Living

Jacqui and I have nothing; all our savings were lost in one of those financial debacles of the eighties, and we were too old to be able to recover from it! But like most situations, there are enormous advantages to be gained from being poor – it’s all just a matter of attitude.

One of the few advantages Jacqui and I will enjoy is that we will get an increase in our pension, rather than a reduction. We rent our home; the total value of all our household chattels is about $42,000, (that’s furniture, TV, linen, kitchen utensils and personal items), and we own a car that is now worth something like $8,000 – and that is it; we are so far below the limit that it’s out of sight!

We couldn’t afford private health insurance after our ‘crash’, BUT we do get free or almost free, hospital treatment, dental care, visits to our doctor, and subsidised medicines.

We also pay a reduced rate for such items as car registration, light and fuel, water, train, and bus fares – plus several free trips a year, to anywhere in Victoria, driving licence fee, postage stamps and many other services, which we have been fortunate enough not to need as yet, but they’re there when the time comes!

Add to all this the ‘Seniors Card’ which most of us carry, offering us discounts at many businesses throughout the country, and I believe we do pretty well, as long as we don’t try to aim too high.

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As I said at the beginning, it’s all a matter of attitude – think positively, grab the available opportunities and don’t try to live up to the standards you were used to when you were earning a good salary or wage. Jacqui and haven’t had a holiday away for many years, but we go on day trips to Melbourne (travelling free on the train).  We also spend days on nearby Ninety Mile Beach, Lakes Entrance or Philip Island and come home in the evening feeling just as good as if we had gone to Brisbane. 

We rarely go to the movies, but record films off the television to watch at home, when we want to. We eat out with friends on one evening of the week, when I will usually also enjoy a couple of glasses of wine, with once a week being our limit for affordability. Jacqui is a brilliant expert at buying good quality, nearly new designer clothing at ‘op shops’ and she always looks lovely in the stuff she buys. (This one doesn’t work so well for blokes – anything of theirs available in an op shop is usually worn out to threadbare, whereas women can only wear stuff about twice before so-called friends start talking about them behind their backs!)

We shop every two weeks, (when the pension comes in), at Aldi because they are much cheaper and their quality is excellent. It’s nearly an hour’s drive to our nearest Aldi, but even paying for the diesel to get there and back, it’s still cheaper than our local Woolworth’s, AND we get a day out in another town as well – another mini-holiday. If you set your mind to it, there is so much you can do to make life cheaper, but still, extract a good amount of pleasure from it – I say yet again, it’s all a matter of attitude!

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Jacqui and I are fortunate that we can both paint and write, two skills that can bring us a little extra income as well as occupying us and exercising our brains. There are many other things a pensioner with an enquiring mind can do as well, some of it profitable, some of it just for the good of the soul! Volunteering at your local hospital can be very satisfying, as can joining Lions or Rotary, both of which also admit ladies now, then there is making jams and sauces to sell in local markets, as well as craft items, or even making and selling your own soaps.

My suggestion is, don’t sit around and mope about your situation, but accept it as it is and make the most of it, just keep it all within boundaries you can afford, and you might be surprised how much pleasure there is to be gleaned out there, without significant financial cost to you!

What advice do you give those in the “tight budget” boat? What tips to you have for saving money?

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