Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Springing into spring

Today we made a start on the spring cleaning. I am so over the clutter but things are at the point where I felt lost and didn't know where to start. Well today I bit the bullet and decided new season new frame of mind. Must say though the lads aren't so keen!

First stop their bedrooms. The other day I read something that suggested one of the best ways to go about decluttering was to pick a number and sort/declutter that many items each day until you were done. The article used the number 10 but I think that might take me a really long time to get it sorted. So today's target was 10 items in the recycling, 10 in the rubbish bin and 10 in a pile for charity. We have friends going to Bali this weekend so that is our current charity. To the boys that seemed like a huge task. Especially the bit about giving things away. Mr8 usually passes his things he has out grown down to his brother and Mr6 does not see why he has to give things away when Mr8 gets to keep them in the house. I've tried to explain this many times to no avail.

Still that said we successfully decluttered quite a bit of stuff. There was a very large pile of recycling from Mr8's bedroom as he has an amazing ability to collect pieces of paper. Lots of "junk" from Mr6's bedroom (lol and more to go when he goes to his fathers this weekend!) and they both successfully managed to donate 10+ items to charity. I also sorted through Mr6's drawers for outgrown clothing we won't keep and added that to the pile. Not surprisingly not a single pair of pants as everything like that has holes in the knees!

So that's a jolly good start I think. Oh and I also decluttered our desk. Figured I was being a bit of a hypocrite if I made the lads declutter and stayed messy myself. So the desk is much tidier too. Tomorrow I am thinking I need to hit my drawers and wardrobe. I have many items of clothing that would benefit from being passed on to a new home and it's time to be brave and take the big leap.

All this decluttering is our first step to leading a more simple life. Less stuff, less clutter, less stress. I'm looking forward to having less!

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Hooray for good friends

We are so lucky.

Lucky to live in such a beautiful country.

Lucky to have such wonderful friends and family.

Lucky to have good health most of the time.

Lucky to have a roof over our heads and enough money to cover all of our needs and most of our wants.

Sometimes I think it is easy to get swallowed up in the day to day chores of life and to forget how lucky we are.

Yesterday I had a reminder of just how lucky we are.

We are lucky enough to have been invited by someone I have only met online at Simple Savings to visit her at her little patch of paradise. It's times like this I am reminded of what wonderful people Kiwis are. And Australians too as another Simple Saver has opened up her home to us on the Sunshine Coast when we visit next year.

Simple things like this show a huge amount of trust on behalf of the person opening up their homes to us. It also shows that the world in which we live can be a wonderful place filled with wonderful people despite all the doom and gloom we often see on the news. I am honored to have the opportunity to visit these wonderful people and would love to return the hospitality should they ever visit my patch of paradise.

So we will be going on holiday before we jump the ditch next year. Just 5 more weeks and we will be visiting a beautiful place called Wanaka. It's somewhere I have often thought I would love to visit but never quite got around to it. The drive will take about 6 hours (lol at least 5 of which will be filled with "are we there yet" and grumpy replies) which would usually seem daunting to me but I am so excited to visit this piece of New Zealand that it's not even phasing me. How cool is that?

Monday, August 30, 2010

Mortgage day

Yay it's the end of the month and that means it's mortgage day.

Interest has been added and my payment has been deducted and I am sitting just under $149k. A great achievement so far but still a long way to go. And the cool thing is that as each payment goes through at the end of each month I can see how the amount of interest I pay is getting less and less. It feels great to know that more and more of my money is paying off the principal.

Between now and Christmas however I am slacking off the mortgage a bit and principal repayment will slow to about $1000/month. The reason for this is I am using my Babysteps payments to pay for the back yard renovations. So 4 months will cover the money needed without withdrawing from savings or redrawing from the mortgage. Then come the new year it will be back to hard out on the mortgage.

Oh and in case you were wondering - yes I am obsessed with the numbers. I'd love them to shrink into oblivion :)

Saturday, August 28, 2010

The baking tins are full

Well it's been a baking day today and there was so much baked we had plenty to share.

My friend dropped over his girls this morning to give his wife a break They have 3 children, the eldest with special needs and the youngest not yet 1. He's been working 7 days a week including being at my house yesterday afternoon building the gardens and they are due to shift house next weekend. On top of that the oldest has been off school for most of the last 2 weeks with a cold and respiritory problems so she is not making a lot of progress with the packing. They arrived after stopping at the bakery with raspberry biscuits, choc caramel slice and a dozen savouries and I had already planned a huge bake off.

They left with half a caramel slice, 1/4 chocolate cake, 12 mini muffins and 12 chocolate chip biscuits. That should hlep out my girl friend for lunch boxes when she already has a busy week ahead. That and the 5 extra hours she had to get packing today.

We also have a large stash of baking and had some to share with our lovely neighbour who kindly shoos the girls in whenever they escape. It's lovely to be able to share with friends and family and it's a wonderful way to say thank you without spending a lot of money. And I'm yet to meet anybody who doesn't appreciate home baking.

The other good thing we did to share with others this weekend was to carefully uplift about a dozen raspberry shoots that had popped up recently. Approximately 6 of these I will nurture and then plant ourselves and the others we will donate to the lads school fair in November. Better than just pulling them out.

And today we spent absolutely no money so I will get a blue sticker on my calendar. Tomorrow we need milk and petrol so the most I can expect is a gold star but that's all good.

Friday, August 27, 2010

4 down 2 to go

Yay today my next two raised gardens were built bringing my total to four. I've had to wait a while for these as I was slack about committing to getting the work done and then had to wait until my handyman had time to squeeze me in. Finally today was the big day and one huge part of the yard has been transformed.

The last garden and the lads new sandpit will need to wait a while - about 2-4 more weeks but that's all good. I can now get to work and do the next stage of my job - moving some soil from the next gardens spot to where the vege garden used to be so I can level that off and sow some grass seed. It's a simple job but pretty physical at the same time. Should help with getting in shape again for the summer though :O)

So tomorrows job - weather permitting - is to sow more seeds. I'm really paying attention to making sure I am sowing seed weekly/fortnightly to ensure we get a constant crop over summer so hopefully we will have some success in this area.

Other than that tomorrow will be a nice, quiet, cheap home day. I haven't had any no spend stickers for two days in a row now and am determined to get one tomorrow. If we leave the house we will need petrol though so that's another incentive to stay home.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

I love flybuys

I love flybuys. I don't go out of my way to shop somewhere that gives me points if I can get a better deal elsewhere but my local supermarket happens to be a New World, my homeloan has flybuys points benefits, same for my insurances and a few other bits and pieces. Add to that the occasional purchase I make and I have done quite well out of flybuys.

Currently I am saving our points to pay for a two day Dream World/ White Water World ticket for us all on our holiday next year. I have 1756 points so have 126 points to spare.

Tonight I used Mum's omelet maker for the first time and I must say WOW. And we have our own eggs so super cheap too. So off to the flybuys website I head and you can get one for 295 points. I was trying to calculate if I would earn enough points between now and the beginning of next year so we could still get our theme park tickets when Mum texted me and said she would use her points to get another one. So I have done that and then next year when she wants something for the same/similar amount of points I will cash in my points for her. That way I can be sure I will have enough for the theme park tickets and get the omelet maker now. Full price these retail at $79.90 so using the points is a pretty good deal.

Other ways I saved money today include heading to the supermarket early - straight after dropping the lads at school. I managed to get meat marked down about 40% which is something I never manage to do. I dried the washing on the line - 2 loads, switched the heat pump off all day and back on now with the washing under it on the airer, tended to the seedlings we are growing making sure they have enough water and also watered the fruit trees. These are things I do routinely but all add up to save our pennies - every little bit counts!

No spend challenge

I have been doing a no spend challenge these past couple of weeks and have been really impressed with the blue and gold stickers on my calendar. Gold stickers are for days when I have only spent on essentials - things like milk, petrol, phone/power bills etc and blue stickers are for days when I spend nothing at all. I started on Sunday 15th and have 7 blue stars and 2 gold so 9 of the 12 days have stars to sparkle at me when I sit at the computer.

The concept of the no spend challenge is from Simple Savings and it's amazing how it changes your perspective on the things you purchase and whether or not you decide to purchase them. For me the big thing is knowing that if I have to purchase something essential I can still have a star as with children in the house we always need milk and without petrol I couldn't get to work therefore wouldn't get paid. And also it makes me think smarter about how I do my shopping. For example tomorrow the boys are having tuck shop so there will be no sticker for me. So while it's looking that way I may as well get the groceries too and then I might be able to manage some spend free days over the weekend. That way my calendar will get even more sparkly.

Any money I save from these no spend days will go into the holiday fund - the best place for it I think. There will be no no spend days while we are on holiday I can assure you!