Hoarding Inc.

Wow! We have a lot of stuff.

We moved house recently, before I finally snapped and decided not to spend a penny more. We were already thinking about spending less and being more self-sufficient and were looking for somewhere with a garden or terrace to help with that.

We found somewhere that was a bargain but cost more than our previous rent. I am still hopeful that the extra €150 a month will balance out in savings from heating alone. Double glazing and 21st century insulation is such a luxury. Plus having the extra outdoor space is something we were so desperate for.

We can use the space to grow food, perhaps keep chickens and maybe one day have a bee hive for honey etc.

We paid a local shop, who made our furniture, to help us move the new and our old furniture plus a few boxes of essentials. We have since spent the last three weeks packing and moving everything else. Minus one big bag of clothes we gave to a local family.

We have not actually unpacked a single box after the first two days, and have not needed or wanted anything. This has been a big shock to us both, how much stuff we have accumulated over the 7 years we traveled & worked abroad and even more so the three years we lived here. I still have a box of stuff from my earlier travels in my parent’s loft.

It is funny to think how we ended up like this, my partner didn’t have much as a child and I had enough. However my mum and dad were strict on not having too much, we very much had a “one in, two out” rule. Except more sentimental things.

When I graduated university and left the UK, I sold off my piles of CDs, DVDs and the odd VHS and cassette tape. Plus mountains of clothes,papers and books that got sold, donated or handed down shortly after I left. That left me with two big boxes in the UK and the clothes I lugged around with me in my bags.

Back to the here and now, we have discussed this at depth and have agreed to sell, recycle or donate what we can. When the time comes (I hope not too soon) to move again, it shouldn’t take this much effort. Still I am proud of us for moving the countless heavy boxes ourselves by foot and by trolley, and in the sweltering 30 degree heat.

I have gained respect for people who have no choice but to work in physical jobs in hot places with little chance for a break or rest. Sure, it is likely more difficult for them and our sore muscles were very much a choice… but I have learnt something about myself and what I want from life and this cheaper existence.

Old Habits

Well, yes they aren’t easy to kill, are they?

I saw someone convert a kerosene lamp into an olive oil lamp for a smokeless, safer and cheaper light (and heat) alternative. Candles aren’t that cheap these days!

So I paid between 30 and 40 euros for two lamps and two mason jars. Far, far too much!!

The glass bottom of the lamps are rather nice so I will need to find an alternative use for them. The reason they need changing is that olive or vegetable oil are much heavier than usual lamp oils and cannot travel up the wick so easily.

I do not really know how long it will take me to make any savings on my lighting/electric bill, but this is also a psychological game. After this initial cost my lighting will be free. Knowing that I am not paying a cent to light my home is very liberating.

Yes, I do mean free. We have litres and litres of olive oil that we will not use before its best before date (will have to write another post on that) which would otherwise have gone to waste. We do try to avoid cooking with too much oil, even the healthier kinds.

A good friend of ours owns some olive trees and gifts us more oil every six months or so, more than we ever use. We have insisted that she gives less, but they have more than they need too. So we have an almost unlimited supply for free. :)

Well, this is just a quick post. I’ll update you when I have converted the lamps.

A broke bloke!

Two broke blokes…

It’s time to get my act together, to act my age(?) and sort out my spending habits.

Alright, so I am not totally to blame for exhausting all our savings… moving house and needing to buy furniture and white-goods is largely the cause.

Still, that doesn’t excuse my crazy spending of late. Not that we go mad often, rarely do we spend thousands but those odd hundreds do add up! Nor have we ever had an extravagant lifestyle. Both our childhoods were let’s say less-well-off than most.

It’s only in the last few years that we’ve had any spare cash, so can you blame us for going on a little spending spree? In fact, we don’t really like money and it’s not that we don’t understand its value. I often say I hate money and the fact that it drives us (as a species) to destroy our planet and kill each other for resources that will inevitably bring us more money is for me an obvious indicator that something is not right.

Capitalism sucks! I am not saying other options from the past are any better, but basically our current system is no longer doing enough to better our world and make people’s life’s happier/healthier. Change is painful but we need it and so does our planet.

I have in the past toyed with the idea of reducing the money I spend and my dependence on systems that I dislike, I have allowed myself to spend a little more in order to be self-sufficient and spend less in future. I even got myself a copy of The Moneyless Man by Mark Boyle. Thing is, I have always fallen back into old habits.

Now though, the option is not mine. We are running out of money and we have a few small loans to repay and credit card bills to clear. These are tiny compared to some people’s debt, but they need to go not grow.

So let me outline a few changes we hope to make/are making, others we will avoid and how I think we are already getting it right.

Looking after the pennies?

Cutting back on the few splurges we have, namely food, craft supplies and gadgets, should help us clear those loans and credit cards as well as narrow our expanding waistlines.

Being aware of the amount of electricity and water (and gas) that we use and really cutting back on unnecessary machines, gadgets, gizmos and anything that cannot be done with (hu)man power. I’ve banned the vacuum, what’s wrong with a brush and broom? I have packed away the coffee machines and dusted off the French press. The kettle will need to be sold and replaced with a smaller, more energy-efficient albeit Soviet in style, one. I have already started boiling the amount of water needed and not filling up the kettle each time.

I am also looking into alternatives like solar power, worm farming, composting and other things to help avoid needing to spend money in future on things like fertiliser, this will be crucial for us to grow our own food.

Cancelling subscriptions is the last thing for now. No more Netflix, Xbox One Gold and cloud storage. I’ve dusted off our slightly archaic external hard drive and have already started transferring files for backup. We will also reduce our mobile contracts, going for less data, but I am limited on this due to needing free calls for work. Still, even a little drop in price will help.

Keep them pounds!

Well, Euros. We will cancel our plans to purchase those last little things we needed for our new home. A bed frame, a microwave, sofa and some drawers or cupboards. Luckily our mattress is comfortable enough on the floor, we can make use of cardboard boxes for storing things and let’s see (do some research on) whether a microwave would save us electricity or not.

Another big spend that would then suck up more dosh is a car. We would really only need it to visit places out-of-town on the weekend. We will have to go on as we have done, going to those places that public transport can reach.

I will switch the fridge and boiler into economy setting and will ensure we do the same with the washing machine.

We do watch a lot of TV or play computer games, having the telly on and games console is very likely the biggest power consumption. I am trying to reduce how much I watch, where we live there are a series of free channels. The quality is awful and the amount of advertising makes them painful at times. Yet if this is my only source of visual media, that could well help me kick the addiction. I am not going to ask or nag my partner to stop playing his games… well, not just yet. Meanwhile I will switch to our old, smaller, cheaper to run TV.

That’s all I can think of for now.

Our little piggy bank.

We don’t take long holidays in far-flung places, taking day trips on public transport helps us save some cash.

We only go out to cafés and restaurants once in a while.

We try as best we can to take care of ourselves, our teeth and even cut our own hair.

We grow a few veggies and herbs, namely tomato and basil. For sure we will try to expand our green patch. Although I do not want to lose flowers that are beneficial to insects, these will lose priority to edibles.

We have little solar charges to top up our smart phones for longer days out and we use minimal heating during the winter. Admittedly we are guilty for leaving fans on too much during the summer.

We do put down extra warmer rugs in colder months and put on more/thicker pjs plus wrapping ourselves in blankets. The opposite being true in the heat, we’re not afraid to go all the way and be nude. ;-)

We only buy in food when we need it and avoid wasting, the extra snacks that creep in with each visit needs to stop.

We walk or cycle in town only paying to travel to other places nearby.

As I said, we are not big spenders, not really.

I am now thinking of more and more things to discuss, but I’d like to leave it here for now and write about these in another post.

Wish us luck!