Just as well I’m starting the $21 Challenge today, as I did the bills yesterday – how depressing! I’m relieved to say we finally cleared the vet bills after months of shelling out hundreds, but there was still the first instalment of Ali’s tonsillectomy bill, the electrician, the mechanic and all the ‘usuals’ to cough up. Not to mention an unexpected surprise from the blasted power company who asked us to shell out $150 for the inconvenience of them coming out to fix the power line which had snapped in a storm and draped itself across our driveway. Seeing as that happened back in the middle of June, I had a job remembering what the bill was even for and they did include a lovely apology for the invoice being so late. Ha – as if I had been looking forward to it! I was rather miffed that we had to pay for the line to be fixed at all; I mean it did come down due to natural causes, it’s not like we were out there swinging on it a la Tarzan. But before I could pick up the phone to argue my case, Noel assured me that as far as the power board were concerned, the fault had occurred on our property and so we had to pay for it.
Ali’s puppy ‘Tui the Terror’ has been contributing quite nicely to expenses lately too. She has successfully wrecked several mats with her needle sharp teeth and I’ve lost count of the number of toilet rolls that have been completely annihilated beyond all usefulness. The other day I returned home to find she had grabbed the end of the toilet roll in the upstairs bathroom and made a wonderful winding trail all across the landing and down the entire flight of stairs before it ran out at the bottom. I could just envisage her running through the house in reckless abandon while I had been dropping the boys off at school. At least on this occasion I was able to wind up the paper and re-use it, on every other occasion she has simply grabbed the whole roll off its holder and shredded it into a million pieces. Honestly, keeping an eye on that dog is like having a pre-schooler in the house again!
So with one thing and another it’s definitely a good time to be starting the Challenge today! I have to admit using the little Survival Guide certainly made planning easier this time, although what Noel thought I was up to the last couple of days goodness knows! He watched as I put the Survival Guide together and listened to me chattering on about having to send it out to everyone in time for Monday, but at no stage did he actually twig that WE were also going to be doing the Challenge. It was only when he came back from the shop yesterday (we were out of toilet rolls yet again) and I pointed out my freshly filled in menu plan for the week that he realised. ‘What – you mean we’re doing it too?’ he gaped. ‘Why didn’t you tell me? I would have stocked up at the shop!’ I told him in no uncertain terms that that would have been cheating and besides I went on smugly, there was no need! My menu was all planned out, along with the shopping list for the week so he didn’t need to buy anything else anyway. Perhaps the reason for the worried look on his face was the thought that he was going to end up doing most of the cooking again like last time, but that was only due to circumstances beyond our control and to be honest I was a bit disappointed at the time that things hadn’t gone the way I had so painstakingly planned. Funnily enough, the boys weren’t at all worried when I told them this morning – I was expecting a bit of whinging and ‘what, no lollies?’ but they took it all in their stride.
So all we have to do is get through the week now! My lovely neighbour Maxine generously donated some of her free range eggs, so I can cross one item off my shopping list. It’s not been all bad either, despite the nasty bills I have at least been able to make some savings. I was in the Warehouse last week buying Liam yet another pair of new shoes (he’s growing like a mushroom, must be all the home baking!) when I spotted rugby boots on sale. With the kids’ rugby season just ended, I knew that I was going to have to buy a bigger pair for him next season and prices usually start around $30 at least. So I used my SS savvy and realised that if I could find a pair in a larger size to fit him in eight months’ time, I could save quite a bit. Sure enough, I found the size I wanted and nabbed my bargain! They cost me only $9.00, reduced from $39.95 and they were a more expensive brand than we had ever bought before! Liam loved his new boots and put them away for next year and I was chuffed to bits with the saving. It got me thinking about some of the hints I had seen in the Vault about saving money on sports supplies. Children grow so fast – Liam has been playing rugby for five years and we have had to buy him a new pair of boots every year. It’s a pretty big expense when you consider they only get a few months’ wear out of them for the winter sports season. Hence we already have five pairs of boots lying around at home. Many boots end up hardly worn. Ali of course gets Liam’s old ones handed down as he grows into them, but even he has grown out of a couple of pairs and there’s no one left to hand them down to.
I checked the Vault and found the hint I was looking for, called ‘Second Hand Savings for Sporty Kids’. It was a tip from a Mum of four who had been able to save heaps on rugby boots for her boys because their local club had a ‘boot exchange’ where families had donated their outgrown rugby boots to be recycled. I’m pretty involved with our local rugby club but knew we had nothing like this and thought it was a great idea. If our family had five pairs alone floating round, surely other families would be the same and we could all help each other save? So I approached the rugby club and volunteered to set up a boot exchange, just as the hint suggests, where they can be donated or sold on behalf of the player. This could save up to $200 in boots for Liam alone over the next five years and it would be great to see our boots go towards helping other families. After reading the hint, I was amazed that more clubs didn’t think to offer such a service. I’m really excited about using a Vault hint to benefit our local sports community and can’t wait to see how many boots get dropped off at prizegiving this weekend for recycling!