There's something I need to point out, as some people don't seem to have grasped it:-
This is a frugal blog, we live a frugal and thrifty lifestyle - because we have to! Husband is retired and gets State pension, Pension credit, Housing benefit and 3 small (very small) private pensions. I am not yet retirement age, having 7 or 8 years to go yet (at least) before I am entitled to State pension....in view of the fact that the Government keep moving the goalposts, I may never get there! (don't get me started on that!). I do get a private pension, also very small. Because I am not of retirement age and not disabled, I am not eligible for any benefits. I do, however, get free prescriptions (because of my diabetes) and free dental treatment - husband's Pension credit covers me for that (just as well in view of the amount of (ongoing) dental treatment I've had this year). The Housing Benefit does not cover our total rent, they only pay what our family circumstances entitle us to, which is a 1 bedroom flat - as we have a 3 bedroom house our rent is dearer, so we have to pay the balance.
That's the sum total of our joint income. We don't own our home, for reasons I'm not going into as it's nobody else's business, we rent privately. If we did own our home, we would have paid off our mortgage by now, having bought our first home about 34 years ago, whereas renting means we have to pay ad infinitum, and are also continually at the mercy of our Landlord. But that's life.
We did have savings put aside for car repairs and emergencies - the 2 breakdowns we had recently, costing around £1000, wiped out those savings completely. We have no arrears and all bills are paid by direct debit, we don't lead a frivolous lifestyle, far from it, we don't belong to any golf or gardening or social clubs or anything that costs membership - we're not on the breadline but have very little spare cash. Particularly since we now have to try to put money aside to build up our emergency fund again - if we had another car breakdown anytime soon, I have no idea what we'd do. We almost never go out for meals, we never go to the cinema or the pub or to events or places that cost money - we cannot afford it. We only buy 'stuff' if it's necessary - and we look for either second hand or a very good sale price. We shop at Aldi, Lidl, Morrisons and Asda - because that's what we can afford. We used to buy our meat in bulk 2 or 3 times a year from a local butcher - haven't done for over a year, we just can't afford it now.
So, as I said, we live a very thrifty lifestyle, because we bloody well have no other choice! I'm not complaining, we love our life. But it would be nice to be spontaneous sometimes and go out for a meal, or buy something nice for the house that we see in a shop, or not have to take a flask of coffee and a sandwich every time we go out for a day but buy lunch in a café instead. We hardly ever go for days out now anyhow, not just because of the weather but also because of the cost of fuel. We've turned down 2 Christmas evening out invitations because we couldn't afford the ticket prices. It does get a bit demoralising sometimes, but we shake it off and have a coffee and bit of homemade cake.
But some people just don't seem to get it. We don't shop in Waitrose or M&S Foodhall, we don't have fresh flowers every week, we don't buy meat from butchers or classy farm shops, we don't buy new clothes or shoes (unless we have a lucky find in a charity shop, or an excellent bargain in a sale). We don't do any of that because we can't afford to! If we do buy something (like my new winter coat), then we have to go without something else.
If we go on holiday, it's the cheapest we can find, usually a budget caravan or chalet lodge, and we have to save all year for that. And we can't go any great distance because of the cost of fuel. We go to the Midlands once a year and stay in a budget caravan on a nice site for a few days, just so we can visit our family....because we're respectful and take good care of the owner's caravan and leave it in a clean and tidy state, he lets us have a discount, otherwise we couldn't afford that. We count ourselves very lucky if we are able to afford to go on holiday, even in a budget caravan.
This is a blog about our frugal, thrifty (cheap, if you want to say it without frills) lifestyle - it is what it is, it's our life. I read lots of other frugal, thrifty blogs, because they're on my wavelength, they get it, they're non-judgemental. But there are people who, for some odd reason, read mine and other thrifty blogs when they have no need to lead the kind of budget life we do - it's obvious from some of their comments that they're not short of a bob or two, so I don't quite see what the attraction is. Perhaps they just like to show off?! Or perhaps they're so wrapped up in their own luxurious comfortable free-spending bubble that they simply cannot comprehend someone else's reality of not being able to afford what are luxuries to us, but everyday items to them.
I'm sorry to be so blunt, but I think it needed saying - this is our life, our life is not your life, we can't afford the things you do, we're poor but (reasonably, given the year we've had) happy!