Wednesday 27 February 2019

Getting Your Year Into Gear - Family Goals

I'm not one for New Years resolutions but I do love to set new goals.  At the start of each year amongst all my planning and budgeting,  Darren and I talk about what we'd like to achieve over the next twelve months.

Sometimes we plan a few years in advance if the goal is a big one.  For the last two years we've been saving for a new car for me.  That's two years of saving with another three years to go.  My car is working just fine but it is almost ten years old and won't last forever.  When we get to our goal in three years time,  if my car is still running trouble free,  we'll just keep those savings locked away and start saving for Darren's new car.  To achieve my ' new car ' goal,  we've worked out how much we want to spend on a car,  when we might need it,  then divided it into a monthly savings goal.

Next year is our 25th wedding anniversary and we'd love to go to the Cook Islands with a short stop over in New Zealand on the way back.  We've decided to go all out and stay in luxury accommodation when at the Cook Islands.  This comes at a large cost so we've been saving for the last three years with another twelve months worth of saving to go before we reach our goal.

Home renovations and repairs are usually ongoing.  Each year we work out what needs replacing and what is the most urgent.  As we save,  we do our research along the way to find the best deals / brands and to make sure we are saving enough money in the allotted time.

Family goals could include children's activities and sports.  Your children might be involved in too many activities that it's harming the family budget or encroaching on quality family time.  Re-evaluating what's important and if it's working should be done before the new season / term begins.

Maybe this year is the year to start your children in sports,  clubs or a new hobby.  Ask around,  do your research and do the sums.  There can be extra costs for costumes,  competitions,  travel,  equipment,  camps or extra training.  Can your budget cope with this ?

Using the first couple of months of a new year to set your goals gives you a great chance of achieving them.  Talking about doing this or that one day is not a plan,  just a dream.  Dreams are great,  but making a plan to reach those dreams is far more satisfying.

Here are some of our previous goals -

Any excuse to post another photo of my new kitchen 2016

Brisbane holiday 2018

Darren's car 2015 - from memory

New lounge suite was 2018's goal.  Arrived last month

What are your goals for this year and how will your achieve them ?

Links to the other posts in this series -

Getting Your Year Into Gear - The Family Budget

Getting Your Year Into Gear - The Gift Giving Budget

.  .

Saturday 23 February 2019

This Week's Frugal Tasks Saturday 23rd February 2019

Today is the day of Megan's baby shower.  We've been busy all week getting the house and garden looking nice and tidy.   I baked and cooked food a few weeks ago and froze it ready for the big day.  Decorations have been sourced from the discount shops as well as using what we already have on hand.  Here's what else we got up to this week -

*  Refilled all the foaming hand wash pumps around the house with diluted shower gel.

*  Saved the washing machine rinse water and shower warm up water to reuse on the garden.

*  Finished making thankyou favours for Megan's baby shower.  The jars were gifted and I made the gift tags.

*  Megan made the most of Savers 50% off clothing sale on Monday.  She bought a dress for her baby shower  ( $5 ) and quite a few feeding tops for after the baby is born.

*  Sold the last two large pamper packs and four mini ones  to a cleaning client.

*  Sold two dozen eggs.

*  Gratefully accepted a couple more hours of cleaning work from two clients.

*  Gratefully received quite a few peaches  and glass jars from a friend.

Made one kilo of yoghurt using a small potion of frozen yoghurt as a starter.

*  Picked a couple of bunches of roses from our garden to help decorate the tables at Megan's baby shower.

*  Finished digging down to the bottom of my lipstick.  This gave me three months worth of ' free ' lipstick.

*  Decanted the last of our Vitamin E cream into the next bottle.  The pump doesn't go down to the bottom so there's always about a centimetre of cream left.  It's thick and gluggy so I need to bang the almost empty bottle into the top of the next one.

*  Bought a George Foreman slow cooker from Savers for $7.99 less 15% discount.  It looks like it's only been used a couple of times.  I gave my old one to Megan who said she'd use it with her other one when lots of guests are over.  Now she has two and I have two.

Thankyou favours for the baby shower

Gifts for Megan's baby

More gifts mostly from Savers

A garland Megan made for the party

Flowers for the party table

Making yoghurt.

Ripening the gifted peaches

How did you save time,  money or energy this week ?
What has been your latest op shop find ?

Wednesday 20 February 2019

5 Kitchen Utensils That Save Money

Do you have a drawer full of kitchen utensils that seem to be clutter or a waste or space ?    Try viewing them as money savers,  get them out and put them to work.

My utensil drawer

*  Spatulas in all shapes and sizes.  These are great for getting the last bits of Vegemite, peanut butter,  honey,  butter or jam out of their containers.  Scraping the last bit of pancake batter or cake mix from a bowl could yield an extra portion.  Add up these little savings over the life of the spatula and it could amount to significant savings.

Various sized spatulas

*  Packet clips.  They cost a few dollars for a packet of 8 or 10 but could potentially saves you $10 + per clip.  Just twist the top of the chip / biscuit packet closed then pop on the clip to seal it tight.  Much better than  eating stale chips.

Packet clips

*  Upside down bottle holder ( I don't know what else to call it. ).  I bought this item from a catalogue left on my front door step.  When bottles of sauce or salad dressing become low,  turn it upside down and place it in the holder to drain every last drop out.

Bottle holder

*  Measuring cups and spoons.  These utensils are a wonderful way to ensure correct portioning of ingredients.  They also increase the likelihood of the recipe working out when correct measurements are included which also reduces waste.  Years ago I was demonstrating how to make Miracle Spray for a tv story.  The house I was filming in didn't have measuring spoons or cups so I had to estimate the measurements.  Let's just say the Miracle Spray ended up being too soapy ( dish liquid ) and scented too strongly with eucalyptus oil.   Eucalyptus oil is expensive so it needs to be used sparingly.

Measuring spoons and cups

*  Hamburger press.  What a wonderful way to make hamburger patties from scratch without buying the overpriced processed ones from the supermarket.  Making  hamburger patties fresh or having a stockpile in the freezer will save a fortune by eliminating the need to pay for takeaway.  My hamburger press is a Tupperware one that was gifted to me years ago.  Since then I've bought more storage containers for the freezer as well as extra prssses to give as presents.  All bought in the local op shop for $4.  Bargain. 

Hamburger press

Saturday 16 February 2019

This Week's Frugal Tasks Saturday 16th February 2019

My frugal list is a little shorter this week.  I'm not sure what filled my days other than work and cleaning my home.  I did manage to rest a little and enjoyed a few Netflix shows.  I'm one of those people who loves any show that features de cluttering,  organisation,  hoarding and cleaning.  I'm always inspired to make my home a little cleaner or more organised.

Here's what else I managed to do when Netflix was turned off -

*  Refilled the dishwashing liquid pumps and diluted it by 30%.

*  Bought more replacement mop heads online with a 20% discount and free shipping.  I've been using the Vileda UltraMax mop and bucket system for 5 years in my home and a few more years at a couple of cleaning jobs.  It has a big microfibre head on it that gets the mopping done very quickly. It also came with a dry mop head which is fabulous to whiz around on the bamboo floors and picks up any dirty,  dust and hairs.  The mop heads last a couple of years with weekly mopping.

*  Made a big batch of mini quiches for Megan's baby shower.  They have been frozen ahead of time.  The eggs came from our chickens, and the tomatoes and silverbeet from our garden.  Not quite a free snack but very cheap indeed.

*  Made a very big lasagne using frozen tomatoes ( from last Summer ).  Darren,  Jessica and I ate a portion for dinner that night and the other 9  single serves went into the freezer.  Lasagne is one of the most labour intensive meals I make,  so when I make it,  it is rationed out over a few months.

*  Darren and I decided against going out for a Valentine's Day dinner.  I'm not a fan of noisy,  crowded restaurants and preferred to spend time with Darren at home.  I did buy a few treats from the supermarket and served up a couple of grazing platters for our dinner.  It was so scrumptious and we were very full.  The leftovers became out lunch yesterday when we were out cleaning.  We probably saved $80 by eating at home.

*  Saved tissue paper that was wrapped around a few items Jessica gave me.  I've got quite a stockpile of tissue paper and I'm making a real effort to reuse it when giving gifts.  I no longer buy gift bags,  wrapping paper or tissue paper by reusing what comes into our home.

*  Decluttered almost 70 items from my kitchen.  I had a bagful for Megan to have and the rest was going to Savers.  Megan pretty much loved everything I was getting rid of and I was left with two plates to take to Savers at some point in the future.  Not a saving for me but a saving for Megan..

*  Gave Jessica a haircut.

*  Bought a couple of  small trays of lamb chops on clearance at Coles.  They were 50% off and the per kilo price came down to $7 kg.  We love lamb chops but their extremely high price has prevented us from having them for almost a year.

*  Ate leftovers from the freezer a couple of nights.  Great for easy dinners when our days have been busy and avoided the takeaway urge.

*  Jessica picked up some discounted Australia Day goodies for 20 cents each.  Darren was thrilled.  He loves anything Aussie.

Jessica's bargains

Valentine's Day savoury platter

Valentine's Day dessert platter

Lasagne for the freezer

For the baby shower

How did you save money this week ?
Do you have a favourite Netflix show ?

Wednesday 13 February 2019

Getting Your Year Into Gear - The Gift Giving Budget

As part of my  budget revising  time in January each year,  I like to take a look at the gift giving budget.  For me,  January is a quieter time of the year with fewer cleaning jobs to go to,  weather restricting some outings / housework and fewer social commitments.

My gift giving list is written into an exercise book ( one of those 5 cent ones ).  On one page I write the birthdays and occasions in order as they happen throughout the year.  For example,  Megan's birthday is in January so her name is always first on the list.  Then Valentines Day in February,  my Dad's birthday in March and so on.

On the opposite page in the exercise book I write a list of all the people I give Christmas presents to.  This list  includes Kris Kringle gifts for Darren's work,  my card making group and extended family gatherings.  The Kris Kringle names might not be known until very late in the year but I like to have a spot to fill in when the time comes.

After the lists are written out,  I draw up a budget for each person and occasion on a separate page.  For example,  on Valentines Day Darren and I only spend $5 each.  This might not seem like much but it's enough to buy a little chocolate treat.  I make cards so we know to grab one from the box.  Easter we spend $20 in total.  For extended family members we might spend $5 - $10 each for birthdays and Christmas.

Once the budget is written out,  I try to reduce it here and there.  Some people we don't see any more so a gift is not really needed.  Sometimes the people on the list say they don't really need ' things ' to fill their house.  If that's the case,  I reduce their budget and make a jar of biscuits,  or give a jar of jam.  Both presents cost next to nothing yet the receiver absolutely loves them.

Once the budget is written out,  I add it all up,  then divide it by 12 to give me the monthly amount I need to put aside.  I shop all year round so I need the money all year round.  Not just in December.

Getting back to the names on the lists,  beside each name on both pages,  I write in any presents I might already have on hand.  These can include fantastic op shop finds ( new or near new items ),  regifted presents ( when appropriate ) and other goodies I've bought during sales all year round.

Sometimes I look at the list and shop from home to fill in the spaces.  For example Aunt Bertha ( not real ) would love some new hanging tea towels.  So I write it in because I can make it or I already have them made up.

Remember,  budgets are not set in stone.  They should be flexible to suit any occasion that arises.

Here's a quick guide for the gift budget -

*  Write a list of names and occasions.

*  Write a budget for each person / occasion.

*  Check your present cupboard for gifts already purchased.

*  Make or bake what you can.

*  Reduce the names on the list if possible.

*  Reduce the amount for each person where possible.

*  Regift or op shop if suitable to reduce the budget. 

Saturday 9 February 2019

This Week's Frugal Tasks Saturday 9th February 2019

Sometimes just getting through each day can be a challenge.  We've had extremely hot weather in Melbourne this week.  Cooking has not been a priority but we are grateful to have a bbq that is connected to natural gas ( no gas bottle ).  Darren has been in heaven using HIS bbq to cook our meat for dinner many times over the last couple of weeks.

We've had the curtains closed most days and the cooling on when needed.  Cold drinks of water with lots of ice blocks have helped us stay hydrated and a little cooler.  Housework was done before we went to work or well after tea time to avoid working up a sweat.  I'm counting down the weeks and days until the weather changes and we see some Autumn weather.

Here's what we managed to get done to save money -

*  Bought four trays of beef mince on sale at Tasman Meats for $5.99 kg.  This is the cheapest mince has been in quite a while.  Each tray was portioned into 250 g meal sizes and frozen.

*  Dropped into Coles after church on Sunday just as the meat manager had finished marking down lots of meat.  We came away with trays of beef skewers at 50% off,  pork chops at 505 off ( for Darren ) and Oyster blade steak at 40% off ( for slow cooker stews ).  Usually the manager does the markdowns first thing in the morning but was running late that day.  We were very grateful to be there at the right time.

*  Donated a few bags of clothes and household bits and pieces to Savers and received a couple of discount stamps for future shopping.

*  Used lots of recycled bread bags as bin liners in the bathrooms and kitchen.

*  Fed the compost bin and worm farm with kitchen scraps.

*  Cleaned the kettle with citric acid.

*  Hung the washing outside on the line or clotheshorse.  There was one humid day so a few items went into the dryer to prevent them from smelling.  This happens when dark clothes take too long to dry in humid weather.

*  Saved drink bottle water and rinse water into a big icecream container in the kitchen sink.  This was poured onto the fruit trees.  I also saved the shower warm up water and washing machine rinse water to reuse.

*  Sold one dozen eggs.

*  Gratefully received a plastic tub of material from an anonymous giver.  Thankyou so much for your kindness.

*  Bought a new skirt from Best And Less on their clearance racks for $5.  I've noticed some department stores starting to clear out their Summer stock.  A great time to get a bargain.

*  Used our electric pedestal fans on some days when it was either humid or not quite hot enough to put the cooling on.  Electric fans cost just a few cents an hour to run.  This is quite thrifty compared to air conditioning and a little cheaper than our evap cooling.

*  Darren and I took my parents up to Ballarat for a day trip last Saturday to give Dad's car a good run ( he's still not driving ).  We took a thermos for cuppas,  morning tea and lunch to save some money.  We did buy afternoon tea at Beechworth Bakery as a treat before heading home

From the garden

$5 bargain skirt

New lounge suite ( plus another chair not in pic ).
Lining the bin with bread bags

How did you save time,  money and energy this week ?

Wednesday 6 February 2019

Getting Your Year Into Gear.- The Family Budget

I love the start of a new year.  January is my time to plan the year ahead,  to rewrite the family budget and to start allocating gifts for upcoming birthdays.

Having these systems in place gives me great peace of mind and a sense of purpose for our family  I'm more inclined to view the year ahead with great anticipation knowing i have a plan and goals to work towards.

A great place to starting planning is to look at the family budget.  Here are some questions I ask myself when revising a budget -

*  Did last year's budget work for us ?

*  Are we spending too much money in certain areas ?

*  Should we be putting more or less  money into certain areas ?

*  Are we earning enough money to cover our household running costs ?

*  Can we be more thrifty ?  If so,  how  ?

*  What is our savings goal this year ?  *  How will we achieve this ?

*  Can we eliminate certain spending categories ?

*  If our income was reduced dramatically and unexpectedly,  would we be able to pay all our bills and eat ?

A budget should not be set in stone due to circumstances changing on a regular basis. Bills go up,  children eat more as they grow or incomes can increase / decrease.  So too should the family budget adapt to the changes that life brings.

When writing out the family budget for a new year,  make sure you use the previous year's budget as a starting place.  Get out last year's utility bills and add them up for each category.  Add an extra 10% for any increases the companies like to add at the start of the year.  When you have a total amount,  divide it by 12 for a monthly amount,  divide by 26 for a fortnightly amount or divide by 52 for a weekly amount.  This should be direct debited into a bank account set aside for bills.

Keep in mind,  a budget is there to help you achieve goals and to live a great life.  

How do you revise your family budget ?

Do you revise it at the start of the year or another time ?

Saturday 2 February 2019

This Week's Frugal Tasks Saturday 2nd February 2019

The hot weather continues in Melbourne but thankfully we've had a couple of milder days so we can get things done around the home.  Our new lounge suite arrived yesterday.  The outdoor deck is finished ( just a few touch ups to do ) and finally our home is back to it's normal tidy self.

The frugal tasks I've listed below are from the last two weeks and in order as I completed them.

*  Made a double batch of Anzac biscuit dough.  I baked enough biscuits for Megan's birthday afternoon tea and the rest of the dough was frozen for future baking.

*  Made a bottle of Miracle Spray for Megan and Kurt and another two bottles for myself.  I use this fabulous cleaner at most of my cleaning jobs as well as around my home.

*  Made 2 litres of foaming hand wash for Megan and Kurt to refill their hand wash pumps around their home.

*  Baked four loaves of wholemeal bread with extra goodness.

*  Cleaned the washing machine with Epsom salts and hot water.  It's amazing how much gunk comes out of the outlet hose.  I try to do this twice a year to keep the machine in tip top condition.

*  Mended a top with loose threads and a pair of trousers.

*  Jessica and a friend made a double batch of chocolate brownies.  We ate some and the rest went into the freezer for Megan's baby shower.

*  Sold two jars of plum jam and two dozen eggs to a cleaning client.

*  Did extra cleaning work for a client.

*  Gratefully received little tomatoes from my Dad's veggie garden.

*  Gratefully received quite a few department store gift bags from a friend.  I'll be making them over so they can be reused for gift giving.

*  When the hot weather arrived,  I cooked enough baked potatoes,  boiled eggs and pasta salad for a couple of days of eating.  They were served with a salad.

*  Made two litres of foaming hand wash to store under the kitchen sink.  I also filled up all spare refill bottles.  I should have enough made for the next six months.

*  While I was making the foaming hand wash I found an empty vinegar bottle so I  made another two litres of double strength Miracle Spray.

*  Sold a bottle of Miracle Spray to a cleaning client.

*  Made pita chips for snacking.

*  Picked a few tomatoes and a handful of raspberries.  .

Anzac biscuits for morning teas

Tomatoes from the garden

Completed deck.  

Lots of future meals outside.

What frugal tasks did you complete this week ?