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altheaWhen the shoestring is a bit short

A series full of tips and old fashioned wisdom (with an up-to-date twist) to help with the constant battle of financial survival.

If you didn't win Lotto this week, here is the column for you.  ALTHEA FROM MIDDELMOST(of "Letters from Middelmost" fame) with ideas and hints to help you stretch that stretched budget even further.  Enjoy.

I am an avid reader. Problem is I only need to read half a page before I start nodding off.

A secure and safe food source is vital for me.

Image is all important. It's an item that doesn't cost much. It's the way you wear your second hand clothes ...

A friend called in with the most enormous pumpkin I had ever seen.

Hay in the shed is like money in the bank and my little hay shed was full. But ... as the dry became dryer, I could see the "money in the bank" would be twice as expensive when I did my usual two refills of hay later in the year and I decided that an early intervention was essential.

I did worry the other day when we had the first real cold snap since summer finished. For most of last year, I was on crutches and the usual firewood collecting (along with a lot of other things) was not done and I eyed my dry firewood pile up with dismay.

I saw an advert in a weekly rural paper which reminded me of a discovery I made a while back.

It is so tough when you struggle each day to keep your self-esteem intact because one eye is continually on the bank balance and the other is always on the ever diminishing budget forecast.

I love shopping and, for those fans of "Letters from Middelmost", I did eventually have my dream spree in Paris.

Not only do the pennies and pounds count, when things are tight, but you need to be also checking that you have added value.

Save the pennies and the pounds will take care of themselves. That's a very old saying but, goodness, is it still relevant today!

I often wonder with great admiration as to how people survive on the minimum wage.

I'm a bit of a label reader. Firstly it saves me money because, if there is a word I can't read or can't pronounce on the label, then the item gets put back onto the shelf.

I get quite cross when I am at the checkout and I find my hard-worked-for goods are treated with disrespect.

Last winter I had stopped at a Service Station to fill up. It wasn't one I normally stopped at and I got chatting to the middle aged gentleman behind the counter.

When I garden, I don't waste my time. Mother Nature has a way of making things as difficult as possible just to keep us on our toes and, over the years, I have developed a system that maximises return and reduces effort.

One of the key things at this time of the year is to not waste all of the hard work you have put into your vegetable garden.

A student in front of me yawned, stretched backwards, gently refolded her arms and lay her head down.

I was at a friend's house chatting away over a cup of tea at the kitchen table. True to my friend, the table was laden with unplaced shopping, undone homework, uneaten Xmas treats and an unstored arrangement of flotsam and jetsam.

Time ... how do you make time? Time is my New Year's Resolution. "Take time out to smell the roses" ... easier said than done. But done it's going to be and I started by recognising what I already do. 

Talking about my mother last article reminded me of something she always did at this time of the year.

I was in at the Doctors flicking through the magazines as you do and I found myself reading an advertorial for a life-saving, youth-returning, new-to-the-market foundation type makeup.

With Xmas just around the corner, chocolate (and many things related to chocolate) seem to be constantly in my face.

Desperation does not have pride and, when you are desperately trying to achieve something financially, dignity is usually dispensed with as you try to stay on the side of the fence where the "haves" people live.

It is strange how an association of ideas can completely colour your perception. I had just finished milking the house cow when a friend turned up with a friend of hers that I hadn't met before.

Yesterday I had a reality check. It was an incident that, as has happened before, put me in my (financial) place!

Resourcefulness. A transferable skill that poverty stricken people hone to a high level. I recently spent a lovely weekend learning how to make Homesteaders Cheese and I came home ready to race into it.

For me ... not a problem. I have been a 'Commercially Free Xmas Zone' for years.

I called in to see a friend and found her on her hands and knees planting sunflower seeds - she had an ice-cream container of them.

Don't you hate it when you think you'd made enough jam/pickle/chutney/relish to last to the next season … and you hadn't. My fault.

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