I can't say that I will be sorry to say goodbye to July. It has been a long, cold dark month - and an extremely expensive one in our household! Household rates, water rates, a higher-than-usual power bill, dog registration, school holiday programme fees, school camp payment, school fundraising, winter jackets… it has been an onslaught! Oh, and on top of all that it was our youngest daughter's 11th birthday, and thanks to a couple of forgotten promises, I ended up spending far too much!
Firstly, she reminded me that, many moons ago, I agreed that she and a friend could go to Paint The Earth (where kids can paint cool ceramic ornaments). No problem I thought, I have a 25% discount voucher, so it will only cost about $45 all up. No such luck! We ended up taking an extra friend (thanks to some last minute begging!), and the discount voucher was for an entirely different shop (my brain clearly needs a tune up), so it ended up costing $90! I was also reminded that I promised we could go out for dinner on her birthday. I did try and talk her into some delicious homemade meatballs, but she wasn't wearing it. There goes another $90+, groan. Oh and did I mention that hubby has been off work recovering from knee surgery for the past few months, and will be for at least another month. He's on ACC but it is well below his normal wage. We should not be spending like this!
I've realised that overspending is very much like overeating. Once you've had a few extra nibbles here and there it becomes quite hard to hold on to your self-control - the lines between 'Need' and 'Want' start to blur and before you know it… oops, you've done it again! Speaking of which, I have not lost an ounce of weight in the last few weeks. I've only got four weeks left on my Weight Watchers' winter pass, and now I'm starting to think that's been a big waste of money too!
But with the beginning of a new month comes the opportunity to try a few new tactics. And it's going to start with some serious planning. It has helped that I keep a notebook for all of our bills. Every single bill, from school trips to rate instalments, goes in the notebook as soon as it arrives. I have four columns: Creditor, Amount, Date Due, Date Paid. It's really helpful for looking back to see where the money has gone, and how much I'm regularly spending on what. This month has taken up an entire page! I've realised that I'm paying for a few monthly subscriptions that I don't need and that June/July are our most expensive months. If I'd spent a little more time planning in May, I probably could have kept a tighter rein on our outgoings.
On the upside, with our 18-year-old being away for the past five weeks, at least we have seriously saved on our food bill! He comes home this Saturday - I can't wait to see him! He's been on a six-week course run by the army and it's been pretty full on! This week they're meeting with prospective employers, including recruiters from the defence forces (he's dead keen to join the air force), so I can't wait to hear how that goes. And I'm expecting him to be pretty lean and fit, they've been getting up at 5.30am and doing tramps, obstacle courses and fitness training (in the middle of winter!). Apparently he's lost five kilos! Hmm… I wonder if I could convince them to take me on…
Righto, I'm off to scan the vault for all your wonderful tips on meal planning. If I'm going to save anything this month, and keep ahead of the lad's appetite, I'm going to need them!
Before I go, here's a little quote on the subject of self-control, it seems quite relevant to both saving money and losing weight (my two goals for this month!).
Discipline weighs ounces, regret weighs tons (author unknown)