Quit spending on stuff you don't need! I cannot repeat this often enough! It is the number one cause of being skint, no matter how much or how little money you have coming into your household. Frugal living is about HOW you allocate your budget.

How poor is poor? I can't answer that question as it's all relevant to personal perception. I can't afford racehorses, yachts or a beach house in Monacco but it doesn't make me poor. Everyone wants a slice of your cake and the bigger your cake, the bigger the slice they want! But isn't it funny how rich people don't seem to cut all that many more slices from their huge, rich cakes? It still starts with the roof over their head, the food and drink on their table, their transport and then the usual stuff, like pets, fashion, hobbies and holidays. They DO NOT dash off and spend a heap more time at the Bingo, bookies or pub, not do they do a trolley dash three times a day around the supermarkets looking for yellow stickers and I doubt very much if they cut out tokens for the £9 holiday from several tabloid newspapers (rather than 1), up their brand of tobacco and graduate from Lambrini to Lambrusco and then perhaps onto a cheap Prosecco! So start thinking like a solvent person and quit whining about being poor. Enrich your life by learning how to think positively and see beyond the debt. Think like a wealthy and wise person, while taking care of your pennies.

Now to look at what's cheap today that used to be the preserve of the rich!

Most people who use the Internet now have access from home, work or via their mobiles - we know this because our libraries are being closed at an alarming rate through lack of use and I cannot remember the last time I saw a pay-per-hour Internet cafe since my own closed down in the 90's. It was the preserve of the rich to drive saloons with car phones and when I eventually introduced mobile phones into my business plan, it cost £149.99 for the cheapest pay-as-you-go hand set, which looked a bit like a brick in comparison to today's sleek little touch screen gadgets. Access to technology has turned the definition of poverty on its head.

And yet we have food banks, over 5% unemployment (which does NOT mean we have almost 95% in employment) and people saddled with unsustainable debt that includes mortgages on properties that have sunk into negative equity.

But interest rates have never been so low for so long, mortgages never been so affordable and many of the luxuries around us have fallen within the reach of even the most basic earners. I can sail to Ireland for a tenner and call it a day cruise, despite fuel prices being almost ten times what they were at the start of the 80's! What has gone wrong?

Internet costs money and we don't actually NEED it. Based on various criteria, it looks to cost around £10 per week, by the time you factor in contracts (if you have any), line rentals for land lines and the various call and Internet (usually broadband) packages.

To be honest, £10 per week is very reasonable to someone like me who was introduced to the Internet via charged national call rates. I remember the day they dropped Internet access charges to local rate and then a further drop to a penny a minute (on top of your monthly or annual fee, plus telephone line rental) and we celebrated no end - probably with Lambrusco, as Lambrini hadn't yet been invented. I think it came about to make cheap fizzy wine sound like the classier Martini - only not shaken or stirred!

When all-inclusive Internet packages arrived, we swore our undying love to our computers. But we mustn't overlook the fact that, despite these massive drops in price, Internet is still something that many cannot afford. So let's look at what £10 can buy you if you really are broke!

What food types are suitable for all diets, including sugar and grain intolerant ones, that are affordable to all budgets and can cover our basic nutritional requirements? My guess is that homemade soup is the most obvious choice, as it can be cooked almost anywhere, even over a campfire, and comprises water based stock, some veggies and, if you're felling flush, a handful of pulses and/or grains.

How many of you have been to a butcher, asked for dog bones and then used pony carrots and a handful of broth mix or rice to make a pot of soup?

What would you give up first? Your mobile phone, your Internet access or something else - anything else other than your connection to the outside world?

Join us in the www.frugalforums.co.uk to discuss it further

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