Tuesday, 7 May 2013

Top tip for today - Birthday Parties

Lost my way a little bit over the last week.  Having our middle son's 13th Birthday Party/Sleepover kind of took over a lot of the week.   A great couple of tips for birthday parties, to keep the expenses in check:
Set a budget for the kids.  This year I gave our son $50, and took him to the supermarket so he could buy all the treats, including drinks,  he wanted for his party, but it could only cost a maximum of $50.  He did so well, and actually came in just under $50.  We then bought fish & chips for tea, and our son made his own very impressive cake!  We took them all skating - awesome fun for only $5 per person, including skate hire.  The kids ate the rest of the treats while watching movies at home, then we cooked them eggs on toast with spaghetti for breakfast.  So our whole party cost less than $150, with 10 kids there.  There was plenty of food, and the kids all seemed to have lots of fun.  Always a bonus!
Happy Savin!

Monday, 29 April 2013

The BEST Window Cleaner.

I have tried many different window formulas, and all seem to be lots of work, sweat & often tears, and then streaks!   This one however, is different, and I was really pleased!  I used damp newspapers to polish the still wet window after spraying this on - worked like a charm!  Just make sure you don't let the spray concoction dry on the window - spray one pane of glass then polish it straight off. Give it a go.

People by the thousands tried this but ended up swearing off cleaning with homemade recipes because the formula left streaks on their windows. Unfortunately, the commercial products they had used for so many years had left a wax buildup and vinegar alone wouldn’t do the job of removing the residue.  The good news though: Adding a dab of dish soap to the vinegar and water will remove the buildup.

Make a great all-purpose window cleaner by combining 1/4 cup vinegar, 1/2 teaspoon liquid soap or detergent, and 2 cups of water in a spray bottle. Shake to blend and spray on your windows!

Read more: at Care2.com HERE

Where do I start.... or WHERE do I STOP?? Better get a cup of coffee for this one!

I have so much I want to share that I'm finding it difficult to know where to start!  Maybe the best place is at the beginning.
I have always enjoyed what I thought was budgeting.  From our early years of marriage I kept a book detailing explicitly what we spent our money on, and making beautiful coloured lists that showed how much we were spending in every area of our finances.  At work, I looked forward to the first day of the new month, when the bank statements would come in and I would have to spend a day or two reconciling them.  I loved that feeling that I had made it work.  It was a finite task, and had a huge sense of fulfillment attached to it for me.  Unfortunately... my idea of budgeting was somewhat skewed.  Although I knew where and how we were spending our money, I took no action what-so-ever to make a plan to pay off our debt early, and I found that although we were on a great combined wage, we simply didn't have any savings.  We lived pay-cheque to pay-cheque - never worrying about money, but spending everything we earnt.  We weren't frugal, but neither were we stingy in sharing our finances.  We enjoyed being able to share our money with others who needed help, and gave in various ways.  This has always been a huge part of our family philosphy - to share what we have, and be generous in our giving.  I believe what goes around comes around, and I find it a joy to be able to bless someone else in our sharing. 
After reading Dave Ramsey's blog, and then getting his book, I was so mortified about how much we had wasted over the past 20 years.  We could quite easily have been debt free by now if we had simply had a plan in place.  So now, we have a plan.  We are in the process of getting rid of our credit cards.  Yes.  All of our credit cards.  BUT... I hear you saying, "what about the credit card rewards you get", and "we always pay off our credit cards each month in full".   Yeah right!  I also said this - we ALMOST always paid off our credit card in full each month, but there sometimes came a month where we didn't quite have the full amount needed, so we were plunged into a horrible cycle of interest payments and scavaging around, robbing Peter to pay Paul, so that we wouldn't have interest to pay next month.  We put everything possible on our credit cards, so that we would get the 55 days free interest, and the money would stay in our revolving credit account, hence letting us pay less interest there.  Simple stuff.  When it works. 
Once I had read through the information available on the net about credit cards, and had been really honest with myself about our credit cards, I found that it was just too easy to pull out a card and pay for anything.  I didn't actually perceive it as money, just a convenient way to take stuff home.  And I loved getting the rewards.  But, when I looked at how much I had to spend in order to get a reward, it was really pitiful.  I just redeemed my last reward before cutting up my credit card.  I had spent $10000 on a bank credit card to receive a $50 petrol voucher.  Sad.  When you also consider the account fee of $100 per year, plus additional card-holder fee, etc, etc, then I would be lucky to actually be making on the deal.  So there they go. 
We now use cash.  Yes, folding notes and coins.  Really!!  I do feel really great when I hand over a lot of cash to pay for our groceries, rather than using a card.  I'll talk more about the envelope system we use for our cash purchases another day, but can I just say that it is so easy to stick to a budget this way.  When the grocery envelope is empty, it is empty.  I can easily see how much is left, and warn the rest of the family that I won't be shopping again this month.  That always gets some great remarks!
So - there's the start of all this.  I'll be adding recipes for food or cleaning products that I have found work really well each day, plus other tips to help get you on track. 
Please feel free to ask me anything - I'd love to think that I am able to help just one person to be inspired to start saving, or spending less, or just think about doing a budget.
In the meantime...

Happy Savin!

Sunday, 28 April 2013

My passion - saving money while still enjoying life.

This is it.  The start of what I hope will be an on-going project that is mutually beneficial to both you AND me.

I am passionate about money... not just about having money, but about ways to save money, spend less and get more.  I have spent many, many hours searching the internet for helpful ideas on saving, and found some great information, but sadly not very much that was specifically for those who live in New Zealand.  This was where my family told me that I should start a blog to share my ideas and those that I had found helpful to me.  And so here I am.

To give you some background, I'm a Mother to three teen/pre-teen boys and Wife to my Darling Husband (DH).  We have a dog, two cats and three chickens.  I work part-time (18 hours a week) to earn our spending money, which we are currently saving furiously for a family holiday.   I have often been complimented for how little we spend on our groceries, and hear comments such as "Man, I wish WE could spend that much - we spend twice that amount".  I thought we were just pretty normal, but it seems that the old grocery bill gets away with most people. Over the last 7 months, we have been ruthless with our grocery bill, and still had plenty of food for entertaining, eating what I would call extremely well, and not feeling like we are missing out (unless of course you ask my 15 year old, who always says "Muuuuummmmm... we haven't got ANYTHING to eat".   In my mind I see the funny clip from Giggle T.V (Thanks to Dad's N Lads Barber's)

Open fridge;  Nothing to eat.
Open pantry;  Nothing to eat.
Lower Standards and repeat.

ANYWAY...  Last year, I was introduced to Dave Ramsey, and WOW, was I hooked.  Dave's no-nonsense approach to saving had my head spinning with excitement.  One of Dave's most precious sayings: - "If you will live like no one else, later you can live like no one else". 

I have been, and am constantly BEING challenged, to follow this motto.  For the first time ever, I refused an invitation to go our for dinner simply because it was going to cost me more that I was prepared to pay.  That was easier than I expected, and I did compromise by joining the girls for coffee after dinner so I could still enjoy their company.  I certainly didn't feel that I missed out, when I paid my $5 bill at the end of the night.

Lyn Webster, from little old Taranaki, was also a major inspiration to me about 2 years ago to try and get our grocery bill under control.  Check out her website HERE to see what she is up to now. 

Hopefully I can share ideas that will inspire you to re-think how you spend your money. 

Our goal we set this year - pay off all our debt... yes, ALL OF OUR DEBT, by the time I turn 50.  We have about 7 years and 5 months to go.  I will share our story, and tips we have learnt as we go.

Thanks for checking my blog out!

Happy Savin'!