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.

I am Finally a trend setter!

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.

The foxgloes are as tall as the peach tree, that is a leek flower pod in front,

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.

Tasmania Dover Beach Busby taking in the view. @echidna home June 2019

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.

Dover Beach Tasmania Treacle waiting for me..@Echidna Home June 2019

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?

Tazzie.

Just a few days

SATURDAY: What a weird beginning to my day…I slept for 16 + hours and woke at 1pm really strange.  I was meant to be going to a wedding at 4pm.  The wedding was 11/2hours away from where I live.  I had a shower, had brunch, and then dressed ready to leave, allowing enough time to get to the venue.  

I was not feeling good, perhaps due to having slept so long.  I had been anxious about going as I lately my illness has made me more reclusive especially in big groups. I ended up having a major panic attack heart racing, sweating, and realised that as much as I wanted to be there for my friend, it was not going to be possible on this day.   I decided I was not up to driving.  

N

I was surprised that I did not feel a sense of relief having at least made a decision that was logical with what was happening.  Instead I felt guilt and doubt.  I struggle so much with expectations that have been instilled as a child.

Having accepted the invitation,  responded to a note regarding a change in venue due to the weather just a day before saying  thanks see you tomorrow,  the guilt that washes over me for not letting anyone know(not able to contact anyone as the wedding was going to be in an area with no phone coverage), plays havoc on me. 

The ‘norms of how to behave in good society ‘ create more anxiety in me…added to guilt and even more bewilderment as I was ready to go sitting in my car engine running.   It is so hard for me to understand what is going on.  When my heart begins racing, and my face heats up so hot and red, I sweat and feel as if I am going to throw up! One of my legs might begin twitching and I just want to run!   There seems to be no real rhyme or reason when, where or why.  But the need to beat myself up by overthinking my reaction and the feelings overwhelm me leaving me exhausted.  

This sort of thing is what I battle so often.  What I need to do for me, rather than doing the expected thing.  The guilt of feeling a sense of responsibility.  For not letting anyone know I would not be there,  thinking about how I had said yes and was included in catering(thankfully it was family catering not a venue.)  Just writing that makes my heart race.    I will beat myself up about it over thinking it all yet knowing I did for me the right thing.   So bewildering .   At least I can utilise the things I have been learning with my psychologist to help to move past the overthinking.   It helps so much when I can do it.

The river I live close too. @echidna home 2019

It was market day in the town closest to where I live.  I went in to get a few things just a quick trip half an hour.  Three hours later I returned home, and it was a really nice morning.  I caught up with stall holders I know,  chatted.  Had brunch at the bakery with my dogs, and they were petted and loved by so many people. I chatted to some tourists on motorbikes, and a bit later the local group of cyclists stopped for coffee this is enough for me.

Market not my photograph

Here in the roaring forties the wind continues gale force at times.  I generally enjoy windy days, but have been concerned about my garden.  Returning home the dogs and I wondered about the garden my native areas, flowering area and vegie garden. 

In my grove of wattle trees, one of my younger wattle trees has broken in half, and will need to be taken out.   Many small branches and the dead pieces of trees have blown down along with lots of leaves.  It could have been much worse.

Walking around the vegie garden,it was great to see that the beans in their 2 litre plastic milk container protectors I had made kept them safe from the cold night and frost, tomatoes are fine and so to the capsicums I planted out.   I am so happy I did not put anything else out as one of my neighbours lost all his pumpkin seedlings.   

My seedlings are undercover on my deck, sadly they are getting a little knocked about by the wind.  It is supposed to be worse tomorrow, gale winds up to 100km so I have been checking things are relatively secure.   


I also noted that a possum had eaten most of the lemon leaves of one of my trees on my deck.  Little sod must have come in when the protective barrier was down.  I do love the possums just not attacking my poor lemon trees which struggle under my ‘care’ .

Working in the garden I could hear a  mower coming down the road, I was hoping it was another neighbour who mows my grass paddock area.   It was.  Yeah the wind had dried the ground enough that he was coming to mow my paddock area down.  It is usually only cut once a year. However so far this year this is its second cutting as the weird weather has seen the grasses grow so fast since it was mowed four weeks ago that it was seeding up.  Fingers crossed I wont need to have it done again.   Though it means it should be a great year for the guys who mow for stock feed and bales.  

So thankful that I have full rain water tanks when much of my country is in dought and has fires. That I have clean water, air and soil. Thankful that even on a low income I can just make ends meet. For my two dogs who are my constant companions

Welcome to Echidna Home and Life

Living in a rural location on an acre of land is not always easy when you have PTSD complex (fairly recently diagnosed)  It is interesting to discover in today’s world my life style is seen as pretty self sufficient. Not that I am anywhere near that and can never imagine (as much as I dream of it) being anywhere close to it. I guess it is because Echidna Home is a timber home with a metal roof I rely totally on three rain water tanks for all my water. I have a septic system for my black water (sewerage) and grey water is dispersed via a french drain. I don’t use much electricity, the water pump is probably the biggest user. I have wood heater and instant gas for hot water and cooking.

My home is in Tasmania the island state of Australia. I have recently recommenced growing more of my vegetable(vegies), I have some fruit trees and hazelnuts.

The river near my home sadly this was taken in early 2019 when we had severe bush fires for months on end this is the smoke you can see
. @Echidna Home Jan 2019

Life here has changed a lot over the few years.

The death of my partner, who showed me what being loved unconditionally is like and to be able to reciprocate was very special. I loved him so much. I miss him everyday though the grief and sadness are no longer present.

A few years after his death I had a breakdown, that saw me go from earning good money to living on Newstart (Government payment) as my mental health has deteriorated and I am no longer able to work. So there will be posts about finances, living on less than I earn and what might happen if I don’t do this. Living simply and patching mending clothes. Though living rurally I can get away with so much more in what I wear about the place. Some recipes that are great for budgeting and some things that help me to be able to as yet remain debt free.

I have recently been diagnosed with Complex PTSD This has bought some relief for me after many periods of depression and anxiety along with memory gaps through out my life. As I am learning so much from a great psychologist on why and that for what life has thrown my way over the years the way my brain saved me was a coping mechanism and now I am teaching my brain and myself to cope in different ways. Not easy but I am very much a work in progress.

My dogs with me as I tame some of my garden. @Echidna Home November 2019

I am still alive because of my awesome dogs. Who through the really bad times have given me purpose to get up and do things each day. They need me, and I need them. The worst days I hope are behind me I love waking up each day, no matter what the day may bring. Being in my garden with my hands in the soil and feet bare I am connected earthed for me a feeling of bliss. I am not the best veggie grower, gardener. I struggle yet what ever I get from my own garden is just brilliant. Simple things bring me so much pleasure. This year I have finally been able to grow nasturtiums and marigolds! I have struggled for so long to grow them and everyone about has them and says they are like weeds, Not at my place, they are treasured gems.

Photography is also a great delight to me. Living in Tasmania has given me some really wonderful experiences with my photography. I hope to share them on here. All photos on here unless otherwise noted will be my own. They will be copyrighted so please be advised if you wish to share them you need to contact me.

Why Echidna Home? I have so many native animals and birds that visit and live on my acre, (sadly along with rabbits feral cats and domestic ones too.) My faviourite being the Echidna. Such quirky awesome creatures. I love it when I see she/he in and about the garden or near bye. They are so unique. One echidna lives in my garden. I am so lucky!

The echidna that lives in my garden the blue thing is not a fence but a carrying box I use in the garden. One of my dogs scared she/he and it dug in. It is why the quills are full of rots and its face is covered in dirt. It was making its getaway (dog was inside) @Echidna Home December 2019

As this is about me, my dogs and my life, living on a very low income, as my mental illness means I can no longer work. I will be writing about my life, and where PTSD impacts me I do hope you will enjoy my posts, and comment ask questions and I will answer. To the best of my ability.

welcome to my home

Tazzie.

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