Frugality in a thimble.

I’ve referred to our downsizing as trying to get a quart into a thimble, but regardless of where, or how, you live, that dreaded budget and cost of living always raises its ugly head.

Usually around this time of year, we’re preparing for the winter months as living in a village with no amenities and likelihood of power cuts made us rather cautious, if not paranoid.
We would order half a ton of winter coal (about £150) and store it in the bunker Hubby made a few years ago. We’d also fill our oil tank in August to take advantage of a lower price (around 65p a litre incl 5% VAT), and I would begin my Christmas shopping.
Don’t laugh, or faint with the shock, but the nearer the festive season got, the higher the prices for a ‘Merry Christmas’.

cash(Christmas stuff has been in the shops for over a month already, and I am trying my best to ignore it!)

In years past, each trip to the supermarket would mean a little extra towards our stores in the tins and dry stuff department, and I would make sure we had sprouts in the freezer, plenty of stuffing in the cupboard and a couple of Christmas puds in the larder.
Sure, we’d buy mince pies, but they never saw the month of December, let alone Christmas, and besides, the best before date was a lot earlier than Christmas anyway!

christmas treeThis year is going to be so very different.
At the moment, we have a full tank of fuel, mainly because we haven’t been chugging up the river for any great distance.
We have already calculated (ie. read the manual) that to run the central heating on board will cost half a litre of fuel an hour.
We have a 50 litre tank, so that’s 100 hours provided we don’t go anywhere (OK, not a problem, and extremely unlikely if it’s that cold).
Equate that to cost, and that’s around £45.
(The little oil filled radiator we bought will use one kilowatt every 2 hours, so 100 hours is less than £10, see electricity below).
Just bear in mind though that there is no ‘home delivery’ and we have to take the boat to the pump to refuel.
There is no room for a solid fuel burner (though Hubby would love one) so coal is no longer an issue, even if we could store the stuff.
I have no freezer, and I have yet to see sprouts in tins, though apparently they are!
sproutsI am actually very tempted to buy 2 TV Christmas dinners and pop them in the microwave on Christmas Day. Puds have a long shelf life without freezing, are already microwaveable and instant custard is a doddle.
Either that, or go out for Christmas Lunch at a cost of £25 to £40 a head.
Yeah, right. I’m on a budget. Strike that.

Now water, like fuel, is an issue, as it has been known for the water supply to the pontoons (included in our mooring fees) to be shut off to stop the pipes freezing if the weather gets really cold. We are assured that the shower and toilet blocks would not be affected.
Again, we have a tank for the purpose, this holding we believe 160 litres. We are getting into the habit of not letting it go below half.
From today, we are monitoring our usage to give us an idea of how long a full tank would last in extreme conditions.
There are no standpipes on site as in Caravan Parks, but there are three butler sinks in both the ladies and gents. I know for a fact that our hose pipe won’t reach, so that means lugging containers (which we don’t have at the moment) of water down to the boat every day. We have our own trolley, and there are also several large ones provided by the Marina, no doubt all of which will be in constant use in such an event.

Going the other way (what goes in must come out), we have a toilet cassette rather than a holding tank for waste (which requires a pump out),  so this should be no problem at all unless we get frozen in and are unable to get up to the waste disposal point to empty it.
We have purchased a second unit just in case!
cassette cassette 2

Electricity is done by meter, card and PIN.
We buy blocks of 100 kwh at 18.5p per kwh, which is the same price as we were paying at the house. I checked the meter daily and we averaged out at just under 5 kwh a day, my monthly payment was £25, and at the end of the year they owed me. They still do, but I have given up chasing them as it will cost me more in mobile phone charges.
Our first ‘bill’ here equated to 88 kwh in 33 days, thus 2.67 units a day. I checked the meter this morning, and we have used 87 units in 35 days, which is 2.4 units a day, so we are doing well and I shall top up the meter at the end of the week.

Storing food is difficult due to lack of space, though we have been buying extra tinned stuff periodically and already have spare supplies.
We still eat a lot of pasta and rice dishes, and keep at least 2 packs of each in reserve as well as the open one. Hubby has recently introduced me to noodles, and as they are nothing like the gross potted stuff I experienced, they are another (and cheap to buy) part of our diet.
Food shopping though is working out expensive.
Not only because we shop more often, but we can’t take advantage of fresh meat or veg offers as we used to, and smaller portions are almost twice the price.
On the one hand, we are eating more fresh produce which is a good thing, and nothing we buy is being wasted, which is even better, but the down side is we are buying more of the snack foods like biscuits, chocolate and crisps, and have discovered decent jam, custard and apple doughnuts.  It’s a miracle my weight had actually gone down!
I still keep my housekeeping spreadsheet, and can see exactly where our money is going.
I have to work on that as there are a lot of red blocks denoting overspending on it!

About pensitivity101

I am a retired number cruncher with a vivid imagination and wacky sense of humour which extends to short stories and poetry. I love to cook and am a bit of a dog whisperer as I get on better with them than people sometimes! In November 2020, we lost our beloved Maggie who adopted us as a 7 week old pup in March 2005. We decided to have a photo put on canvas as we had for her predecessor Barney. We now have three pictures of our fur babies on the wall as we found a snapshot of Kizzy, my GSD when Hubby and I first met so had hers done too. On February 24th 2022 we were blessed to find Maya, a 13 week old GSD pup who has made her own place in our hearts. You can follow our training methods, photos and her growth in my blog posts. From 2014 to 2017 'Home' was a 41 foot narrow boat where we made strong friendships both on and off the water. We were close to nature enjoying swan and duck families for neighbours, and it was a fascinating chapter in our lives. We now reside in a small bungalow on the Lincolnshire coast where we have forged new friendships and interests.
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