What is the Truth about Budgeting, frugality and living on a low income?

There are so many budgeting sites online, though for me it seems most are for families. The really interesting thing I am noting when I go shopping or seeing things online, is that supermarkets are aiming for bulk buyers, vegetables in plastic, and prepared foods.
I find so often that many of these Youtube and blogs do not really seem to discuss the reality and holistic approach to budgeting, frugal living or even simple living. Often they are just about food.

Budgeting can be affected by so many things. Where you live, how you shop, how you get to the shops. What services are available to you. Government services, doctors, hospitals, child care, education, shops, petrol, all the things you need to live today. For some trying to budget involves seeking work, and going to interviews. For others it requires medical costs and visits to doctors, specialists, hospitals. Paying rent or a mortgage is major necessity and should be first priority in my opinion.
Your income of course, and family size, are important factors in setting up a budget that is realistic and possible for you.

I can cook from scratch, and as I have said previously it is this that helps me save a fortune. I also have a vegetable garden, and encourage people to grow what ever they can.
So it is a single person budget I expound. I encourage single people to learn to cook from scratch. For me whipping up an ommlette

I live in a small populated community with a large area 5,497km² (1358338.2819acres) The Huon Valley is the Southern most Council region in Australia.
Australian Bureau of Statistics Census (ABS 2016)
POPULATION (ABS 2016)
3,069 under 14 years
3,338 15-34 years
7,071 35- 64
3,197 65 years and over
16,675 TOTAL POPULATION(ABS 2016)

I bring this up so you will understand that I we have only one big Corporate supermarket, Woolworths, we also have Several Independent Grocery stores in each of the townships that make up the Huon Valley. However in Tasmania it is called Independant Grocery Austraila. Each store is independently owned, but they form I assume a sort of co-operative for buying in bulk. I personally love my local IGA as they will order things in for you, if you are known to them and you are a bit short they will take a note and you sign it and pay it asap. Very few places allow this these days. I can not imagine the likes of Woolworths, Coles or Aldi, or what ever your large supermarket chain doing this for you. They also carry your boxes to the car if required .

So I do not have ready access to ‘competitive’ pricing as most people who live in cities do. Perhaps the lack of competition is why I have to be a very aware shopper.

I could travel further a field to shop to Kingston but it is 93km return and takes about 40mins each way not including shopping time. Petrol wise it would cost me about $20 approx. So when I look at any savings is it really worth the wear and tear on my vehicle every fortnight, and time.
My answer is no.
I would very rarely save enough to make it worthwhile to make this a regular event.

However if I did have to go to Hobart(Capital City of Tasmania 224,000 people population of the Island state of Tasmania is only 522,327 as 2019 ABS) (a further 20km each way from Kingston), I would certainly try to look to see if there were things that might save money if I budgeted for them.

Most people on low incomes, generally are not able to buy in bulk as so many have rent and other costs that I perhaps do not. So again I am very aware that I am very fortunate.
For me I have to have a car to get to the shops. I have no public transport I can catch the school bus occasionally but it is not really aurthorised the drivers just know how hard it can be for locals. I take a freezer carrier bags and reusable material shopping bags. I take a shopping list. (I do not always stick to it believe me).

For my budget not going out saves me money. I usually go shopping once a week.
Budgeting and living simply (frugally) are often shown to be by people as just shopping. To me it is far more than this. To really budget you Have to know how much it costs to fill your car, and how much mileage you get. How much it costs per km/ml. How much it costs for services, tyres, oil, radiator fluid, coolant/anti freeze. Not just the price of fuel.

I do look at online shopping though sadly freight charges are often prohibitive for weighty items. I also do not use online for groceries, as I prefer to pick my own things, and It means I can look at lower levels on the shelves. Though I do see online shopping is spurring an increase in employment in supermarkets as people have to pick out the items to be delivered. (at least here in Tassie).
I imagine it is the same for many people living in rural areas on low incomes.

Most people who live on low incomes are frugal out of necessities. They are not following a trend, nor are they generally able to remain debt free. It can be just the way it is.

I also look at the huge differences in pricing. American budgeting sites especially about groceries seem to be so cheap compared to here in Tasmania. Then I read the comments and find I am not alone in seeing that not just for me but others including from other states in US.

Different countries have vastly different costs for everything, and where you live within that country can have vastly different costs. So for me you have to evaluate and consider your own area and needs, base your budget on only your personal situation.

The other thing that is not always mentioned is what income the family or person may have, nor are the annual costs shared.

I want people to remember that yes some people are honestly sharing how they budget I just wonder as some seem more focused on presentation and looking successful doing it.

Let me tell you I am not always successful with budgeting, as costs spring up and reality of life steps in and sees me eat the same thing for meals over a week or fortnight. Not many people share that on frugal life, or budgeting videos or blogs.

I also have to include in my budget the cost of rubbish removal, I pay to have my rubbish picked up,It is included in costs for my council rates. I do not have recycling as currently I try to recycle at home. Creating compost and worm farms.

Budgeting. I have written before about how I budget. I know how much money it takes for me to live a year all my bills. https://echidna.home.blog/2019/12/29/living-on-a-tiny-budget/

So to truly budget well it is knowing where every cent of your money is going annually. Know your bills and charges if late payment, know how much you save if you can budget to pay your bills annually such as for me registration and insurances, rates. Wood for heating and gas for the year Perhaps my bigger expenses are internet connection, mobile phone, and my dogs food.

I do wonder for some of the budgeting sites online, Youtube, when I see them talking about going from shop to shop how much time, how much petrol is used and how does that add to their cost, and is this actually included in the budgeting.

Blessings to you all Tazzie









Setting up a pantry

How do you begin if you have no idea especially in the cooking, shopping and eating area?

You hear about having a well stocked pantry. What does that mean and how do you achieve that? Why should you have one, especially if you are on a low income or budget.

You do not need to have a beautiful expensive ‘pantry’, hidden behind doors with a sink and whatever. My pantry is just in my kitchen and really it is usually having more on hand, so one in use and one if I run out! For example, I make my own bread often. So I will buy a 5kg/11lbs bag of plain flour I have food grade storage for it. I take about 2kg/4.4lbs and put it in the canister. When I am putting the next 2kgs into the canister I will put flour on my shopping list. As I have to budget for the larger bag, I will see how much plain flour costs and I may only buy a 2kg bag that week.


Having a pantry allows you more freedom with the food you cook. Cooking from scratch is perhaps the biggest and yet for many the hardest place to begin their budgeting and saving money. With fresh vegetables and meat you can make delicious meals, and you can make snacks such as sweet and savoury, biscuits, cakes, pancakes and even pasta if you wanted too.

A pantry is their not for the end of the world I am not talking about a preppers hoard for anything that may come. I guess if you live in China at the moment and were a prepper you would be managing relatively well in the current situation with the virus.

I am really talking about how you can have supplies that you use and LIKE on hand to make things easier for you to be more likely to cook a meal than spend money getting a take -a-way, or home delivery. All which convienient are expensive in either cost or lack of real nutrition. The cheaper meals such as McDonalds KFC Hungry Jacks, and all similar are generally high in sugar and fat. Or have been processed so the actual nurtitional value apart from maybe fibre is neglible.

So where to begin
I have basics in my pantry, and even though there is only me, I buy the best price, generally larger quantities, but not always. The supermarkets are getting savvy to budget shoppers, and now it seems you do have to check the price of each against the other. Looking at the price per gram or 100gms rather than the ticketed price. You have to be prepared to spend some time, in not only preparing a list of what you need in your shopping but also the cost. Otherwise you may be paying to much.

Best Before and Use by dates, now these for someone older are really only a guide to how long things last. It is up to you how and what you do in regard to them. My own life experiences and life before these ‘helpful’ dates is I am prepared to use some items beyond the stamped dates on them. I am not suggesting you do this.


My Pantry.
I have flour, just plain (all purpose) as I purchase baking powder to convert it to Self-raising. This means that I can purchase a larger quantity of plain flour (all purpose).
So plain flour and baking powder are on my pantry list.
I also have rye flour and whole wheat as I make my own bread and like rye bread.

Cornflour/Cornstarch (often in Australia this is made from wheat). So I have to check that it is real corn flour from corn.
Rolled oat, great for breakfast porridge, you can use them in biscuits and slices, and to crumb chicken and other meat. They can be ground to make gluten free flour.

Sugar, I have raw and brown. I usually have white icing sugar, (confectioners sugar)
Bicarb soda (baking soda)
Dried beans and lentils, great to whip up a dahl or a curry to extend a stew reduce meat intake
Rice I have white and brown. which ever you like what ever sort jasmine long grain short grain.
popping corn

I also have powdered milk (for those times I run out of fresh milk or the power is off and I dont want to be opening the fridge up)
I also keep semolina I make a sweet pudding if I am craving something sweet
polenta I use it instead of bread crumbs for meat and fish
I have almond meal use it in cooking, and added to porridge or yougurt
peanuts, I make my own peanut butter but also have them as a snack
almonds
brazil nuts
Currants
sultanas
Home made dried apricots and apples
coffee,
tea
coconut desicated
cocoa powder
stock powder for soup base,

Oils and Sauces
olive oil
rice bran oil
soy sauce
Worcester
sesame oil
mayonnaise
honey
mustard
vinegar cider, white, and balsamic
Home made sweet plum chili sauce

Herbs and Spices
smoked paprika
sweet paprika
thyme,
oregano,
chili
tumeric
coriander,
cumin,
pepper
salt
nutmeg
cinnamon
powdered ginger
Vanilla essence

Tinned Goods
tomatoes
coconut milk
beans
chick peas
baked beans
sardines
tuna
tomato puree

Jars
home made jams
peanut butter home made
vegiemite
anchovies,
pickles,
relish green tomato home made

I also have frozen vegetables
butter in the freezer which I buy on sale
meat also when it is on sale I buy extra and freeze it.
I also buy 1kg block of cheese when it is on sale and cut it up and freeze it.

I grow garlic, so have fresh garlic most of the year along with herbs that I grow.
I also grow vegetables, parsley, bay leave, onions, chives, spring onions, corriandor (so I have seeds to grind for cooking), garlic chives, fruit, and hazlenuts.

This is my basic pantry. I do not have biscuits or chocolates in it as I can’t I eat them in one go. sigh
It is a lot of food. You will notice I do not have tins of soup. I prefer to make my own and freeze it.
I also make my own bread mostly so very rarely have bread in the freezer.
It seems like a huge amount to have to get together. The reality is you begin simply. Buy one or two extra items if they are on sale and/or you can afford it.
Over time you will find you have things to assist in flavouring and preparing delicious home cooked meals. It helps with making simple food taste extra tasty.

Do not buy something because it sounds interesting or just because it is on sale. Only buy things you know you will use. It is not uncommon for people to get caught out buying something because it was on special or sounded interesting.

Herbs and spices can be a big on here. Buy only what you know you will use, and these sorts of things are best bought in smaller quantities.

Herbs and spices keep best in a air tight jars. Don’t be caught out paying the hefty extra price you might for a jar of herbs or spices. Wash up the jars from other items you buy and the lids, store your herbs in them. Or if you must buy the jar, do it only once then buy the bags and refill the jar. Dried herbs and spices are best kept out of direct sunlight.

My pantry has helped numerous times when I have had unexpected bills, or been ill and not able to go shopping.
Here in Tasmania most of our supplies are shipped over from the Australian mainland. We are supposed to have about three days worth of food available in supermarkets if for some reason shipping stopped. Which did occur quite a few years ago in the dockers strike. Another good reason to have a good pantry.

I am also a great believer that cooking extra and freezing it is always a good idea.

I am happy to answer or discuss the idea of having a pantry.
My pantry is maintained by ensuring I know how much of everything I have on hand, and adding it to the shopping list of things I need to buy. For me it is as simple as a list on the fridge. I use a wipe off marker and write how many or much I have and generally when I need to buy another one.

It is YOUR pantry no one else’s so you only have to please yourself and your family.

I am so thankful for my ability to have a pantry, and grateful for how it has helped me over time.

blessings to you all
Tazzie



Frugal tips to keep cool

It is the end of January and I have just looked at my out door thermometer which is on the eastern-south side of my home, under cover of my porch and has green deciduous plants covering it. The temperature was reading 38dC in the shade 100dF. It is 1.30pm eastern standard daylight saving time, for us it is horrendously hot here in Tasmania.

I watered my Rhubarb this morning and had removed big leaves and steams off three days ago, fingers crossed it picks up.

I

My frugal way to keep cool in my home with only a fan no air conditioning is to close all the windows, to draw all curtains before the sun hits any of them. Even though my curtains are cover my windows and are insulated rubber backed ones, the sunshine is still hot in my home.

So I was in my car one day and realised that the windscreen cover I put on my windscreen internally was excellent at reducing the heat inside my car.

I purchased a whole heap of windscreen foiled type sun shades. With some gaffa tape I stick the sunshades on my windows behind the curtains.

It works a treat for me and the dogs we are all cool. If the evening is cooler than the inside house temperature, which it usually is here I will open the house up once the sea breeze comes in and the temperature has become pleasant enough to open doors and windows to get the cooler air into the house.

One of my neighbours asked me if I was cooking up meth. I laughed and said no, it is my way to keep my home cool on hot days.

I bought the windscreen sun shades from BIG W three years ago, and they were only cheap about $5 each at the end or close to the end of summer. There were bigger ones and better quality but they were much more expensive, and these do the job I need well.

I am very very happy with this method of helping to keep my home cool.

When I worked nights and slept during the day. In summer I would freeze large plastic storage containers full of water with a lid so a two litre container. I would than get it as I went up to bed and set up my fan so that the breeze skimmed over the container. I got to sleep with a cool breeze, and if I woke up and was hot I would grab another one replace it and get more sleep.

I also will have a few freezer blocks and use them on my person as you would a heat block, but to cool down. I have also sat with my feet in water with a freezer block in the water. Sigh bliss.

Your wrists are one of your areas on your body that if you cool will help cool you down, I will have a ice pack and place it in a towel and put my wrists on it, and behind my neck.

keeping hydrated and reducing sugar intake is great sugar will make you hotter

If you do not have air conditioning it really does help. For hardly a lot of money and both of these frugal tips will last you for many years.

Nutritionist Kerry Torrens advises Ice-cold lollies, slushies and ice cream might seem like natural choices when you want to cool off, but they may actually do more harm than good. “Cold food and drinks might give you an initial cooling effect but it’s short-lived,” says Kerry. “That’s because consuming food leads to an increase in temperature as the process of digestion is heat-generating. This combined with the rapid cooling initiated by cold food and drinks means your body over-compensates by increasing your core temperature. So you may actually end up feeling hotter than you did to start with!” That sorbet doesn’t sound so appetising after all…

Drinking something hot on a sunny day might feel like the least appealing thing to do, but warm drinks can actually help regulate your body temperature. Kerry says: “Hot drinks make your core temperature rise and that makes your body want to cool down so you sweat more to lose heat through your skin.” ‘Thermogenic’ foods like spices and chilli also increase body temperature as they kick-start our metabolism. This promotes sweating, which has a cooling effect.

Makes sense when you think about India and the Carribean, Mexico, Chile and Thailand, Malyasia, other countries with hot temperatures and a diet with spicy and hot food.


I will have cold water in the fridge and flavoured cold teas, some I have made much better and cooling with no sugar added to keep you cool and hydrated.


I give my dogs a yogurt ice block I make for them just using greek yogurt no flavouring or sugar. I dont give them too them until they have begun to melt as it may be too cold for them straight from the freezer. They love these and my cool carrots, I place carrots in the fridge and they munch away on them they seem to really love carrots and chilled on a hot day, brilliant. I dont let them outside and we do our exercise in the cool if possible as I am aware of how hot the ground, tar and cement paths can be on their paws.

keep cool

blessings Tazzie

Frugal shopping?

You may have seen the following photograph and true story doing the rounds of social media very recently. I do not see it as a frugal shopping education yet some people are sharing it as such.

The Launceston woman said they tried to purchase the most value for money “basic” food items and the most popular cigarette brand.

“They were surprised at the amount of food you can buy for the same monetary value,” the grandmother wrote.

She bought a popular brand of cigarettes, which cost $56.95 for a packet of 40.

She then posted an image and receipt of all the food they managed to buy for almost the same amount, including breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks.

Ms Kerrison and her grandkids purchased a variety of food items for $56.85 – from a few packs of Woolworths beef sausages to Zafarelli pasta, fruit, milk, cereal, cheese and other snacks.

She bought a popular brand of cigarettes, which cost $56.95, to teach her grandkids about what you can buy in food with the same amount of money. Picture: Facebook/ JudyKerrison
She bought a popular brand of cigarettes, which cost $56.95, to teach her grandkids about what you can buy in food with the same amount of money. Picture: Facebook/ JudyKerrison

“Must say, I hope this exercise has made them aware of life’s choices … and not to take up this habit,” the grandmother wrote.

Her post has gone viral with almost 10,000 comments and more than 16,000 shares.

The visual illustration of the cost of smoking left many people stunned, with Facebook users describing her challenge as “quite incredible”.

“Sometimes folk really need to visualise something and you did this beautifully, I hope all the friends and relatives will be inspired to give up when they see this. Again, thank you!” one person wrote on her post.

“Well done for putting this really great demonstration of what a choice can do,” one person wrote.

The grocery bill. Picture: Facebook/ JudyKerrison
The grocery bill. Picture: Facebook/ JudyKerrison

“20 smokes a day at $25, basically go to Italy twice a year,” another observed.

“Well done! Awesome experiment … what a valuable lesson,” another person added while tagging their friend.

“That’s right, I agree, I gave up smoking 8yrs ago now n there’s no excuse, it can be done, thankyou for sharing this!” said a third person.

Many reiterated that Ms Kerrison’s challenge was a “great way to make a point that involves them (the grandchildren) and they physically see the difference”.

“A lesson they will never forget. Well done,” one said.

http://www.northernstar.com.au/news/startling-truth-about-grocery-bill/3931607/

I am not a smoker. I do not know how any one on a low income can afford to smoke and buy food. Especially if like me he or she is on Newstart. Yet people do. I would love to know how. I certainly couldn’t and I own my house and have no debt.

You need to know that Australia has the most expensive cigarettes in the world. You also need to know we have very strict laws about where you can and can not smoke. You can not smoke in or around any where that serves food, you can not smoke in your car if you have children in the car. There are specific areas of some venues and restaurants that you can smoke in. It varies from state to state. You should look up the rules if you are traveling to Australia.

blessings Tazzie.

Thankfulness.

Being on a low income means I plan for the future (12months any way) in most ways. About this time of year I begin to think of my wood supply for winter. I have been fortunate with having a fantastic wood supplier. It is an interesting phenomenon where I live you can have one a great supplier one year and then the next they have vanished. So to have the same one for quite a few years, is wonderful. The added bonus is that he no longer takes anyone else on preferring to maintain his long term customers.

I rang him on Sunday it was all good. So I began to think how to budget for it. 4 tonne at $120a tonne. A great price same as last year, and $30 a tonne cheaper than other suppliers. So I am assuming most will have raised their prices this year. I was thrilled.

It is a lot of wood and I need to move it and stack it..

Monday morning I woke up and was in the loo, not yet dressed, I heard a vehicle slowly approaching my driveway. I looked out the window and saw a ute loaded with wood. It was reversing down my driveway. I quickly finished threw some clothes on and raced down stairs. Grab my car keys and outside. I moved my car to enable the ute to go where I wanted the wood dropped. My brain working overtime, as I had zilch dollars to pay.


The guys reversed in and dropped the first of two loads. I went up to my wood man, explained the situation. He said it is all cool mate. I know where you live. You just have to love living in a small country area, where trust is still there. Of course my thing is not having debts so my benefit is due this week I will put as much as I can towards this bill.

Last year the wood was not delivered for two months, I had time to save. For me the fact is I have enough wood now for the winter. The bonus will be my heating bill will be paid in full before the end of February. It is a good feeling. I also have kindling on hand with my trees that drop branches and leaves. I have also been using the toilet paper rolls with the wrapping (paper ) that comes with them as an insert these will also be fire starters. I also go collecting pine cones. Brilliant fire starters.

Added to this I was thinking about buying a new pair of winter shoes/boots. Something feminine as I do tend to live in my walking boots during winter. I have an old pair and a newer pair so at least I have a change if one pair gets wet. I was sitting at a cafe having coffee with a friend and a lady I have met came up to me and said I have been trying to find a home for these would you like them. She gave me a pair of boots, Black with a rose pattern on them. I said oh thank you yes. Her only request was if they did not fit me to pass them on to someone else. I assured her I would.

My friend looked at them after I had shared my story of wanting some new feminine shoe/boots for winter and advised me not to get disappointed, but they did not look as if they would be wide enough for my foot. I felt they would…well I hoped I really hoped.

I put them in my bag and kind of forgot about them. I guess in a way I did not want to find out they were too small. So today I have tried them on.

New winter boots.

They fit. They are a bit long, and I have fat ankles but they fit my wide foot. I am so delighted. They are probably not what I may have picked for myself. Yet at the same time they were free, go with most of my colours and as I have said in other posts I am not a fashion follower. Perfect shoes for going into town or our in during winter.

It is warm today not super hot but muggy. We are supposed to have rain by this afternoon and cooler conditions for a few days. Nice. I picked some more sweet peas, and I do like sweet peas perfume and in my upstairs loo it is the only air freshner I use the sweet smell of flower or herbs. I am not any good with chemical smells. They also look lovely. A lovely greeting first thing in the morning.

100% natural air freshner.

hmm maybe I should try and clean the upstairs windows at some point. Cobwebs everywhere. It is a problem of a rough sawn timber building and I don’t mind them. Helps keep insects down.

Oh the blow flies and house flies have been bad this morning. I was reading that flies are not keen on peppermint oil. I have some really good quality peppermint oil and rubbed a drop on my fan. It worked all the flies have left or hidden. Away from the smell. Simple pleasant. I have my windows and doors open as I have also read that it is not a oil that dogs are good with. My dogs can come and go as they please. There is plenty of fresh air.

I end this post with so many things that have made me thankful. I am thankful for:-

kindness of people, community, support, my dogs, fresh clean air, flowers, simple pleasures, plenty of wood for winter, cobwebs, new shoes, my garden, my home, my life, waking up each morning, enough money to live on, food, clean water, the fact I have water, my car.

blessings Tazzie.

Reality of living with CPTSD for me may be triggering for others.

When you have C-PSTD and you are really working hard to utilise strategies to minimise reactions to triggers especially those that are overwhelming angry. It is so so frustrating when you just can not seem to make headway.

I am on a Government Benefit here in Australia, called Newstart. It is for those of us who are unemployed. I am very appreciative that we have benefits available to us. Even though this one has not kept in line with the real costs of living. There was a increase in September 2019 which gave the average recipent a $3.50 a fortnight increase. Not even enough to buy a loaf of bread and a litre of milk!

That is an aside, as I have shared here I manage on this low income $578 AUD $397.30 USD /305.25GBP/358.22euro. per fortnight/two weekly. I manage because I own my home out right and have no debts. I do without things at times, and will live on simple cheap nutritious meals when I have to for unexpected costs.

I have been banned from going into any office of Centrelink (the government organisation that manages Newstart and other benefits, payments, and pensions. I said F..k as a descriptive word not directed at anyone and I was upset, loud, frustrated and bewildered by the system. I never threatened anyone or abused anyone. I remained seated and was loud. It was all over the wording my GP had put on my medical certificate that means due to my mental health illness I am not well enough to work or look for work. I have tried volunteer work and a free unit at uni both of which I did not manage.
My Gp had written that I was permanently unable to work. Centrelink does not like this as if I am permanently unable to work, than I should not be receiving Newstart but a disability pension. There lies the problem. My GP will not write anything other than permanent and Centrelink will not accept my certificates. (They want it to say temporary or exacerbation). I the unwell person am caught in the middle. The result of this kerfuffle is that I am banned from entering or speaking on the phone to anyone at Centrelink.

The original ban was for three months which I felt was unjustified. I asked for a review and now I am on a 12 month ban, which is actually 13 1/2 months sigh.

I have been assigned a personal case worker. Which as everyone else says is brilliant, and it is in a way as you only deal with one person, they have to respond to you in a certain time frame. It would seem ideal. I can only phone her, and she has to contact me back if she is not available.

Now the reason I became angry frustrated is part of my CPTSD is that I find ridiculous bureaucracy, and security questions, such as this triggering.

When I ring this person I have to speak to someone else first I guess reception, never mentioned in the letter explaining what I have to do, so that triggered me as I follow the letter to the nth degree so as not to have issues down the track. I firstly before speaking to a human have to enter my Centrelink number and use my access code. So it frustrates me that I then have to give them my full name address and date of birth. I asked why to be told it is for security. I commented that any of my friends, family or someone who might have stolen my wallet would have all that information, so not very secure! You get a picture of how I am. I am triggered by this seemingly pathetic security check. Even if the person rings me she wants to know this information too. Sigh

It starts the whole process of badly. I have been in touch with my local member of federal parliament whose office is brilliant. I vote for her because of how much she really tries to help the community she represents, even though I may or may not vote for the party she is with. One of her office people has been helping and they have a number they can ring for this sort of thing. I was advised by this person that in future If it was required that I contact them or they me a letter or a message would be sent to me advising of a phone call coming. The number is always unlisted and I do not answer unlisted calls. Unless I am aware of someone contacting me as in this situation.

I have had disastrous contacts with this person, as she just really does not understand that my reactions, are not something I can control once they have reached this point. I have hung up in the past so I do not get to the angry frustrated me, but the flee me instead. She was annoyed by that, too. I have been told by her to calm down, and that always works! Of course not. I have been sobbing just trying to get through what ever I have to to meet the demands of the Centrelink bureaucracy. ( which can change at any time) with this person, and I can honestly say I don not believe we have had one successful phone conversation. She is supposed to be in a specialised area working with people who have been banned for what ever reasons. many I imagine with mental health illnesses chronic pain, I am sure there are some really bad people too.

This most recent episode I responded to the letter, I rang first thing in the morning as soon as the office hours opened. I spoke to a lovely woman who told me my case worker was not in as yet. I was ringing as the case worker had rung me the night before at 5;17pm I assume she left it until last thing. Because I had no notice of her ringing, and I had been waiting for a social worker to call me(who also has caller id withheld number) I answered. I was upset as she said who she was and then asked me for my name address and date of birth? SHE RANG ME! (I live alone they know that) She has also spoken to me before. So I was triggered by the unexpected call plus the checking details, I had no ability to do my preparation to attempt to minimise the triggers. I was also upset that she had rung at this time. (phone offices close at 5pm) but she can call me after this? I still had one day to attend to what I needed to and was trying to get a social worker to ring on my behalf with me. To avoid the very situation I was now in.
She got so fed up with me, and I am sobbing saying the MPs office told me I would be messaged, before you would ring me. She said she did not have to! Seems no one talks to each other in Centrelink. I said she did. She just told me to let her talk and I was falling apart. I did not want to dissociate on the phone which I could feel myself doing, so I hung up
I was still crying and my little dog, climbed on my lap and licked my tears, she is like my support dog, she picks up on all my emotions and really will try to bring me back when I am triggered.

Back to the lovely woman at reception who talked to me as my case worker was not in. I explained my mental illness and that I am meant to be messaged if a phone call is going to be made to me. She assured me this would be done.

Imagine then two hours later, I am sitting out side having a coffee. The phone rings, again I think it may be the social worker, but no. It is the case worker. No message!
I begin with I am supposed to get a message before you ring.
She it says on my computer you were sent one
me well I have not received one
she well Im on the phone now,
me I am not up to talking with you, I am waiting for my social worker to phone me so she can talk to you.
she it will only take a few minutes.
Me I am waiting for my social worker to ring you so she can talk to YOU on my behalf!
Me What part of I am not up to talking to you now do you not understand?
she don’t speak to me like that,
Me I keep telling you I have a mental health illness, I can not deal with you today, I have been advised by the ministers office I will be notified by Centrelink of any phone calls via messenger or a letter. I am waiting for my social worker to contact me so she can talk to YOU!
My computer says one was sent, it was sent.
implying what says I ?
I hang up.

I ring to find out what is happening with my social worker, to find out she has been off sick all week? Oh I meant to ring you says the woman on the other end of the line. I cry and she says she will see how she can help when I tell her the situation. If I dont talk to this case manager by close of business today I may not get my benefit next week.

Another social worker from a town 40km away contacts me and is wonderful she gets onto my case worker, explains she has my permission to talk. The social worker phones me back in the afternoon and apologised but she can not get the information on my behalf as I need to have a letter of authority by my social worker before my case manager will talk to anyone. FFS!

I’m exhausted, I ring the government ombudsman office to be told there is nothing they can help me with. they advise me to ring a NGO Advocacy service I ring them they suggest the OBUDSMAN’S office. I ring that office back informing them that it is not in their scope of practice to deal with Centrelink complaints, I am them advised to ring another community group in Tasmania, who inform me it is not in their scope of practice either I ask what that means. Basically there is no funding provided by the federal government for these organisations to help with Centrelink problems. Again I am told to ring the OBUDSMAN’S office. I inform them of this with this organisation too. I ask is there anyone in Tasmania that can help with some one with a mental illness and serious issues with Centrelink? No!

I ring my MPs office, let them no that I have no avenues of support available, and they are very apologetic, they have done all they can as they are not a support service. I understand that and say I am very very appreciative for all the help they have given me. I just want to inform you of two things, that there is no support service in Tasmania that gets any funding from the government to assist people with mental health illnesses and issues with Centrelink. Oh I thought so and so did, I say no not in theirs or this groups scope of practice, legal aide send you to the first group and the government obudsmans office sends you to the two groups that can not help you as they get no funding and it is not in their scope of practice. A form of discrimination for people with a mental health illness I believe.

So here I am being a advocate, for my own situation and imagining how many other people with mental illness are out there battling Centrelink, with no support and who just give up. The Government wonders why incidents of verbal assault anger, abuse, physical abuse, assault and aggression face to face and over the phone with staff at Centrelink offices is increasing.

I do feel for the staff, and at my little office there are some brilliant staff. It seems they are not able to help it is someone who travels from Hobart to manage the office(she was my first contact).
From a mental health nursing perspective, I see how hard it is on the staff. They should be trained, and supported, but they are paid, they get sick leave they get free counseling, they can take paid stress leave The client on the other side, gets no support no pay if they can not deal with the minutiae of the bureaucracy. I am trying to get the disability support pension. 61 pages as an initial form, I gave up filling it in, I had to see a social worker to help me. (I have two degrees! my mental illness impacts me like this).

I have to find a new psychiatrist from Psych 2 U a internet service where you are allocated a psychiatrist generally from Sydney or Melbourne, my first one told my GP I had decided I did not want to see him anymore, which was not true. I questioned him about his methods, (he asked me if I had thought about moving into a over 55s supported village?) I live independently, I hoard but am working on that, I dont shower regularly or wash my clothes because I have mental illness. I find being around people difficult, and I told him only the week before I would like to move as it getting to busy about me up a mountain at the end of the road. He also asked me every month how work was? He knew I was unemployed and having issues with Centrelink. He apologised for that , and as part of my illness when I feel overwhelmed I will flee which I did on this day. I never mentioned not seeing him again.
I have phoned the organisation twice to find out why but he just does not respond.
So now I have to begin the process again , after five months. So I can not be on anything else except Newstart.

I look at the supposed professional who I have to have write a letter in regard to my mental health for Disability Support Pension and who has made no effort to get to know anything about me. I know that psychiatrist often are more about medication, and I am better on the medication he commenced me on. Worth it to me to stay on it even though some side effects are not great. I feel because I have been a mental health nurse I am not so in awe of the profession. I have a brilliant psychologist and gp, both I have been seeing for some time, but my psychologist is not a clinical one and so disability support want me to see a psychiatrist ..I have to stay on Newstart. I continue to practice the things that help me with triggers, and hope that something will work with my case worker. Oh I have still not received a message that someone was going to call me and that was three days ago now.

I am OK I wanted to share this as it is the reality of my life and my CPTSD. It is why I am unable to work, and something I struggle with. I prefer to be on my own and talk and meet people when I am able and in control so I can leave when I wish or need too.
I find that so many people do not understand that after these episodes I am exhausted physically and emotionally, my mental health deteriorates and If I am able to do the treatments I know and use that will help me move through the issue it will take me some times a couple of days before I can deal with anything anyone involved in the issue. I feel ashamed and embarrassed . If I could stop the behaviours the responses I would; but fighting(anger), fleeing (escaping), or freezing (dissociation) are my inbuilt safety survival methods. It is how I have managed my illness. It is what has kept me working living and being a part life. The relearning and implementation of new methods is a long road, and may not be always successful.

Tazzie blessings

The credit card trap

The clock strikes midnight and there is the end to Christmas 2019! Instantly every media area is full of Summer Sales, End of the Year Sales, the news is filled with that retail is concerned about the pre Christmas sales and not enough spending before so their hope is money will be spent at the sales. Credit card debt and personal debt in Australia is increasing rapidly. Yet when I go to second hand shops and tip shops I see so many incredible items with no wear some with tags still on, in great condition. I recently picked up a bed side light for $10. I needed one, but could not afford to buy any new that I had seen. This was a solid metal durable movable one. I had seen similar new for over $80.

I think I have mentioned previously I do not own a credit card. I learnt the hard way how credit cards can cause financial problems. I had one as I was looking at buying a house. I had previously had a personal loan for a car, and I assumed this would be enough to provide proof of my history for paying back the loan. I was knocked back for a mortgage as there was not a recent credit history!

I struggled to comprehend how this could be since I had no debts. Seemed the banks did not like that.


It was suggested I get a credit card, to establish a credit history. Sigh. So I did. I requested the lowest amount as my limit. $1000 AUD. Well the out come was I kind of got carried away with what I could now buy! I spent more money than I earned and before I knew it my balance was $1000. I paid it off $200 a month as I was paid monthly at that time.

Then Christmas was coming and I wanted to give friends and family great gifts. The balance on my credit card was about $500 at this point so I contacted the bank and requested an increase in the value of my line of credit. They put it up to $5000 it went to my head. Christmas coming and friends saying lets go for a holiday to Queensland. I was in spending heaven.

I listened to things my family and friends said they would like for Christmas and went and bought the dearest thing they mentioned. I want to make them so happy. I said yes to the trip and paid airfare accommodation on the credit card. I felt so excited. It was going to be a brilliant Christmas! I also had the trip to look forward to in mid January. I had no savings, and was just paying the minimum monthly payment on my card. I worked and bought take away food and coffees everyday. I also went out a lot socially dancing and eating out with friends. I was living the life.

Christmas came and my extravagant gifts were appreciated. I felt so good. I was now looking forward to our holiday.

On arriving home, I was so happy. I had had a lovely Christmas. One of my friends rang a night or two later and said lets go grab a meal. I said OK. Nice meal and we laughed and enjoyed being together. The bill came and I put my credit card on the table to pay my share and my friend put cash. The waiter took it away but a short time later came back and said I am sorry but your card has been declined. I was mortified. I walked over to use my debit card. Insufficient funds. Oh my there must be some mistake. My friend fortunately had enough cash to cover my share and I said I would pay her back as soon as possible. Which I did.

I paid a bit of the card to get it back under its limit but in not too long it was up again and I struggled to pay anything than the minimum payment off, I ended up paying a few dollars more to bring it back under the limit. I was still spending on it though.

I went to pay my electricity bill a couple of months later and my credit card was declined again. Not only that they informed me it had to be cut up! I was so embarrassed. As this was a final demand or my power would be cut off if the bill was not paid by that date.

On the way home I checked my bank balance $3.60 woah! (I would not be paid for two more weeks). That was all the money I had in the world! I was over $5000 in debt and my power was going to be cut off. I had some groceries and a bit of a pantry even back then. However if my power went off my fridge would not work nor my fully electric oven or the microwave or washing machine in my rental flat. I was very fortunate at this point in one way that my rent for the month was taken out the day my monthly pay went into my bank account.

I was going to be two weeks before I had any more money. The power went off on Friday afternoon, and I went all weekend with no power. I was so up set and shocked at my situation. I was going to a family dinner on the Saturday night, and realised I was going to have to tell them my situation.

I did and it was bad, I was so upset at myself and embarrassed, and neither parent would lend me any money as they thought is would be better that I really learn the lesson of living on what you earn! I was devastated as I really believed they would rescue me. I left early returning to my dark flat and cried angry tears at them for not helping me.

I ate some really weird food over the next two weeks. I had no social life, as I could not bring a plate, or go out to eat. Or even a coffee. It was work, home hand wash some clothes, work out what I could eat. Let me tell you cereal with water is not very nice. But it filled a empty stomach. I ate cold baked beans, and spaghetti no bread. I ate cold tinned soup mixed with water cold. I was incredibly fortunate I was renting a unit water still operated even with out my power.

When I finally got paid I had to pay a re connection fee and the bill.

The good news with this experience was I have never had a credit card again! I live quite OK with out. I only live on what I have and budgeting and shopping lists and my pantry have been the difference. I pay my bills when they come in. I don’t wait until the due date, as If I have some money in my account after my costs I pay some of it off the bill and when my next payment comes in I pay the rest. I will even pay extra on them.

Why on earth would anyone do that? It gives me some wiggle room. Now I am on a very low income I have to be very aware of when my big bills are due. My home and content insurance and my rates. I am very fortunate that my council has quarterly payments, as this year for the first time I am paying the quarterly but even then I pay more if I have it.

When my insurance is due, I usually do a few weeks of spending very little if I have not been able to budget enough fortnightly to save for it.

The most interesting thing is I don’t really recall the holiday I took, or what I purchased, the place I ate out or clothes I bought. I had fun and the friends I was so generous with are not in my life anymore. The regret I have is how much I spent and that I thought I could buy friendship. I regret extending the credit card beyond my financial income and needs. I still would have been able to go away on the holiday.

Did the credit card help me get a mortgage it must have because when I re applied for a mortgage I got it. What having a credit card did for me was to put me in a situation I never wanted to be in again.

I was really hurt and angry when no one in my family would rescue me. As it is this episode of tough love was the best thing they could have done for me in the long term. It changed my mentality.

I may live on a tight budget and am frugal. I still can afford to meet up for a coffee at a cafe (as I don’t let anyone into my home that is another post). I look at what I have. I am not against anybody going to the sales if they need something.

The things I am really thankful for are that I own my home out right, that I have no debt. If I was not in this situation when I had my breakdown and was so ill mentally I have no idea what would have happened to me. Even being in this situation I did have thoughts of suicide. I can not imagine what might have been if I in such a secure environment had these thoughts, how much harder it would be if I was paying a mortgage, or renting. I would have lost my home, not been able to afford to rent. I may be homeless living in my car not working. I know this is a situation for many people. I know I am so rich and fortunate. I have a good roof over my head. I have clean water to drink, I am content.

I don’t have children. So again this does make it easier in so many ways for me. I still believe that if you have a mortgage you need to be paying this off first and foremost. If you become ill or loose your job, how will you pay for it? Perhaps you have income insurance, great ..

I have spoken to a someone I know recently as we were talking about finances and she asked me how I could live with out a credit card. I said pretty easily really. Firstly even if you do pay you full amount off every month you still have to pay an annual fee for the privileged of having a credit card. She is also paying a mortgage. We chatted about how much a month she spends on her credit card it was a lot to me. She is on a good income. I asked her did she need what she spent on her credit card, or was it she wanted the things. She looked at me. I looked at her and said that is how I began to realise how to pay off my debts.

If you need something that is fine. If you want it, why do you want it. Look at how much you could save if you added that to your credit card debts/mortgage. (This is another post in the near future)
I said to her CUT UP YOUR CREDIT CARD! You can learn to live without it. Using cash brings you back in touch with the value of money. You take it out of your bank account…you have to hand the money to pay for the things you need or want. You begin to see where YOUR money is really going.

I am fortunate as on a benefit I have a bank account that I do not have any charges on. (Thank You Bendigo Bank, I get nothing for saying this). I pay cash for nearly everything.

Perhaps it is living in a rural town community, that makes a difference. If I don’t quite have the money to pay for the groceries on the day, and I hardly ever do this, but my local independent grocery store will let me pay it when I can, usually for me it is the next day. I also use local tyre company and they will let me pay off tyres (set of 4) I am also able to get an interest free loan up to $1000 through a government scheme. So there is a support there if I needed it. I have filled up my car and gone to pay, and not realised that my automatic payment for my internet was taken out leaving me less money(i know my dates now) and fortunately the guys at the petrol station no me, and I could pay them next week. I do not make a habit of not having enough money. I now check my balances and make sure that I have enough petrol to get me to my next payment date. though life can cause things to happen where petrol is required to be used that I have not budgeted for.

I do not have savings per say because extra money is usually earmarked for a bill in the future.

Perhaps the most important thing for me with my Complex PTSD is that I keep my stress as far as possible to a minimum. Being debt free has helped immensely with that. Learning to be content being at home has also been a saving bonus and a joyful thing. Part of my managing the many issues that my illness can cause me is minimising things that I may get anxious about. Distressed about, so knowing where my money has to go is the first step in my planning for the next 12 months. Anything that I can put in place to help me manage helps me to live in more contentment. Not having debts. Huge HUGE

Tazzie

Garden Update

(c)Echidna Home 2020 Bumble bee came to sit near me as I was weeding in one of my veggie beds

The bumble bees were certainly out in force this morning when the dogs and I decided to get out in the garden. A bit of weeding and checking if the veggie beds needed watering. At present they are all OK, a job for tomorrow I think in the morning. All the ollas have water still in them, and the soil is still damp when I push my finger in near the plants furthermost from the ollas.

As I settled in to weed the birds that come to my birdbath and live in the garden and surrounding area, were singing, and chasing bugs. I watched mesmerised as the Weclome swallows swooped and dove one scared Busby it flew right over his head. The wrens were hoping about and sitting on the fence waiting for me to move so they could come and see what I had been doing and check for any tidbits I might have uncovered. Unlike the black birds who just come along mainly after I water and shift all my mulch and labels about. I don’t think I really mind. Lovely to have the music of nature as an accompaniment to your work.

(c)Echidna Home 2020 Another bumble bee on a leek flower.

I had placed news paper down and was going to lay my free wood chips from the company clearing the power lines. So there is a wonderful mix of all sorts of timber, leaves, bark, chopped up in it. Like many things for me if I really do not focus on something, I do some and get distracted there bye not completing the whole job. So the news papers I laid down to cover the weeds and grass has blown about in the wind we had yesterday afternoon and last night. I am not going to fret about it as I will be able to get more newspapers from my local library to lay down and cover to form paths.

(c)Echidna Home 2020 Three sisters bed is taking off finally.

I am so thrilled that the Three sisters bed is taking off. I actually picked a bean and ate it. It was a bit of impulse that I should have refrained from as it was very small and well a day or two longer and it would have been great.

(c)Echidna Home 2020 oh joy the corn, beans and pumpkins are looking great.

Everything seems to be happy with the weather. I had to add some more climbing bean strings as there are so many tendrils they were all entangling themselves along the ground. I sat and sorted them out, winding them up the strings. The corn is growing but it seems somewhat slowly. Any ideas how I can get it taller My pumpkins which are butternuts have begun spreading. Yeah one bed of possibilities.

(c)Echidna Home 2020 Busby came to help out in the veggie garden by chasing the skinks about

Miss Treacle was off doing her own thing. Busby came in to see how he could help me in the veggie garden. He decided that chasing the skinks was the order of his work to help. As long as its skinks and not snakes all is fine. They are way too clever for him.

(c)Echidna Home 2020 Tomatoes the one in foreground has little tomatoes on it. Lettuces growing and capsicum far right corner getting taller.

Both the tomato plants in this bed are flowering and if you look closely you may even see some tiny green tomatoes. Lettuces good and capsicums look as if they just might shoot up. The marigold in the corner has taken off and is flowering. I put it in here to help with bringing in the bees and insects, to help with pollination.

(c)Echidna Home 2020 look closely you will see a tiny tomato or two
(c)Echidna Home 2020 I did not include the brassica bed last time.

I forgot on the previous update to show the brassica bed. It seems the cabbages have been eaten or turned up their toes. Not one out of the four I put in is to be found. The broccoli is shooting and getting tall. Even my nettting did not stop the cursed white caterpillar moth laying eggs on them. Since my garden is small I prefer to remove the caterpillars by hand. Kale in the far left corner and silver beet in the right corner I left them there to attract the moths. Ah but no!!

(c)Echidna Home 2020 destruction and can you see the culprit hanging below

My method for removing the caterpillars is to run my finger over every part of the plant, looking in every nook and cranny. Often as I am doing this I will see caterpillars drop and hang underneath as in the photo above. I just catch them and squish them in my fingers. I continue looking as not all will drop off. It can be really hard to see the little blighters.

(c)Echidna Home 2020 my hand with a young caterpillar from the white cabbage moth

Especially when they are first hatched. This one is pale yellow but as they grow from eating your lovely green leaves they become big green ones. They can be really hard to see on the green stems and leaves. Which is why I don’t just look but run my fingers over every leaf and into the new leaves forming, where ever a wee caterpillar might hide.

(c)Echidna Home 2020 This is a large rwhite cabbage moth caterpillar sadly about to meet its end.

This caterpillar above is larger than the previous one and is more green. We know why that is! So i squish them all. I then cover the plants with my net and fingers crossed I have removed all of these. I will check tomorrow.

(c)Echidna Home 2020 A stunning flower. No idea what it is







If anyone can tell me what this flower is and the plant it is growing on. I was sure it was a vegetable. I thought it was one of the plants I bought home from Crop Swap. Incredible flowers.

It was a pleasant morning in the garden. Miss Treacle came in and sat next to me panting, as if to say come on its too hot out here, I need a nice cool drink and comfy chair to lay in, in the cool inside of the house. She leaned right into me and that was not enough for her. Oh no she likes to make her point. She climbed up onto my lap, and than looked up with her big brown soulful eyes, and looked directly in my eyes. Whats a good dog mamma to do?

t(c)Echidna Home 2020elling me its time to go in way to hot now

The only thing. Inside we went. All three of us. I did a load of washing and hung it out. Such great drying weather. There is nothing I like more than having a shower and going to bed in fresh clean sheets dried by the sun. I hung all our doonas over the rails of the upstairs deck. I will feel so amazing hoping into the sun scented sheets. It makes me feel rich.

Tazzie

Living on a tiny budget.

In response to someone asking how I budget /manage on Newstart (government benefit for unemployed adults here in Australia.) here goes.

I own my home out right, I have no debts. For these things I am eternally grateful. Especially when you wake up crying and cant stop, go to your doctors, and never return to work. A breakdown, no savings, no income, a diagnosis of Complex PTSD relief it explained so much for me.

For five years I have been on Newstart and have not had any debts. I save when I can. I live within my means, and I don’t have a single credit card and have not for over 16 years. I have never missed it. I find it liberating. I generally shop with cash. Because you are far more conscientious when you are shopping with cash.

I don’t pay water as I have water tanks and I don’t pay sewerage as I am on septic. I have wood heating, gas for cooking and hot water. My water pump fridge and freezers use most of my power. I also have an electric blanket for winter to take the chill of the sheets. I sleep with my bedroom window open all year.

My annual budget simple.

I receive $574 a fortnight for Newstart $14,924AUD A Year. All dollars in Australian dollars.
I work out all the actual annual costs I know I MUST meet.

Rates $ 706 concession taken off This is the first year I have had to pay quarterly rates but our council does not charge extra to do this.

Electricity $ 530 concession taken off

wood $ 720 6 ton

Gas $ 449 45kg LPG bottles.

Gas fee $ 80

Insurance $ 776 House/contents $440,000 $52,000

Dogs food $1430

Petrol $1430

NBN $ 828 Internet

Netflix $ 60TOTAL

$7459 divided by 26 weeks to show how much my definite costs will be out of my Newstart payment$286.88 a fortnight.

I have to ensure I have just for these costs. So $574 -286.88 = $305 a fortnight left.Now I have to think about tyres, and services so lets say 1200 a year 333.04 divided by 26 =12.80 a week

$292.20 a fortnight left.

Oh I have to get my paddock cut $40 a time, this year 3 times $120 =$2.50Dog registration $70 for two dogs, $2.70Basic shopping fortnight, 4 litres of tasmanian milk $4.30 for 2litres, 1dz free range eggs $6-8 depending on size sometimes I can only get large ones. Bread if I buy it and I usually do in summer $3.95 a week $14.25 basics a week.these last three items paddock, registration and basics for food add up to $19 a week $38 a fortnight

$254 a fortnight left.

RACT road side assist Tasmania $198 a year. I have to have ultimate, as any where i go basically is more than 32km from my place in the country and when your car is 15+ years old good thing to have. $7.61 a fortnight

$243 a fortnight left.

Medication $6.50 month

$239.50 a fortnight left.

Groceries varies, between 30-60 a week, depending. Every so often so lets say $45.00 a week

$ 149.50 a fortnight left.

This is as simple as I can make it. I am happy to go into anything further. I realise that I am very very fortunate to have that amount left. If I saved it and I do save money I would have $3,874 in savings in a year.

This year I have had to buy a New water tank, $1400 and three months ago my SUV 12 years old engine ceased, $6000 for a new engine could not afford to get it fixed, I had put four new tyres on the SUV I kid you not three weeks before it died cost $1000 I advertised the car $500 advertised the tyres for $700 NoT one nibble! new vehicle for me $1000 One of my dogs ate something that made her very ill $700 later. this year too. $4100 unexpected costs. over the last 12 months.$157 per fortnight over the year cost.

-$7.50 a fortnight over spend. Yes the final figure is minus $7.50 a fortnight. Lucky I had some savings in the bank.

Right now I have no savings, The new year begins and I am cutting back on groceries using my car, not going out, so that I can begin to save again.

This is how I do it. All my needs are met and I can think of nothing I want for myself or my home! I am on the whole content. I do eat out occasionally it keeps me in touch with people. Anyone with Complex PTSD, Depression, anxiety knows that if we close ourselves off we can go down hill. I believe that you have to live with in your means. That the only thing you should ever go in debt for is a house. I do understand that owning my home out right and having no debt makes a huge difference. I also do not have to look for work as part of my unemployment management, as my mental illness makes it impossible for me to work or volunteer. I have tried volunteering I had to leave suddenly. You have to be reliable and for me I can not guarantee that I can. I have also tried to study I was doing free online course through uni. One unit. I was getting good grades, but all of a sudden it all just became to much for me. The paper work and reading overwhelmed me. So I can not work and I am going through the process of applying for Disability support pension. an arduous task there are 61 pages of form and my mental health makes it impossible for me to deal with it. Thankful to have a lovely community social worker helping me. Humbling experience for someone with two degrees.

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