Sunday, 13 February 2011

where did all the money go?

In the recent and painful economic downturn what I have been wondering is this:  If everybody is harder up, where has all the money gone?
Did it just disappear?  You do hear that a lot of money just moves electronically from one place to another but does not come into existence because it is not taken out of the bank.  In other words, if we all want our actual money at once, we are in trouble because there is not enough to go around.  That is what happens when bank get into difficulties I believe, and also when everyone sells shares on the stock exchange at once.
However, this crisis was apparently all started by companies selling on mortgage debt and that money did presumably exist because someone, somewhere bought a house with it. 
It seems that the number of new millionaires is still increasing, so someone is making money out of all of this.  It is just not the average person on the street.
It hasn’t burned us much as yet and for this we are very very thankful.  A friend of a friend has just come back from Ireland and says that people are going hungry because the cuts in benefits are so severe that benefits are only available for a limited period of time. 
Their homes have been re-possessed and they have nowhere to go and no money at all.
 If anyone out there knows anything about this, please post it on the comments section of this blog.  We are not hearing much about it, but the media did report that people were going hungry in Iceland last year.  How are they doing now?  What about people in the USA?  I noticed a book on (Although it is American I could not find it on about how to survive whilst living out of your car, if you cannot afford to pay rent and feed yourself.  It was written in the 1990's - the last recession. But how great is that, to survive it and write a book about it.
Car living by Jane Archer

It raises two questions:
1.       What can we all do to help each other when times are tough?
2.      How can we best protect ourselves from future hardship?
A sense of community and getting to know your neighbours is the very best safety valve there is in hard times.  That is how many countries have survived in the past, and it is a win-win situation.  That way we can share skills and resources rather than fight each other.  

Getting to know the neighbours is not always easy and someone has to make the first move.  I had fun leaving tubs of strawberries on our neighbours’ doorsteps and it broke the ice. 
We put a bench in our front garden too because in summer people are outside more.  Getting involved or just starting something locally works too.  It doesn’t need a committee if it doesn’t hold any money, so just do it.

Living frugally (but that doesn’t mean depriving yourself, being mean or doing it at other peoples’ expense) has been the secret of our wellbeing for many years.   
When I first started on the simplicity path – on my own at the very start, but hubby quickly got the plot when the credit card debt disappeared – I came across a book called ‘How To Feed Your Family on £4 a Day’ by Bernadine Lawrence.  
An Inspiration!

I had it out of the library and renewed it many times.   I took it back briefly as I could only renew it a certain number of times but when I went to get it back a few weeks later it had been got rid of!
I had been unable to get hold of it again until last week when I found a second hand copy on (it is not available on It has been re-printed twice and became ‘How to Feed Your Family on £5 a Day’ in the second edition.
The food is all costed out and amazingly little has gone up in price since the 1990’s except the water cress. 
The recipes are good basic healthy food but the reason I love this book is because it is inspirational.  Bernadine went from having a good job, to being in a high rise flat with four children and on benefits.  Her strategy enabled them to live well despite having little money.
She fed 2 adults and 4 children very well for £5 a day. 
I actually hadn’t thought it until now but we fed ourselves for that much quite easily when we were paying off the mortgage and were highly motivated – admittedly we had 3 children rather than 4. 
In recent years I have found the bills creeping up again and am now back on focus with the grocery bill, and have challenged myself to reduce spending whilst not compromising on quality, so watch this space.

It is not the amount we spend each week that we focus on but the overall average over the course of a year.  This is because if we find something cheap we tend to stock up on it.  In some months we have  a lot more garden produce than others.  So far I have spent more and not less but watch this space.

We do not have a big garden and it is vertically challenged (the main part of the garden is almost as high as the roof of the house.)  It was mostly subsoil when we moved in because the top layer had been removed to reduce the height of the hill behind the house. 

The front garden now has some vegetables in it as well as the small poly tunnel and veg beds we have at the back.   For the front we choose food plants that look pleasing such as runner beans with their nice flowers, rhubarb and strawberries placed in amongst the other plants.  Think of a lawn as a green desert, and increase the size of the borders to grow salad crops.

This is a place to share your own inspiration about saving money and managing on less, so feel free to add your own ideas. 
We will be starting our courses on ‘simple living in an urban setting this year' so watch this space. They aim to help people get ahead whether or not they are in debt and - well - it certainly changed our lives for the better so why not learn from someone who has done it?
If you have enough savings to last for a year and no mortgage you can sleep at night without fear.   It can be done!

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