Thursday Thoughts # 48

from Bones Never Lie by Kathy Reichs

"I had the window seat this time, watched as Costa Rica disappeared beneath us.
When I could stand the silence no longer, "wonder what the weather's like in Charlotte"
" Continued dark overnight, widely scattered light by morning.'"

from a Harry Dresden novel by Jim Butcher

(Harry-rescuing a runaway child)

(child)"I see all these Disney shows about how much parents love their kids. How there's some sort of magical bond of love. But it's a lie." She laid her head on my shoulder and I could feel the exhaustion in her body as she sagged against me. "There's no magic."

(Harry)I fell silent for several paces as I carried her. It was hard to hear that from a kid. A ten-year-old girl's world should be full of music and giggling and notes and dolls and dreams- not harsh, barren, jaded reality. If there was no light in the heart of a child, a little girl like this, then what hope did any of us have?"

My thoughts today:

I was watching Today Tonight recently, and there was a segment with a man who had quit his job (or got fired or something) over problems with the company and the wife spoke up saying "we're living on the bread line. We're living on Cup-a-Soup and Two-Minute Noodles".

Perhaps I misunderstood her, but I'm also living on the breadline and I certainly can afford more than packet soup and instant noodles.
Possibly she has circumstances I am unaware of. 
Mortgage, car payments, kids in school. 
Maybe she is simply feeling a little panicked now that his wage is no longer coming in.
(I hope it isn't a case of living above their means and now not being able to pay the bills). 

Maybe my first thoughts on hearing her were too unkind.

But even when I was working, with kids at home, my wages low, (I'm an unskilled labourer), I had rent to pay, kids in school or doing their own job searching, no husband to help out, (he left us) and we sure as heck didn't live on instant noodles etc. 

We bought cheaper food, things on special, went to the market for fruit and veg; and we cooked. 
Real food, sometimes in large enough amounts to freeze for later meals and leftovers were used the next day. 
We even had desserts - cakes, puddings, brownies, yum. 
Rice pudding, custards, mmm.
We ate well, no one was ever hungry. In praise of my kids, no one ever complained either.
We budgeted every dollar and set aside small amounts towards electricity and gas bills. 
Lights were turned off when not needed. 
(I'd done that all my married life, so was used to it.) 
I had no credit cards either, things were bought on the lay-by system.

I know many people who live on very little and do it very well. 

People just need to reassess their priorities. 
Buying cheaper cuts of meat and slow cooking a casserole isn't as much fun as eating out, and washing the dishes isn't as much fun as seeing them whisked away by a waiter, but it can be done and there is no shame in it. 
Home made soups are often nicer than canned soups - and don't have preservatives or other unwanted ingredients.

Buy a smaller, cheaper-to-run car, or use public transport, join your local library instead of buying brand new books for a while. 
Wear your clothes and shoes for more than one season, brand new each year simply isn't necessary.  
You won't be fashionable, but you won't have those credit card bills either. 
Perhaps you could plant your own seasonal vegetables.
Readjustment may be hard, but can also be worthwhile.

When circumstances improve, you may find you continue to live cheaply and save the extra money for something fabulous. A holiday abroad perhaps.


  1. And, change your clothes when you come home from school, into play clothes to wear outside. If children go outside any more. We got packs of new underwear for Christmas, and once I got a wastebasket for my birthday. It can be catching; Emily, my granddaughter once wanted only a desk for Christmas.

  2. We need to rethink lots of things!!

  3. Kids today have no concept of living within their means. They not only want it all, but they have to have all the top-shelf products. They do not understand sacrifice. Not all of them, but I knew a few.

  4. It sounds as if it was a sound bite for television. Or she needs some budgeting lessons. Or perhaps while her husband was working they were already balanced precariously at the top of their budget. A slow cooked, home cooked, meal trumps rather a lot of restaurant ones for flavour, nutrition as well as price.
    We too lived within our means. And still do.

  5. I agree, River, with everything you've written.

    I'm on the Aged Pension and am solely dependent upon it; I don't have any nest eggs hidden away, nor do I own my own home. I rent. I eat well - at home. My cupboards, fridge and freezer are always well-stocked. It a lot of fresh fruits and vegies. My car is a little second-hand 2001 Toyoto Echo .It gets me to where I need to go and back again; and that isn't far because I have no desire to travel far and wide.

    My clothes aren't designer clothes; they don't need to be. One doesn't have to spend a fortune on clothes to look nicely dressed. I think I look okay when I go out and can match it with those with a hell of a lot more money and assets than I have. I have no desire, though, to "keep up with the Jones'".

    I don't have any credit cards, only a debit card. My needs are simple. There is little I do without. Of course, I'd like to be more comfortably off, but it is what it is and I'm doing okay.

    In our household when I was a child there was little money to spare, but we always had clean clothes on our backs, shoes on our feet and always had good, home-cooked food on our table. I've reverted to those days, I think! :)

  6. Cut your cloth to fit.......I forget the rest. My mother has never had a credit card, thank goodness but she was and still is an inveterate user of lay-by. The worst that can happen with lay-by is you lose the goods if you don't eventually pay. Then credit cards arrived and they have truly been the downfall for so many people. Just from the little I know, people can get themselves into shocking levels of debt they would otherwise not have if they did not have a line of credit. While it is down to the card users, financial institutions need to take some ownership of the problem too.

  7. Joanne; I remember changing clothes after school; the clothes being shaken, folded and placed on a chair ready to wear again the next day. Even the playclothes were folded at bedtime to wear again. Shoes were polished every Saturday. Underwear for birthdays and maybe a new dress, more often not. Book and toy, just one of each, for Christmas. I did the same with my kids and they never seemed to mind, we were happy.

    fishducky; far too many people have got used to living above their means, with no thought as to what might happen if it all comes crashing down.

    joeh; the lure of "instant" money and "you can have it NOW" has too many in its grip. The young ones laugh at the way we did things "back in my day".

    Jac; that's very true and have you noticed how good even a small amount of plain food can taste when you are really hungry?

    Elephant's Child; that was all we heard from the wife, perhaps they cut the rest of her comment so we heard it out of context, we'll never know. Perhaps they were precariously balanced budget-wise, but again that indicates they may have been over stretched a little, with no emergency savings plan to tide them over.

    Lee; I don't yet qualify for the aged pension, I have a part payment from Centrelink, a booster because of being on such a low income for so long, now I also have a tiny, tiny, trickle from my very small super account. the weekly amount falls quite a bit under the statistical amount printed in the papers a while ago. (if your disposable income is this amount or less you are living in poverty)
    But I live reasonably well. I rent, eat fresh fruit, home cooked meals and save a little each week towards electric and gas bills. My biggest advantage, I think, is that I don't have a car, don't smoke and don't drink alcohol, all of which are money gobblers. I buy clothes only when what I'm wearing falls apart, I recently threw away seven year old sneakers and bought new shoes. Over 50% of my outer clothing is secondhand. I don't care two hoots about fashion, comfort is far more important to me. Yet I don't feel deprived.

    Andrew; I haven't had to lay-by anything for a long while. I used to go to the stores just after Easter each year and lay-by things for the kids for Christmas, then the grand kids; now they are grown too and a card is all they expect. Credit cards are a downfall for too many people (instant money, have it now) and you're right, financial institutions need to take some ownership; I remember many years ago one well known company was sending offers of credit cards through the mail to even young children of 15-16. Banks too, are a problem. Young couples go in asking for a loan for house or car and all they need is XXX dollars, yet the banks offer larger amounts and the spiel attached is so convincing, the kids take the extra without thinking how they will manage repayments if jobs are lost for any reason.
    and have you seen those ads on TV where people can't afford something and a costumed nit-wit pops up and says "need cash? just Nimble it, approval within an hour"
    I learned very early that if you can't afford something, if you are unable to put aside a few dollars to save for something, how will you manage to put aside a few dollars to make the necessary repayments on a loan, however small? On top of all that, far too many people forget about the interest rates on these loans.

  8. When I was young, food was first to keep us healthy because we couldn't afford a doctor's bill. All I wanted was to be rich enough to own lots of books and I'm still not rich but I own lots of books.
    I don't know why I'm always shocked by hearing that a 21-y-o has a credit card of $20,000 but they have two or three. I have a small one that will be paid off one day but emergency vets like to be paid and that's my safety net.

  9. I just love this post so much. I quoted you on my blog. I wanted to share this with everyone! :)

  10. One mof the best dressed women at our senior center gets all her clothes at Goodwill or Salvation Army stores. It is the way she puts them together that counts.

  11. R.H. very little, and I'm grateful. It goes up a bit every time the pensioners get a bit extra from Centrelink.

    JahTeh; food was my first priority when the kids were young too, then money set aside for the utilities. Now it's pretty much the same, except I don't have the kids to feed and clothe. I don't have a credit card either. If I need any emergency cash I'll take it from the amount set aside for utilities.

    Happy Christine; thank you. I'll come over and have a look.

    Sharon; welcome to drifting. I know a few women who look very well put together from secondhand clothes. I'm not one of them. I have no dress sense at all and often look terrible. Clean, but not stylish.


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