Saturday, June 21, 2008

Re-post: Debt lessons - Apr 07

"I am sure that no one in the House would dispute that people need to be better educated financially, or that that education should start in our schools and colleges," said Phil Willis (Liberal Democrat MP for Harrogate & Knaresborough,) yesterday in Parliament. He proceeded to make a good case for compulsory personal finance lessons in schools, ending with:

"Finally, I make a simple plea to the Minister. Will he look again at the evidence that supports making financial education a compulsory part of the national curriculum? Will he talk to the FSA, the Institute of Financial Services, the Institute of Chartered Accountants, the Finance and Leasing Association and the Council of Mortgage Lenders? Look at the evidence, Minister, and make new plans."

The minister in question, Jim Knight, Minister of State (Schools and 14-19 Learners), Department for Education and Skills, gave a lengthy reply, explaining that no, compulsory lessons in personal financial management would not be on the agenda, but rest assured the government believes the subject to be very important and "that schools and colleges have an important role to play in ensuring that young people go out into the workplace with the skills they need to plan and manage their finances."

I disagree. Schools and colleges have no role to play in this respect. Abstract, theoretical lessons on personal finance delivered by strangers in a classroom will make very little difference to a young person's personal financial management skills or decisions.

Here's how my children have learned about personal financial management:

  • When we want to buy something, we sit together and work out whether, and how, we can afford it.

  • They're here when the postman arrives with the regular bundle of snazzy mailshots from the credit card companies. In their turn, they've asked what those letters are about and I've explained that these companies want to give us money, so that they can have twice as much of our money back in return.

  • In answer to further questions, I've pulled out pens, paper and calculators to explain how interest rates work until the children were satisfied they understood.

  • When my bank statement arrives, it's available for us all to study, so that we can all see where our family money goes.

  • This gives rise to questions like: "Why are the mortgage payments so high?", "For how long will we have to pay them?" and "Do we really use so much electricity? How?" - and the resulting replies and discussions.

  • They all see debt - any kind of debt, for any reason, as being a very bad thing. The boys have just explained to me how they think our whole economy runs on personal debt, and how different our county's financial position would be without it. Student loans, said Ali, deliberately trigger a 'mindset of debt' which often persists throughout adulthood, enslaving people by keeping them trapped in the inescapable loop of wages and debt repayments.

    By separating children from family and home, does the education system prevent this natural, vital learning process and inadvertantly (or otherwise) fuel the debt culture which is necessary for the continued success of our national economy in its current state?

    My parents did not borrow money except for a prudent mortgage which was repaid with interest in its 25-year term. In common with the Liberal Democrat MP for Harrogate & Knaresborough, I had a parent who regularly quoted Dickens' Mr. Micawber:
    "Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure nineteen nineteen and six, result happiness. Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure twenty pounds ought and six, result misery,"
    enough for it to become entrenched in my mind. It was in my stepfather's interests to keep me out of debt, so I suppose I was lucky to receive my lessons in personal finances from him instead of from the state.

    Last year 107,000 people in the UK became insolvent. 5,300 people a day went to Citizens Advice for debt advice and our combined consumer debt reached £1.3 trillion, which was more than our GDP. I guess the numbers of parents preaching Micawber to their children must be dwindling.

    Ruth said...

    I agree HE is a fantastic way to understand about managing money, debt and the consequences of it. Those ads make me want to laugh when the man Says "We've got more going out than we have coming in." as if he just worked it out. I mean if he is spending why didn't he realise he was? LOLOL. Money was a secret when I was child but we have always been open about it with our children and it has worked well as they all understand if we can buy something, if not why and why some things are not a good idea - like credit cards e.t.c
    7:48 PM, April 18, 2007

    Tech said...

    I blame the government ;-) Seriously though, I do. I think that the student loans farce is coming back to bite them on the bum. Years ago bankruptcy was a terrible stigma and had a longterm negative impact on your life. Nowadays people don't feel that stigma and are quite happy to go for insolvency to get out of these massive debts, and tbh al power to their elbows - particularly students who have been put in a very difficult situation. I know that's not a terribly responsible attitude btw ;-)
    8:11 PM, April 18, 2007

    Sarah said...

    Great post, Gill.

    Steve nearly hit the roof here the other day when Anna came home from school with a maths homework question something like this: Jim wants to buy a shirt which costs £13.99. He has £8.00, how much will he have to borrow in order to buy the shirt?

    She answered the question, but then Steve (who had just about finished spluttering about what schools were teaching about money management, never mind the maths) scrawled over it in capital letters THIS SHOULD SAY 'SAVE UP'!!

    Just goes to show how pervasive the borrowing attitude is, I think. No-one else even noticed, according to her.

    It feels very hard sometimes to go against society's flow when it comes to debt though. And Steve has lost sales telling people not to tie themselves up in knots with car finance - don't even get me started on that industry, the whole thing stinks.
    10:34 PM, April 18, 2007

    Hypothetical Parent said...

    Why is personal debt even a goverment issue? Or is this relating to goverment loans?

    What is the alternative to student loans? Poor kids being happy in not getting superior education?
    7:33 AM, April 19, 2007

    Gill said...

    LOL Ruth, yes that's funny!

    Tech, interesting point. Hmmm.. is my Micawber stance outdated then? Maybe I should rethink it. Then again, T, A & Z see things and use their own brains, so they'll have worked it out, I guess..!

    Sarah, yes! That's exactly what I mean! It's insidious, and the intention is surely to keep people stuck in jobs with huge debts to facilitate, paying £££ in interest and charges.

    HP, in my view it's a government issue because of the link with schools, as illustrated in my post. And while you're on the subject of student loans - do degree courses provide a superior education nowadays, on the whole? Is the govt target of 50% of all young people going to university not even just a little bit fishy, to you?

    If one of my children wanted to go then of course I'd support their decision, but as they don't seem to, there's no way I'll be encouraging them to get a place. I know several uni students just now, none of whom have the slightest interest in their course or subject and all of whom just want to run up as much debt as possible 'getting hammered'.

    It's an option, I guess, if you want to start your adult life that way. I can think of better ones though, but luckily it's not my decision.

    And yes, there will be some uni students who disprove my point, I'm relieved to add.
    8:51 AM, April 19, 2007

    Allie said...

    When I was an undergard student it was in the last days of the student grant. No-one I knew had a credit card, to get an overdraft you had to make an appointment with the bank manager, and most of us struggled hard to live within our means. I worked in a paid job through the vacations, but not in the terms, and I managed to finish my degree debt free.

    Now the government insists that young people get into massive debt from the outset. I see the result. Lots of students decide that if they are going to be ten grand in debt then it might as well be twenty - or thirty. They run cars, have flash clothes, holidays abroad, the latest phones and other gadgets. So I think they really are setting themselves up for a life-time of debt. It is a mindset.
    12:58 PM, April 19, 2007

    Re-post: CSC delivery - Nov 06

    Wednesday, November 15, 2006

    I swept our kitchen chimney a few weeks ago and forgot to do the dust-sheet across the chimney breast thing, so we got soot all over the rug. It'll sweep out, I thought. But it didn't. I forget how very black and pervasive soot can be. The rug was past its best anyway, so I rolled it up and stuck it in the garage and we were back to bare painted floorboards in the kitchen.

    This was quite nice for a week or two. It made everything seem sparse and clear and clean in there. But the weather turned cold and we all started thinking, it would be nice to have something softer on the floor.

    A few days ago one of the children asked me whether I'd buy a carpet for the kitchen, or at least for just the sitting area, where the sofa and armchair are by the stove.

    "I'd buy a piece for there, yes. But it would have to be a pure wool carpet, peachy-beige, with green and red flecks. But pure wool carpets are expensive, so we'll see what turns up."

    It turned up today, in my stepfather's car. He didn't even know what had happened to our old rug but was on his way to the rubbish dump(!) with an unused, surplus piece of pure wool carpet: exactly the right colour, pattern and size. There was even a softer cream rug to go on top, wool again, which I'd pictured in my mind's eye as the being ideal but not happened to mention to anyone else.

    Everyone loves it, Lyddie and the dog were rolling around on it earlier, the teens were basking in barefoot-on-soft-floor-ness and we're all very pleased. Thanks, Cosmic Supply Company. It's not often I need or want anything nowadays, but it's good to be reminded how well the system works.

    posted by Gill at 11:35 PM 0 comments

    Re-post: What we're eating this winter - Nov 06

    From Thursday, November 02, 2006

    What we're eating this winter

    I've just been asked to write about meals, which is very zeitgeist since I worked out our family finances for the next couple of months earlier today, and was thinking about the frugal meals we'll have to eat if Santa is coming down our chimney this year!

    We've just been to Asda and spent half as much money as usual, so if I can keep that up we'll be ok. We went via the forest and I filled a backpack up with fallen wood, so that saved a bit more cash and was a lovely walk too. There are acorns everywhere there. I wonder if we can do anything with them. Lots of holly too - free Christmas decorations! The only mushrooms we found were some sulphur tufts, (pictured left) - very pretty, but sadly not edible.

    So our food budget for the next couple of months is about £5 per day. After we've bought milk, bread, sunflower spread, honey, jam, canned tuna (Tom's favourite), mayo, tea bags etc for snacks and drinks, that will leave about £1.50-£2 per day for a main meal. Here are some warming, nutritional winter meals I'll be making to keep within that budget:

    Toad in the hole

    I'll probably serve this with roast potatoes and carrots, which I'll just chop into chunks and roast first for about half an hour, with salt and oil.
    A packet of vegetarian sausage mix is about 60p, so I'll use that to make the sausages. To make the batter, I'll use 4 heaped tbsp wholemeal flour, 2 eggs, a spoonful of bicarb or baking powder, salt, about half a cup of milk and roughly half a pint of cold water, or however much looks right to get the batter to the right consistency. Next I'll heat sunflower oil in a baking tray until it's smoking hot, then pour in the batter and add the sausages. I'd serve it all up with vegetarian gravy, made with granules.

    Potato and cauliflower soup

    This is dead easy and all our family loves it. I make it in a big cauldron-type pan and everyone gets very full on it. First I fry some chopped onions and garlic in oil, then chop and add whatever veg I have, usually 5-6 big potatoes and a cauliflower. But it's also good with cabbage or carrots. I stir all that up , sprinkle a couple of vegetarian oxo cubes over the top and add boiling water from the kettle, up to about an inch off the top of the pan. Then the lid goes on and the whole thing boils for about 20 minutes, after which I blend and season it, and that's that! The kids eat it with chunks of bread.

    Pasta with tomato sauce

    Unbelievably, nobody here ever gets bored of this meal and it's one of the cheapest and easiest I make. It just consists of a bag of pasta (usually wholemeal), boiled and drained, with a tomato sauce made from onion and garlic sautéed in olive oil and a can of chopped tomatoes with a teaspoonful of dried basil.

    Chilli and rice

    This is one of the few meals that can stand being made from dried soya mince, which is a good thing because dried soya mince is very cheap! As are kidney beans and chopped tomatoes. So, big pan again, I soften chopped onions and garlic in oil first, then add spices - turmeric, paprika and dried chilli pepper - not as much as the boys would like! But they have a bottle of deadly chilli sauce to resort to if I don't make it spicy enough for them ;-) Then a can of red kidney beans and 2 cans of chopped tomatoes. I just let all that simmer while the rice cooks. Again I use brown rice.


    This needs a red sauce and a white sauce, so I usually make the red sauce first. Chopped onions & garlic sautéed in olive oil, packet of soya mince, 2 tins chopped tomatoes, basil. Bit of veggie gravy mix if it looks like it needs it when cooked. White sauce: melt some sunflower spread - about an 8th of a regular sized tub, stir in a couple of tablespoonsful of flour (wholemeal flour for us but it doesn't matter which), stir & cook for a minute or two while boiling the kettle. Add about 2 pints boiling water to a stock cube in a jug and add a splash (about a quarter-cupful) of milk. Now keep stirring the flour & sunflower spread paste as you slowly add the liquid in the jug. It takes about 5-10 mins and involves a lot of stirring but you should end up with a smooth, creamy, thick white sauce. Then build up the lasagne in a deep oven dish by alternating dried lasagne sheets with the white and red sauces and top with grated cheese if you have any. Bake the whole thing at about 180c for 20-25 mins.

    Vegetable pie

    I'll boil up any veg we have - often just mushrooms and onions but other vegetables work equally well - broccoli, leeks, etc., whatever we have - then drain and add home-made white sauce as detailed above in the lasagne recipe. This makes the pie filling. We make our own pastry with wholemeal flour and sunflower spread, and bake the base blind for about 10 minutes before adding the filling and the pastry top. Lyddie usually makes some 'interesting' pastry shapes for the lid too! Then it gets brushed with milk and baked at about 180c for about 25 mins. If we were really hungry I'd serve this with roast potatoes and vegetarian gravy. Otherwise we'd just eat it as it is.

    Curry and chapattis

    Not sure if I make these 'right', but my chapattis just consist of salted wholemeal flour, made to a dough with water, flattened and dry-fried very hot for about 30 secs each side. The children love them with any kind of curry, so I have to make a great big stack of them and keep the stack warm in a coolish oven, wrapped in a towel. The curry will be full of whatever vegetables and spices I have to hand, but I always start by sautéing onions, garlic, fresh ginger if I have it, and spices (cumin, turmeric, a pinch of chilli powder, paprika, ginger) in sunflower oil, then adding chopped veg - usually a cauliflower, sometimes potatoes, courgettes, carrots, parsnips, swede, really any veg will do. Except mushrooms, for some reason. I wouldn't curry those. And stock. Sometimes I add a tin of chopped tomatoes and/or spinach if I have it, peas - often a can of chick peas, which you can get very cheaply. When it seems ready it gets served.

    Other cheap winter meals which seem popular here

    Sardines on toast
    Creamed mushrooms on toast
    Jacket potatoes with baked beans
    Baked beans on toast
    Creamed leeks, on toast or with pasta
    Sushi (blogged last week)
    Pancakes - my kids will eat these endlessly, with both sweet and savoury fillings.
    Pizzas, both homemade and bought.

    That's all I can think of off the top of my head for now, but I'll blog some other dishes as they come to mind. We'll save cash by picking mushrooms whenever possible, and we still have loads of potatoes to dig up in the field. Who needs gym subscriptions?! We're often given apple windfalls and other vegetables, as well as eggs from M's chickens, so we'll definitely get by. Put it this way, I've been poorer and still survived! I just keep reminding myself that we in the UK do live on one of the most fertile pieces of land in the world. There's no reason for anyone to starve, with Asdas and Tescos springing up everywhere you look ;-) And even real food, growing free in lots of places.

    posted by Gill at 2:15 PM 18 comments

    Re-post: Economy drive - Apr 05

    From Monday, April 04, 2005

    I've just done nearly a week's grocery shopping for £21.20. For the list fetishists amongst us, here it is.......

    Milk, 5 litres: £2.82
    Cheap chicken nuggets, 2 bags: 98p
    12 Yorkshire Puddings: 68p
    10 mini pizzas: 94p
    Bag of American Fries: 91p
    20 recycled refuse sacks: £1.18
    Pack of 4 loo rolls: 42p
    Fairy liquid: 88p
    Tea bags: £1.38
    5 tins chopped tomatoes: 85p
    5 tins baked beans: 80p
    3 tins sliced mushrooms: 99p
    4 bars milk choc: £1
    Choc for Tom: 51p
    Sweets: 69p
    Lasagne: 27p
    4 bags pasta: 85p
    4 loaves wholemeal bread: £1.48
    A punnet of plums: 98p
    A punnet of mushrooms: 50p
    12 large free range eggs: £1.74

    We had some provisions already - olive oil, spices & condiments, sunflower spread, jams & ketchups, sugar, coffee, potatoes and some dried and tinned pulses, so with what we had and what we bought today I know we'll manage fine. I'll make a lot of pasta meals, vegetarian chilli, maybe some pancakes etc. Funnily enough, we actually eat better on 'poor' weeks, because I try harder to make good use of the food! When I know there's plenty and when I'm busy the children often fix their own individual meals and take them off to their rooms. Nice for their independence, but it's good to sit around the table every day.

    If we could get by on £25-worth of groceries a week, we could do everything we wanted to the house a lot more quickly! Though, having said that, there isn't the time or energy to get the jobs done any faster than we can afford to. I don't think we could get by on £25-worth of groceries a week long term: it's OK for occasional weeks but then we start craving more expensive stuff. But I think we could manage on, say £35-£40 rather than the £70-£80 we've been spending recently, and then we'd have spare cash for other things.

    I really enjoy economy shopping: it's a good challenge. And it amazes me, pushing my trolley around, what proportion of the stock carried by supermarkets we actually don't need. There are cleaning products by the hundreds, all slightly different for different jobs. I've never used anything other than basic soap, with vinegar and salt etc when required. There are 4 whole aisles of fresh meat and fish, which we don't usually buy. 2 aisles of booze: ditto. We bypassed the whole dairy section today, which is massive! The only thing we ever really need from there is sunflower spread. We do eat cheese and yoghurt but they're not a dairy requirement for us and we don't miss them when we don't have them. With fresh fruit & veg, basic pasta and pulses it's possible to create a good, healthy balanced diet. I'd have organic wholemeal pasta for choice, but not this week. If I'm going to put aside £60 for bank charges, we need the 17p-a-packet pasta this week!

    It's a constant battle between consumer and retailer for the money. They lay on heaps of glossy, 'appetising', attractive produce and them try to convince us we need it all so that we'll spend. We don't need it all! We don't need most of it. When/if we get the field producing food, we'll need even less supermarket stuff.

    I like to walk out to the car feeling like I won the battle, anyway.

    So now, we need to put it all away, empty the car boot, fill it with stuff for the tip + newspaper & glass to recycle, then home again to collect the meeting boxes, then out to the home ed meeting. I might even get some skates cleaned up if there's time.

    posted by Gill at 9:05 AM 34 comments

    Re-post: I reckon this proves my theory about money - Apr 05

    From Monday, April 18, 2005

    .. that the amounts are irrelevant, it's our relationship with money and our attitude towards it that determines whether we're rich or poor.

    From yesterday's Daily Mail ("I'm Still Spending") :

    "Elton [John]'s finances are in disarray. 'Even though he earns a vast amount, Elton always, always spends as much, if not more,' says a well-placed source. ... 'The problem is that he has an excessive personality and in the way he used to abuse drink and drugs, he now overspends. Everything he sees, he wants and everything that he wants, he has to have. It is a terrible sickness. And it is why he has to work so hard.' "

    Apparently Elton is £27 million overdrawn, an amount that's presently increasing by £12 million a year. He has to work to pay his bills, which is why he's just taken on a £32 million 3-year deal to play regularly at Caesar's Palace in Las Vegas, the strict terms of which made him miss Charles and Camilla's wedding.

    "According to sources at his former accountancy firm, Elton was told he must try not to spend more than £1 million a month - a sum that was over and above 'fixed costs' like staff, which were already covered. So £1 million a month was mere spending money. Even so, the singer has been unable to stick to his budget. 'In truth,' says the source, 'he was still spending in the region of £1 million a week.' "

    The article goes on to say that Elton's argument to his accountants is that, like Elvis, his estate will make more after he's dead than when he's alive and that they'll be able to make good any shortfall then, so he's not going to rein in his spending in his lifetime.

    Here's my cheerful Tuesday morning thought, before I head off to tidy up the chaos that's descended on the house as a result of our manic Monday: Receiving vast amounts of money causes huge problems. Those of us who don't receive vast amounts of money are the lucky ones.

    posted by Gill at 8:34 AM 4 comments

    Re-post: Money - Dec 04

    From Wednesday, December 22, 2004

    My theories on personal finance:

    Having MORE money than you realistically need to spend is *as stressful as* having LESS than you realistically need to spend. This is because we attach our spirits (energy and emotions) to that which we consider belongs to us. If we can't use it it just sits there doing nothing and our fear of losing it starts mounting. Believe me: I used to earn more than I could spend, and my maternal parents (mother & stepfather) had far too much. They never got a decent night's sleep for worrying about it. Have you read 'The Hobbit'? I'm thinking about Smaug the dragon.
    The optimum amount of money to have, therefore, is just enough for your needs today. Not tomorrow or next week - that's too much!
    If you trust the Universe to provide for your needs, it will. On the other hand if you run about trying to force your needs to be taken care of, in fear that they won't be then your negative thought forms (fear) create the very situation you're afraid of.

    We don't *need* to have money in order to survive. Here in the UK we live in a temperate climate on a green and fertile island. Food, fuel and shelter are all around us, free of charge.
    There's more than enough money to go round. And land and housing to share out. I believe that a decent house for their family to live in is everybody's birthright. Inequalities are naturally self-correcting and this one is no exception.
    The only way to be sure of having enough money is to wholeheartedly accept the fact that you already have enough money. This replaces the negative thoughtform with a positive one. (Every thought is made up of a combination of electrical impulses, flashing around the brain. An electrical charge always produces an electrical field, so the field created by the highly complex system of charges in a thought, becomes the thought-form. Our world consists of nothing but vibrating energy particles which either repel or attract one another in clumps, according to prevailing influences, or thought-forms. This is how we co-create reality with our thoughts, as every ancient indigenous belief-system tries to explain.) Anyway, if you think about it, you do already have enough for today's needs. There's only so much food a person can eat, only so much space in which to feasibly keep any items you might want to purchase, only so many clothes you can wear at any one time. Too much is just that: surplus to requirements and therefore a problem.
    Poverty and wealth are relative terms, unrelated to income. I know families with incomes 10x the size of mine, who consider themselves not to have enough money for their needs. I think this is because they've been conned by sales hype, one-up-manship or whatever, into thinking they need far more than they actually do. If you don't think you've got enough money, then no matter how much you have coming in, you're poor. Conversely, if you do think you've got enough, regardless of the actual amounts, you're rich. Poverty and wealth are states of mind, not figures on balance sheets. You can become rich in a flash, just by changing your mind and deciding you've got enough money. Deciding you're rich instead of poor makes a *massive* difference to your life. It frees up a reservoir full of energy with which to do other things. You stop feeling so tired all the time.

    Re-post: The Cosmic Supply Company - Feb 05

    From Saturday, February 19, 2005

    A few people have asked for more information on the Cosmic Supply Company, so I thought it might be helpful for me to set out the history of my dealings with this celestial enterprise.

    I first heard of the CSC when my next-door neighbour at our old house in Todmorden, who I knew to be flat broke, turned up in my kitchen in a pair of absolutely gorgeous jeans, identical to the description she's given me the week before of her ideal, much longed-for pair of jeans. They looked like they'd cost at least £100 and yet I knew she'd have been pushed to find the bus fare into town.

    When I'd finished salivating over them I asked her where they'd come from and she said: "The Cosmic Supply Company."

    I can be a bit slow on the uptake sometimes, and we did live near hippy Hebden Bridge, so I assumed she must have been talking about a new shop and was totally flummoxed when she named one of the local charity shops and said she'd paid £4 for the jeans. "I set off into town with a fiver, knowing I had to get the perfect pair of jeans, so I just placed an order with the Cosmic Supply Company, and there they were on the back wall of the first shop I walked into. Perfect result."

    But 15 years ago I was much more pragmatic in my thinking than I am now. We had two salaries and expense accounts coming in and I wasn't overly interested in the Cosmic Supply Company.

    It obviously resonated with me on some level or another though, because a few years later we suddenly lost our incomes and expense accounts and I had to get creative regarding how I viewed money and life.

    I started reading books about spirituality - Taoist books, then Buddhist, Hindu - then anything I could get my hands on. But the weird thing was that the books found me, not I them. I'd go into a book shop or a library and one would fall off a shelf, so I'd think "Oh OK - that's next," or someone would visit and bring a book that happened to really interest me. In this way I learned what I needed to learn in exactly the right order.

    At first, I could accept that I was somehow 'supposed' to read certain books, but it was some time before it occurred to me that other needs could be catered for in this way. I was fearful about the loss of income, and convinced that we wouldn't have enough money to pay the mortgage, buy food, pay bills etc. I started to live very frugally and learned about gathering free food as this made me feel less vulnerable.

    It was on these food-foraging trips around the local countryside that I started to make strange discoveries. A patch of edible mushrooms, just where we happened to look, fat blackberries, a gift of fresh eggs from a passing neighbour. I learned the knack of being in the here-and-now, enjoying the walk and not worrying too much about whether we'd find what we needed. We'd place the 'order' before we started out, then let it go and just relax. Sure enough, if we paid attention to our surroundings the stuff we needed turned up.

    I started paying attention to my surroundings more and more, particularly on those frugal, carefully-planned supermarket trips and I realised that if I loosened up, relaxed and opened my eyes the most amazing bargains would appear - exactly what I needed, but at half, quarter, a tenth of the price I'd expected to pay.

    Even though she'd moved on ages before, I now remembered S and her Cosmic Supply Company and realised we were dealing with the same thing.

    Then I started to think big.

    I had never liked the house at Todmorden. My ex chose it, I didn't get a say in the matter - well I did, but he ignored me and bought the house anyway - and I wanted to live closer to my family and my roots again, nearer to Halifax or Huddersfield. Also, I wanted to be on a hill. OK, Cosmic Supply Company, I reasoned, it doesn't have to be anything ostentatious. I don't want a mansion. But I would like a few bedrooms and a few downstairs rooms. Semi-detached would be fine. And a field - any kind of field, but some land to call our own. With a view. And no husband. (The husband had started doing his best to make life impossible for all of us, for reasons best known to himself and certainly not shared with me.)

    I couldn't afford such a house. Could barely afford my own house. But I placed my order and then relaxed and let it go. A few days later, walking through Brighouse (in between Halifax and Huddersfield) I noticed a sheet of property details fall out of its rack onto the floor of an estate agents I was passing. Recognising the signs by now, I went in and picked it up. It was details of this house, on the market for money I didn't have and couldn't conceivably get, but I phoned up and arranged to view the house anyway.

    Looking around the house, I *knew* it was mine, but had my own house to sell, a by-now-very awkward husband to convince, and a mortgage triple the size of my own to secure on no salary. Impossible. I went home to talk to my husband.

    He took my determination to live in a house on a hill as a personal affront. The very last straw. Apparently it proved to him what a stupid and ridiculous person I really was and as a result of that very conversation, he was moving out. Packed his bags and left a few weeks later. Hurdle one completed. I didn't have to say or do much at all. (This was after about 5 years of me wondering how on earth I was going to get out of the disastrous marriage and feeling horribly trapped.)

    With the CSC in mind, I told him to take whichever furniture and household goods he wanted. Sure enough, he emptied the house of everything I'd always hated and left the good stuff. I started to think I might be on a roll. I put the house on the market.

    Nada. No interest whatsoever. For six months no-one wanted to buy my house. Then someone gave me some bright yellow paint they were going to throw away and I painted my front room with it. Within the week my buyer had arrived - I knew straight away she was the one - especially when she started talking about smudging sticks! I said she could have the house as long as she promised to carry on my tradition of throwing a Yule party for all the neighbours every 20th December. She's kept to her word.

    My house on the hill will be sold by now, I thought. And anyway, I can't afford it. Then my stepdad said he'd help me financially by underwriting a mortgage for me and it turned out that the house was still for sale, at the same price but it had been re-roofed and re-rendered due to it's having been stuck on the market. So I said I'd have it as it was in perfect condition. I didn't even have a structural survey done. This house was going to be ours, come what may.

    Then the survey from the house I was selling said it needed re-wiring. £2000 worth of work and I didn't have the money. My buyer agreed to go halves with me on the cost and I still didn't have the money to pay my share. She couldn't really afford her share either. Aaargh! Forcing myself to relax, I placed a CSC order and let it go. Later that day I wrote my car off - someone hit me with a pick-up truck as I was pulling out of a junction and pretty much sliced off the front end of it. I was shaken but unhurt and he was a nice man, really stressed out about the accident. "If I'm found to be at fault for this I won't get any more insurance and won't be able to work. I'm an electrician. I need to be able to drive."

    Are you starting to see how it works? I smiled and said, "Don't worry, the accident was totally my fault. Will you rewire my house at cost?" He was immensely grateful and agreed straight away. He even put spurs instead of ring main wiring in for my buyer, because she'd been reading about the harmful effects of living in electrical environments.

    We moved in here on a wing and a prayer, with no confidence of being able to meet even the first mortgage payment. It hasn't been easy all the time and we've been pretty much living on the CSC ever since, but we're still hanging in here nearly 8 years later.

    So, as an active CSC account holder for more than 10 years, here are my principles for making CSC orders and having them supplied, that I've learned along the way:

    The CSC sometimes has to be creative - even devious - about how it supplies your order, so you have to keep your eyes and ears open for the delivery all the time. You just learn how to live in an aware state of mind and be open to all possibilities. Signs of CSC activity are: things unusually falling off shelves, looking unusually bright or otherwise catching your eye.
    Fear blocks the ordering process. If you are fearful you may never have your order delivered, chances are you won't. If you convince yourself you don't deserve the thing, you probably won't get it either. Trust is the key. Place your order, then stop thinking about it and trust the CSC to supply. It will, eventually.
    The more familiar you are with the CSC, the less time will elapse between order and supply. The process definitely speeds up with practice.
    Don't be too proud, too greedy or too choosy. Accept that the CSC knows your higher good better than you do and if the jeans you ordered turn up looking slightly different from the shape you had in mind, that's because the shape you had in mind wouldn't have suited you anyway.
    The CSC will not supply anything for free that you want to pay for. The CSC will assume that if you are checking the price of your product and working out how to afford it, you want to pay for it. The CSC will tailor the price of your order to suit the sum you had in mind - sometimes less, but rarely more.
    If you ask for things you don't need, which will just take up space and not be used, the CSC will not supply them. Or, actually it sometimes will, but only in such a way to teach you a lesson, for example by supplying far more than you ordered. I once wished for a Christmas tree and received a basement full of them. Such a pain in the neck they were to get rid of. Like I say, dealing with the CSC successfully takes a lot of practice.
    The CSC works with your subconscious instinctive mind (spirit). So you have to learn to follow your whims and instincts and go where your spirit wants you to go. Walking down a street of shops, you might have a list of where you think you want to go, but if you put the list away, just follow your feet instead and keep your eyes open, you'll find your CSC deliveries.
    Sometimes the CSC uses agents to deliver orders (like my pick-up truck driving electrician). So be open to people, talk and listen to them in case they have a message for you. Remember that the CSC delivers information as well as physical things and often the messenger isn't consciously aware that they're working for the CSC, so just be open to people and events and trust that the CSC will get your delivery through to you somehow.
    The CSC works because we are conduits. When our cups overfloweth we too become CSC agents and suppliers. Don't sell stuff, give it away for free. Most people I know do that anyway. I do as well. The 3-fold rule works as well this way as it does for negative karma. Give and ye shall receive. But don't get narky about waiting for your payment, or the next person getting it first, or your delivery might be cancelled.
    The CSC also works best when we drop the imaginary conspiratorial notion that things are actually worth bits of paper with pictures of the Queen on them. Things are not worth exchanging for bits of paper. That's a silly idea dreamed up and put about by chancellors, accountants, bankers and tax collectors. Things are really worth as much as someone needs them, and they're worth whatever the person wants to exchange for them, or has to exchange.

    Tech asked whether I place my CSC orders as part of a ritual. I have tried it this way - by writing what I wanted on bits of paper, folding them small and keeping them in a special wish box. This worked to some extent but no better than just stating the need, then trusting it would be supplied and forgetting about it. Trust seems to be the key factor: it over-rides any fear, guilt, disbelief or anger that might otherwise block the process.

    One thing I have found to work very well is spoken affirmations. Sung affirmations work even better. Someone once told me that singing is like praying, only tenfold. I think some kinds of prayers were originally meant to be affirmations - orders placed with the CSC. The thing about affirmations is that they only work if you say them in the present tense. Not: "We will have everything we want," but "We DO have everything we want." The CSC exists and functions in the realm beyond our linear past-> future timescales. It doesn't understand futures at all. The present moment is connected to infinity/eternity and this is the only connection through which higher-realm dwellers can communicate with us, and us them. So if you want something then, crazy as it sounds, say that you've already got it. Sing that you've already got it. Shout it from the rooftops and if you do everything else right, your order should be fulfilled.

    I think the lesson of the CSC is that we're part of the universe - past, present, future - not separate from it in our modern little metal and concrete bubbles as we like to pretend. Our minds are the most complex mechanisms in existence. Every little simple thought sends millions of electrical charges zipping around, creating structured bio-electrical fields constantly. These do shape events, even though most of us are unconscious of this most of the time. Matter is nothing but particles of electromagnetic energy, time bends and loops in unpredictable ways when the observer changes perspective. Everything influences everything else, on very subtle, subatomic levels as well as more obvious ones like politics, psychology and economics. It's when you start to become conscious of this that the magic happens.

    posted by Gill at 11:25 PM 11 comments

    3 More Comments:
    Qalballah said...

    CSC Feb O5 post

    I love this post :)
    7:49 PM, January 12, 2007
    shukr said...

    This is so cool.

    Allah says in Qur'an,
    'I am as my slave thinks Me to be, and I am with him when he remembers Me.'

    this is the Islamic perspective on the CSC. It's pure hope, trust, Generosity, Love, action!

    I love the way you explain how to tap in. It's a whole state of being.
    10:06 AM, November 15, 2007
    shukr said...

    Just looked at the date you wrote it! I linked from Mieke perfect timing for me.
    10:07 AM, November 15, 2007

    Re-post: Dead pledge - Jan 05

    From Monday, January 03, 2005

    I don’t know what my brain does when I’m asleep, but I woke up this morning thinking about mortgages. I was calculating how much of ours we’ve paid off. 91 payments out of 300. Another nine payments and we’ll have paid off a third of it. It seems to take forever, paying off a mortgage! I’ll be 54 by the time it’s all paid off. No wonder they call it a mortgage. If mort = death, then you can use it to gauge how close to death you are. Paid off your mortgage? Better start saving for your funeral. By the time I’m 54 I’ll have wished half my life away on looking forward to paying off the mortgage. But money does that to you, doesn’t it? Whether you’re saving it up or paying it back, if it becomes a long-term commitment it grabs you by the neck and pulls your nose down to the grindstone.

    I tell my children not to take out mortgages when they’re older, or have credit cards, or to borrow money for anything, because you pay back at least twice what you borrowed and it takes over your life. We have a field. They can save up for stone and build on that. They tell me I’m crazy, but they’re full of the optimism of youth. Tom *knows* he’s going to earn so much money that he’ll be able to buy any number of houses for cash. Ali reckons he’ll never need a house, because he’ll be too busy having a life and won’t care where he lives and Zara’s planning on staying here forever. This might all come to pass. Oh, but how plans can change between adolescence and growing up! When I was twelve I was going to spend my life living in a tree house. By about 14 I’d decided on a derelict mill conversion (ALL of it) and by 16 I fancied a trendy executive studio attic.

    By 17 I’d got my attic, rented from a friend, but it wasn’t trendy or executive and I was doing 3 jobs to pay the rent. At 18 I’d met the husband, moved into his pub then we bought (took out mortgage for) the house he loved and I hated, stayed there ten years (just over a third of a mortgage!) then split up, sold it and used the proceeds (the one third paid off) to settle other debts and for me to put a down payment on this house. I’m staying put now. They’ll need wild horses or a coffin to get me out of here, which brings me back to the MORTgage. I’ve just looked it up in the dictionary, and the origin of the word is apparently ‘dead pledge’. I know 54 isn’t old, but at 36 it sure seems like a long way off, and we do without so much in order to make the repayments I sometimes wonder if we’re doing the right thing.

    I just wanted to buy some stability for the children, to make a noble sacrifice to them for after I’m dead. BUT is that egotistical? Will they want it? Appreciate it? Live in it? That last one’s a joke. The only way they manage to live under the same roof at the moment is with double Yale locks on their doors and their rooms as far away from one another as possible, like bedsit land. I guess they’ll probably just sell it and party all the money away. Over my dead body! Er.. well, it will be, won’t it?

    By A Grumpy Old Yorkshire Woman.

    posted by Gill at 7:25 AM 0 comments