Tag Archives: frugal

reblog from mrmoneymustache

26 Apr



This post by him entitled ‘why should I be frugal when I am so rich’ encapsulates my own motives for living frugally.

I have a feeling both of us dislike waste. Sure we can buy and consume expensively and in excess, but our sense of it being wasteful is strong.

And what also highlighted by him is that we like the fun of doing it, living frugally I mean.
There is not much fun if u are so rich that u can buy anything and everything without a thought.

I know, plenty who are poor will think , ah, if only… if only, I shall be the happiest person …

But it destroys your happiness.

What is the point of it all, when u can get anything u want?
Or be served hand and foot for ever. It is boring.

It is the fun of the journey that makes life wonderful.

I remember one day walking to the gym suddenly dawning on me that I enjoy finding things on the street that I like…it is the fact that it came free… and realising that if I win the lottery it would destroy the extreme pleasure I get from this kind of foraging. Finding things by serendipity make up a lot of the pleasure I get from life.


That is why I don’t bother to buy lottery tickets. I don’t wish to get this windfall. It would make my life duller.


shopping for food part 4

22 Apr


This is the third week of my living on £53 a month postings. for the period 16april -22 april.

Cauliflower = 0.69p
15eggs = 1.34p
Frozen brocolli 1kg = £1
sweet peppers =0.59p
Toilet paper12rolls =1.89
Oranges =0.69p
tea biscuits =0.23p
apricot jam =0.79p
Total £7.22

Add to the amount spent so far £25.35 = £32.57

shopping for food part 3

16 Apr

My food shopping for the period 9april – 16april. (2nd week)
This is prompted by Duncan smith the welfare minister saying he can live on £53 a week if he have to. This is to show how I am able to live on £53 a month. i have been doing this for years. 

Ceylon tea 125mg = £1.29
Bread800mgx2 =0.20p
Cocoa powdertesco 250mg =£2.28
peanut butter Tesco 340mg = 0.62p
Brocolli = 0.25
Onions =.50p
Tomatoes (cherry and ordinary) = £1.00
Garlic =0.50p
Carrots = 0.50p
Ginger =0.50p
2.5kg frozen chicken Sainsbury =£4.38

Total £12.02
Last week shopping was £13.33

So amount spent so far £25.35

go out and experience life.

15 Apr

This has been preying on my mind ever since I read from sally that she is not willing to forego her activities for the sake of saving money.

i think she has given me food for thought. when u are young, it is not that important to lead a frugal life. you save in one area of your life so that  u can get the money to do other things that u like. 
Does scrimping means not being able to join in the mainstream of life like other people?
Does it mean we have to be hermits, sealed at home, not going out, not participating in anything because it would involve spending?

On the face of it , it does look like it. Everything I see involves spending money.

I know we who are frugal always say it is not the spending that determines how much u can enjoy an activity. And it is true of course that how much u spend is not a measure of how wonderful it is. But nevertheless, we cannot escape the fact that u have to spend some money.

Even giving a frugal dinner at home to friends, instead of going out to a restaurant involves spending some money for the food, no matter how frugal a meal u can cook up. Though u could make your friends contribute instead of bearing the full cost of it, by asking them to bring pot luck dishes.

But lets come back to the original premise. Does being frugal make u leave the mainspring of life so that u cannot enjoy the normal things that others enjoy?

And what do others enjoy?
Eating in restaurants, seeing films in a cinema, seeing plays and musicals in the theatre. Seeing exhibitions that have an entry fee. Going to concerts and live performances. Travelling , whether at home or abroad.
Simply going to pubs, coffee houses, tea houses etc to meet up with friends and being able to drink there.

How about subscribing to magazines, to the gym, to classes, and lets not forget SHOPPING.

Shopping will have to be a big part of what people will call enjoyment. Being able to go to any shop, and buy things, clothes, services, and what have you.

For someone who is growing up and wanting to sample all that life can throw at them, it would be a dull life if they don’t have the money.

I think we all have to go through that phase of wanting to try everything in the world otherwise when we grow old we will be dissatisfied that we have not done this, gone there, etc.

That is why I dont advocate being frugal all the time. I think if u are young, u dont have to.

Go on, get the life experiences. by this I mean, dont just save for some future old age with fears of not being able to provide for your old age… but save so that u have some money laid by to deal with emergencies, and to give u money to spend on something that u like and do it while u are still young enough to do it. 

 I personally have done all those, and come to the conclusion that it is not all that great, but I would still advocate you do it. Haha. This is because  I have to experience them before I can be convinced of that. and I expect you to do so too. 

So I don’t expect anyone now growing up and seeing the world as their oyster to believe me when i say it is not all that great. otherwise they will deprive themselves of experienceing first hand that what they crave is sometimes memorable, but often is not really all that great. You may find as i have found, that it is the non monetary experiences that are memorable. 

We all must see and do it ourselves and then we can sit back and say yeah, it is all very nice, but I don’t think I would do it again. Once is enough.

And be content to live with doing very little and just be.

So recently, I went to a market fair, in the city , and felt it was a pleasant way to while away the time, but not something I will want to rave about. I could not help comparing it to the street markets in s.e.asia. Where there is so much going on, and cheap food and things unlike in that fair I went to, where things were pricey, and the food expensive. But of course, my perception of it is false.

As a foreigner in s.e.asia with my £s, of course once converted to the local currency, everything is cheap.

I am sure someone from Saudi Arabia, or usa, or china, just to pick a few countries will come here to the uk, and exclaim how cheap things are compared to those same goods in their own country. This is because the £ has dropped so much in value, that they can get much more in the conversion. This is a reversal of fortunes. Haha.

Then yesterday, I went for a walking tour with a group of guys, from Lewisham to canary wharf.
We went to the greenich observatory and saw this fab panorama of the London skyline. And then walked down to the river , had a look at the ceiling in the naval building, and waited for the rising and droppng of the ball on the spire in the distant observatory which happens every noon GMT, (though this time it happened at 1pm due to it being british summer time) to walk under Thames via the foot tunnel, which started near the refurbished cutty sark, to the other side.

Then walked on traversing a farm in mud chute, and the social housing around there to the expensive luxury flats in canary wharf, with its canals with moored barges, and a solitary sailboat.

It is a very nice walk, and I enjoyed it, but again once may be enough.

It was very windy in the greenich naval college.

But it made me think yeah this is a nice thing to do but not something u want to do too often.

Is there anything in this life that u would want to do all the time and never get fedup with it?

Sex and food seems to be the only things.

Can any one think of others?

I suppose if u have a hobby, that would be the thing that u will do without getting fed up.

So does it mean we must all go out and find a hobby to do? Is that the secret of a happy life?

life is dull on £53? not me

11 Apr

I had a comment from sarah in this post that it is not the living on £53 a week that is difficult, it is the dullness of it. Having to do it day in and day out.

I have been living on £53 a month, (it was much less even a year ago, before prices shot up) and don’t think about it. It is normal to me and I find plenty to whet my appetite and make me enjoy my meals.

I wondered why people say it is dull.

Let me show u a scenario.

I have pork in my fridge. And frozen fish, mince beef, prawns, in my freezer. I have vegetable on the table.

I am feeling peckish.

So I wonder what to eat.

I can stir fry the pork with veg(carrots, onions, brocolli, or another time, cauliflower, or peas or celery or all combinations) , and eat that with rice.
And here I have a vast choice of sauce to go with it…I can make a sweet and sour sauce,(made with just vinegar and suger) plain soya sauce, chilli sauce(with chilli and paprika), curry flavoured sauce, tomato sauce.
It is just playing around with the flavours of sweet, sour, salt , chilli, curry. There are so many combinations and permutations u can never get fed up of it.

I can braise the pork with onions, ginger and garlic and black soya sauce and flavour it with cardamon sticks, cloves, aniseed and eat that with rice. This dish will have a dark appearance

I can make a pork curry , using curry powder, adding extra chilli powder or tumeric with ginger and garlic. And I can make it a dry curry or a wet one. Or might throw in some carrots, potatoes , tomatoes if I have any around. This dish will have a curry appearance

I can make a tomato based pork dish. Using fresh tomatoes, tomato sauce, with the 3 herbs that I often use. Cardamon, cloves, aniseed. This dish will have a tomato red appearance

All these dishes will be cooked in the time my rice gets cooked in the rice cooker. About 15mins. 10mins to cook and 5mins to rest when the cooker switches off.

Or I might prefer to have a soup dish.
So in with the pork, and any veg around to make either just a plain soup , or a curry flavoured one,(or put in a piece of coconut solid cream cake for variety‘s sake) or sweet and sour flavoured.

And colour the soup red with tomato ketchup, or brown with soya sauce, or curry coloured, or paprika coloured just for varieties sake.

Then I can decide whether to put the rice in the soup, or noodles. If noodles what type? I can chose from flat noodles, thin vermicelli, or sphagetti noodles, or any of the different types of pasta shapes and use them as noodles.

Or I can decide I shall have a dry dish instead of soup,
So I shall use all the different noodles in a dry form.

Stir fry the pork and any combination and permutations of veg, and sauce and pour over the dry cooked noodles , mix and eat.

You can see I never plan my meals because they are all done at that time. Depanding on what I fancy eating.

None of them take a long time to cook.

And anytime I can throw in prawns, fish, or whatever is around to the pork to supplement it or produce more variety of taste and flavours, or just for the fun of it.

Oh I forgot, I can decide not to do any of the above and just make a fried rice … and throwing in all kinds of combinations .

Fried rice with pork and veg,
Or just pork alone,
Or just rice and egg,
Or whatever is to hand… the list is endless.

Eggs alone has such a lot of variety of ways of cooking that is another huge variety of dishes to chose from.

I havent really gone into other ways of cooking, but there is no need. Surely u can see there is so much variety and permutations it can never be dull.
And that is just using one meat, pork. U can swing the dance with beef, lamb, prawns,etc… chicken, (that is another story , the number of things u can do with a chicken!!)

How can u say it is dull eating?

This is the Chinese way of cooking.

Perhaps if u are cooking it the western way it might be dull. Certainly the western way has not the versatility and speed of the Chinese way.

Though pasta the Italian way, with all the different sauces, is very easy to do.

But perhaps it is not so much the food but the craving for shop bought food. Junk food. That is addictive and that might make people feel they must buy it even though junk food is very cheap and easy to make yourself. Yet, people dont make it themselves. 

its a nonsense when they ask us to compare gas/electricity prices

10 Apr

I got an email from my friend who lives in poole, dorset, telling me of his electricity and gas bills.

You might be interested to know that my gas & elec fixed price ended – and they promise that from May they will add a ‘daily service charge’ – elec 9.7p per day and gas a whopping 46p per day !! This just adds £203 per year to my bill.
Last year I paid just £155 for gas and £241 for elec = £396 for the year total (with their credits).
So next year I’d pay a huge £570 !

Last year I used about 1800 kWh in gas and 1800 kWh in elec too. I wonder how many u used ?

So I’ve gone on-line to compare prices. (USwitch.com google compare service providers and comparethemarket.com)
The best offers for me were:

FIRST UTILITY (fixed price for 18 mths)
Gas 3.9 kWh with standing charge 36.49 per year
Elec 15.1 with st ch £36.49
Total cost per year £415

EDF (fixed price to Feb 2015)
Gas 4.3 st ch £95.81
Elec 12.75 st ch £68.99
Total p y £435

Gas 4.25 with st ch £85.63
Elec 12.24 with st ch £55.99
Total p y £442

SOUTHERN ELECTRIC (fixed prices for 2 years)
Gas 4.43 with st ch £60.02
Elec 13.42 with st ch £60.02
BUT they also offer £100 credit after 3 months and £12 per year paperless billing.
This results in an average £379 per year for the next two years.

I wrote back saying
my usage of electricity last year 1.2 12-31.1.13 was 1386.87 kwh
and they calculate that using that amount next year will cost me total of £233.63
i dont use gas so the gas bill is zero. haha.

He said he will choose southern electric because the bottom line is the cheapest.

Looking at it , I thought it was rather complicated to compare. You are trusting their figures. Does it have vat included or not? When he changed providers last time, 2yrs ago, he found out that they did not include vat and he was not comparing like for like.

How come my own tariff have no standing charge? I am with British Gas and there is no standing charge on my bill. Instead they charge me a higher tariff for the first 180kwh @21.17p , next kwh @12.96p.
If that first 180kwh is the standing charge, than the extra .2117p-.1296p =.0821p x180kwh = £14.78 for a 3month bill , making it £59.11 for the year. That would be the standing charge in effect.
My friend was quoted £55.99 a year.

Why was it different in London than in poole? It is the same company.

Now you can see what a lot of rubbish it is these price comparisons. It is not very transparent.

That is why I don’t bother to shift providers but just concentrate on cutting down my usage.

And because I am not charged any standing charge I can switch off my gas and not have to pay a penny without the need to disconnect the gas supply.

shopping for food part 2

9 Apr

My life on less than £53 a week.
As you will know I actually live a life on £53 a month. And don’t feel deprived .

So here is how I do it.
So far I have spent £9.73

Below is my shopping list up to date.
Sultanas 500mg = .98p
Oats 1kg = .75p
Coffee 100mg = .47p
Cauliflower =.40p
gala apples = £1
Total £3.60

Total spend to date £13.33 (first week)

shopping for food

2 Apr

I was on the bus today, doing my marathon shopping.
Today I took the bus to the library to read all the holdiay papers that have accumulated. So much to read, haha. Though I just skimmed through most of them. A lot of the weekend papers are rubbish really. I like the tv guides so many to choose from.

Then I took the bus no 2 to Brixton to get garlic, onions, ginger , and tomatoes. They are all 50p, and I got 8 small tomatoes for that price and 4 garlic bulbs. I think it is the only place to get such cheap tomatoes.

Then took the bus 196 which meandered to Vauxhall before going to elephant and castle. Next time I shall take the 133 instead.
On the bus I saw a woman with 4 boys, and she was producing bottle after bottle of fizzy red drinks to them.

Simon just came into the bedroom where I am , typing this, carrying a bowl of beef stew which he made at first on the slo cooker, but it was too slow so he finished it off in the pressure cooker.

He asked if it tasted funny. Does it taste metallic?. Well I tasted it and it was fine.

And the beef were cooked nicely tender. He asked me if I want it as he can get another bowl, so I now have this nice stew sitting on the bed next to me.

I am certainly glad he is not going to throw it away. At first I thought the beef had gone bad, but no. its fine.

I do like beef, it is a meat I don’t buy at all, as it has become very expensive and I can never find them at the reduced price low enough to entice me to buy. But simon gets it from his mother, who get to buy them cheap in Essex. It seems she is still able to get them cheap. Here in my local supermarket, it is nigh impossible to get anymore.

Added. i just realise that simon also cooks and i do eat what he cooks. however, he eats what i cook too, so i guess it evens out. he has a bigger appetite than me. 

She buys so much that there is no room in her freezer, hence simon being able to get them to bring back here. Haha.

But back to my shopping and observation of this family with the fizzy drinks. One of the kids was shaking the bottle to make it fizz, and then opening it and putting his mouth on the opening and letting the fizz rise up for him to swallow.

It must be fun for the child, though I think it is a bad habit to inculcate in the child. The parent don’t realise it but she is storing trouble for herself and her brood. First it will be very expensive to keep up with this habit. Once u got the kids liking fizzy drinks no way will u be able to get them to drinking plain water. And the suger diet will give them health problems in later life. And the acid will erode their teeth. All in all, lots of future trouble.

But I wonder whether that is why so many of these mothers say they cannot cope with food. If they spend it on these fizzy drinks no wonder they don’t have any for meat and veg.

The kid who was shaking the bottle all the time was fat, but the other 3 were slim.

Anyway I changed to the bus no 53 at elephant and castle and that took me to the aldi where I brocolli, leeks, carrots for 49p each. It was part of their 6 value promotions which they change. I like this promotion. there was onions, potatoes and parsnips too. It is the reason why I have been eating lots of veg nowadays.

I think it keeps the other supermarkets along the old kent road on their toes because the asda was also doing a 50p brocolli promotion.

At the asda I bought their pork, which is still £3 a kg. it is the cheapest nowadays. Cant get them for £2.50 anymore. It costs £5.89 for 1.9kg.And I got their ketchup for 28p. It is just tomato puree (u don’t expect real tomatoes for that price, do you?) and vinegar and suger, but I think it is cheaper than buying the puree and is quite nice to have if I fancy some suger in my food. I think the colour makes the food nice looking too.

Colour can be very important. That is why the Chinese use black soya sauce to colour the food. Pork looks very pale and unappetising otherwise. In fact any meat looks awful if u don’t put some colour in it. Either in the form of a curry sauce or black soya sauce or tomato sauce.

I separated the pork into 3 plastic containers and freezed them for the future meals.

I get my bus fare free, otherwise it wont really be economical to shop like this. In the past if I have to pay for the bus the fare would cost £4.40 and that would destroy the price advantage of shopping there.

Brixton is close enough for me to cycle there, in the past when I don’t have a free pass, but it was too far to cycle to the aldi in the old kent road.

I was thinking if Duncan smith needs any advise on how to live on £53 a week, he cannot do better than to follow my blog. Haha.

The whole shopping came to about £9.73.

added. I enter my shopping in finance41 in chrome, and i got a email from them recently saying they are now going to charge or if it is free, it will be limited to 3 entries per day. well, I just entered all the entries for my shopping and it was accepted. so i wonder when they will implement that 3 entry rule. it wont matter if they do, i shall just enter them 3 entries at a time. i wont be doing any food shopping for a week at least. 

Pork 2kg =£5.98
Ginger, garlic, tomatoes, onions @50p each = £2.00p
Ketchup = .28p
Veg brocolli, carrots, leeks @.49p each = £1.47

Total £9.73

fingerless mittens

28 Feb


I was waiting at the bus stop and saw these fingerless gloves on the ground. Someone have dropped them. this happened some time ago, and i was reminded of them when i made a comment on somone’s blog who said it was cold in their flat, and in the course of the chitchat to and fro, she said she works from home and use the computer a lot and cannot type if it is too cold. that was when i suggested she use fingerless gloves. 

I picked them up, because I tend to collect gloves that people drop on the ground. i know, funny hobby. They are very useful.  

Usually I find only one pair, but this time, they were a matched pair. And it was only afterwards when I had a good look at them did I find they have an unusual cap to cover the fingers and which can be buttoned down when not in use. The thumbs are covered which i think is a really good thing. most fingerless gloves uncover the thumb as well. 

They were very well knitted though they have been well worn, because some of the threads were coming loose.

Fingerless gloves are excellent to keep the hands warm whilst typing. And these have the caps to cover the fingers when not typing. They are called capped mittens i think. 

You don’t see these kinds of gloves much nowadays. I googled it and found amazon were selling them at £13 a pair. Made of alpaca wool , I don’t know what these I found are made of but it might well be alpaca wool. There was no information inside the gloves.



elect bill nov2012-jan2013

5 Feb


My electricity bill came today.


I used 323kwh in 92days (nov2012-jan2013)and the bill came to £56.96

3.51kwh per day
17.6p per kwh
62p a day.

My quarterly bill for nov2012-jan2013 was about 100kwh less than the nov2011-jan2012 bill.
323kwh this quarter, as opposed to 416kwh last time.

And the link to my jul-oct2012 bill
Shows 335kwh for 92days costing £59.81


Amazing that I used that much less over the colder months of dec, jan and I did not even noticed it.


The tariff has changed too.
It was first 30kwh @ 23.513p =£7.05

next 31kwh @ 11.203p = £3.47 total £10.52


And changed to first 152 kwh @ 21.170p =£32.18
subsequent 110kwh @ 12.96p =£14.32 total £46.44

The difference on the first 180kwh is £42.318-£38.106= £4.212p

There is definitely an advantage in not using too much electricity. Below a certain level, it seems I get a cheaper tariff.

The gas bill came as well, but that is zero.