quirky frugality

A throwback to 2013

A bird only eats what it needs, do we?

To live in personal jubilee, debts are forgiven. This does not mean financial debts especially, it has a greater meaning than that, involving grudges, sins, and just letting go of everything and everyone that is causing a barrier to come between you and God.

Having said that financial difficulties account for most marital problems, and we are linving in a society that is carrying a huge debt problem. If financial problems affect our relationships then surely we can extrapolate debt and financial problems as a barrier to our relationship with God.

Is that too far a jump for you, think about it:

You are in debt therefore you didn’t look after your share wisely. Is that a fair point or are you beginning to get defensive? Beginning to feel offended? What do I know about your situation.

More than you think, I am not on some high moral ground, debt free, looking down as people scrabble to pay one debt using money that should be servicing another debt. I have been in debt all my married life.

I started part time working like many children at twelve, my pocket money stopped that day. From that moment I was responsible for all clothes, travel and leisure expenses. Not surprisingly I moved to full time hours as soon as I could as I had a nicotine addiction to service and a growing liking for alcohol.

I married at twenty one and quickly had a mortgage which was small and manageable and a car loan which again was small and manageable. Every financial decision was no longer mine alone, it included my husband and we began a relationship with money that was not healthy. it was poisonous. The car wasn’t good enough, the house wasn’t good enough, and we quickly spiralled into unrepayable debt.

We started fresh in a new country, in rented accommodation, we have lived in some weird situation – a council flat sublet, a squat, a fellowship house ( before I was Christian), on relatives sofas, in rat infested flats, in undesirable areas, in a castle. Weird places, quirky places, and always with the memory of the debt left behind.

Last year I stopped working and among other debts had €10,000 owing on my Visa. Today I am debt free except possibly the smallest mortgage in Ireland and a relatively small car loan. I am saving, managing to have holidays and generally not living a curtailed life.


By financial prudence in most areas allowing me to splurge on the things I want, holidays and a new van.

How is it done?

By knowing exactly down to the penny where your money goes. My financial week begins on Sunday – both my husband and I tithe to churches, not vast sums and the percentages don’t matter, we tithe. Then the bills get paid, then food is bought, cars filled with petrol and that’s it. I don’t spend outside of Mondays except my luxury – Americano twice a week and my continuing tobacco addiction.

How much do you spend on food?

I spend between €50-€100 per week for a family of four sometimes five. I think possibly this is where I save most money. Everything is cooked from scratch, no bottles or jars, down to making my own curry spices. I grow as many vegetables as I can, and barter with Sliabh Luacra women – jam for bread etc.

UPDATE: Dec 2013 I spend thirty euros a week for three of us

To free myself from financial pressure, I give stuff: I leave books on benches, CD’s on tables, veggies on doorsteps, software to school.

If I lend something out I never expect its return and that way bitterness cannot develop.

If I borrow something I always give it back, again to stop bitterness.

I never impulse buy, and probably drive shops mad as I keep going back in over and over again.

My clothes budget is approximately €200 a year for all four of us including uniforms, I mend clothes instead. This has been a problem this year because I dropped 3 dress sizes and probably will drop another before this year is out, so my clothes are baggy but I have been able to wear older clothes that haven’t seen the light of day for a few years.

I recycle loads of stuff. We were in a house once with one chair and a mattress so I made tables out of cardboard boxes and and a slatted bed kind of a thing from pallets. I have even managed to fix a broken flusher with a carved piece of wood.

My life is not consumed by material possesions, I love technology and sometimes get an urge to get the latest gadget, but I suppress the urge and just utilise what I have. Because God is the centre of my life I think of it in biblical terms and relational terms.

To be continued, edited and rehashed a gazillion times until I get this piece right – if ever.

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