Step Four is: PLAN PLAN PLAN

Planning stops things from sneaking up on you. Planning reduces your stress. Planning gives you time to save money or time to do something little by little.

Plan what you will eat for the week.
Plan what you will where and lay everyone's clothes out the night before
Plan what is coming up in your next week or next month
Plan for big events many months out
Plan you errands to make better use of time

Good Order Is The Foundation Of All Good Things - Edmund Burke


$21 challenge

I am currently preparing to do the $21 challenge at Simple Savings ( see my link at the right hand side).

 The reason that I am preparing this is that I have to really think about how I will tackle it.

The idea is to be able to feed your family for a week for $21. You don't have to do this all the time, but doing it from time to time means that once a month or so you have a considerable chunk of your budget not spent.

You are allowed to use things from the pantry that you already have, so the $21 doesn't have to buy every little ingredient.

Is anyone keen to have a go or at least swap some recipe ideas ? There are two adults and two children aged 6 and 9 in my family.

Eating Local - A Successful shopping trip

I went to the local farmers market yesterday.

 It's only one once a month at this stage, although there were quite a few people there yesterday so, here's hoping it will become more frequent.

Yesterday I got some great stuff including the usuals like tomatoes, cucumbers, eggs, bananas etc. I also got some lemon myrtle soaps and essential oil and a ginger herbal drink.

The prices were really good. These products come from the Colonial Herbal Company, makers of Norfolk Punch. They are located at Kendall, a small community just up the road. http://www.norfolkpunch.com.au/

The picture is of some local oysters I got for Hubby. He made "oysters kilpatrick' for his dinner last night - that's where you add worstershire sauce and bacon and then grill them.

I am not an oyster fan, but he loves them! ( The kids and I had spaghetti bolognaise LOL)

365 Ways to Simplify Your Life

In our last swap, my partner Dee sent me a little calendar with a simple hint on each page. Here are a few of my favourites:

1. When you're finished with something, put it back where it belongs.

2. Work out what cards you need throughout the year and make them, or buy them, in advance

3. Keep receipts in one place

4. Walk away from gossip

5. Buy clothing you can mix and match

6. Keep a list of odd jobs to be done

7. Lay your clothes out the night before

8. Have everyone have their own bath towel and beach towel

9. Shop for Christmas all year round

10. Keep your car clean and full of fuel

11. Sort your groceries as you put them in your trolley and as you put them through the checkout to make unpacking easier

12. It's easier to stay healthy than to try and reclaim your health once you are ill

13. Buy extra when things are on sale

14. Plan ahead

15. Use a family calendar

16. Establish a plan for emergencies

17. Re- wear your clothes if they are not dirty

18. Teach your children to manage their own money

19. Have a gift wrap box

20. Have an annual retreat to renew your soul

STOP THINK DO - Part Three

Develop a Plan and Organise a System For Paying Your Bills

If you have bills arriving in the mail that you didn't know were coming or you suddenly can't afford to pay for something else because you have to pay this bill, you are allowing your bills to control YOU, instead of you controlling them.

To prevent this, you must have a plan and you must work your plan into a system.
Firstly, list your big expenses throughout the year. These may include electricity, water, school fees, registrations, insurances etc. If you are unsure when these bills fall, then mark them on a summary sheet which is divided into 12 boxes, one for each month, as they come in through the year. Knowing what is on your horizon will enable you to plan for the larger expenses rather than dreading them when the bill arrives in the mail.

To control the bills I have a system whereby I tally up every bill that I expect to come in throughout the year.

 I look back through old calendars and bank statements to get an accurate list. I then add the total of all the bills for the year. After I get up off the floor and recover from the shock I divide this amount by 52 or 26 if you work on a fortnightly budget and then know that this is the amount that I have to put aside.

My version of "put aside" is to transfer it into an account that is only for bills. I don't touch this money, except for bills. Depending on how much control you need over your finances, you may choose to have a plastic bag for each bill, whereby you put $20 a week into the electricity bill bag etc. Some people choose to do a bpay electronic transfer to each company so by the time the bill comes in, the amount is in credit or close to zero.

The choice is yours.

The only rule is that it has to be "a system" that is, something that is not too complicated and works for you. If you are the type of person that simply can't have cash on hand because you are impulsive then don't choose the method where you hang onto the cash. You would be better of paying each company a small amount each fortnight.

When a bill comes in I write the due date on the calendar and the amount. I then have an "unpaid bills" clip that stand on my desk. One of my jobs on Mondays is to look at my budget and pay any bills. I pay the ones that are due in the upcoming week. I also write a list of bills that I have paid so I can see at a glance how much variance in, for example, mobile bills over the past few months.

As you know from my previous posts we work on a cash only basis for our day to day expenses and for our savings. See my previous post for how I actually do this.

To take away financial stress you have to be in control. Otherwise your money management is like a giant wave that keeps knocking you down every time you try to stand up. Removing financial stress will allow you to concentrate on more important things, like building quality family relationships and having a more peaceful, simplified family life.

Let me know how you are going via email or comments. If you have any helpful hints on how you reduce financial stress in your family, please let us all know.


Best Patty Cake Recipe

This is my sister-in-laws recipe and it is the best that I have come across for patty cakes ( also known as cup cakes). The cakes are light and yellow in colour because of the custard powder and they are delicious!

125g butter

1 tsp vanilla

3/4 cup castor sugar ( although I used normal sugar)

3 eggs

1 1/2 cups Self Raising flour

1/2 cup custard powder

1/4 cup milk

Cream the sugar vanilla and butter.

Beat in the eggs one at a time

add sifted flour, custard powder then milk

bake in a moderate oven for 15 minutes.

Decorate with icing ( if they last that long )




We have embarked on a journey to take control and create a better and simpler life for ourselves and our families. Before we get into the nitty gritty we are doing some preliminary steps which are financial. Money is not the most important thing in our lives, but it plays a big role in our stress levels and can even cause relationship breakdown. We will therefore attempt to remove that stress by managing what we have and this will enable us to focus on things that truly matter.

So, in your notebook make a 'starting point' page.
1. Head it with today's date.
2. List ALL the money you have – every bank account, every wallet, every purse, every money box. Don’t list what you owe here, there will be a separate table for that.
3. Now list all the money you owe. This includes mortgages, credit cards, personal loans, loans to friends or family, lay-bys etc
4. Now, make a summary :

TOTAL WE HAVE: ___________________________

TOTAL WE OWE:_____________________________

Now that you have faced your financial truth you can start taking some steps to improve your situation. It is also helpful to mark a date on your calendar for 3 months down the track to do this again and look at how you have improved. If you want to keep a tighter reign on things you might re-do this sheet monthly. If you are really taking this seriously, you may even graph your progress so that what you have is in one colour and you can see that line going up, and what you owe is in another colour and you can see that line going down.

Don't be too frightened by the results. It is important to know where you are so that you can map out where you are heading. Burying your head in the sand will only make your situation worse. Take control !

Don't forget to give me some feedback. Email me with your results or let me know how it feels to face the truth!



Are you ready to start a series of steps to move forward and simplify your family life ? Grab a notebook ( one you already have - don't go buying anything!) and write out each step and your thoughts along the way.


When we first started thinking about simplifying our lives 'unnecessary spending' meant the second can of coke when we had meat pies for lunch. Slowly but surely, unnecessary spending became frequent take away food, pay TV, coffees, magazines, alcohol and then over time it moved to include packaged foods etc etc My point is that "unnecessary spending" depends on your personal definition. It is important that you do your maths - rather than say 'it's only $4 for a coffee - no need to be a miser", you realise that $4 a week day is over $1000 a year. I am sure if someone handed you $1000 for a family holiday you wouldn't reject it.

So, have a look at what you are currently spending money on and ask " is this necessary?"

Next we will look deeply into our financial position and face the scary truth of where we are so we can map out where we are heading.


Silly Silly Mistake

I have taken a week's holiday but instead of going away I have been at home catching up and relaxing.

We spent a couple of days picnicking at the river and swimming and skiing.

We had been teaching my nephew how to water ski when hubby suggested that I jump in and ski back to our base, which I did.

When I arrived back at the shore and went to dry myself off I suddenly realised that deep in my pocket ( I happened to be wearing hubby's board shorts) was my mobile phone.... and it was dead!

We pulled it apart to dry it, but......... it's dead.

It was a very old phone, did nothing special but it did the job.

So ..... now I am left with a dilemma. The SIM card works fine so I have been hunting around for an old phone. I went to the dealer and asked if I could buy an old phone that someone has traded but the woman said they go to charity. I would have paid for it and then she could give the money to charity !

So... herein lies the problem.

My options are:
- go without a mobile phone - could be problematic with work, emergencies etc ( although how did I manage prior to 1999 ?)
- buy a new one - don't want to change the deal I have because it gives me great broadband and can't justify hundreds of $$ for features that I won't even use.
- find a hand-me-down and insert my SIM card. Originally someone gave me an old phone but it was 'locked' to another provider.

My first instinct was to just buy a new phone and then I thought, NO. I will apply my frugal principles. I will STOP/THINK/DO. I will put the word out there into the universe and see what happens. Let's just hope the law of attraction works !!!

I will keep you posted.

April Theme: Re-organise and Transition

In the Southern Hemisphere, April is in Autumn.  The days here are still warmish, but there is a sneaking whisper in the wind. That whisper ...