Today is the first day of the most difficult task I’ve probably had to cope with since leaving the comfort of my parents’ home to live on a diet of fried eggs and cold baked beans at university.
It’s true that I’ve been living the frugal life for nearly four months, but now the real crunch has come. The grand old basic state pension is celebrating its 80thbirthday, so to celebrate MSN Money has set me the challenge of living on it for the next month…So any donations welcome! (Just kidding!)
Setting the ground rules, we are assuming the lovely mortgage DJ & I share has been paid off, so that we have no rent or mortgage payments to shell out. Otherwise we wouldn’t actually be able to do this experiment at all because, scarily, our mortgage is more than a month’s basic state pension.
We are ‘claiming’ the couples’ basic state pension, which is the princely sum of £139.60 a week – but still more than the single person’s pension of £87.30. Claiming an allowance called the Guarantee Credit – there to help pensioners without other savings or income – tops this up to £181.70 week. Another benefit of that is that your council tax bills are paid. In addition, we get the winter fuel allowance, worth up to £200 a year, free travel, free dental treatment, help with the cost of new glasses (!) and an extra £8.50 for each whole week the temperature goes below freezing. Wow…
These are our current monthly expenses, excluding groceries etc:
Council tax£127– paid for by guarantee credit
Water & sewage £14.57
Home contents insurance £32.38
Mobile (mine & DJ’s) £30
Charity contribution £18
Amazon DVD rental £9
Pet insurance £19
TV license £11.37
Car insurance, tax etc.£44.30
Out of a monthly pension of £726.80, this leaves us with £104.55 a week left over for groceries, going out and occasional expenses, so we may have to consider whether we can really afford to use the car and the DVD rental service, as well as finding the cheapest groceries to buy.
Meanwhile – an update on the TalkTalk debacle. How spooky! After all my rants for months about my TalkTalk problem I received a phone call yesterday afternoon. “Bet it’s one of those automated sales calls,” I growled to myself. For once it was a customer service bod from TalkTalk, who’d received my email and wanted to sort things out! Was I dreaming? Especially as the lady was called Precious! Anyway, she listened to my grievances and has requested that the extra month’s payment TalkTalk helped themselves to is returned, and the £70 cessation fee waived. She has to wait to find out if this will be approved, so fingers crossed! Paying out £82 for nothing would certainly blow a massive hole in our basic state pension that’s for sure. I’ve already had to put off getting the car serviced as last year it cost about £200.
Wish me luck! Any money saving suggestions/cheap recipes welcome!xxx