Forced Simplicity When It Counts

I don’t know if you know, I have buggered up my back again and am spending a fair amount of time recovering in bed, but what you may not know is that there is a big financial loss associated during any recovery time.  Because my injury has now been over 12 months, and due to workcover laws in this state, I receive a statutory weekly limit which is reduced by any work that I may be able perform.  Suffice to say, my fortnightly take home pay has been cut by 48%.  So, pretty drastic measures have now come into play in our budget.

We have had to cancel the extra money we were putting on our mortgage (attempting to get ahead so I can semi-retire earlier), and the money we were saving to buy our hybrid car at the end of the lease in October has come to a screaming halt.  We are going to have to redraw from the mortgage to afford it now, which is something I really didn’t want to do. 

Everything else is on hold, however we took on a fortuitous challenge last month (before the injury) to see if we could stick to $100 a week to feed a family of 4.  Well, the great news is that for the last three weeks we have achieved this goal.  Eggs from the chooks, veggies from the garden and frugal grocery shopping have saved the day.  We even had $3.50 spare last week.  We still receive our $40 sanity money, which is a trick I learnt from Anita Bell’s great series of books.  I use mine to by the odd bottle of wine and milk for cheese making, and Kim manages to hold on to most of hers so that she can by craft goodies.  Megan pays me rent which equates to about $20 a months which is just enough to pay for the chicken feed so that is covered.

So, so far so good.  I am glad interest rates are low or we would be in a bit of a pickle.  We are able to cover the mortgage and all other bills, and of course our energy bills are minimal.  Gardening will be a bit of a struggle for a few weeks but I am sure I can muster the energy or get help from one of the kids to plant out seeds for tomatoes and other plants that need to be planted in punnets. 

Kim is doing a stirling job juggling the budget and looking after me, and we have been keeping each other emotionally strong, with a little sob now and then which helps get us through.  But then we snap out of it and realise that it could be much, much worse and that at least I am able to do 20 hours of work a week to keep the bills paid and a roof over our head.  I feel quite opptimistic that this relapse will heal quickly, so I should be able to ramp up my hours in September to something a little more reasonable.  Until that time though, I will rest as instructed and keep taking the happy drugs that keep the back and leg pain at bay and keep busy buy writing posts to keep me occupied when I am not working in the afternoons.  It is amazing what you can do with a laptop in bed!  The world is your oyster.

The point of the post is not to gain sympathy, but it is to show that when hard times hit, that we have put in the hard yards and planned ahead, then there is no hurdle to high to jump over for us.  Simple, Frugal and Sustainable living has helped us in the past, and will most certainly help us in many years to come.

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  1. says

    Good Luck,

    Your right, the skills we learn taking on voluntary simplicity really do count when the chips are down.

    Even if the only part you take up is being aware of where the money is going it helps immensely. Being aware means we are able to re prioritise quickly when the unexpected happens. As such we are a whole lot less likely to end up in a revolving debt hole.

    If you don’t mind I would like to be able to send you some good healing thoughts. I don’t like to interfere with someone else’s path so I won’t do anything unless you give me permission.

    Kind Regards

  2. says

    I’m so sorry to hear about your back – I had a touch of it years ago and it is an utter misery I know.

    Thank goodness you have the skills to cope on a reduced income, eat well, enjoy your life, and keep your sense of humour.

    Maybe your neighbours, who you helped to set up a garden, could help you with some planting so that you don’t miss the spring or perhaps the Melton Sustainability Group could do a Permablitz at your house.

    AND you could sell us some of that fabulous Emmenthal.

    Get better soon

  3. says

    Glad to hear you’re planning on getting proper rest – nothing stuffs up a back faster than doing too much, it can turn a temporary problem into a permanent one. Think of it as planning time for the future :)

  4. Anonymous says

    Hope you are soon back on your feet, sad to hear you are doing it so tough but chin up when i win lotto i’ll give you some to help out. Love ELLIE

  5. says

    I have been following your blog for sometime now and enjoy it very much. I am sorry that you are having health issues but thank goodness you learned some skills that can help you out now.

    Here’s to a speedy recovery!

  6. says

    ahhh, what a pisser Gav! Glad you guys are managing with good relatively good spirits. Im with greenfumb- dont forget to ask for some help if you need it. look after yourself and speedy recovery!

    oh my- word veri is backache!!!!

  7. john (dad) says

    dont forget gav .iff u want help physicaly and the folding stuff dont hesitate to call see u end sept

  8. says


    I am going to send you an email with some thoughts but just wanted you to know that you are living proof that the excuse of ‘needing money’ to live green is crap. I am really proud to know your story and really glad you shared it Gav.

  9. Danni- Neighbour says

    You and Kim are such an inspiration. As much as I don’t want you to beat me in our ‘pumpkin competition’ this year, I am more than happy to help you plant our new gardens.

    I am really looking forward to it actually. xx

  10. says

    I’m another ‘back’ person, but my damage is minor, from the sound of it. Are you doing any physio? It has helped me tremendously. The physio said that a back injury unsettles your whole back so the uninjured bits will go out in sympathy, and minor exertion can make your back turn bad again (my back told me it was Wrong for me to use a mattock…). Hope yours comes good again soon.

  11. says

    Belinda, send as many healing thoughts as you want my way. The more the better! I am itching to get back into the garden, and to increase my work hours, but not until my back tells me it is ready.

    Deb, coping well and we are eating extremely well. Kim keeps baking up a storm, and I promised her that I would cook my special potato and chickpea curry tomorrow night. Not very taxing to make that dish at all. And still 2 months to go on the Emmenthal!

    I am resting JulieG, Kim is making sure of that. She is like the rest police!

    Thanks Mum, looking forward to your lotto win this week then! :-)

    Hey Joanna, under any other circumstances, I would take you up on the goats milk. It is so tasty, makes great chevre and is so expensive to buy in the shops!

    Hi Wendy. We are all going to need these types of skills a lot sooner than most of us think…..

    a pisser indeed Kel. Two trouble free months back at work full time and this crap happens. We have so many offers of help, we will have to keep a list, and just to think, if it wasn’t for my green epiphany, I wouldn’t know half of these people! The world works in mysterious ways.

    Dad, if I am not better by the end of September then something will really be wrong. Don’t forget that I have these muscely young adult children to do all the heavy lifting for me. Adam is going to clean the chook house out for me on Saturday!

    Sarhn, thanks for your lovely email, it cheered me up that you care so much for a crazy greenie like me! Right back at ya!

    Danni, Thanks mate, I we are going to need all the pumpkins we can grow to keep us going. I am going to win though 😉

    Chookie, unfortunately it is a disc buldge putting pressure on both scyatic nerves travelling down the legs. Physio tends to make it worse. Once it settles down, I will start slow on exercise rehab in the hydrotherapy pool again, low impact to begin with and then build up to gym work to keep the back muscles strong.

    Thanks all for the comments, they cheered Kim and I up to no end!

  12. says

    Hi Gavin. I will add you to my list in prayers for a speedy recovery. Thank heavens you have learnt the skills to help you where you are at right now. Its good to be able to call on family and friends when the going gets tough,as I am sure you would be the first to offer help if the tables were turned. Keep your spirits up, we are all championing for you. I hope Kim is taking care of herself as well right now. Best wishes to you all. Linda

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