Small changes, big results

Posted July 5th, 2012 by Claire S

Over the past few days I've been pondering how to launch into this blog - I want it to be inspirational and interesting, honest, humorous and full of fabulous savings titbits and amusing anecdotes that will change your life... or at least make you want to read past the first few sentences! As I was pondering, waiting for inspired brilliance to spring forth from my fingertips, I got to thinking about how I came by Simple Savings, many years ago when debt was a dirty four letter word, even though 'putting it on the plastic' was cool, kinda like how smoking used to be...

I'm sure all you Kiwis will be familiar with Campbell Live, and for you Aussies, picture a goofy Labrador with a touch of determined Chihuahua. John Campbell hosts our daily current affairs show. Personally I love the show, especially when it features real people with real problems. And it was my introduction to Simple Savings. This particular show featured a couple who, like many of us, were struggling to make ends meet and were undertaking the $21 Challenge. I couldn't believe what I was hearing - how on earth could anyone manage on $21 a week? Seriously! I was intrigued. But I was also very relieved - relieved that not only was there someone else out there going through a financial struggle like us, but they were prepared to share their struggles and their plans to get back on track with the nation. Bear in mind, this was pre-GFC, back in the days when being in debt or struggling to make ends meet was not something you admitted to, you just kept clocking up the debt and stayed quiet about it.

Like many of you out there, we're an average family with average incomes. I met hubby (Karl) when I was 17 when we both had decent incomes, no kids and a busy social life. At one stage we both received a redundancy pay-out which would have made a nice deposit on a house. But instead we bought cars and frittered the rest away on goodness-knows-what. We had plenty of opportunity to save, but we didn't. We learnt the hard way that our parents were right and that we should have planned for the future! 20-odd years on, we have three wonderful kids (18, 14 and 10), a whopping Auckland-sized mortgage and our fair share of extra debt! But little-by-little, we're getting back on track and working hard to shed some of that debt.

Just like many of you, Simple Savings quickly became a wonderful source of support, much like Weight Watchers, but for losing debt! Actually I joined WW a few years back, in fact it was about the tenth time I joined, but this time, for some unknown reason something clicked and I managed to lose 25kg. That's not to say it was easy, there wasn't any one dramatic change that did the trick, no magic ingredient or special exercise regime, just lots of little changes and a determination to keep pushing through those inevitable challenges along the way. I left WW as soon as I hit my goal weight, and in the years since I've put about 12kg back on! But in May this year I re-joined and am slowly getting back on track (3.7 kg down over the past seven weeks!). It's much like the SS approach to losing debt... it's the little changes you make that add up to big results over the long term!

I look forward to sharing my little changes with you over the coming weeks and months, the first being how much we'll be saving now that our teenage son (who can eat a size 16 chicken and a loaf of bread for lunch and still be looking for more) has headed away on a six-week military-style camp... watch this space!

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January 2013