For the past two years, we have tried to live as frugally as possible. Some people might think we’re absolutely crazy in our thriftiness, but it has served us well. Recently, I reflected that one of the things we have saved money on is shower gel. Yes, shower gel. I know some would laugh about a blog post extolling the merits of saving money on shower gel, but here it is.
Most of my friends, relatives and acquaintances would buy their favourite brand of shower gel without thinking twice about it. They trust the brand name, they love the various fragrances, they don’t mind paying for the expensive advertising.
However, they miss the whole point of saving money. We buy the generic shower gel, price ranging from 6p to 13p a bottle. But don’t let the price fool you. The soap does lather up. It does its job more than adequately. In addition, everyone in our family has sensitive skin – we all suffer from some allergy or another – yet, none of us have broken out in rashes using cheap shower gel. Sure, you won’t find variety in fragrances, but is that very important? Fragrances can cause allergic reactions. No, it does not leave us feeling like we have baby-soft skin, but we still feel clean.
I was watching the diary of a young woman trying to live on her Jobseeker’s Allowance. She explained what her outgoings were and how the allowance was not enough to pay for everything. In fact, at the end of the week, she did not have any money to buy food. I’m surprised her rent was so low – she must be in a bedsit. It’s a good thing she doesn’t smoke, because tobacco is extremely expensive. Yet, I have seen how young smokers still insist on buying cigarettes despite not being able to afford it.
Her outgoings were pretty reasonable, so she shows that the Jobseeker’s Allowance is unreasonable to live on. She gets fifty pounds a week. I don’t have any suggestions to offer her, except perhaps, to cancel her TV license. She pays five pounds each week for the privilege of watching TV. She can use that money to buy a little food. She did not mention a mobile phone, so perhaps, she does not have one. That rather surprises me, seeing the number of people using mobiles in the UK. However, it is a luxury that should go if you do not have the money, unless you have one of those cheap pay-as-you-go plans. We have a cell phone that is only used for incoming calls.
There are other small things that you may have to sacrifice when you are living on a very tight budget. However, sometimes the alternatives may be more costly, so you have to work out for yourself what is best. For example, we have a home phone and internet plan. It may not be the best idea and certainly, the plan is not the cheapest. But it was the most convenient in terms of timing. We could not afford to go into pubs and coffee shops everyday just to use their free WiFi. They expect you to buy food and drink while you are there. Some libraries offer free internet, but their computers are slow, you cannot be guaranteed a free computer when you walk in, and you may have to drive to the library. If you live within easy distance of the library, then this might be a viable option. Unfortunately, there are no free phones anywhere.
You can’t really live without water or electricity/gas. However, you can minimise your use of these utilities. In the summertime, you might not need heating and natural sunlight can provide lighting for your room. Perhaps, go to sleep when the sun goes down and wake up when it rises so that you don’t need to use electricity for light. I’ve already mentioned the water issue on another post. Even with all that, I can’t see how fifty pounds will suffice. Though it is more than the child benefit. You can’t feed children on the amount they give.