the skinflint philosopher

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

Diado and Baba vs Tom and Barbara

13 Comments

I’m aware this blog has changed focus a bit in recent months, what with all the travelogues, and now we have arrived in Bulgaria I clearly need to update the Home page that details us trying to live a thrifty life back in the British Isles so we could try and save enough money to stop working and get over here! So this post is a little nod back at the original thriftiness and skinflintery ideas, while continuing to update on our life here.

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Lured here by the low land prices that allow many to achieve the ‘Englishman’s castle’ idea that is nigh impossible back home on our cramped and increasingly expensive Sceptred Isle, most ex-pats in Bulgaria will turn up with all their worldly possession on the back of a lorry, but not necessarily have the necessities for the Bulgarian way of doing things, or the language skills to facilitate accessing life here. They may be retiring here, or have simply chosen to sell up and move out and try their hand and luck. Some come with practical skills, much in demand of others in the ex-pat community all trying to improve and renovate their old houses and land, and others seek online work teaching Japanese school children English to help pay their way. What is clear however, is that many may have felt that the land and property prices at a pittance were a true reflection of the cost of living, which it is definitely not.  Land is cheap because so many Bulgarians have gone, spreading out across the rest of Europe and further afield. So the ex-pats cannot rely on their incomes here, or their savings. They must, as the remaining Bulgarians do as a fact of daily life, start to become partially self-sufficient.
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We are far more fortunate as we have my in-laws here. We have turned up with little in the way of our own possessions (our household goods and Digger’s tools are all in storage at my parent’s house in the Westcountry) but have been able to move straight into a fully furnished and equipped flat, and therefore while paying bills will have no rent. We also this winter are saving a considerable amount of money on food purchases because Diado and Baba (Tiddler’s grandparents) have a huge stockpile of preserved garden produce that we are dipping into. I worry to Digger that we will limit what they themselves can eat, but he assures me they have far more than they can possible get through. In the early days at their house and in the flat, I keep finding secret stashes of food. It is like treasure troves of epic proportions, of peaches and apricots, tomatoes and cherries. There are chutneys and syrups, cordials and purees, compotes and sauces. There is no space in the freezer for the few purchases we wish to make.


I am in awe of the labour that has gone in, matter of course, to ensuring thrift and zero food waste. Sweetcorn has been planted, and grown, and cut, and shucked, and par-boiled, and bagged and frozen, just so Tiddler can turn her nose up at it at our dinner table. Herbs have been gathered and chopped and dried, plum and cherry halves have been laid out in the summer sun, and now stored in a twisted pillow case. This is a generation, and a culture who understand the value of the bounty of a harvest. They have so much that they can teach us.

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(Any non-British readers trying to make sense of the title- please see here)

Author: Theskinflintphilosopher

Call me thrifty, prudent, tight or even a miser, but squirreling money away is definitely my thing. The ins and outs of how saving money became a lifestyle, in order to work towards a specific lifestyle change. Follow me on that journey and learn to look at life in a different way.

13 thoughts on “Diado and Baba vs Tom and Barbara

  1. Wow. That is incredible. I’m a bit jealous of the stockpile abilities of your in-laws 😊

    Liked by 1 person

    • I know…. the best we ever did back home was putting stuff in the freezer- all this bottling/ drying etc is a huge labour of love! How are things in Alaska…. is it common practice to preserve food?

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      • Depends on your lifestyle but yes many of us live subsistence lifestyles. I am one. Preserving is a way of life. For us, here on the ocean, salmon and halibut are traditional staples. So are moose, caribou, and for some bear. Our veggies are primarily like potatoes unless you have a greenhouse in which of course anything goes.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Gosh, that is a whole different ball game preserving fish and meat! Is it salted/smoked/dried? Is it mostly for financial reasons, or tradition/culture? I don’t know much about Alaskan cuisine. Salmon in a luxury in the UK, we didn’t buy it very often as it was too expensive!

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      • There are lots of ways. Depending on the family and what they like. Alaska is huge with many different peoples and tribes so it can very quite a bit. Fishing is a way of life for us. Personally I preserve my salmon a few ways. I brine and smoke it for smoked salmon. And also can it. In which we cover it in salt for a short time to kill bacteria then a short cold smoke and then put it in jars with just a little seasoning (if desired) like brown sugar and habanero is our favorite then seal and pressure cook. I would say the reasons behind doing this is both financial for some and traditional (especially for the native peoples). Salmon is a luxury in the USA, too but we are blessed in Alaska. I have a freezer literally full of them from setnetting this summer. I want to say I got somewhere around 60 salmon. Makes great gifts and bartering payment!!

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      • I love they idea of swapping/bartering, it just make sense doesn’t it, if you have too much of something, and someone else has too much of something else. All this talk in the news at the moment about bitcoin and the like, and you think back to pre-monetary societies, or even communities such as yours where the bartering still exists in a meaningful way- it’s just logical. And it also means items do have a real value. I’m still amazed at how much stuff some people throw away without seeming to understand there is often a hidden worth/value to it!

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      • Yes exactly! I’m big into bartering for goods and services. Like my truck needed work so the mechanic was willing to barter to fix it. Just really makes me happy, especially considering how cash poor I am. But I really wouldn’t have it any other way. I’m living the lifestyle I want so it’s worth it.

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      • Brilliant! Sounds great. Note to self: must add a visit to Alaska on my To Do list! 🙂 Sounds like a place that would suit me fine!

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      • If you ever make it Alaska way, make sure you tell me and you’d be more than welcome to save some money and stay in my home. My daughter is just a little older than yours. ☺️

        Liked by 1 person

      • Thank you so much! Well, I would make sure I bring a bartering gift for you in exchange for letting us stay 🙂 Sounds like a plan!

        Liked by 1 person

  2. That’s a LOT of work gone into all that bottlign and jarring. I know. HOURS and days and days.xx

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  3. Pingback: Nuts! Ohhhhhh, Hazelnuts! | the skinflint philosopher

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