Hi Guys. This was going to be a post about blueberry muffins, but I had a better idea, the reason I made them in the first place.....to use up the blue berries I had from my union Jack flag cake.....we are not wasting a thing right now.
I've always been a very good money manager. By 30 and still single, I had bought my own home, furnished it, paid off my car, was paying my own law school fees and had travelled extensively. Fifteen years on, we find ourselves in a very tight financial position. Although I have never let go of my good management principles, I find I am really dusting them off and polishing them hard, as the Beach House budget gets tighter. I chose to primarily, to be a stay at home mum and we have lived on one income for the last 10 years. In that time we have moved house and remained mortgage free, made the Beach House over extensively, updated 2 cars, put our kid through pre school and had several small holidays within Australia.
So how did we do it, I hear you ask? Well apart from working very hard in our own business.....(I do Mr Beach House's books at night and support him where I can) the basic answer to how we did it, is that we have lived within our means. Although our household income has been limited, due to the capital requirements of our business, we have spent less than we earned. Believe me, it's not rocket science.
Here's how we have done it.
1. We do not like debt at all and avoid it were possible. We avoid any interest payments and late fees by paying bills on time with a credit card and paying off the credit card in full on the due date. In other words, we use the bank's money for free. I must say lately' even though we are still able to practice this with our personal credit card, we haven't been able to do that on the business credit card. We didn't realise the business income was going to drop so dramatically and quickly and we just kept going on as usual. When time came to pay the business credit card, we didn't have the money and culturally it didn't sit at all well with me. Although our business income is still patchy, over the last 6 months, we concentrated on getting the debt down and have now paid off 80% of the business credit card debt and are better placed if we need to raise more funds if things get even worse.
2. I buy lots of my childrens' clothes at the red cross shop and the new ones are only ever bought on sale. The Beach House Brats are constantly getting complimented on their outfits. I would never be able to buy designer pieces at full price and personally I don't see the value. Frankly my daughter would look great in a hessian sack at the moment...she's just at that age. I feel great when someone comments on a dress she's wearing that cost me $2. If I see something and it's gorgeous, but way too big for her now, I'll still buy it and save it for when she's older. She has a wardrobe full of gorgeous clothes that cost me next to nothing.
|A dress I bought at the Red Cross Shop for $2|
Jeans for boys are another great find at the Red Cross Shop. They don't wear out quickly so are usually in great condition. I bought my son a pair of khaki pants last week for winter for $6.
3. I colour my own hair and have done since 1992. That is the year I went back to being a brunette cause it's easier to do myself, than blond. Enough said there, except that the coloured greys create a natural looking streak for free. At the moment, I don't do facials or massages but I will again when things get better.
4. Lately we visit the video store only on Tight Tuesday, when all the videos are $2 each. I try to get weeklies for the kids, as they seem to love to watch them over and over. Lately, I have been getting overnight ones for myself that I have put off seeing at the theatre. A movie ticket in Australia costs $18, which is crazy. I always make the sure DVDs are returned on time to avoid late fees.
6. When something that we eat regularly is on special, I buy lots of it. My kids love the Italian style tinned tuna stirred through pasta with lemon infused olive oil, avocado and Danish fetta. When the tuna and oil are on special, I'll buy lots of it. It usually lasts me till the next time it's on special. I do the same thing with tomato sauce, Jatz biscuits and lots of our other household staples. I often wonder what the supermarket thinks of me as a shopper. They are definitely checking. I don't think they like me much, cause I'm pretty switched on to some of their tricks. I always check the price per kilo, which is usually cheaper on the bigger packet size but not always, so it pays to check.
|Jazz in the Pines|
8. I have a budget of $5-$10 for The Beach House Brats friends' birthday party presents. I buy these at what we call $2 shops, although most things in there are a little over $2 these days. For boys I buy stuff like calculators, compasses and stationary. The girls get craft items, fairy stuff, jewellery or glittery photo frames or stationary again. I've never had any complaints and infact the kids are often thrilled with their gift. Sometimes more so than the big ticket items they are lying next to on the floor, amongst the shredded wrapping paper. It makes me laugh actually.
|Jazz in the Pines Dural|
9. I kitted out the biggest Beach House Brat with all his back to school stationary needs from the $2 shop as well and recycled what we had in terms of folders from last year etc. I am still yet to buy him some red pens but, what with shopping the house for erasers and pencil cases the final bill was just $6.
|Jazz in the pines Dural|
10. Eating out is a difficult one, as I adore it and it has been hard to go without that at the moment. In the good times we limited it to once a week anyway and when my now 3 year old was too small to take to a restaurant, it was usually take away. But even someone like me, who loves to cook, needs a break once a week. We are lucky to get away with dinner out for 4 for under $80 these days and that can be at our local RSL, so even the cheap eats are off the menu right now. If I really need a restaurant fix, I'll organise to go out with my girlfriends. That way I only have to pay for myself.
|The Pines Homestead Dural|
I have so many more ways to save but they are for another post. The following is perhaps the most important. If you do all the hard work you should have something to show for it.
Bonus Tip: This is one from the greatest thrifter of all time and someone who taught me everything about financial planning and sticking to a budget. A person who was wise enough to cash out of the stock market 18 months ago, which has saved her a packet as well.......My mum.......She was a child of the depression and had a great teacher in her mother. She has always taught me to have what she calls 'running away money', more commonly known as my own savings. Even though I have worked only sporadically over the last 10 years....for Mr Beach House, the odd day of casual teaching and now in my styling business, I have continued to save every week and I have reinvested those savings. I siphon about $100 off the house keeping budget by way of a direct deposit before I spend a cent. It's kind of like paying myself first. Because of this, we are now able to live on our savings which we are about to start doing. I predict, they will last about 6 months. Hopefully in that time, we will have reorganised our lives sufficiently to generate some more/different income streams.
So what are your best budget tips? I'd love to know....I need all the help I can get right now!!!!!
PS. The Beach House Brats, my mother and I found a fabulous Jazz concert to attend on Sunday afternoon. Sydney turned on one of her fabulous sunny days, we booked a table under a pine tree had a BYO picnic and grooved to the beat. Great fun. We also took a tour of the historic homestaed on the property. A culturally inspiring afternoon.
Today I am Partying here