Showing posts with label Stop Think Do. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Stop Think Do. Show all posts


The Family Company - the best one to work for.

Our Family Boardroom.

No company could survive if they constantly missed deadlines, didn’t pay bills, had more outgoings than incomings, had staff that constantly yelled at each other, no filing system, no records. Can you imagine the picture? The company would fail for sure. It would be extremely stressful to work there and for the owners the burden would be unbearable.

Managing your home is no different to managing a company. Think of your home as your family company. If you were the CEO then all of your actions would be centred towards the betterment of your company, not any other company. Your company would come first.

How is your company running at present ? How is the monthly budget looking. Do you even know how you went this last month ? Do you know how you went this past year ? What are your filing systems like ? Can you put your hand on a piece of paper in under 30 seconds? Can you locate your tax summary for 2006 or your child’s immunisation records? How about a manufacturer’s warranty card or the insurance papers for the house ?

Does the company run smoothly? Are there standard operating procedures? Does each company member know what their job is ? Are tasks being performed or are deadlines being missed.

Is your company solvent? That is, are you financially viable ? Is your company going down the gurgler – is it falling behind year after year? Are the outgoings each month more than the incomings?

Who cleans the offices? What recognition does the caterer receive? When is the next board meeting and what is on the agenda?

Your family is more important than any other company in the world. Where do you priorities lie ? Do you give more to your workplace than your own home ? I am sure that you have heard the saying 'on your deathbed, no-one wishes they spent more time at the office'.

Here are some points to improve your family company.

1. Start a good filing system: even if you can't tackle the back log, from now on file every piece of paper that needs to be kept in a place where you or anyone else can find it in under 30 seconds.

2. Have a system for house cleaning and management. Develop a basic weekly plan. Break up tasks so you don't spend your weekends doing housework or washing and ironing. Remember, there are many jobs that fit into the 'stitch in time saves nine' category.

3. Grow some of your own food: Start with some potted herbs and move to planter boxes with a few vegies and then to garden beds. Growing food is economically sensible for a family, it is a fantastic activity to get children involved with and gives a tremendous sense of satisfaction that cannot be reproduced by any 'shopping activities'.

4. Finally take charge of your finances. If you are 'blocking' the truth, it is time to face your financial facts! You can't do anything about the problem unless you identify it and take charge! Work out where you are now. Look at my 'stop think do' programme on the left hand side for more tips. Taking charge can be extremely empowering.

5. Work on your logistics: Stop rushing around. Plan Plan Plan to alleviate chaos and bring peace to your household. Look at what you need next week or next month and do it now so you are not rushing around at the very last minute making everyone stressed. Group errands, minimise outside commitments and prioritise your home and family as Number One.

6. Work on your Family Relationships: If a company has disharmony in the workplace, they would call in an expert and do some personal development and team building exercises to improve workplace relations. Every company knows that when staff are happy and harmonious productivity goes up and staff turn over comes down. People are happy to come to work. Invest some time into improving your family relationships. Spend time together, schedule activities and outings. Have a family movie night where you make home made pizzas beforehand - each member of the house can contribute like a production line. Even a two year old can sprinkle mushrooms! Play a board game without the TV on or play a game in the yard or park. You will be surprised how it slowly changes thing if you invest the time.

7. Have a family meeting regularly. Kids love this, no matter what their age is. At the family meeting you can plan holidays, discuss behavioural expectations, talk about pocket money, discuss job allocations, give recognition for jobs well done. This is something you have to try - especially if you have children. They thrive on this sense of contribution they feel. When we first did this it was a little 'tongue in cheek' for me but once we got going I saw how fabulous it is. Now there is excitement when we announce a family meeting, or if things go off the rails wit behaviour, jobs etc we say 'I think we better call a family meeting' In our VERY serious voice LOL.

Try these steps and let me know your thoughts. Afterall, our family company is the best one to work for !


The Consumer World Thrives on YOUR disorganisation.

There is no doubt about it. Being disorganised costs you a lot of money. There are whole industries which would crumble if everyone was to actually get their act together and have some sort of order in their lives. Of course, none of us have order all the time and if you are anything like me you have times of being highly organised and then backslide into total chaos. My theory is that you have to have the occasional backslide into total chaos so that you can climb out of it and appreciate how good it feels when you are organised. A bit like joy – you have to experience the lows so you can recognise and appreciate the highs.

If your life is fast paced and chaotic and you have children, you will know what I mean when I say that being disorganised costs you money. In fact it will often cost you in other ways as well. Here is an example.

It’s 6pm. You’re on your way home from children’s after school sports and you have nothing organised for dinner. You remember the ad for some fried chicken in a bucket which tells you to buy it because it’s quick and easy and the family will love you for it. ( even though your arteries and your wallet won’t!) You call in and pay an amount which you know is the equivalent of about 5 meals made at home. The ad was right , the family does love it and there’s no washing up. ( actually the family loves it until about 40 minutes later when Dad has a gall bladder attack, the kids are ‘hypo’ and you’re left feeling grossed out and heavy)

There are many other ways that being disorganised costs you money, apart from eating unplanned takeaway meals. How many times have you lost something and bought another one, only to find the original one a few days later? Have you had to purchase something because you need it straight away and you know you cant’ wait until the next sale? Have you gone somewhere with the kids and spent a lot of money just on drinks and snacks because you didn’t have anything with you for everyone to snack on.

Here are my thoughts to alleviate the problem.

1. Schedule based Menu Planning: If you know that you are home late on Tuesday nights, have meals that are quick and easy to prepare scheduled for that night. You could also make a double batch of something on Monday night knowing that you will have left overs ready to heat up for Tuesday nights.

2. Start your Evening Meal in the Morning: Take 10 minutes out of your morning to cut up vegies ready for a stir fry that you can just ‘throw together’ when you walk through the door. If you are really organised you could even have the chicken or meat marinating in the fridge.

3. Always take snacks and drinks with you. This is important especially if you have children that seem to need ‘refuelling’ all the time. It takes very little time to pack some drink bottles, some fruit and some home baked goodies. It is extremely expensive to go to the cafe near a park and buy everyone a drink and a snack.

4. Have a ‘gift cupboard’. Buy things when you see them on sale for Christmas and Birthday presents. In the back of my diary I have a list of who I buy presents for. Throughout the year I scribble down ideas that come to me about what I would like to buy or make for people on my list. If I see an item or the makings of an item that are on sale or a good price I will buy it and put it away in the ‘gift cupboard’.

5. Pay Your Bills on Time: a lot of service providers now have a late payment fee if payments are not received on time. Our system for bill paying is very simple. When a bill comes in we write it on the calendar and clip it to the “bills to pay” clipboard that hangs on the wall in the office. On my ‘office day’ I look at the bills that are due that week and pay them. The money is in our bills account because we total up the years bills and divide the amount by 52 and put that aside each week throughout the year.

6. Group Your Errands: Save petrol by making less trips to town. Have a list of things that need to be done or purchased while you are in town. Running back to the shop for one or two things you have forgotten is a costly exercise.

7. Avoid The Supermarket: If you go to a major supermarket for your shopping try and go there less. Every time you go in ‘just to grab a couple of things’ you will come out with more than what you went in for. Why is milk at the back of the store and bread at the other end ? It is to seduce you as you walk around. If you are currently a ‘drop in’ shopper try to menu plan and shop once a week. If you are a weekly shopper try to move to once a fortnight. If you are a fortnightly shopper – can you be a ‘super planner’ and only go there once a month ? This is my aim. A once a month supermarket trip and the rest from fruit and veg suppliers, farmers markets and the local fish co-op.

8. Return your hired DVDs on time. We hired some DVDs for our sons sleep over last month. When I went to pay the lady she said “ you really should go and get one more because these will cost you $13, but if you go and get another one you will get them for $9 because of the deal we have”. I reluctantly went and got another movie. National Treasure 2 for the grown ups to watch . I say reluctantly because we had already been in the shop for 40 minute while we persuaded five 10 year olds to agree on movies that we deemed suitable. The slumber party passed, the grown ups didn’t get a chance to watch the movie and kept it for the next night to watch, which didn’t come off either. By the time I took the DVD back I had to pay $5 for the late fee for a movie that we didn’t watch and didn’t want! LOL. ( .... and we still haven’t seen National Treasure 2!)

9. File your Warranty paperwork When your kettle stops working, can you remember whether it had a one or two year warranty? In our ‘throw away’ society we seems to replace these appliances all the time. A couple of times now we have had items like toasters and kettle replaced for free because we still had the warranty card which guarantees the product for 12 months or two years and didn’t quite make it over the line.

10. Know you tax deductible Items. Do you have a good working knowledge of what deductions you can make ? There is no point waiting until the end of the financial year to find out that you should have kept receipts for your spending throughout the year. For Australian readers, the tax office has an occupation guide for most jobs that points out the deductions available. Know your list and make a file of receipts and paperwork to maximise your deductions and reduce your taxable income as much as legally possible.

These are only a few tips. I am sure that you will be able to come up with many more. Why not share a lesson you have learnt ? How has disorganisation cost you money? Or what is the best organisational tip that saves you money? By sharing ideas we can all progress in this area.


A Vision Splendid Newsletter

Thank you for your emails. I really enjoy reading them and am so glad to be able to help many of you. I also love the feedback and assistance that you are giving me!

If you had previously subscribed to the VISION SPLENDID newsletter and have not received it, you will need to send another email with 'newsletter request' in the subject line.

We had our computer rebuilt and it appears that a lot of contacts have dropped off the list. The email address is on the left. I look forward to hearing from you.


There's More To Life Than Money ?

There’s more to life than money. We hear that saying all the time but for many people money is at the centre of their existence and I believe, rightly so.

If you are thirsty and dehydrated you can think of nothing but water. If you are starving you can think of nothing but food. So it is right to think that when you are out of money or you have money troubles then that is all you can think of.

Poor money management creates tremendous stress. There is stress because of guilty feelings of over spending. There is stress not knowing how bills will be paid for. There is stress in knowing that you are going backwards. This stress is often the basis of many disputes and marriage break ups.

The only way out is to WAKE UP from the CONSUMER NIGHTMARE.

If you are unhappy with your present financial circumstances then you must make changes to your relationship with money or things will not improve or they will get worse.

1. WORK OUT WHERE YOU ARE FINANCIALLY – list everything you have and everything you owe. A total clean sweep – right down to that 10c on your bedside table and the 20c coin in the glove box of your car. Gather it all up and FACE YOUR FINANCIAL TRUTH.

2. LOOK AT WHAT YOU HAVE – If you are in debt, look around your home and ask yourself ‘was it worth it’. I remember seeing a TV programme once where a finance expert was in someone’s home and they opened up the storage cupboard and just started counting - $30, $25, $75 etc as they were pointing to board games, hairdryers, DVD collections, toys etc. How much of your money is just sitting around in cupboards. It’s a VERY scary thought.

3. THINK ABOUT WHAT YOU NOW DON’T HAVE: Think about this- if you have a mortgage and you haven’t paid it off in ten years, ask yourself where that money went that could have been used for extra repayments. The answer is – thrown out! You have spent thousands of dollars that could have got you out of debt on things that you have bought and thrown away. How many clothes do you have that are more than 5 years old ? We buy them then they go out of fashion and we throw them away. We also buy popcorn makers and electric slippers, music CDs, storage baskets, doona covers, computers, TVs, lounge suites. We have them for a while and then they become old, boring and unfashionable…. So we buy new ones. So instead of now being debt free, we accidentally spent the money that we could have put towards extra repayments on …… things that we thought were good at the time.

4. KNOW THE TRICKS OF THE TRADE: Advertising is seduction. The sooner you understand this, the better you and your money will get on together. Don’t believe what you see. No face cream will make you look younger, no car will improve your life, no office furniture will increase your income. What will really make you feel great is being financially free, having positive relationships and finding your ‘JOY FACTOR’ – that is, something that truly gives you joy in life. Think about why companies offer - BUY NOW PAY LATER type deals. It is because they know that the majority of people don’t pay on time and they will make extra profits.

5. IF YOU HAVE A POOR TRACK RECORD, DON’T TRUST YOURSELF: I have heard people say, I can’t carry cash because I just spend it. In my experience it is a lot harder to part with cash knowing that you only have $30 in your wallet than it is to hand over your credit card and convince yourself that this is a justifiable one off purchase that you will definitely pay off at the end of the month. BE REAL – carry cash and be creative about not using it.

6.BE HONEST WITH YOURSELF: We get into trouble with money because we are lying to ourselves. We won’t accept the cold hard truth that we cannot live our current lifestyle on our current income. It’s as simple as that. If we were HONEST we would think differently about how we spend.

7. RECOGNISE THAT RECREATIONAL BUYING GIVES A SHORT TERM BUZZ: - Sure, it’s exciting when you bring something home from the shops but the buzz wears off, sometimes too quickly and you have to buy something else to get that sense of excitement. – If it were any other substance you were abusing it would be called a drug addiction !

8. START IMAGINING A BETTER WORLD Day dream about what your life would be like if you were debt free. Would it mean that you could take holidays, real, soul renewing holidays. Would it mean that one of the parents could ‘come home’. Would it mean that both parents could work part time. Would it mean that you could stop working to pay for debt and start working in an area that you are passionate about that may mean a lesser salary. Would it mean that you could leave work all together and work for yourself, create your own income or do volunteer work ?

9. WHAT ARE YOU WILLING TO TRADE YOUR TIME FOR: If you are working to create income, then everything you buy you have worked for. If your hourly rate is $30 then to buy a $60 pair of jeans you have to work two hours. You may be quite willing to do that. Ask yourself, however, whether you are willing to pay for other things – Are you prepared to work 20 hours per year to pay for cleaning products that you simply pour down the toilet or the sink ? If not, use vinegar and bi-carb. Are you willing to work 26 hours a year to pay for a subscription TV service that you miss most of the time anyway. If not, borrow DVDs from your local library. What about working 40 hours just to pay for the finance charges on your credit card which are in addition to working to pay for the things that you purchased that created the finance and interest charges. Maybe the answer to some of these questions might be ‘yes’ but it’s worth asking the question.

10. PLUG THE HOLES AUDIT: Go through all your bank statements, receipts, bills etc and see where your money goes. Don’t dismiss any small amounts. If you seriously want to make some changes then plug the holes in your ship. The small holes draining away your potential savings could sink your ship. Look at every option and try to work about how to save $5 here and there. You might find cheaper house insurance that cuts $10 a month off your bill, what about grocery savings by menu planning and shopping with a list, what about using cash only when you’re out. How about driving less or changing brands of deodorant, bread or internet provider. There are THOUSANDS of hints and tips waiting for you out there when you are ready to make the change.

THE RESULTS: Having your family budget under control means that you have freedom. You can sleep at night without financial stress. You can spend freely, knowing that you have amounts in spending categories already there in your money tin when needed. If the kids have an excursion, need new shoes, are going to a birthday party or are playing sport, you can be confident that there is money to cover it. You know that planning your meals and squeezing your grocery budget is worth it for the end of year holiday that you have each year. When you have the money aspect of your life under control it frees you up to think about chasing your joy and living a more sustainable, family centered life.


STOP THINK DO: Are You Ready For A Merry Christmas

Most people start complaining about Christmas in October. It often coincides with the appearance of decorations in the shopping centres.

Instead of complaining about how quickly it is sneaking up, be proactive and get yourself organised. Aim to finish all your shopping and preparing by the end of November so that December is stress free and you can really sit back and enjoy this social time.

1. Make a list and check it twice. Never wander around the shops thinking 'what can I buy for my mother-in-law'. I keep a list throughout the year in my diary. I write things down as they come to mind.

2. Can you DO instead of BUY. Are there things that you can make from the heart ? Can you sew, cook or craft. Can you make a scrapbook album or write a poem. Can you give someone vouchers for your time e.g. 10 free lawn mows or foot massages. Be creative - it will make a memorable gift.

3. Less in More As I have said before, we buy 'gifts' from the worlds' most useful gift catalogue. You can buy a goat for a village, sink a well, buy school books or medicine.

4. Create Strong Family Traditions Traditions give us a framework to pin our memories to. We always put the tree up on 1 December and wear Santa hats and play old fashioned Christmas music like Jingle Bell Rock ! The kids always look forward to it ( and funnily enough, so do I)

5. Plan Plan Plan Get out your notebook and make your list. What are you eating, where are you going. What can you do now to make things run smoother for busy times.

Christmas is a season of joy, not stress. Remember.... don't fall into the habit of busyness.

STOP. THINK. DO. Take this time to celebrate the joy in your life.



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


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.




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.

April Theme: Re-organise and Transition

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