No such thing as a simple life on my one acre in Tasmania with my two dogs.I try to grow food, wrangle chickens and the native and non native wildlife share the land I call home. Life with CPTSD and ADHD not been easy so I share about it all. Low income, a bit frugal, real life My Life.
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
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.
I find it an interesting thing that people are selling up to have a simple life. How it will be a wonderful thing, that changing their lives will be the most incredible thing and to live simply will be so easy. I do hope that anyone considering the simple life really examines what they expect and want or need in their new simple life.
What is the simple life really?
I do not believe it is the picture that is out there in many peoples minds. Yes moving and growing vegies, chooks and other animals, living off grid maybe, which seems to be the concept seen most as the ideal of a simple life is not my belief of what a simple life really is.
Living a simple life is to me learning what is really important in your life. Looking at all avenues, and for some people it may be just learning to stop. and just be, comfortable in the stillness and quiet for a few moments. It seems to me that a lot of people are just not comfortable with doing nothing for a few moments. That to me is beginning a journey towards what you want your simple life to be.
I did not choose the simple life, it chose me through circumstances.
My home is not a simple home. My partner built it, made out of timber and metal roof, simple building materials the architecture and inside is all his. It was built on a shoe string and he was environmentally aware and passionate about native wild life. So it is surrounded by tall eucalyptus trees and Blackwoods. All the windows are recycled as in second hand and are varied sizes and shapes. It shows its vintage being built over 32 years ago.
It has been my home for 20 years 10 without my partner who built it. It does not have any granite, marble tops or tiles. The bathroom today would be considered very basic. with its unmatched toilet and sink and bath colour. (different beige’s) It has a shower with a simple shower head. It has a bath, I would like to replace as it is a 3/4 bath and even I at 157cms /5’2″ am unable to fully immerse my body under the water. without my knees sticking up or my feet over the sides. I dream of a deep and longer length bath. (I cant afford to so I have a relaxing bath with my knees up out of the water or my feet. The house has the luxury of two toilets one upstairs and the other in the bathroom downstairs.
I do not use hot water upstairs as it wastes too much water to heat it. So my morning face wash is in cold water and in winter it is very refreshing. I think many people would find this really strange.
For people like me totally reliant on tank water (rain water collected into large water tanks 9300Litres/2100 gallons X3), you get used to be really aware of how much water you use in all aspects of you home life and garden. As in wastage for hot water to get to tap upstairs, and only flushing the toilet when necessary..there is a saying here ‘If its yellow let it mellow if its brown flush it down’ . Even though I do have the water saving half flush toilets. This saves a heap of water, and most people who have visited have been fine with it.
I have a electric pump to have water pressure into the house. One important thing when putting in water tanks is to have a tap fitted on it, as if you have blackouts the electric pump wont work and you can get water from the tanks still to flush the loo (toilet), make a cuppa, and have water to drink.
My Kitchen is simple and was very cheap in comparison to commercially built or kits. Built out of solid timber by my partner with solid timber tops. Considered luxurious today. Shelves instead of cupboards above.
Bottled Gas is used for cooking and instant hot water. Grey water is removed onto my land via French Drains. Black water is treated on my property via septic system. I use wood heater for heating, and fans for cooling. I have electricity, I once looked at the cost of solar, it was just too expensive for me as my quarterly electricity bill is generally very low. September to December was $165. I use approx 3.200 kwh a day.
My home has three bedrooms, and a storage room laundry that is huge. Two bedrooms I very rarely use, and the storage room and office/workshop apart from using the washing machine and my freezer not used much. I could happily live without them.
I live in a rural setting, but you can certainly have a simple life in a city or town, with a garden or without.
All our furniture is second hand, bought from tip shops. Our lounge suite an old one of my fathers who did not want to sit on our tip shop lounges covered in fabric and very comfortable was not to his liking. He was coming to stay and a few days before we had a knock on the door, it was a moving van? With a three piece lounge suite (two recliners) from my father in NSW. (even though it is over 15 years ago that it was delivered the cost must have been big to have it delivered to us in Tasmania) It was his old lounge a leather one not one I would have chosen; hey, but its comfy and cost us nothing and he was very happy with his very generous gift. We were able to gift our tip shop furniture to some other folk. My white goods are all old the newest would be 12 years old. I have a TV smaller than most peoples computer screens. My mobile phone is four years old as is my laptop and that is because I got a great last tax return when I was unable to work due to my mental illness. We could afford to buy brand new everything. WHY if there was no reason too. Everything was working, well comfortable and we were content. I continue to be content with what I have.
My partner used to say if someone broke in to rob us they would feel so sorry for us they would leave us stuff.
For me the simple life is not to be confused with minimalism or frugality. I am certainly not a minimalist. I realise that I am most certainly frugal. BUT not like a lot of the frugal Facebook communities and Youtube channels, where its all about how cheap you can shop? Frugal to me is not about how cheap something is but NEED. If I NEED it I will see how much it is and work out the cheapest way to get it.
I have holes in my jumper. I don’t NEED another jumper, I can repair this one by darning it. Or patching it.
I am not a fashion or trend setter. The beauty of where I live is that you can wear almost anything and you will hardly get a second look well at least by many locals tourist may just be here to view the community. I am sure there are locals who look and judge, that is their thing to bear.
Me? Well I am all about comfort, and simplicity. I am aiming to have more natural fibres in my clothing. (mainly as I can compost them). I can knit and I can sew. My PTSDC at times means I can’t concentrate or complete things which for the time being makes both of these things too difficult. I am working on that . I do without nothing and desire very little. I am working out how to save to fix my kitchen tap I broke, its been a while but I am managing without it working properly. The beauty of not having a credit card is I can only live within my means.
I have been in the past caught up with buying cheap clothes. Yet I have clothes that I paid maybe three times as much for that are still going strong twenty years later. Made out of pure cotton or linen that I picked up on sale; I never buy new clothes at full price. (except maybe undies as they are never on sale when I NEED them) .
Yet you don’t have to be growing vegetables, or what ever to live a simple life. You don’t have to move into a tiny home, or down size unless that is what you desire. You don’t have to move to acreage. Or to a rural area a country town. Cooking from scratch, or baking your own bread.
Living simply to me is about not getting rid of all your stuff just because that is how it seems. If you cant sell it, gift it, or donate it; it goes into the rubbish. If you have uses for it now keep it. Just don’t acquire more things. If you love fashion be more selective, buy things that will last and don’t get caught up on the latest trends.
In fact for many people who decide to live simply suddenly are buying dehydrators, bread makers, slow cookers, crock pots, preserving equipment, chicken houses and other things to make their lives simple.
That is hard work guys..to live the simple life in that manner especially if you still have to work to pay for your new lifestyle. I have an acre of land I dream of more, in reality right now it is perfect. Yet I have a neighbour who is working full time has five acres and all she seems to do on the weekend is mow her 5 acres. This may bring her untold delight, I am just trying to show that a simple life on land is hard work. With livestock its expensive. I am not the best vegie grower, but I give it my best shot.
That is another thing that many folk undertake to live simply is to leave the area they have lived for a long time. Moving is a huge thing let alone changing your entire life style. It is not always easy to make friends especially if you are out of town.
Your passions should determine how you want to simplify your life. It is a time thing. Be comfortable with what you have as you slowly move towards your goal.
For me the main thing about my simple life is using cash or a debit card. Not having a credit card! I can only spend my own money that I have now. I am debt free and own my home. Living simply for me is having a well stocked pantry. Buying in bulk when it works out way cheaper. Buying more items I know I use and will NEED when on sale. for example butter was $6.50 500gms It was on special for $4.50 500gms I bought as many as I could afford (6) and froze them. Crop swapping with others in the community, and using my library for books. It is also for me with my PTSDC being at home, and knowing for me being at home with my dogs is the best of living simply. The garden and nature. Staying at home simplifies my life so much.
I go to my local crop swap community gathering monthly, and I go to my local market every so often when I need something I know I can get. In staying home, I spend heaps less on petrol the wear and tear on my car which cost me $1000 and is 14 years old. I try to save seeds from my vegies and take cuttings from plants I like to help fill my garden in a frugal way.
In living a simple life I have also learnt to be honest with people about my finances. That I would love to buy their product as in raspberries today at the market but they were not in my budget and there will be raspberries for a while and I will get some in the next few weeks. If I miss out that is OK too. That is how I look at it. I don’t need raspberries, I would like to eat some, but right now I can not afford them. I also will have plenty of free blackberries soon available.
I do understand that especially in Australia the cost of renting and buying houses has gone through the roof. That so many people are in debt or have high mortgages or rent and in my mind you can live a simple life by looking at how to reduce your debt. I recall working out how much I was spending a week on coffee when I was working full time, back then coffee was $3.50 I would have two a day, so $7 x 5 days =$35 X 48 weeks(4 weeks annual leave) $1680 a year on coffee alone! That would have been 10 weeks rent!
I do know that I am so very well off in comparison to so many people out there, even living on my very small benefit. Which, I am so fortunate to live in a country that I am supported in a financial way. I do not know how anyone living in cities paying rent or mortgage could manage on the benefit I am on and I know that many people are not without a lot of help or becoming homeless or living in cars or couch surfing.
The more I thought about it I realised that for some living the simple life is a wealthy persons choice. You have something that enables you to change lifestyles. A property that has increased in value enabling you to sell and move to a cheaper area. For most people employment is not possible in cheaper areas, which is why they are often cheaper to buy into. For renters the cost of moving and setting up again is expensive. So I reckon if you are looking enviously at all the bloggers and instagramers Youtubers, who seem to have it all, just stop and think of the work, time, and money it has taken to get them there. If you are on benefits, and not in my situation (don’t get me wrong I have financial stress at times.) simply living is the most important thing. Is it simple living if you on the street living? or in Your car? Not likely.
For me living a simple life is normal, has been for a couple of decades. At one time it meant eating out more and socialising more, until I realised most of what I was doing was sort of ok, but I was not really enjoying it. The people I was doing it with are no longer in my life, even though we were friends. That is okay it is life, and life changes. All in all I enjoy my life now far more, because for me the simple life is about what is best for me in my situation. Not what anyone else thinks or feels you should be. It is interesting I am living now in a green semi self sufficient home a simple life am I finally part of a trend setting group?
3 weeks ago the following was written in my garden journal. It is the next planting of my summer garden. I had planted tomatoes, beans and corn and pumpkin (known as threes sisters planting) My vegies (vegatables) garden beds are basically square meter beds or about 40″ square raised beds. I do all sorts of plantings at one time I did use the square foot gardening methods and loved the quantity of vegies you could get from a small area. This year I am mixing it up a bit in how I am planting. I do plant closer together than you usually do. I also have plants in containers on my deck and have been adding seeds and seedlings into my normal beds too. (that is for another post I think).
25/11/19 The garden was calling today, blue sky and still for a while. I was not feeling like spending time in the garden as I was just feeling quite flat. I looked at my seedlings that remain to be planted out. The zucchini and some brassicas were really needing to go out, or at least into a larger pot. As to the lettuce I got at crop swap. I figured that if I was going to transplant them I should put them in the garden and not pot them up. I gathered my supplies the seedlings with the aim to complete the planting of these and not stop until most were in.
With the wind dropping off and the sunshine it became easier to do. It seems to be for me at times that just beginning is often so unbelievably hard. I have been learning to do a small thing so my aim was to plant these seedlings. There are more to go out though they need warmer temperatures than we have been having of late. I looked at the where I have a couple of tomatoes growing and thought that the eggplant I had put in the bed was being exposed to much to the wind so moved it. It and some capsicums seedlings are in the asparagus bed for the time being.
I then put the zucchinis in the bed and the lettuce on the side where the zucchinis will be discouraged by me in where they wander. I had planed to trellis them, unfortunately sunshine would have been blocked from other beds.
I decided that the brassicas needed to be put in and as they are heavy feeders, they went in to a bed with aged manure, blood and bone and two Ollas.
I keep mentioning Ollas. What are they? they are water reservoirs that go into the soil and help with watering and water retention.
My homemade Ollas are terracotta planters (I have been able to buy some with no hole for drainage in them.)and the saucer becomes the lid. You can fill the hole with a suitable filler for a terracotta pot ensure that it is a safe product for use in something in your vegie garden.
I put the pot into the bed and just the lip is sticking above fill the pot with water and pop the saucer on for lid. I mulch over them so to keep them cool. Though it is very easy to check water level by taking top off and adding water, not forgetting to put the top on and cover with mulch. You terracotta planters must not be sealed in any way.
Some seedlings are coping better than others. I am trying the Three Sisters method this year. My understanding that Native Americans used to plant corn beans and pumpkins (squash) together. The beans use the corn to grow up on, whilst the squash leaves keep the roots of the plants cool.
My dogs Treacle and Busby are my family. Throughout my breakdown and my ongoing mental health illness they are my constant companions. I would not be here I can honestly admit if it had not been for my animals. In my worst days (not so distant) there presence, warmth, love, companionship and their needing me is why I did not kill myself. For their presence I am eternally grateful.
It breaks my heart when I hear or read about people saying how can people on Newstart (unemployment benefit I am on it, in Australia.) or living on the street afford to keep a dog or cat ? For many the love companionship of their furred buddy is what keeps them going just like me. Just like me I would go without and have in the past so my dogs are fed and cared for. Yet these people are often judged. It is amazing how just having another heartbeat near you and the soft fur to pet and a warm body to hug and snuggle with is everything to me and I assume them.
I am appreciative to wake up every day now. Not all days are great but that is normal the bad days are less but I guess if I don’t leave my home it makes it less likely I will face a trigger. I find it so very hard to trust people. I can be out and friendly in small groups say at a cafe on an irregular time frame. Being around people for too long or too often, the noise, music, smells perfumes etc. Exhaust me. There are benefits to this I don’t go out much and therefore spend less than in my previous life. This is a very simple life. I can honestly say that as hard and all as it is life after my breakdown, I am thankful for it. I began living a simpler life not as a choice. It is my life. I am so grateful for the life I lead now. I have realised I am actually happy in my own space on my own. This is a huge change and it is thanks to having a fantastic psychologist who has really heard and is so supportive. It is the thing I believe is the hardest thing for those with any mental illness to find. Support and help that is pertinent to you as an individual and where you are totally heard and feel safe to share what has to be shared to
The wind had knocked over my broad beans and many were broken off. I cleared the bed and bought the beans in side. I will think about what I will do with them tomorrow. I also harvested some garlic even thought I knew it was too early. It meant the bed was now fairly clear for the next crops to go into. Silver beet and a leek were harvested.
What a feast I had an omelette with carrot, onion caramalised, capsicum, silver beet, garlic, broad beans, using two eggs and a quarter cup of milk. Started on the stove top then grated cheese finely on top(grating it finely you dont’t use as much) put into a low oven to bake gently while I had a shower, Perfectly cooked when I came out. Delicious. I paid $6.50 for a dozen organic free range eggs from the farm, my milk is Tasmanian, $4.50 for 2 litres not homogenised, the capsicum red was $1.30 and the onion red was 80 cents. I used a few slices of capsicum, about 1/4 of the onion, the cheese I buy when on special usually about $9 for 1kg (this one is Bega tasty). with my vegies which have costs involved in setting everything up( I know) these were very cheap, as all were from seeds I had saved last year.
So from being very reluctant to garden I now feel more peaceful, I enjoyed it, and always find having my hands in the soil or just weeding, does improve my mood. I do take vitamin D supplement during winter as I suffer with low to very low vitamin D levels. (common in Southern maybe all of Tasmania.) I do try to get into the sunshine and yes I do feel good for achieving what I planed and more, along with cooking a fresh healthy meal. Along with having a shower, something that embarrasses me to write but it is my truth, has been over a week since I had one. I have put a load of washing on which was very needed too. I am not a domestic goddess. I do like to cook, and bake. Yet like many things I like and enjoy I get so overwhelmed at times. Which is so strange compared to my working life when I was in charge of facilities. These are the things having a mental illness impact for me; along with my inability to fill out documents, read complex things, to organise, to commit to anything or retain some things in my head. I am so grateful for my garden and to be physically able to work in it. To be able to grow some vegetables for myself.
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