Tag Archives: saving money

Window shopping

Well, when you’re stuck at home or in front of a computer, it’s more correct to call it something else.

I play at imaginary shopping. If it works for little kids, it should work for me. The difference is I don’t get a neat little shopping trolley and plastic baked goods and a tiny cash-free cash register and the opportunity to dress up in a hat and gloves.

For example, if I hadn’t forked out another $220 to the gardeners to remove two trees, dispose of rubbish and take away a slippery slide from my backyard, I would totally be buying these cool flash cards for young nerds. I reckon DD would enjoy them. This is the kid who wanted me to make a volcano in the kitchen, and keeps asking me what dirt is made of and how do you make a car in a factory and why do trees grow.

Apart from the cash issue and the fact that I am doing imaginary shopping only, the thing that would finally stop me from getting them is the ensuing new questions and the answers I’d have to revise.

Think about it. Mum, what’s covalent mean? What are magnetic poles? Why can’t I count in binary at school? What’s a degree and why does a triangle only get 180 of them but a square gets 360? That’s not fair!

In a way, imaginary shopping can save me money. By not buying these cards, I am not having to buy tablets to deal with the headache that would come from DD’s continuing questions. 🙂

Leave a comment

Posted by on March 9, 2011 in Education


Tags: , , ,

Birthday Parties

DD’s birthday party last week was the most expensive one I have ever had for her.

We went to a local indoor playground, paid a certain amount per head, plus I bought two platters of food for the accompanying adults.

The food and drinks for the kids were just right, the adults enjoyed the platters and bought their own cups of tea or coffee from the cafe there, the kids loved jumping round on the bouncy castle, climbing up steps, sliding down the slippery dips, and more. There was a party hostess, a separate party room for the kids where the gifts could also be placed, and no cleaning up.

I saved up for this. DD had specifically asked for that party room. She chose the guests (a mixture of childcare and preschool friends). She wasn’t really expecting presents, although she was delighted when people gave her presents. The best thing for DD was the chance to play with her friends, sit on a throne while being celebrated as the birthday girl, and eating a delicious and artistic cake which her clever aunt had made for her.

We do alternate years for more extravagant parties. (Yes, I am such a miser that this qualifies as an extravagant party. Remember I’m on one income.) Other years, she can have a couple of friends over for afternoon tea and playing at home or at the playground.

If you want to ping me for spending money on DD, can I divert you by pointing to the press release for Outrageous Kid Parties, and the clip of Gracie and her OTT mom wanting a party for 150 or 200 people for $15,000.

The New York Post’s Linda Stasi looks at that TV show and points out that conspicuous consumption can lead to contempt. Good point. A $2,100 birthday cake is mind blowing, especially for a five-year-old.

OK, DD, you can have a $200 party every two years. That’s the limit. You can get a lot of balloons, streamers, patty cakes, fairy bread, and raspberries for that.

1 Comment

Posted by on February 28, 2011 in children, the mummy race


Tags: , , ,

Cat update and budgeting

The Ancient Kitty is getting better. His eye ulcer has reduced in size. I am still putting drops of serum in his eyes, though finding it hard to do four times a day. Bearing in mind that I have to go to work to earn money to pay veterinarian bills, I’m not sure how the vet thinks I’m going to take time off to drive home to medicate a cat. He also has antibiotic eye cream which he similarly loathes. That cat can put a lot of distaste into a glare. This morning he headed off at a run rather than submit to eye medication. Not bad for a 17-year-old cat with poor muscle tone in his hind legs.

He also hates the Cone of Shame which he is expected to wear. The vet told me optimistically that by raising the cat’s dishes, perhaps on a brick, the Ancient Kitty will be able to eat and drink easily. Um, not in this universe. I saw it. I mean, we’re talking about a cat that stands in his water dish while eating from a food dish next to it. He isn’t as sharp as he used to be, though of course the instinct to run from medication is still strong.

I am amazed at the amount that cat has cost me this year. I nearly fainted at the most recent bill. We’ve cut back on groceries, but surely there are other things left to cut back. It’s not like we have lots of drycleaning, or that I go to the hairdresser or beautician frequently, I don’t drink much if anything at all. So off go the remaining luxuries and maybe some of the necessities

It looks like the only way I’m going to pick up is by:

  • cutting back further on babysitting (cheapest is $15 an hour so it’s no more than once every 6 to 8 weeks anyway),
  • car trips (petrol is still expensive but the bus system takes at minimum 2.25 hours return each day, more if I have to get DD from preschool first – I’ll have to cut back on trips to town)
  • the occasional cup of coffee from a cafe
  • using up everything in the freezer over the next couple of weeks and only purchasing fresh fruit and vegetables, milk and bread
  • using only the pantry supplies that I already have
  • finding additional work.

The last point is something I’ve really been thinking about. Not sure what I’m going to do or how I will achieve it. I think I’ll have to give more music lessons from my home at this rate because otherwise it will involve (a) babysitting and (b) petrol costs.

Leave a comment

Posted by on August 25, 2010 in Budget, cats


Tags: , ,

One little thing …

can derail you.

In my case, it was when I examined my bank statement last week after pay day, then went over and looked at my pay slip from that Thursday, and discovered someone had made an error. I’m not going to use the passive voice – someone, I don’t know who exactly, made an error.

Because that person did not correctly enter my childcare costs as a pre-tax salary sacrifice – the only way I can afford good quality childcare with my income – I am now missing $112 in net income for that fortnight. That much makes a difference. It could cover my petrol, or it could cover my grocery bill for a fortnight. Without it, I cut down on any discretionary spending and have to pull back on paying for much-needed house repairs.

One stuff-up, and another family feels the pinch. I don’t have a nice fat income from a partner to cover me. I’m it. That’s all.

Bugger. Hope the HR department can work out where the error occurred and how it can be fixed before the next pay period. Even better, I would love to get that $112 back. Not holding out that much hope, though.

Universe, you can stop hitting me. I told you, I’ve had enough. I want to be happy.

Leave a comment

Posted by on August 9, 2010 in Jobs, Life Matters


Tags: , , ,


I tell you, one of the most horrifying things you can do is write down where every scrap of money goes in a fortnight. Did you hear that thump? That was me hitting the floor in a faint after realising how much crap I spend my money on.

I keep all my receipts and write down the little things of life (like $3 for a Diet Coke or $3.80 for a large latte). Oy, that was an eye-opener. Yes, I could very well make my own coffee at work, and I certainly do at home or on the weekend.

The things I have to work out is: what are my *essential* luxuries, and what can I do without?

Under the heading of essential luxuries (go on, laugh at me, it’s a stupid term to use but the best I can come up with) are:

  • Waxing. Seriously, I can’t work out how to wax my underarms myself without causing extreme pain, I’m allergic to those magic hair-dissolving mousses, and the hair grows back like crazy after using a razor. Other parts can go without a wax.
  • Eyebrow dyeing. I am a klutz. Easier in terms of pain, shrieking and eye solution to get an expert to do this for me.
  • Hair colouring. I have a weird amount of grey mixed with brown-red hair that hasn’t been its original shade for umpteen years. I’ve tried to get a professional look myself. It used to work fine before I got more than 50% grey coverage at the front, and now, oy, the mess, the horrible colour, and the waste of home-colouring kits.
  • A latte now and then. Yes, I can make a coffee in a bodum or maybe instant coffee. But when it comes to the ability to perk myself up in a simple, and relatively non-fattening way, a latte is worth every bit of the $3.80 for a large cup.

So there you go.  I suppose in a way it’s a sort of cost benefit analysis. I’m not sure how to put a dollar value on intangibles like frustration over not getting the hair colour that I really want, but I can work out a cost of time cleaning up the mess of hair dye from the bathroom sink and towels and (most likely) my clothes.

Leave a comment

Posted by on November 11, 2009 in Budget


Tags: , ,

Like eating money

I have been thinking about how to use my food budget better. I know that we’re spending less on food when there are only two of us in the house. I put that down to making fewer trips to the supermarket or the fresh food markets for starters. DH seems to make a trip to the supermarket nearly every day after work and there goes $20 or so, not necessarily on food that we need, but food that we’d like.

Andrea Frazer has written about how much per week and month she spends on food. I know that my grocery bills go up on those weeks when toilet paper, cleaning sprays, paper towel or kitchen sponges are on special. I tend to have a siege mentality when it comes to toilet paper. 12 rolls hiding in the linen cupboard are OK, 18 rolls are better, 24 means I don’t have to buy for quite a while, even with visitors. Also, when I have to buy nappies for Mimi, the grocery total is enough to make my eyeballs rotate in horror! Hurry up and use the toilet, gal!

I buy essentials from a cheaper supermarket now. The flour, oil, tea, coffee and so on are the same quality and taste the same but it’s considerably cheaper. I’d buy their nappies, too, but it seems that they’ve got problems with their supplier. Baby wipes are almost as good as the expensive ones, the facial tissues are equally good as the branded ones, and the tuna is nearly as good as Sirena.

Vegetables and fruit come from the markets, where Mimi has a great time taste-testing apples, pears, oranges, pineapple, and more from the special plates out the front of the stalls. (Saves me giving her afternoon tea sometimes!) If we go at 5 pm on a Sunday when they’re closing up, we get bargain bags for $1. However, and it’s a big however, I refuse to buy something on the basis of it being cheap. Sure, three bundles of spinach for $1 is cheap, but if I don’t use it, or don’t have time to blanch and freeze it that very night before it turns, then I am wasting a dollar and refusing its use by someone who might actually want it. There is a fine line between being thrifty and foolish, sometimes.

I cook in bulk and freeze meals in portions if I have time on Sunday afternoons. That was my task yesterday. While Mimi played with her ride-on tractor, I made 24 spinach and cheese parcels (ready-made puff pastry is a time-saver). Mimi had two for dinner and the rest are in the freezer. I also made a large quiche with the eggs that a friend gave me. Delicious – eggs from happy chooks who live in a big backyard have more flavour and cook better. That quiche should have about 6 serves. There’s enough salad ingredients to last until Thursday. Still in the freezer, waiting to be cooked, is a chicken breast that I got for $3 per kilogram less than advertised because it was bought late on a Sunday afternoon. The butcher also threw in a load of wing tips for the cats. I was one very popular Meowmie when I gave them the wings.


Posted by on October 20, 2008 in Food


Tags: , ,