Wednesday 29 January 2020

Our Family Goals 2020

As each new year begins I like to reflect on the year gone.  Have we done our very best ?  What areas could we improve ?  These are the two main questions Darren and I ask ourselves.  2019 was an extremely difficult year for us emotionally,  physically ( tiredness ) and financially.  We had some systems in place to prevent buying takeaway when we were in the midst of a crisis.  But we are human and at times we failed.

2019 saw us living close to the poverty line at times.  While we don't feel poor,  we've had to be very careful about our spending.  We did have a few small holidays which we booked before our incomes dropped.  

Looking forward for the new year,  we try to be wise or wiser with what we have. Ways we can improve are -

*  Looking at ways to increase our incomes.  We have already made a start on this and praying about new opportunities.. .

*  Reopening my blog shop with handmade crafts. I made quite a few sales in 2018 with greeting cards,  decorated hand towels and Christmas decorations being my biggest sellers.  Please consider supporting my shop and sharing it with your friends and family.

*  Growing more vegetables  Supermarket prices are almost out of reach for us and prices are set to increase even more with droughts and fires affecting supply.  We will endeavour to grow silverbeet all year round as our green vegetable.  This is quite a productive vegetable and saves us lots of money.  Seeds of broccoli and cauliflower will be sown earlier than we usually do so we can pick more to freeze.  I don't like buying leafy lettuce so I'll be growing more.

*  Pruning and feeding our fruit trees to help them produce more.

*  I'm seriously considering a ' Buy Nothing New ' year.  I have plenty of clothes and if I really need something then the op shop is my first port of call.  Our home is nicely furnished and unless something breaks,  we don't need anything.  Craft supplies must run out or wear out before I replace them.  I'll keep you informed of my progress.

*  Taking time to enjoy a cuppa and biscuit on our deck / pergola instead of going out to eat.

*  Eliminating food waste. Since it's just been Darren and I at home ( since Dec ),  we've been pretty good at this.  There's always room for improvement and having less in the fridge does help.  I still cook for 3 - 6 people at least a few nights a week.  The leftovers are carefully portioned out and frozen.

*  Sourcing better meat prices.  We've been living off our freezer stockpile but now that's getting low.  Meat prices have skyrocketed so being on the ball for sales will be really helpful to our budget.

*  Last but not least - refining our family budget.  I do this at the start of every year by reassessing all expenses and trying to cut out waste.  So far I've cut out gift budget to the bare bones.  I've changed to a cheaper plan for my mobile and Darren is hoping to do the same shortly.  Utilities are proving to be a challenge but we are being mindful of all usage.  The milder weather so far is helping.

Growing more

Making the dollars stretch until they scream.

Have you written down your family goals for 2020 ?

How will you achieve them ?      

Saturday 25 January 2020

This Week's Frugal Tasks Saturday 25th January 2020

My frugal list is not very long this week.  I was out at cleaning jobs 4 days this week.  I pulled a few weeds out of the garden every time it stopped raining. One day I pottered around tidying things,  decluttering and sorting out our 2 abandoned bedrooms and generally getting ready for when our family moves back in.  I spent all day last Saturday with some of my closest friends doing what I love the most - drinking tea,  eating, talking and making a few cards.

Here's what else I got up to

*  Recycled some birthday cards given to me by a friend.  I cut them down to size,  matted and mounted them onto new blank cards.  Added a bit of bling where needed and they look great.  I also made gift tags from card making  scraps.

*  Found packs of 2 lamb shanks at 49% off bringing them down to about $7.50 a kilo.  There were 4 packs on the shelf so I bought the lot.  They have been frozen and will be rationed out over the next 12  months for special occasions instead of going out for dinner.

*  Menu planned for the next 2 weeks.  I'm concentrating on using what we already have in the freezer instead of buying more.  We need room in the freezer for tomatoes and beans that are growing in the garden.

*  Sold 2 dozen eggs to a friend

*  Picked lettuce and zucchini from the garden.

*  Refilled the shampoo and conditioner bottles by turning almost empty bottles upside down.  I also diluted the conditioner by 1/3

*  It was my turn to host the card making day last Saturday.  For morning tea I made a double batch of scones and served them with homemade peacharine / peach  jam.  The leftover scones were frozen and Darren and I have enjoyed a few during the week with a cuppa.

*  Picked a few raspberries every couple of days.  I'm working towards my next jam making session.

*  Made a large jar of dried seasoned bread crumbs from scratch.  I used the ends of loaves of bread,  whizzed,  dried and seasoned them.

*  Received a $20 store credit for the Good Guys.  I put this towards a George Foreman Grill for a  Christmas present which also happened to be on sale.  Normal price was $39 down to $29.  I only paid $9.  Bonus.  The store credits come every 3 months or so as part of a extended warranty scheme.
*  Cooked all meals from scratch.  At the moment it's just Darren and I at home.  We still cook for 4 - 6 people as that's what most recipes are.  We freeze all the leftovers into single serves.  This eliminates waste and I only have to cook a few times a week.

Unfortunately we didn't get much sunshine this week.  This is the reason why the photos are a bit dull.

Finished this card I started a couple of years ago

Megan's birthday Card - a new design

Recycled card

Recycled card.

Homemade - just divine.

How have you saved money this week ?

Do you cook extra quantities and freeze the leftovers ?

Saturday 18 January 2020

This Week's Frugal Tasks Saturday 18th January 2020

The last 3 - 4 weeks have been quiet ( at times ) with lots of decluttering,  gardening,  jam making and family time out on our deck.  When the weather is mild,  Darren and I like to take our cuppas and a biscuit or two outside to enjoy the fresh air.

We had a lovely Christmas and hosted Christmas Day lunch at our place.  It was Luka's first Christmas and he really enjoyed the wrapping paper as well as his new toys.  Under the Christmas tree was choc o block full of presents especially for Luka.  Imagine what it will be like next Christmas with another baby joining our family.

Family will be moving in with us in 4 weeks time ( for the next 12 - 18 months ) so I've spent a lot of time decluttering and making space in cupboards and drawers.  There have been many trips to Savers with bags of no longer needed goodies.

Here's what else I've been up to -

*  Made a large jar of castor sugar by whizzing small batches of white sugar in the coffee bean grinder.  It was so easy to do and works out much cheaper per kilo.

*  Made 14 jars of peach and peacharine jam.  The fruit was free and came from my Dad's tree and a local community pantry.

*  Made Christmas cards by cutting up the old ones we had.  I think they look quite nice.  It feels good to have that task finished at the start of the year when life is a little quieter.

*  I went shopping on Boxing day to pick up a few bargains.  I purchased a couple of presents for this year,  bought sneakers at 40% off to wear to my cleaning jobs and used a gift card for a Kaisercraft store that had 50% off most items.

*  Saved the shower water,  washing machine rinse water and Luka's bath water ( when he was here ) and poured it all into the washing machine for the next load.

*  Diluted the dishwashing liquid by 1/3.

*  Redeemed our saved points at Coles supermarket to get 6 drinking glasses for free. We did not go out of our way to spend more money so they truly are free.

*  Used fuel dockets to fill up our cars with petrol just before the price went up.

*  Made chicken stock in the slow cooker from a chicken carcass.

*  Picked a few raspberries each day.  The fruit isn't as big or abundant this year but I'm hoping I'll have enough to make a couple of jars of jam.

*  Darren and I ate Christmas Day leftovers for 2 days afterwards.  Nothing went to waste and it was great to have a break from cooking.

*  Dried lots of rosemary and whizzed it in the coffee grinder so that it sticks better to roast veggies.

*  Picked about 8 apricots from our tree.  The birds got 4 of them.

*  Made butter with a small amount of cream I knew we couldn't use before it went off.

*  Made 9 jars of peach jam using free fruit I was able to access.  Made 6 jars of raspberry jam using fruit from our bushes.  Made 3 jars of apricot jam using fruit from our tree ( for the first time).

*  Picked up 4 rolls of Christmas wrapping paper from The Reject Shop for 25 cents each.  3 of the rolls can be used for birthdays and other occasions.

*  Found a cheaper plan for my mobile phone saving me $10 a month.

*  Bought Dove soap at NQR costing $4 for 6 bars.  Some have been put away for Christmas stockings.

*  Gratefully received potato chips from a family member who had access to slightly out of date stock.

*  Filled up our cars just before petrol went up.

*  Planted cucumber and   lettuce seeds.

*  Picked three zucchinis so far from the one plant my Dad gave me.  I'm hoping to make a zucchini slice.

Christmas Day table

Christmas Day table
From the garden

Peach and peacharine jam.

Making butter

Processing the dried rosemary

Boxing Day bargains.

What frugal tasks have you completed over the Christmas / New Year break ?