Making do….and doing without.

One could actually argue that things like toilet bowl cleaner and bathroom deodorisers are not actually necessities in life but in the interest of modesty and sensory comfort these things are nice to have. I have always bought these things on special and stocked up a little, I am running out of stuff like this now. As our grocery budget is down to very little I don’t want to buy these sorts of products, to all intents and purposes they are not necessary items. Every week I am coming across little things like this and make decisions whether to go without or make something myself. These from last week:

Toilet Duck: Generally the only other cleaning solution I use is vinegar with a small squirt of detergent but toilet cleaner seemed a bit different. Stuck with an empty bottle I decided I could make something….water, vinegar, baking soda, a little detergent and a few drops of tea tree oil. Guess who spent ages filling a bottle with a weird neck with a funnel, turning it this way and that till finally had 3/4 bottle and was satisfied. Only then did I decide I didn’t need the stupid bottle anyway and any old bottle would’ve sufficed! This worked really well, is nice, fresh, clean – but shouldn’t have been shaken at the end because the baking soda and vinegar frothed up in the bottle. A totally different method is called for next time lol. Mix in a jug and use a different bottle.

Bathroom spray deodoriser: Over the years I have collected odd used bottles of essential oils when I’ve seen them in thrift shops and garage sales for nix so I have a wee stock of them. I filled the spray bottle with water, added a nice mix of oils (violet, rose and lemongrass) in just tiny amounts so not overpowering, and a teaspoon of glycerin which acts as an emulsifier. Very pretty scent, it’s natural and actually hangs around alot longer than anything else I used.

ANTS!! We have never had ants, ever. So last week when I saw a few on the bench I thought they had just come in on something from the garden and wasn’t concerned. The next morning I was horrified to see a small army of them on the bench AND through the dehydrator full of dried figs I hadn’t emptied the night before. Ew! and blast them, what a waste. Google solves all problems and I found two solutions. Spray with white vinegar because ants sniff out their trails to return somewhere and put little piles of cornflour (cornstarch) around, they will eat it, take it back to their nest and it kills them. I haven’t seen any since…which is really good because I tend to get phobic about yucky things eg flies (ants as it turns out!) around food. Which reminds me of a problem we had with a field mouse when we first came here. I cannot stand spiders but think mice are pretty cute as long as they don’t live in my house and I don’t have to handle them. So when we had one living in our kitchen my answer was to get a humane trap…. at $11 this was alot dearer than any alternative method for extinction. For two weeks the mouse would eat anything in it and just wonder in and out of it at his leisure, it wouldn’t work. In the end I was getting so wound up about a mouse in my pantry I bought a trap. 10 minutes after setting it it went off, mouse caught and me (the oh, so humane one) dancing around the kitchen with glee saying “I finally caught the little b……d!!”

Dog biscuits: We needed some, I had veges in the fridge that needed using so made my own. They get meat so these just need to supplement and will now be a regular thing, they loved them.

Hot water cylinder insulation: We had been discussing the need to get our power bill lower and insulating the hot water tank. The cheapest we could find was over $90 but we had half a bag of ceiling batts leftover so that’s where they have gone. Incidentally, we paid $50 to insulate our ceiling with recycled batts….a guy Roger knew was collecting them as he helped demolish a house and selling them for extra money.

Glasshouse ๐Ÿ™‚ After 2 years of collecting windows and materials Roger spent the weekend building a glasshouse for the grand cost of $22 (two little windows purchased) and after alot of hours, banging, sawing and expletives, it’s finally together, ย it just needs painting now and I think it’s pretty sweet….and I’m pretty impressed with my husbands tenacity in doing all this with a yucky cold!!

I finished work about 5 weeks ago and money is definately getting alot tighter. We have chosen to do this which makes it rather alot different to those who simply have no choice about being broke. We realised it would be a challenge but we were up for it. Still are, we are liking it this way but I must admit to a fair few moments of sheer anxiety as I realise there is no money for any little transgressions off our path – and what if…?! We really need some savings, there are no credit cards, no nothing. On a very mediocre one wage there is a need to be really vigilant about spending, we find we are thinking about things in different ways. Example, $2.20 TV guide that just goes in the trolley every week. It’s only $2.20 but for $105.00 approx a year do we really need one, I don’t think so and why the hell was I still buying it when we have cut down on so much else!? Everything’s a mindset. I don’t NEED a gardener magazine once a month because we know how to garden and have a computer, I still have to argue myself out of the habit of just grabbing one because that’s always been a treat for me. At $9 that’s $108.00 a year. Little things mount up, 10 little things is alot of money. I occasionally like a glass of wine but go through most weeks going without….but another week it matters and I’ll buy a cheap bottle of wine because I deserve a b….y wine once in a while! We live 26 km from town and I go once a week only, $10 for gas is better than $20. It’s made me really aware of all the extra little things we spend money on when we have it that we don’t need, especially if there two income earners. We always had one takeaway meal a week, chinese or similar but not now….that’s almost our grocery allowance.

We don’t feel deprived of anything, we are doing just fine. Our needs are being met and that’s alot more than many can say. There is a difference choosing the option of going without as a lifestyle and having it forced on one by necessity! We are both very grateful for the opportunity to be able to do this, our lives are alot richer for it and I truly mean that. This year has been about working towards a goal of being able to live on the bare minimum we could – I guess most people would call that very weird. We will make the choices that enable us to do it – such as not needing a TV guide when we have a ‘master remote controller and flicker-arounder’ in the house ๐Ÿ™‚ At the end of the day we don’t even NEED the TV, do we, let alone a magazine to tell us what c..p is on it for our viewing pleasure.


16 thoughts on “Making do….and doing without.

  1. How very true, when I had to struggle and wished for a little more to be able to spend as a single mother it was a burden. Now it’s different, I have chosen this life to fit my values and am happy with what I do have.


    • I hear you. It’s also alot easier to do when there is only ourselves to think about. Caring for kids and being broke is not a happy place to be. I have vivid memories as a young mum, sitting in the kitchen late at night, feet on a open oven door with the oven going on low (cheaper than running a heater) and undoing one of my jerseys to knit two for my little folk because I couldn’t afford to buy even a second hand one. I was 18, always hungry, and it was tough. I kept re-reading The Dwelling Place by Catherine Cookson to remind me others had much worse and survived. I still have a copy, that book kept me going ๐Ÿ™‚ At that age you still believe a knight in shining armour is going to come into your life, you just dream…..!


      • I never had to go so far as to make clothes from my own, you were definitely resilient. I had a thrift shop where every clothing item was .10. Prices have risen today its .25 but that’s still cheap. It was having to say no to things other children had, that while not excessive, I couldn’t afford.


      • We never had thrift shops at all where I was. I am amazed at your prices, the cheapest we can get here would be $4 – $5!! Our cost of living is pretty high but it’s all relative, when I see what the wages are in other countries I am shocked. Yep, it’s hard not to be able to give your kids everything you wish you could.


  2. LyndaD says:

    Dog biscuit recipe, please. Photo of glass house please. (I’ve got access to some windows and i cant give them away, ive tried). Im glad you have the opportunity to choose simple living. For the last 5 months we had it forced on us and now that Hubby has a job, its going to be hard to keep it that way. I can see the glee in their eye looking at catalogues. If we have lived on one income for 5 months then we can keep on doing it and the mortgage can start to move. Great Post.


    • I will post a photo of glasshouse once he has painted it, right now it’s a mix of white, timber and shocking blue, it looks a hodge podge! Some people might not appreciate it’s beauty/character right now lol. It’s good your husband has work Lynda, it’s a very different thing when circumstances are just imposed on you, I’ve been there and it’s not nice – very different to consciously choosing and working around it. We are fortunate our kids are all adults, we have the luxury of being able to do it. If we had mouths to feed the insecurity of no spare money would be stressing me out no end!
      We are paying our mortgage over 15 years instead of 25….will save alot of money but makes things a bit tighter now……every little bit there makes a big difference later ay.


  3. Try a mix of salt and bicarb for the toilet in a shaker and then in a spray bottle some liquid castile soap and water. Shake around the powder and then spray. Scrub with your loo brush and hey presto, shiny toilet. Add oils to you r castile soap for a pretty smell.
    Still chortling about the little b…..d that you caught in that trap. Made my evening!
    Frugality is a habit as much as luxury. You will get there and already you’re stopping to think about what you buy. In regards to your glass of wine, some cask wines aren’t half bad (well, I’ve seen some that weren’t) and they are cheaper and last longer. It might be worth having a look but it’s another of those mentality things.
    We’ve ditched the tv since we moved and we watch things on iview now or dvd on the laptops instead. I have to say I don’t really miss it all that much.
    Oh, and polenta grains work on ants too. They take them back and feed the queen ant who can’t digest the stuff and she dies. Once she’s gone the rest of the nest is a goner.


    • Ah, cool, I have polenta if I need something again. We are both pretty frugal by nature and never really have had alot of money but this whole year has been about low spending to pay off bills so we could have a life we were happier with, to give us more control over things. We didn’t anticipate me giving up work but we had put ourselves in the position in which we knew we could do it, at a long stretch lol. I used to only drink cask but my reasoning now is, if I bought casks I would have a glass most nights, if I buy a bottle I make it last a week then don’t buy another for a couple / few weeks….works out cheaper in the long run. I’m a very moderate drinker just sometimes want one glass one evening. I’m pleased you had a giggle, my husband thought it was the funniest thing at the time..he had expected me to be all sad at killing something lol.


      • Your wine logic works for me. ๐Ÿ™‚ I’m a non-drinker these days but many moons back before I married my husband I was living with a friend who kept a cask of wine as he’d have a drink with dinner most nights.
        I admire that you’ve given up work and are dedicating your all t living a simple and frugal, yet rich and fulfilling life. If only more people would realise that having stuff does not make you happy, the world would be a much better place.


      • This suits us, but I know I know it’s not the norm really. We went to stay with friends at the beginning of the year and my husband was talking to the guy about TVs, this guy told him he was scared to buy the TV he wanted, all $8000 worth because he knew it would be outdated in a year. I looked over at Roger wondering what he was going to say…he told him “Wow, we only paid $50 for ours and don’t give a shit how old it is” lol. No airs and graces there ๐Ÿ™‚


      • lol. We had one of the old box ones up until 3-4 years ago and only upgraded to a flat screen so we could move it to a better space saving location. And it wasn’t a very big one either. It was a good brand but we neither wanted nor needed a big one and paid a tenth the price of your friend. My parents however went top of the line 3D blah blah huge blah blah etc. They watch a LOT of tv though.


      • Different strokes for different folks ay, people need to get their pleasure where they can….most people I know have great big things, but then they can afford paid tv on demand etc etc and that’s what they do with their evenings. I certainly don’t begrudge them what they like, not my life to say ๐Ÿ™‚


  4. I won’t mention to Roger that you are talking about not needing the t.v. if you don’t ok? ;). I love this post. We penniless middle aged hippies need to stick together and sharing how we do it rocks :). Cheers for the hints and tips especially that toilet cleaner and deoderant spray. I am going to fossick in the fridge for that bergamot oil I found at the last garage sale I went to and am going to press it into use. Have you tried making wine? Easy Peasy and the results can be quaffed to good effect, you end up dancing on the table in your undies and you wake up without that horrible headache (so long as you didn’t drink 10 bottles yourself that is ๐Ÿ˜‰ ). I am going to copy and keep these hints, cheers for sharing and kudos on the simple living ๐Ÿ™‚


    • Yep, anything that helps!!

      We have our own wine brewing away at the moment and we taste tested it and pretty b….y good!! We had wanted to make heaps but with both working etc the days and weeks got away on us and so much else to do. Next year will be the year! Dancing on the table in ya undies, gosh I haven’t done anything like that for a lotta years….lol, that sounds like something that would blow the cobwebs away!!


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