The cost of living

Before moving to south Wales, both B and I worked in a supermarket, which not only meant we were eligible for the staff discount, we were also in the right place at the right time to stock up on the reduced to clear items, from bread to veg, that were being sold off at silly prices to avoid dumping them in the skip (and, for the record, in defence of supermarket staff across the country, we were only allowed to shop in our time, so could only make said purchases on our breaks). These two things, combined with the fact that we put two large pigs in the freezer and our hens were on a daily egg-laying frenzy, meant that we lived relatively cheaply.

As a result, while I knew that the cost of living has risen drastically in the past year, I wasn’t expecting the shopping bill to be as high as it has been. And the scary thing is that we don’t eat the expensive stuff. Never have. There are a few items where we pick the branded item out of personal preference, but on the whole, we can’t actually tell the difference so buy the cheapy-cheapy stuff as a matter of routine. Which means that we don’t really have anywhere to cut our costs.

So for the past couple of weeks, I’ve been trying Lidl and Aldi and I have to say that they really aren’t that much cheaper that Asda, which is where we normally shop. Aldi certainly isn’t cheap (I was quite taken aback by their prices, I must admit) and while Lidl is great for the cupboard items (flour, herbs etc) and offers fantastic value on items you can’t really get anywhere else, I haven’t found it to be that competitive and for the sake of just a few quid, I’d rather have the range of products on offer in a supermarket like Asda. Especially as I’d have to go there anyway, as they do the cheapest dog food I’ve ever come across. 95p for a 2kg sack of complete dog biscuits! A bargain!

Ok, there are things we could do to reduce our costs – it just means that quality will have to take second place. I hate that, but what choice is there? Bye bye fresh veg and meat, hello frozen…

Next year should be a bit different, as I intend to have a garden full of fresh produce, which should cut costs for a good long while – especially if I can find a way to store a lot of it for winter. Not counting the potential for jams etc!

But, that’s then and this is now and I wish I could understand why healthy living costs more than crap.

Moving on …

How is it that we’re still in the situation where if you are on a metre, you get charged more than if you had free access? Our rented flat has both electricity and gas on a metre and the costs are appalling. We barely use the gas – the boiler’s switched off unless we need hot water for washing up, we don’t cook long elaborate meals (see above)I frequently get in the bath after B, and the heating isn’t on. What the hell we’re going to do when we need the heating is not something I like to think about but tomorrow’s October, so that time approaches fast.

So why the hell do they get away with charging us more for exactly the same product?

What really irritates me is the knowledge that if we were in a position where we could afford our own home, our living costs would be greatly reduced. I wouldn’t have to drive back and forth everyday to do the pigs and chickens so my fuel bill would be negligible. We wouldn’t have a metre. We could install a log burner (and an open fire!!) to reduce our heating bills. I’d definitely invest in going off the grid when it comes to water. We would pay less each month for a mortgage than our rent. I’d be home all day so I could do useful things like bake my own bread, make loads of stews and soups for the freezer…

But, sadly, that’s a pipe dream and a post for another day (there’s one brewing, I can feel it).

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3 responses to this post.

  1. Tell me about it, I swear my food bill is going up £20 a week, so I’m now getting free food from my Mum, who’s just started her own ‘Good Life’ project and then doing creative cooking.

    Also I’m with you about the meter thing, you’re paying up front so why should it be more expensive?? I think the government were supposed to be cracking down on companies that do it, but I don’t know if they’ve ever gotten around to doing anything about it?

  2. Posted by LittleFfarm Dairy on 6 October 2008 at 7:57 am

    Hi there Jo –

    would like to exend our sincere thanks for your kind words, regarding our LittleFfarm Dairy Blog! Love reading yours too, expressing Life just how it is for those who really live rather than simply drift through existence.

    The ‘Green Thing’ is such a challenge for so many….we’ve composted/recycled/grown food/saved energy when & wherever possible for ages, now. We don’t even have central heating – just two woodburners & a Rayburn (although admittedly the latter costs us a fortune in oil). And yet not only does any & everything (especially energy-wise – our electricity bills are frightening now we’re running the new milking parlour) seem to cost a fortune, our efforts are often sneered at by others, as ‘futile’. Well; we shall continue to do our utmost in terms of ecological/economical sustenance – it’s not that hard, surely….?!

  3. Mum’s got an oil-fired Stanley for heating and water and the cost of running it is terrifying, though the heat it kicks out is amazing. Before that, we had a wood-burning Rayburn but Mum’s back got so bad that she couldn’t continue chopping the wood. You can get loads of wood for free – if you know where to look! – so that would make a difference, but what you save in costs, you have to make up for in time … which closes the never-ending circle quite nicely, because who has the time when you have to go out to work?!

    It’s enough to give anyone a headache!

    But no, I don’t think it is that hard, I just think we’re conflicting with the expected lifestyle of the western world in the 21 Century. We’re not meant to grow our own, we’re meant to eat it out of mass produced plastic containers.

    Which I don’t get because it tastes awful! Having eaten home produced food, I can now tell the difference as soon as it enters my mouth, which sucks because we’re stuck with the cheapy cheapy stuff for now. But at least my palette has something to look forward to!

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