The best bicycle that I ever owned was my first one. A red fairy cycle with creamy white wheels and the promise of freedom and speed. My mother didn’t believe in fitting stabilisers. She ran behind the bike holding onto the saddle. I was impressed that she could run so fast. One day we seemed to be moving at an unbelievable speed.
I glanced round and spotted her tiny in the distance. She had let go. The shock of realising that I was actually cycling solo was so great that I immediately fell off. I can remember lying in the grass and daisies and feeling so grown up and free.
Saving money this year reminds me of that day. Growing up brings freedom and restrictions. You have to pay for the things that you consume. Like those early cycling lessons, there have been lots of hiccups and tumbles and moments of sheer frustration. Times when I despaired. Found myself behaving like a mad dictator, checking the electricity meter and feeling overwhelmed by the challenge of cutting costs.
As the weeks flew by, I have discovered that our new budget has created a clearer world. We are happier than we have been for years as we are beginning to feel in control.
Four main things have helped:
- Having a partner who is up for the challenge and applauds every saving – even his own!
- Changing from an alpha carnivore diet to good vegetarian/veggievore meals four days a week.
- Sorting out the larder so that I can see what we have at a glance and avoid buying a surfeit of perishable food.
- Making the challenge a game that I’d like to win rather than a heavy unwieldy yoke. There’s a freedom knowing that we can live well whilst save money. Suddenly, I feel less shackled and more creative in my approach to all spending. I wish that I’d tried this years ago.
It’s easy to cut back and suffer. This happened to me in January and February. Once I twigged that cutting back on spending does not always equate to buying the cheapest ingredients and living on gruel, my imagination blossomed. There are ways of having treats on a budget. It needs three ingredients. Time, imagination and hope.
I love good bacon. Now I am making my own for much less than the average middle of the range bacon. We are now eating wonderful deluxe bacon, far beyond our budget in the bad old days. If I see cream on offer I make butter . This is cheaper than the unsalted French butter that we’ve always adored as a treat. Our butter is fresher and tastes almost as good. Salami was dropped from our shopping list as it’s expensive and doesn’t significantly affect our quality of life. I discovered that I missed it enormously. Now I am making our own salami for a quarter of the price. So far the results are promising.
Budgeting is all about planning ahead, buying the right stuff on offer (loo rolls, washing up liquid etc). I’m now actively condensing shopping trips into town to save petrol and time.
I agree with Sharon at Finding Simplicity the occasional treat is a must have. Barnsley chops were scoffed last week as a reward for running the gauntlet of the soya mince. In fact we enjoyed both meals but the lamb was savoured and cooked with as much care as the soya mince and far more care than before.
Finally we are riding our bikes alone, without the safety net of a bigger budget. And loving it.
Some of our savings have been reinvested in equipment such as netting and poles for fruit cages (in past years I have lost so much bounty to the birds ). This year I’m determined to get the maximum harvest from my fruit canes and bushes by making study netted frames. The raspberry canes are snug in a bird proof world. Hopefully the currants, gooseberries and soon to be espaliered cherries will flourish under the same.
So how did we do?
We saved just over 30% in April 2008. And we are fractionally slimmer. Making our own pork pies is a dangerous activity.
Leave a reply