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Showing posts with label frugality. Show all posts
Showing posts with label frugality. Show all posts
Reviving the Wisdom: Cash as a Last Resort

Reviving the Wisdom: Cash as a Last Resort




 

I have  very fond memory of my Grandmother wrapping home gown beans in damp newspaper so she could share them with people. It makes me think that we need to tap into our childhood and community memory because there is so  much wisdom there.  

I think back to the way my grandmother and my godmother ran their homes as friends that lived close by to each other. 

Both of them grew their own produce and baked from scratch. My godmother  had chooks and used to barter the eggs around town. She traded cooking, mending and eggs for people to do jobs at her house. She got egg cartons from another neighbour, swapped another neighbour for the newspaper and even the home brew was bartered. She never owned a car and different people often took her into town when she needed to. 

My Grandmothr alway had the latest newspapers and magazines on hand, but she never paid for. She always traded pumpkins, zucchinis or anything else that was in season for them. 

 Of course, no-one ever used the term 'bartering' it was just the way things were done.


They were quite enterprising really. A dollar saved here and there would have really added up.

For these ladies cash was really used as a last resort. If you couldn't swap or do a deal for something that you really needed then you would have to use your cash.

In contrast, today we don't share our things around. We are almost like 'hoarders'.  Just look in our houses at all the clutter! We would be better off having something flow into our homes, use it for a period and then have it flow out again for others to benefit from as well.

Rather than using our cash as a last resort, we tend to jump straight to it. If we want something, we buy it. No questions asked. We think of something, we conclude we 'need it' and we jump in the car and go and buy it or order it online straight away. Even if we haven't got the money, we just stick it on the plastic and will worry about it later!

I am therefore going to look at the principle of using my cash as a last resort. I will stop and think of creative ways that I can obtain things without using my cash. My beans will be ready soon I can wrap them in newspaper and trade them for eggs and macadamia nuts.

In order to start the bartering circle happening I will have to think of things that I can GIVE to people, for it is truly IN GIVING THAT WE RECEIVE.

 I am sure that once I start the ball rolling other people will come on board with the concept. I am sure if I asked a friend if they would teach we basic quilting skills they would love to be paid with home made cakes.

This thinking doesn't come naturally to my generation. I will probably subconsciously cruise past many an opportunity to swap instead of spend. I will turn my mind to this more over the coming weeks and keep you updated.

Does anyone have any ideas for reviving the 'swap instead of spend' tradition ? Perhaps you are already doing a lot of it. Please share your ideas so that we all can benefit.
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A Vision Splendid
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Cumquat Marmalade: Winter Sunshine in a Jar

Cumquat Marmalade: Winter Sunshine in a Jar


 


This year's cumquots have made the most delightful marmalade. It's like winter sunshine in a jar! 


YOU WILL NEED: 

About 500g of cumquots 

a cup of sugar

The juice of half a lemon 

METHOD: 

Slice the ends of the cumquots and cut them in half. 

Chop the fruit and pulp coarsley 

Mix in the sugar and lemon jouce

Cook on the stovetop sitrring constantly until the mixture thickens 

Bottle in clean jars whilst hot and seal. 


This is one of those experimental recipes. You can try different citrus or blend flavours together. 

All I know, is that when you have a smear on sourdough it is a burst of sunshine in your mouth ! 

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A Vision Splendid
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Earthy Quiche

Earthy Quiche



I love this quiche and I bake it regularly. It has become a really good breakfast food for hungry teenagers - it keeps them going all day!

I start by browning some onion and garlic, perhaps some bacon or sweet potato cubes. You can add anything you like that needs pre-cooking.


I whisk 4 eggs, some corn kernels, chopped spinach, half a cup of self-raising flour, half a cup of milk,  some grated cheese... you get the idea, basically anything you have on hand.


I add  lots or rosemary at this point. It is my secret ingredient to give the quiche a really earthy deep flavour.


Stir everything together and pour it into a glass pie plate. I have used a sheet of frozen pastry under this one to hold everything together, although you may find it is okay without the pastry.

Bake for 50 minutes at 180 degrees. Slice into 8 pieces when cooked.



Do you have a quiche recipe ? Do you add in anything you have on hand ? If you try this one or have an interesting recipe, please share in the comments below or on Facebook. If you know someone who will love this recipe, use the buttons below to share the love around! 

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A Vision Splendid
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Working with a cash budget (repost)

Working with a cash budget (repost)








































Over the years we have tried many different methods for controlling our spending and working on a budget. By far the most successful method for us is to work in cash. I have worked out what we need each week and I withdraw that amount of money.

The following are our ' cash categories'.

Groceries
Fuel
Entertainment
Christmas
Holidays
Birthdays
Scarlet Ribbon ( clothing shoes etc)
Kids Banking

You can see in the photo that I use resealable plastic bags with the category and the amount written on it. Each week I go to the bank or post office and I have a little card in my wallet that says " 3x $50, 4 x $10 etc and get the exact breakdown. When I come home I give the cash to our young sons and they go through and put the amounts into the bags. Then, when we want to do something like hire a DVD or buy a present etc, we just go to the appropriate bag.

Having the money in cash is great for a couple of reasons. When you have cash in your wallet you are much more careful about spending it. My sons have also learnt the value of money because they control it. We are also empowered by the fact that we have money in advance for needs that may arise.

I call one category 'scarlet ribbon' because of the proverbs 31 woman who has no fear for her household for when the winter snows come her household is clothed in scarlet. It is a very old proverb but one that has always stuck with me.

I have also calculated how much we require for bills. You can do this by looking at what your bills are over a year and dividing the amount by 52 or 26 depending on when you get paid. Then I transfer that amount into an account we use for bill paying.

So.... what do you do when you finally sit down and add it all up and the results are frightening ? When I did this the first time I was totally shocked at our living expenses. Son number one was about 12 months old and I was faced with the prospect of going back to work. I was a school teacher then and was going back to work just two days per week. I hated the thought of it! So, we sat down and worked through everything in a huge amount of detail. I called it my " Plug the holes audit". By this, I meant that I thought the ship ( our house) would sink by the little holes that were in it, not the gaping big holes. So I set about saving money on little things, $2 here, $1 there. I changed phone plans, shopped for cheaper insurance, worked out a price book to track specials and calculate unit pricing, worked a cash budget etc etc. The results were amazing and I gave up teaching at the end of that year.

I often hear people talking about how difficult it is to make ends meet ( while they are watching pay TV and smoking and eating take away food). My answer is to be totally honest with yourself and live within your means. Take control of your money so it doesn't control you. It is such a wonderful feeling to jump in the car and go for a holiday with the freedom of knowing that you have the cash for it all and you won't have to face the credit card bill when the holiday is over.

If you can't be bothered with the hassle of micro-managing it all then you will need to be happy with staying in debt and having no money and having lots of stress. The choice is yours to make, so which path will you choose ?
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A Vision Splendid
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Should We All Be More Frugal ?

Should We All Be More Frugal ?



Recently I have been thinking more and more about the instability of our lifestyles and the way that we are set up as a modern society to live.

If you tune in to television or magazine advertising they will have you believe that everything is wonderful. It has never been better! 'Live for today', you hear them say....'go ahead, your deserve it'.......'you only live once'....... Pay tomorrow.... interest free...

I look around and see a very different story. I see people wondering why 'everyone else' seems to have it so easy when they are doing it tough. I see people who just completely block their financial circumstances and live from credit card to credit card and keep refinancing their blues away.


I have really started to sit up and take notice because I see more and more people whose lives have been turned around by such a simple event that pulls the rug out from underneath them.

I have seen friends go through a separation and divorce, the death of a spouse who was way too young, a job loss for the only income earner in the family, serious illness which turns a family upside down and people wiped out through once in 150 year floods.

We all subconsciously believe that it will 'never happen to us', but I am sure people who have been through a change like this have thought exactly that.



Do you think it is prudent to tighten our belts in the name of securing a solid emergency fund ? How many of us could truly survive for six months if our current income source dried up ? If your income stopped tomorrow, how prepared would you feel ?

As you know, I am always using 'times gone by' as a reference point when it comes to being frugal, living green or living more simply. Perhaps because of the instability of the times, people from older generations always put money from good times away for times when they may not be as good. They stood by the traditional wisdom of saving for a rainy day.

Are our times today any more stable today than what they were back then ? Does easy credit disguise society's true position ? I am not sure, I can only judge it by what I see, hear and read around the community and in the blogosphere.

Why suspicion is.....yes.
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A Vision Splendid
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This Home Made Life

This Home Made Life


I have really enjoyed the last few days. I have been busy baking, making and gardening up a storm.

Today I came to realise how 'normal' these things are for us now.

On Friday I made a huge batch of washing powder. As I was grating up the soap I watched "Harp in The South" on my laptop. This is a beautiful Australian story about a poor family living in Surrey Hills Sydney in the 1940s. As I was grating away I felt like Olivia Walton making butter on the front porch while Grandma knitted!

Friday night is pizza night and we do it so often now that we can slap together a batch of beautiful half plain/ half wholemeal with the toppings that each person wants before you can even find the number of your local delivery boy!

On Saturday we made fettuccine that was so damn yummy I had a dream about it and could have easily made some for breakfast on Sunday! Because we have our own eggs, this fresh and tasty pasta only cost us 27 cents to feed the four of us !!!

Sunday was of course the Sunday roast and the weekly apple pie to go with it.

I also managed to plant some garlic, lettuce, onions and carrots.

Soon I will make another batch of homemade soap and this time I would like to have a go at making a liquid hand soap.

I am loving this home made life.
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A Vision Splendid
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My Grandmother's Ways

My Grandmother's Ways





It is now over six months since my Grandmother passed away. But it’s funny, I don’t feel that she is gone. I feel that she is still at her home in Bathurst, where she moved to when I was a baby.


I took this photo in about 2005. It captures the feeling of driving up the driveway after a long trip to finally arrive at ‘Nanna’s House’. Her house was an old coach stop in the gold rush days.

When I look at this picture I smell the corned meat cooking, the apple pies, the fire going in the lounge room. It is real.


There is so much of my grandmother’s ways that I try ( often without success!) to incorporate into my own life. It seems now, that I am not the only one. Since frugal has become the new black, more and more people are adopting the wisdom of the old fashioned ways and making changes in their lives.


The Global Financial Crisis combined with growing environmental awareness has meant that many people are embracing some of the lost arts of yesteryear. Cooking, sewing, gardening and entertaining are gradually becoming more mainstream as people embrace the joys of home.

I have witnessed what I call a ‘collective sigh of relief’ that frugality is now ‘trendy’. It is much easier to keep up with the Jones’ when they are being frugal that when they are constantly updating to bigger and better things.

I see a resurgence in the vegie garden, chooks in the suburban back yard and home cooking.


In my grandmother’s day these tasks were carried out because of necessity, whereas today we do many of these things by choice – we chase the joy. Where once, throwing a microwaved meal onto a plate in a rush was a hassle, now we spend hours in the kitchen with a glass of wine and an Italian opera to produce an artisan feast and it counts as ‘stress relief’.

Whether you work full time or are a stay at home parent, there are many ways to reconnect with the joys of home. Here are some of the things that have brought me joy throughout this journey.

Cooking from scratch – trying new recipes and flavours and venturing into what I once would have thought of as a waste of time – like bread and pasta making.

Growing Your Own – never underestimate the joy of collecting something that you have grown – even if it is a handful of basil or a sprig of parsley!

Finding or buying Used – whether it be a vintage table cloth or an old wooden spatula, used items are fabulous in quality and bring the essence of their previous life with them. ( I always cook better with my great grandmother’s spoon)

Mending and Making Do – there is a sense of satisfaction that comes from being able to mend something or find a way to re-use an item instead of racing out to buy a new one.

Slow Living – turning off the television gives opportunities for everything from family discussions to games nights and story telling.

Getting Ahead – time is a very valuable commodity and thinking about what is coming up in the weeks and months ahead and tackling some of it now brings tremendous peace. Running around at the last minute brings nothing but stress!

Cash Budget – this is one of the best things that we have ever done in terms of our financial management. It has helped us get out of debt, have holidays and taught our children how to save and use their pocket money wisely.

Have you embraced any old fashioned living principles ? Is it just me, or do you think that frugality has become ‘trendy’ ?



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A Vision Splendid
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Time For A New Budget

Time For A New Budget



It is coming up to the end of the financial year and time to do up a new budget.

Budgets always need adjusting, they change as family needs or incomes change. As your budget evolves you may notice that you have more than enough income in one category, but are always running out of funds in another category. As seasons change you may have different expenses. In our household winter sports and less water skiing means that one category goes up while another comes down.

I never view a budget as a negative thing. I think it is one of the most powerful tools that a family can use in order to bring peace to a household. Involving your children in the family budget is also a great way to teach them how to save and use their money. My boys have learnt the value of money, for example, if they are putting $15 a week in a particular category then they know how long it takes to save $90. If we want to do something on a weekend they look in the ‘entertainment’ envelope and can make decisions about whether we can order a pizza or go bowling and eat out. There is very little nagging or squabbling because they understand the process.

As my regular readers know, I work with a cash budget because this system works really well for me. I have read about people who budget using a credit card and virtual envelopes and that works extremely well for them. The secret is finding a system that ‘honestly’ works for you. Because of the state of financial markets I am considering parking the ‘savings’ type categories into my no fee investment account to maximise the interest ( a whole 3.5%). If I do this, I will still break it up into ‘virtual’ envelopes so that I know what is what and so I don’t start spending savings amounts or spending bills money by buying clothing. Having said that, the majority of my categories will be cash based. Things like groceries, fuel, pocket money, kids sport, entertainment etc work best if they are in cash for us.

Is your budget constantly changing? Have you noticed that it changes as the seasons change ? Do you successfully budget with ‘virtual’ categories ? I’d love to hear from you.
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A Vision Splendid
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Detailing A Simple Life - our budget

Detailing A Simple Life - our budget



I have been getting more and more emails asking for assistance in the areas of simple living, home management and budgeting. It gives me great joy to know that my writing is actually assisting you! Please keep the emails coming. I try and address them with detailed responses, just be aware that sometimes it takes me a couple of days to get through them all. I will also try and give more specific details in each of the posts I create.


In return, I ask that if you gain some benefit from my writing you put a link on your blog or send all your friends a link to the site and ask them to tell their friends!


At the moment I have turned my mind towards tightening our budget. I think it is because of all the news coverage about the current financial climate. I really feel for small businesses who are the first to suffer when there is less work around for people. It is okay for us to say we will cut out non-essentials like coffees, magazines, restaurant meals etc - but what if you are the owner of the restaurant, coffee shop or news agent who has to put food on your table. It really is hard, because the truth is, that in difficult times it becomes a case of 'everyman for themselves', meaning, if I don't have extra money to spend I am not going to eat at your cafe. The good thing is that the economy works in cycles, we just need to ride out this downturn.


So if I can't help you by spending money at your cafe, the only thing I can do is, as I have said before, swap you spinach for eggs, or jam for beans. This is the great Australian way - swapping the pickles over the back fence. We just need to re-establish these traditions.


I have just re-done our family budget again. Partly because I want to reduce it and partly because it changes every season because of changes to our entertainment and eating habits.


As my regular readers know I am an envelope girl. I have little bags for each area where money is required and withdraw the correct denominations of cash each week. Recently I have changed this from plastic bags to a little mini accordion file with labelled compartments.


I include not only amounts that I know we spend each week like food, fuel, entertainment but also include seasonal categories like clothing, holidays, Christmas birthdays. Whenever we need something I just go to that category and pull out the cash. This really works for us and it gives me tremendous joy knowing that we always have the money there for things that we need or if we want to go and do something as a family. There are from time to time expenses that I haven't thought of but because I have been doing it for many years I have it pretty well worked out.


Hubbie needed new shoes today ( I have begged him for weeks to replace his ones that were just about needing sticky tape!) and he was able to go and get the cash out of the folder. Number One son has a birthday party to go to on Saturday and I know that there is money there for a present. If the kids bring home a school excursion note or we want to hire a movie or go out for tea, the money is there. We don't have to worry about the guilt of knowing that we can't afford it but stick it on the credit card anyway to worry about "later".


We now allocate $365 per week, down from $449. The categories are:

Fuel

Holidays

Christmas

Birthdays

Groceries

Clothing/ hair

boat fuel

school

entertainment

pocket money

sanity money

kids banking.


This is separate to the amount I have for bills and savings. I always take savings out first and have a bills amount worked out by adding them all up over the year and dividing by 52.

Notes:

The kids pocket money is $5 per week. They use it to buy treats and save up for things.

The sanity money is $10 each that Hubbie and I have that we just blow or save or whatever we feel like. I allocate $150 per week for groceries but never spend that much. I usually spend under $100. I collect the extra money and blow it in holiday times or when we have visitors or at Christmas time etc. Sometimes I have to buy things out of that amount if they breakdown, like a toaster or something.

I love having Christmas already paid for. I love having our yearly resort holiday already paid for. There is great peace.


Having cash on hand is extremely powerful. I love the concept of poverty by choice. I like shopping knowing that I have a set amount in my pocket. It makes me really consider each purchase.


Are you a cash person ? Or do you have some other fabulous way of staying within your budget ? Do share !
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A Vision Splendid
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Busy Playing....on our STAYCATION.

Busy Playing....on our STAYCATION.





Today is the last day of the school holidays for our boys. School starts back on Monday.


It has certainly been a busy time, hence the lack of blogging.


The holidays have been terrific. We had one overnight trip to Sydney, but the rest of the two weeks we have had a STAYCATION - that is, you holiday at home. A Staycation allows you to do some wonderful things. The STAYCATION family activity list has so far included building cubby houses under the dining room table and then sleeping the night there, playing tennis in the front yard, riding bikes down the road and being attacked by the nesting pee-wee and butcher birds, watching a family movie, spray painting a home made hut, making comic books, cooking, building bike jumps, making a smash up derby arena with a series of boxes, swimming in the local pool, waterskiing and swimming at the river, scrapbooking, going to friends' house for a play date, putting on a 'Star Wars Show' in the garage (lol!)

There are many benefits to having A STAYCATION. Firstly, it costs very little. If you calculate the cost of a week in a holiday apartment and then add meals,fuel or airfares and entertainment the cost can be beyond many families. Why not do the sums and then decide to spend one quarter of that amount during your STAYCATION. That money may allow you to do something special for the family like a restaurant meal, bowling, movies or whatever else is a 'treat' in your household.
The Second benefit of a STAYCATION is that it gives you the opportunity to explore where you live. Often we don't see advertising about our area because it is targeted elsewhere. If you go to your local tourist Information Centre you will be able to see what the area has for visitors. Pretend you are a visitor in your own region. There may be sight seeing walks, waterfalls, historical buildings, wineries, fishing spots etc. It may be a real eye-opener.

The third benefit of a STAYCATION is the total peace that comes from going nowhere and doing nothing! Have you ever have a great week's holiday, finally relax and then have to spend 10 hours driving home in ridiculous traffic only to have to front up to work on Monday morning ? You need a vacation just to recover! Having a STAYCATION will allow you to totally unwind, sleep well in your own bed and be at peace with the world!

Remember that the success of a STAYCATION depends on the mindset. Do something different to remind yourself that you are on a STAYCATION. Lay in the back yard with a book. Wear that Hawaiian shirt, make yourself a cocktail at dusk and watch the sunset. Turn the phone off and put the 'out of office' reply on your email. Paint your toenails, do some yoga or meditation, lay in a buttermilk bath with a glass of champagne.

 Think TOTAL RENEWAL.
ahhhhhh........... I am relaxed just thinking about it.............................

Give it a go ..................... you may just fall in love with the concept.
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A Vision Splendid
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Splendid Tomato Staking

Splendid Tomato Staking





We are attempting something a bit different with the tomatoes this time.

Firstly we have moved them to the side of the house, right along the driveway.

 They face west and get lots of afternoon sun. S

econdly, instead of staking them up with stockings or scraps of materials, this time we are using a technique that Hubbie saw at a tomato farm.

They loop a piece of string under the heaviest part of the plant and tie it to a frame above. As the plant grows the string is tightened. The frame is made from tomato stakes with a whole drilled in each end and a cable tie looped through the holes to keep it together.

It seems to be working magnificently.

The plants are doing really well and have lots of flowers.

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A Vision Splendid
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The  Consumer World Thrives on YOUR disorganisation.

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.
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A Vision Splendid
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STOP FOOD WASTE...... If you remember.

STOP FOOD WASTE...... If you remember.

















Imagine the scene.




I am at my supermarket. I unpack my groceries from the trolley. The young girl scans them and places them lovingly into my 'green bags'. I pay. I smile. I push my trolley out to the car park and load four of the five bags into the boot of my car. I take the fifth bag out of the trolley and walk over to the nearest bin and pour the contents in. Unopened cereal, a carton of milk, half a pumpkin, three oranges and a beautiful bunch of shallots!


....... what a crime ! I hear you say. What a complete and total waste! ..........



The fact is that Australians waste $6 billion each year by throwing away food. A 2007 study found that on average we throw away 4.2 kilograms a week! According to Planet Ark founder and environmentalist John Dee, the reason we throw away so much is because we are forgetful.



In our house in the past we have been extremely guilty of this. Treasures of archaeological significance have been found lurking in that space at the back of the rarely used for anything important middle shelf.



There seems to be some sort of weird mentality when it comes to the fridge. Last week the shallots took up residence in the front row, top shelf, - proudly sitting there ready for that Jamie Oliver cooking adventure. The cooking adventure gets postponed, or worse still we only need three snippets for a garnish and the shallots are put back into the fridge with the best of intentions I am sure ready for ....... not really sure of that ...... but will think of something good.......





Next week we bring home the avocado, half a rockmelon and the freshly seasoned, organic, free range chicken for the dinner party.After the party we clean up and put all the leftovers into plastic containers, because we can't let good food go to waste. In three weeks time when we are making way for the giant fruit platter that Aunt Marion has made for the family get together, we HAVE to throw out the left over chicken AND the plastic container because it has taken on a life of it's own and after all it's too unhygienic to use that container ever again.



Although we have the best of intentions, the truth is, if we can't SEE IT, we don't remember it.



Saving money on food has been a very important part of this new frugal lifestyle we are adopting. Here are some tips relating to leftovers.



1. MENU PLAN - work out what you are eating and shop accordingly. Plan your menus around your schedule. Easy meals on busy nights and adventurous meals when there is more time. Write your plan on a whiteboard on the fridge as a visual reminder for every one in the house. There is great peace knowing at 7am what you are eating that night and being able to defrost the meat in the fridge through the day.



2. PROGRAMME LEFTOVERS INTO THE MENU PLAN: - Make a meal one night and deliberately make extra for the next night. We often do this when I make lasagne. If there are leftovers after the second night I cut it into single portions and freeze it for lunches.



3. MAKE VISUAL REMINDERS: - I write a list on the whiteboard of things that have to be eaten or used up. If I use some chicken stock, for example, and pour the remainder into ice cube trays to freeze, I put it on my 'must use' list.




4. MAKE SMALLER MEALS: - My Grandmother always said "your eyes are bigger than your belly" meaning, you think you want to eat a certain amount but when it comes to it, you can only eat half of it. We often discuss the old fashioned idea of having much smaller meals and if you're still hungry then have a slice of bread and butter.



5. PRACTICE MINDFULNESS AND USE LESS: I really noticed when I made my cereal yesterday that after eating all the 'bits' I had a lot of milk left over in the bowl. After measuring it I found it to be 1/3 of a cup. Multiply that by seven days and I am pouring out half a litre of milk a week! This morning I overcame my phobia of having cereal pieces that weren't 'wet enough' by stirring thoroughly in less milk before eating. Simple!!



6. COMPOST: When you do have food scraps put them in your compost bin. This will turn back into soil which can then be used to grow vegies or herbs. This is the best form of recycling as studies have shown that about 40% of household rubbish is compostable food scraps. There are now bench top composters available if you live in an apartment.



You wouldn't throw away one in five bags of your groceries each week. You wouldn't cut up a twenty dollar note with a pair of scissors and throw it in the bin, so think about how much food you are wasting and how much rubbish you are producing as a result.


Making these small changes has not only helped our budget, it has also made a huge difference to how much rubbish we put in our bin each week.


If you would like more information on the Stop Food Waste Campaign you can visit the article from NOTEBOOK magazine http://www.homehints.com.au/great+recipes/1267/reading/food+waste+in+australia
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A Vision Splendid
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10 Weeks Into This Frugal Lifestyle

10 Weeks Into This Frugal Lifestyle




10 weeks since I made the Mental and Emotional Seachange Style Eccentric Decision or (M.E.S.S.E.D) to throw in my job and head metaphorically to the beach. I’m doing surprisingly better than I thought I would. I was frightened that my “chase the joy in life” phase may be just a passing mood. I was fully ready to accept the fact that I may get bored and head back to work. But, no….. the great social experiment continues and {shock, horror} the joy factor remains. Can it be that the joy from simple living is ongoing? Will I continue to experience the joy ? I’ll keep you posted!

What has changed so far in my simple, joy-filled lifestyle? Many of these changes have been implemented over the past few years, but NEVER have they had so much importance.

Before, sure, I would cook when the spirit was with me, but now I HAVE to cook so the children have something to eat when they get home from school. I HAVE to bake bread because otherwise we won’t have any ( …logical!......) I HAVE to grow veggies because we live 16 hours drive from the nearest store and the plane with supplies only comes once a month. Okay, that last statement may be stretching it a little, but my point is that I really enjoy doing these things and I love the fact that there is a degree of importance and reliance on these tasks being done.

I have noticed that the weather has become a MAJOR discussion point in our lives. We had always joked that in the older generation weather was the topic of choice in any given situation. Days were heralded as good or bad depending on the temperature, time the sun rose, whether there was a slight breeze and what time the sun started to go down. Sometimes there was much discussion about the link between the weather and the drying of the clothes. You know, “I had to get the washing out early because you have to get it in by two because it starts to get cold again’. Then there was “ I put the washing out by 7 and it was dry by 8”
Now Hubbie and I are becoming 1940s pensioners who are obsessed with the weather. We look outside and say “ good dryin’ day honey” or “this rain will be good for the radishes”. It makes me laugh because suddenly, there is such a connection with mother nature and the all important weather.

Since the M.E.S.S.E.D I have realized how important it is to have SKILLS. I have great skills in some areas but am completely lacking in others. This is a problem throughout my generation. Our mums burnt their bras and went to work, which was good in so many ways, but there was no-one with apron springs strings left that we could hang onto and learn by osmosis all the things that are required to be frugal and self sufficient. I am really regretting that I didn’t pay more attention to Sister Mary Martin during my sewing classes in year seven. If only I knew that I would really need those skills one day. At least she was able to teach me one thing – how to sew a good apron, and to date, that is the only REAL success I have had with sewing. Last week however, I did hand sew a felt pocket for my son’s IPOD and {God love the gorgeous child} at the age of ten…. he REALLY loved it. I will have to sew him some more felt features before he grows out of this phase and is too embarrassed to be seen with me in public!

There has been a major break through on the coffee front. As you may recall, one of my greatest concerns about commencing this social experiment was whether or not I would be able to continue to enjoy my signature coffee, a vanilla latte on skim. Last month when visiting friends in Sydney I noted that they were producing a mighty fine home brewed coffee. I had virtually decided that I would have to get a machine at home ( there I was trying to keep up with them and their surname isn’t even Jones). When I got home I remembered that about five years ago I got a free coffee machine when I subscribed to Family Circle magazine. ( Imagine how good it must have been) At the time I had a bit of a go, but couldn’t really work it and I put it in a cupboard in the shed and slowly spread all the attachments around the house. ( you know how you have that drawer in the office that has three dead batteries, two rubber bands, a deflated old balloon and the internal cup off the old coffee machine). So I made the decision that before I looked for one I would try this one out. After some searching through the drawers I found all the pieces and, with the help of some vanilla syrup I am now pumping out a pretty smooth, fair trade, organic, vanilla latte on skim. It’s as good as my favourite independently owned coffee shop in town, but…… added to the joy factor involved…… it’s a close second!

And so continues the journey to a more simple, frugal life. One step in front of the other, three steps forward, two steps back.
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A Vision Splendid
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The Spirit of My Ancestors

The Spirit of My Ancestors





This is the spoon I use to cook with.

It belonged to my great grandmother.

Considering that my Grandmother is now 101 years old, it is amazing to think that HER mother used it to cook with.

If you look closely you will see that one side is worn down from use over the years.
This is one of my most prized possessions. A couple of years ago I was a guest speaker at the View Club and took my spoon along to talk about the importance of writing down our stories. I accidentally left it on the table and it was collected with all the cutlery at the end of the meal. I went home without it and it took a couple of days for me to remember that I must have left it there. I was devastated and returned to the venue and raided drawers and drawers of cutlery with the owners to finally get it back! It must have gone into the dishwasher with every thing else. I was extremely lucky!

I really LOVE my spoon because every time I pull it out I am reminded of the spirit of my ancestors. Hard working, frugal living, self sufficient, simple people. Whether it was by choice or necessity, the spoon reminds me to live like it's 1940s. To be more family oriented. To cook from scratch. To be self reliant. To waste less. To save more. To have a grateful spirit.

I wonder what possessions of mine are going to be around for more than 100 years ? The answer that pops into my mind is unfortunately the millions of plastic bags I have used so far LOL !
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A Vision Splendid
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Doing Away With Disposables

Doing Away With Disposables





Step by step... little by little ... moving towards a more sustainable, frugal life.

You don't just wake up one day and decide to throw your job in and live off very little. It is like a great sculpture. Each day the sculptor chips away little by little, every day moving towards a masterpiece.

You start with simple things like planning your meals, shopping to a list, organising your budget better, saving money here and there. As you perfect those skills you move on to cooking more from scratch and purchasing groceries items only when you know they are on sale and using your stockpile for when they are full price.

Soon you are growing a few of your own herbs and maybe a tomato. Next you're using the car less and riding your bike more. Before you know it you are making your own pasta and the thought of soap making suddenly doesn't seem that daunting.

The latest step has been slowly replacing disposables. Cotton crocheted cloths are great to use instead of paper towel and washing up cloths and make great cleaning rags. They are very easy to make and take about two evening. When I say very easy to make I mean VERY easy, (coming from some one who has NO crocheting skills what so ever! )

Cloths can be colour coded. A good way to remember your bathroom cloth colour is to make 'blue for the loo and pink for the sink'. Once you have used the cloth, just throw it in with the washing for use again. This is my idea of 'sustainability' because of the ongoing use of the item. I no longer have to re-buy the replaced products.
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Processed Convenience Foods

Processed Convenience Foods





Take a look at my 'processed', 'convenience' food.

 I bought it yesterday with no packaging for quite a cheap price considering the volume. 

Once I got it home I 'processed' it, that is I peeled it all and chopped it up and put it into containers for the fridge. 

When hunger struck it was easy and convenient to grab out of the fridge. When the predictable ' Mum, I'm hungry' conversation took place it proved itself to be very 'convenient'.

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A Vision Splendid
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Pasta Making

Pasta Making








































Further home made joy the other night from freshly made pasta. Someone told me many years ago that once you taste fresh pasta it is very difficult to go back to the dried stuff. I would have to agree.


Our pasta is just made with flour, egg and salt.



The photo below is pretty bad and doesn't do justice for the outcome, but the whole family got involved in producing this dinner and it was lovely !






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A Vision Splendid
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