Frequently Asked Questions

From time to time questions get asked on posts that have been asked over and over again ... to save repetition I have started this page where hopefully you will be able to find out the answer to any questions you might have on things mentioned day to day in the posts you read.

You can also look at the other pages 'The Challenge' and 'Without...' which may fill in more details about what this year long Challenge is all about.

If you have a question that isn't covered here and think it might be useful for others to read in the future you can ask it in the comments section of this page.  Please note though that this Blog is our One Year Challenge blog only and questions should be about the why and wherefores of this Challenge.


Why are we doing this year long Challenge.

Please read the page entitled The Challenge for the answer to this one.

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Vouchers and Coupons

How do we get so many vouchers/coupons/Nectar Points?
The majority of these are earnt outside of the stores that we have the credit cards for and are mostly non-food items for the smallholding.  We currently have an M&S card and a Tesco credit card which we used a lot last year for making the purchases of most of our building supplies and the large items needed in setting up our smallholding, some things are still being purchased for finishing off some of these building jobs.

It goes without saying that we always pay off the cards in full at the end of each month 
... and never pay any interest. 

Our Nectar Points are mostly gained through the fuel purchases for our cars, and some food purchases made by LH when he is at his digs.  So when he gives up the day job these too will fall to a minimal level, but while we have them we will make full use of them.

Won't you get much less of them during this low spending year?
 Yes we will obviously get minimal points for our new low level of  spend on food purchases during this year.  The cascade will diminish to a trickle, and I actually think the companies of the cards that we get these points on will possibly phase out the ability to get points for purchases outside their stores, or even stop them altogether and this where most of ours come from.  They have already reduced the amount of points you get to (I think) just one point for every £7 spent on purchases outside their shops.

Won't using vouchers, coupons and points give a false idea of future spending power needed?
No as we can add the two amounts together at the end of the year, I do this on the Monthly Round Up post so you can see the progress we are making with keeping the spend as low as possible.

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Why do we buy bottled water?

The only bottled water we buy is Sparkling Water as we both like it and find it refreshing.  

Yes, we do drink water straight from our taps, our Welsh water is absolutely delicious and refreshing and we always have a jug of it in the fridge.  But we both enjoy a glass of sparkling water and when we go out we decant some into smaller bottles to have in the car.  Sparkling water is still nice to drink when it has warmed up a bit whereas we both dislike 'warm' tap water.  I drink my water as it comes and Lovely Hubby usually adds some cordial to make 'flavoured water'.

We have looked into purchasing a Soda Stream and found the cost of purchase and then the ongoing cost of cylinders etc much greater than we could recoup in years of buying the Value sparkling water that we buy from the supermarket at usually around 17p for 2 litres.  So this has been disregarded as a false economy.

The environmental aspect of our purchases.

Our empty bottles get used in the polytunnel and on the Veggie Patch as watering syphons, they have the lids removed, the bottom inch cut off and are inverted and 'planted' next to thirsty plants and then water is poured into them.  This gets the water down to the roots of the plant and it doesn't sit on the source and evaporate.  They are also used as mini cloches to protect new or vulnerable seedlings and as waterers with a special little sprinkler top that I have bought.  Bottom sections are used as plant pots and 'vases' for cuttings that I am rooting.

None make it to landfill ... any that we don't use are flattened and recycled, we have a brilliant recycling system in this part of North Wales.

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Have you always been as resourceful with food as you are now?

At first I was going to answer NO to this one .... but then I stopped and thought about it.
My resourcefulness with food as grown along with me, as I have learnt news ways and methods I have expanded on my knowledge .... like I have in all aspects of my life.  I take in information and retain it well, I learn quickly and use what I have learnt, expanding and developing new ways to suit the current situation.

I enjoy being resourceful and when you enjoy something you strive to do it well ... but I am no angel and have been known to have the odd splurge ..... that's what Chinese takeaways and bottles of wine are for ;-)

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Why don't you shop at Aldi or Lidl ?

This is mainly because I don't like these stores!!

The few times that I have shopped in them I found that the fruit and vegetables purchased there deteriorated much more quickly than items purchased elsewhere.  Although I do know they are very good value on packaged foods, I don't tend to buy many of them and we are heading away from purchasing these more and more.

Distance is also a factor ... our nearest stores are all between 12 and 15 miles away, Tesco is our nearest main supermarket at just 10 miles away and our nearest 'local' shops are either in Llanrwst or at Bodnant Farm Foods farm shop which are both 3 miles in either direction from us.

I tend to shop at the supermarket or shop that we either have points or vouchers for and combine this with other errands, ie visiting the bank or fueling one of the vehicles, so this tends to be Tesco, M&S and occasionally Sainsburys.

And if I am totally honest I don't shop much so when I do I want to enjoy the experience, a good percentage of the folk that shop in the discount shops near us are of the louder mouthed rougher type and whilst at an earlier stage in my life I might have tolerated this I am now of an age and frame of mind where I won't.  But saying this, I should maybe push my boundaries and give them another chance!!

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Why don't you buy UHT milk to save weekly visits to the shops for milk?

I do occasionally buy UHT milk and always have it in the house both for emergencies, and for yoghurt making as it makes the yoghurt thicker than ordinary milk.  But Lovely Hubby does not like it in his tea or coffee or on cereals, so we always have skimmed milk in the fridge for him.  I don't use cows milk, instead I buy or make my own almond and oat milks.

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  1. Hi! I am going to sound like a killjoy here - but do you drink your sparkling water through a straw? My sister drank loads of unflavoured sparkling water and it really damaged the enamel her teeth and the dentist blamed it on the water. Great blog and I love the way the original has expanded into lots of bloglets!

    1. No I don't drink it through a straw. Plain sparkling water does cause the least problems with teeth when compared to flavoured waters and other sparkling drinks, but it is something to be aware of. Just another reason for drinking tap water whenever possible and saving sparkling water for journeys and treats.

  2. You sell things on bootsales do you put this money towards food or other things like savings or a holiday?
    Do you find some weeks are better than others?
    We've done the odd bootsale and sometimes barely the covered the cost of the stall other times done well.

    1. The notes and pound coins usually get banked to help towards the mortgage overpayments, and the change goes into the Sealed Pot savings tin. We only do a couple of car boot sales a year at the moment so tend to have LOTS of stuff, so we rarely come home with less than £150.

      We find the trick is to have nice clean, well presented things, all labelled with the price we want for them and have a cheerful haggling session if someone wants something cheaper. We chat to our customers too and get folk joining in with conversations ... oh and it helps to take a Pug ... she pulls the customers over with her cheeky little face.

      At the end of the final car boot sale of the year we go mad and have the last hour with 'everything at 20p', it clears the table and means we have nothing to store over the Winter.

  3. Ever thought about writing a sort of self sufficient tips book? Just the basics like making money and food stretch, household natural cleaning products, tips on a productive bootsale, saving water, what you can use for compost or feed to chickens, which plants and veggies grow best where etc

    You know alot of stuff. Good knowledge you've built through experience. Why not share it out :)

    1. I can't put myself out anymore than I presently do at the moment due to LH's job and the need for a degree of keeping our heads below the parapet, I'm already pushing boundaries blogging as I do. A book maybe on the cards in the future, when he is here full time ... he keeps telling me I should write one.

  4. Out of interest...why this lifestyle? You do alot of challenges all great but all about restricting your items purchases living off less etc. It is quite refreshing reading about someone who doesn't fall into the consumer trap regularly but i just wondered why you personally do it.

    Are you just content to live a simple self sufficient life where possible?

    You always seem busy between house work feeding pets planting and digging and cooking and baking yet you seem so happy with your life and home. Its lovely to read about.

    1. We originally were going to live this lifestyle for our retirement, and then realised that it would take energy that perhaps we would not have as much of in our later years, and so a simple conversation while we sat over lunch in my shop triggered the turn of events that are blogged about on my main blog 'Our New Life in the Country'. In fact our original advert we placed to get our first farm is on the very first post of that blog.

      I think a simple life is the only kind of life I would want, I have never really been a big 'consumer' ... well apart from a bit of a handbag fetish for a few years ;-)

      I have to be busy, if I'm not out there 'doing things' then I'm on the computer blogging about doing things.... which then inspires me to get off my bum and get back out there doing more things. I can assure you that housework is WAY down on my list of priorities ;-)

      A Challenge such as this keeps me on my toes and moving forward, and more importantly is serving a valuable purpose in helping us plan the future.

  5. You seem to challenge yourself alot some out of necessity back when your children was young and you had to feed them etc, some out of what seems to be just seem to like stretching your capabilities.

    I wonder do you think when you retire and live near the beach and give up all this farm life everything you've built up will you simply look back with a big smile & relax with all you've achieved or will the challenge your self attitude continue in some way...

    Is the plan will you be living off your hubbies pension and sale of all you've built up because you have done a mighty lot on your home and farm considering you plan to move eventually...(i know some folk who won't even decorate a rented home if they knew in years to come they intend to move lol)

    1. Our long term plan is to sell this, hopefully lock, stock and barrel, just as we start to find it all too much for us to cope with and then use the money we get to live an even simpler life by the sea with whatever dogs we have at the time.

      I have a vision of us tottering along the prom in Llandudno with a Collie and a Pug breathing in the sea air and keeping as fit as we can before going home to watch Homes Under the Hammer and making frugal tasty lunches with 'yellow stickered' bargains bought with our pensions, and splashing out a few times a year on nice holidays :-)

      Hopefully that is way in the future .... there is a lot still left to achieve.

  6. Hello, can I ask how you make yoghurt with UHT milk please? I always use the semi skimmed one and just wondered if I could use that and how you actually do it? Thanks.

    1. It's exactly the same method as using any other milk, just missing out the warming up stage because the milk has already gone through that process to make it UHT.

      Use the milk at room temperature, add some of the yoghurt from your last batch and a tablespoonful of dried milk powder if you want a thicker yoghurt and put it in your usual warm place or yoghurt maker, I use my Easiyo flask.


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