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.
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.
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’ ?
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.
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:
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.
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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