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Sunday, 21 January 2018

In a better place.

Hello. It had slipped my mind that this blog has an anniversary coming up, in fact the anniversary has now passed. I wrote the first post on the 2nd of January 2009. I sometimes look back and read my own blog, and can see consistencies throughout the nine years I have been writing it. Although I am not a fan of routine, it stifles creativity, I am still running my life more or less the same way as I always have done. That is living within my means, cutting back on my day to day living expenses so I have more cash left over for pleasures. Working out my priorities have always been at the forefront of my budgeting. There is a slight change there, in the beginning I was dead skint, having cut my working hours giving me a smaller income. Getting the work/life balance was important. I now find that by being strict with myself has put me in a good place, I can ease off a little bit because I now have the confidence and skills needed to maintain my present lifestyle.

So, let's have a look at my first post all those years ago.

Hi there, thanks for taking a look at my blog, this is my first attempt at blogging, so I hope you find something of interest. The main theme for the blog will be frugal living, because that is what I have been aspiring to for the last ten years. I decided to reduce my time at work, so reducing my income, and creating a whole new challenge, I now work at how to make ends meet. That may sound daunting to some people but it's easy, as long as you can differentiate between what you need and what you want. Making ends meet gives the impression that you are scrimping and saving worrying about where your next meal will come from, that is not true. For me it means making the most out of the money you have, getting the best value, the most food from the supermarket, and the challenge of surviving by your own means. I have never been in debt, always paying my way, so perhaps I am used to living within my means, luckily my mother taught me all about it. 

I have been a lorry driver for 32 years, something I am immensely proud of, in total I have worked for 44 years, and now it is time to slow down. All my hard work has almost paid for a house, still a bit to go so not completely debt free, but I am working on it. I am now looking forward to a fabulous retirement, but of course I will never fully retire because I like work. But from now on, any work I do will be on my terms, it will be something I want to do, and I will do it when I want to do it. There, a bit bolshie maybe but that's how I am, I know my own mind. Life is too short to be a slave, and by that I mean a slave to money. I have realised that I am perfectly happy with just enough, a simple life for me means less worries. Do I worry about money, of course not because I haven't got any. 

Please join me on my frugal journey, I am going to record just how I live my life on very little money. I'm not setting any targets, or making any rash statements like living on a £1 a day, it will be a true story of how it really is. Don't expect me to be complaining about how expensive the cost of living is, or how fed up I am of having no money, that won't happen. Instead I want to open your eyes to the pleasures of a simple life, the enjoyment you can have out of life's free gifts, and how I wake up each day looking forward to the day ahead. See you later. Ilona


Two people commented on this one, Norfolk boy and Dancewriter, both from the USA. I was thrilled that someone had found me. I wonder where they are now. I can't find a blog for Dancewriter, and Norfolk Boy stopped blogging in 2012. I hope they are both alright and have a good life. 

So, What has happened to you over the last eight years? Are you in a better place, or about the same place. Have you moved forward one step. or taken two steps back? Thank you to everyone who has traveled with me along this road, here's heading for year nine. 

It's snowing here, a couple of quick walks to see Tina cat is all I will do today if it keeps on. Thanks for popping in, we'll catch up soon. Enjoy your Sunday.
Toodle pip

63 comments:

  1. Eight years ago, we knew my husband’s job was probably going to end. Every year at Christmas they started lay-offs. That whole year was very stressful. We still had a son in college. We tried talking to the bank about our house loan but they wouldn’t give us the time of day. We hired a lawyer to help us to figure out what to do if/when the job ended. We talked about filing bankruptcy but we didn’t do it. We’d had the house up for Sale for two years at that point. You have to remember that we were going through the recession at the time. So, we started saving every penny we could. Just like clockwork, come Christmas my husband was let go. (They Called it ‘retired’.) He got a severance package so that helped. It took two years but he finally got a job making 25% of what he had before. And, that is where we are now. We had to cash in some retirement investments. We didn’t lose everything like a lot of people. We finally sold the big house for less then we paid for it 19 years before. We had a small cottage that we paid off, 600 sq. ft., that we live in today. We’re still making 25% of his previous salary but doing okay. It changed us, though. We are not happy here but happy enough, I guess. We’re too far from our sons and grandchildren. I hope we can move closer before the grandchildren get too big. I totally understand now how two people have to work to make ends meet. This has taught me that I always have to save, it doesn’t matter how much. And, no matter how much I save, I need to save more.
    Congratulations on eight years, Ilona! You’re a rock star!

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    1. Thank you for your story, You have had a hard time, making a plan will get you to where you want to be, nearer to your family. You are lucky that the two of you can work on it together. I hope it all goes well for you.

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  2. When I started my blogging I was the proud owner of a little gift shop in the Cumbrian town of Ulverston and the blogging bug bit and that first blog made way for 'Our New Life in the Country' and ten years later here I am with yet another new blog.

    So much has happened to us since you started posting on here I won't clog up your page telling it all, you've followed us a lot of the way anyway. I love that you've stayed true to your original words, but have learned so much and achieved so much over the years after writing them ... and become a minor celebratory to boot.

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    1. Hi, I missed the gift shop part of your blog, but I have been reading ever since. What you have achieved over the years is incredible. And of course I love the stories about your furry friends, especially Mavis.

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  3. Since retiring I have never looked back, too busy looking where I am going. I have lived well within my means all my working life and beyond. Since I fully got on board with the "Ilona" way of shopping I have reduced my spending by a considerable amount. There is very little that I need and nothing that I want and I am happy. So happy that when friend asked me what I would do if I won on the lottery I could not find an answer accept "carry on as a I am". I see many people spending money in a frantic search for happiness, they cannot see that you can not buy it, if you could it would be astronomically expensive and controlled by the few mega rich.

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    1. I read about your busyness on your blog, Pam. You have your needs and wants sorted, and I agree with you on the lottery thing. You cannot buy health and happiness with money.

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  4. That was interesting story momsav. I'm still in same house from 8 years ago, kids are grown up now, one finished uni, one just gone, so nothing really keeping us here now. Partners now in a permanent job but isn't keen, very hard on the body, has had an accident this week, with hand and machine, we have been very lucky he had an operation last weekend, and it missed all tendons and nerves, so so lucky. I'm still searching for that elusive job, think I was doing that 8 years ago too sadly. I'm hoping that before I retire I will be settled in one with enough hours, nice people and reasonable wage. Like momsav, even with no mortgage, steves wage isn't enough to cover everything we need and want. Although we could cut out some stuff I must admit, but not until we really need to.

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    1. Good luck in your job search, but don't despair if you don't find it. You may need to move some of your needs into the wants for a while, the choice is always yours.

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    2. Thank you x the accident this week makes u realise how quickly things can go wrong. After the operation his feeling in His arm didn't come back until about twelve hours they said six at the hospital. It was a dead weight his right arm, and u start thinking what if it doesn't come back. What job options are open to him then. Scary. Luckily it was fine. I'm very frugal but as we are home a lot we do have sky tv which is a want. Have a few nice job possible coming up. Job hunting seems harder at the moment I used to get interviews most of the time now not so many. Hey ho interesting thread to read.

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    3. Julie, I'm sorry you're in such a difficult place right now. Would it help to think about a job as just a way to bring in money for things you want and need? I wasted many years looking for a job that used my talents and seemed worthwhile (although I did any number of things that just seemed interesting and kept me going). I learned a lot from jobs I never would have considered in my previous life, and met many lovely people who I would never otherwise have known. One thing I love about Ilona's blog is her complete openness to the possibility of things working out very well if you just get stuck in. I hope your partner can also find a less taxing job, and that you can work together to find a way forward that is challenging and interesting, not punishing.My heart is with you. Kate in Oregon

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  5. Hi its raining all day here in the south west UK. So wish it was snowing as I love the snow. 8 years ago I was working as a p a to a disabled person and also got to go on holiday with him and his wife. Went to lots of great places the Caribbean Scandinavia Russia Lanzarote etc. Gave it up as the wages were poor and did child minding for 3 years before retiring. Husband still works and I look after a granddaughter 2 mornings a week. When he retires in 18mths we will move to Devon. I can't wait lol

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    1. Sounds like an interesting life you have had, now is a new chapter unfolding. 18 months will soon pass, start planning now. Make sure you have enough money behind you and you will make that move to Devon. Best of luck.

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  6. Great post, thank you and happy anniversary. Indeed when I read your first post just now, it was very similar in tone to your current writing. One of my key beliefs/attitudes, and I find it throughout your blog, is to face life with a positive outlook (glass half full).

    And as I think back over the past few years, life is indeed getting better! I retired a bit over three years ago and I have loved the chance to learn more and spend time on what I want! Your comments were spot on in that category too.

    Thank you for keeping blogging!

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    1. Thank you Hilogene. It's the walking that has made your life better, I think you know that now :o)

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  7. Congratulations Ilona.I wish I had found your blog a few years ago & I'd possibly have not wasted so much money on nonsence.I sadly used to buy endless clothes,toiletries,boots,wellies anything to make myself feel better.Lots of books & nothing really helped-then I found your blog just browsing & something just clicked in what you say & I think I'm back on track again.Luckily I've not got into debt but now I'm hopefully got my sensible head on.Thanks Ilona you are Wonderful x

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    1. I think we've all wasted money at some point in our lives, me included. But the damage can be reversed when we finally realize that the stuff we buy does not make us happy for very long. Well done on getting where you want to be.

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  8. Love your blog Ilona, yours and Frugal Queens blogs are what inspired me to have a go. The other week believe it or not I started reading yours from the start I try I am on this page now Thursday, 17 May 2012
    A day out in Bradford.

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    1. Well done you. Ah Bradford, the dancing coloured fountains, and the wonderful Alhambra Theatre. It was a good day out.

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    2. Simplesista beams proudly!
      Happy anniversary Ilona, you’re a true inspiration,xxxx

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  9. Congratulations Ilona. I can see you have always been an inspiring writer and I love to read your posts, along with all the interesting comments they generate.
    I'm still working and it took me till last year to really take control of our finances. Even now I need constant inspiration like yours to keep me focused.
    Thank you for continuing this great site.
    Jacquie x

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    1. I am with you every step of the way, Jacquie, but the ball is in your court. Do the best you can with the resources you have. Do not spend money you haven't got, and prioritize what you need for a happy life.

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  10. In 2009 I was looking for a new and better-paying job. I found it and it provided me with a decent living and the ability to save for retirement. A few months ago I was laid off from that same job, but I feel that easing into retirement is the right thing to do now, although with less money than I had planned. You are an inspiration!

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    1. Hi. Things happen for a reason, you will have enough money for your retirement. You know what you have to do, get your priorities in order and make sure you spend your money on what is important to you.

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  11. Hi Ilona! I am in a MUCH better place in every respect than I was 8 years ago. 8 years ago, I had lost my house to foreclosure and had just filed bankruptcy due to losing my job in the global financial collapse. My family and I were literally steps from being on the streets, largely due to my own VERY foolish choices. I blame my highly dysfunctional childhood for producing a highly dysfunctional adult (ME at the time) but then realized that I had to take responsibility for myself and change. So, I started to read other people's blogs to see how they were doing things and I went on from there. Blogs like yours changed my life. Today, my life is as totally different from 2010 as it possibly could be. Lots of changes were made, good things happened and I eventually made a point of going 'zero contact' with my birth family there in the UK for the sake of my own mental health and well being. Sometimes, ZC is the only way to move forward, without those constant negative and destructive reminders of events in the past that cannot be changed. Life is GOOD! Keep doing what you do! You are very inspiring. Congratulations on running a successful blog and THANK YOU xx

    Sandy/US

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    1. Hi Sandy, sounds like you had some major issues to deal with, unfortunately we can't choose the families we are born into. I do not understand the global financial world at all, I always get the impression that it is not a proper job. All this stock market trading is just shuffling money about, things can change in seconds which often culminates in the collapse of large companies. Perhaps losing your job was a good thing for you, although you wouldn't have realized it at the time. I'm glad you are in a better place now.

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  12. I love your blog. Enjoy the glimpses into English life. I also liked the FQ blog. Do you know if she plans to restart it?

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    1. Hi. No, sorry, I have no idea if FQ is coming back. She might do if she has taken time off to do other things. No one knows.

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  13. I can't I aging that when you wrote that first post that you could have had any idea of where this blog would take you. What fun you've had on the way. Well done to you, Ilona.

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    1. Thank you. I had no idea if anyone was going to find my blog, or if anyone would be interested. I was reading a few other blogs and left a few comments, that's how it all started. Now I am getting 6000 page views a day, amazing.

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  14. You have showed so many how possible it is to live on a little, keeping the rest safe!
    Eight years ago was miserable but I had taken steps to be free, debt free. After that, a few years later, I freed up my brain too. Still scared of poverty, but now safe and much safer than most. For that, I am happy to have been saving hard.

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    1. Sounds like you've had a big detox and overhaul of your life. Well done. Don't be scared of poverty, there is no such thing. As long as you have enough, a place to live, food to eat, and warmth when you need it. If you have those things you are rich.

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  15. Congratulations Ilona! I love your blog, and enjoyed reading your first post. (BTW, haven't you been blogging for 9 full years if you began in Jan 2009? So on to your 10th year? Fantastic!) I am far worse off financially than I was in 2009, but being retired almost makes up for it. :O) Now I cut my own hair (I don't color it), take sponge baths (out of necessity due to broken faucets I can't yet afford to have replaced but when they are replaced I will probably keep taking some sponge baths), combine errands to one trip so that I often go 3 or 4 days at home without going out (which is fine by me), etc. I'd love to lower the heat and air conditioning usage in my home, and my grocery bills, but they are geared to suit my terminally ill brother who lives with me, and as his caregiver I don't scrimp on his needs. But it's all good. I've learned a lot from you and enjoy your posts and videos so much. Thanks for sharing your life with us. Bess

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    1. Thank you Bess, I was never any good with numbers, ha ha. Have amended it to nine years.

      Thank you for looking after your brother, I couldn't do that for my brother, he died in India.

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    2. But you would have, if you could have. So sorry you've been through that already.

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  16. Nice first post, Ilona!! Good job keeping up with the blog world and showing how you live frugal. 10 years ago, 2008, two years into my hardware store job, where I am still working, now 4 days not 3 days a week. My husband finally gained a full time job, late 2007, after have interim jobs after full time work years prior. Life changed in the recession. We are now 2 years away from our house being paid off. Credit cards to be paid off by then, at least one if not two. Both cars still in working condition and no car payments for a few years, which is nice. I love my photography and wish to find days away to photograph and have fun. Still blogging my photography and making calendars as gifts for family and friends. Figuring out how to not spend as much this year. Our house needs new siding. New roof a couple years ago that we saved up for. Am thinking of getting a new recliner but found they are expensive. ARG! Not sure if I really want second hand ones for various reasons. Ones we have were from friends so not too bad. I can live with what I have. I buy food and supplies on sale when possible. Cringe at some prices so I just walk away or buy an alternative one. Keep up the inspiration and this reader in Oregon enjoys your blog quite often. Take care and have a great week, Becky :-}

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    1. Not long now, Becky, hang on in there. Work on your priorities and plan plan plan, and you will reach retirement in a good place. Come back here and tell me about it.

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  17. Congratulations on 8 years of blogging. I've enjoyed reading your posts over the years and felt I found someone that is like minded. My husband and I retired 11 years ago but our planning started years before that time. We've always lived within our means and bought a home we could easily afford. As years pass we could afford to upgrade but we stayed put and enjoying our small home. Thankfully it was the best choice. It is such a free feeling knowing one isn't drowning in debt. Hate when commercials say be the envy of your friends. I wouldn't want anyone to envy me.....just enjoy your life. Have a blessed day. Patty Mc

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    1. Hi Patty, I'm glad you made the right decision with your home. I could spend money on updating my house, but I wouldn't recover the money when it comes to selling it. Whoever buys it next will rip it apart. I am definitely not the envy of my friends who live in modern homes.

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  18. Wish I'd found your blog nine years ago Ilona...trying your ideas has made a difference to mine. All the best for the next nine years. Marigold

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    1. Thank you Marigold. Let's work together on this one, and we'll both have a great life.

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  19. If I knew then what I know now.........Rose x

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    1. Same here Rose. I didn't always make sensible decisions, but miraculously I have landed in a good place. We never stop learning, even into old age.

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  20. Ten years ago I broke my back in an accident. My husband at the same time left me. Lying in bed with a brace on alone, puts life in perspective. Our daughter at university, which was left to me with payments. I did manage to get better, and divorced him. Money poured away from me. I had to work full time with a lot of pain. Kept paying the mortgage and debts, I had to buy him out. Work was stressful and I do believe that I had a break down. Took early retirement, paid the house off with lump sum, paid for daughters masters degree. Now years later I am thinking about me. I helped pay for daughters wedding, and I feel utterly drained with all the paying out I have done. I now live on a pension, this blog has taught me how to stretch it. What could have been with the right husband? Absolutely rinsed. It’s my time now. Thank you Ilona. Happy anniversary.x

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  21. Happy Blogiversary, Ilona! I enjoy your posts so much, especially your lovely travel pictures and photos of your creative projects, and of course the walking club. My spouse and I had to retire early due to health, but we own our home, and I do some gardening and food preservation to help the food budget (no yellow stickers here in the USA). Our budget is very, very tight, but I love the inspiration to make life fun and creative as well as frugal.

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  22. Happy Blog birthday Ilona! I found your blog in 2011 when I was none too well and had gone from a good salary to living on a very reduced income. Forward to 2018 and I am now working full-time although the job is very physically and mentally tough. I still only earn about half of what I used to before I was ill but my time of living on very little means that I feel rich nonetheless. I'm also married to my partner who I met in 2007 and a grandma to 3 lovely little boys. I too am in a much better place and I'm so glad you are too. We have relied on public transport since 2006 and have just saved up enough to buy a car which should make our lives easier (particular my husband who is self employed and works strange hours sometimes).

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  23. I Love reading your blog Ilona lots of sensible advice. I am certainly in a good place now after moving from a stones throw from Heathrow airport after 79+ years to a lovely little bungalow in a quiet village with a wonderful view.
    Have enjoyed reading all the comments. Hazel c uk

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    1. Sounds bliss Hazel. My friend lived in the flight path of Heathrow, we had to stop speaking every time Concorde went over, the noise was deafening.

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  24. My income has always been low. Every year, I earn less. I’ve always had to be super tight with money. I’ve got none of the trappings of life (apart from a computer). I’ve no mobile phone and I get by with no washing machine/dryer. I can’t have a car. However, I make damn sure that I do lots of enjoyable things - sewing, embroidery, drawing, walking in the countryside, visiting museums. I too had to buy out an errant husband. I was left some money in a will (the main benefactor was the solicitor) and had to give ALL of it to my husband to buy my him out. Natalie

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    1. Buying out my ex idiot is the reason I'll be working at least half a dozen years more than I intended. It's annoying but I try not to let it ruin my life. He's caused enough heartache and hardship already. Good for you that you are enjoying life despite your ex.

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    2. Thank you VC. Happiness to you too! Natalie

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  25. Congratulations on your blogging anniversary Ilona, it's no mean feat to blog for so long, it's a big commitment I would imagine. Am still checking in most days but don't comment as often as I have to use my old desktop computer - for some reason my tablet will no longer allow me to comment on google account. Anyway, I guess the biggest thing that's happened to me in 8 years was realising I could manage if I took early retirement. I gave up work at 56, far earlier than I'd ever imagined I would, but my job in a big store had changed beyond all recognition and physically I was finding it hard to cope with. Late nights and lots of lifting etc didn't bother me when I was young, but I'd had enough by my mid fifties. Also had less patience with rubbish management and poor working conditions. I love retirement and feel extremely fortunate that I no longer have to work. I'm never bored, there's always something to be interested in. Both my parents died in their early 70's and I know they wished they'd stopped work earlier - I didn't want that to happen to me, I wanted some good years where I still had the energy to do lots of stuff etc. Perhaps the biggest challenge for me is feeling a bit isolated sometimes, especially in the winter when there's not so much to get out and about and do. A lot of my friends are busy caring for elderly relatives or have health issues and so on, even though most are retired, they don't have as much spare time as I because they have families. However I do a lot of stuff on my own and get out to a lot of places, even though I don't drive. I'm a great believer in adapting to circumstances, what might have worked when I was young or in my 40's is of no interest or relevance to me now.
    One thing I don't miss are the ups and downs of romantic relationships!! I like the calmer waters of later years, I'm done with drama and like being single most of the time.

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    1. You are my soulmate, I'm with you all the way xxx

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  26. Congratulations on your blogging anniversary and many thanks for all the time and effort you put in. Yours is my favourite of all the frugal blogs I read mainly because of the varied posts and the fact you are living on a limited income whereas some bloggers aren’t. My time will hopefully be my own in another 18 months or so but in the meantime I’ve managed to make a further reduction in my working hours so life is good. Kristel

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    1. Good for you, Kristel. Cut your cloth accordingly I always say. Enjoy practicing for your full retirement from work.

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  27. Happy blogiversary, Ilona, and thank you for all you do. I start my days with your blog, and I walk every day thanks to your walking club.Your blog has taught me so very much. We are debt-free, we own our house, and I try to live as frugal as possible. I would love to make meals like you do, but my husband insists on more "traditional" food. From next month on I will get my pension, now we ´re living on my husband´s, and I surely will save every cent of it, because if we got by without it until now, we don´t really need it.
    All the best to you from Hilde in Germany

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    1. You have good times ahead with extra money coming into the house. Save a little, spend a little on treats.

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  28. Happy Blogaversity Ilona. You got me thinking as to why I like and read your blog, I think it's because it is so real. You tell it how it is warts and all, give great tips on how to stretch available funds and you always get pleasure out of life. I became a single parent in my late 20's with three children including a new born, my choice, I wanted a husband who was mine and not have to share him with the next pretty face that came along. Life wasn't easy, I couldn't afford to work, but once my youngest got to school life started to change. I always saved something and now many years later I have just stopped working over two years before I get my pension. My husband still works but that's because he loves his work and chooses to. Old habits die hard though, I still budget carefully and that means I can have treats and enjoy my hobbies. I let my husband pay the bills but I don't take any money from him, I value my independence too much. If everything in my life crumbled I can still survive. There is always pleasure in life if you look for it and believe me I have had my difficult times and then some. Keep on doing what you are doing, and thank you.

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  29. Hi Ilona, I think it was 2011 when I started reading your blog; we have common interests, cats, vegetarian cooking and hiking. I admire you for continuing your blog, I'm afraid the one I started is sadly neglected. Life is very different for me now as my beloved husband passed away one year ago. But, life has a way of going on.

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  30. where does nine years go? according to blogger I've been blogging ten years next month, not as many followers as your blog,which is still a good blog to read, lots of good advice and common sense,not fake or pretentious like a lot of them are, Jo

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  31. Hi Ilona, We are so lucky you decided to blog 9 years ago and are still at it! I think I found you around 2011. I retired late 2012 after working 44+ years (like you). I am no where near as thrifty as you but on the right path and a forever "work in progress". Your blog has been such an inspiration and even though I don't comment very often, I am an avid reader (and sometimes a good student)! Nancy from Northern California

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  32. Hi Ilona
    Jacqui from Doncaster here. Have you ever thought of doing some classes on setting up and running a blog. I'm just starting the preparation for my phased retirement and would love to write a blog on my experiences. I just wouldn't know where to start. There are lots of online courses but I'd much rather sit down with somebody like yourself who has been doing it for years x

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    1. Hi. No, I haven't thought about that, because I don't know enough about it.

      I didn't know where to start either. In the beginning, I clicked on Blogger and followed the instructions. It guides you through it step by step. You could make up a basic blog with the minimum of features, a profile, a header, plenty to choose from, then add your first post. You don't have to publish anything until you are happy with the layout.

      From then on you play around with it, adding more features, changing the colours, and writing more posts. Have a go.

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