I thought I’d talk about something a little bit different and more serious today.
This week the BBC news reported on a survey that the ‘Save the Children’ charity had carried out. The BBC said:
“Researchers for Save the Children surveyed more than 1,500 children aged eight to 16 and more than 5,000 parents, focusing on the lowest income groups.
The study draws on Institute of Fiscal Studies (IFS) figures which estimate that there are 3.5 million children living in poverty in the UK and predict a steep rise in the numbers in coming years”
You can read the whole report here.
I think it is incredible that in 2012, child poverty is still happening in the UK.
It said in the report that an income of less than £17,000 was classed as living in poverty, but I wanted to find out what size family this was based on. I found another report that you can read here, that was written in October 2011. This report gives the following details of what is the poverty line:
WHAT IS THE POVERTY LINE?
Single adult, no children: £165 per week
Couple, no children: £248 per week
Lone parent, 1 child: £215 per week
Lone parent, 2 children: £264 per week
Lone parent, 3 children: £314 per week
Couple, 1 child: £297 per week
Couple, 2 children: £347 per week
Couple, 3 children: £396 per week
This came as quite a shock for me, as for a long time our income was less than this, with two children and a mortgage to pay. We have never classed ourselves as living in poverty and our children have never gone 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’.
We don’t smoke and hardly ever have a drink or takeaways, but we chose for me to be at home for the children and to us, this was a small sacrifice.
This report highlights that a lot of families are really struggling on low incomes now and I’m not sure what the answer actually is. What I do know, is there are definitely ways that can help people to save money by living a more frugal, thrifty life.
I think as a country, people now take it for granted that they should have designer clothes, immaculate houses with luxury items and two cars, but this is really not the case. These material things cost such a lot of money and if your income cannot sustain a lifestyle like this, then you will become more and more in debt.
It has also been proven time and time again that material things just don’t make you happy. It is hard to stop thinking that they do. It has taken me years to accept this, but still every so often I have a ‘down’ day, but I give myself a good talking to and think of all the lovely things I have in my life which money just cannot buy.
When you first start to reduce your spending it is hard, especially when you have to say “no” when you have been invited out to a social event or for a meal with family and friends. People aren’t always so understanding and they sometimes look at you as though you have two heads as it’s not ‘normal’. People do get used to it though after a while and your real friends will always be around for you. We also found it hard at first when people around us were buying the latest luxury items, but now I tend to think how ridiculous it is to spend that much on an item that will probably be hardly used anyway.
I know now that if we came into a large sum of money, we would probably buy some nice things, but we certainly wouldn’t waste the money. In fact I think a lot of things would stay the same for us as I like my life. This is because after years of craving the ‘material world’, I have finally learnt that my world now, gives me far more riches than money can buy.
I started this blog in the hope that it would help people to learn how to live more frugally, as unfortunately this information is just not passed on from generation to generation anymore.
Little changes all add up and they are things that can be easily done. If you start small and perhaps change one thing at a time that you do, then after a while it will become second nature.
I’ve been trying to think of some of the things that we do in our family that we take for granted and do without thinking:
We don’t waste food anymore and always use up leftovers
I always, always hang my washing out when it’s not going to rain. Even in winter I hang it out so it at least dries a little bit. If I see it is going to rain, I leave my washing until the next day.
I always use my washing machine, dishwasher, bread maker, mobile phone chargers and anything else we use on ‘economy 7’ (cheaper priced) electricity. This means I get up early to switch them on, but you can use time switches.
I meal plan and always do a shopping list. See how I do this here.
I cook from scratch whenever possible, as it’s much cheaper and it really does taste better. The things I make are really not hard to do (or I wouldn’t do them) and I will continue writing cheap, tasty, recipes on my blog, in the hope it will help someone. I now have a reputation with my daughters friends, for being a good cook, but the recipes I make really are simple and easy to make.
We regularly look at bills and see if we can switch providers, to reduce them. You’ll be amazed at how much you can save by shopping around. We have found that we save so much by not just renewing insurance for house, contents, car, etc. We have found that even when a renewal notice has been sent to you with a quote, if you ring them up they will nearly always give you a better quote over the phone.
I use old fashioned cleaners as they save you pounds and are far better for the environment. You can find some details on my blog here.
We hardly ever have a takeaway now, but we do have treat nights. My favourite is a nice homemade pizza with potato wedges and salad, all homemade and the salad and potatoes are usually home-grown. So it is a really cheap meal that feels really special.
We plan and budget for Christmas. We start in January. I know exactly how much we have to spend on each present and I look for bargains through the year so I can get more for my money. I also make homemade hampers for my family and they seem to love them. Even something like an advent calendar can be made more cheaply. For years we have used the same homemade advent calendar with pockets and every year I hide a tin of sweets, (bought cheaply beforehand) and put a ‘clue’ in each pocket. My daughters have to find the tin using the clues (obviously as they get older the clues get harder). We have a lovely time doing this and it’s far better than the ready made chocolate advent calendars you can buy at Christmas.
When my girls were smaller I bought quite a few of their toys and jigsaws from charity shops. It’s amazing what you can find in them. Once I had given them a good clean, they were as good as new. We have had many a night in, playing a board game that I’ve picked up for £1 or £2 from a charity shop. You can also get some bargain clothes from there too.
I always use vouchers if I spot them but I only buy items if I will use them. Remember it’s only a bargain if you wanted it in the first place.
Me and my daughters all love reading and books are expensive. I really can’t see the point of buying a full price book if I can get it from the library or buy it second hand (eBay and amazon are good for this).
I always decide if I just ‘want’ or ‘need’ something before I buy it and I never impulse buy.
Thank you for reading my blog today