Hubby was listening to something on the internet about budgets yesterday and how to adapt when income has diminished to make ends meet.
As we walked Maggie for the final time last night, we agreed that although we are on a limited income and thus a strict budget, we actually live quite well.
We’ve always lived frugally anyway, this going back to when we bought our first house in 1990 and getting caught in Negative Equity. It meant having to go without to make up the deficit on a house worth less than the mortgage on it, but we managed and when we did finally move 6 years later, we started again with a new mortgage, covering all our expenses and deposit on the new property as well as the shortfall of around £8,000 on the old one.
We always said that when we ended up living on the boat in 2014 it wasn’t as much of a culture shock as it could have been (once we got over not having anywhere to put anything and having to give practically everything away to charity) because we were already living as cheaply as possible.
The guy doing the budget said to make lists of all your expenditure, food, and commitments, then review your income and try to cut back accordingly. Things like rent/heat/communications/utility bills/loans/local taxes have to be paid regardless of how much or how little is coming in, though in some instances there is help with those if you notify the companies or lenders concerned, especially now.
Our tweakables are the phone, food and car running expenses.
By not using the car so often, we’re not putting in fuel and saving a little that way, also wear and tear is reduced, though we had new tyres and brakes last year. Our car insurance with both of us covered fully comprehensive to drive was less than £200 again this year, so well within the budget I’d set. Our road tax is a mere £20 a year as we only have a small car with a 998cc engine. The annual MOT is £60, so it’s a shame that’s not pro-rata!
We are on a fixed tariff for our internet connection but pay for any landline calls on top of that. We hardly use the phone and few people have the number anyway, as any calls we make are done on a PAYG mobile which I top up as and when my balance dips below £10.
Many people suggest we ditch the landline, but for our money (£15 pm plus tax), we have unlimited internet access whereas a mobile with a contract would cost us far more in the long run.
Food is a balancing act as if prices go up, our income doesn’t, so our only choice is to cut back or go without completely. However, this would be our luxuries such as cakes, ice cream, biscuits, chocolate and desserts, which have taken a hit in recent months, so that’s not actually been a hardship, just disappointing!
Fresh fruit and veg is always fluctuating, and whilst I don’t usually, I bought organic onions today because the usual packs were a disgrace. There was at least one bad onion in each bag, and the rest were soft and spongy. For my 69p, I got 5 nice sized firm onions, though I shall be glad when ours are ready.
Photo: our crop in August 2018
Mushrooms were also bad, their best before date mostly tomorrow and none discounted, so I left them alone, but green beans were on special at 59p instead of 79p so I got some of those. Again I shall be glad when ours are ready, and hopefully we’ll have enough to freeze.
Photos : left our wigwam in 2018, right our four plants in 2019 in between our tomatoes
I bought three peppers for £1.15, so that’s up by 30p (ours have failed) and had to throw the red one away as it had rotted on the inside.
Everything else on my list was more or less the same price, so our food budget is good and the month expense well under control.
I didn’t buy grapes today as I had 500g in the fridge. However, when I opened them, I had to throw over half away as they were furry and I made sure any touching a moldy one also got ditched, so I only have about 200g.
The basics like toilet and kitchen rolls, toiletries, washing up liquid, cereals, tinned, bottled and dry stuffs have hardly changed but I didn’t need those today.
Our neighbour has given us a list of bulky items to get for her if we can when we do our big shop later in the week. She has been managing very well with the week to week shop but only has a small trolley and doesn’t drive so we help out with the big or heavy stuff when she needs it.
Overall, it was nice to hear a ‘male me’ talking budgets along similar lines to how we manage. For us it helps that we have no financial commitments, mortgage or rent to pay.
If we had, we would have sunk without trace years ago.