Hello. Welcome one, welcome all. Hope you have had a good week. I still seem to be having technical issues with the blog. It is telling me in no uncertain terms that I should be updating something or other. However, it strongly advises that I should perform some sort of backup before I update. Fair enough, but when I look up how to do that, it seems I have to use coding. CODING! Are you joking? I only got into this blogging lark because I was specifically promised that using code was now only for boffins and people who liked that sort of thing. I do not like that sort of thing and am now frantically looking around (well, not THAT frantically to be honest – there’s a lot going on) for someone who can help me get this sorted and possibly spruce the old blog up a bit as well. In other expensive news, the oven is on the blink and will need to be replaced. I am usually a great fan of repairing things but there are times when a replacement is necessary and this is one of those times. Also, the vacuum cleaner which has been struggling for a while now – we have replaced that. Not with a Dyson, I hasten to add. Do you know that there are Dysons that cost a thousand pounds now? A thousand pounds! For that, I expect clean floors, a guest role in darling Buds of May and a six-week training course in floristry (or possibly coding). Anyway, expensive month.
Obviously, when I say expensive, I wouldn’t want to insult those people who are rocking backwards and forwards in the cupboard under the stairs while they try and work out how on earth they are going to make ends meet as fuel goes off the scale, food prices soar (when there is any food to buy) and they a looking at £20 a week less to live on. Apparently, this will all be covered by higher salaries and better jobs. So, if you are a lady working in care and being paid medieval level wages, you can soon look forward to being trained in a highly-skilled, highly renumerated job – possibly in coding – and taking money home in a wheelbarrow. Hurrah.
These – emergency level people are not who I am thinking about when I say that, on the whole, frugality may well be about to make a comeback – if it ever went away. I have to admit that in my early twenties, I was far too preoccupied with what people thought of me and hated the idea of anyone thinking of me being short of money. Therefore, living beyond my means was not a stranger to me and that needed to be sorted out pretty quickly. Later on, when HOH and I were both out of work at the same time, a quick change of mindset was required.
One of the best websites I ever found was Frugal Queen (now Frugal Queen in France) not just because of the helpful information – budgeting, recipes etc. but the advice on a change of attitude. She was unapologetic about her past spending and also about how her life was now lived much more simply. From her, I learned that charity shops were fine (although I’ll be honest, I very rarely find clothes in there I like or need. My own feeling is that you have to be particularly stylish to make charity clothes shopping work). I learned to shop around for cheap energy etc. budgeting and meal planning became second nature and I found I rather liked being in control of where the money went and not just giving our hard-earned cash up to any Jonny Come Lately with an Instagram page and an affiliate link to John Lewis. I also really liked using vouchers to get money off – something that I never would have done in the past and I trained my kids to do the same with the jaunty catchphrase “Better off in my pocket than in theirs!”
I still got a weird thrill when I discovered the Libby App which allows me to listen to library books on my phone – for free or when I found out that the NHS provides free chair Pilates workout videos so I don’t have to pay those people who keep pestering you on Instagram stories. (Yes I know, I said CHAIR Pilates. Look. I’m old. I have a lot of trouble getting back up if I lie on the floor). I am aware, of course, that some people make a living teaching Pilates but I feel there are other people for whom paying for exercise classes is just a mere bagatelle. Also, they probably enjoy it. Paying for the gym is mainly a pain for me because I hate the gym.
What also follows, is what I should be better at which is a change in values. A shift towards recognising what life is really about. The pillars of life – service, community, friendship operate just as well without dosh. Sometimes, they operate even better without loads of money. I used to notice how Frugal Queen and others who didn’t have much would still manage to support others. She would run workshops on frugal cooking and bake cakes for the Christmas bake sale at her husband’s work (Obviously using non-branded flour, chocolate spread etc.) You can probably think of hundreds of ways to support people without actually giving money – although, if you can give it, that’s very helpful let’s be frank.
Without sounding all prophet of doom (DOOM I tell you DOOM!) I think we all feel we may be approaching a financial reckoning and we are not sure where help will be coming from. (Certainly not from our government – I think they have made that perfectly clear). Jesus was very specific about our responsibility to the poor.
“The next time you put on a dinner, don’t just invite your friends and family and rich neighbours, the kind of people who will return the favour. Invite some people who never get invited out, the misfits from the wrong side of the tracks. You’ll be—and experience—a blessing. They won’t be able to return the favour, but the favour will be returned—oh, how it will be returned!—at the resurrection of God’s people.” Luke 14
You may be better people than me ( I’m quite confident about that) but I look at that and find the idea quite difficult. But, I think it gets easier when you learn to value other parts of life more than money. (I’m not saying you don’t value money – British Gas will not take that as an excuse for you not paying your bills). It is just about tuning in to who we really are and what is really important and what will help us be really alive.