Giving things up

Yep- it will sound like another whinge, but I think I’ll write it down, just to get it out… I seem to have given up all sorts of little things to try to conserve money, since I’m rarely earning any, but it doesn’t seem to have had much effect on the home finances. Should I keep depriving myself, (and Spotrick for some of them), and try to concentrate on the longer term, or maybe cheer myself up a bit with some familiar treats? The trouble is, we seem to live in a level of constant, steady debt- it doesn’t get any bigger now, but it doesn’t reduce. I can’t see any way (other than winning the lottery or a secret surprise benefactor) that we can cut any more off it. On the other hand, if I reinstate the little luxuries of life, it will only put us into a few hundred dollars more debt over the year…hmm, but a few hundred is still more than zero. I’m quite obsessed with this, eh?!
Let’s see what I/we have given up. I gave up all my magazine subscriptions (I had about half a dozen, I guess)- home and garden stuff, craft things- nothing individually expensive; I’ve given up several items in the weekly grocery shopping- tonic water (that was good for the cramps caused by my tablets), potato crisps (noms- that was a hard one!), icecream, sweet biscuits (which were only occasional anyway), any sort of nuts other than South Australian almonds (because Brazil nuts and hazelnuts that I used to have for lunch, are imported and much more expensive than almonds), regular good red meat- we just have it about once a week now, spices in glass jars (we stick to the plastic packets and bulk buys), good wine (where we didn’t mind the price of a bottle up to about $40 in the bottle shop), all spirits (we haven’t bought any for years, actually- too expensive), soft drinks like Coke, frozen prepared savoury or sweet treats.
I don’t buy myself new clothes even when I really lust after something- before I would buy the occasional thing, maybe once a month. Now I don’t even look at clothing in shops any more, as it makes me feel rather sad. Even Target seems too expensive most of the time- for what you get, anyway. I suppose I buy 2 new tops for summer and 2 for winter, occasional underwear when things start falling apart. I replaced some jeans that split down the back (they had been $8 at Target 3 years before; I replaced them with $23 ones that are too fat in the bum and legs- but that’s what I get for being small!). Spotrick lives with 2 pairs of jeans- one pair for work that are new and an old pair for weekends- no other trousers except trackpants. He has a set of 5 black T shirts and 5 white ones- bought in bulk- plain Bonds ones. That’s his viable clothing! He treated himself to an Ubuntu T-shirt and fleece jacket last year, nothing else.
We haven’t got a digital set top box, although we may get a cheap one soon- we haven’t got cable/Foxtel/satellite and don’t really miss them although they might help our conversational inclusion! We don’t buy DVDs or download movies etc and we no longer buy an occasional music CD. Neither of us have iPods or MP3 players of any sort and never download iTunes etc.
We do have nice cameras for our main hobby, photography- Steve even has an SLR with a 200mm telephoto lens that he got in 2008. I bought a new larger point and shoot camera with a pay cheque I got for some research work and I’m quite happy with it.
Spotrick’s car has been pulled over by the police for too much smoke- he has to get the engine rebored or replaced, or he’ll have to get another car. It’s about 20 plus years old- he bought it for $3000 when we moved to our current house as we’d lived right in the city before. He tried the bus, but found it too crowded and he kept catching colds and flu and missing work.
My car is more than 10 years old now- it’s a tiny little Korean thing that’s already had a cracked head (welded) and hasn’t been serviced for two years- not good. I don’t use it much- only put petrol in it once every 6 weeks, but I’d rather use it than rely on the bus as I’m no good at carrying groceries and things- I’m too short and things are either too heavy and/or drag on the ground- I find it really hard to drag a trolley up bus steps- too heavy.
I have managed to avoid buying any of the textbooks for my uni course- I just borrow similar books from the library and that seems to work fine, even when they ask us to read specific chapters- I just fake it! I haven’t photocopied anything either- can get stuff as pdfs on the laptop and read them there.
We DO socialise with friends at a restaurant every Wednesday and eat and drink quite well, but our friends subsidise the bill so we never pay too much- they are fantastic! We used to have a group of us who went to the SA Theatre Company season of plays every year, but we’ve given up, so we just have dinner with them instead.
I’ve given up my aquarobics classes once or twice a week that I had been attending for 15 months- too expensive. Most people in the class got them cheap as they had private health insurance- but I can’t afford that either! (And I don’t really believe in it.)
I try not to turn the heating on during the day during winter, nor the air conditioning during summer- electricity bills are humongous! I never thought years ago that I would have to do this, but it’s necessary now- I just lie down in the summer and wait for it to cool down, or for Spotrick to come home; in winter I hop into bed with a book or the laptop and stay warm that way- a few mogs on the legs works a treat!
I don’t go for regular coffees or lunches with friends- just once a week for a quick lunch with a uni friend so I get a little social contact.
We don’t buy regular new seedlings and bulbs for the garden- I have grown the occasional batch of things from seed, but I’m too distracted/depressed to look after them mostly- we’ve got a good batch of chives and rocket currently but no spring flower seedlings. We got rid of most of the roses as they were spindly and hardly ever produced a good crop of flowers- but the yard is rather sad without colour and I’m not sure what we’ll do there. My garden used to be my pride and joy- photographs of other people’s gardens suffice now.
Anyway, it’s hard living a much more restricted life than I was used to for about 25 years. I know I have a pretty good life compared to alot of other people, but change is difficult for anyone. I feel under the thumb, I feel as though I have lost much of my independence by not having a regular income; I even feel a bit “imprisoned” and sometimes want to scream-“let me out, let me out”- but I guess it’s a psychological restriction and I can’t escape that without help …which I can’t get and can’t afford. So here I am.


3 thoughts on “Giving things up

  1. Murf.

    Whilst this post of yours is about what you’ve given up, I still read/feel/hear what you do have and that confuses me.

    I’m not currently in your situation but was for quite a while until three and a bit years ago… though my job gives me little (very little) satisfaction, I can’t/won’t leave because the idea of going back to having no money (again) terrifies me.

    Take care – you are often in my thoughts.


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