Living a week in the shoes of a pensioner

To better understand how hard Pensioners have it, I’m going to be putting my money where my mouth is.

Living a week in the shoes of a pensioner, Australia, Seniors, Blog

According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) figures released yesterday, pensioners are almost 2 per cent, or roughly $30 per month better off than in the previous financial year. Yet, when reading over our recent post on the latest round of pension increases, it seems pensioners are doing it tougher than ever.

YOURLifeChoices member ‘stardust’ commented on the recent pension increase by saying “Yes, our $5.00 each per fortnight rise ... rent went up 4 weeks ago by $5.00 a week (govt housing) ... private health going up $7.50 from 1 April 2012”.

It seems like the pensioners of this country are of little importance to governments and with no major party representing their interests, they do not have adequate representation in parliament. Consider for a moment the ‘same-sex marriage’ debate that continues to surface every two to three weeks in the media. There is a strong party and advocacy group push for the political parties of Australia to recognise their human rights. The same can’t be said for Australian pensioners.

I have been working in the ‘seniors’ sector for the past eight years, having worked for a company that provided post acute care in the home and then transitioning into a job at About Seniors website, now YOURLifeChoices. Over that time, I have become emotionally attached to the 50+ demographic and the struggles pensioners face.

To better understand how hard pensioners have it, I’m going to be putting my money where my mouth is and spend a week in the life of a pensioner. While I will continue to work my day-job, I will plan my week around a set budget (single age pension) and live within the means. My 'pension' week starts this Sunday!

Any hints or suggestions on how to budget my ‘age pension’ for the week would be welcomed.
Do you put a certain amount of money aside every fortnight for future medical payments or holidays?





    COMMENTS

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    Reppie
    3rd May 2012
    12:18pm
    Good luck Drew, I hope your week isn't too stressful!
    Living on a pension is damn hard - not so long ago my basic shopping for a fortnight was around $60 - that does not include a lot of foods etc. just the basics. The same shop costs well over $100 a fortnight now, so ,I SO do not agree with their figures. I don't buy meat ever, and if I don't win at the club free raffles, I dont eat meat.

    I worry about the rising costs of power - I currently have $45 a fortnight taken out of my account on pension day, so it has been covered pretty well for a few years now. I simply cannot afford to have more taken out to cover the increase.

    OK fine, the govt is giving us some help initially, but what happens in 12 months time when the even higher bills come in? Right at a time when we should be able to relax, having paid taxes all our lives mostly, we have the endless worry of how do we afford this and that any more.
    jarraby
    5th May 2012
    12:41pm
    Don't know about the no meat, Reppie. At Coles, you can buy 1 kg sausages $4, 1 kg mince $6, 425 tin tuna $2. That's $12 and enough protein for 14 days, given that we're told 150 gms is a healthy portion size. Sausage and mash, cottage pie, spag bol, curried tuna and rice to name but a few things that these ingredients could turn into with a few staples from the cupboard and some veg. There are endless possibilities.

    Granted, a piece of steak and a roast now and then would be much nicer ;)
    Nan Norma
    3rd May 2012
    12:20pm
    Start by deducting $240 for your rent. That is the least rent I know off. Don't forget you won't be buying clothes, but allow for it anyway. Oh, you have a grandchild having a birthday.
    Nan Norma
    3rd May 2012
    1:37pm
    Actually Drew, Just do your maths and you'll see for yourself that you'll be struggling. The experience will at least give you some idea, but realisticly you need to do it at least a month.
    genimi
    3rd May 2012
    12:27pm
    Drew, this has been done by politicians every so often, and while your intentions are no doubt to gain a better understanding, it simply isn't realistic. Will your budget have your mortgage payment or rent for the week included? running costs for your vehicle? public transport costs? a portion set aside for health insurance, electricity usage, gas, water, etc? you see to say you will live on the pension for a week is not so hard when these things are already taken care of by your regular income.

    I am not saying I am doing it as tough as a pensioner, I am a self funded retiree so I have a better income than the pension, but I have greater expenses as I do not get concessions on anything. My son is a disability pensioner and there is no way he would survive if he did not live with me, he doesnt have accomodation costs to find - he pays an amount of 'lodgings' to cover the cost of the utilities he uses and he shares the cost of food, etc but he just couldnt do it alone. his car died recently (he has to have a car as he cannot travel by public transport) and if I had not been taking care of his money and charging him very little to live he could not have replaced it.
    aquatrek
    3rd May 2012
    12:27pm
    Hi Peoples - If you have a computer then I advise all to come to grips with a spreadsheet [if you dont already]. I have records for all of my expenses for the last 2 years because I keep all shopping receipts and enter them into the worksheet. I dont record every single item but have groups like food, projects/hobbies, booze etc. At the end of each month I start a new months worth of preset rows. I also have a 12 month budget with all of the known expenses i.e. car, phone etc. I am quite willing to send my little sheets [blank or with examples]to anyone who would like them: aquatrek@tpg.com.au but pls identify yourself as coming from LifeChoices/pensioners or no response by moi. Cheers
    genimi
    3rd May 2012
    12:42pm
    have been doing this for some time also - although I write it in a book, not on a spreadsheet
    arb1950
    3rd May 2012
    12:55pm
    Yep. I do this too. We have to, don't we.
    jarraby
    5th May 2012
    1:28pm
    I can't live without my spreadsheets ;). My budget spreadsheet tells me that my basic annual budget translates to $435 per week. I own my unit, but still have to include an amount for rates, insurance and strata levies, about $90 per week.

    To my basic budget, I have to add things like cleaning, handyman and other services that I need due to being disabled. These come to another $125 per week.

    I don't go anywhere much; haven't been on holiday since I left work 10 years ago. Fortunately for me I love reading and playing computer games, doing online crosswords, etc. TV is free to air and I'm lucky that my nephew passes on movie DVD's from time to time and I also have a good music collection. Organisations like U3A are wonderful, because for membership of $50 per annum, I can take any number of courses - painting, music, talks, discussion groups, all sorts. Haven't time to be bored or discontented.
    buby
    5th May 2012
    8:57pm
    Yes i put my budget down on paper too. Mainly i live on very little. but i jot down all the rec eipts, and i check each and every supermarket just to see whose the most expensive one. and of course i won't go there much there after, as it will show. but i dooo PUT everything into my excel.....and my expense of Electrics, and gas and so forth! geeeeeeeZ i new i forgot something Travel....expenses.....runs to put that one in cheers
    arb1950
    3rd May 2012
    12:29pm
    'Do you put a certain amount of money aside every fortnight for future medical payments or holidays?'...are you kidding????? Every fortnight I put money aside for gas bill...electricity bill...council rates...water rates...phone (home)...internet...car petrol...car registration...car insurance...home insurance...home contents...and I could go on. Who can afford to pay any of these in a lump sum when they come in? I HAVE to put the money aside. Just take September as an example. In September I pay my car registration, car insurance, the 1st instalment on my rates and try to buy my daughter a birthday present as Sept is "the" month. In Sept. I may also get an electricity bill or a gas bill or a water rates instalment. If I didn't have money put aside where on earth would I get it from. You certainly can't pay any of these out of the fortnightly pension.
    Along with all the pensioners I know, I would LOVE to know how the Bureau of Statistics work out their figures. The ONLY things I know that are cheaper this year are bread and milk. Sure fruit has gone down, but only because it was hugely inflated in 2010 due to the flooding, storms in Qsld...and when it was hugely inflated we just went without. Meat has gone up heaps, as has groceries, Petrol, clothing and just about everything else. Even bloody soap powder is over $10 a packet. Ahhh...why do we even bother responding to the sort of question you posed and who the bloody hell can afford holidays if just living on a straight pension???
    MrsB
    3rd May 2012
    12:46pm
    Arb,like you, I also put away money for all the expenses as you stated, husband and I put away $300 pf together for the bills e.g electricity, water and phone/foxtel as well as we share the grocery food bill too, we have been doing this for over twenty five years so it is second nature now.I have a pension from my super fund as well, and out of that I save for holidays, christmas,my medical fund,council rates and rego and insurance.
    If I only had the aged pension, like a lot of others we would not be able to do any of these things. I feel very much for the pensioners who have to pay rent or mortgage payments, it would be almost impossible I am sure. We paid our home off in 1998.We are the lucky ones, I know.
    arb1950
    3rd May 2012
    12:39pm
    And no...I'm not whingeing. Just saying it as it is. I REALLY feel for pensioners who are struggling in public housing as their rent is going up heaps, or trying to pay private housing rent from their pension. They get a super raw deal I feel. (Though I would LOVE not having to try to pay to maintain my home...as it is falling down around me) Time for a Pensioner Party people!!!!
    MrsB
    3rd May 2012
    12:49pm
    OK Arb, I vote for you to be our leader, there you are already one vote and counting. We need passionate people to stand up to the pollies to fight for a decent pension, stop giving to the overseas aid all the time, people in our country are living below the poverty line, look after the people in your own backyard first.
    arb1950
    3rd May 2012
    1:04pm
    When we were given our HUGE rise of $6.70 per fortnight I actually went online to see if I could find a Pensioner activist group so I could join. I actually saw people on the steps of Parliament in Melbourne who were protesting...but the 'news' did not say who they were. Unfortunately, I have been unable to find any group of pensioners who are interested in starting up a political group...or an activist group or similar. Anyone know of one in Melbourne? Who were the women who stripped to their bra's a few years ago? I WANT TO JOIN YOU.... (Don't feel skilled enough to try to do it on my own brewaz...though give me a few more 'hits' and I just may)
    aquatrek
    3rd May 2012
    12:52pm
    Hi Drew - I agree with all of the above - your conducting just another journo stunt that has absolutely no credibility. Regds.
    genimi
    3rd May 2012
    2:53pm
    I for one did not mean to imply that Drew was conducting a stunt - just that unless ones factors everything in it is not realistic. and that doing it for a week is not the same as living below the poverty line in the long term.
    Reppie
    3rd May 2012
    1:21pm
    I don''t see it as a stunt Drew, you are doing what pollies ONCE did. You arent a pollie, so maybe you will find out just how hard it is, and actually admit it!! That would be a novelty, actual acknowledment of the truth, not just another cover-up eh.

    I live in state govt housing, and I thank God that I do now, as I could not afford rates, water and insurance. My car is now 20 years old, but somehow still passing rego!! (yep, I believe in miracles). My son is on a disability pension, paying high rent, and often needs help just to get by. I can no longer help him, which worries me. I have not received any of the last so called pension increases, as the state housing takes it all now, and has done for the last couple of years. Because I am in state housing, I do not get any rent assistance in my pension. My rent and water costs increase regularly. (I am in northern NSW which has seen little but rain in the last 18 months, I think they should be paying us to use the water for a while!!)

    Can't wait to hear how you survive it Drew.
    Penqueen1949
    3rd May 2012
    2:18pm
    Keep your eyes peeled for all specials especially in the meat, eggs, dairy, fruit and vegetable sections. Make all your soups, curries from scratch. Make a big pot of curry, casserole and put it into single serve containers then freeze for your main meals for a few days. If you have a pet then pray they don't get ill as this REALLY blows the budget....
    Penqueen1949
    3rd May 2012
    2:28pm
    I am wondering why you are only trying this for one week. To be even a little bit realistic it needs to be done for a month or more.....
    Bluebell
    3rd May 2012
    2:33pm
    The only fruit that drops in my area is "specials". and those that there is currently a glut of. The price of mushrooms dropped for a few weeks (one of the unrestricted items on my medical diet) but they are back higher than their previous normal price was just a few weeks ago. They are produced locally so I don't know what their excuse is. I certainly can't afford items such as Foxtel neither do I go to the cinema except as a special treat and take my nibbles etc. from home. I do buy the occasional DVD when on special which I can watch several times over a period of time and share with others.
    aquatrek
    3rd May 2012
    2:49pm
    We all scrimp and scrape to get by that is why Drew's "pretend" game has no credibility no matter how well it is intentioned. But whatever Drew - go ahead and "play" and give an honest decent full blown itemized report back - something that can be projected out for a whole month or even a year. You can even have my "live" data and when you factor in some of the major factors that others have to endure you may realize how badly they are off [I am not although no super as all lost in the GFC]. The current 'left' political bunch of red spoilt grapes have swung so far right they are now a bluish color and are even bold/foolish enough to experiment with a 'trial' carbon price as a tax on everyone - as if $250 will cover a whole years worth of angst as we watch the inevitable price hikes. YOU WOULDNT LAST A WEEK IN THE REAL WORLD DREW.
    Ozetwo
    3rd May 2012
    3:00pm
    Drew it would be better if we could get our politicians to undertake this exercise. I hear they are scheduling a trial at the next blue moon.
    genimi
    3rd May 2012
    3:13pm
    it has been done by pollies every so often - this has been said but we dont know whether they factored in all the expenses one has to allow for.
    Jules
    3rd May 2012
    3:08pm
    I agree with arb1950,when will they come and walk in our shoes?pay the rent ,utilities,insurance's,petrol(if one can afford it)food,clothes(second hand)tell me how one can live week to week like this,I can't sleep,worry all the time where the next payment comes from etc.I've even put off taking blood pressure medication because that does not fit into my bill schedule.JULIA HEAR OUR PLEA,Please.
    buby
    5th May 2012
    8:59pm
    and also what if your car gulps more petrol than theirs? OR maybe their cars run on gas.......Be nice to be able to afford a car like in the good ole days??
    Reppie
    3rd May 2012
    3:12pm
    At least Drew is going to do this - forget the negativity eh? Would anyone here actually want Drew to have to survive on a pension for months/years? I sure wouldnt, but I do support his actions in trying to get some insight into how we survive on our pensions.

    Keep in mind, one day Drew will be older also, and then he may just have to live as we do. Maybe forwarned is forarmed? who knows, but good on you Drew for at least having the guts to have a go.
    aquatrek
    3rd May 2012
    3:31pm
    Hi Reppie - I dont mean to come across as 'negative' but purely and solely as REALISTIC. I also respect that Drew and others have put this forum together so that a few like us who have the time can rant and rave to our little hearts desires. As for the government -Julia and her minions wouldnt even know that this site exists. The governments just like to 'dumb down' the public and that is why they never fully publicly reveal their own 'surveys' and the criteria that they use. The CPI is based on a set of what are seen to be 'necessities' yet WE are now seen to be better off because the CPI was lower than the REAL costs - what a joke - better off ?? Australia is rapidly heading down the path of European countries - just look at what has happened in our lifetimes - 1 salary was used to buy housing, food, medical insurance, cars, holidays and education was free. 50 years later it now takes 2.5 salaries if you dont mind commuting to say Sydney from Nowra or beyond the Blue Mountains. Phew - my fingers are getting shorter and sore - enough.
    Jules
    3rd May 2012
    3:25pm
    Drew is only going to do it for a week,but your right ,we live on pensions(if you can call it living) for a fortnight,as this is how it's paid.so doing it for a week will not really tell him much.
    Reppie
    3rd May 2012
    3:41pm
    I guess I am just grateful I have my almost affordable housing, and enough, even if barely enough to survive on, sort of. I do rely on Centrelink cash advances for things like car rego. etc. then spend the next six months repaying, and so it goes on and on. Same with holidays. Mind you, with 2 of my kids and my grandkids on the other side of Australia, it is anything but easy to find the money for an airfare over there. I havent visited WA in some 7 years now, but due to this year. (Just hoping for a "bonus"- yep I know, fat chance. I have to admit my life is good, happily divorced, and just enjoying life and my wonderful family and friends. I try not to find too much time to get down over finances, or lack of them.
    Penqueen1949
    3rd May 2012
    4:09pm
    Reppie are you subscribed by email to Virgin Australia? They have fantastic deals for flights at times and if you book about 6 months ahead the fares are cheaper. By paying for some luggage apart from carry-on and insurance for the flight costs puts the mind at ease in case something happens and one can't travel then. I did this twice last year to visit two sons who I don't see except for a few hours at Xmas if I'm lucky. Of course I had to use my savings to do it but I still consider it to be worth it. I went from Brisbane to Sydney for $50 plus $8 for luggage and $10 insurance each way. The fares are not that cheap now but Brisbane to Sydney is regularily $85 each way. My Townsville trip was $100 each way plus luggage and insurance by booking 8 months ahead. I have a sailor son in WA too who is single so hopefully I will get a free next of kin trip this year.....
    Wanderer
    3rd May 2012
    4:08pm
    I have found myself on a disability pension due to ill health & marriage demise. I have two daughters who both work part-time while studying but still look to mum for help every so often (they are very mature and also are prepared to help mum if needed) but, why should they have to? We need to have internet for the studies and mobile phones for safety. I'm thinking of selling my car because of the cost of rego, petrol, repairs - you know the details. We live in modest but private rental accommodation &, although we are careful with showers, lights, etc, our energy bill is largish, with more increases on the way it seems. At a time when my girls should be saving their own money toward their futures they are helping me live. I thank God for my daughters but can anyone who doesn't live this fully understand? I have a modest insurance policy which I am determined to keep up as this is the only thing I have for my daughters' future, but even that's becoming harder to maintain. For those who say I should have planned my future better - I didn't intend not being able to work till I was at least 65, I didn't intend my marriage to die, I didn't intend for the GFC to happen. Drew, good luck with your exercise. Don't forget to add a portion for medication in your budget ....
    Reppie
    3rd May 2012
    4:12pm
    Thanks for the info Penqueen, I will definitely look into it. I was hoping to get my ticket mid year anyway, in the hope of finding a cheaper fare.
    Penqueen1949
    3rd May 2012
    4:15pm
    No worries, it's my pleasure to help. They have a Happy Hour sale I think every days between 4pm and 6 pm. They are also on Facebook so are in the news feed. :-) You just have to click 'like' the page.
    aquatrek
    3rd May 2012
    5:04pm
    Hi Drew - Proactively those who read this blog already have the internet [duh to me] but might not have ever had to use a BUDGET - especially if a marriage has ceased or a partner departs permanently. Why not set up one that is 'cloud' based and has well designed and thought out instructions to follow. The basic starting point is the sole income of the age Age Pension or Newstart. Allow the 'user' to select either single or partnered and away you go. Then the next level are the known 'mandatories' such as electricity, rent and mortgage, rates, water, etc etc. Set it up so that the worst case scenarios criteria are at the top and the better offs can scroll down to select their particular bits. I am not advising anyone on how to suck eggs here but I have seen the difficulties that my own family members have faced. This is something that Centrelink should bloodywell provide anyway so go get a head start on them young lad.
    Wanderer
    3rd May 2012
    7:22pm
    Would like to comment that not everyone has had a previleged life and been protected from the realities 'aquatrek'. I kept our family afloat while my ex studied. I DO budget (always have) and have been a bookkeeper. When confronted with nothing coming in apart from the pension (and all else gone for various reasons) life takes on a very different hue.
    aquatrek
    3rd May 2012
    7:39pm
    Hi VivK - the problem with blogs is that it is tedious to read every entry but above I clearly state that I am not 'privileged' having lost all other income [a trickle anyway] in the GFC [I have other distinct words to describe that USA created GLOBAL collapse]. I am a single male pensioner who looks after himself as best he can and an 88 yr olde mother [but not her monetarily]. So why 'assume' that I am priviledged ?
    Wanderer
    3rd May 2012
    7:55pm
    Didn't assume you were privileged - thought you were having a go at people who couldn't look after themselves after having had everything done for them in the past - something I've had from a lot of people who saw a "perfect couple" (whatever that means) with a dominant male partner. Sorry for any offence. We''re all on the same side here I guess.
    Troubadour
    3rd May 2012
    5:14pm
    Yes, we have to put money aside for the essentials. but even then it is hard to try and keep the 'emergency fund' we used to have for car repairs and house-hold repairs which crop up from time to time. Holidays - mm - another area which we find hard to save for, as health insurance and the utiilities go up and up. Would love a good holiday!! Still we are alive and kicking and just about manage but no luxuries at all.
    Yorkie. Perth
    PJ
    3rd May 2012
    5:45pm
    Penqueen could you please post into here the Website for Virgin Australia to enable me to get their deals for flights when they post them. I have not heard of this arrangement for flights d where one maybe able to book at a reasonable price. Its a great idea. Was glad to hear of it through your post.
    Penqueen1949
    3rd May 2012
    10:24pm
    Cherry May just type Virgin Australia into Google and it will come up. Do the same with Facebook if you have a page there.
    Penqueen1949
    4th May 2012
    8:46pm
    http://www.virginaustralia.com/au/en/help/faq/?route=questions/636/What+are+Happy+Hour+fares+and+how+can+I+book+them%3f
    Jules
    3rd May 2012
    7:54pm
    I have to agree with you vivk,I'm now 70 worked part time for 9 years until 2 years ago,just so we could pay the bills,it was once a fortnight,and what I earned over and above what I could.centrelink hit me for 40c in the dollar.So where is it right for aged pensioners in todays government when they tell us we are better off than we were before they came in,someone has to get this right,before we the rightful heirs of Australia can have a life?
    toot2000
    4th May 2012
    11:54am
    I am on the full married pension but we own the house and for those paying rent, I don't know how you exist. I knew it would be a challenge to survive on the pension but after three years, I can't complain. My parents survived very well on the pension and so will I.
    Penqueen1949
    5th May 2012
    11:16pm
    Toot2000, I am on a single pension and I pay private rent, no public housing for me and none is likely to happen either according to a letter I received some years back from Qld Housing.... I don't drink, smoke, gamble or hang around wild men.... I watch every cent that I have, buy any clothes that I do NEED at the end of the season, the same goes for what I can use as gifts for family at Xmas and birthdays. I use public transport, walk or get a lift to my interest groups meetings and workshops. I don't have a home phone as they are too expensive. I have two mobiles, one prepaid and one post paid as they give a much better deal. My internet connection is wireless. One son built my computer and posted it to me with he and one brother paying for the parts. My second son bought the monitor and had it posted to me. The computer and monitor was an advance on Mother's Day, birthday and Xmas presents for 2011 and 2012. I eat pretty well the same food for meals every week with little variation but it IS healthy food. My rent takes 42% of my single pension but I do have a decent but modest roof over my head. I rarely see my family as two are still ADF and live on opposite sides of the country while the eldest lives 1400 klms away so my computer is considered a must. I don't live, I survive and know that there are many others worse off than I am.
    Melie
    4th May 2012
    1:23pm
    I'm new here, but I had to comment. Take 25% of your income if you're lucky enough to live in public housing - take 45% - 50% if you're not. Then take another twelve and a half percent to pay for Home Help, because you're disabled and need help in the home. Take another twelve and a half percent to pay for transport, or motor vehicles expenses Take just that other 10% for electricity/gas/water. If you live in public housing you have a vague chance - if you pay private rent - your have virtually none. Holiday? What is that? Look for the "spoiled fruit/vegie section" - Look in the dog bone section of the supermarket - sometimes there are a few mis-shapen chops there. Live it for a week? I could do that, but I live it every week of the year.
    Jen
    4th May 2012
    4:26pm
    Do what a friend of ours did, take your pension and move to Bali. He pays $80 per week rent on a lovely place in a lovely spot, his food costs 1/3rd what it did here, he bought a brand new motorbike for transport (all you need there) for $2000 and it runs on the smell of an oily rag. Power is cheap, clothing is cheap, everything is 1/3rd what it costs here. He can even afford a couple of massages every week now, and reckons his life will be longer, healthier and happier beause of his move.
    toot2000
    4th May 2012
    5:06pm
    Very interesting Jen, I've heard that before but he's a bloke and they don't think like us old girls, we get very attached to the grandchildren and want to stay nearby.
    Jen
    5th May 2012
    6:02am
    That's right toot, I couldn't leave my grandkids.
    Jules
    4th May 2012
    4:56pm
    Thank You toot2000,about time someone owns up to the fact that they dont know how we aged pensioners can live on the drivel of an aged pension,especially when you are renting in the private sector,to own ones home though,evev on a pension is outright highway robbery to from the government,who can afford to do anything they wish,what is a holiday? what would it be like to just have a few dollars extra each fortnight to go somewhere,anywhere better than having to sit at home.what joy,but that wont ever happen in my lifetime,and that is fast running out.
    PJ
    4th May 2012
    6:24pm
    Thankyou Penqueen for your answer.
    Penqueen1949
    4th May 2012
    8:59pm
    http://www.virginaustralia.com/au/en/specials-offers/flight-specials/happy-hour/

    This is for anyone interested in cheap airfares.
    PJ
    4th May 2012
    8:59pm
    I have been reading with much interest all your posts & replys. Yes it can be hard living on a pension but thankfully we have this. Some countries do not have this help as we do. At this time I consider myself fortunate as with my husband we have a joint pension coming in. We live in public housing & thank God for this, the thought of paying private rental terrifies me on our income. This is our second marriage for both of us & due to unfortunate circumstance we both lost our own homes. There is no holidays for us like so many others in our situation. Oh, how wonderful it would be to get away for a short while.We own all we have & I budget so that when utility accounts come in I have the full amount of monies to pay for them. If an emergencey comes up I have been able to get an advance from centrelink to help out. We eat well & my freezer is always full. Our entertainment is to go out for dinner on occassion & a show. We like to have friends in for a barbecue & maybe a game of cards. We used to go camping & fishing a lot but due to a break in my back this is now not possible. I am supported with titanium rods through my back which makes certain movements difficult for me. I am not saying poor me as I know of others in worse situtations. I have a good roof over my head, plenty to eat & no permanant money worries.
    BUT BOY would we love a holiday. Best wishes to you all.
    Jen
    5th May 2012
    6:03am
    Wow Cherry, I too have titanium rods, from T4-sacrum with iliac bolts into pelvis. So interesting to hear about others who've been titanium'ed!
    Penqueen1949
    4th May 2012
    9:14pm
    http://www.virginaustralia.com/au/en/specials-offers/sales-alert-v-mail/sign-up-to-v-mail/

    If anyone wants to copy and paste the above into their browser they can sign up for special offers from Virgin and be notified by email.
    Jules
    4th May 2012
    10:18pm
    Cherry,not all of us can get public housing,I'm 70 and am of moderate needs for PHing,years of waiting at my age I dont think so,had to rent private,out from the city limits,where on the Gold Coast was costing $330 a week,now only $210 a week,but its far from brilliant,not much to do,not much left to do anything anyway,you work the figures,$420 a fortnight for rent ,Telephone,internet(my 2nd luxury) electricity,food,Insurances(car,funeral,so my kids dont have to lose any money)a little petrol,and my one and only enjoyment.Austar.I think I would go mad only for this little pleasure,and its a very basic pack.I had to cancel pet insurance,my life insurance,as I was only covered till I turned 79,also had to knock back some medications,they would have eaten into nothing left to eat into.but I'm still here,I can walk,talk,laugh sometimes,have my cat to talk to,other than that what the heck,so those of you in Public housing you are the lucky ones,with little rent.
    PJ
    6th May 2012
    11:25am
    Hi Jules yes, I thank heaven I have public housing & with my husband we have the 2 pensions coming in as I said above. I feel for you having just the single income pension.
    I give you 100 points for the way you are managing. $210 a week you have to pay out before anything else. I am 70 also & if I had to pay that amount the thought frightens me to death. The wait for P/H now is a sin especially when P/H is found for refugees & not people like yourself. Take care I think you handle things incredibly well.
    piklo
    5th May 2012
    7:10am
    gooday drew
    I admire your attempt to follow in the penioners footsteps BUT a week is not long enough try a month and thats the same as all the lying politisions; they should try and live on the pension for about three mths at least instead of big noting themselves and living for a week with out any help at all put them in a public housing and pay them the pension we should start a petision and get some big hotshot up there and get the media and a tv station to follow this exersise for the three mths what do you reckon poeple should we throw out the challange and see if they have the guts to live like a pensioner
    Jude
    5th May 2012
    7:21am
    Something I have found really beneficial- after shopping etc I go through my wallet and take out any $2 coins. These are saved in a special container. Last year I did this and by November the container was full- took it to the bank and the coins totalled $480. My container is just a small tin about 10cm by 5cm. A good way of saving for special events- Christmas gifts, outing, holiday or an unexpected expense.
    aquatrek
    5th May 2012
    7:48am
    I do the same with all of the coins - a coffee jar for 5 & 10, another for 20 and another for 50. The golds in a tray for spending if needs be. The silver coins after a year easily add up to $200.
    Bluebell
    8th May 2012
    10:45am
    Good idea, but hide it in a very good hard to find spot because if you are unfortunate enough to have a break-in I very much doubt the insurance company accept any claim for it. My brother was broken into and all the childrens money boxes were taken, plus a tube that they had $1.00 coins in which they were saving for a special purpose. They up-ended just about everything, even the drawers in the Baby's Dresser and poured fruit juice on the kitchen floor and carpet in another room, turned all the jets on the gas stove on to highest level. When they got home they noticed the front door was ajar and they could smell the gas immediately. They were only gone for an hour max. as they took the cat they had "adopted" for immunizations. A girlfriend of mine had her house broken into. They smashed a hole in a wall with a chair -it was still stuck in it.....and even tipped frozen food from the deep freezer all over the floor. Apparently people have been known to stash money in an airtight container in their freezers.
    aquatrek
    5th May 2012
    7:50am
    So far I have sent out 3 spreadsheets - thanks for asking ladies. Makes an olde codger feel useful.
    aquatrek
    5th May 2012
    8:44am
    http://www.pm.gov.au/contact-your-pm
    if we lose a single cent next Tuesday here is where we can let the serpent know what we think
    Wanderer
    5th May 2012
    11:41am
    Thanks aquatrek - We should all keep this site in favourites. Don't think it would hurt the prime minister (whoever it is at the time) to get some "fan" mail from our cohort every so often - remind them we are making up a larger percentage of the voting population everyday! Is there a similar one for the Treasurer?
    colnlyn
    5th May 2012
    10:14am
    Hey Drew m- Good luck - food - firstly make a huge pot of soup at the beginning of the week,
    only buy meat when it has been reduced in price at the supermarket - same as vegie maybe 2 loaves of bread, tea and coffee no milk, these are your basics then see if you have anything left from your food budget, to maybe get some butter cereal.
    Holidays - forget it mate unless a family member is kind enough to invite you along with them expenses paid, as you've got no money to pay your own, pay your rent and utility bills pension day - then count your pennies you have left
    aquatrek
    5th May 2012
    10:31am
    Somebody above mentioned statistical data ?
    try this for size - it clearly shows why Julia/Swan must be gotten rid of as soon as possible
    http://www.tradingeconomics.com/australia/government-budget
    Boof
    5th May 2012
    1:25pm
    You say that the Budget is going to cut Aged Pensioner "Utilities.Allowance". That is our main problem area, as the Electricity Rates are rising like a tormented Cobra. That is now, before the upcoming Taxes are implemented. The reason for this is no doubt "Privatisation" in order to pay the CEO's and Boardmembers, the millions of dollars, to keep their Range Rovers and beach houses, in good order. Imagine what it is going to be like when the Taxes come into "being".I think I will "defect" and come back on a boat o Xmas Island. At least then I can get Government Housing, etc.. JA
    Penqueen1949
    5th May 2012
    2:02pm
    Boof if you read the article correctly you'll find that this is only if aged pensioners go overseas for a certain time. As fas as I know most don't and good on the few that do.
    Penqueen1949
    5th May 2012
    3:44pm
    http://www.heraldsun.com.au/news/more-news/money-wasted-on-anzac-centenary-report/story-fn7x8me2-1226325284098
    Copy and paste the above into your browser to read about more ridiculous federal government waste.....
    rtrish
    6th May 2012
    11:54am
    Good luck, Drew. Others have tried and failed - to the best of my memory, Stephen Lusher, from Hume electorate, NSW, didn't make it for the full week because his child had a visit to the orthodontist ... My main large expenses are for medical costs, equipment and medical visits. I am interested to know how the NDIS goes, but doubt my medical conditions are "bad enough" to qualify. I manage, somehow, but am lucky in that I have subsidised housing, do not have a car, don't smoke and rarely drink. But gosh, a car would be handy if I could afford it; to lug my CPAP equipment etc around and to visit grandchildren, also to go out at night. At the moment I never go to events at night because it's scary coming home on public transport.
    rtrish
    6th May 2012
    12:24pm
    Drew, I do want to support you for even trying this. You have shown empathy by being willing to do it, my guess is you'll have even greater empathy by the time your trial is over. You'll be able to spread the word to others. Good luck, eat as healthily as you can. Don't get sick - that has a nasty habit of blowing the budget. I'm interested to know how it goes.
    mummu
    6th May 2012
    12:25pm
    Basic Age Pension seems to be enough for my mum as she does not smoke, drink or gamble. Goes to Church, gives her tithe and manages to save a little. She is generous with her coffee making for visitors when they call. Lives in her own little unit with nice neighbours and is nice in return. Mum has a nice little car she still takes out sometimes. Gambling and drinking even a bit is very expensive and people would be a lot more healthy if they found other interests. Smile lots and give thanks for all the little things like a door being held open or a friendly cuppa

    7th May 2012
    10:38pm
    How's it going Drew?
    My sister says she doesn't know how I manage on the pension, particularly when something needs replacing on my trike or I have an unexpected bill. I didn't manage before I stopped smoking 4 years ago, and was always totally broke. Now I am able to save money and, perhaps because I lived so leanly in the past, always find the extra cash when required and spend less on food, just purchasing absolute necessities. Today, Monday, I have about $2.00 till pension day on Wednesday.. but there's nothing I need and in an emergency I do have a small, low rate, mastercard (NEVER take out as cash). I own my little home and all utilities are paid via direct debit or through Centrelink. I do OK. Hope you do too.
    Drew
    8th May 2012
    10:24am
    Hi Pip,

    Thanks for the interest. It has been an interesting experience so far! I had to make major cuts in all of my 'allowances' for the week starting with cutting back on non-essentials. I've been able to save almost $30 alone by cutting down my coffee habit to 'instant' coffee while still allowing for the purchase of one when out with friends having a chat for the week. I'm trying to go to the movies later in the week but am trying to balance where i'm going to get the $18 from in my budget!

    Food has been a major issue for me as you can see i'm not the smallest person on this earth but I have been able to calculate in a small tin of tuna (on special) into my daily lunch (i'm sure tuna every day would eventually get boring) with a few pieces of bread that I purchased at the start of the week. I'm just thankful that I know how to make a cheap and cheerful soup that is keeping me going! The biggest adjustments so far have been wearing warm clothes around the house instead of blasting the heating of an evening and not being able to watch my regular foxtel programs which run my life... back to commercial television for me. I fear I may have to go to the local 'pub' to sit and watch the football on Saturday!

    I'm also trying to put away at least $20 for the week towards future payments of medical bills and car repairs etc so we will see if that is achievable. It may come down to missing the movies to reach this essential goal!

    Regards,
    Drew
    Wanderer
    8th May 2012
    10:33am
    Good on you Drew. It's a bit of fun to see what you can actually do without and with surprising results really. You may find that certain things have lost their charm once you get them back, although good food & nice coffee may not be them! It is a little more difficult when you realise that this is it - for the rest of your life. Thank you for taking our lives seriously.
    Cheers.
    PJ
    8th May 2012
    11:42am
    Drew its good of you to have a go to live on the age pension for the week,do you think you would be able to give it a bit longer like another week please. I ask this with all sincerity.
    nevardo
    9th May 2012
    5:48am
    Years ago when I was first on the pension I could get everything I wanted for $5 at the shops, but now you can't, with all these cameras about the place.
    Wanderer
    9th May 2012
    12:34pm
    Love it nevardo! Got to keep a sense of humour :)


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