Thursday, 13 October 2011

Tough Times: When Will This Economic Ice Age End?

If you’re currently living in Britain then you will be all too familiar with just how hard the current recession has hit the general population. If you are lucky enough not to have been affected greatly, then you are probably sick of hearing those less well off ‘whining’ about it, so I apologize in advance!

When the recession first began I was newly employed out of university into a fairly well paid position lecturing and studying for a PhD. I had just moved into a small flat provided by my employer, where bills and rent were included in my contract… wonderful! I remember thinking; ‘What is everyone whining about? Not much has changed!’ Sadly I wish I had started saving more earnestly, rather than buying things I hadn’t been able to afford whilst being an undergraduate (Car, TV, new bed etc.). Admittedly some of these things were necessary, but I could have saved a lot more in retrospect.
If you have read any of my previous blogs you will know that I am now married and have a little baby girl. It’s amazing and I’m so happy, however things have obviously changed and financially it has been a real struggle. My husband and I receive a small amount in child tax credits alongside my maternity pay and his small student loan (I was supposed to be receiving a much larger pay, but that’s another story!). It’s nowhere near enough and I have been borrowing money for months from my parents just to pay basic utilities. Anyway, that can’t be helped until I finish my leave, but I do find myself wondering if even when I return to work we will have enough to save to a house or anything else. What does the future hold for people in our situation…people who are really struggling, but not entitled to any real benefits? 

Looking on the bright side I think this recession has made me think a lot more about what I spend my money on. I have changed my supermarket and found one which is not only better quality and closer, but cheaper than those claiming to be the best value. I spend a lot more time looking at price tickets trying to work out whether things are really as good value as the big bright labels make out. We no longer buy much meat, just cheap cuts which can be roasted or slow cooked. I’ve really gotten into home baking, which is extremely rewarding I can tell you! I also try to use up as many things as I can before I put stuff into the compost and my husband and I grow our own food and forage for extras. I genuinely think that even when things get easier I will keep hold of this way of living and I’m determined to start saving every penny when I get back to work in January. 

My only serious concerns at the moment are the talk of a harsh winter in Britain. Our rented house is cold, damp and lacking in insulation. Luckily there are grants for free insulation etc. which we are taking up asap, but it's going to be very tough whilst on a tight budget for bills! I’m going to remain optimistic that things will get better and we will have our own house in the not too distant future, so spending money on important energy saving products will be much more worthwhile. Chin up Britain… we can get through this!

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