Today I have been inspired to write a post after reading a very good recent post from Scarlet.
As you will all have seen the recent news about people complaining that their benefits may be capped at £26000 and complaining about it, I was made very angry that people are playing the system in order to stay at home and do nothing, but can probably still afford lots of nice things to eat and new clothes and, I am sure, having their nails done etc.
I earn significantly lower than the national average, indeed, about half it seems, as my industry has taken quite a hit in recent years. I have seen a drop of about 4000 in my wage over the last couple of years and have I gone crying to the benefits office? No, I have changed my lifestyle significantly. Don't get me wrong, I have certainly not done this unwillingly, but have actually embraced the challenge 100% and I believe myself to be the winner in this. I have left a city I didn't enjoy living in and made the brave decision to move somewhere that I only know a handful of people, but in which I can make my life work on a small income. I can afford my mortgage repayments better now, I can grow my own food (if I could afford to plant things, which I can't at the moment, but hopefully by spring.....) and I can enjoy living close to nature. I don't go out to the pub, I have stopped my spending on new clothes 100% and have begged and borrowed things like a freezer from friends and family. At the moment I am living without a fridge because I can't afford one, so am keeping my fresh food in the garage where it is mercifully cold. But don't misunderstand and think that any of this is in the spirit of complaining, because I feel that I am richer than I have ever been in everything other than money. It makes me so cross to hear people on benefits complaining because they cannot have things that they consider their 'rights'. Benefits are not there for people who want to sit at home and watch Jeremy Kyle, but they are there for people with a genuine need, who have lost a job and don't know how to feed themselves until they get another or who genuinely don;t know where to turn to.
I have started to change the way I live completely, I don't go out for meals, I cook everything from scratch, I don't buy books, I use the library, I use my car as infrequently as possible and walk if I can. Holidays are a thing of the past (although I feel now that I am living in a holiday destination!). I will be foraging come spring. The major supermarkets are no go areas now, unless I genuinely cannot get an item anywhere else - Lidl and Aldi are life savers. Shopping for anything non essential is over. Gas and electricity wastage is not an option, I will use what is needed at that moment, heat the rooms I am going to be in and use blankets and throws, light the room I am using. Baths are a thing of the past as water is saved carefully, a short shower is all I am having. Internet usage is now capped to save money and phone calls are only made in my 'free' period, ie, evenings and weekend. Mobile phone usage is now a bare minimum and for emergencies.
And yet I still feel there is so much to learn from people like ilona or Frugal Queen can who put me to shame with the amount of frugality they employ. I wonder how many of the benefit people complaining about being capped at £26000 are doing as much to save money?
I love my new life and am now even considering a new job or career, were it possible to work somewhere walking distance from home. We will see what the next 12 months bring, but meanwhile I will be giving the news a miss to stop myself getting upset and shouting at the television.