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Tuesday, 1 January 2013

Last Christmas.... I gave you my heart as it was all I had

Being on a very tight budget, as I am at the moment, I economised over my Christmas dinner which ended up costing me less than £5 this year. The posh salmon dish, a stuffed salmon portion with king prawns was purchased at work as a reduced item (originally £10 and reduced until £2.50) and the other ingredients were had for the remaining £2.50, including a bag of potatoes for 45p on the vegetable reductions sections. Two mince pies replaced the Christmas pudding. A bottle of red wine was given by a friend.

this lasted two days

On the run up to Christmas I was the humble and proud recipient of two free packages of tinned goods and other unexpected free treats from a Foodbank charity looking after people genuinely in need and I say a short prayer of gratitude each time I use any of the items I was given from people's generosity. I didn't actively request any of this help but I have found myself in dire circumstances since the government cut out my £120 per month Tax Credits. Only through a random conversation about struggling with travel costs to work did this salvation come about. When you are alone and have no  'other' person to help pay the bills then life can be very expensive and frankly, very difficult. I used the word 'humble' a little moment ago and this piece is truly humbling to write and to confess to.

I have severely cut down on casual beers and wines of late and have been keeping a personal booklet of expenditure to keep myself in check as I encounter each month and each month's spending challenges and have been actively avoiding withdrawing cash from the hole in the wall machines. Each tenner withdrawn becomes seen as a tenner heading towards being overdrawn on the bank account.

This run up to Christmas I felt terrible as I couldn't really justify buying and posting Christmas cards this year as each one would cost money.The additional burden of postage costs simply weren't there to be spent. When you have very little the thought of spending several times 70p on stamps can be very hard. The actual Christmas wishes however were heartfelt: the economical reality alas, not. Thankfully, I found some cards that I still had remaining from last year and economised by giving relatives a card to pass on to other relatives to save on postage. Some Christmas presents have been of a recycled nature dressed in a smart and cheaper charity shop Christmas paper. I have tried to take all these things as lessons to be learnt from and see the challenges as a positive step forward to controlling and improving my finances.

All in all, I have endeavoured to keep my attitude positive but sometimes it is hard as essential and practical  things break down and to replace them financially becomes ever more a big emotional and financial challenge. Being constantly stretched I have no savings to draw on to buy new and essential items. These unfortunately, disappeared in the two years I was out of work.

In the last three months my Dyson broke, my kettle broke, my laptop broke and my radio broke with the signal breaking up as radio signals went over to digital. I couldn't afford another Dyson so bought a cheaper model from Tesco; the laptop is vital in terms of communication and my writing so an interest free option was sought and found  but still a financial worry about keeping up repayments (then I had to get creative with various bits of software that would no longer work with the Windows 8 system.) Thank you to Rick and Janette for helping solve some of these problems.

Foodwise I am now being economical with what I have in the freezer and bargains that occur through thrift and  I am using what I have rather than buying more new stuff to add to the old stuff - except in real situations where I can grab a true bargain.

As 2013 starts I hope that my fortunes shall change and through fortitude and the monitoring of my monies I shall begin a slow improvement in my life. On the plus side I still have love and laughter to give and I still have food and I still have air to breathe. My deepest gratitude to my supportive friends and opportunities that occur through endeavour and chance. Plus hardship appears to encourage creativity and I would always encourage that in all. Myself included.


Jean said...

Phil, my heart goes out to you, struggling to pay your bills whilst you are working.

It's a disgrace that our government doesn't help people who want to be in work, especially if it is not highly paid.

Christopher Frost said...

Phil, what can I say. I'm genuinely touched and saddened that you are having a difficult time at the moment and not too proud to admit it. You are a decent chap and deserves better in life. Hopefully you will get this during 2013.

A friend at work arranged a Foodbank collection and she did well in collecting various tins of stuff. I was a bit confused as to why there was such a limited range of things that people could bring in. Hopefully you got a couple of tins of soup, beans etc and make good use of them. I find the yellow tickets in Sainsbury's very useful for meals. Just a shame that they seem to throw so much away, when it could be used by either the employees or taken to a homeless shelter. I guess Tesco's must be the same.

Keep your chin up and take things day by day. If you ever need any help anytime, you only have to give me a call. Best wishes as ever

Phil Lowe said...

Thank you Jean. I agree with your sentiments entirely and I Will win.

Phil Lowe said...

Many thanks for your kind and considered message Christopher. I appreciate that you care and yes, 2013 will bring better things.

talesfromagarden said...

What an honest and heartfelt post! I am sorry you are finding things tough at the moment,but you seem so resilient,I think these hard times are making us all appreciate the simple things more and it's admirable that you have found help when needed and not too proud to take it! This recession has us all watching the pennies,coping with bills etc.Stay positive,you work,have friends and are a sociable person,look forward to brighter days!

Karen said...

It was obviously a very difficult blog to write, & it's full of emotion. Having your Tax Cedits removed is beyond disgusting, & done by nameless people in power who are far removed from the realities of living on wages which don't have yearly increases, & trying to manage when everything else increases in price.
I hope things become easier for you in time.Youo struggled for so long to find a job, that it's just horrid you are finding things so hard now.
sending hugs & love.xx