NOTE: I know many others have it much tougher than we do, and I am sorry, really sorry. If this blog post is not helpful because you just don't have enough money now let alone when prices go up, please know that I have been there too, and I really hope our society can be kinder and fairer to everyone. In Australia that means, at the very least, we should raise the rate of Newstart to something like $80 per day.
Get it for free
This is a devil's ivy plant, which was given away on our local "Buy Nothing" site, because it really really needed some plant first aid. Now, I have quite a collection of indoor plants, and enjoy growing them up. They can cost quite a few dollars, but last a long time if cared for and in the right place.
Lend itIf you can't get it for free -maybe you know someone who would lend you something you only need for a little while. I read somewhere that most electric drills are used for only 4 hours. People want it to do one thing, buy it and never use it again. In some parts of Australia folk have set up lending libraries of things like camping equipment, garden and workshop tools and the kind of things you need for a big party, but don't need very often. If you take good care of the item you borrow, and return it on time, you will keep your friend happy.
Maintenance Pays Off
We have all had that experience of suddenly discovering that the washing machine won't work, or the dishwasher is making odd noises, or the car has a warning light on the dashboard. Not only is it often extremely inconvenient, it is also really expensive. Getting a tradie to visit your home involves a 'call out fee' even before they have started work.
I try to do routine maintenance on my appliances to ensure that they last as long as possible, and that such emergency service calls are only required infrequently. I am not in any way a technical or mechanically minded person, but I can easily clean the filter on the dishwasher, and often give it an extra clean with lemon juice or vinegar, to clean off scale and mould in the pipes and hoses. One of my friend's adult daughters watched some YouTube videos before succesfully fixing their washing machine.
My car does get it's regular service, and now that we use a mobile mechanic who comes to our home, we notice that they do not try as much as the franchise mechanic, to on-sell us extra parts like air filters.
Cleaning out the gutters before the winter rains is a good maintenance tip. Water in the roof can be really expensive to fix.
If you can sew, a bit of repair on a hem or a button can save money on buying another item of clothing.
If you have your appliance handbook, there may be some tips about regular maintenance and what to do if it stops working. I have mine in plastic pockets in a lever arch folder, and this has saved the day many times. Like the time we somehow put the child lock on the induction cook top -and nothing worked. before panic set in completely, we remembered the manual, which told us how to fix it, without a call out fee!
Plan for replacement -or do without
We are using YNAB for our budgetting, and I love it. One of its rules is that a good budget knows the difference between an emergency and a 'true expense'. True expenses are things like buying new tires for the car -usually not an emergency, we should be able to predict that we will have to do this at least months if not years in advance. Similarly, we should be able to predict that a 7 year old appliance is probably going to need replacing sometime in the next year or so. If we set aside small amounts regulary to cover such replacements, we should not have our budget wiped out by them. In fact, if it works well, we just pay it! No drama at all!
Of course, if there are too many things which need replacing all at once, before the budget has enought in it, we might be in difficulty. At such times we might just have to get by without the appliance for a time. In an inflationary environment, it will possibly be much more expensive to replace our appliances than when we bought them some time ago, and so knowing how to do without for a time, is a really good strategy. I know that I can wash all the dishes by hand, even though I would rather not, but I would struggle to wash clothes by hand so I would priorities a washing machine over a dishwasher if it had to be one or the other.
Of course, you can budget this way without YNAB -we did for years with a spreadsheet, but the idea of true expenses is important to know.
Do It Yourself
Some years ago I was part of a website and forum which taught frugality. One of the people there was a woman who had suffered an injury at work and so was unable to contribute cash to her family by paid work. She worked hard on finding ways to replace the things they had bought with cash, with things she could make using the time she had once traded for dollars at work. If she had been used to purchasing a packet of biscuits, for example, she made biscuits. If they were used to buying soap powder, she made her own. She actually went to the shop, studied the list of ingredients, went home and researched and experimented to find replacements. If you have the time to give, you can replace many consumer and manufactured products with your own ready made items, at cheaper cost, without fancy packaging, shelf stabilisers and funny ingredients.
You can make your own curry powder, grow your own herbs, bake your own bread, culture your own yoghurt and make clothes. I learned a lot from this woman's example, and now have many items we regularly make ourselves.
In the garden I make compost, which uses up things we would otherwise throw away, and get a soil amendment to help me grow fruit and vegetables which saves me money too. Our worm farm makes the best soil amendments. Sometimes I simply take the 'do nothing' approach -if the plant is a bit sick, and I have watered it and fed it, and it still has problems I wait to see if the ecological niche it lives in will support it or whether it was just wrong for this place. I don't buy poisons and amendments for the garden.
DH is a handy person who has helped us a lot by putting up shelves, painting walls, making and repairing furniture, repairing loose screws and such. Often a simple tool kit, picked up cheaply in garage sales, can make a big difference-every house should have a screw driver or three, a hammer and a pair of pliers. Dh often recycles things we get for free from our local Buy Nothing group, or cheaply from the Tip Shop. These lovely windows came from a neighbour for nothing.
Just today he replaced a towel rail in the main bathroom, which had actually broken off at the part where the rail joins the supporting plate attached to the wall. Imagine if we had to get a tradie in to do that job -it would have taken a lot more than the $70 for the new rail.
Don't forget to Pay it Forward
Finally my advice is to try to be content with things -and here is a small article which may assist
Home renovation of a modest budget