.

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  25. Adrienne in Worcestershire18 November 2017 at 09:17

    Hello....I'm new here too! You are soooo right about cutting out Gym membership (buy a kettle bell/free weights and gym at home, outside if possible where you'll get fresh air), TV subscriptions etc I'd even go as far as saying if you can do without a car ditch it and walk or bike to work/social engagements, you'll get fit at the same time (has to be good).
    I'm losing my debt in a planned way, I know I should be tackling it by paying it all off as quickly as possible but sometimes that's not doable.
    Consumerism has been sold as the way to happiness, this is pseudo philosophy. So the first step on the way to being Financially Independent, debt free and time rich is to stop buying stuff that we don't need.....and the stuff we do buy should be good quality, not always expensive and branded but if they are, and we can pick up these items in a charity shop for a steal, then all the better....buying second hand primark for £1 soon adds up and doesn't stop the consumerism addiction!
    Keep spreading the word!

    Love A x

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  26. Hi Ilona, I am glad to have found your blog. And I do agree about having to change one's lifestyle to be debt free or reduce debt. So obvious, but so few are prepared to actually do it. A few years ago, I was not earning much, as there was a recession where I live, in New Zealand. I used loose tea, milk powder, rolled oats, dhal from red lentils which I can make, albeit not so creatively, I made roti for bread. I used curry leaves which are the cheapest spice, ever, froze them and tossed them into the dhal for my "greens". Walked everywhere, seldom used a heater. I survived, didn't get sick, and was left with an intolerance for people wingeing about money when I see them living extravagantly. The bad times passed. I moved onto better foods but still not wasting food nor money. I think that going without gives one more self respect.

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  27. Hi Ilona, I'm glad to have found your blog. Yes, I do agree, if you want less debt, you do have to change your life. I've done this myself, from time to time, when my earnings were low, and I am glad that I live a somewhat frugal life anyway. I still have porridge most mornings, without all those "designer" add-ins, I still eat pulses and legumes at home, grow herbs, mend clothes, don't buy "stuff". And my life is nice.

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  28. I don't have a smartphone and the expenses that come with it.

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