DOWN TO EARTH SIMPLE LIVING FORUMS

DOWN TO EARTH SIMPLE LIVING FORUMS
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20 May 2008

Last words on the budget

Hopefully this will be the last post about money for a while. Our budget is an important part of our simple life. It gives us a spending plan and organises us so that we don't overspend in one area at the expense of another. If you haven't written down your expenses yet, it's a very good thing to do. It's a bit scary being confronted with your real expenses but if you're to live an authentic life you need to know exactly what you're spending. I won't lie, it's boring doing it, and it takes a fair bit of time, because you have to go through all your receipts and bills from the previous year so you have a realistic basis on which to build your budget. But in the end you have your money map and that is just as important to you as your garden tools, your sewing machine, your transport and your recipe books.

I resisted making a budget for years, thinking it was a restriction, but it has proved instead to be a means of showing me what we're spending on necessities and how much of our money can be spent on wants - or put into a savings account. The good thing about making a budget is that you choose the categories. If your sewing, knitting, coffee, books are important to you, you have a category for it in your budget. You can then buy what you want when you know the money it there, without dipping into food or rent/mortgage money. Managing your money well will help you live simply.

There were a few comments on the 'vitamins' category in the last post. It's difficult to explain something with one or two words but the vitamins are in fact emu oil capsules and pure oil, Q10 capsules and a multivitamin. Both Hanno and I take emu oil and have done for years. I take it for arthritis in my ankle, Hanno takes it for the general aches and pains of old age and to lower his cholesterol. After he had his stroke, he came off Warfarin after a few weeks because his blood was being thinned by the emu oil. Emu oil is Omega 3, 6 and 9 oil so it does a lot of good for hearts, brains and skin as well and we will keep taking it, even though it's expensive. The Q10 was recommended by Hanno's cardiologist, it's almost $50 a bottle. I've been taking mutivitamins since my children where born. That was back in the day we used to buy fruit and vegetables from the supermarket which I believe have far less vitamins and minerals due to their long time in cold storage. I still take one a day for those times I don't eat properly and I still feel they do me good.

Renee, we have a general list of staple foods that we buy once a month. When we buy fresh fruit and vegetables, we buy what is in season. It's the freshest and the cheapest. We spend $250 a month.

The price of petrol in the UK is incredible! We filled up last week and it was $1.35 (.66 pounds) a litre. The taxes in the Netherlands are a good idea but I would hate to pay them. You seem to have very progressive laws over there. What does your government use that car money for? Is it an environmental tax?

I use an Excel spreadsheet for my budget but you can use any software you have or simply write it on a piece of paper.

I'll be returning to non-money subjects tomorrow and I'll breathe a sigh of relief doing it. ;- )

36 comments:

  1. Hi Rhonda
    The petrol is an environmental tax, our car is LPG & the fuel is half the price. Although it seems pretty pricey all the same. Luckily we have a small country so not so much driving!
    Lizzie

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  2. Phew...petrol in the uk was already costly a few months back, and is now outrageously expensive, with no sign of the increases slowing down. On the vitamin/health issue....I'm sure everyone has their view, but essential fatty acids are not called 'essential' for nothing! What is important is having the correct ratio of 3:6:9 fats - we tend to have an over-abundance of omega 6, and a lack of omega 3. This is where supplementation comes in. Essential fatty acids are vital for every single cell, organ, gland in our body (I speak from many years experience in the health field) and are crucial for both the young,the middle-aged and the elderly. As we age they help keep our joints, skin and perhaps most importantly, our brain, functioning at optimum levels. I'll stop now, but ladies, fatty acids (and Q10 and a good quality multivit) are a valuable resource to help maintain your health, especially as we age. And who wants to slow down?!! X Diana X

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  3. We filled up with diesel when we left France last week, hopefully it will last us for a while. It was £1.19 a litre here last week.

    We take cod liver oil capsules, 1000mgs once a day. They are expensive, but I buy them from Holland and Barrett when they have a half price sale. I take them for arthritis and OH for spondylosis and arthritis.

    We both have to take medication for various things.

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  4. Fuel...big sigh. I am so thankful at this moment in time to live in town and not out in the country where I have wanted to be. We live in Washington State in the U.S and last night we paid $3.93 a gallon. I only fill up every 5 weeks. I am very thankful.

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  5. Well we all need to go over our budgets every now and again. I don't mind and have enjoyed your sharing about your situation. Thanks for your honesty and ability to pare down your spending. You are so inspirational.
    Mim

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  6. You are right about the power of having a budget. I've been doing ours for well over a year now using a self-designed Excel spreadsheet. It is absolutely invaluable for keeping us focussed and making sure that our money is going towards the things we value. Thanks for being so honest with your budget so that others can learn from your excellent example.

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  7. Hi Rhonda
    Fuel is one area we are cutting in our revised budget. This is not easy as we live in a rural area of the UK where buses do not run often. The only shop near by is very expensive. I am working out a car journey planner where we plan in advance and combine trips. An area where our children need help. Lots of people already do this but something new for us. We are lucky in that my husband and son are both able to walk to work.

    Thanks for sharing your ideas with us, they have helped in our budget review and made us think what is important to us.

    Pippa in Cornwall

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  8. I was curious about the vitamins but didn't want to say anything (figured it was none of my business).
    I like the parameters our budget provides we know where our money goes and is needed.

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  9. I remember quite a while back when you itemized your budget being impressed at how low your costs were. For the two of you to have become even more frugal is remarkable. It certainly is an eye opener to see how much can be achieved when you keep saving, finding little ways to reduce, while still living well. I'm glad things worked out so well for you but what an interesting few posts for me to ponder on.

    My DH and I keep looking forward to the days when we're on our own so we can do similarly. With two young adults in the house it is a constant battle to try to keep usage and wastage down. My friends who have teens or young adults all saying the same thing, but even so, it's interesting to see what can be achieved. I've managed to implement changes, like for example giving up the use of cling wrap. Even though they grump and moan about it, slowly they come to see that it actually is possible to do without a lot of these things without compromising living standards. I think in time they may come to benefit from living this way. If only we'd lived like this from when they were tiny they wouldn't have a thing to grumble about now!

    Regards, Marilyn

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  10. good morning. love your blog. perhaps you could offer on-line 'simple living' courses for a fee which might serve a dual purpose - offering a worthwhile service and adding to the budget.

    patty

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  11. Rhonda,
    I look forward to reading your blog each day. Thank you for teaching us and keeping us on track. When my children were small I use to do some of the things you are teaching. Then, they fell by the wayside as life got so busy. Now, looking at retirement maybe sooner than I expected. Your ideas and kindness give me peace.

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  12. I like reading about other people's budgets, it helps me analyze mine to see if there is something I can improve.

    I think that if you don't have a budget then you'll have a much harder time reaching your goals. I have places I want to see and I love to travel. So I can either spend money on sweaters or on cruises.

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  13. Rhonda, do you take the emu oil internally, or is it for rubbing on places with arthritis?

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  14. Hi Rhonda Jean,
    I enjoy your blog so much!Trying to catch up on blogging again.
    Dh was laid off so we're on a tight budget, we enjoy the simple life and that sure helps.
    Petrol is $3.79 per gallon and goes up 3-4 cents daily.Everything is going up . We added alot more to our stock pile. Keeps me busy rotating,but thankful I have it to rotate.
    Keep up the Wonderful Posting:o)
    Blessins',Lib

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  15. In Holland 10% of the tax on fuel is used for new roads and so. The rest is used for all kinds of things. Lizzie said, luckily we have a small country. But I think she doesn't live in the rural part. My husband has to drive 70 kilometres every day. Buses are not an option because in the rural area they drive to less. And trains are not here. So my husband needs a car to go to work.
    We would like to move to live near my husbands' work. But the prices of houses are very high too and you have to pay 6% tax of the value of the house to the government. But we get money back for our mortgage (that's the good part)
    So we are saving money and hope that we can buy a house nearby with some space for gardening.
    Not too big cause heating the house is expensive here too.
    It looks like i'm only complaining about my country, but besides of the climate Holland is a wunderfull country to live in. There is poverty but not so much and most things are well organised here.
    And we have beautiful old cities and landscapes.

    On the risk of being nosy (again):
    About the vitamines you take. It's most important to take omega 3. Omega 6 is plenty in our food and omega 9 is not essential cause we can make it ourselves. But it can be found in olive oil.
    Omega 3 is in fatty fish (for your husband a very good choice because of his stroke). But you can also take some broken flaxseed and some walnuts.
    Vitamine b12 is also a vitamine people need when they are aging because the intrinsic factor is decreasing. Vitamine B12 is important for your nervesystem. B12 isn't expensive.

    Annikka

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  16. Petrol in the UK is very expensive. So we have one car (diesel), and my husband drives 5 miles to work each way. I take the train. We also combine trips and walk to get the newspaper or any spare items we forgot in the weekly shop.

    Rhonda, I bet you feel good that your wisdom meant that you stayed within your budget, even when costs are rising. Perhaps with the extra writing money you will earn, you can have a little holiday to celebrate...or at least a nice bottle of wine!

    Best,

    AM of the Bread

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  17. Petrol in the UK is very expensive. So we have one car (diesel), and my husband drives 5 miles to work each way. I take the train. We also combine trips and walk to get the newspaper or any spare items we forgot in the weekly shop.

    Rhonda, I bet you feel good that your wisdom meant that you stayed within your budget, even when costs are rising. Perhaps with the extra writing money you will earn, you can have a little holiday to celebrate...or at least a nice bottle of wine!

    Best,

    AM of the Bread

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  18. I'm a little confused here. (just a little..) With so many well producing garden beds why would you need to spend so much on fresh fruit and veg?

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  19. Hi Rhonda, I found your blog about a month ago and you have inspired me to say the least! Now, talking about budgets...I have had one written down for years that I continually review so I was pretty happy about that...then I realised the other day, or should I say I admitted to myself the other day that I never ever stick to it! My pay has been down $300 in total over the last two weeks but I didn't stop to think that I should adjust my spending in accordance. Then I remembered that I had started stockpiling after finding your blog and itemised exactly what was in my cupboard so I got the list out and worked out a menu for the next few weeks based on what was in my cupboard versus getting the cook books out and writing a shopping list of the things I would like to cook... This is all thanks to you for teaching me to think like this and in just one short month! My mother is astounded. And the other thing I started this week was a money journal - a little book in my bag where I am writing down everything I spend. And because I don't want to have to write in it I am not spending!!! Once again, thank you Rhonda for sharing with us, especially for people like me who have no concept really of frugal living (but we are making changes!).
    Tamara

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  20. PS I tried to buy washing soda to make some laundry detergent but all I could find was soda crystals (I think that was what it was called). Is this what I should buy? If not can you possibly give me some ideas as to where to buy it as I can't find it in Coles...
    Many thanks
    Tamara

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  21. I analyzed our spending when our daughter was 1 yr old. I compared it to the year before when we both worked and had no kids. It was veeery interesting to see what we spend our money on. I never suspected beforehand that we took out so much cash from the money machine every month. It was cash we didn't keep track of, so it just vanished into thin air and it was our biggest expense (apart from the mortgage etc). We got that covered now, although I think of your ziploc method sometimes. I just don't like having so much cash in the house, don't you ever worry about that, especially because you've talked about it here on the blog as well? Maybe I'm paranoid and I guess robbers don't read blogs like this one. I'd like to take the time and make another analysis again soon. After all we now have two kids and just one income. A lot of work, you are so right, but totally worth it!
    Annikka explained it very well about our taxes here, nothing to add to that.
    Christine from the NL
    Christine from the NL

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  22. Hello all,

    Tamara, I believe that washing soda and soda crystals are one and the same thing. I use soda crystals to stretch out my washing powder (only because I bought so much of it I've been getting through it for the last year, but once its run out I'm making my own to Rhonda's recipe) and it does a grand job. You'll need soap flakes or grated soap as well though.

    My second thing I wanted to give to you all is the link to a brilliant budget planner: http://www.moneysavingexpert.com/banking/Budget-planning#bplanner - there's an Excel spreadsheet version, or if you don't have Excel on your computer you can use the online version. MoneySavingExpert is also a wonderful site to give you tips on slashing your bills generally and how to pay less for pretty much everything. Aside from this blog, its my bible.

    My last petrol stop was £1.08 per litre for unleaded. About half of that, apparently, is tax.

    I hope you all find the budget planner beneficial.

    Yet again Rhonda, wonderful post.

    Blessings all,

    FiFi

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  23. Oh, and one other thing, I have Hypermobility Syndrome, and as a result the ends of my joints wear more quickly due to lack of support from the surrounding ligaments. I take glucosamine sulphate to help protect them, and an occasional cod liver oil. I don't need to keep supple though, due to the condition, I'm bendy enough!

    There was apparently a report done recently which raised concerns about the artificially high doses of the supplements you buy, and so warned against taking too many. I think one or two choice ones, possibly more if prescribed, are fine, but there are some people taking 10 or more different ones and I would be concerned about the efficacy of such a varied supplement regime.

    And be careful of over-zealous marketing!

    Take care all,

    FiFi

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  24. Hello Rhonda! It's been a while since I commented, but I'm still here reading. The comments are as good as your blog. Here in the USA, you would not believe the taxes and extra junk fees added to our monthly utility bills. The taxes and fees are more then my actual useage charges, especially on the telephone, those are double. I have been off work for 2 days so I get to go and get sticker shock at the gas pump today (LOL). It raises by 10 to 12 cents each day as we are heading into a holiday weekend.

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  25. Hi Rhonda!

    I was only just telling someone whose autistic child has recently been placed on hefty medication with the nasty side-effect of severely reduced appetite that vitamins were a must. Because every ounce of food the child eats must count toward his daily requirements -- he needs vitamin supplements. The doctor forgot to tell them that. I'm not a nutritionist but I see one regularly and she is constantly amazed by doctors (at least the ones here in the U.S.) who do not inform their patients of such things when they hand over Rx or diagnosis.

    I take B12 and MUST. Without it, I get leg cramps and am grumpy. I also use a lot of flaxseed in my breakfast cereal. This seems to have helped my knees. I have rotten knees which get fluid on them and cause me a lot of pain. Blame it on superior genetics! LOL!

    Another winning post, Rhonda. I love your budget posts because it really is so important to budget our money and see where it is going. No other household chore makes the areas that we need to cut back in so easy to spot.

    Blessings and thanks!
    Lacy

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  26. You are right about the budgets, Rhonda! They are such a necessary tool when trying to be self-sufficient!! Times are so tough right now with the cost of gas and food sky-rocketing! It's important for all of us to scrutinize our budgets and make sure we are squeezing everything we can out of our last dimes! Thanks for a great post!!

    Kristina in Nebraska

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  27. I'm so glad that I don't drive. It can be a pain knowing that we only have one bus a week to Nenagh & 1 a week to Thurles, but it does mean that Annon & I can't go out on the spur of the moment unless we walk! & I'm not paying the ever increasing fuel prices. We live 2 1/4 miles from our village, 12 miles from Nenagh & 16 from Thurles. It would be wonderful if I had my rigs over here & we could drive Rawnie Spangle for days out. I think in future, those of us with driving horses & rigs will be in demand. I'm finding it harder & harder to only spend €40/week on food for Annon & myself as prices rise. I'm on disability, so I'm not supposed to earn any money on top of that (they turn a blind eye to my egg sales as my poultry is a loss making venture), but I do have some puppies to sell....

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  28. Rhonda, what strength of emu oil do you take????

    I have high cholesterol and take medication, its not diet linked, but hereditary although only one of my chidlren have it.....I am interested after your comment that your husbands cholesterol went down when he started taking it.

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  29. Your posts on budgets have really got me thinking, thank you. I think the hole in my budget efforts is when we spend cash, we get it from the cash machine and then it just disapears somewhere! I need to look at what we are frittering away and get a system in place like your bags.

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  30. Annika
    I had friends over from Holland to visit last year and they filled up the tank with petrol at the port in England. I didn't realise anyone had more expensive petrol that the Uk but I think in Holland that you beat us. We are the same, we cant get to our workplace without cars. Sometimes we can share or take public transport but it doesnt work for every circumstance. We need a better public transport system not one that is run by private companies for profit.
    Lizzie

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  31. We only use our car for esstential journey's. i.e. our monthly shop, vitits to the allotment, we cannot get there by public transport. Visits to our daughter who lives 20 miles away, and OH to his bowls and myself to my friend who lives 16 miles away, I only visit her once a month.

    If we need a top up shop or visit to the library we take our wally trolly and go on the bus. Ocasionally we take the bus into town and shop on the market and treat ourselves to a two course lunch at age concern for the massive sum of £2.75 each.

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  32. Glad to hear your budget has worked out better than you thought. I tell people that doing a budget isn't hard, just a bit time-consuming. My husband and I do all of our budget through a Google spreadsheet that we both have access to through our Gmail accounts, and we update it daily in the morning, emailing each other as we go. Doing the budgeting thing has definitely been good for us.

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  33. I have really enjoyed hearing of your budget. I would love to see some of your recipes that help you save money on groceries. That is my biggest expense and I don't understand why when there are just 2 of us. Thanks for sharing.

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  34. I looked up the proportion of UK petrol which represents the cost of the fuel rather than duty or VAT (we pay both). The shocking answer is that 41p in the pound is the cost of fuel, the rest - 69p -goes straight into the government's coffers. Of course that £1 was originally £1.20 before income tax was deducted. I just drove past our petrol station and the price is now £1.15 per litre. I have not noticed the government doing anything particularly environmental with the spoils.

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  35. I've developed what might be arthritis in my hands and started taking fish oil caplets every day now to help with whatever inflammation is there. Whatever the vitamin cost it's worth the preventative $$'s instead of waiting for higher price meds to come after the illness!

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  36. Thanks for all the feedback on fuel prices in other countries and vitamins and supplements.

    french knots, the bag system is simple and reliable. Give it a try.

    Christine, having money in the house isn't a great concern. We live in a safe area, we know our neighbours, Hanno is usally at home and we have two big dogs. We're on the outskirts of a small rural town, so I feel pretty safe.

    Kirsti, we take the emu oil capsules by mouth, although we also have the straight oil which we use on our skin for various things like dry skin, insect bites, burns and rashes. It's great stuff.

    river, fruit and vegetables are usually part of our food purchases when we don't have something we need - like now it's tomatoes and potatoes. We have these growing in our garden but they're not ready to harvest yet.

    Tamara, yes, the crystals are the right thing. It sounds like you're doing well. Good on you for making your changes. You'll reap the rewards for many years.

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