I call it frugal. Others might describe it as mean. For someone on a fixed income who has enjoyed a high standard of living but is now struggling with reduced savings and rising expenses, the only sensible answer seems to be: stop buying things.
In my lifetime, Ireland has gone from being a poor, relatively backward country to a consumerist American society where a broken dishwasher or not having hot water on the tap 24 hours a day is viewed as a family disaster.
So today I am formulating a set of House Rules which, if I have the courage to implement them, could force some of my adult children to leave their homes and take refuge in some poorly built, overpriced Celtic Tiger condo with walls like this Thinness that you can hear the neighbor draw the curtains (and other things).
Let’s start with the big items before delving into the microeconomics of the household budget.
The heat doesn’t come on until November, although I may be able to allow the wood stove to be lit as I have a good supply of wood I cut myself, some of it from dumpsters.
We live in an old, poorly insulated house, but I’ve always found that if you want to stay warm, you put on a sweater or walk around the block and when you come home you don’t feel the cold.
The heat doesn’t come on until 5 p.m., which might be a good incentive for some homeworkers to return to their offices, where their employer can shoulder the burden of keeping them warm during the day.
Let’s face it, we live in one of the most temperate countries in the world. The idea that we should always be warm is neither healthy nor economical.
I don’t want to appear callous to the old and infirm who may need more warmth than the rest of us, but the minds of young, able-bodied people complaining of “fuel starvation” are a little rich when you look at it most remembered The Irish lived in damp and draughty homes with only an open fire to heat them.
Leave the car. OK, that’s easy for me as I’ve spent most of my life cycling and using public transport.
But consider how much a car costs, the cost of buying a car, the depreciation in value once you drive from the showroom, the annual cost of taxes, insurance, parking and gas.
In case you haven’t noticed, “they” (the gray bureaucrats who dictate how we live our lives) have already decided they don’t want people driving and are making it so difficult for those who do as possible.
If you can’t bring yourself to actually get rid of it, cut down. Keep the car you wanted to trade in for a few more years. Get a bike (electric or other) and let the kids walk to school.
Save tons of money by walking to shops and elsewhere.
Michael O’Leary tried to convince us that we are one of the wettest countries in the world. He was wrong. Whatever the case, a worthy investment in good rainwear will get you through the worst of Irish weather.
Far too much washing is done in this country.
Brendan Behan used to recall that his grandma washed up once a year “whether she was dirty or not.” It’s a repulsive thought, but the pendulum has certainly swung the other way.
Before I started, members of my family would often turn on the shower and then wander around the house, letting the hot water flow down the drain until they remembered they wanted to take a shower. This day is over.
We’re entering the realm of the three-minute shower—if you can’t get clean in that timeframe, tough.
Supermarket shelves are crammed with stuff that makes you smell, as an old boss said of me, “like a whore’s purse.” You don’t need it – opt for a bar of soap instead.
We spend billions on chemical cleaners and all those horrible over-advertised stuff that kills 99 percent of germs. We need germs, they are part of us.
Why does today’s generation need to wash their clothes after wearing them once? It’s expensive and bad for the environment.
And you can really save money by turning off the tumble dryer and hanging out a wash.
People want to save the planet but leave lights on throughout the house – turn them off.
All new purchases are prohibited. Our home groans with unused clothes that have arrived during the pandemic by a caravan of couriers, some of whom I now know so well I’ve invited them to Christmas dinner. I’ve taken bags of unworn clothes to charity shops and clothing banks, but the closets are bursting at the seams. I’ve even found items with the tags still attached.
The world groans under the weight of cheap clothes. My (unheeded) advice for years has been: buy less, but buy better.
Since that obviously didn’t work, the only solution is a total moratorium on new clothes.
I have to say I saw the birth of bottled water and, like the internet, thought it would never catch on. Another environmental disaster.
I remember an ad agency running a campaign for “water you wear,” as if walking around like an idiot with a plastic bottle of water would somehow make you more attractive.
The water that comes out of the tap thanks to the much-maligned Irish Water is as good, if not better, than anything you can buy in a plastic bottle. So buy one of these fancy containers and start using what the lunatics on the left made sure we got for free.
The thorny issue of alcoholic beverages isn’t that straightforward, but it looks to me like what’s commonly referred to as “hospitality” is pricing itself out of the market.
I recently sat outside a trendy pub in Ballsbridge, Dublin and ordered a pint of stout and a branded gin and slimline tonic – €17 the waiter said with a smile. I will not return.
Saving money on drinking is simple: don’t drink too much. That’s a few friends lost on that short phrase, but the truth is, it’s better for your wallet and better for your health.
Liver is one of those things I can’t get at home anymore.
Modern families turn up their noses at offal and canned goods. So I’ll probably be alone on this part of the money-saving journey, and since I don’t shop, this is the weakest link.
I went to C&N Meats on Meath Street, Dublin 8 and for under €7, less than the cost of a trendy coffee and scone, I got enough liver for three healthy dinners. Just me and Bertie (the dog) enjoyed it.
I then went to the local Aldi and bought 10 cans of sardines and mackerel fillets for 45 cents each.
OK, my breath might not have been scented, but it was 10 lunches (with a bit of salad) for less than a cup of tea and a bun.
Like many people who grew up in frugal Ireland, I grew up eating cheap cuts of meat like pork and bacon (ham once a year), vegetables, potatoes and stews.
My kids only eat breast or tenderloin of their chosen meats and they don’t think twice about eating pre-cooked meals (which drown in all sorts of nasty sauces) and take-out meals that are both expensive and not very nutritious.
There is cheap food that is good and healthy, you just have to find it.
There are many ways to save money, but there is no easy answer to the throwaway consumer society that has gripped Ireland for the last 50 years.
Before you complain about the rising cost of living, think about how you can avoid it and do your part to save the planet.
The only real problem is this: if we all give up the car, eat liver and sardines, wash with a bar of soap for three minutes every day, and generally stop buying things, the economy is likely to collapse because of the shock system.
https://www.independent.ie/life/how-to-ease-the-cost-of-living-dont-wash-eat-tinned-fish-and-lay-off-the-drink-41942249.html Here’s how to save on living expenses: Don’t wash, eat canned fish and refrain from drinking