Exercising restraint

Posted June 30th, 2006 by Penny Wise

Another new month tomorrow, another new page on my Habit Changer calendar – and a very appropriate one too! Sad Sally walking away from temptation is a pretty good way to sum up my Simple Savings transformation over the past year. I’m not perfect, I still grab a bottle of Diet Coke more often than not when I’m in the shop (though I do make sure it’s the cheaper store brand at least!), but where the big things are concerned, I can’t be swayed. What a turnaround from the woman who used to spend at least $100 a week on bits and pieces in The Warehouse – sometimes double that – on stuff that we just didn’t need. Toys and games for the kids, CD’s, home furnishings, books – you name it. I was never happier than when browsing the aisles and I couldn’t wait for my next trip. I never needed an excuse to go either. If it was a rainy weekend I would bundle the kids into the car and head to the Warehouse – the boys used to love it because they knew they would always come home with something (which nine times out of 10 would be discarded and completely forgotten about the next day). Of course we would invariably end up in McDonalds as well, just to pass the time and extend our outing and of course it was so convenient being right in the middle of the Foodcourt – eating McDonalds twice a week was pretty much the norm for me and the boys.

Jings, to look back now makes me cringe! What was wrong with spending a rainy afternoon at home, making popcorn and watching a video or building a hut in the lounge? Noel used to get so cross when he would come home and find that we had been out for absolutely no reason than to spend more money. Of course I could never see the problem and would just think he was an old grumble-guts, trying to spoil our fun. Mainly it was habit I think, with a bit of guilt thrown in – guilt for not spending enough time with the kids. I always used to think that buying them something was the best way of making it up to them, but I have since learned that they would much rather just have a little of my time instead.

I can’t remember the last time I set foot in The Warehouse, it was so long ago, because these days I don’t buy anything I don’t need. I have also learned how much money I can save on petrol by not making unnecessary journeys, so I wouldn’t dream of driving anywhere that would guzzle the gas without good reason! It took a while to wean the boys of this habit, I can’t say it was easy. On weekends it was all they wanted to do – eek, they sounded like a couple of brats, harping on about wanting to get this toy or that, or go to McDonalds for lunch – but it wasn’t their fault, it was all my doing. I’m glad to say that now they couldn’t be more different; going shopping is pretty much the last thing they would choose to do and the demands for new things have reduced to zero. We have all learned different things to do with our time that cost much less, if anything at all, which are much more fun!

So it is with a clear conscience that I confess I am going to buy my boys a well-deserved treat. The poor things have had the most terrible run of winter ills this term and their attendance at school has been sporadic to say the least. With school reports looming I did actually tell the teachers that I wouldn’t hold it against them if they couldn’t think of anything to write as they had probably forgotten what the Wise children looked like, so to say I wasn’t optimistic was an understatement. But – my boys proved me wrong! Whatever they had learned in the time they were at school must have been of some use, because both reports were full of A’s and B’s and lovely comments. Even more astounding, Liam’s Principal presented me with a certificate from his recent Math’s exam to say that Liam had been awarded a credit for being in the top 30% in the country. Typical Liam, he didn’t even tell me he had done a Math’s exam! So as their Mum, I am very proud and very excited that I have this opportunity to treat my children to something that they will really deserve and appreciate – it feels so much nicer than just wasting money on things for the sake of it!

Today was the last day of term and it was supposed to be McDonalds day at school – it’s a fundraiser where all the kids place their lunch orders for McDonalds and a percentage goes to the school. My kids were due to miss out because they were still signed off sick and they were pretty disappointed. Ali hinted heavily that perhaps I could take them to McDonalds anyway, so they would still get theirs – and once upon a time the old me would have done just that, but the new, savvy me came up with an alternative. I remembered reading a recent hint about a mother who makes her children McMummy’s meals to save on fast food and explained the concept to the boys. They thought it sounded great, so after our doctor’s visit, I bought some burger buns and a small bottle of Fanta and we went home and made home made cheeseburgers and fries with fizzy drink. They were just as excited about Mummy cooking such a special lunch for them as good old Ronald McDonald!

I must just thank everyone who has written such helpful advice about pots and pans in the Discussion Forum since my last blog, I will definitely keep those brands in mind. Luckily I am happy to say that at least one pan has lived to see another day, thanks once again to Barb Kane. She told me to put my pan full of water on the stove with plenty of baking soda and boil – it worked in a matter of minutes! That was the secret, I had tried the baking soda before, but not while boiling it on the stove; that was what did the trick. Thank goodness for Simple Savings members (and Claire, you were right – I won’t be using a glass jug to pour my hot stock in again!)

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