Minus Money

I can’t believe it. The first week of my challenge is barely over and already I am in the frugal doghouse.

I was feeling chastened by some of the less complimentary comments to the first pension related blog  last week. Well, I’m afraid some of these people are not going to be very impressed again as I’m already gone over budget and have no money until Wednesday.

So where did it go wrong? Well…along with socialising, which I’ve since been told that as a pensioner you can’t do, the weekly shop was the main culprit. On Saturday DJ & I went to Asda full of good intentions. Unfortunately we’d run out of so many staples and then had to buy a couple of bottles of wine to take to a friends’ for dinner – white was requested and we’d run out of cheap white courtesy of our mate who works for a wine company – that the shopping bill came to £65. Fortunately most of this stuff will last us for ages – well, frankly it will have to.

Then Sunday’s activities were another nail in the coffin. DJ insisted on taking me fly fishing, ostensibly so I could experience a typical pensioner pursuit, but mainly because he is totally obsessed with it at the moment. It was great fun but not disastrous for our pensioner’s pocket. We had to shell out £3 for a day’s rod licence for me – DJ already has a year’s licence – then £15 each to catch fish at the club. Plus we ended up eating lunch in the restaurant as I’d stupidly forgotten a packed lunch and by 2pm we were starving and miles from anywhere else, and that brought the running total to £108 – so over £4 over budget. At least DJ caught a lovely rainbow trout which stretched for two meals, with some left over for the cat, so that’s some consolation, but I feel pretty depressed to have put in such a poor showing. Next week’s activities are going to have to be a lot lower budget.

Never mind, I thought. I’ll just have to leave my wallet at home until Wednesday so I can’t spend any money. Or failing that, not actually leave the house at all. my heart sank when yesterday morning I spied the window cleaner approaching…I could have hid but unfortunately I was working in the living room and he’d already spotted me. Another £8 gone without stepping foot out of the house! Agghh! And taking the running total to £116 or £11.45 over budget.

Then our boat came in… a £17 cheque has turned up from TalkTalk, who have finally decided they OWE ME money and not the other way around. Hooray! So this means we are now back within budget – just.

But we won’t have surprise cheques every week, so socialising is out from now on, unless it’s free, as are frivolous activities as fishing unfortunately turned out to be. Meal planning (including some of your suggestions – lentil soup, Paxo falafel…) is very much in. I’m also hitting Uswitch right now to find a cheaper energy supplier, and will be canvassing some local pensioners for advice, which you’ll hear more about later this week.

In the meantime, perhaps it’s time to learn to live with dirty windows…

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10 Responses to Minus Money

  1. Christine says:

    Oh Piper, Piper what are we going to do with you? I have to laugh despite my best intentions to be stern with you. Did you really think that people on a state pension only go to dinner parties? Really seriously when you looked at the income we are given? If I wasn\’t used to daft, dippy but lovely daughters who are older than you I\’d cry over you. Social life? Off peak cinema visits with your concession as a pensioner with special promotions sometimes oh and a free bus pass of course, visits to museums and art galleries which have free admission, free college courses for which you qualify as you get council tax benefit, free performances by local bands in your local park (there are often programmes like this in the summer arranged by local councils), look to see if you have a local community allotment that you can join to go out, meet people, learn to garden and get some free or cheap produce, church activities, outings organised by Age Concern or other local group which caters for older people, your local older people\’s forum, or maybe there is a local bus company that does day trips at concessionary prices for older people, maybe the local women\’s institute and you may have a local arts theatre that offers special concessions for senior citizens. You could also start investigating the local cafes which have special offers for older people or just do cheap tea and cakes. As for fishing, a lot of the older people who live near the coast here in rural Northumberland do a lot of seasonal sea fishing competitions. There are prizes and the only cost is buying the peg marking your fishing point. Whatever you catch is yours to keep so free meals and maybe a prize. People start off with tackle obtained on freecycle. Oh and jigsaw puzzles are often exchanged amongst us locally, bought for a pound at the charity shop or gathered off freecycle.

  2. snaggletooth says:

    It\’s a real eye opener when you realise just how (not so ) far the money goes. It\’s still much more than some pensioners live on though, I\’ve seen, through a previous job, old people who really can\’t pay their bills if they want to eat. That\’s why so many die in winter because their heatings turned off and believe me, that still happens often, even in this country!

  3. James says:

    Genius work Piper – awesome. However, I feel compelled to remind you about my tips fpr a cheap night out 😉  And I would add that loads of my firends are currently taking up knitting and going to knit clube – or "stich and bitch" as they have taken to calling it.Good luck next week!

  4. piper says:

    Hello James – thanks for that….are we to assume that you too having the knitting bug?  Come on…there\’s nothing to be ashamed of….xxx

  5. pookie says:

    hey I used to work as a barmaid…..many of the pensioners came in on a sunday (where in Walthamstow) landlords put out lots of nibbles cheese,olives,crisps,nuts….some even hot sausages and plates of chips….they\’d buy one drink and sit there most of the day….watching telly in the warm with food and reading the sunday papers lol many getting free drinks bought and as Christine said Freecycle is excellent for any freebies use it all the time.

  6. piper says:

    Snaggletooth, I can well believe that about the heating.  Horrifying that some pensioners live like this.  Pookie II – I\’ll get down to my local pub in that case!  Not sure about the peanuts though.

  7. Jez says:

    I\’m devastated that you filed my comment into your \’crticising my experiment\’ section. I wasn\’t criticising your experiment, Piper – anything that makes any of us less consumerist or highlights how difficult poverty is, has to be good. I was criticising your planning and budgeting skills. Ok, maybe I was implying that you\’re a bit lazy too.

  8. Old says:

    glad to see you beat talk talk eh?
    good luck with rest of experiment – live and learn – that\’s the idea of experiments isn\’t it

  9. piper says:

    Thanks Old Croc.  I was pretty shocked that they relented to be honest!  And that they sent the dosh so quickly.  Glad I didn\’t let go.

  10. piper says:

    Hello Jez.  Sorry, I was completely puzzled by your comment because I don\’t have a \’criticising my experiment\’ section on the site per se, but now I see what you mean.  I\’d just put in a link to the previous post which got all the comments and your comment happens to the be the top one! Oops!  I\’ll change the link! 
    Thanks again – you are quite right and I am EXTREMELY lazy but working on it!  xxx

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