The friend I posted about yesterday would be better off if she could take some frugal practices on board and "cut her cloth" as my granny would have said. I have been thinking about her long and hard today, and whilst I accept and understand that she is terribly worried about the situation she is in, and what will happen next, there has to be a point at which one decides to survive and get through this. I don't think she has got there yet as she still seems to be desperately looking for a solution to her problems, or a person to remove her from the situation. As some wise person said, we have to accept the "now" before we can move on to the future.
I can think of a few strategies I would be employing in her situation:
- Cooking from scratch - making everything myself and buying absolutely nothing rubbishy at all. The food money needs to be spent on good quality nutrition, not junk. Make and take sandwiches when going out, take a drink in a bottle, be prepared.
- Learn to bake.
- Make the most of the resources on the internet.
- Record every penny which is spent to track spending and help to cut out unnecessary spending.
- Buy non-branded foods at the shops, and experiment with new ways of cooking and preparing foods - less meat and veg meals, more casseroles, stir fries etc where portion sizes are more fluid.
- Menu planning and thinking ahead.
- Complete moratorium on non-essential spending. Complete. No questions.
- Checking household utilities for cheaper options. Cancelling subscriptions to services like Sky etc if at all possible. Making the house or the place you live as energy efficient as possible.
- Walk everywhere that you can - no taxis. Get the bus if you must. Living in a town, unless it is chucking down the rain, it is usually possible to walk most places if you give yourself enough time.
- Restrict water use - more showers than baths, only using the washing machine when full, etc.
- Making sure that all the benefits I might be entitled to are claimed.
- Finding out about all the things I can do which are free - the library, for books to read, for example; any free kids activities in the holidays. Organise a kids get together at home with home made food to minimise expenses when they socialise.
- Get the children on board if they are old enough to understand. Key point to avoid problems if the children have a tendency to whine for things.
That's just the start, but I think that the people who are prepared and who live this way in the long term have a bigger cushion for when tragedy or disaster strike - a cushion of savings, of knowledge or of experience - they are all very valuable. It is easier to keep life on an even keel for the children if the way of life does not swing up and down with the family's economic situation - there is no point giving the children a huge hike in pocket money because Mum got a promotion if pocket money has to be scrapped altogether when Dad gets made redundant, for example.
Enough for one day - we have had a good day at the gym, and the girls have both had haircuts and are thrilled with their new looks! The mirrors will be worn out by the end of the week...