Boy, have we got some saving to do! The last few days our family has spent some time evaluating our long and short term goals. As mentioned, our home with its two acres of land is a 'work in progress'. Over the past three years, Noel and I have periodically done a 'goal setting walk', which basically entails the two of us walking around every inch of the property and making a list as we go of improvements we want to make. It's a great way to keep on track – if we are ever stuck for something to do on a weekend at home, we consult our list to see which one we can tackle next and it's really rewarding every time we cross off another 'mission accomplished'. We still have a long way to go though – we managed to fill up an A4 sheet yesterday with jobs and ran out of room! Some of them are nothing major, such as weed spraying or branch trimming, but as the years have passed we have crossed off most of the easy ones and the majority of the ones left are pretty major. Such as:
1. Building a new garage. We ceremoniously burned the other one down in a Guy Fawkes' party two years ago. It was a complete eyesore and so overhung with ivy that we couldn't even fit a car in. Attempts at pulling the ivy off revealed that the structure underneath would no longer be able to support itself without the ivy holding it together anyway! While having a garage is not absolutely vital, we do have some issues with storage so have been trying to work out the cheapest way to come up with a solution.
How we can make it cheaper: One of Noel's colleagues used to build garages for a living and he has offered to help build the garage for free if we can source the plans and materials. Certainly a cheaper option than the many kit-sets we have looked at, but it will be a while away yet I think!
2. New water tank. We have been talking about getting one ever since we moved here. The current corrugated iron one is rusty, has holes in and is not good for drinking, so getting a new tank would save us having to buy bottled drinking water, which over a year would amount to almost half the cost of the tank anyway.
How we can make it cheaper: Noel gets 20% staff discount on rural supplies such as these.
3. Build new deck. Well, replace half of it anyway. Kind of important as we have come close to falling through it a couple of times lately!
How we can make it cheaper: We can build it ourselves and we have some Mitre 10 gift vouchers left over from Christmas, so will keep an eye out for their big sales.
The others on the list are large jobs but not costly ones, and things like chopping down hazardous trees will save us around $400 on firewood for next winter. It will also save us a hefty fine from the power company or council should any of the aforementioned trees do any damage to the power lines they are wending their way towards in the near future! If anyone has any tips for eradicating invasive ivy (and I mean banks of the stuff) I would love to hear those too! The three jobs listed above are all costly though – and that's only on the outside, I wouldn't mind replacing the hideous lounge carpet inside either! So we've got plenty of things to save for. As the saying goes, Rome wasn't built in a day and it's good to have goals. Simple Savings has taught us lifelong skills in how to save, so we know it's possible. The thing is though, do we deserve these ones? After reading the latest newsletter it's something we are really questioning and we're going round and round in circles trying to answer it. If we managed to save the money we need to complete those three jobs, that would be fantastic, but should we be waiting on them and using those savings to pay off my car instead? The Happy Hanna in us says that we should concentrate on paying debts off first but the Sad Sally part is reasoning that the improvements we would make would put a lot more value on the house than they would actually cost us and that the deck and water tank cannot really stay the way they are. Plus our cars would last much longer stored in a garage than being left out in the elements. So which one is right?
It's even got me questioning our Money Tin Challenge goals! The kids want to save madly for a holiday to Queensland next year so Liam can visit the theme parks and Ali can make his long-awaited pilgrimage to Australia Zoo. They're so excited but already I have a niggle at the back of my mind – is it a sensible idea to splurge on a holiday when we still have debts to pay? I don't want to deprive them of their goal when they are so enthusiastic! Liam is doing a roaring trade with his online auctions – one of his old Playstation games sold last week for $94 and we had only paid $45 on the same website for it in the first place two years before! I'm telling myself that our debts are not our children's debts and if they are willing to contribute to their own holiday by making their own money, then they should be allowed to, does that sound feasible? I'm also telling myself that we can't put a price on quality time with our family either, which with Noel's job is few and far between. So rare in fact that the whole family sat down and made another list of 'family goals' yesterday – things that we can all do together whenever we have the time. I was expecting the list to be full of expensive suggestions from the kids but was pleasantly surprised to find that most of their ideas were free, like camping in the garden, trout fishing, practising goal kicking at the rugby fields, collecting mussels off the rocks and other outdoor activities. It just goes to show, it's not expensive toys, games and outings that the boys want; it's Noel and me.
I'm so enjoying not having that stupid store account any more! I'm managing easily on my weekly household allowance, even after two weeks of school holidays and have even managed to put some leftovers into another savings account. My Christmas savings account is mounting up too, with an automatic payment of $10 going in each week. It's really nice to know that money is there and that when Christmas comes we won't have to try and find the money to buy presents. This Christmas I'm determined to be more frugal than ever! There are so many wonderful ideas in the Vault. I'm not very creative in the home made gifts department (well, it's not that I'm not creative, it's just they usually turn out badly!) but I'm going to be brave and give some new things a go. I'm also going to think more about how I can incorporate Simple Savings in the gifts I give too. For example, one of my friends has moved away and doesn't have a computer, but for the past year I have been printing off the monthly newsletters and mailing them to her. She still gets to learn heaps of valuable savings tips (and it even includes a blog update to keep her posted on what the Wise clan are doing – saves me writing a letter!) I'll definitely be sending her a Simple Savings calendar when it comes out too – in fact, I think I'll be sending out quite a few!
One more goal to share before I go – I'm getting in shape (again!) I know- it's been an ongoing battle. Do you remember the treadmill I borrowed from a friend several months ago? Eek, have just checked and it was back in April! I managed to get on it a grand total of TWICE in six months – how shameful! 'Aren't you glad you didn't buy one?' laughed Karen when I dropped it back off. I decided that there are just too many distractions at home and I need to get out to exercise the way I used to. I have tried to lose weight and get fit heaps of times this year but have realised I need an extra incentive so have entered a woman's triathlon which is on January 13th. Today is my first day of training! I'm off for my first run since I fractured my leg last November – it's not going to be pretty but I have something to aim for now and I don't want to waste my entry fee on a no-show!