the skinflint philosopher

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


The best laid plans…

Well, to be fair, we never really had clear plans in the first place. We had a sort of ‘let’s-motorhome-across-Europe-and-then-chill-out-in-Bulgaria’ kind of grand scheme, but were so bamboozled with the logistics in getting us and our stuff off the island and across to *in hushed tones* ‘the mainland’ that we didn’t quite get round to hammering out the finer points. How we joshed to our friends before we left, that it’s good not to have a fixed plan as then we can play it by ear. Ahem, are we still joking quite so much about that now? More to come on that towards the end of this post…..

Primarily, we have hit the Westcountry during a heatwave. Our island chums are posting pictures of themselves on facebook and instagram in wellies and waterproofs (#islandsummer), while we are swanning about as if we are already on the French Riviera, guzzling stawberries by the bucket load, lazing on the decking and generally pootling in holiday mode already.

First major observation on leaving the island: other places are not always windy. You don’t always need a coat and a hat even in midsummer to keep the chill off. You can sit out on a picnic blanket without having to scout around first for large rocks to weigh it down. Needless to say, Tiddler has been running around in the garden and beach in her birthday suit and has turned a glorious nut brown of which I am very envious. Her hair ends are bleaching in the sun and curl up like the seaweed fronds she has been splashing amongst.
Second observation: I feel like I’m in a permanent game of ‘Where’s Wally?’ (Waldo for my across-the-pond readers). This place is heaving. Whether tourists avoiding Brexit-affected European holidays, or locals making the most of the balmy weather before it turns, or rather I think just normal mainland life, we have a full on in your face reminder of how beautifully quiet and peaceful our island was. There are people and dogs and cars and jams wherever we turn here, a stroppy heat-bothered mass of ‘other people’.
Thirdly, Digger really is in limbo. Having given up our island address, closed bank accounts and all, Digger now cannot open anything new. He cannot even register with a doctor. To do all of this he needs a proof of address in the UK. We have no utility bills as are temporarily staying with my parents. He cannot use his old utility bills and driving licence as the address on those, while British Isles, is not UK. He is here, but like a ghost. No-one official will accept he exists.  I am more fortunate, as held on to old accounts when I moved to the island, so the transition back is not too painful for me. Even opening an account for Tiddler here seems problematic at first as the bank query her birth certificate showing she is an Islander, and Island born, even if that still means she is automatically a British citizen. Digger by the way is also a British citizen, (he applied for and was awarded citizenship) but never having lived within the UK or GB he is still at square one for getting any paperwork sorted. Getting confused? Read here to help, or confuse you even more!

We spent the first days catching up with family (my parents, and my sister and her two children) and a few friends who remain local. Digger’s father, Dyado (Grandfather) is also here for a week- he has been visiting Digger’s elder brother in Canada and has stopped off to see us here briefly on his route back home to Bulgaria. Tiddler, having been on a fairly meagre diet of visiting relatives for the last three years, is like the proverbial kid in a sweetie shop- she doesn’t know which one to hug and chatter away to first, and instead bounces between everybody so that we all end up feeling dizzy. She burns herself out and falls asleep on the sofa, a sticky ice cream dribble on her chin. Despite the hospitality offered, we are aware that for Granny and Papa Westcountry our presence (and all our stuff now squeezed into sheds and cupboards) is fairly disruptive. They are getting older, and the changes are more pronounced when you have not seen them for a while.

Digger vows to get off on the road as soon as possible. We start viewing motorhomes, and Digger has long conversations under bonnets with the pre-loved owners while I wonder if having a log book all and only in German might be a bit confusing. I investigate the fold out/hideaway/ multi purpose functions, while Digger dismisses vehicles for having rusty crossmembers which I have no idea what it means but sounds like a not very good travelling companion.

In the middle of all of this, we decide to go and look at a few properties. Our hard earned, skinflintered savings of the last few years were due to be our spending money, our rainy day fund, our cushion, to enable us to not have to work for this year. However Digger’s increasing and unusual vehemence towards the banking and other administrations, mean he thinks we ought to get our money working for us instead. We consider rental opportunties, and whether we could sink our money into a buy-to-let. The rental income would be far higher than any interest rates paid on our savings, even if we had to pay an agent to managing the letting in our absence. Digger find a run down dilapidated cottage in need of a complete overhaul, and says ‘Let’s just go and have a look at this one for the fun of it shall we?’

And here is where we reach where I am tonight. Somehow, in less than a week, we have managed to let our original plans go a little bit gang aft agley. Possibly. Unless this is a better plan? Tomorrow we are likely to hear whether our offer on this cottage has been accepted. It will take roughly 80% of our savings, with a remaining 15% put by to attempt to do a quick flip, if that is the right term. With Digger not working, he thinks he can do a lot of the graft himself to bring it back into habitable use. We estimate if successful it could be rented out at around £500 per month. Which goes quite a long way if we are living in Bulgaria.  But does this mean we can get to Bulgaria this autumn? How quick can we survey, purchase, strip and rebuild? Can Granny and Papa Westcountry cope with us that long? Can we still afford a motorhome? What about the whole point of not working?

Hmmmm….. let’s see what the morrow brings, but please offer up any advice or thoughts you have in the comment section! (Please!)


(NB: if you don’t know the origins of the poem I have referenced in the title and elsewhere, please see here. 
Apologies that it is a just a wiki link but probably best to show the original and meaning side by side)


Pearls of wisdom from BBC2?

Heard on BBC2 radio this morning, “Its not about spending and then saving what is left, it is about saving and then spending what you have left”.

Thoughts on this please? Do you agree? How do you manage your finances? Do you think about a budget, or is there no need as you are automatically frugal?


Hmmm…not quite sure  why when I googled ‘free images money’- every single one was US currency. What does that indicate?



What is the opposite of Room 101?

The answer must be of course, the things we most want or desire. See these two articles for a great way of enabling us to reduce spending on items we only use infrequently or once, and also therefore prevent our homes getting cluttered up with more stuff. We should all be pushing to get these set up in our own neighbourhoods. Verdict? I like.

The share shop
Library of Things