Olly Writes

Woodwork, writing, walks, DIY and more!

The Cost of Living

This is a post that I’m sure will resonate and strike a chord with many people. At the same time, I fear it’ll also irritate others; the type of people who might cry ‘Well, what about me? We’re all struggling!‘ when I guess I’m kind of saying the same thing! But I intend to keep this personal about my situation because, well, it’s my blog. Part of my intention is to look at what I’m spending, to compare that against what I have to spend and then, to see where I can potentially make some cuts.

Pounds Sterling

Pounds Sterling (Photo credit: 917press)

So, I’m going to start off by sharing a simple list of my current monthly spending budget:

Rent – £450
Council Tax – £70
Electricity – £60
Petrol – £100
Phone Line Rental – £2.50
TV License – £25
Mobile Phone – £9
Food and Groceries – £100

Some figures are only approximations but that totals to £816.50. When I calculated this on paper two evenings ago, I actually worked this out to be £100 dearer (somehow) so, I’m feeling somewhat slightly better than I was leading in to this!

One item I haven’t included in the list is for Water Rates and that’s because I’m not expecting my first bill until March. My first year’s TV License will be payed off within six months but I feel unlikely to renew at the end of the year, simply because I don’t watch any TV now. Another post in in the coming days is going to outline my intention to alter my food shopping habits and I hope that’ll also reduce the expenditure. I’ve just recently renewed my sim-only phone contract by £4 a month as well.

4 Pounds Sterling - On White Set - P9053075

4 Pounds Sterling – On White Set – P9053075 (Photo credit: isdky – Brian Barnett)

My basic wage brings home over £900 a month once tax has been deducted, which leaves me with a good £100 to spare, looking at the list above. Taking in to account the fact that I like to add £50 in to my savings and suddenly, it appears as though I don’t have a lot to ‘live’ on, after paying for the essentials.

I’m aware that many others will be in a similar situation and some even worse off. But is it just me or is it all too convenient in that an average wage (in the UK at least) will provide you with just enough money to live on so that you can survive to go to work every day? To line up alongside the next cog so that the world can keep on ticking… Forget about any thoughts of going on holiday or enjoying your spare time… Are we really any better off than the cows?

There is apparently a ‘minimum living wage’ in the UK that equates to £7.50… My hourly rate falls short of that and there’s a chance yours does as well. But why? If some ‘experts’ are clearly aware of a minimum wage required for living then, why not enforce employers to pay it?! If these firms can afford to pay their staff X-number of overtime hours worked at time-and-a-half then, yes, they should surely be able to pay these same workers an extra £1 or more.

Broadband isn’t on my list because I payed the full 12 months off in a single transaction. The same can also be said for car insurance, road tax (if not in two instalments), the MOT… Staying on the subject of owning a motor vehicle for a moment; how am I supposed to budget for any of that, let alone the cost of unexpected repairs and servicing?

It’s not secret that owning a vehicle is a financial burden. In my life though, I see it as essential. Not only for commuting but, as you’ll have hopefully seen elsewhere on this blog; I’m an avid walker and outdoors explorer. How else could I get to those remote parts of the countryside where no bus has ever broken down? It’s my independence. It is costing me a bit extra in fuel (and, to be honest, my new car is a bit of a hungry horse) but I’m trying to drive with a lighter touch and soft acceleration, in the hope of squeezing every last drop of petroleum.

Problem solved

Problem solved (Photo credit: rjamesmitchell)

So, the car does appear to be a big one, especially as I only bought the thing just before Christmas. I remember having to eat in to my savings account. Paying the negotiated price was one step but I also had to contend with insurance and road tax on the very same day! Before all of this, I used to take £50 from my current account and to stash it in to my savings at the end of each month… I haven’t felt obliged to do so since September, I think. I mean, that’s almost half of my ‘spare’ money. Gone! Please don’t ever ask or try to talk to me about pensions… Another year and I’ll be turning 30 but that’s unlikely to mean that I can afford the extra.

Overtime hours are available at work but, speaking personally, I prefer to hold on to the greatest life/work balance that I can get. Starting work at 7am every day is murder. If you only do a few extra hours in the week, in my opinion, it benefits the company more than the employee as the cash is lost to tax. To work a lot of extra hours demands a sacrifice of life and free time that I’m not prepared to forsake. This month, I’m partaking in an experiment to see how I survive working only basic hours, not that I’ve been a regular late-stayer of late anyway.

Those of you aware of my workshop situation and impending time for self-storage might also be aware that I’ve slowly been selling off my under-used and unnecessary woodworking items. Progress is slow but steady. However, the crying shame lies in the realisation that the extra £100 could be provide me with ‘several weeks of electricity’ or, ‘two tanks of fuel’…

One pound (British coin)

One pound (British coin) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I rarely write about this kind of thing and I try to ignore it because, in all honesty, it raises questions in my mind about the point in life; the apparent lack of reason to continue living… At least in this way.

Throughout my life, I’ve come to accept the hard way that change doesn’t always just ‘happen’ when you want it to and that in order to achieve, you have to seek out and strive for them. My only obstruction lies within questions such as ‘Where? and ‘When?’. It’s the fear that holds me back. It’s the fear that keeps me in that production like so that the big wheel can keep on turning… And I hate it.

Anyway, thanks for reading.

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6 responses to “The Cost of Living

  1. justroaming 19/01/2014 at 13:15

    Olly, have you asked yourself the question of whether you could earn the same as your overtime by making and selling simple wooden items (one craft stall per month?)? at least then you would be earning and enjoying woodwork…

    Either way, I’ve been where you are a number of times during my 48 years. I understand your plight!

  2. thousandjourneys 21/01/2014 at 12:14

    Hi Olly.

    Sure money can give you opportunities, but the things that I really like (eg walking, meditation and good friendships) are all Free and I have found that these are the things that bring the real value to life.

    Anyway It looks like you have got a good handle on things and even though things may feel like they are moving slowly right now, the most important thing is to set a direction that you want to go. Fast or slow doesn’t matter ….. you will always get there in the end.

    • Olly Parry-Jones 22/01/2014 at 19:11

      Thanks for taking the time to comment.

      I also enjoy and appreciate these free things in life. But I’m always wanting more. I can see a junction with several different paths but I have no map, I’ve lost my compass and I’m unsure of which route to take, for fear of making a big mistake.

  3. mountaincoward 08/02/2014 at 23:22

    There’s the old saying that ‘You’ll never get rich working for someone else’ – having said that, I don’t fancy working for myself with all the attendant hassle and wondering whether I’ll eat next week or not.

    I was in really dire straits until I got made redundant a few years back and it luckily paid my mortgage off. Now I can afford to go places and do stuff. I’m also lucky that I can walk to work so save money that way too and leave my car for Scottish walking trips and suchlike.

    As to pensions though – I had a decent one and then they lost most of it down a black hole a few years back when the banks ‘crashed ‘ – £66,000 down the drain in one go! 😦 So now I’m gonna be poor when I retire.

    I’ve kept an accounts book for years now though – to see what I pay for necessities and what I can do without – it’s been pretty helpful and I’ve managed to keep to around the same spending every year recently – not easy to do in the current climate.

    Never had a telly – too boring usually 😉
    Carol.

    • Olly Parry-Jones 09/02/2014 at 11:09

      Thanks for taking the time to read and share your experiences, Carol. I find it hard to imagine how anyone could be truly happier if they became rich. For most people, I’d assume it would be enough simply not to have to worry about finances as much.

      • mountaincoward 09/02/2014 at 21:45

        Yep – for me, definitely happiest when enough money to eat well and survive without worry but I never hanker for heaps of the stuff and people who have heaps of it never look truly happy to me! The simpler things are those which make you truly happy.
        Carol.

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