Monday, 5 August 2013

It's all just Common Sense

We needed to go and get some chicken feed, wheat, oyster shell and hen grit from the Feed Milling Company and some packaging for vegetables, so that was our morning out. Him Outside is not allowed to drive for this week but he came along for the ride. I don't mind driving a 50 mile round trip on country back roads but the same distance to Ipswich I shall need more practice at. We  needed some perforated plastic bags and and small punnets for this year but thought that as we were there we might as well  stock up on punnets for next years gooseberry crop too, so I now have 500 x 500g punnets and 350 x 250g  punnets - be prepared is my motto - after 20 years as a Cub Scout Leader their motto rubbed off on me! 
Two things in the news have interested me.( Well, three things really if you include news about food banks, food price increases and the rush for the rich and famous to jump on the frugal food bandwagon) Anyway what I want to say was I heard about a survey that said how many people were unable to point to the part of their bank statement that showed the balance and didn't know that was how much money they had available (or not available as the case may be). The second piece of news was about the number of people on zero hours contracts. Zero Hours contract is when you are             " employed" but only if they want you to work and you only get paid if you do work. You are not unemployed therefore no benefits. This seems to hark back to the thirties where the men would queue at the docks or outside a factory and wait to see how many men would be taken on that day. In a way it is similar to being self employed. If you don't find a way to earn money then you have no income and you don't get any benefits either, at least not in the short term.
How can you educate people about money, surely it must start in the home and at school. I'm old enough to remember savings stamps at school where you took along sixpence ( that's 2 and a half p to anyone born since 1971) and bought a little stamp. This was stuck into a book and at the end of the summer term a lady would come to school and give out the money that you had saved ready for the summer holidays. An easy way to learn that if you save a little bit regularly it adds up a lot. 
As children we spent ages rubbing coins with paper and crayon, then cutting them out and playing shops with toys or whatever. I think there are plans to bring personal finance into the school curriculum, hopefully that will help.
We've never been in debt, thanks to Him Outside always being in work, although well below the national average for much of our early years together. And I have to say also thanks to my skill at working out what was  important to pay for and want we could cut back on.
The mortgage was always top priority, then council tax (or the rates as it was called back then). Water rates, electric bill, TV licence were saved for bit by bit. At that time you could buy savings stamps at the Post Office to save towards many things- stuck on a card to save them just like school days.
 Living in the country a car was virtually a  necessity, so road tax,insurance,MOT were also saved for in tins in the kitchen cupboard. Just as now, the things that could be cut back on were food,clothes,furnishings and extras. The trouble is that now many people think the extras are theirs by right. Somehow a lot of folk are going to have to take a different outlook on what they spend their money on.
We are self employed, we only earn money if we work. We have no pensions yet or insurance. If Him Outside is unable to work for other people for the next few weeks then our only income will be from the campsite, what we sell at the gate plus the bit of interest from investments.  Someone visiting yesterday to see how he was seemed very surprised that we had kept the campsite open for me to manage on my own. Last week another person phoned to ask how things were going for him in hospital and was surprised to find I hadn't been to see him for a couple of days. But chickens need tending to, plants need watering and campers need looking after. That's why I stayed to look after things and because of our skill at managing we will get through whatever happens. Can you learn that at school? or is it something that seems to be sadly lacking in so many areas of life nowadays-good old Common Sense. 
This morning Him Outside asked if I had ever taken a picture of the stall at the gate when it was fully loaded with fruit and veg? Then he passed me my camera - so here it is - full of goodies for lucky people to buy. I say lucky because by midday the whole lot except for the marrows had been bought!