the skinflint philosopher

Attempting to thrift our way to a better life, with a toddler in tow!

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A reblog from Ecogreenlove- thank you! Click on the original link below for the graphics.

Serendipity that this has just popped into view, as Thrifter has just signed up for a beekeeping course (if it runs- subject to numbers). A good skinflinter should always be a little bit like Winnie the Pooh.



Not only are bees incredible pollinators, they are also the only insect in the world to produce food that humans can eat. Over the last two decades, research has shown that this hardworking creature is in rapid decline.

Find in this infographic below, why it’s so important that we save these ancient insects and how you can help:

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The ABC of skinflintery

Inspired by an earlier post,  ‘Teaching the right lessons’ I thought I would sit down and see if such a thing as the ABC of skinflintery can be indeed created. Bearing in mind my apparent fluidity with the English language in that I am quite happy to mess about with suffixes so ‘SkinflintERY’ came into being as part of my vocabulary, I am not sure if this bodes well for the discerning linguists out there. Also rather randomly, I’m started on this task thinking along the lines of ‘Mr Condom’ Mechai himself and his rather unusual ABC of family planning, that did wonders as part of Thailand’s economic and social change. If you haven’t come across this chap before, this clip is definitely worth a gander, if only for the chuckles.
Meanwhile, back on a more prudish train of thought, here goes.

A for Abstinence
B for Budget
C for Carefulness and Common sense
D for Decluttering
E for Economising
F for Frugal
G for Goals
H for Hoarding (in a good way before the minimalists shout me down)
L for Leftovers
M for Miser
N for No, I don’t need it
P for Penny-Pincher Prudence (wowsers, alliteration there folks!)
R for Recycling
S for Skinflintery of course (not Scrooge)
T for Thrift
U for Upcycling
V  for Vouchers
W for Wild food

Hmm, a few gaps. Dear chaps and avid readers- suggestions welcome please to complete this? I’m pretty sure a number of you have a penchant for getting things in order!


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Teaching the right lessons

Tiddler is going to be, whether she likes it or not, brought up in a prudently frugal household. We will see what events unfold as she gets older, when the ‘pink for girls’ commercialism is more likely to set in, but in the meantime, when she is blissfully unaware of anything different I can move her smartly away from the sweet and toy aisles with nothing more taxing than ‘we don’t need those today’.  We’ll try and teach her, as best as we can, the ABC of skinflintery- Abstinence, Budget and Carefulness.

However, she has to also learn that while thrift begins at home, charity needs to reach to the community. With that in mind, her lesson for today, a harvest bucket craft (from a recycled yoghurt pot- recycling habits die hard!), which will later be replaced with real goods for the local food bank.
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I think the attached image below from quoteaddicts sums up why this is a worthy post for the Skinflint Philosophy, with its echoes of minimalism, unburdening and altruism.
(Harvest) food for thought indeed.



Smashing bashing

Tiddler and I are just back from our end-of-the-week dose of skinflintery stress therapy. No squeezy stress balls, or hot stone massage for us (though that wouldn’t go amiss on the odd occasion now the autumnal weather is a-coming in).  The benefits of physical activity are well documented, be it releasing endomorphins, improving oxygen intake or even just getting you out in the sunshine for your Vitamin D boost, something this little rock has limited hours of even in ‘high’ summer. I like this philosophical take though, that it is a ‘purest experience of freedom’ to push yourself to your physical limits. Now I can in no way claim to be up there with those guys, running long distances, but I’ve done myself proud with burning a few calories and a few tension demons with scrub bashing today.

Ah, the lovely story of how Digger and Thrifter met. Planting trees, with a local volunteer group to re-green our windswept isle, I spotted a man who looked like he knew which end of a spade was which. Always a handy aphrodisiac to a practical self-sufficiency minded thrifter of course and the rest, as the proverbials would say, is history.

However, on account of the gales and the hooleys yesterday, Digger has had to do his Saturday work today instead. This means Tiddler and I ventured out without him today on our usual Sunday jaunt, this time to do some serious damage to an area of unkempt gorse, brambles and bindweed, in order to clear it for winter tree planting. I cut and clear, Tiddler picks blackberries, and the time passes in a lovely glow of September sun and warm muscles. The chat, gentle and flowing between the workers, is punctuated occasionally with L’s humming Simon and Garfunkel tunes that have been on in the van. There is plenty of time for free thought, and the mediative action of repetitious labour reaps its own rewards. A gift at the end of hot tea and cake, with a communal flask and cups, and the distribution of apples from a garden for Tiddler to take home in a doughnut bag.
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Any activity is good for the body and soul, but an activity that brings life back into a wasteland, that will help build a woodland environment, and gives Tiddler an understanding of how we each should give something back- well that is pretty worthy in my book.





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Life without a tractor…

Seeing how the only tractor we own is approx 3 inches high and can only be used under specific direction by Tiddler,(Go up! Go down! My tractor!) this article and book might be a little bit of interesting preparatory reading for the great escape. Food production, whether to sell, or for self-sufficiency is going to be a must.



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Beans, Death and Taxes

Seeing as Tiddler is temporarily snoring away in the Land of Nod, the Skinflint philosopher has just been (not quite but still feeling a bit smug) ultra-efficient and finally got my tax return sorted, a week before the due date. Living as we do on this little rock, I’m not too worried by cutting it so fine, as can confidently breeze by Government House to drop the paperwork off later in the week when popping into town. I’m really searching hard here to find a joy in taxes somewhere, but at least small scale countries and having the bean-counters sort of on your doorstep might be one of them? Anyway, I’m not expecting too big a hit this year thankfully, as earnings as still down as a result of maternity leave and then going back to work part time.

It has got me thinking again though, about the ebbing and flowing of our monies. I blogged at the end of August see blog post here that I was going to try and keep track of my food spending for a month, just to see if I was being a good Thrifter really or was I falsely blowing my own trumpet. The target was that given that the average family of four in the UK spends £81.40 on their groceries per week, we three (Thrifter, Digger and Tiddler) had to definitely hit lower than that. So I started keeping hold of receipts, and chose to forgo my lunchtime coffee at work (I’m not sure the princely sum of 60p per day for a vending machine latte is going to make me a millionaire one day but I felt inspired, and dutifully took in teabags from home instead). Then I started keeping track of all my spending for the month up till today, which worked out at…

Food spending for the month £187
Food spending out (coffee and cakes, a lunch out with Tiddler) £13.40
Entrance fees for Tiddler activities £11.50
Health club membership one month trial to take Tiddler swimming 3 times per week  £29.50
My new watch- see post here and so no cost to me!
Tiddler’s birthday party £56
Stamps and postage £13.30
Pharmacy supplies/ nappies £13.85
Diesel £76
Mobile phone credit £5
Birthday presents for friends £38
Rent £750 and childcare £296, both costs split between Digger and I
Wifi £12
Water, electric, gas- unknown for the months usage

and that’s it out of my wallet, though Digger will have had some of his own expenses too. I’m quite pleased with proving myself right. We supplemented our food with the following- tomatoes, rhubarb and courgettes from our garden, green beans and red cabbage from a neighbour, and Digger went scrumping and came home with two bowls of beautiful Victoria plums. Thrifter and Tiddler picked blackberries, although Tiddler fed herself more than actually ended up in the freezer. We are still eating the honey and drinking the rakia that were gifts from Digger’s parents. I don’t feel that we are in anyway denying ourselves sustenance- in actual fact Digger has been complaining recently that I serve him giant sized portions and that his belt is getting too tight.
We choose I suppose, to not buy (food or otherwise) that we don’t need. Tiddler and I both had birthdays this month so we were gifted new things, rather than going out to buy ourselves. Are Digger and I simply not very materialistic, that we don’t need things,  or is it all about the satisfaction in putting that spare, not-spent money away at the end of each month, knowing it is going to be part of the skinflint masterplan?

Look after the pennies, and the pounds will look after themselves said my mother. I say, count your beans, and eventually you’ll have enough to plant a whole beanfield.