Not so long ago, a market trader announced that after the necessary costs and deductions for his stall and having put in an 80 hour week, he was lucky to have £50 a week to live on. In response, a prominent UK politician stated he could certainly live on £50 a week, and so why shouldn’t everyone else? (The man is a fool who obviously has no concept of the true costs of living and if his policies are anything to go by, he uses a tick list as it looks better on paper as opposed to reality.)
If you had read either article, you would realise that said £50 was actually AFTER all household expenditure (mortgage or rent payments, utility bills etc) and any debt commitments, but I can’t remember if it included food. No matter. For me, if I had £50 a week ‘mad money’ I would be ecstatically happy and jumping through hoops (I would also probably save half of it because I’m just like that).
This week, I have read an article about a young man who, rather than fork out £1000 for a new boiler, decided to live without heat and water for a year. From his figures, he has indeed ‘saved money’ even if his methods, especially his water supply, seem irrational to me. Whilst I cannot prove nor disprove his or the market trader’s claims, I can draw comparisons to the way we live.
We are on a strict budget and always on the lookout for practical ways to save money without doing away with necessities, fresh water being one.
Firstly, there are 2 and a half of us, ie. Hubby, me and the dog. We have no rent or mortgage to pay, and live in a 170 year old detached property. We have a veg patch and fruit trees in the garden, and I drive a modest diesel car purchased new some 9 years ago, mileage about 8000 a year. We have no TV, don’t drink or smoke, rarely go out or entertain, but do like the occasional DVD or good book.
This is what we HAVE to pay out each year for the privilege of living in a house, medication, having the convenience of personal transport and a ‘luxury’ of the internet.
Household (council tax, electricity, metered water supply) £1500
Private drainage (cess pit) £80
Buildings/Life/Dog Insurance £ 845
Car expenses (excluding any repairs, but including servicing) £1015
Landline telephone including Broadband £360
Medical costs (annual prepayment card due to complexity) £104
Total £4654 (£89.50 pw)
Note : there is no clothing allowance in my figures here.
For emergencies, we each have a basic Pay-as-You-Go mobile phone on which a top up of £10 will last about 4 months.
In 2012, we spent just under £2000 (about £40 a week) on food for all 3 of us. I have managed to reduce this figure by about £10 a week by re-evaluating how we shop and growing more of our own has been a great saving. Our meat consumption has more than halved, and I have experimented with more meat free ideas which have actually become part of our regular diet. By shopping with a priced list, if it’s more than my guide, I either buy less or not at all.
So in summary, yes, we could ‘live’ on £50 a week, provided that had to cover our food purchase costs and NOTHING ELSE. As to where (or in what) we would live, how we would cook our food and keep warm, how we would keep ourselves and our clothes clean, how we would get about (especially to do our shopping), not to mention emergencies, our permanent and very necessary medication (plus annual stuff for the dog), communication, etc is all in La La Land or MPville as it miraculously doesn’t need any income when it comes to government calculations. It would appear that those in power have no idea of the struggles people face every day in order to exist. They reckon they can make cuts here, there and everywhere and people will still manage. Bearing in mind our wondrous MP’s salary is around £2500 per week, it gives you an idea of what an ass he is. Bear also in mind that any ‘extras’ he has to fork out, can be claimed back on expenses. I am also convinced that if he was asked to put his money where his mouth was, he would undoubtedly claim the £50 in advance to do it, and would ONLY do it for one solitary week.