The above picture is a few years old (not to mention I'm 30kg lighter now!) but I love it because it sums up Ali and my relationship so perfectly! Ali and I are both morning people. We might struggle to get out of bed in the mornings but once we're out we're full on and full noise - and I mean noise! We sing, we rabbit on to each other at the tops of our voices and on the whole talk a load of absolute rubbish. But it's a heck of a funny and happy way to start the day! These days it starts even earlier as Ali has recently started a new job which requires him to work before and after school as well as on weekends so he has to get up at 6.30am. I actually really enjoy starting the day early; there's just so much time to do stuff. For example this morning I had made a big pot of zucchini soup for lunch, a batch of apple and lemon muffins for Ali's lunches and chucked a chicken cacciatore in the slow cooker for dinner, all by 7.45am!
Being organised is a huge key to saving money and something I have always been quite openly hopeless at; however now Liam is safely ensconced in his new abode I absolutely refuse to let so much as a single dollar escape my grasp. You know when you just KNOW you're doing a good job? That's me at the moment and it feels bloody marvellous. We might be one person less in the house but there's still a whole lot going on! It's been a really productive week and if I have my way it's only going to get better. So far I have:
* Reduced my mobile bill by $50 - $60 per month by ringing my provider (2degrees) and asking if I could get a better deal.
* Reduced our landline and Internet costs by a whopping $120 per month by switching from Spark to Whoosh. I just Googled 'who has the cheapest Internet plan in NZ' and boom, I now get unlimited data for $75 a month, plus a landline which I don't even need but is a nice bonus thank you very much.
* Saved $60 a month on cable TV. We had already cancelled most of our channels a while back but now we've cancelled the whole lot. Ali and me don't need TV, we're too busy to watch it! If we do want to watch anything we just hook up the laptop to the TV and watch it online through our unlimited Whoosh data.
So far that works out to a saving of $2,880 a year, just in three phone calls! Then there's the power bill. We're now running one less computer, one less TV, no Playstation, two less hot showers a day and I've got rid of the tumble dryer so I CANT use it. Ali and I make so little washing these days it fits on a clothes horse indoors or out and we only need to do a load of washing every three or so days, rather than two or three loads a day like we were! Am looking forward to seeing how much difference we can make to the power bill. I switched to Nova a while back from Contact energy and the difference was already huge at around $100 less per month but I know we can still do better!
Then there's petrol. Can I get a 'hell yeah!' at having one less car to fill up? That should work out to at least $150 a month. I'm about to buy a bike for $20 off a local chap to get me from A to B but I should only need to put in $20 a week from now on to get Ali to work early in the mornings and me to and from work on the nights I finish late. As for food, it feels as though I've spent nothing this week! Ali the hunter gatherer who is definitely not fussy has been having wild roast pork sandwiches at school (we have heaps of these, Liam and me wouldn't touch them with a bargepole no matter how hungry we were!), our evening meals now stretch twice as far so we always have plenty of leftovers for lunches or for me to take to work, and of course we don't use as many vegetables either. Last week I managed to put $15 left over from the food budget into savings which might not sound much but considering we still had Liam with us I was still pretty happy and hopefully we'll manage the same again this week. My aim is to get our food/everyday costs down to well under $100 a week but you know what it's like. Some weeks you can get away with buying nothing; other weeks you need to buy EVERYTHING!
So all in all, we're doing alright, but it's still not plain sailing. We still don't have enough money to pay all our bills and debts off. The electrician (who did a job for me back in November but sent the invoice to the wrong email address several times so I never received anything until the other day) is none to pleased that I don't have a spare $264 to settle the account and I almost fainted when Ali's new school emailed me an invoice for $622, with still more to look forward to. I'm still paying off $178 from when his brother was there! I'm sorry but WHY IS IT SO BLOODY EXPENSIVE?! Actually, make that WHY ARE SOME SCHOOLS SO BLOODY EXPENSIVE AND OTHERS AREN'T?! Seriously, the difference is vast. When I was at school everything was virtually free! And we still got to go on trips and do cool stuff. I'll never forget when my mum turned up at school when I was 12 in her slippers and with curlers in her hair because we were going on a trip to the Natural History Museum in London and she thought I'd forgotten my pound coin for my lunch. I hadn't forgotten my pound coin. And I've never forgotten looking down from my top floor window and seeing her standing out the front of the school in her curlers either! But I digress...
It doesn't matter what it is, crap like school bills and lost electrician emails happen to people all the time. I'm just trying to catch up the best way I know how. Thank you once again to Mark Zuckerberg for Facebook so I could make another $225 this week selling stuff with no fees, no postage and no mucking about. I never in a thousand years thought I would ever be able to persuade Ali to part with his entire set of Crocodile Hunter DVD's, even though he hasn't watched them in 10 years or more. But he did! Guess he must be growing up. And talking of growing up, oh my GOD the difference in Liam already when I spoke to him on the phone a couple of days ago is incredible. He sounds so grown up! So independent! So in charge of himself! It really blew me away, I did not think it would happen that fast. My boy, standing on his own two feet in our nation's capital. Finding his way around and feeding himself and stuff. All without me. I guess we never know just how much our kids are capable of until we let them go!