Struggling To Make Ends Meet?

(*** Don’t forget I will be back on Monday 11th November 2013. ***)

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On Wednesday the BBC reported:

“The number of people relying on food banks to survive has tripled over the last year, according to new figures.  The Trussell Trust, which runs 400 food banks across the UK, said it handed out supplies to more than 350,000 people between April and September this year”.

“The Trussell Trust said the problem was so severe that some people using food banks have started to hand back items that need cooking, as they cannot afford to use the energy.  It also forecast that rising energy prices this winter are likely to see more people choosing between heating and eating.”

“However the government has taken issue with the report and says – The Trussell Trust itself says it is opening three new food banks every week, so it’s not surprising more people are using them,- said a government spokesperson”.

You can read the whole article here.

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On Wednesday, Radio Leicester also asked me to give my views on the situation.  There were lots of people calling in and texting.  Quite a few people were saying that they think food banks were being used when they didn’t need to be, so that people can continue to drink, smoke, have Sky TV, holidays etc. instead of buying the food they needed.  I really don’t know if this is true or not, but I should imagine that there are always going to be some people that take advantage of a situation.

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The whole discussion made me think back to a 2012 survey where the ‘Save The Children’ charity estimated that there were 3.5 million children living in poverty in the UK and predicted a steep rise in the numbers in years to come.

At the time the figures surprised me and I looked further into this and found that when my children were younger, we were actually classed as ‘living in poverty’ with the household income that we had.   Looking back I would never have classed ourselves as living in poverty and our children never went without food or clothes.

We chose for me to stay at home to look after our children, but we never realised this put us under the so called ‘poverty line’.

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So what did we do when we were struggling to make ends meet?

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When we decided that things had to change, we were lucky as we didn’t have debts to clear.  We desperately wanted another child and we knew we couldn’t afford this and carry on the way we were living, so we made changes.

We looked at the luxuries that we had (rather than the necessities) and decided if we could possibly cut back on them or give them up completely.  In those days there wasn’t mobile phones, laptops etc, so we chose to give up our car, as this saved us the most money.  I can’t say it was easy at first, but we managed it, thanks to shopping deliveries from Iceland and Somerfield (things would have been different now, as you can get deliveries from most of the major supermarkets).

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Over the years that followed, I made changes to how I shopped, prepared food, cleaned etc. and began to meal plan. I went from a ‘packet mix queen’ to cooking from scratch.  I took on my first allotment and began to grow our own fruit and vegetables and as you know, I now have four allotments.

All the above things developed over time.  Unfortunately, the common sense things that ‘grandma’ knew just weren’t passed down to my generation, as the 80’s and 90’s were affluent times. It took me a long time to work out how to cook things from scratch, with no one to tell me what to do, but I did it and I’m proud of myself.

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We are lucky to have the internet these days and that is why I am so passionate about writing my blog.  I want people to know that cooking from scratch and growing your own vegetables IS easy when you have someone to show you, which is why I try and include as many photographs in my recipes and when I write about what to do in the kitchen garden each month.

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There are still things that I want to explore to save more money and I am always looking for new ideas.  This is never a chore now, as I find it such a challenge.

What I have learnt along the way will stay with me for a lifetime, as I now enjoy our lifestyle.  I have found that simple living  is a ‘lifestyle change’ rather than a way to cut back ‘when the chips are down’ and I actually love living this way.

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Thank you for reading my blog today.

I am going to take a break from blogging for three weeks, as my daughters are off school next week and I want to spend some time sorting my house again, after the builders have finished.

So I will be back on Monday 11th November 2013.

 

  

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24 thoughts on “Struggling To Make Ends Meet?

  1. You are a model for today’s generation. Just think how much
    waste there is to all the packaging of ‘instant’ foods. From ‘scratch’ is usually pretty quick without chemicals and such … real food. Have a nice rest from the blog but will look forward to reading it again. Three cheers for the simple life … it just might save our planet.

  2. I don’t think the government appreciate how much people are struggling. We send money to other countries to alleviate poverty but then don’t look after our own people.

    The problem is those who can’t manage are often the most vulnerable in our society – many live alone and have infirmities that mean they can’t go out to work and can’t even manage to get to food banks. I know there are people who abuse the system but at the moment those with a real need of help are suffering in an attempt to wheedle out the actual ones who are scrounging.

    Have a good blog break.

  3. It is strange, isnt it, how we have to be reminded that it is easy to cut back and live simply? Currently, people feel it is imperitive that we live with the internet, cable tv stations and cell phones, when really those should be the very things we do without when we need to put food on the table. My family is lucky enough to afford the luxuries, but we try to avoid some of them, and live simply anyway. I think it makes our children more mindful of the way they are living.

  4. I love reading your blog and this post is an example of the gererosity of your Spirit.. Thank you.. have a lovely fun time with your girls.. lucky family to have such a mother & wife.
    Best wishes.
    Sara.

  5. A very valid point about using the food banks.As some people would say, controversially, if someone can afford beer & tattoos they can afford food.Luckily I haven’t had to use them myself but as I was a single parent with 3 children years ago( & didn’t get any maintenance )I decided to buy just the basics & cook everything from scratch.I had good teachers in my mum,gran& mother in law who learnt how to make do & mend in the war(I am 52 now myself)We were probably some of the last pupils to do Domestic Science at school & learnt how to makes scones,sausage plaits,Victoria sponges & cost the recipes out as well.Bring those back I say !

  6. Wow what a brilliant post, things are really tough out here, and am lucky that our energy is locked in till oct 2014, but its still expensive, and food prices just silly, i could not have managed without all the great ideas i have learnt from the blogs, and i dont think things are set to get any easier. Do have a great break from the blog with the family.
    Sue

  7. My daughter uses a food bank, she is a single parent with a 5yr old son, she doesn’t use it to get free food, it is a necessity! Yes she gets some benefits but she also works part time on a low wage and suffers badly from depression, she does not abuse the system and wouldn’t as she is honest. Unfortunately the system doesn’t help the honest people. The government should wake up and realise that there are genuine people in need who really need help, and more food banks are opening because there is a need for them!

    • I totally agree Helen, it is so sad that the goverment isn’t helping the genuine people more. You daughter is working hard to support her son and i’m sure that you are helping her as much as possible. It is such a shame this is happening in this day and age.

  8. People are similar over here, poverty line wise, struggling to make ends meet, and not enough jobs to go around. What gets my goat is the way people feel the need to spend big so they can show big (like has been previously mentioned in the comments) when they would have such nicer lives if they simply bit the bullet, and lived within their means!
    Did you know that one of the scariest thing My husband and I did as a married couple was write up our first budget? We knew we were living beyond our means, but the idea of allying up all ourexpenses and spendings and compairing them with what we earned was down right scary! And then when we did finally take the plunge and work it all out we met the unhappy but expected fact that we were over spending by a cople of hundered every fortnight!
    Then the changes we had to make were unwelcome as well, though we haven’t regretted them, and are thankful we did it before the children came along!
    Enjoy your time off, Mrs Thrift! I can’t wait to see your new kitchen 😀

  9. Here in Canada, food banks are an ongoing part of society. Food here is about 50% more expensive than the UK, and most supermarkets dont mark things down like they do in the UK. I used to enjoy visiting the big supermarket near my home at “just the right time” to get marked down items, often bags of potatoes for 10p and the like. We ate so many things with yellow labels on! The prices here were so shocking when I moved. Most supermarkets here dont deliver and the whole place is set up for cars, not pedestrians, with poor public transport. Benefit levels seem to be about 50% less than the uk here too. People who are receiving benefits here do not resemble those in the uk. They are noticeably struggling. Shopping in charity shops is the only option for many people, not a fun diversion for those with more money. There are no big tvs or fancy phones for these people.

    I have always cooked because I like to. Moving here made me even more determined not to waste anything and we now grow a big garden. The changes are just starting to show in our food bills. Unless people have access to cooking facilities and utensils, I dont think there is any way for them to eat economically here and I know many dont, with all the associated health problems and less than optimum performance that brings. So much knowledge was lost when people switched to supermarket and convenience food, I’m not sure how we recover from that. I taught myself to preserve food, which used to be something everyone did over here. When the girls at work found out, they wanted me to teach them. No one was taught by their mom, because it was old fashioned.

    Perhaps we need to form a charity and get out there teaching this stuff!

    Have a great break, sorry for the long post!

    • What a great comment, thank you. I think it’s what we all need to do when we learn a new skill, if we teach a skill then it can get passed on and on and maybe these things won’t ever get lost in time (which is what nearly happened over the last few decades…thank goodness for the people who kept these skill alive).

  10. great post!! here in germany we have the same problem.
    i have a question
    how do you grow celeriac? i have no luck with growing celeriac in my garden.
    enjoy the time with yourfamily,
    love regina

    • Hi ‘My Simple Life’. The trick to growing celeriac is to give it lots of water, infact I water mine twice per week during the summer which helps it to grow large. Before I realised this my celeriac was quite small.
      I start my celeriac off in my greenhouse and then plant it out after the last frost. I don’t bother to fork manure into the soil before I plant it, in fact I grow it next to my onions. I just give the soil a dressing of blood, fish and bone two weeks before I pop the plants into the ground.
      I hope this helps.

  11. You said it so well. I bet when my kids were little and I stayed home for a few years, we were considered in the poverty level too. I don’t know for sure but I’m guessing we were. I always cooked from scratch and still do. I always had a garden in the summer even if it was just tomatoes, herbs and lettuce. We had one car for my husband to get to work (no other way to get there) and people used to say they didn’t know how I “survived” without my own car. Even today, someone just told me that they knew someone who only had one car in the family and “Poor” them! Ha! It made me laugh. But it’s not funny. It’s sad. Hope you have a wonderful time with your daughters and I really enjoy your blog. Best wishes

    • Hi Kearnygirl, how are you? We only have ‘one little car’ now lol, but we do most things together so it doesn’t matter and at least I know now that we could survive again without a car if the need arose.

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