Monday, May 31, 2010

Peak oil and sustainability part 2

Being prepared. One of the concerns being brought up in the peak oil debate is that everything that has fuel involved will increase hugely in price. So be it petroleum used to make plastic and other packaging, transporting raw product from one warehouse to another and finally to the store and lastly the petrol we use in our own cars. Who knows what the future will bring?

And because we never know what the future will bring it pays to be prepared. Peak Oil may prove to be a lot of unnecessary hype but it may not. I may be employed forever or I may not, I may lead a financially healthy life, or I may not and so there are several reasons to be prepared.

Sustainability is just one part of being prepared. Fruit and veges grown at home will be of huge benefit to my grocery spend. On top of that our fruit and veges will be chemical free so that's better for our health. And the feel good benefits of passing this produce along to friends and family will be priceless.

There are of course many other ways to be prepared for a future which may be financially difficult. Every time I fill up my tank with gas I add $10 to a prepaid petrol station gift card. Current balance is $40 and growing. Same for my grocery fund. Each week Mum and I contribute to our Christmas club account to be used for a huge shop pre Christmas. That will stock the pantry and freezers to overflowing. With the increase in GST hitting in October we will probably beat the price rise and shop in September. And I have a separate supermarket gift card that can be used with benefits after 1 November or at any stage prior to that if required.

Other items I stockpile include a 3-6 month supply of cleaning and personal care items. I am also growing a healthy supply of non perishable pantry items or those with a long shelf life such as cereal, tinned products, baking ingredients.

Clothing for the lads brought on special is also helpful. Mr8 has thermal singlets that will last him both this winter and next. Also more cotton singlets, school uniforms and other clothes. And of course Mr6 has Mr8's hand me downs so he is well sorted.

Lastly I have a good surplus of school stationary. In January in anticipation of future unemployment I almost doubled the stationary required for the lads back to school. Only went $10 over budget as I took advantage of the amazing specials in January. So during the year when the boys need extras I have them on hand at the special prices - often up to 75% cheaper than mid year prices. Any extra I can use for the next school year and then I can start the stockpile again taking advantage of the specials.

The thing with all this stockpiling is that every purchase I make is on special. Often up to half price for non grocery items and 30% off for items from the supermarket. It's money I don't even miss and every item is something that will be extremely useful in times of hardship or just hard times.

Peak oil and sustainability

Ok so I've been on the sustainability bandwagon for a while now but if I'm honest with myself not as much as I could be.

I have however spent the last hour reading a forum chat on the topic of Peak Oil and the implications for us in the future. When I started reading I had no idea what peak oil meant but now I get it and it's not good.

There are 2 main ideas I have chosen to take away from this discussion and I'll start with sustainabilty. Firstly I would love to be able to grow a large percentage of the fruit and veges we eat plus a surplus to give away to family and friends and if required in the future to sell. The fruit is one area I am doing well with and hope to keep improving. The vege gardens are my current work in progress. I have 2 new raised vege gardens built and the wood required for 2 more. Just waiting for my handyman friend to have some more spare time. I also have space for a new large sandpit and 2 more of the vege gardens.

So I have made a start on this leg of sustainability. The other thing that comes to mind with sustainability is reducing consumerism. Lets face it most of us have too much stuff and a lot of what we have is used very little or not at all. I cringe at the thought of all the junky toys the lads have had that have quickly wound up in the unused pile or worse still the rubbish bin. And that's before I even take into account the stuff that is mine. The clothes brought on sale that don't quite fit, really aren't my style or the ones I brought cheap versions of when I should have gone for quality.

For this leg of the journey I am trying to buy less and what I do buy I am trying to work out which is the best long term option for my family. If I'm honest I have enough clothes that fit and are my style to last me several years. I am planning a holiday next year though and will upgrade at outlet stores then. So on that front I am aiming to not buy anymore clothes for me between now and then. And I think the lads are probably right there too. As far as birthday pressies and things go this year both sets of grandparents, X and myself all chipped in. The little man got lots of Lego - therefore quality toy that will last for generations and the big man got a new flash bike that will last both him and his brother for years to come. Not a piece of packaging on the bike at all!

So that's enough for tonight. I'll be back tomorrow with idea number 2!

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Oops I was wrong

Yes it appears the telly did well and truly die.

Girls weekend was postponed due to terrible weather so the 2 of us whom live in this area got together for a dvd, wine, cheese and crackers. Well I proudly boasted to my friend how I had fixed my own telly and wouldn't you know it 45 seconds into the previews on the disc the jolly thing blew up again.

Now being strong, smart, independent women we decided to take things into our own hands. This of course called for the first glass of wine to prepare ourselves. That done, out over the slippery terrain we went to the sleepout for the replacement telly. Wow did you know those things are heavy? No wonder someone invented the flat screen. I'll bet it was a single woman! In it came though and out with the old. Quick stop for some more wine and the real challenge started. Who knew a television could have so many plugs and cables. That wasn't going to beat us though so we guessed what went where and turned it on. Yippe right first time. Yeah right. Turns out I am great at getting the telly going but not for making the dvd player work with it. More wine and phone calls to blokes and still no luck.

On to plan C. We took the replacement telly out and placed it on the floor and took the telly from my bedroom to the lounge. I'm fairly sure the dvd player has been connected to that tv before. Well maybe it has but it doesn't remember. So that one didn't work either.

Lastly was plan D - open another bottle of wine and spend the afternoon/early evening enjoying the company of a good friend. At last we had some success. We even rang the friend from Nelson who we were supposed to meet up with and had a speaker phone chat with her.

Ok so no money saving there other than the fact I was too drunk to trust myself to cook tea so went to bed without any. Will put the cordon bleu I had brought in the freezer for another night.

I did however do really well with my groceries this weekend. I went to a place called Raeward Fresh to get fruit and veges and after getting in a good stock of those I spent almost all the rest of this weeks grocery money on meat. 4x #20 chickens which should be 3 dinners and soup for me and the boys, 2x cordon bleu's and a kg chunk of corned beef. Freezer is full to overflowing. Picked up the last few essentials this morning at Pak n Save and now we are done for the week. I am anticipating a good stockpile stock up shop next weekend.

Oh and would you believe it has finally stopped raining. Grey and overcast but no rain!

Friday, May 28, 2010

Disney on Ice

Tonight we were lucky enough to go to the Disney on Ice show. I say lucky because we went last year and I would have given it a miss this year. My Mum however felt differently and decided that tickets could be our thank you for running the business while they were away.

This year I was a little silly and decided that seeing as the lads had just had dinner and dessert I wouldn't take any snacks just a water bottle. Hmmmmmmm nothing like an empty bag to make the lads "so hungry they could die" - famous words from Mr6. Man you wouldn't believe the prices they charge at those events. Now bear in mind our seats were average and for the 3 of us cost over $120 by the time booking fees etc were added. On top of that something simple like candy floss with an Incredibles mask - $20. WOW I thought who would be crazy enough to buy those? Hmmmm turns out lots of people are prepared to splash out ridiculous sums of money for junk food at these events. $15 for a snow cone in a flash disney cup? Please. Sorry lads, not in this lifetime! I reminded them this was the time they were usually in bed and not eating anyway so they were out of luck. Mean Mummy I sometimes think but then I would rather buy them a book each or some more Lego for that sort of money.

On the other hand I did get a great score today. I was given some staff discount coupons for a store (sorry cannot be named) we do work for. I went along today and was very pleasantly surprised at how cool the discounts were. I managed to get everything I planned on getting and was still well under budget so added a couple more bits seeing as I had planned to spend a certain amount anyway. So Mr8 now has a really nice all be it couple of sizes too big sweater put aside in the wardrobe for when he grows. Was too good a bargin to pass on and who knows if I will get the opportunity again.

Haven't put anything in my tin at this stage as I have no change in my wallet but will make up for that tomorrow.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Hooray the telly is not broken!

Would you believed I have managed to save my supposedly broken telly therefore saving me money in the long run?

We've had a crazy day today and finally gotten home after all our jobs and visiting were done. Last job was to stop at the Warehouse and get Mr8 a new hot water bottle. In true money wasting fashion Mr6 decided to see what happens if you poke holes in your brothers hottie so we needed a new one. While we were there I also picked up a new power board thing as now we have the playstation the boys cannot be playing their game while I am online. Simply not enough power points. Well when we got the new one home I decided to plug the telly in just in case it was the power board that was faulty. OMG the telly is fine. So even though I didn't have to buy a new one because of the spare in the sleepout this one will now last us longer meaning more time before we have to save for a new model.

Tomorrow I am however splashing out on tuck shop for the lads. Usually they are allowed this only once a term as a treat however this term with being busier at work I have said 2 Fridays in a row. Man am I popular. So we are totally organised for the morning for the 5th day in a row. WOW that has never ever happened before. Because it doesn't matter if I am late for work sometimes I get lazy at night and then regret it in the morning. I wonder if I can keep this organisation going once I am no longer flying solo at work.

Anyway only 2 more sleeps until my girls night in Hanmer. Fingers crossed the weather clears and the driving is not too treacherous for us and that GF gets through the pass to meet us. I'm going to aim for an early night tonight and tomorrow so I have lots of energy for the weekend!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Look Mum a tid - all wave!

OMG would you believe I let the lads have a bath tonight which is a real treat in our house as they usually shower. About once or twice a fortnight they have a bath. Now while showering saves hot water and therefore money it's more about the water saving in general that encourages me to shower them. And with 2 boys who are slow to toilet train at night we often need showers in the morning. No time for a bath then.

Well went in to get Mr8 out and there was water all over the floor and into the adjoining toilet. They were supposedly making tid - all waves. What? Ah tidal waves. And all over the floor. Hmmm put on my cross face while cleaning it up but at the same time couldn't help but think, what kid hasn't splashed all the water from the bath while having fun?

So that was mini disaster number 2 for the evening. The first was a little more of a problem but still not that big a deal. Went to turn on the telly to watch the evening news and see how bad the flooding was around the country and it has gone kaput! Well it is 10 years old and since becoming a single parent does get watched quite a bit so it's not really a big surprise. It's not the end of the world though and it won't blow the budget because I have another 29 inch old telly that was headed to the dump sitting out in the sleepout. And there is one in my bedroom which I will head to bed to watch shortly and see the forecast for tomorrow. We have a busy few days ahead and I think we can make it until Sunday before no telly in the lounge becomes a hassle so I'll catch up with a friend and see if we can make a time to move this old beast out and the new beast in. And in the mean time I may need a fund for a new telly. Will need to toss the old ones soon anyway as no HD in this house means they won't work effectively after 2012 anyway.

Oh and by the way - it's still raining!

Another day another dollar

Well actually that should read another day another $3 as that is how much I had to put into my tin today. I found - yes actually found - $2 in my wallet! What a score. No idea why I left it there but figured the tin was the best place for it. Then to top that one off I had $1 left when I organised the boys sasuage sizzle money for tomorrow. I am letting them get a sasuage and a cookie each when they are usually only allowed one or the other. My thinking is that these next 2 weeks need to be as easy as possible for me so that takes care of one of tomorrows jobs. Have some mini muffins and 2 pieces of fruit each in their lunchboxes and ready for the day tomorrow.

Actually I am amazed at how well organised I have been so far. Ok so it's only day 2 of 12 but humour me for a moment. So far I have almost totally organised the lunchboxes the night before they are needed. I have the food and dishes out on the bench for breakfast tomorrow morning and the school uniform will come straight off the airer in the morning and onto the lads backs saving me the hassle of folding it and putting it away. So so much easier in the mornings. Fingers crossed I can keep it up.

Again I have the washing hanging all over the house. There are clothes in various states of dry all over the place. The boys pyjama tops and hoodies hang perfectly on the corners of the dining room chairs - they are almost but not quite dry when I put them there so no problems with the wood. The doors are covered with bedding and towels and the wet stuff is on the airer under the heatpump. Man I love my heatpump.

I got my first "winter" power bill today. I will confess I was a little concerned that it would be a whopper. I have just come off a fixed price contract and was scared that the new prices would be horrific. Add to that the fact the heatpump has been running 24/7 for about 10 days due to cold rainy weather. I am pleased to say the bill was $145.38 less 12% if I pay it on time which of course I will. It's actually lower than last year by about $20 but I'm guessing that's because the first couple of weeks of the billing cycle were the warmest and driest on record for several years. Will be interesting to see how things go over the whole of winter. Shame I can't stock up on electricity before the new ETS and GST price rises get a hold of it. Would be great to toss the winter worth of money in and save me some $$$$ in the process.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Day one done and dusted

Well I have 12 hard days until my parents get back from their trip and day one is done. Lets hope though that the rest of the days are not similar in nature. Mr nearly 8 was sent home from school with a suspected ear infection. So had to dash out and pick him up at 11 and bring him back to work with me. Luckily with things like ears nobody is contagious so he was ok at the shop with me. Also we weren't overly busy as the weather is lousy.

Dodgy ears meant a trip to the doctor as well because if there were problems I wanted to get on to them straight away. Also by going to the doc I feel happy sending him to school tomorrow. Luckily no antibiotics but $30 all the same. Just need to keep him on pamol until it's no longer hurting.

To save money I also got another script for the other rugrats regular prescription meaning if nobody is sick in the next few weeks I won't have to pay a prescription fee for a piece of important paper.

Also saving money today and for the next 11 days I have the work vehicle with free petrol - saving me about $6/day on a normal day but even more on a day like today with an extra trip to school and back to work.

Weather is disgusting with more rain forecast in the next 24 hours. Man it's wet outside. Yet another load is hanging on the airer under the heat pump but at this stage I am managing to keep up. Desperately needing some sunshine though as need to do a load of sheets in the next day or two. Lol the house will look like a hurricane has hit it with 2 airers and sheets hanging over door frames but if that's what it takes then that's what I'll do.

Have put $2 in my money tin today for the saving on petrol. Thought about putting in more but I'm having a girls weekend in Hanmer on Saturday night and will need some extra cash then.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Getting the cheaper jacket

Today I went shopping with Mr 2 more sleeps until I am 8. Mr 6 was at the friends birthday party and the house was reasonably tidy so we went to Westfield to spend the birthday boys gift voucher. Now this kid is one seriously savvy shopper. I had recommended that he might want to consider buying a book as he is always reading and re-reading the ones he has. He decided that was a sensible idea and we started at the closest of the 3 bookstores. The books he liked were $15.99 at the first store and then he suggested we check the others to see if there were any specials. Second store was $15.50 for the same type of book and lastly $13.99. Hard to believe that in the same mall there would be that much difference. So naturally he settled on the 3rd bookstore and is the proud new owner of a Geronimo Stilton book.

Following in his footsteps on our way to Spotlight to look at modelling clay I stopped at Postie Plus. Now other than the kids school uniform I don't usually even bother looking in this store however a girl friend had said they had very reasonable jackets for the kids at good prices. I had been eying up one from Kathmandu for him as I have a friends and family staff rates voucher I can use and the jacket I like would be reduced from $250 to about $100. It's a navy goose down puffer jacket. Now having 2 boys I was telling myself I could justify the price as they would both use it and we would get approximately 3-4 years worth of wear from it. My only nagging doubt was what if he happened to lose it or it got stolen. Then I would be mighty annoyed. So we popped in to Postie but to be honest I was really just doing it to tell girl friend I had looked. Well I must say I was actually very impressed at their kids jackets. Thick and warm and with a hood to keep the head warm and dry. Usually $34.99 now $29.99. What a great deal. Mr7 hummed and haaad for a bit over choice of colour and yippie we have a cheap new jacket which is machine washable - another bonus over the dry clean only Kathmandu one. So I figure I have saved myself about $70 and if this one was to get lost it is not the end of the world.

The other saving I made today was on an umbrella. The last 2 winters I have purchased new ones - the kind that the handle retracts inside the brolly and they have both been hopeless. So at the Briscoes sale today I purchased at 40% off one of the golf style umbrellas. Much bigger for us all and looks a lot sturdier. And there's lots more rain on the way so shouldn't be too long before I need to check it out.

So a bit of a spending day today but basically just spent the money I saved on the hydro slide yesterday so it's all even. Did manage to put $5 into my coin tin yesterday as I used a petrol voucher and after topping up my gift card $10 that's the change I had left at the end of the day. Today's contribution was $3.40 so still increasing all be it slowly.

It's official! Today I am the worlds best Mummy

Ah what a day. As I type I can still hear whispers and giggles coming from the tent in my lounge but for the most part they are settled and almost quiet.

I have decided I am certifiably insane to have put this tent in the house but the insanity was worth it to see the looks on the other kids faces when they arrived this afternoon. "WOW cool" and "totally awesome" what more could you ask for?

After a snack we headed to QEII for a swim. Couldn't use the hydro slide as 3 of the kids are not yet 8 so needed an adult to go with them and with my shoulder and being in charge at work for the next 2 weeks I couldn't risk it. So saved a lot of money there - almost $30 and they still had a great time.

Was a bit tight for space though at fish n chip time. We had my parents here and my Aunty and Uncle who are in town again plus me and the 4 kids. Was a bit squished but we managed.

Finally they are all tucked up in their sleeping bags and hopefully will be asleep soon. I am shattered and in need of sleep too.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Well it seemed like a good idea at the time.......

Tomorrow Mr7 is having his 8th birthday party. He requested a camping trip for this party but at the end of May it is just too cold for his sook of a mother. So instead I promised him I would try and put the tent up inside the house.

Now being a single mother this was not the smartest suggestion in the world. On top of that I still have a dodgy shoulder. So I carefully moved almost all the furniture out of the lounge using mostly my right arm and my legs. The good thing about doing this was I have now cleaned and vacuumed behind the two sofas and the sea chest wooden box coffee table. Then in came the tent and along with that the laughter.

Firstly have you ever seen a woman with a dodgy shoulder try and put up a tent? Secondly it's a very large tent in an average sized room. Basically there is not a lot of room to spare. So finally get the poles in and remember that I cannot lift the dome roof by myself even when I am in great shape. Hmmm so I swallowed my pride and went to the neighbours. My neighbour and her two daughters came over and after fits of laughter seeing the size of the tent in the house we got to work. It's really hard to put up a tent in such a tight spot.

I can proudly say we now have a tent in our lounge. How's that for a party to beat the Jones's? How many other kids have parents who will let them have a full sized tent in the house? So my young man is super happy with getting home from school to see the tent fits in the lounge and is already sorting out where his friends get to sleep. And I'm super happy because I don't have to go camping in the cold and an at home camp out is much cheaper and more comfortable not to mention easier.

Value of seeing the lads smiling faces when they see the tent inside the house? Priceless.

Todays budget

I've spent the last hour or two reading lots of info off the net about the governments new budget for the coming year.

It's interesting reading. Obviously those who are high income earners and live a frugal lifestyle will see huge benefits. For the rest of us things won't be so great unless we spend less than we earn. I think for me I may manage to just come out ahead, just need to see how much my government assistance is affected. The reports all indicate things like the Working For Families package will increase as well which is essential for people living on low incomes.

And of course there are lots of frugal living ideas to help reduce the GST increase in the budget. Making sandcastles and splashing in the ocean are still free, same for local playgrounds and riding through the forest on our bikes. It's hard to beat activities like this when you have young children. Food brought at the supermarket will still go up 2.5% but it will always cost less than the fast food equivalent. So while GST will go up it doesn't mean all our expenses need to go up at well. It just means that you need to go back to the basics to have fun.

My real concern is for those who are living at or below the poverty line. Their increases in government assistance may not be enough to cover the increase in GST and that will be shocking. A lot of these people are already struggling and this could be the thing that tips them over the edge.

Planning ahead I'm looking at tweeking the budget to increase grocery spending from now until October 1st and then cutting right back and only buying specials, necessities like bread, milk fruit and vege. Ok so the savings might be minimal but every cent saved can go towards my debt free dream.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

The paperwork is in the post

Well it's done. At work I printed off the last account statements and have sent my return into the IRD. Fingers crossed they process it quicker than I sent it. I think from memory it takes about 4 weeks

On the money saving front today I stopped at the dairy closer to work and brought milk as it is 40 cents cheaper. Not much of a saving I know but every cent counts. I was stunned at the supermarket on Saturday to discover that the cheapest milk they had was $3.19 which is 69 cents dearer than at the dairy. What's that all about?

It's now been 4 days of having the washing hanging on the airer under the heat pump. Man I am sick of the winter weather already. Only the threat of a whopping great power bill is stopping me from tossing stuff in the clothes dryer. At this time of the year it's important to time the washing well so that there is always a load hanging under the heater. Otherwise I end up needing to do 2 loads and man that really makes the house look like a Chinese laundry.

I've been to physio again today for my shoulder. Still struggling to do even half days at work due to the pain. If only I had an office job where you sit and type all day. Just resting my elbow on the desk takes away the weight from my shoulder and makes things better. Physio really hurt today. Shoulder feels all bruised from Mondays session and then he dug into the same spot again. Ouch! Thank goodness the physio is free - I wouldn't pay to get hurt this much. Here's hoping that it's not so bad when I go back on Friday or I may need tissues for the tears.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Tax Rebates and other free money

Yesterday I finally got sorted starting to do the final bits and pieces to claim back my 33% on school fees and other donations. Now I have had this paperwork for almost 2 months so should have done this a long time ago. So what was stopping me?

Basically I did not want to look stupid! Yeah great reason to avoid doing the paperwork that would give me back approx $110. What happened was I gathered up all the receipts for the last 12 months worth of fees and could not make head nor tail of them. There were things missing, things counted twice and man it was a mess. But I did not want to tell them I couldn't make sense of their statement system so procrastinated instead.

Well yesterday I discovered I am going to have to spend about $500 on my car to see me through the next wee while. I had a dead battery, need a new tyre, a small $200ish repair job and it also needs an oil change. The battery was a bit of a shock but the others I have known about for a couple of months. I have decided to bite the bullet and get all jobs done while I am still employed.

So back to the receipt problem. I decided I could email the school and ask for a statement which outlines only the fees paid over the past 12 months not stationary, outings etc. Yay for me cos it came through today and finally I have done the paperwork. My printer is having a hissy fit with my laptop now that it's back so will have to wait until work tomorrow so that I can print out the statement and send it all off but hopefully in just a few weeks I can report free money in the bank.

Lastly there's the other free money I am collecting. I currently have enough Smile City points to claim a $30 cheque, Valued Opinions I am only $1.30 short of a $30 Farmers voucher, enough Airpoints for me to travel to Brisbane (but not back yet) and lastly enough Flybuys points to get the boys and I a 2 day 2 world pass for Dreamworld and Whitewater World. All of that is free! And my earnings from this blog are at about $65 also. It's amazing how much free money you can collect if you put your mind to it.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Another rainy day

Today is the second day of persistent rain and cold and I think winter is really here. It's odd because I heard on the radio the other day we are having the warmest May for decades and now the cold snap is here. Sometimes you just have to hear people say something like that and it ruins it.

Now before children days when it would rain like this I would avoid doing the washing wherever possible or heaven forbid use the clothes dryer. These days using the dryer and wasting electricity is not in my budget. To help me avoid using the clothes dryer it is out in my garage so I would have to get wet and cold to get to it. Also where it is positioned in the garage the plug doesn't reach a power point so that's an added hassle. These two problems have stopped me using my clothes dryer for nearly 3 years.

So my lounge has been turned into a Chinese laundry yet again. My heat pump is perfectly positioned so that the washing can be hung on an airer underneath it yet it's conveniently out of the main foot traffic area so we don't have to keep moving around it. And because it's cold I would have the heat pump on anyway so it's not using any extra electricity to dry it.

A secret tip a girlfriend gave me many years ago when Mr7 was a baby was to hang things on your airer as you would on the clothesline. By using pegs you are reducing the thickness because nothing gets doubled over therefore making the clothes dry a lot quicker. Thanks for sharing that one Ange.

So that's one of the things I do to keep my electricity bill low. And for a lot of people I think using the dryer is a big power guzzler. I'd rather be using that money towards my mortgage or the occasional night out but each to their own.

Thanks Mum

Want to know a sure fire way to blow the budget? Just get sick or injured and go to the doctors after hours.

This morning I woke with a very sore upper arm. No idea as to the cause just figured I must have slept on it badly. Figured as I got up and moving around it would loosen up and all would be well again. Hmmmm just the opposite actually. Now mostly it is ok but if I move it in the wrong direction I get a horrible stabbing pain in my arm.

So Mum came over to help with dinner and the lads and I decided to head to the after hours rather than to try and squeeze in an appointment with my GP in the morning. Nothing major is wrong but no idea what I've done to it either. Cost with a Community Services card $65.

Now it's no wonder that as parents we avoid going to the doctor unless it's an emergency. I would always take the boys no matter what it cost but always put it off for myself. Cost without the card is $83. I really feel for low income families who do not qualify for the card and for those on benefits and government assistance as these costs are crazy. Luckily for me my Mum insisted on paying the bill.

Tonight however has brought to light that maybe I need to have a little more money put aside for things of this nature. I'll tweak the budget tomorrow to see where it will come from.

On a positive note I went to a champagne breakfast to raise money for the breast cancer foundation. I was in charge of raffles and managed to sell 200 tickets raising a grand total of $203.10.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Supermarket fuel dockets

Today was grocery day and seeing as we were going to be over the other side of town I decided to go to Pak n Save Wainoni. I love that store second only to my local New World. The only problem with the PnS is that it is miles away and not very cost effective. Otherwise I would go there a lot more often.

This weekend the supermarkets were advertising spend $200 and get a 25c/ltr off your petrol coupons. This is a fantastic deal however with only having a grocery budget of $80/week not particulary practical for our family. I thought about doing the hugest shop and then very little for the next 3 weeks but it would mean a pitiful $40 leftover to cover this period. Hmmm that may be challenging. Then I came up with a much better idea.

My Dad drives a company car and doesn't pay for fuel, my Mum only puts in $20 fuel at a time and that lasts almost forever so neither of them benefit greatly from discount coupons. I however have to allow about $80 every 12-14 days to get me from A to B. So today Mum came with us to the supermarket and we both went through the same checkout. At the end of my groceries we asked the checkout operator to do a subtotal and then put Mum's through. Wouldn't you know it we easily made the $200 spend and next time I fill up I will get about $12 discounted off my fuel.

One thing I noticed at PnS was their trolleys seem larger than I am used to. It seemed as though I hadn't brought all that much but when it was put into reusable shopping bags and put in the car it looked much better value. Something else was that my Mum and I have very different habits when it comes to grocery shopping. I am a far more frugal shopper and my trolley was much better value for money being a bit fuller than hers but costing about $30 less. Ok so she had told Mr7 she would buy him an icecream cake for his party and that alone came to $19 but even still there were big differences. I buy whatever is the best value - generally I wait until the brand I like is on a good special and I stock up. I also take the time to read where my food is coming from rather than just tossing it into the trolley and I use things like free range eggs.

So all up I spent $122.24 meaning that for next weeks groceries I have a grand sum of $37.76 to spend. It's likely however that I will get away with a simple fruit, vege, bread and milk shop so it shouldn't be too difficult.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Falling off the wagon

Ooops today I have fallen off the wagon and forgotten my savings goal. I took a look at one of my favourite clothes shops - Wild South - on my way home and well something just insisted on being brought and taken home with me.

One of my big weaknesses is clothing. In fact it's probably the only weakness I have that will derail me from my savings goal all be it temporarily. I like new clothes. They make me feel good both when I buy them and when I wear them. Now I have tried op shopping but only went once and the selection was worn and tatty. Plus will things feel as good knowing they are not new?

So anyway I am $50 down (it just jumped onto the credit card I promise) but at least I have a nice new top to wear out tonight. And like almost everything I buy it will mix and match with almost everything I already own.

And I haven't done anything today that could be counted as money saving other than waiting until I got home to make myself some lunch rather than buying something. Dinner tonight is cottage pie ex freezer so that's a sort of saving but I truly think that will be all I manage. And I have a bit of a busy weekend ahead so will have to work hard at ways to save more money for the mortgage.

Watching children achieve

Today my 7 year old son had his school cross country. Neither of my lads are overly sporty but Mr7 gave it a jolly good go today. First they had a walk to the quarry then it was race time. The children are split according to year group and also gender. I am pleased to report my wee man came in about the middle of his year group with his proud mother cheering him on from the sidelines. Absolutey shattered he proudly came over to me and announced that he had no energy left and didn't think he could manage swimming lessons after school. Then he bounced off and completed the fun run as well managing an impressive finish with his wee friend. They had to run the whole race holding hands and the year groups and genders are all mixed together. And he even managed to find enough energy for his swimming lesson as well which was good because at almost $10/lesson I wasn't eager to miss it out. Out of 5 kids in his swim group 3 had done the racing today. Where do they find the energy?

On the making money front today I had another survey from Valued Opinions that required help from Mr7 regarding his tv habits and that earned us another $2. I also placed $3 in coins into my tin boosting the mortgage fund. Also the original (read incorrect) weather forecast was for rain and cold so I only hung out half the washing on the 1 line that hangs partly under the eaves of the house. Beautiful and windy day today so that part of the washing is nice and dry but the stuff on the airer is not. It's quite warm tonight so no heat pump on to save electricity but hopefully it will finish drying overnight. That however is about all I have been able to do today. Still it all counts towards working my way to a debt free home and future.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Yay lappy is back

Yay my laptop has finally come home to me and is virus and other bug things free. Total cost was $20 because my girl friend had a few problems that someone else had to have a look at.

Filled up the car with gas on our way home from the hospital today. Was impressed at how long this last tank has lasted. Fill cost just over $70 and I loaded $10 onto my BP gift card. Current balance on that one is $30. I keep putting $10 onto it each time I fill up so that when money gets tight I have some $$$$ to fall back on to fill up the tank. I also have another $10 BP gift card that I got from doing a survey a while back. So that's half a tank of fuel I have to spare. Change from gas has gone, you guessed it, in my coin jar!

Other money saving things I did today include calling in at home before picking up the lads and grabbing some baking for afternoon tea. After the hospital I treated them to half a Crunchie bar each for being so well behaved. Also took out leftover roast chicken from the freezer so I could make chicken and pasta for dinner rather than being tempted to stop and get takeaway on the way home. Oh and as usual I have hung the washing on an airer under the heat pump to get it dry rather than using the dryer. I do this whenever needed and it is a huge money saver on the electricity bill.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Who has influenced your life?

Well the last couple of days have been an emotional roller coaster. Yesterday we almost lost my dear old Nana. At age 91 she has led a long and plentiful life and yesterday we were called to her bedside at the hospital to say goodbye. Nothing short of a miracle today it is as though nothing ever happened. Thankfully we have more moments with Nan and have all had the chance to tell her how much we love her and how much she means to us.

That said it got me thinking how some people are major influences in our lives. By the time I was born my Grandfather (Guggy) had retired and my Nan only worked occasionally. Many school holidays and other days were spent with my Grandparents in the house my Nan still lives in now. My Guggy passed December 24 2002 shortly after my first son was born.

Spending so much time with my Nan over the years has meant she is one of the bigger influences in my life. As is often true with her generation my Nan is one of the most frugal people I know and always has been. As a small child I remember my first introduction to stockpiling. During the depression my Nana had been forced to live without toilet paper and soap. I clearly remember standing with my brother and counting 52 cakes of soap in the cupboard. When you are a small child 52 is a big number. She also had a very large stash of toilet paper. I asked her once why she had so many and she told me it was because if times get tough they are two things they never wanted to live without.

Now I have adapted this practice slightly. With advances in technology and also out of personal preferences I have added a lot more items to my "don't want to live without" strategy. I love having a substantial stockpile for hard times. Ideally I would like a 6 month supply of everything except milk, fruit and vege, bread and meat. I am working at this now. The theory for me is that in hard times or during unemployment I can hugely reduce my grocery spending. I have 2 golden rules with my stockpile - only ever buy if it's a good special and make sure you rotate your stock. Both these principles help me to build my stockpile without blowing my weekly grocery budget.

So that's just one of the many ways in which my Nan has managed to influence my life and the person I have become today. She is one of the most amazing people I have ever known and I am truly blessed to be her Granddaughter.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Yay yay it's Mother's Day

Now before I begin please excuse my spelling as I have had a couple of wines and there is only so much spell check can do!

Hmmmmm Mother's Day. In our house Mother's day is special in that Mummy is on duty almost 24/7 but at the same time there is nobody but Mummy to ensure the jobs get done. So today I have mowed the lawns front and back which is unusual. Why does the back grow a lot faster than the front? That and the pruning the lads did down the driveway managed to fill 2 1/2 green waste bins. Lucky I get the 2 bins from work or else we would have a green waste overflow.

Then it was on to baking as my gift for my Mum. My Mum helps me a lot both with time and with bits and pieces for the lads when needed. This year I asked the lads what we should get for nana and they suggested the DG cake and Mr7 wanted to bake something himself for her. So that we did. And also I tried a new recipe for a biscuit that I did wrong so we made what we have called crunchy cookie slice. Haha was not going to waste all that butter. My goodness you should have seen all the dishes. Mum is now providing a morning tea shout for work tomorrow with all the goodies she took home and the lads delivered a load to friends before tea. I love sharing our baking.

Roast chicken for dinner which was supper yummy and enough leftovers for chicken and pasta tomorrow dinner, a chicken sandwich for me tomorrow lunch and I am going to give chicken soup a crack too. Great value for a $10 chicken.

So money saving things for today were no car day so no petrol used, baked instead of brought a gift, stretched a chicken to 3 evening meals and a lunch and didn't go to the shops so couldn't spend any dosh there either. My Mother's Day gift to myself was ginger crunch so saved money there as well. Have put $5 into my tin for all the money I have saved.

Savings Saturday

Today was a great day for saving money. And by the way the day started who'd have thought there could be a positive. Mr 6 wet the bed TWICE last night so lots and lots of washing. The day was cloudy and raining and to be honest while my washing line is great in the point of view that no-one can see my washing it's not good for getting the washing dry at this time of the year. Now the thing is I have not used my clothes dryer in almost 3 years. In fact where it lives in the garage it's plug doesn't reach the power point.

So after a sleep interrupted night and knowing that the washing was going to be unlikely to get dry I figured today might not be the best. Well from a money saving perspective it was great.

We walked (Mum, the lads and I) to Countdown to get the bits and pieces of groceries I hadn't got yesterday. Saving both petrol and sanity trying to get a carpark on a busy Saturday afternoon. Mr6 scored about 2/3 of a loaf of white bread brought this morning from Nana because Grandad only eats toast on the weekend and Mum had a brownie packet mix she is never going to get around to using so we got that too. Then I spotted the 2 overripe bananas on her bench that I knew she would be throwing out. Yip scored them too.

On the way home we stopped at the Mad Butcher with the last of the grocery money and grabbed 900g of chicken breasts. Have cooked 2/3 of this tonight and put a precooked meal in the freezer and have the other 1/3 for dinner another night. $10 worth of chicken has covered 3 meals. That's handy. Also picked up a pack of casserole steak that I will cook in the slow cooker later on in the week and will stretch to 2 or 3 dinners. This time for $8 worth of meat.

Having these meals in the freezer will mean that on nights I do not feel like cooking and am tempted to get takeaway I have a healthier, quicker and cheaper option.

So we got home and as expected the washing was not even half dry. Straight onto the airer under the heat pump and all will be good tomorrow. I still have some dry nites (well the Homebrand version) so the wee man has one of those on just in case. I've also done tomorrow's washing and it's about to go on the airer just incase the weather is lousy tomorrow as well.

And lastly on the money saving I have baked. Chocolate was not on special this week at either supermarket so I behaved myself and only brought 1 block. This means I need options to snack on instead or it will not last. So I have baked myself ginger crunch which I have been craving for a couple of weeks and also 4 dozen banana choc chip mini muffins for lunchboxes. I was tempted to grab a piece of crunch at the bakery today but 1 slice there costs about the same as it does for me to bake it. Have saved myself some $$$ there but maybe gained myself some calories.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Grocery day

Yay today was grocery day. Sad how when you give up shopping getting the groceries is considered a shopping outing. My budget for this supermarket was $80 and I managed to scrape in $4.38 under budget. I have $34.38 to spend now at supermarket number 2. And I must remember to get chocolate.

I always take a list with me when I go shopping. And this list is divided into 3 categories. Firstly there are the things I must get no matter if they are on special or not. This is usually made up of fruit & veges, milk, bread, chocolate and anything I have run out of or am almost out of. Secondly there's the things I would like to get but only if they are on special. Usually baking ingredients, juice, ice-cream. Thirdly there's the stockpile stuff. Usually this has 2 focus areas currently breakfast items and cleaning products. Working on this weeks catalogues there's not a lot of cleaning products that are on great specials so I've really focused on breakfast stuff. Next week I might change breakfast stuff to baking stuff and so on until my stockpile is looking really healthy again.

The advantage to stockpiling is that I very rarely run out of non perishable goods. That way I rarely pay full price instead waiting for a good special and then grabbing as many as I can afford. This is great for keeping the grocery bill inline with the budgeted $80/week. One thing I have learned about stockpiling though is only stock up on the things you eat the most. It's great for us to have a lot of breakfast items for example but not a lot of biscuits and chippies. When we have lots of that sort of stuff we just eat it for the sake of eating it which is not the way to save money. And my baking tastes a lot better than that junk anyway.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Eating well on a budget

Well over the last 10 days I have proven that you don't have to head to the supermarket every few days to feed your family well. Other than 4 litres of milk and a bunch of bananas I have stayed away from the supermarket. It is amazing how much food I have in my freezer and that's without even touching whatever is lurking at the bottom of my freezer.

Tomorrow though I am heading to the shops. Realistically I could just head to the fruit and vege shop and forget all about the supermarket saving even more money but there are a few things on good specials this week and I don't want to miss them and risk paying full price later.

We have eaten well over these 10 days including lots of fruit and veges. And meat with almost every meal. One favourite which we ate last night is homemade chicken nuggets. These are just 1 chicken breast cut into cubes and crumbed with flour, egg and breadcrumbs. Makes 1 breast look like a lot and stretches it a lot further than cooking one whole. Add homemade wedges and steamed veges and presto - a meal on a bugdet.

One of the areas which helps our food budget the most is breakfast. Breakfast is compulsory for all members of our household. And luckily we had never introduced expensive cereals in our better off days. So the boys are happy with weetbix, ricies and cornflakes mixed together or porridge. I add stewed, canned or fresh fruit to the mix and they love it. We also often have toast to follow. Well I have toast everyday and they have it more often than not. I also drink a large glass of milk each morning. So our breakfast is super healthy and cheap and fills us up for the morning. It's amazing how much expensive cereals cost nowadays and how much of them you have to eat to feel full.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Building a time out fund

There is a possibility I will be jobless or at the very least a cut back in hours in the near future. The business I work for is for sale and my job security is currently uncertain for the first time in years. On the one hand I am a little worried about this but on the other it is quite exciting. You see I've been feeling as though I am stuck in a rutt for quite a while and this may just be the kick in the pants I need to help me figure out what I want to do when I grow up. That is both scary and exciting. Scary because I don't know which direction I want to head in and exciting because I feel it could be the start of a new chapter if only I could figure out which book to pick up.

Also on my mind is the money issue. If I cut back my budget to bare essentials (no Mother new clothes are not an essential) then I can make do and just break even while unemployed. This is great news as it means I can take a break without going backwards. I will not however be able to continue my mortgage reduction plan at it's current level. In fact not at any level other than the standard minimum repayments. I am concerned that I will not cope well in that situation at all. So much of my life has become revolved around the mortgage. Without this as my purpose for being frugal will I manage?

So to make life a little less stressful and to enable me to continue babystepping my mortgage I have decided my coin jar that I place all my little savings into will be my babystepping fund. When unemployment hits and things feel like a struggle to go forwards I will open my hopefully full tin and place that money on the mortgage. Hopefully seeing that amount reducing the mortgage will pick me up again and remind me why I make an effort doing the little money saving activities.

This fund will also serve as a back up emergency fund. I already have one of these but this will give me a bigger buffer in the case of an emergency. Pretty good reason to be frugal now I say.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Chocolate cake? What chocolate cake?

Can somebody please refresh my memory? I'm fairly certain I baked a chocolate cake on Sunday and that I posted I would freeze half of it. Hmmmmmm well something called kids, workmates, parents and myself happened to that. Even my X husband stole a piece. Now it's not quite all gone yet but will be tomorrow and not a slice made it's way to the freezer. This would have to be the most delicious cake I have ever made. I'd be thinking next time I have the urge to bake it it would be smart to double the mixture and then I just might have a chance to freeze some. My favourite way of eating it so far is with ice-cream.

Other than the cake disappearing faster than planned my $30 grocery challenge is going fantastic. I still have the whole $30 in my bank account which is better than I expected. I had a quiet weekend so used my sanity money to buy 2 litres of milk - $2.50 and 8 bananas $2.20 and that is all I have spent on groceries. We will just make it until Friday for fruit and veges and I found another container to mix powdered milk in so all good there too. It's amazing how much further you can stretch when you have too. I was tempted to try and make it last until next Tuesday but that will be pushing my luck and there are a couple of specials I really want to pick up this week.

Also this weekend with the groceries I will be doing something I don't often do. I generally shop at my local New World because it is close, clean, easy to find things and the fresh produce is a great quality. They have good specials but the items not on special are more expensive than Pak n Save. This week I was torn between Countdown and New World as they both had good specials on items I need this week and was trying to decide which one to go to. I have decided to go to both. New World is always handy and never out of my way which would usually be the deciding factor. However when I thought about it the boys will be at my parents while I work on Saturday and they live close to a Countdown so it's not much of a detour to go there as well. Will just have to be super careful that going to 2 supermarkets doesn't get the spending over budget.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Missing in action

Tomorrow I find myself computer less again. That is unless mine is ready to go and dropped back to me at work. Mum needs hers back for the night and at this stage I have no idea how long mine will be gone for. The joy of having a friend fix things on the cheap. Never mind I'm sure one day won't kill me and I can have this one back again on Tuesday if I am having withdrawl symptoms.

By the way that chocolate cake I mentioned earlier was just divine. Mmmm you know how the ones from packets or expensive stores taste so rich and light? Well this one is even better and much better for my budget. Thanks Sophie Gray.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Baking day

Yay all my jobs are done and I still have 3.5 hours to go.

Today has been a productive day as far as saving money goes. Firstly the car has and will continue to stay in the driveway all day. This is always a great money saver in two ways. Obviously the savings in petrol but also the fact that if you don't go anywhere it is much harder to spend your hard earned cash!

Also I have been out in the garden pulling weeds and trimming things. We have 2 green waste bins at work paid for with our rates and no garden to produce waste to fill them with. I however have an 810sqm section and just the one bin. So I have gathered enough waste to fill both the bin I brought home from work and 2 containers to take with me tomorrow to fill the other bin with. Plus my own bin is about half full. Free green waste dumping.

And lastly in the oven I currently have a dozen pizza scrolls with more awaiting space and a chocolate cake from the Destitute Gourmet cookbook. Sophie Gray proves that you can still have extremely yummy food and treats without breaking the bank. Both items will be halved with one half going to lunchboxes this week and the other heading to the freezer for moments when I am lacking either ingredients or inspiration.

The scrolls however almost proved to be a disaster. Just 5 minutes into the breadmakers cycle I discovered I hadn't used any yeast. Whew that was a lucky save. These scrolls are the yummiest alternative to sandwhiches my lads say so I've posted the recipe below. I use a breadmaker and just take the dough out at the end of the kneading/rising cycles but you could make them by hand.

1x 1kg quantity of bread dough mixed in the bread maker (I just use the white bread recipe from my breadmaker book)

Cut the dough in half and roll one half flat on a floured benchtop. I usually make a rectangle shape about 30cmx20cm.

Spread with tomato sauce. Top with chopped up ham and grated cheese.

Carefully roll the dough into a log shape. Cut into desired size and bake at 180 deg for about 15-20 mins.

To free flow freeze these I just place them on a baking tray about 2cms apart, cover with a tea-towel and carefully place in the freezer. Once frozen I place into a plastic bag and just remove them as required in the morning for lunchboxes.