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    • RR4353
    • By RR4353 3rd Jul 18, 1:04 PM
    • 17Posts
    • 3Thanks
    RR4353
    Working households - Living costs and lifestyles - what is essential?
    • #1
    • 3rd Jul 18, 1:04 PM
    Working households - Living costs and lifestyles - what is essential? 3rd Jul 18 at 1:04 PM
    Hi

    I am looking for people in employment or self-employed in the UK to help me out with my research. This thread relates to living costs for working households and forms part of my research for my dissertation (MA in Social Research Methods and Social Policy at Durham University).

    I have been given permission by the MSE Forum Team to create this thread.

    The research considers living costs among working households, in particular the financial pressures associated with our lifestyles today. Therefore, it looks beyond essential costs, recognising that in the UK today housing, fuel and food costs are big issues but that we also have many other living costs to juggle, and people on decent/better incomes can still have little disposable income.

    The thread is intended to open up discussion about living costs to see how they vary among different households - there are no rights or wrongs, everyone will have their own opinions and experiences. You do not have to respond to all questions and may withdraw at any time up to 31 July 2018, by which time I will be preparing to submit the assignment. Taking part is completely voluntary.

    Parts of the discussion will be used in my dissertation assignment but all names will be changed to ensure confidentiality and anonymity. I will keep my assignment data on a password-protected computer. By contributing to the thread, you are giving your consent for me to use what you write in my assignment and this will only be used for the purpose of my dissertation.

    The first question is:
    Other than rent/mortgage, council tax, water, gas/electric/other fuel and food costs, what do you consider as essential/important for your living costs today?


    I'll post further questions below as the discussion gets going
    Last edited by RR4353; 06-07-2018 at 9:11 PM. Reason: add to title; omiited word
Page 3
    • RR4353
    • By RR4353 6th Jul 18, 9:10 PM
    • 17 Posts
    • 3 Thanks
    RR4353
    Credit neither helps nor hinders my standard of living as such it just makes life easier.
    I pay my cards off in full every month. I use them for the S75 protection and when booking events online, for convenience.
    You're probably not getting a representative sample on here because it's a site targeted at a certain demographic. Those who don't care about spending till they get in strife aren't likely to loitering in these parts,
    Originally posted by elsien
    Thank you

    This is just part of my sample - I'm also doing face-to-face interviews, which have been mainly with people who are in debt/not managing too well - so hoping to get a balance of views/experiences between the two approaches :-)
    • RR4353
    • By RR4353 6th Jul 18, 9:18 PM
    • 17 Posts
    • 3 Thanks
    RR4353
    I never earned a high salary, working in publishing. I think managing my money well and not incurring debt was instilled in me by my mother, who always drummed it into me that I had to save. Also, seeing how elders in my family lost everything material (and family members) during the war made me realise how easy it was to lose everything, and how difficult it was to 'climb back up again', hence my sense of insecurity about incurring debt. (For years, the elders and their children lived in what would certainly be classified as poverty today, though not unhappily.) The worrying thing is that many people in this society are living as though there's no tomorrow, and when a crash of some kind comes (as it inevitably will, judging by past history), they will be left very vulnerable, which could have repercussions on the whole of society. Perhaps both the education system and parents should be teaching children to live more frugally, and why, though such advice would obviously be too late for those in the full throes of the consumer 'culture' (who will beget offspring that will presumably follow their lead).

    In general, I've never been into the 'consumer culture', involving people buying generic 'must-have' products, which they have been persuaded by advertising that they have to have (to 'keep up' with others, mainly). You only need to look at the ads for things like kitchens, say, and to see how generic everything is (they all look much the same, with little character). Also, I prefer quite unusual, older, lived in things, since they were often made much better than they are now, look far better (to me) and last longer. Obviously, some things, such as cookers and fridges, need to be up to date to function in the best way possible, but in the case of, say, sofas, older, hand-made ones are often better designed than new ones and can be re-covered if necessary. My sofa is from the 1920s, and had already belonged to at least two people before it reached me. I've just had it re-covered twice because the cat got to the first two covers. My dining table is Georgian (a simple oak country thing, not one of the upper-level ones), and the chairs are from a similar period and were hand-made by 'bodgers' in woods. I much prefer such well-made items created by hand, with history attached to them, than the modern junk (some of it far more expensive than the things I prefer), and also am aware of the harm human mass consumption is doing to the natural environment.

    Another thing I was thinking about earlier, sparked by your project: it is interesting that words such as 'debt' and 'loans' are now often replaced by the positive-sounding 'credit', the subtle suggestion being that having debts was to one's credit and somehow admirable. Presumably coming up with such a connotation was a deliberate tactic by the money-lenders. Also, the word 'usury' is now rarely used and is somewhat archaic, whereas usurers used to be despised. Moreover, being in debt was until recently considered to be a matter of shame. All food for thought.
    Originally posted by Sapphire
    Thanks again Sapphire, this is very insightful.
    • RR4353
    • By RR4353 6th Jul 18, 9:27 PM
    • 17 Posts
    • 3 Thanks
    RR4353
    Another item not yet covered

    Living in a very rural area so no services.
    If access to functional transport is essential then it is equally essential you have two cars:- in effect one is a backup
    I do.
    Depending on cirucmstances one of those might be a 4WD vehicle, because one thing is for certain your local roads will not be gritted.
    Originally posted by Uxb
    Thank you - yes geographical issues are certainly an issue, if you (or anyone else with similar issues) would like to add to this that would be appreciated - in particular highlighting any additional living costs incurred by living in rural/remote areas but balanced with any gains/positives and reasons for choosing to live away 'hustle and bustle' :-)
    • RR4353
    • By RR4353 6th Jul 18, 9:34 PM
    • 17 Posts
    • 3 Thanks
    RR4353
    I actually earn money online so that more than covers the cost if you want to look at it that way, my online income is around 400 a month on top of my salary, broadband and phone contracts etc are under 100 so I am in profit here.
    Originally posted by scaredofdebt
    Thanks scaredofdebt - This is, as you say, an alternative perspective of how the internet can be a source of income for many - any additional information on how you have found this experience would be appreciated (or from anyone else in a similar situation)

    I would also like to ask just to clarify - is your online income as extra to your salary a choice or through a need to top-up your salary?

    Thanks again
    • RR4353
    • By RR4353 6th Jul 18, 10:02 PM
    • 17 Posts
    • 3 Thanks
    RR4353
    Thanks for all the discussion so far, it's all very insightful

    A few more questions to go - here is QUESTION 4 (but still feel feel to answer previous questions too if you haven't already)

    QUESTION 4
    How important is it for you (or your family/friends) to have a better standard of living than the generation before?
    (this could also open up the debate of 'what is a better standard of living?' if people would like to discuss this)
    • Sapphire
    • By Sapphire 7th Jul 18, 12:51 AM
    • 2,345 Posts
    • 4,442 Thanks
    Sapphire
    Thanks for all the discussion so far, it's all very insightful

    A few more questions to go - here is QUESTION 4 (but still feel feel to answer previous questions too if you haven't already)

    QUESTION 4
    How important is it for you (or your family/friends) to have a better standard of living than the generation before?
    (this could also open up the debate of 'what is a better standard of living?' if people would like to discuss this)
    Originally posted by RR4353
    Well, given my answer to your previous question, it should be quite obvious that I felt it important to improve my standard of living compared to parents and grandparents, who lost everything material and actually lived in poverty (and later just 'modestly').

    I think I bettered my standard of living almost by accident. I never set out to be very affluent (just wanted to be comfortable and not to have to worry about money). It was always most important to me to do work that is interesting and fulfilling (which enriches my life more than material wealth could), rather than to earn big bucks. My siblings operated similarly, and we've each achieved a similar living standard, though by very different means. I suppose we are high achievers, because we did exactly what we wanted to do and each excel in our chosen professions (though not in terms of achieving vast material wealth, which was never our ambition).
    • Uxb
    • By Uxb 7th Jul 18, 2:17 PM
    • 1,240 Posts
    • 1,359 Thanks
    Uxb
    Thank you - yes geographical issues are certainly an issue, if you (or anyone else with similar issues) would like to add to this that would be appreciated - in particular highlighting any additional living costs incurred by living in rural/remote areas but balanced with any gains/positives and reasons for choosing to live away 'hustle and bustle' :-)
    Originally posted by RR4353
    One could go one for ever about the pros and cons of rural living: some love it some hate it
    I for one am quite happy at any adverse items to be in the countryside and would hate to be in any urban area - and did when I had to be.
    In terms of those advserse items I'd say the main one is no mains gas. So its either oil or propane for heating as an alternative to an all electric house which are both much more expensive than gas both from a supply basis and for the H&S and environmental rules on storage tanks. Theft from oil tanks is also an issue.
    Mobile phone coverage is a joke and it annoys me the so many city centric posters on the web ask why anyone has landlines anymore. I have a mostly operational 2G voice service though sometime it is only OK for texts but the 3G "service" is basically non functional.
    The landline plus its answerphone is essential
    I do get lots of power cuts and am rigged up to live with them with parafin lamps etc - trees come down across the lines in storms etc. Owning a chainsaw in a rural area is another essential.
    I'm pretty well self sufficient in terms of wood for wood burning stove along with a large seasoning/drying store.

    The other obvious issue is living away from "things" means when you want to go out is a car journey and the round trip is going to be in the hour plus region...Go out for an evening meal - that will be a 50 mile round trip sort of thing.
    • RR4353
    • By RR4353 9th Jul 18, 3:27 PM
    • 17 Posts
    • 3 Thanks
    RR4353
    Thanks again for the discussion

    QUESTION 5
    How important is being, or becoming, a homeowner?...and why?
    • Owain Moneysaver
    • By Owain Moneysaver 9th Jul 18, 8:00 PM
    • 8,848 Posts
    • 10,185 Thanks
    Owain Moneysaver
    QUESTION 4
    How important is it for you (or your family/friends) to have a better standard of living than the generation before?
    Originally posted by RR4353
    I think I'm resigned to having a lower standard of living than my parents, who although they weren't in well-paid jobs probably never knew a day's unemployment, in secure unionised public sector, could afford to buy a comfortable house in a nice area (now worth about half a mill - except they sold it and moved ) and retired with a comfortable pension (state and employers) and enough savings to pay for a care home if they'd wanted it.
    A kind word lasts a minute, a skelped erse is sair for a day.
    • Owain Moneysaver
    • By Owain Moneysaver 9th Jul 18, 8:05 PM
    • 8,848 Posts
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    Owain Moneysaver
    QUESTION 5
    How important is being, or becoming, a homeowner?...and why?
    Originally posted by RR4353
    It's a lot less important if you are in decent secure-tenancy rented housing. No maintenance bills, and the rent will be paid by benefit if you can't work.

    Private renting is currently unsustainable but is the only option for many. It's expensive and tenancies are insecure.

    If you want to have a choice of where you live then you have to be a homeowner. Owing an appreciating asset is secondary, but not insignificant.
    A kind word lasts a minute, a skelped erse is sair for a day.
    • Sapphire
    • By Sapphire 10th Jul 18, 1:18 AM
    • 2,345 Posts
    • 4,442 Thanks
    Sapphire
    Thanks again for the discussion

    QUESTION 5
    How important is being, or becoming, a homeowner?...and why?
    Originally posted by RR4353
    Pretty important for me, since it has given me security. Took a long time and a lot of hard work to pay off my mortgage. I was never a high earner, and didn't buy an expensive, big property to get on any 'ladder', or to speculate on property. I bought a property purely to achieve a sense of security and a roof over my head. (I always knew that I wouldn't inherit anything and had to take care of my own security, without relying on others.)

    Any improvements I carried out were done for practical reasons (not for 'resale' purposes), so that I could have a study, for example, for work. I updated a very worn bathroom, which had a cabinet I kept hitting my head on and in which the space to move was not sufficient (the fittings were changed to smaller ones, and rearranged, to solve that issue). I waited for several years until I had saved enough money to do the work outright, without borrowing any money.
    • Nebulous2
    • By Nebulous2 10th Jul 18, 8:28 AM
    • 2,105 Posts
    • 1,292 Thanks
    Nebulous2
    Thanks again for the discussion

    QUESTION 5
    How important is being, or becoming, a homeowner?...and why?
    Originally posted by RR4353
    I don't think we even thought about it. It was just expected. As soon as we both had completed training we bought a flat.

    When we had a child we moved to a cheaper rural area to buy a house and then as finances improved moved back to another house in town.

    There was a presumption of home ownership.
    • getmore4less
    • By getmore4less 10th Jul 18, 10:31 AM
    • 33,479 Posts
    • 20,232 Thanks
    getmore4less
    Thanks enthusiasticsaver!

    You have 'Debt free, mortgage free, early retiree, living the dream' on your posts - what advice would you give to others striving to achieve this?
    Originally posted by RR4353
    In the old days it was fairly standard to work around 40 years 20-60 then retire.

    There is a great post from someone on another site(that I can't find) that has the retire in 20 model by live on 1/2 save 1/2

    I felt this was a little tight for most people even though the investment return goals were not too outrageous it required no hick ups along the way

    I modified this to a slightly different model simplified it is

    live off 1/3, save 1/3, buy a property with 1/3.

    This can get you close to having a big enough pot to retire mortgage free in 25 years.

    If you start at 30, settled into a career on OK money, retire at 55 is very achievable and there should be a bit of a head start anyway in the first 10 years(20-30).

    Kids mess this up so don't have them or change the model to 1/4 with kids getting the 4th quarter.
    • getmore4less
    • By getmore4less 10th Jul 18, 10:32 AM
    • 33,479 Posts
    • 20,232 Thanks
    getmore4less
    Thanks again for the discussion

    QUESTION 5
    How important is being, or becoming, a homeowner?...and why?
    Originally posted by RR4353
    Cheaper than(lifetime) renting unless you are getting subsidised accommodation.
    • stingey
    • By stingey 10th Jul 18, 11:09 AM
    • 47 Posts
    • 69 Thanks
    stingey
    Thanks again for the discussion

    QUESTION 5
    How important is being, or becoming, a homeowner?...and why?
    Originally posted by RR4353
    There's expectation and pressure in society to make it important. As if 'you've made it' if you 'own your own home'.

    It's not overly important to me for the following reasons:

    The mortgage provider owns the house until the mortgage is repaid. It's not 'your's'. This is up to 30 years of your life. If you stop making repayments the mortgage provider evicts you from 'your home', how then do you own it?

    Those in a leasehold property (especially new builds) are having to pay extortionate ground rents for the property to sit on and fees for making changes to 'their' property.

    I've seen people close to me work hard, sacrifice through their lives to 'own their own home' repay the mortgage, then die within a few years or have to sell the property due to outside circumstances.

    If you live in a communal block the factor can bill you for investment works and changes to the exterior of 'your home' even if you object. They will override you, then bill you for it.

    Maybe years ago it would be important, jobs were more secure. Today it's a very risky investment, 30 years is a long time for something not to go wrong. I also think attitudes will change, we seem to be the only European country where being a homeowner is a must. Renting properties are more common.
    Each morning we are born again, what we do today is what matters the most.
    Debt-free wannabe....
    May 2016: 53k and counting down.
    April 2018: 34k and counting down
    • Spider In The Bath
    • By Spider In The Bath 10th Jul 18, 12:02 PM
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    Spider In The Bath
    Thank you - yes geographical issues are certainly an issue, if you (or anyone else with similar issues) would like to add to this that would be appreciated - in particular highlighting any additional living costs incurred by living in rural/remote areas but balanced with any gains/positives and reasons for choosing to live away 'hustle and bustle' :-)
    Originally posted by RR4353
    I also live in a rural area.

    Costs - we do not have gas in the village (and never will as too far away from the main gas line). So we use oil for heating and hot water. The costs can vary a lot depending on global events affecting oil prices.

    Also, no public transport so we need two cars. Again the cost of petrol has a big impact on budget. My husband works in a town where they are planning to implement the 'toxin tax' so no idea what we will do then as it is not affordable. Also, cars tend to need more repair work due to navigating bumpy country lanes and driving up grass vergers to get past tractors and combines.

    Everything is more expensive. My nearest town is 7.5 miles away so just to get there and back costs about 3-4 in petrol before even buying anything.

    It is very cold in winter so extra costs for heating too.

    The benefits are larger garden, peace and quiet, wildlife (we get 34 species of birds in the garden and I have been watching two sparrowhawks chicks this morning too). About 30 paces from my front door I can be walking in fields, good community.

    Technology has made a massive difference to us over the last few years. I am a self-employed, freelancer working from home (well, watching the sparrowhawks today anyway!). Even a few years ago I could not have done this due to poor rural broadband speeds.

    For just over a year we have been able to stream films and this has made a massive difference. Nearest cinema is about a 1 and 1/2 to 1 hour and 40 mins round trip away.

    Also, we more or less buy everything online too. Cheaper than driving and paying for petrol. This includes food, clothing, gardening items including plants, presents, holidays etc.

    Tech also allows us to keep in-touch with family and friends and managing our finances. They bank in the local town shut about 2 months ago.

    So for us it is an essential part of our living costs.
    • RR4353
    • By RR4353 12th Jul 18, 10:55 AM
    • 17 Posts
    • 3 Thanks
    RR4353
    Thanks everyone, the views on housing are really interesting. I could go on and on asking more and more questions, you've all been so helpful and detailed in your responses

    Living costs is such a broad area and it would be impossible for me to cover everything because my assignment is just a small-scale piece of research.

    So I'd like to thank you all and leave one last question which I'll leave open for a week or so but do also feel free to return to any of the previous discussion and answer questions you may have missed or add to the responses of others.

    QUESTION 6
    Is there anything that I have not asked about or that has not been brought up so far that you feel is particularly important/of concern in relation to living costs in the UK today, either on a personal level or more widely?


    Thanks again
    • Owain Moneysaver
    • By Owain Moneysaver 12th Jul 18, 12:06 PM
    • 8,848 Posts
    • 10,185 Thanks
    Owain Moneysaver
    QUESTION 6
    Is there anything that I have not asked about or that has not been brought up so far that you feel is particularly important/of concern in relation to living costs in the UK today, either on a personal level or more widely?
    Originally posted by RR4353
    Low interest rates and high inflation rates. I know they're good for people paying mortgages, including buy-to-lets which feeds through to rents charged, but they are such a disincentive to savers and affect income on asset-rich income-poor (which means a lot of older people).

    Not having savings, and irresponsible borrowing because credit is too cheap and easily available, actually ends up costing people a lot more.

    1991-93 BOE base rate fell from 10% to 5%, from 2008-9 from 5% to 0.5%.

    And food is getting expensive again. This week I'm trying to have a brunch about 10 am rather than both breakfast and lunch.
    A kind word lasts a minute, a skelped erse is sair for a day.
    • CakeCrusader
    • By CakeCrusader 12th Jul 18, 12:49 PM
    • 624 Posts
    • 341 Thanks
    CakeCrusader
    Broadband - I work from home so it's essential (no broadband means I can't work), I order my groceries online too (I don't drive and it's difficult to carry bags of groceries home).



    Water bill - the local water company slap you with a CCJ if you pay too late.



    Dental plan



    Bus card - prices only every go up, but I'm stuck in between two cities and there's only one bus company which travels to them both so I have little choice.


    My parents lived on benefits and I can remember hiding from X,Y and Z when I was a child because they didn't have the money to pay them. I was always being sent to borrow cash from my father's brother, and Friday night's visitor was the Provident lady (they made a mint from my father). We pretty much lived on chips as a bag of potatoes was cheap. I managed to get into University and I earn a good wage now. I have a couple of credit cards but I manage them well so I'm a lot better off then my parents were. I do think we've become more materialistic as time has gone on, which is sad really. I think bill costs and food prices (and rent!) are far too high though. Food's tricky, there's a lot more choice in the supermarket and we're made to feel as though we should buy 4 different types of what's essentially the same product, or that we should buy fruit and veg which is out of season here and imported. There's too much choice, which ramps up the food bill. I remember my water bill in 1999 being 25 a year, now it's 25 a month. We're working harder to cover the ever increasing bills, it seems.
    • katejo
    • By katejo 12th Jul 18, 7:15 PM
    • 3,127 Posts
    • 1,224 Thanks
    katejo
    Thanks again everyone

    Feel free to keep answering my previous questions above if you're just joining the discussion now...I will number them more clearly to help me keep track of who is answering what - please just note which question you're referring to when commenting.

    So.....my next topic: personal credit (credit cards, store cards, catalogues, HP, paying monthly for things like insurance, car tax, etc. - anything where you pay monthly/defer payment, usually incurring interest, rather than outright for goods/services) -

    QUESTION 3
    Does credit help or hinder you (or family/friends) to improve your standard of living?....how?
    Originally posted by RR4353
    It makes absolutely no difference to my standard of living. I use a credit card as a method of payment but only buy products for which I already have the money. i never pay a penny of interest but benefit from the added consumer protection. If I want a larger purchase, i save for it first.
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