Wednesday, 29 July 2015

Living our simple spanner life

Trying to put your finger on what simple and or frugal living means is very difficult as it means different things to different people. I checked what such a simple statement means before starting this post, most of which is not how we live. Instead, I will try to explain our simple life, well, as much as we understand it ourselves and how most of the time, we avoid/deal with the spanners that life throws at us!

Living on one persons' wage or in our case, pension, determines how we live. Some have said it is boring, monotonous, 'going without' and words to that effect. We don't subscribe to any of that nonsense!

Often life will throw one (or several) spanners into the works. You can either deal with them or be an ostrich and ignore them. Ignoring is not a real option but many people seem to do just that.

As I have said before in a post, it is about mind set. All our married life we have lived reasonably simply. This was our first house although these photographs are from its sale 2 years ago (we left it nearly 32 years ago - what a change, especially the back:
The back:
The undercover bit on the left is where DB below is making his piece of furniture. What an awful difference this is. When we left it had a nice shed, a 10' x 8' Cedar greenhouse, was full of plants:(
We didn't 'go without' as we were both working. We didn't overspend either. We saved (although looking back, not as much as we should have). DB was often to be found making us furniture from scratch in the early days:
He was making this piece of furniture to house his music equipment - hi fi systems which were huge in those days, plus his records (vinyl).

I cooked from scratch although I hadn't learnt how to make bread at that stage. We started our first vegetable garden in the back quarter of the lawn, despite neighbours telling us the soil wouldn't support it - very sandy and dry - say what!:

I think we were only there a couple of years before we got moved, a shame as we loved that house!

We bought only what we determined we needed and no more. Married to someone whose job moved them around the country and Europe isn't always easy. You don't feel completely settled, never knowing how long you will have your job etc. Also living in a foreign country can be quite alienating.

Becoming internalized and ignoring it all, staying in, letting your fears get a grip of your life takes hard work to overcome but we did it. I even tried a few jobs which was difficult as they on the whole didn't speak English and I didn't speak their language but we somehow managed.

Anyhow we adjusted like you do. When life threw a spanner at us, for the most part, we caught it, spit in its eye, adjusted and carried on. I wish the internet had been around then, how much easier it would have been to just go on-line and read up how to do things, chat to people, find help etc.

It will now be quite a few years before I get my pension as they have moved the goal posts. I have also found out that despite being fully paid up with National Insurance contributions, I now have to find the money to pay another 5 years worth if I wish to get my full pension. That my friends, is a spanner and a half:)

I can't go back to work (nor do I wish to), as I had to stop in the first place with a serious stress-related illness that would have become dire if I had carried on.

So we laid that particular spanner to rest and now we cook, bake, garden, make adjustments and savings in all areas of our life. Where it is practical, healthier and cheaper to do so, I will make household, toiletry and soon hopefully, skincare products etc. We are careful with our money, fuel, water. We have savings because we are so careful.

However, that does not mean we are constantly going without. Team Dc. adjusts, manages, copes, after all, what is the alternative?

We have managed, for now, to bring our entire food and toiletry monthly spending down from £160 to £120 per month for the two of us. Our spending for this month is £114.72.

Do we feel we are going without? Not one jot. Do we panic about the future? No, as we don't yet know what spanners are coming our way. Anyway, just because a spanner is heading in your direction doesn't mean to say it will hit you. If it does, it might just bruise rather than kill you.

Then again, it might just miss altogether, how wonderful would that be!


  1. " have also found out that despite being fully paid up with National Insurance contributions, I now have to find the money to pay another 5 years worth if I wish to get my full pension."

    Has it gone up to 35 years now, as it was 30 years, which my dh has done? I would really appreciate an answer on this, as we are going to have to submit another 5 years then. I know my dh will not get the British pension until he is 66, his birth year 1958 was some sort of cut off year we were told.

    I find each time we call over to the Government offices in Britain we get different answers. We were told to request another pension forecast in the Fall/Autumn of 2016, as that's when all the pension "stuff" would be sorted out?

    1. Hi Gill, annoying isn't it! If you read this web page Might explain it more. I fall into the 3rd category and was fully paid up but aren't now:(
      I have applied for a new pension forecast, when it comes, I will then write to the tax office, i think, to pay my extra 5 years. It works out about £700 per year but someone told me they are paying it monthly. Doing these extra 5 years, will, I believe, give me an extra £88 per month pension, so worth it I think.

    2. thanks for this info, I have passed it onto my DH and who will no doubt give the British Government another call to se what's what.

  2. Gill at Frugal in Derbyshire was talking about pensions the other day and I said I'm relying on the children to look after me in my old age!!

    1. Although it isn't nice to discuss it, you might be able to take some of Col's in certain circumstances.

  3. I think I'm fully paid as I've worked since I was 16 and only had 4 years off when I had the children. I pay almost £400.00 in NI each month so I certainly hope so. I must check. I get my private pension next year but have to wait a further 6 years for my state pension. I hope they don't move the goal post again!!!

  4. Spanners seem to have rained down on us; some have just bruised, others have done deeper damage,but each blow becomes more difficult to recover from. My Dad always told me that I could sink or swim, and as drowning has never appealed we have tried our hardest to stay afloat. That becomes increasingly difficult, and will continue to do so until at least May 2015. I know my ' make the best of things' attitude is in there somewhere, but at the moment it is swathed in some very thick bandages.

  5. I wish i could 'kiss' it better for you. Sometimes you have to raise a white flag and take time out. It isn't always easy is it? Every year things keep increasing in price but not wages (or pensions)! Where or when will it end? Keep keeping on, just stay afloat long enough to get to the next island.

    1. Thanks Dc. I don't even know what year it is do I? That should have read 2020 not 2015.

    2. Ha, I did notice then spent an age trying to work out what year you could be referring to!

  6. Thank you for talking about pensions, i didn't know that the rate of contributions had changed from 30 to now 35 years! Thats a big spanner for us to deal with as we both have 30 years but being self employed the pair of us have been exempt the last 3 years as we are on such a low income. How to bridge the gap will be a real struggle and even writing this I feel an anxiety attack coming on! Sometimes it's hard to keep positive.

    1. I am still waiting for my latest pension forecast, then I can decide what to do. Get a forecast then you will know where you stand and how much you might get, then have a think. Don't panic, you might find the pension you will both get on 30 years contributions is okay!


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