Shona Prophett at NYK Media, Self-confessed frugaleur and frugal living expert.
Are You Gambling with your Future?
How it all began
1997/98 - A huge challenge, finding out how easy it would be to take a horse from field to flat racing on a miniscule budget. It can be done, we succeeded, although the horse wasn't so convinced that it wanted to race in the first place! Three starts, no places, much fun trying. (As I transfer this page over to the new server, said horse is now almost 20 years old and still going strong for her current owner, competing in endurance races.)
1999 - The first regular money saving column in monthly newspaper 'Now You Know' was called 'The Scottish Pound'. This was a grocery-budget challenge to feed a family of 4 a main meal each day for £10 per week. Frugal living and money saving pay and some people wanted to find out more about it. The first step is to become debt free, but to do that takes money. Meanwhile, I'm building up my Cyberdosh in the form of domain names.
Reduce, reuse, recycle and catch a severe dose of frugalitis. It's much more environmentally friendly and much more fun than being skint. (Which you can easily be when you have horses, pets or expensive hobbies.)
We also ran a column named 'The Plonkers'. This was an attempt to find some cheap alternatives to fine wine at the dinner table. In all these years, the best alternative I've found cost no more than the sugar it takes to ferment the rhubarb (thank you to Emma in the Orkney Isles), but it was still fun sampling cheap wine provided by various sponsors at the time.
2000 - 2005 These years have now been deleted from here, as they involved quite a bit of trading in shares, both stockmarket and racehorses, with a few gambles along the way. There is no such thing as a safe bet, so never risk money you cannot afford to burn. (See the 'Billy Can Challenge' for how to assess this.) For those of you who followed or participated during these years, you may remember the successes with the 1-2-3 at Ascott and profitable encounters with companies such as Arena Leisure, eBay, Hyder and Trafficmaster. But it was time to reel it in a bit and make a real difference to long term savings and investment prospects. I sold my shares, weeded out unused domain names from my micro-holdings and invested in a couple more dot coms. Let's face it, these are cheaper than chips and cost much less than pets to keep.
The 2006 Cyberdosh Challenge
Following on from the above, another money challenge; my mission was to carry out the following financial experiment over the period of one year :-
At the end of the experiment, I had to report my findings and explain why I thought each of the above was, or was not, an ideal 'investment' opportunity. The results were interesting, especially as I got to keep the profits, the shares, the winnings and the Premium Bonds!
2007 - Cyberdosh - 'Can you live on £4,000 for a year?' Challenge
To make all things fair, cost of living does NOT include rent / mortgage payment or council tax / water rates, as these costs are dependent on personal circumstances. The basis of the challenge is, live for 12 months on no more than £4000. This may seem ridiculously unrealistic to some, but I accepted the challenge. I'm almost sure that I'm of sane mind. It's a far cry from the original £600 experiment! Once again, my one stipulation was that at the end of this experiment, I keep any surplus stocks, shares, cash, bonds or winnings. Alongside this challenge there were also selling/moneymaking challenges, being run through eBid's free online auctions, which, although much harder work to promote, were way more frugal than the global market leader. Answer to initial Challenge question - YES!
2008 - Frugaldom - 'Living on £4000 for a year' Challenge
After successfully completing 2007 and declaring debt freedom, NYK Media launched the challenge on the Moneysavingexpert forums. (The name change to 'Frugaldom' was implemented to help avoid confusion.)
2009 - Frugaldom - 'Living on £4,000 for a Year' Challenge
The Moneysavingexpert forum version of this challenge was later changed to the Frugal Living Challenge, to allow a more diverse range of budgets and domestic situations.
2010 - Frugaldom - 'Frugal Living - Living on Less than £4,000 for a Year' Challenge
Counting up the costs of running a frugal household while saving every free penny, earning whatever extra you can and aiming for a totally debt free status. I wanted a fixy-up property and to quit paying rent to unreliable private landlords once and for all! I once again weeded my domain name portfolio, reinvesting in only a handful of dot coms.
2011 - Frugaldom - Frugal Living & Working Challenge
Now running through the Frugaldom Forums, it entailed living within a household budget of £4,000 for the year, working from home to create a 'microholding' (garden or allotment food growing) and ensuring that all associated projects are sustainable and cash neutral. Preferably, they should all have shown a profit by 31/12/11 (Shone Prophett, shown a profit... get it now?) This was the year most of my savings and investments were cashed in, but with good reason.
2012 - Frugaldom - Frugal Living & Working Challenge
The Frugal Living Challenge is still going strong and still running on both the Moneysavingexpert forums and through the Frugaldom Forums . The biggest difference is that we have now incorporated mortgage free property development after buying a little fixy-up house for cash. Another new additional challenge was the switch from car to bicycles. Bye bye rent and motoring costs, hello bigger savings!
2013 - Frugaldom - Frugal Living & Working Challenge
Still sticking rigidly to the £4,000 per annum household budget and spending as frugally as possible on renovating while also recouping savings. The grocery budget challenge had been further reduced when the household dropped to 2, so the aim was to keep it to £1 per person per week.
2014 - Frugaldom - Frugal Living & Working Challenge
Onwards and upwards with more of the same - stretching every penny, pushing hard to earn more and finally cashing in to buy a small piece of land - more of a marshy wilderness - to begin the gradual process of fulfilling a long-standing ambition to provide a relaxing outdoor space for fellow writers, artists, crafters and frugalers.
2015 - Frugaldom - Frugal Living and Working Challenge
This year has brought a new challenge for the £4k Frugaldom house of NYK - the addition of a second 'home' to run, in the shape of a caravan on a holiday park adjacent to the Frugaldom Project. I am not sure that running 2 households will be possible on £4,000 but I'm as sure as ever that I will give it my best shot! It just means neutralising the extra overheads by generating extra income from even more of our frugaleur challenges. To help cover extra costs, a small section of the land has been leased out with the hope of doing similar until such times as we've recouped the original purchase costs. It's as simple as that.
PS: Bought a second caravan as one was never going to be enough for Frugaldom friends and family.
Please keep in mind that I am in rural southwest of Scotland where each £1,000 is probably like £10,000 in the south of England. If you don't believe me, come and try the frugal lifestyle for yourself.
2016 - Frugaldom - Frugal Living and Working Challenge
Another year, another challenge - time to crank it up another notch and throw a few curve balls in this game.
I WILL SUCCEED, I will have SHOWN A PROFIT by the end of the year - this is my challenge!
2016 (c) NYK Media. 'Shona Prophett' writes for pleasure, entertainment value and payment only. Nothing within her writings should be taken as financial advice and she removes herself from any and all responsibilities or liabilities, whatsoever, for anything, ever. This is NOT advice, it is simple reading material.