Friday 3 May 2013

How Frugal Am I?

I have been reading different blog posts on the Living Below The Line challenge. £1 per person per day.

It makes for very interesting reading and one thing that I have seen mentioned is lack of choice. I do not wish to offend anyone, I have commented on one or two posts to the effect that with poverty choice goes out of the window.

If you exist on a minimal amount of money you can not CHOOSE to stock up on special offers.
 You can not go to the shops that offer the best prices unless you live within walking distance.
Unless you can afford a freezer you can not cook double meals and freeze one for next week.
You can not buy from firms such as Approved Foods, the minimum order plus delivery would be beyond your finances.
If you live in a rural community you are royally stuffed, village shops are few and far between and have to be more expensive than the big stores, and offer a limited selection.

I was brought up in a small village and nobody had much money. However times were different then.
 In our village we had a butcher who was also a farmer and had a slaughter house. He grew the animal, killed it and butchered it, when he sold it there were no "middle men " taking their cut of the profit.

We had a working mill and local farmers took their corn to be milled and the flour was sold straight from the mill. No middle men.

There were 3 shops, one with a post office counter a sweet shop/ tobacconists that also had a bicycle repair shop attached, Mr Catchpole  could and did repair most household items and was well loved.

There was a Barber shop and when the eldest daughter left school she learnt hairdressing and a ladies salon was built.

The milk was delivered by a horse drawn float and the bread came in a horse drawn van.

All the shops were within walking distance and most people had bicycles.

We raised Rabbits and various fowl for meat, some of which was bartered for "butchers meat". We also fattened a pig every year.

I work in the food industry which gives me access to a wide range of raw ingredients at a very low price,  I shop carefully and keep a full freezer mostly yellow stickered goods and the rest are special offers.
My larder is full of basic food stuffs and we could probably live well for 3 months just buying milk, buttery stuff and fresh fruit and veg.

Many of our days fall in the £1 per day per person group some much less.
 I am fortunate in that I learnt to do this at home as a child.
 When we had a pig killed the excess fat would be chopped up and rendered down to lard. In this process you get little crispy bits that do not melt, these were sprinkled onto rolled out pastry which would be folded and rolled about 3 times and then made into savoury short cakes, warm from the oven they were a tasty and filling meal with a bowl of thick soup.

I know that I have run on a bit, we can not expect anyone who has never been taught how to live well on less. The schools can not and should not be expected to fill this gap.

Television abounds with cookery programs, is there a Frugal one?. The book shops are stacked to the gills with big glossy tombs full of exiting recipes, are there any teaching Frugality?
Like every other issue there is no easy answer.
It seems to me that the people who most need this help and support are the least able to access it.
No photos today, I can not think of a suitable illustration to go with this subject.
Has anyone got any ideas?

TTFN   Pam

I was washing up and thinking about this post and realised that I had run off at a .tangent.
To answer my post title,
I am as Frugal as I wish to be and more than I need to be. I allow £50 per week for 3 adults, that is everything. Soap, toothpaste, shampoo the lot. I do not count my dogs food in this. I do cook it myself and buy the meat in bulk when it is very cheap, but I do use rice and basics pasta from the pantry in it.
I could be more frugal if I had to and once my garden and greenhouse start to produce then it will happen naturally.
The money left over each week from housekeeping goes either into a bank account for stocking up or into my sealed pot. I also save £30 each week into a "happy fund" this also gets any money that I get from sewing or if i sell something that I no longer need or want.
It is important to me to have money in place for future needs and wants not just for myself.
I have grandchildren and like to indulge them, mostly with experiences ( and the odd quilt or three)
Right I think I have said enough. Pam


  1. I was brought up by a mum who could make a meal from nothing, and a grandma who always seemed to be jamming, pickling, baking or growing something so I also just picked up how to do these things as part of growing up.i don't even see it as being frugal it is just the way I do things. I hate waste and like to get the best value from things so the frugality is an inevitable by product. Even when we had two large incomes I cooked the same way as that was the way I had been brought up. Now I realise what a good grounding my mum and grandma gave me. We spend very little on food but we eat well, I grow lots of our veggies, keep chickens, have a neighbour with ducks, and get given or barter for. Pheasants, geese,wood pigeon, salmon and trout. I can gather cockles, mussels and razor clams nearby and can forage for wild greens, apples and different berries when they are in season. I am learning all the time about wild foods and adding to our repertoire. The main aim of all of this is not to save money but to eat more natural foods and be more in touch with nature. It wouldn't have been too many generations ago when people would have been taught these skills as par t of their everyday life. I think it is sad that so much of it has been lost and people now rely on big industry to provide food for their families.

  2. This is a great post Pam even if you did get a little side tracked, I really enjoyed reading it.

    We didn't have horse drawn deliveries but everything came by those big black bicycles even the ice cream man came by bike with an ice box on the front.

    My great grandad had the nickname Squealer as he went round killing other peoples pigs for them, I expect he would be paid with a bit of meat, he died long before I was born. My Mum was always a great frugaller and an amazing cook, Dad had 4 large allotments and provided food for the table most of the year. I'm so glad they taught me the value of money, how to budget and how to make the most of what we have, these skills have been passed on to my sons and their wives. I fear for the people on benefits and the really low paid workers who don't have these life skills and are now relying on the food banks to help them along. Like you I could be more frugal if I had to, at the moment we are very comfortable with the way things are.

    Karen x

  3. Excellent post, Pam, ad I don't consider you have 'run on' at all. I was particularly impressed with your comments starting with '.......I know that I have run on.....' These points are just SO PERTINENT to life these days. You should send that into a national newspaper. I bought a bought a couple of years ago, a re-print of Delia Smith's 'Frugal Foods', and this seems to be the only one around addressing the situation. When you think about the huge audience television has you'd think there would be national programming on budgeting and living frugally - menu planning, careful shopping, meal preparation etc etc. I would say, I think schools DO have a part to play, but only in tandem with the rest of society. Is there anything we can do, as bloggers?

  4. This reply is for every one who reads this post. The 3 comments all come from women of a similar age group. Life was different when we were young.
    There were no supermarkets, no chain stores, coffee shops, glossy cook books and celebrity chefs. Television was in its infancy and Radio ruled.
    Rationing had recently ended and people were accustomed to not just having little money to spend but having little to spend it on.
    Takeaway food was Fish and Chips and was regarded as a very special treat. Fizzy drink was homemade ginger beer and sweets were for birthdays and Christmas or homemade.
    There had been 2 World wars in a relatively short space of time and just about every body was in the same boat.
    The whole country runs on spending, if people stopped buying ready made food, new clothes, furniture, electrical goods willy nilly we would have a disaster scenario. Manufacturing would stop, factories would close, transport companies would fold, shops would close and the benefit bill would bankrupt the country.
    Perhaps Home Economics should be taught from primary school onward. There will always be the few who do not wish or are not able to learn. I work with people of my generation who have forgotten all they new as children and they are forced to retire and then their lives will be misery, with only the retirement pension to live on and no life skills. There now, I have run on again. Bye for now. Pam


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