Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Take care of the pennies.....

And the pounds will take care of themselves.  There is some truth in this as we seem to fritter away fairly small amounts of money without realising how much they add up and then when we need something more substantial we can't afford it, yet we have loads of small useless possessions and no idea why we bought them.

This is a part written post, but as it has been in the writing for several weeks I am going to publish now as it will be several weeks before I can finish it!!

We are currently having building work done so there are some big expenses to cover and stress about affording it and what will happen when my DLA changes and I lose my Motabilty car.  DLA is an allowance given to disabled people to cover extra costs of being disabled, it is not means tested and someone who is able to work full time in a well paid job can also claim it.  In my case it pays for my Motability car and a cleaner, both of which are essential for me to manage as best I can.  Given the changes that are coming and the fact that PIP is different and I will lose some or all of the payment along with the continuing every day costs which seem to increase all the time, it's time to look at where we can cut back in order to save money and be able to cover the additional expenses ourselves.

As always seems to happen when you have big expenses that things start to go wrong or break down. We had to get damage to the car repaired, none of which was our fault, the dishwasher is not working properly and freezer a bit dodgy and my mobile phone doesn't work properly.  Why do we need these things though?  The car well I am afraid I do depend on that, even though I don't go out a lot I do have to take my daughter to school each day and we need it for getting out and about and visiting relatives, but I am sure with a bit of effort we could use it less, especially in better weather, but I can't walk far at all so not using car means using wheelchair or scooter.  These are also things I have and should be grateful for, there are many who can't afford them so are more limited than me.  The dishwasher another luxury for sure, but without it who will wash up, it would take me all day, or maybe we should all have one cup, plate, bowl etc and wash it after use, less pots needed less space needed, no dishwasher needed.  I wonder if it would be cheaper to use paper plates and throw everything away after use, saves space and washing up, but not good for the environment or the bin men!!  Why do I need a mobile phone?  I don't ring anyone, all I use it for is texting and playing games.  The games are a waste of time, but the texting is a lifeline as I don't use the ordinary phone due to hearing loss.  I have a reasonable package on it, but is it vital?  We recently bought Emily a very cheap mobile phone and text package so that she can text me in the house rather than shouting or expecting me to run around and find her.  It worked for a few days, but now she forgets to keep phone with her, but we will have to work on it when her room is another floor up or train her to do the running about rather than expecting me to, but 8 year olds are very stroppy and demanding at the best of times and hate being told what to do.

It seems that over time what we are able to do and afford has decreased quite a lot, it difficult to know if this is due to increased cost of living, change in priorities, the consequences and expenses related to being ill, our income having gone down in real terms due to pay freezes.

Money saving ideas

Some of these may seem daft, but every bit helps and once things become a habit or part of routine then it won't seem such a hardship.

It's very easy to feel you need something or an item runs out and you need to replace it even though there are plenty of other things that can be used instead.  Using up what there is instead can actually be more creative and also frees up space.  Things that this applies to are craft items, food, toys, books, toiletries.  It's so easy to be tempted by things and add them to the stash you already have instead of using things up.  I have big collections of craft items, books, and toiletries and it becomes problematic to store them and they require energy to use or do something with them and they mainly stay in a cupboard.  One of the reasons we are having building work done is because we are short of space.  It may have been better (and cheaper) to get rid of stuff, we are also paying for some stuff to be in storage whilst work is done and then have to sort and re-home it when we get it back and due to delays with work starting we have to pay for longer than we wanted to.  If we had been more organised we could have sorted things out and possibly saved some money.  The problem with having ME is it limits what you can do and often ends up being costly in some way or other.

We have become such a materialistic culture and always want what other people have and feel we are missing out if we don't have the 'right' things or engage in the 'right' activities or drive a certain type of car.  We spend all our lives complaining about what we don't have and not appreciating the things we do have and also the things that money can't buy.  I am currently supposed to  be doing a mindfulness course, whoops I paid for that too!!  I am sure I could probably have found all the information for free, but somehow signing up for a course makes it feel that it will be more effective.  In my case it makes me feel guilty as I might not be able to complete the course, which is only reading and making notes, but is another demand on my time and energy and so much of it is common sense. I paid £19 for the course, but then had to print out a lot of notes so another cost.  I got the course on an offer, the full price was over £200, I have no idea why anyone would pay that much as you do it all yourself.  But of course because the full price was advertised it feels like a really good deal to get it for £19, when in fact it probably never sells at £200+, we are all suckers for a so called bargain or good deal.  I also feel under pressure to do the work as I have paid for it and expect to see results, but actually the pressure and guilt negates any benefits.  It is the same with craft items and books etc, they are bought with delight and great intentions, but then become a burden or left unused.  Often when I go online I fill my virtual basket with things I want/like/need, but then at the end feel I can't justify the cost so empty it again, that is one bonus of online shopping, I can't imagine going round a real shop and then deciding to put everything back, but then it is a waste of time!

Why is it when you do decide to do an activity craft, or cooking or similar that there is one item you don't have and you feel you really need to have it.  Shopping with ME is not an easy activity so most of my craft items are bought online so the one missing item becomes several items as there is a minimum spend or high postage costs unless you spend enough for free postage and then there is all the wasted time looking for the most reasonable way of buying and then when you finally buy it, you discover it is being shipped from China and will take several weeks to arrive when you need it now.  Or as I often do order the wrong size or quantity as I have looked at so many different items and confused myself so end up with the least value for money.  Quantities and sizes are not always clear or sometimes even wrong.

It's also a good idea to make a note of what you buy as when I have looked at so many things I can never remember what I actually bought and where from.  It is easy to think you have bought something but you haven't finished check out or convince yourself when something fails to arrive that you never ordered it and then go and order another.  Of course there is always the option to change what you are doing so you don't need to buy anything.  I have just seen a Gluten free bread recipe that looks great and is supposed to be really nice but it contains Psyllium which is really expensive and difficult to get hold of.  I don't really need to have that bread it just looks and sounds nice and for now I have resisted the temptation to buy and will stick with what I have.  Often when something is needed for a recipe much of it gets wasted as it's not used for anything else and the recipe that sounded nice isn't really or you find it contains something else you don't have or can't eat.

Sort of on the above topic I have decided to unsubscribe to magazines that come packed with ideas that are too difficult or too expensive to make and always contain something you don't have.  The magazines I currently get are Docrafts Creativity and Free From Heaven.  I subscribed to them both for inspiration, but in reality they sit unread, except for flipping through and seeing loads of nice ideas that I don't have the time, energy or ingredients/items to produce.  The Docrafts magazine always has some good cover gifts which is a bonus, but many lay unused.  The recipes are great and we like the sound of so many of them, but as meals are always prepared in a hurry, there isn't time for a recipe or to go and buy ingredients, or the ingredients get bought and then not used due to lack of time or lack of another ingredient or because someone decides they don't like it.  On going to unsubscribe the magazines I found the details for the food magazine and stopped the direct debit, but can't find details for craft magazine, it says I don't have a subscription and it's not in the direct debits, but it could be charged to credit card as Rob started the subscription as a gift, I really do need to keep track of things better.  I should have a confirmation somewhere, but is it an email or a letter, it's not in my email and my paperwork is in chaos due to building work.

I have also unsubscribed to all the offer and sales emails I get, the ones that you automatically get when you buy something from somewhere and they keep tempting you to buy more.  If they can't be deleted I have labelled them as spam.  Not only does this stop me from being tempted into buying things it also saves a lot of time checking emails.

Of course having a new room built means it has to be furnished, we are trying to reuse as much as possible by painting it to match the new decor, we have plenty of things and need to thin out in other rooms, but the basics will have to be bought.  The painting takes time and energy we don't have though and has ground to a halt as it got too awkward when the only space was in the dining room and meant carrying furniture up and down, so I have no idea if the furniture will ever get finished.  That's where my guilt comes in again as I am at home all day, but can't do jobs like that so it has to be squeezed in to the little time that Rob has to spare and with a full time job and many other commitments there is not much time left.

So what do I do all day?  I have no idea sometimes, I feel like I have run a marathon, but yet I have 2 hours of household help each day, Rob cooks and shops.  Well I get up, get dressed, feed me and Emily and assorted pets and get Emily to school then put washing in and tidy up a bit then that's it need a big rest before going round it all again.  I like to make things, but in reality get little time and then when I do it becomes a race against time or a never ending project that just eats money.  I like to give things I have made as gifts, but then I don't feel they are worth anything so buy a gift as well as my time, energy and outlay have no value.  Or I leave it too late to have reasonable time to make an item so end up with an incomplete item and have to buy something.  If it wasn't for all the stuff I have amassed we wouldn't need a new room!  Even though the room isn't for me as it's at the top of the house and I can't manage 2 flights of stairs most of the time.  But here I am saying I have too much of this that and the other, but yet I can't afford things.  Again this comes down to the materialistic world we now live in, it's not that long ago that all the money that people had was spent putting a roof over their heads and food on the table and that was it.  So how come now we can live comfortably, but still not feel we have enough or what we want and need and we are more unhappy and stressed than the people who had nothing.  These days it seems having nothing means you have mobile phones, computers, clothes, housing, holidays even if you don't have a job.

I mainly make cards and gifts, but they take lot of time and energy and there is usually some element that has to be bought.  At the moment I am into making stitched cards and iris folded cards, but every time I want to make a card for someone I need a pattern, I have lots of patterns, but always fancy something different or something that will appeal to that person rather than  using one I have already. Having said that if you don't count my time and effort it still works out cheaper than buying a card.  The iris folding cards need a template, but then are a good way to use up bits of paper and ribbon, so can be quite cheap, although to personalise them I often print off papers to reflect the persons interests, it's easy to forget that there is a cost to printing too.  It takes me a lot of time and effort to make thing even though I enjoy it so it's not something I can make any money out of.  I do sell the occasional item, but never ask much for it as I don't think it is good enough or put a price on my time and effort.  I suppose that is a confidence thing.

There is a lot of pressure on children and parents for the children to do lots of out of school activities.   All the activities cost money and also take time and effort and we all end up so worn out and bad tempered from trying to fit things in and get to activities and juggling who needs to be where and when and life gets so chaotic.  The activities may be enjoyable and good for the kids, but there is a limit.  As an only one Emily likes to go to as many things as possible as she has "no one to play with" at home, apparently Mum and Dad don't count!  The activities eat in to parent child time, playtime and homework time as well as the cost, but we are lead to believe that they are the right thing to do and children should be encouraged to do as much as possible.  I also think that he activities have an impact on behaviour as the children spend so much time being good, following instructions and being quiet that when they are at home they just go wild which makes meal times and bedtimes very difficult.  The activities that Emily does are for fun, but we get so many comments asking how she is doing, if she is doing any competitions or exams etc which all eat even more into money and family time and put the children under a lot of pressure and leave no free play time.  We need to cut back on things both from a spending and a time point of view, but what do you sacrifice, it's difficult to cut things out especially if the child enjoys them and then as a parent you are mean for not letting them go even if they might benefit from the spare time.

Children don't seem content to play at home or to entertain themselves and want to go to play centres or other leisure activities.  The latest one near us is a trampoline centre where you pay for an hour trampoline, great fun, but we have a trampoline in the garden.  At all the places there are drinks and snacks to buy so the costs really mount up and we only have one child to pay for, I really don't know how people afford it, but the places are always packed out.  We need to find more free activities to do which is basically going to the park, going for a walk or the library.  Again the ME has an impact here, I can't walk anywhere so have to use car or scooter.  In the park I can't walk from car park to play area, but its a bit too far to expect Emily to walk there and back if I take my mobility scooter.  Add to this the fact that the only toilet is in the cafe which is too far to walk from play area or car park and that to use the toilet you have to purchase something in the cafe a trip to the park gets quite difficult.  We do enjoy going to the library, but it doesn't take long, I could sit there all day, but Emily likes to be in and out with her new books.  It saves us buying books too, well in theory anyway.  If there is a book that you really want you can reserve it to collect from your branch, it is 90p, but still cheaper than buying, it's free for children's books.  Of course you have to remember when the books are due back or the fines mount up pretty quick and you don't save money.  Going for a walk is not an option for me, but I can use my mobility scooter in warm dry weather, sadly we don't often get that in this country!  Today it is late July and it is cold and wet!  Great start to 7 long weeks of school holidays.

On the subject of books, I do have a weakness for books and have more than I can read.  May are bought second hand or from places like Book People who have great offers.  Why can't I wait until I need something to read or go to the library?  I also have a Kindle with loads of books waiting to be read, again I fall for the special offers, but there are also a lot of free books and you can sign up to websites that let you know what today's free books are, although I often miss them as by the time I get the notification it's too late as the notifications are on US time!  I do like reading, but thanks to my ME brain I can't always concentrate and have no idea what I have just read.  I am really confused by the book I am currently reading, but have to keep going to find out what happens and it's also the 2nd of a trilogy, so guess I will need book 3 as well!!

Why does everything cost money.  I keep signing up to things to be of interest to Emily and that we can do together without too much effort, the latest being post crossing, where you get names and addresses and send postcards around the world and also receive them, but guess what it's almost impossible to get postcards unless you are at the seaside and what is available comes in large numbers and then there is the postage which is a minimum of £1!  Another expensive hobby, why do I fall for these things, it sounded like a nice idea and something to learn about other places.  If I saved the cost of the postcards and postage I might be able to visit somewhere!  Just looking on Facebook at a friend having fun at CentreParcs, it always looks fun, but we always talk ourselves out of it saying it is too expensive and wouldn't be ME friendly.  The break we have booked is good value, but certainly not ME friendly, I have no idea why we booked it, except it was a good deal and a great opportunity for Emily.  Back to the postcards In will have to send the minimum number and then unsubscribe if I can find out how, why is unsubscribing always more difficult that subscribing?!

Anyone who wishes to win book tokens for themselves and for child's school can enter here, if you don't have a school age child please enter for Rothwell C of E.

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