Saturday, January 29, 2011

It's not Sunday ~ silly...

Sometimes I wish I was a cat... 
Oh a public holiday mid-week just throws me out of whack...

Today I went grocery shopping ~ I had planned to spend only $50 from the usual budget but there were a few things that were just too good to pass by. Veal steaks (make wonderful schnitzels) marked down to $3.54 for four good size steaks ~ at 66% off that was my score!

There was a dodgy looking half a pineapple on the shelf - just a wee bruise down the side so I said the chap if he marked it to 50c I'd take it. Saved $2.49 (bloody expensive half a pineapple) and it is now chopped up, in the freezer and ready to throw into a fruit slushy concoction with banana and mango and kiwi fruit ~ only the kiwi is fresh and ripe, the rest are in the freezer. Considering we are expecting high 30 degrees over the next few days ~ its going to be perfect *yummo*

Anyway ~ spent $115 on groceries. Oh the price you pay for not making a 'proper' shopping list ~ it was ad-hoc with the SmallBoy and me deciding we needed milk, bread and salad stuff for dinner. Sure, there is no cereal in the house and you know I am so fussy when it comes to my morning menu. But 'my' muesli was on special - 2 for $9 which saved over $2 a box. Then there was the cat food ~ it's not been on special for a while but was again on one of the bulk buy specials - 4 tins for $5, which is less than the usual $1.59 - and we were down to the last 3 tins from the early December mega-on-special-spend when it was half price. Plus one tomato cost 98c - rip off - but none of ours are red yet so one it was. Lots of fruit and salad items, a few dairy delights (feta, ricotta, bacon)  Toilet paper ($8 for 18 rolls) and the Iron Supplement ($23) were the expensive additions - not being usual buys from the stoopidmarket these were a little higher but both were needed . . . hopefully that wasn't too much information *laughs* 

More than enough to last through until the end of next week, and nothing was bought last week because I just kept putting of the shop and we made do with what was here so can't complain when its taken as a big picture.

Yard sale stuff.
Alright ~ I am so embarrassed about the amount of clothing I have hoarded for so many decades. Yet it is killing me to put price tags on them of less than $5. Some things are missing a button, others are in need of a wash, an iron or a dry-clean and having received a reader comment to open some of the Country Road items on eBay I've made a decision. Tomorrows Yard Sale is not going to have many of the high end items available ~ these will be up on eBay. Husband has had an offer for 10hours work setting up Sessions for Tupperware so he is not home this weekend (sitting in air-conditioned comfort, lucky boy) and it's going to be a mammoth job for me to be setting up so those items which are ready (and there are quite a lot - let me tell you!) will be dragged out and up for grabs tomorrow during the day.

The shoes can go - school uniforms - shoes (oh Emelda!!) - three boxes of womens clothing - one box of mens - two boxes of small children and baby things, including the cutest little shoes, and we'll see how we go. *grins*  Seriously, even $100 will be a start and I am hopeful of getting at least three times that with the stuff only half going.
some ready 
That will be put aside in readiness for the rates which are due mid February and we've only got half the money ready. We'd have it all only that is the same week the mortgage payment is due and some how I think the bank will take that first. All back to normal - if I can do another shop in a fortnight for only fruit and veg and milk, then do the same again a fortnight later - we'll be right for all payments.

Well, I should be in bed asleep ~ so I can be up bright and early to drag these boxes out. Half are in the hall, ones at the front door and the rest are still in the spare room. There are just not enough hours in the day some times! It's going to be a stinker of a day ~ I'm only planning to be out from 8am to 3pm then collapse under a cold shower. Wish me well ~ SmallBoy is quite excited about having a Yard Sale - I don't think he knows what to expect. Then again, neither do I!!

~ A Jar of Time ~

Beams of sunlight through the trees
Filtered light, a cooling breeze
Often it is days like these
We feel most contentment

Living, loving, working hard
Calm time for self we disregard
If we could capture in a jar
Spare time for pure refreshment

Take a little time for you
It stops the heart from feeling blue
You've got me as your friend, its true
I give you that commitment

ॐ. ☂✶ ॐ.

oo .-.
..'~~~'..  time to take it slow...

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

This week I will . . .

Experience a miracle to do with money...
And with that in mind, let the miracle begin. While I believe in the law of attraction, I think this will have a lot to do with the de-cluttering from the house of all superfluous items of clothing, shoes and other such wear-ables. Seriously, does any woman really NEED 14 different winter coats?

Well, I've selected the three I like the most and the rest are up for grabs (and $5) at the lawn sale we are having this weekend. I've selected five work type blazers and the rest are going, that's another 18 items for sale. I'm keeping four pairs of trousers (which either partner the blazers or can be worn with them) and have too many to count in the box.

As for skirts and dresses ~ we'll say there are 50 to choose from and I'm keeping about a dozen. In my defence, I did work for Country Road and I have been employed in the corporate side of business and administration for over 25 years, however I don't really need to retain those suits, shirts and outfits I've had since joining the work force. *blushes* But I am keeping the first suit I ever bought when I started in advertising because it is a classic and it still fits.

There are items of the male variety ~ even being ruthless the mens, boys and baby stuff is barely half as much as what I've collected. I've now the dilemma of sorting into sizes and types.  It's a dilemma because my hoardings range in size from US4 to AU28. Nuts really ~ I've never been bigger than a 14 even when pregnant. I don't even think there are maternity items in the mix, although some of the bigger clothes would have be used then and while I was trying to disguise the skinny bony me.

Waxing the Lyrical
If you didn't know, I like to write. I also like to create prose and poems, songs and lyrics. With Our Mission, my old Meanderings have fallen a little by the by ~ so please indulge me every so often when I feel the need to include something that has popped into my head and must be written and shared. Such as now:

~ Calling On Old Friends ~

Oh my
I see you falling, from way up high
If only you had heard my cry
This day was coming but you made your choice
You chose to listen and not use your voice
Now the lies are being pinned on you
What can this old friend do

Oh I
Know the reasons you took this path
It was love that you thought could last
We tried to tell you there was half a truth
And you know because you hid the proof
Now the blame is falling back on you
What can a good friend do

Listen as you work it out
Hold your hand as you shout
Sometimes sisters arent a friend
Even when
You to mend
The broken heart of love

In time
You will work out who to forgive
Remembering its your life you need to live
Only you can let her take control
Tell you how she in her world revolves
I have been in your shoes too
You always knew
What to do
Didn't you

I have heard you work it out
Held you hand when there was doubt
Sometimes family's not a friend
You can't depend
The twisted end
She breaks your heart again

Hear me calling
In your mind
How to fix things
You might find
Living lonely
Left behind
She never wanted
Us to bind
My sister
Resist her
The Twister
Is gone

Sometimes when I've written pieces in the past, family or friends (and the odd bod from 'out there') has thought the story is theirs. If a piece of writing can be taken to heart and claimed as ones own, I think it means there is something special in the words. Those who have read my pieces before know the inspiration comes from the back realms of my brain and, once started, flow out quickly, simply and in its entirety. 

Truly, I rarely write about people or instances directly ~ the odd one or two for sure ~ but I once said to my sister it's a bit like the Cheap Trick song where the lyrics imply his parents were taking drugs and having sex on the couch and he walked in a caught them. Somehow I doubt this actually happened and I guess I am saying this to ensure this is not something about my family, any friends or any acquaintance who might feel this is about them. These are simply words that, if I could write the melody, would be a song an artist might record. Let me hum you a few bars and you'll see how it should go . . . *grins*

Well, I've got to get back to sorting those boxes into type, gender sets and sizes. It's going to be a big few days getting that done ~ if it all goes and sells the way I hope ~ there will be several hundred dollars to remove from the debt tally, an empty room in our house and the ability to put the spare bed and sewing machine, hiding somewhere in the garage, up and to good use. Somewhere to put visitors that's a bit more civilised than a mattress on the floor. It's getting exciting.

As always ~ hoping you will help us beat the debt and add a single dollar into the Treasure Chest up there on the left hand side of the blog page. If you don't have PayPal, there is a bank account listed on the Q+A page for bank transfers ~ always happy to receive any financial support and know it goes only on the debt. No doubt there will be more for eBay after this round of clutter removal ~ and I've got one piece left to send from the last listings!! Cleaning the mess from the recent rains has interfered with that.

Have a wonderful Australia Day everyone ~ somehow I think there might be a few fireworks going off around Lake Wendouree tomorrow night. Catching up with really good friends and seeing people we know up on the stage later in the day! It's going to be a fun day and night!! May yours be just as enjoyable :D

A Summary of Successes

Waiting for the train ~ by Husband 
Just watched Baz Luhrmann's "Australia"
Boy its a long movie. And it should make every viewer realise what a sad tale the aboriginal people have been left to tell as part of their story. Watching it made me ashamed of my forefathers and wish to know more of the heritage of this country. From my heart, I too say 'sorry'.

I remember as a child, taking several family trips across the Nullarbor ~ travelling by car from Melbourne to Perth and back over Christmas/Summer holidays. We've stayed in caravan parks along the way and a vivid memory of noticeable change through time was that of the aboriginal along the Nullarbor Plains. I remember in the early 70s, driving along the 'old' highway, seeing native Australian's along side the road dressed as King George (David Gulpilil) standing with their spears ~ hair blowing wildly in the wind ~ in their environmental home and free.
The new highway across the Nullarbor 
On a second journey, 4-5 years later, I remember seeing a similar sight ~ only this time the aborigines were dressed in denim and flannel type shirts or topless. They still carried the spears and their skin was an even glossier black than I recall from the first time. By the third journey across the great Nullarbor Plains, I remember only seeing aborigines close to the road houses, sitting on eskies and drinking beer. I don't think I saw any during my final family holiday to Perth.  Even as a teenager, my thoughts were that my children would never see the sights, sounds and people of those who arrived in Australia first ~ unless through a paid performance or heritage art.

So memories from my youth ~ ones which have stayed with me. Journeys taken with a family the size of mine (six kids, three adults, one station-wagon and a caravan) do tend to stick with you for a long long time. One day I hope SmallBoy will be able to follow his dream to see the outback and learn a native language by taking his own 'walk-about'.

Sometimes you stop, wait and look first
Our Mission Moves On
We are making in-roads and, although the financial page has not been updated as the happenings around our home has taken up a lot of physical time (and break-thru pain relief makes the ol' brain a little loopy), I'd like to share some of the successes we have made of late.

Telstra - hahaha ~ well, we got our money back as a payment into the account and NOT a credit. A $450 credit would have lasted us 21 months - almost two years. What on earth would we want that when the deduction from the credit card was incurring interest and leaving us with no emergency back up. Any way - it is sorted. Actually, we are in credit on the Telstra bill by $148.98 - so no bill payments required for about 7months. There's a small stress reliever!

Electricity ~ woo hoo ~ we have almost paid off the $850 arrears. Only two more fortnightly payments and we have! Plus, thanks to the next success on the list our electricity bill will be dramatically lower as the ol' power-guzzler is gone...
Two good, working units 
Refrigerator Rental ~ woo hoo (again) ~ it is finalised. We have $44 extra in the fortnightly budget ~ going to be spread around other outstanding bills.  Plus we get to keep the fridge! Nice!! Subsequently we have given the old power guzzling fridge/freezer away to another family to use while they save for their own good refrigerator and not need to hire, rent or pay one off using one of the GE Money type arrangements. Win-Win! Lesson learnt ~ never ever hire white-goods...

Council Home Help account ~ chipping away slowly with $2 a month has not made any great dent in this puppy, but it has ensured we are not having the account sent off to the debt collectors. This alone will save us a huge headache and stress melt-down.

The Line of Credit ~ well I am chuffed we've been able to get $800 in there over 8 weeks - especially when we only get $600 in per week and the mortgage takes half of this! I can't wait until February when the NIVA is reduced to $1000 - it will be more like emergency money then.

School Fees ~ $5 more and its all paid. Just in time for the new school year. SmallBoy has a small scholarship which will cover every thing needed for this year, excluding camp.

Dental Fees ~ believe it or not, we overpaid them by $10 so last appointment Husband walked out with a filling AND $10. It was paid onto the Personal Loan

Personal Loan ~ oh this is just not disappearing quickly enough. It's down to $3047 but the loan repayments are a quarter of our monthly income. Ridiculous really ~ but we weren't on government payments when we bought the share of a holiday property - it is worth it in the long run and we've had the chance to use it twice ourselves and twice by friends in the past two years. It's an investment of sorts, costs more than double the $10k we put in, so we really can't complain. We just can't pull out without losing the lot.

The Weekly Shop ~ is now a fortnightly shop with a "MFB" mid-fortnight buy - as well as being the acronym for mid-fortnight buy, it stands for Milk, Fruit and Bread! We've been staying within the fortnightly budget of $200-$250 ~ and fortnights where the shop comes in under $200 (like this past fortnight when we only spent $175) the balance goes off a bill - currently the gas.

The current debt is now :
$    0.00 - Dental account
$    0.00 - Refrigerator rental
$    5.00 - School fees
$   32.28 - Water arrears
$   49.90 - Magazine subs
$   88.00 - Electricity and Gas - payment plan costs set
$ 850.00 - HomeCare Services
$ 923.60 - Collections
$3046.98 - Personal Loan
$5628.77 - VISA 
$21420.21 - Line of Credit

$32,052,74 : TOTAL DEBT

We've gone down!! Reduced by a massive $5207.73!  Oh wow, oh joy.  
At the start of December, the total debt was $37, 563.47.  We were so disappointed when the debt increased in November due to the interest and fees and fines applied to the Line Of Credit and the VISA (more because we were struggling to stay on top of the payments) but talking to the banks and those we had debt with through Collections to renegotiate minimum payment amounts - plus doing community service time in lieu of two outstanding accounts not only reduced the dollar amounts outgoing, its allowed us to redirect available (ha) funds toward other accounts.

What a great way to start the year ~ we are feeling a little more empowered and assured we are still on the right track. So ~ every Monday we will again be updating the Weekly Report. Changing it from Wednesday to Monday makes a little more sense as we do the budget over the weekend when we know what is paid into our bank account on Friday.

Tips Which Have Allowed Us to Free Up Cash for Debt Repayments

Working together 
Don't Buy; Make Do ~ seriously I've not bought any 'new' clothes since we started Our Mission and prior to this is was only the OpShop. If something breaks, we try to repair it. At the moment, our lawnmower is held together with wire and okky-straps. Sure, not ideal, but when you don't have a spare $80 for repairs, it gets the job done! Fixing the brake pads on the car might be quicker at the mechanics, but it is cheaper (and often fun) when done yourself. Same with other basic car repairs.
Get's things fixed 

Less is Best; Make it Stretch ~ why make a home made pizza with lashing of meats, herbs, veggies and cheese. Seriously, just a little goes a long long way on something like a pizza.  Same with pasta and sauces ~ you don't have pasta with your sauce, or pie with your sauce. The sauces and toppings are an addition to the pasta, not the other way around. Plus there is less likely to be wasted left overs and more sauce to put away for another day (just make sure you label the item and the date it is being frozen)

Free is Fun; Find Out First ~ committing to not buying books, magazines or newspapers is a huge saving of cash. Going to the library means we are not missing out and calling ahead to ensure the books you want are in the library saves petrol or fares for travelling. We save the cost of the call by checking online and reserving the books if they are in the library. The local council usually has a 'whats on' section and we've enjoyed picnics listening to musicians and bands playing in the gardens or at the rotunda.

Here's hoping you will continue to support us on our journey ~ stay on our tails to keep us motivated and throw an extra dollar or two into our Spare Change Jar or Treasure Chest to help bring the debt down even more. Yes, it is a lot to ask - but if you and your friends can help with a spare dollar or two it will make an enormous difference to us.

Thanks so much for sticking with Our Mission and here's to providing you all with more success stories and the hints and tips we use to reduce our outgoings, pay more on our debt and get out of this vicious cycle. Your input is gratefully received, every time :D

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Wanted: One multi-millionaire...

You get to talk, create and share on the train 
I do love travelling on the train...

But jeepers-creepers, I have no idea how people in Melbourne's metropolitan areas can tolerate travelling the train network on a daily basis ~ scheduled trains change platform number and then simply disappear. Now you try racing to a train up and down escalators, with two bags and using a walking stick to balance in its peak hour. If people weren't intolerant enough (and with the stress levels gained while trying to catch a train regularly) they can get down right rude if slowed in any way! Where has patience and care gone?
I know - it was probably on the train which disappeared between platforms...
Watching the countryside go by 

Wanted:  One Multi-Millionaire

I read in some trashy online journal (because I am not buying magazines or newspapers this year) a chap in the US posted on a social network he wanted a million dollars ~ and got it. He offered nothing in return, has no idea how he is going to use it and, as far as I could tell, has no intention of repaying the money.

I want what he is having ~ only I know exactly how I would like to use it and it is not all for me! Seriously. I've always said, if I won a million dollars, charity begins at home and the first people to receive benefit from such an amount would be my nuclear family (Husband, MudGuts, SmallBoy and myself), followed by extended family (namely our Mothers) and friends. I'd even do it so most people would not know where the gift had come from and it would be without restrictions or rules on its usage.

Ten-fifteen years ago, one million dollars - or $1,000,000 - would have been more than enough to set up for life. Now-days, I think it is enough to set up the ability to achieve a good quality of life providing one still has an income and a house already. But with property prices increasing, food costs on the rise and basic utilities moving the way of expensive - it seems more sensible to set up a level of self-sustainability which will allow a person to lower their expenses over the long term.

What I would do with $1,000,000

First I would divide the moneys into four equal shares. One quarter would go into savings - preferably for a term to ensure it is not 'piffled' away or offered to others who may be opportunistic and creative enough to scam it away.  Ideally this could be used to move to a warmer state within 2-5years or at least allow us to be better set and less of a burden to society in retirement in 10-15years.

One quarter would be for family and friends. I hail from a very large family, Husband is one of two children. Both our fathers are not in need of any funds ~ one is financially wealthy and asset rich, the other is deceased. We would provide our mothers with $25,000 immediately in the hope both will put it toward retirement. Giving each sibling $10,000 would account for another $70,000 and the remaining $30k would be placed in trust for each niece and nephew to access on their 21st birthday. As most are under 5years old ~ $3000 should be a lot more by the time it can be spent. 

The remaining $100,000 would be for friends and charities ~ given in amounts ranging between $1,000 to $5,000 and accompanied with a 'ransom' styled note indicating it is being issued in recognition of friendship and family, to be spent as they wished. We would 'pretend' we also received one of these 'ransom' rewards and never disclose it was from us. The charities would include Camp Quality, Peter Mac Cancer Research, Royal Institute for the Deaf, Fred Hollow's Foundation, Cottage by the Sea with $10,000 aside for any disaster relief or causes we feel relevant over a two year period. Those with links are ones we have volunteered our time or been supported by in some way.

Half-a-million divvied up.

Another quarter would be used to cover outstanding accounts ($35k), paying down 50% of our current mortgage ($75k), purchasing a reliable car and repairs to ours (up to $25k), getting solar and wind power connected to our house ($12k), establishing a sustainable vegetable garden with water tanks ($10k), purchasing a 2br unit or cottage for MudGuts, who has disabilities himself, and paying 25%-30% deposit for him to repay the balance in a 'rent to own' arrangement ($50k).  SmallBoy's secondary education would be covered for six years and $20,000 would be put in trust until he turns 18 (or 21 if he continues into university education).
At $1mill each, not even a consideration! 
This leaves $250,000 and, ideally, this would cover my potential earnings (say $25,000pa) for 4 years and Husband for the same for 1 year, especially if there is no immediate employment opportunities and to afford him time off while I have additional 'non-urgent' surgeries. It would also pay for these 'non-urgent' surgeries on my back and hip to allow corrective measures to be made on my spine and knees; exploratory and required operations on my hip and neck - none of which are considered urgent within the public health sector but would enable greater movement and a higher quality of life - not just for me but my family as well. This has been 'ball-parked' at $50k-$75k.

We would then have around $50,000 remaining to be our 'emergency fund' ~ somewhat more than we had in reserve back in 2006 when I was made redundant and as we discovered there was a very real problem with my back. Much of this was gone before my operation in late 2007. Doctors, medication, therapy and the loss of income chipped any remainder away.

And there you have it. 
One million dollars ~ donated in kindness by someone who has it available and used by us with responsibility and care.  Even if half a million was forthcoming, much of this could still be fulfilled. Siblings and their spawn may not get as much and friends would probably be out of the financial equation, however the relief from stress, fear and falling further behind would be so highly valued and gratefully accepted.

"Tell 'em they're dreaming"

Yes ~ it was a lovely hour or two spent dreaming of the possibilities, imagining the potential and planning the course of a positive future. Seriously. It can be quite inspiring to pipe-dream - so long as one does not plan such a method to be the only option. It would be wonderful for such a pipe-dream to come to fruition ~ and just imagining it to be so has taken the burdens of debt away, if only for the evening. I'm not stupid ~ I know tomorrow the bills will still be there, the requirements and commitments are going to remain the same as they did before I started thinking about how simply asking the world via social media could actually result in the receipt of one million dollars from a stranger ~ this was simply a way to say should it happen the gift would not be frittered away or used for lavish spending, fast cars and overseas sojourns. *sighs*

Now to find me a multi-millionaire willing to offer the opportunity to fulfil such a dream.
If you know one ~ please ask him to get in touch via Mands on a Mission... *grins*

A handy tip for everyone... 

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Changing Habits is saving money...

Taken by me in the Otway Ranges
So we're almost six month into Our Mission and there are some areas we are seeing some definite savings. The biggest is the grocery shopping which is down from around $250 a week to $120 a week. Some weeks its a little more, others a little less and some weeks we don't need to shop at all. It's not been about cutting what we buy and living on 2-minute noodles and canned beans ~ although I do like the odd can of baked beans in ham sauce on toasted slices of grainy bread...

Some of the things we are doing might help a lot of people save on their grocery bill. We are buying for 2adults, 2 children, 2 cats and a heap of chooks who pay their own way by giving us eggs and, soon, free fresh chicken meat. That last bit is definitely not for everyone *grins*

The most helpful thing we did was to list what we buy in a typical week - those things that are on the list every week, habitually.  Have a think about it and what do you buy every week.  What are some of those impulse buys - trying new cereal, cleaning products, biscuits, chocolates? Forget about them for a while. Our shop also includes bathroom needs, laundry and kitchen bits and bobs. Some people say shopping is just the food shop - ours includes everything from beef to batteries, tomatoes to toilet paper.

Do you get some items every week, without checking the cupboard?
Are there items you could get elsewhere cheaper by buying in bulk - or by checking out the other shops and comparing the prices between stores?

Like I said, every week we were spending around $250 on the shopping - plus top ups as DH would go to the shops if we were needing milk or bread or cat food and coming home with 20 items! OK, exaggerating there, it was usually only 12 extra non needed 'things'. I think most people do that ~ go in for one or two things and come out for six...

Over the past few months, some of the changes we have made include:

  • Buying UHT milk for cooking. Using milk in a rue for a pie, or creamy pasta sauce is quite common for us, but it uses a lot of milk better used on cereal or for drinking - still getting used to the idea of drinking UHT.  Having UHT and powdered milk on hand also means there has been less impulse buying because we are not heading to the supermarket every few days for milk. 

  • Shopping less often ~ really easy to do now there is always milk at hand.

  • Stopped buying splurging yummies (special cheeses, pate, chocolate coated ice-creams) unless greatly marked down.

  • Buying cat food in bulk on special - this can save $9 a month.

  • Buy meat when it is marked down by 33% or more and freeze.

  • Putting a copy of My Shopping List on the fridge to mark any items which are running low or finished and using this as our fortnightly 'big' shopping list ~ this also stops the need to 'duck to the shop' unexpectedly. 

  • Making my own cakes, biscuits, muffins and muesli bars.

  • Buy the big block of cheese when its on special ~ and grate it yourself. Stored in a zip-lock bag in the freezer, this lasts for ever without getting mouldy and lasts a whole lot longer than slicing it as you need it.

Look at all the 'reduced' stickers

  • Buying bread when its marked down (not on special) and freezing it. Again, the 33% rule applies for something to be a marked down bargain. This goes for rolls, crumpets and other bakery items like big iced donuts or finger buns (for school lunch treats - thus avoiding canteen spending)

  • Stopped treating sweets (desserts and lollies) as a 'need to buy' staple - home made desserts are great, plus 'pantry shopping' has found heaps of desserts. I do tend to have a few no name butter or plain cake packets but these make donuts, quick teacakes and other sweet treats when time is of the essence. At 80c a packet, I can justify that 'expense'.

  • Only buy icecream on super-special and do without, or making our own - we've got an ice-cream maker and its great for using marked down yoghurt mmm.

  • Stopped buying new products to "try out" unless there is a genuine need. Well, sometimes if its on super-special we might give some a go.

  • Before each payday (fortnight) I have a look to see what I have, then check to see what is in the cupboard to make with it. For example mince can become a spaghetti bolognaise, a lasagne filling, chilli con carne, savoury mince, meat pie, mince on toast. 

  • You can pad savoury mince recipes out further by adding frozen mixed vegies, tinned beans, left over veggies in the fridge ~ which in turn stops waste and adds variety. 

Once I have my plan for the weeks menu, I write down anything needed to add to make meals out of the freezer or fridge. Then I look through the supermarket catalogues and note anything on special I use on a regular basis! Then I go shopping with a list. Shopping is not a day out ~ but it is still fun ~ check out what is other people's trolleys and see if you can imagine who and how many they are shopping for.

A special isn't a special if you don't use it as part of your regular shop ~ its an impulse/try it buy. 

And there is nothing wrong with putting an item back on the shelf if you decide you don't need it ~ heck I've even done that at the register. You can change your mind any time before you pull out your purse to pay for it *grins*

Hopefully that gives at least one person out there a way to think about saving some money while shopping. None of these ideas are really new ~ you can find them all over the internet on FlyLady, Low Income Lady, Simple Savings and other such places. But seeing someone doing it for real might give you the incentive to try it for yourself.

Wait until I tell you about being a 'Vinnie Rat' and dumpster diving...

Remember, the Spare Change Jar at the top of the page will always be able to put your coin contribution to a good use and I've got some great news with regards to the Hellstra Saga and getting the power bill down. 

OH ~ must let you know it has been cleaning and de-cluttering central here! We've even got rid of one of the fridge/freezers and should see a huge change on the power bill. That ol' beast has never sealed properly, always iced up and been unable to keep things cool. The space it's removal had made is phenomenal! 

Have fun :D

Monday, January 17, 2011

Mystical Vinegar Fairies ~ and their magical vinegar spells...

Sunshine and blue skies ~ bliss... 
Does it get any more beautiful than this?

Cleaning has been cathartic ~ and used a lot of natural cleaning products. I don't mean the expensive stuff either ~ just good ol' vinegar, bi-carb, tea tree and eucalyptus oil and a few other pantry favourites. Best of all, I doubled my vinegar for free.

I'd like to let the uninitiated in on a little secret ~ cleaning vinegar is not worth the extra money, no-name vinegar is exactly the same as luxury brand vinegar and you can use vinegar to wash, clean, freshen and sprinkle on your chips! And one bottle really can last a year...
Most of my cleaning basics ~ all you need
See I know how you can turn turn two litres of vinegar into four ~ just takes a bit of ingenuity and a little help from some special fairies! If you use vinegar for cleaning, or as a hair rinse, or as a fabric softener, or any other of a plethora of things aside from flavouring the chips ~ you want a really big bottle that magically refills itself so it will last as long as possible. Ta Da ~ you can!!!

To make a two litre bottle of vinegar become four litres, pour half the bottle of vinegar into another two litre bottle.  Then fill both bottles with cooled, boiled water and put their lids back on.  Pop them in the pantry or the laundry cupboard and leave them to sit for a week. Over the next seven days mystical vinegar fairies will visit at night to chant magic vinegar spells and when the week is up you will have four litres of vinegar for all your cleaning chores! You can do this again with one bottle while using the other full bottle of magic vinegar.  

Now if you wondered if clothes conditioned in the machine come out smelling like vinegar, the answer is no. Same as if you use a little to rinse your hair after washing - you won't be attacked by seagulls mistaking you for a hot potato chip.  You can still use this vinegar for cooking, how excellent is that.

Chicken weeders 
Well the house hasn't come away as unscathed as hoped ~ the roof lifted and that's a pretty penny to have repaired.  SmallBoy spent yesterday hammering down any raised tin while Hubby pulled off the ripped and ruined shade cloth over the 'fernery'.  On the positive ~ both jobs needed to be done anyway and thankfully the solar panels have not yet been installed. THAT would have been disaster!

Slogging away, putting 'things' in to places they can call home (labels and all) ~ setting plans, goals and expectations into motion ~ lightening and brightening up the house, the head and the heart (ahhh - all mooshy and nice). Gee we have been productive.  I've been getting weeds up from the garden with a little wild and enthusiastic help ~ 20mins action then 30-45mins resting (or blogging, taking pics, laying back and reading)
Digging in a scratch! 
Actually, tomorrow's horrorscope is a little close for comfort ~ it says all which I aspire to achieve, including a goal set and in action to be reached by the end of the month - along with the one hinderence or 'bump' being identified. Lets see if you can guess what it is : 
SCORPIO (17 January NZ/Australia) ~ At the same time the Moon is drawing your attention to financial matters, sharpening your financial instincts but also bringing things to a head, Mars is drawing your attention to matters on the home front, as he spends his first full day in your home and family sector. At a time when you're fighting to hold onto some playful vibes before your working year begins in earnest, this is likely to have your head spinning as you call for time out to hear yourself think.

I am thinking already some of this can be solved with a good chat, a clear like-minded goal and a well written plan. This load needs to be shared - but shared properly, evenly and using more of that special ingenuity so as not to add any extra costs to the budget. We're already looking at a few thousand for the roof, possibly more for the disposal of ruined items and the solar panels will be arriving before we know it. Six months has flown by ~ those panels will be on the roof and rolling back the power meter. Some how I think we are in for a few sunny months and a hotter than expected Autumn. 

Now - who has left over Christmas pudding and cake ~ I know we do and tomorrow I am going to use one of the cakes to get ready for back to school and some low cost desserts which can all be stored in the freezer to grab when the time is right.  Hmmm - might have to keep the Husband out of the kitchen...

Here's a positive affirmation I have written for myself ~ more to release myself from some poisonous and toxic negative influences and thoughts once and for all ~ please feel free to use it if you think it will help you too:

I know ॐ I cannot truly love another until I can love myself ॐ I should be able to believe in others but I MUST believe in myself ॐ It doesn't matter what others believe of me if I am honest to myself ॐ Until I am asked for details it's not my problem what others say of me ॐ I can forgive others and forgive myself ॐ I don't need permission to be myself ॐ  
Until tomorrow - you know where we keep our Spare Jar  ( *hint* its at the top left of the blog ) - please feel free to put a few coins in to assist us getting the debt under control - we could really do with a little help.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Who 'rained' on our parade...

Out front this afternoon ~ the water draining away... 

Finally ~ some blue sky AND sunshine...

And let me say straight up we are nowhere near as affected, devastated or damaged as our QLD friends ~ but boy oh boy over 250mm in three days and a sloping unsealed roadside verge running along a highway turned our driveway into a river, our doorway into a kiddie pool and the carport ended up with water up two inches of flow and debris. Damn it.  
Front Lawn Thursday
Front Lawn Friday
Add to that a four car garage containing all our lawn sale boxes, the new carpet rolls, tools, toys and MILs stored goods (these were on pallets thankfully!) with the driveway river streaming straight in under the roller doors and we have ended up with great motivation to cull, toss and clear out a lot of wet, soggy 'stuff'. I think I am most upset about the rolls of plush carpet as that was to replace the old cruddy coverings in the lounge room and most grateful that Hubby's mum's items were not damaged in any way as all were on pallets.
Carport Thursday (Hubby dug in a trench after this)
Carport Friday
It seems divine intervention has 'rained' a message from above. The time had come to cull, to simplify those things that are just 'things' and we had been making some mighty fine in-roads to de-clutter, remove items that were unnecessary or give those that were a place to be stored for using, not just continually looking for things or replacing them with new 'stuff'. You've probably seen some of the before and after pics, even tho I've been slack updating because the focus as been more on the action, rather than the distraction of talking about what we were 'gunna' do or twaddling on about what we've done  ॐ less is best, we are blessed, out with the mess ~ safe & well & dry(er) although a little muddy, sore and frustrated. Nothing compared to our QLD friends, but gee whizz it was wet... 

Front door Thurs
Front door Fri morning     
Actually I am truly grateful the trees did not come down in the 90kmh wind, that no true damage was incurred and after mopping up inside the house we've come away ok. The carport mess has gone straight in our trailer or onto the compost as it was mostly dirt, leaves and other such debris but with the level getting up in the garage we will need to hire a medium to large dumpster bin ~ so there's about $300 to scrounge up by Monday. *sighs* 
Front door receding Fri lunch
At the back door Friday 
I need to say Thank you to some very lovely and special people. Thanks to my sister Jode for taking the time to check all was OK up our way (I hope you didn't get too soaked either - chat next weekend); Thank you to Patricia ~ please do come visit as we would love to share a meal, the pasta maker will be mastered and it will be something wonderful; Thank you Simple Savings, especially my Glowie friends who have given us some lovely support by phone, text and email;  Thank you to the Jonahs ~ have we said you are very important and special people in our lives recently? Well you are!! Dare I say thank you Hellstra?? Maybe not yet...

Spoke to that phone company on Thursday - wow, that was only yesterday - and received a credit of $50 on our already in credit phone bill for the inconvenience incurred over the last few months. However the greater issue was the $409.83 taken from our credit card to pay for fees and charges incurred disconnecting our home line, creating a new ASDL connection and reconnecting our internet ~ all because we tried to get a low rate line. Grrrr ~ 

Called the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman last week because the fall out from the November disconnection was still ongoing. Well well well ~ we have had contact and,  provided all funds are paid as 'assured', the matter will be finally over. But how's this for painful - first offer was to credit the phone $409 (we are already $120 in credit and dont make calls from the landline, we use voip or skype); how about a cheque - taking six to ten WEEKS to process (umm, our credit card max'd out due to this cock up). So I asked if it could refund back on the credit card - Hellstra has the details and take from it when an amount it owing - no, cant do that, sorry. So then I asked if it can be transferred into the bank ~ well, yes it can, if we don't mind waiting three to ten BUSINESS DAYS... Hello?!!!  This is an option that could see the funds in the account by mid next week to transfer to the credit card!!! Another Grrrr ~

So lesson learned ~ ask ask ask. If the offers being made are only going to mean more expense - ask for an arrangement that won't add to the expenses and negotiate. What's more, the refund will come in as our next repayment on the credit card is due and will be more than the minimum required. Timely and beneficial.  Now to find another $6000 to get this debt down...

I've got heaps of other news ~ all savings related but we need to focus on cleaning up this mess Mother Nature provided to give us motivation and incentive to get full swing into the de-cluttering! 

Any contributions to the Spare Change Jar or the Treasure Chest would be welcome ~ mostly to get this skip hired, some trenches dug and new carpet. 
Actually the new carpet can wait - what we have is fine and will hide any dirt and mud making its way inside over the next little while. It's waited a year and can wait a little longer...

Stay safe, stay happy and take care of you and yours xx

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

A-way above the tree tops...

Hello Mother Nature 
You are as beautiful as you are unpredictable!  May the disaster in QLD/NSW come to an end, the rains in VIC slow and the raging fires in WA be quashed.

Taking advantage of the use of MILs car, we took a day trip to the Otways and traversed the SkyWalk before heading down to Triplet Falls to skim down a mountain and splash in the crisp, cold waters.  We took a roasted chicken and some fresh made rolls, salad, cheeses and chocolate muffins, a bottle of juice kept chilled by ice-bricks in the esky and had an absolutely wonderful day. We had hoped to go on the ZipLine tour but at $375+ for four, the $55 family walk was really our only option!
I climbed this ~ with much encouragement and support from strangers!
Lots of pictures were taken, so you'll get to see more of our Ranges Adventure, however I am pleased and proud to say I not only did the walk, I climbed to the top of the viewing tower ~ a slow, laborious climb with a walking stick and people passing, and heaps of cheers of encouragement! *pants* Boy it was a climb ~ but such a glorious view! All it needed was a dinosaur to trundle through - it looks almost prehistoric in there!! It's an hour or so walk, but we made it last three hours ~ value for money!! Well worth taking your time - so don't rush and miss some spectacular views. I'd saved $120 for the Summer Holiday spending/entertainment and still came home with $45. Husband and I enjoyed a wee beverage at the end of our walk and the boys had an icy-pole each!!

While we are not in Queensland, our little patch of Australia is also getting a deluge bringing water to the door and making a muddy mess inside and out. Still, nothing like our Queensland friends.  And I am so glad to know one young special person is safe and well ~ cut off from one parent but secure with his dad. Probably a great thing for him. Here's hoping everyone I know and love stays just as safe.

We've been really clever on the spending front - well I think we have.  With a need to shop for basic items, yesterday I did two supermarket mystery shops for $15 each and spent about $30 at each, saving $40 from our usual shopping budget and will be reimbursed $30 in a few days! The reimbursement amount goes straight to the LOC and the savings will be put against the outstanding bills debt.

As our SmallBoy has a friend visiting for a sleep over, I decided it was time to make scones. Rather than using up eggs, milk, butter and more - I gave the old 'lemonade scones' a try. Bit hesitant as you'd think this could end up in disaster ~ but no ~ and 28 scones were made. The recipe is up on the FaceBook page!

Left over scones ~ in the freezer for 'ron...
Delicious - and now I'm keen to try this with ginger beer as I've heard it is delicious. If you've got a can of beer in the fridge you get to have a wee drink as well!! Lemon soft drink gives a tang for a dessert scone ~ even Passiona works (I've added a heap of alternative on FaceBook!!)

The pantry has been de-cluttered with all foods past expiry by over 12months or past best before by 2 years in the compost or the bin. The chickens have enjoyed every bit - and we also discovered they love (and I mean adore) old cat food. With the humidity, the cats have not been eating as much and flies are getting in to their bowls during the day. Well ~ the chookens cannot get enough of the stinky, smelly, maggoty mess. Turns my tummy but makes everyone happy as cleaning up is not such a disgusting chore!!

More clothes packed away ~ more items to get up onto eBay ~ so much activity going on...
I decided it was time to do a three card draw on the Intuit Soul Cards - very much about truth, natural elements and personal choices or destiny -  and I asked for confirmation of my direction or assistance to find the better route or option. Now, some people might think 'mumbo jumbo' and that is perfectly fine by me ~ this was more for a personal affirmation through truth as I can interpret it to be.

I asked aloud: I am seeking insight and guidance ~ self affirmation I'm on the right path where less is best, de-clutter make space; demote those providing no respect, support or love; ease my heart and soul by forgiving to rid the pained memories. The outcome was:

The Situation

You are surrounded with the loving support of the angelic realm.  You play an important role on Earth in uplifting the consciousness of the planet.  The angels are here with you to help in every way they can.  Remember, you have not been abandoned here.  You are not alone on this journey. Your gifts are very special and very needed.  These Divine Beings are here with you to aid you in becoming fully who you are truly meant to be.  Now you will see your path opening more than ever before.

Actions to Take

This card works to create a positive out come in all situations.  Chenrizi works to free you from your problems, burdens and suffering by showing you all the many wonderful blessings in life.  This card is the ultimate manifestation.  On every level and every way, it is the complete form of fulfilment. This is the turning point in life.  Free flowing manifestation of all the good this world has to offer is coming to you.  Stay focused on the blessings and you will see them multiply.

Final Outcome

There are new beginnings ahead.  The veil is being lifted to reveal something new that was previously not available to you.  In one way this can relate to a new environment, such as moving to a new location or changing jobs. However, it can also denote the revealing a new perspective.  That what you previously held as truth was only a portion of the whole.  All is being revealed to you now.  From here you can operate with a new view, seeing things as they really are.

Add this to my week's horoscope : During January 12-16 you'll feel that luck is bound to visit you, in one form or another. Love brings contentment and personal endeavour success. A little extra money may also come your way : And things are getting stronger and better with all this positive affirmation we are applying to ourselves. *cheers*

Here's to receiving a few more coins into Our Mission's Spare Change Jar or via the Treasure Chest. 
I know once the weather clears our Lawn Sale is going to be very successful - just waiting for that break in the weather!

More on saving, low cost cooking and debt repayments tomorrow ~ so much to catch up on, the actions have been taking precedence over the words this past fortnight! Can't wait to share...

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

HELLSTRA Strikes Again

Dinosaur Trees ~ can you see the T-Rex and the Stegosaurus??
Oh crap...

Feeling way too ripped off and so over having a telephone company which makes it almost impossible to have a good service to post!!  Hellstra (because the word Telstra makes me sick) has done it again. $409.84 ~ I don't think so. And I've worked out exactly what this represents ~ the installation of a 'new' ADSL2 line because Hellstra incorrectly disconnected the one we had and our internet and voip provider's system 'interpreted' this as a breach of contract!

Not going into it all again - you can read about the schmozzle and stuff up here. Tomorrow is going to be very interesting.

So to the tune of Cold Chisels' Cheap Wine...
(sing along with the music here)

Had a post, then my good mood died
It's thanks to ol' Hellstra 
They stuffed us up last year, you know
I thought they'd fixed the line

Instead Hellstra, they charged a bomb
But not to us, no they passed it on
And charged it to our Internet
Which sent it on with fines

No way

Hellstra's done, too bloody oath
Hellstra's done, they have got my goat

Thirteen calls and almost 20 days
You'd think they'd get it right 
Hellstra never called me back
I rang 'em every time

I never shouted, I never cried
Even though I boiled inside
Each time I had to speak to them
Or rated poor feed back

And now

Hellstra's done, too bloody oath
Hellstra's done, finally got my goat

Hang on

Going through the bills, drinking UDLs, alls fine
Saw another cost, 400 bucks, oh my
I thought we'd got this fixed from the time before
Got a little credit but they charged much more
Never got it right and they made it worse with every call
With every call, yeah...

So if they think they're gonna mess with me
You know that I'm gonna call
Hellstra I don't feel the love
But with the Ombudsman you'll jump

You'll see

Hellstra's done, too bloody oath
Hellstra's done, who's the scape goat
You make them fix this up

Oh that was SO satisfying!!
Mind you ~ Internode was able to explain perfectly what the charges were, why we were charged a fee for cancelling our contract (which we didn't but with Hellstra disconnecting our line, the computers read it as a cancellation, then a reconnection fee at a rather high rate as it then needed a new 'port' or link or whatever the technical bizzo to be installed and activated as the one we had was taken by another customer/supplier) and Internode did that in 10mins over ONE call. Why can't Hellstra do that?

Why can't the staff at Hellstra have the same story? Do they not learn the same rules ~ or is it a plot to confuse and frustrate?  If so - they've been taught well!!  Why does no one from Hellstra ever call you back ~ even when they promise?? And if supervisor permission is required ~ why is there no supervisor on the shift?? If I get an answer to any or all of those questions (ha!!) I'll let you know ~ but please do not hold your breath! You'll probably pass out before anyone finds out...

Come on Hellstra ~ get with it!!  I want my money back, and the letter that says it was not through a fault made by us ~ you don't have to say all your staff made and compounded the problem, but you must say we didn't!! Stoopid people, but we need to have the landline. Grrrr

Rant over ~ having dinner and going to watch the House of Food Obsessives on SBS at 830pm!

Catch up tomorrow when in a much more communicable mood *laughs*

If you are able to please contribute to our Spare Change Jar or the Treasure Chest at the top of each side bar ~ please please do ~ not only will we be extremely grateful, it might turn my frown upside down and get a smile back on my dial *grins*