Living below your means !

At the moment I am watching a programme on National Geographic channel about people who choose to live off the land and off the grid.  I like to be inspired by people who dare to live in a different way.  This is also why the article below is interesting. It doesn’t matter I guess if you live simply in the forest or in the suburbs.   Hope you like this article from the Telegraph as much as I did.

Diane Hall and husband Robert with daughters Caitlin and Zara

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Diane Hall and husband Robert with daughters Caitlin and Zara Photo: LAURA HYND

Diane Hall 36, lives in West Yorkshire with her husband, Robert, 43, a mechanic, and their daughters, Caitlin, 11, and Zara, seven. Last June Diane gave up her job as a forensics reports manager to become a freelance writer

I was working terrible hours, often 60 hours a week and during weekends and holidays, then an incident at work sparked my decision to leave. It was a rash decision. We used to spend money without thinking; it was like water in our hands, and we had zero savings. Suddenly, every penny had to be accounted for and anything that wasn’t a necessity had to stop.

Our household spending has dropped by half. I buy food in Tesco and Netto, and get cheap light bulbs and cleaning products at the Wilkinson hardware store. We have to wait until Robert’s been paid to fill up the car with petrol and we’ve had to take the kids off school meals because we can’t afford it.

We used to live on convenience food because I didn’t have the time or inclination to cook. I had no idea of budget. I’d do the same online supermarket shop every week and whatever we didn’t eat got thrown away. Now I do a food shop three or four times a week and cook everything from scratch. Nothing gets wasted. If grapes need eating up, they get thrown in a salad. I’ve lost a stone without even trying.

If something’s not being used it gets sold on eBay. In the past I bought so many clothes I had bin bags of them in the loft. Now I spend Sunday afternoons selling them online. Even if it’s just a couple of pounds, it all helps. I rarely buy stuff for myself anymore. The last thing I got was a blouse that cost £1 from a charity shop.

I don’t like worrying about whether the bills are going to be paid. Before, I could walk around with a credit card knowing we could afford things; now I have to take our finances day by day. You can’t suddenly decide to have a weekend away; there’s no spontaneity anymore. Everything we do has to be worked out to the last penny. It can be quite monotonous sometimes.

But family life has changed for the better. Robert and I used to be so shattered from work we’d just zone out in front of the television while the kids played computer games. We used to be in different rooms; now we’re all interacting. We do the chores together as a family. The dishwasher’s broken and we can’t afford to get it repaired, so while we’re washing up we have time to chat about the day.

We can’t afford to take the kids swimming every week now, so we treat them once a month if they help out. The kids have mostly embraced it.

I work as a voluntary reporter for my local newspaper, covering community events such as fêtes, coffee mornings and car-boot sales. It’s unpaid but through it I’ve discovered lots of family-orientated events that are free. It gets me mixing within my local village community, which I never had time for before, and the kids have become adept at picking up bargains at local fairs.

We won’t be able to afford a summer holiday this year. We recently had a weekend away in a caravan park, paid for with Tesco Clubcard vouchers, and we’re planning lots of days out doing picnics and walks. We live near beautiful countryside but we never really had the time to enjoy it before.

Even though it wasn’t something I planned, being forced into being thrifty has changed things for the better. It’s so easy to spend without thinking. I used to feel guilty about wasting food but never bothered to do anything about it. Now everything we buy is justified. I feel happier with the choices I make. It’s been liberating.


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