A timely read

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I have just been reading about car finance deals soaring to an all time record high, which ties in nicely with my previous post about consumerism. My thoughts on consuming less is very timely indeed. The problem I see with the car finance deal, is that you are essentially thinking it is the best deal out there, but how much does a 3 year warranty, 1 year insurance and no more than 10,000 miles per year really cost? Surely financing a car is more expensive than paying for a car outright with cash?

A second hand car is not the end of the world. It’s just not what the Jone’s are driving. Who cares? No body, but you. I have had a car on finance and it is fair to say; I won’t again. If I’d just been able to fast forwarded to where I am now. Know what I know now, I never would have done so.

Take your current car payments, mine some 4 and a bit years ago, were £264 per month. Now save that for 6-10months. That’s £1584–£2640 in cash that is saved. “What am I meant to drive in the mean time?” Buy something cheaper. “How, I have no money?” This is the vicious circle that (I know) “pushes” you into taking out finance. So “find” £500 to get yourself started. There are numerous vehicles out there for around £500 and if you rock up with £400 cash in your hands, you could probably walk away with the £500 car and £100 in change. A quick search online gave me 2,288 cars under £500 – they won’t all be perfect, but there’ll be one for you. One located:

£500 Volkswagen Golf 1.6 SE 5d 105 BHP TRADE CLEARANCE – GREAT VALUE

If you don’t ask, you don’t get.

Buy the car and drive it until it goes pop. Even use the £100 towards a good servicing, to lengthen its service to you. It’s a car! Not a person. It is meant to be used and used until it is no longer usuable. We, as consumers have a responsibility to slow down in our mindless consumption – the earth is only so big and can only disppose of so much. Where will the “unwanted” stuff eventually go?

That car, based on the £264 saved over two months, gives you £528. Now imagine that the car lasts you 12 months. That there would be £264 saved, over the coming 10months giving you potentially £2640. Even if you could save only half of that, it’s £1320. Although the bracket is slightly higher; there are 23,861 cars available at £1,500 or less! So in theory, in a year you could have purchased another new (second hand) car. Keep repeating this method (use the car until it goes pop) and before you know it – you would have a brand new car, but with no finance. Obviously the newer the car that you keep purchasing the longer it is likely to last. Don’t forget though, brand new cars go down in value before you have driven off.

This is similar to what Dave Ramsey talks about over and over again. Get rid of your car payment. Live on less than you earn. It works. It is as simple as that.

 

Less (really) is more

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Without a doubt less (really) is more.

Since our frugal month and combining our “new” minimalist lifestyle, we are gaining more from less. I have found that with more “free” time on my hands, I do things with real purpose and meaning. I have – shock to the system – started to read more. I have dyslexicia, which (for me) meant I struggled and not did not enjoy. Now though, with more time available, I am enjoying and searching out articles to read. Things I like. Things I love. I am interested.

I am consumsing less (physical stuff), far less than I ever thought I would, when I started on this journey. I am seeing things on TV about living mortgage free, with less and becoming excited by the challenge of it all. I am being even more selective with what I watch on television. Giving more time to the family, saving money, gardening, grow your own, cycling and saying “no” to invites.

Saying “no” is a hidden benefit that we should all do more often. Just try it and see – it works! It means you shall probably be less committed at the weekends (and work), but more focused on the few things you said “yes” to.

Gone shopping

What an experience that was! Since watching, reading, living a more meaningful, purposeful and worthwhile minimalist lifestyle I have not been “shopping” at all in 2017. Today, I went “shopping”. However this wasn’t for me, it was for the boy as he needed, needed new shoes as his old ones had holes; where there shouldn’t be holes. We successfully found him some new shoes. He walked out of the shop after we paid, with a big smile on his face. So did I. 

In fact I walked around the entire trip with a growing smile. I realised that I was in no way tempted. Not one bit. If anything it became a comforting reality that my mind set had altered. I’m not saying I’m never buying anything ever again, purely that I won’t be giving in to needless consumption. I had not noticed this about my mindset this year. After all my “normal” shopping experience is the weekly food shop. Shopping never was a past time and certainly will never become one.

This change, coupled with removing temptation like unsubscribing and not watching as much commercial TV is helping massively. It leads back to the ultimate combo: minimalism and frugality. It’s changing my future self and changed my past (debt prison).

How we lived off one salary for one month

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Starting a few days before pay day, we did the household budget. That is every penny accounted for. Ensure that the budget gives you a zero balance, before you have received your pay. It is vital every penny is spent. Start with entering the household income. That’s definite income, not “oh I’ll be getting birthday money this month” or “I’m awaiting a tax rebate”. Purely focus on the definite income. We can spend any additional, unplanned income last.

Once you’ve totaled this, start “spending”. The aim of this is to have spent all income before the pay hits your account at the end of the month. In my opinion; focus on a roof over your head i.e. rent or mortgage and food on the table (weekly food shop). Then cater for your water, gas and electricity. Then the more minor things like; council tax, home (contents and building) insurance, life insurance, (if you have one (or two)) car insurance*, car tax*, petrol/diesel*, landline, internet*, mobile*, debt and lastly, but most importantly: savings.

Have you got too much month remaining and not enough salary? If yes, then go back to the budget and start to scrutinize! Every penny must be spent, but spend it wisely. Not forgetting the aim here, is to live off one salary for one month. This is not about clearing your debt, saving an emergency fund or settling your mortgage. One salary. One month. This is not a how to get out of debt piece.

By working with a pyramid method of spending, you should be able to reach the top of the pyramid with actual  “spending” money or miscellaneous. This is what we were fortunate enough to end up with i.e. “spending” money. We tightened up on everything. Here are some categories to help:

000          Salary
000          Mortgage
000          Groceries
000          Water
000          Gas
000          Electricity
000          Buildings & Contents Insurance
000          Life Insurance
000          Council Tax
000          Car Insurance*
000          Fuel*
000          Saving
000          Mobile*
000          TV Licence*
000          Internet & Phone*
000          Debt
000          Spending (miscellaneous)
000          Balance

Lastly, if you are fortunate enough land some additional cash, then either save it or repay debt. Based on our situation we save it.

*from a minimalist lifestyle these items may not be needed, add value or be worthwhile.

In addition to the tight budget, remove temptation by unsubscribing, watching less TV i.e. less advertising, removing things like Facebook or Twitter. The aim is to take yourself away from the relentless advertising, even the internet. Adverts about that TV you looked at once, will follow you all over the internet. Essentially, watch A documentary about the important things it explains all and is the reason why we’re on this minimalist, frugal, saving, debt free lifestyle – about.

It grows and grows

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The frost that hit this week appears to have damaged more plants than vegetables at the moment.  Fortunately the onions, garlic and shallots appear strong. The younger seedlings were all green house contained so they’ve had good protection.

I have been putting off buying grow bags, but early this morning I took the plunge. I had withdrawn only £50 for this month’s “spendin” or miscellaneous purchases. £20 cash was handed over to the dreaded cashier. However, with the 6 grow bags I now have I can grow up to three plants in each. That gives me 18 potential successful plants. With a combination of cherry tomatoes, normal tomatoes, aubergines, watermelons (test vegetable this year), courgettes and peppers. They’re just the grow bag candidates there are potatoes, beetroot and carrots in too.

Although I have spent money on essentially earth, the wealth of return is unrivalled. It’s educational for the boy. It teaches him to care and nuture. It gives us super fresh vegetables. It eventually saves money from all the extra which are frozen or made into something else to freeze for example tomato soup. It gives daily exercise tending to each plant. Growing your own is brilliant and I highly recommend it.

Once the season gets fully underway, you spend more time gardening and caring, which costs nothing, but time. It takes up so much time, that before you know it, its bedtime.

Must not forget to sow the pumpkin seeds this weekend!

As the boy says; if you give love, it grows and grows.

Spring has sprung

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Once you start to make positive strides and head in a definite direction,! it truly does feel like someone is on your side.

Since watching the minimalists on Netflix, listening to all their podcasts (some too many times), reading Dave Ramsey: total money make over, numerous blogs on a minimalist lifestyle, frugal living and listening to past Dave Ramsey shows; there is a spring in my step.

My wife said last night: “this minimalist lifestyle combined with frugal living is a lethal pair”. Practicing what is documented first on the minimalist documentary has without a doubt transformed our outlook – on everything. We are better people for it.

Our house is not empty of stuff, but we’ve stemmed the consumption. In applying this very simplistic methodology, savings are rapidly increasing. Well for us anyway. Debt is vanishing. New debt – non-existent. In fact, employing the principles behind us living a minimalist lifestyle wipes debt from our mindsets and lives. Now we consum less with real passion, meaning and purpose. Why? It’s making us have a happier, more fulfilling and stressless life. We are enjoying more (free) experiences.

Even in our jobs, our careers have become at the same time, worthless and worthwhile. Say: “no”. It offers up clarity. I strive for family time not a massive salary and huge stress. Less consumption, less (no) need, less (no) debt, less (no) negative stress; all thanks to an insanely powerful, worthwhile combination that is minimalism and frugality.  It means there is no need for high salaries or high stress. In living minimally we’re increasing our time, improving health, reducing debt and increasing wealth.

This spring has most certainly sprung.

My Frugal Month: Traction

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It has been a very fulling journey over the last 28 days. Knowing the direction I needed to go in, knowing what I wanted to achieve from My Frugal Month and I feel without doubt, I have picked up awesome traction. 

Along the journey I have failed and succeeded. The failure comes in the form of temptation, losing focus and giving paper to a shop assistant. Essentially handing over our cash. Not forgetting, that cash, that £100 split over four weeks was our one salary “spending” money. There was at no point a dilberate necessity to spend it or save it. It was purely about using the money with intention and purpose. Making the decision of giving that cash away worthwhile, not worthless. Give purpose to every “thing” that was to come into our home. This too is part of our minimalist journey.

We’ve spent the last 5+ months removing worhtless stuff from our home. Minimising our possessions that add nothing but clutter. We’re looking towards our life with clarity. Living a more simplistic lifestyle. Living a worthwhile existance. Giving back purpose and meaning to experiences. In making these gradual changes – no one likes change – we’ve been able to succeed with (give a couple of days) a frugal month. We’ve lived off one salary for the month.

With May just around the corner, with all the beginning of the month outgoings set to leave the accounts; this month has been a single salary triumph. We’ve essentially been able to go the distance, learn from our actions, mistakes and decisions.

The aim has been all about one salary living in preparation for having a second child – no news. We’ve gained valuable traction in our combined frugalist minimalist lifestyle.

This was my frugal month…