Guilty bargains and warm fuzzies

Posted December 10th, 2006 by Penny Wise

It's been a funny old weekend! On the one hand I seem to be making savings left, right and centre, on the other I can feel myself going into panic mode at the thought of overspending. I keep finding bargains wherever I go which are too good to leave behind, then I berate myself for buying them! It's no good, I'm just going to have to stay at home from now until Christmas as it's proving too dangerous to go out at the moment. Mind you, I'm struggling with the lure of online shopping at home too! It's the boys you see – they're at a wonderful fun age which is so easy to buy for. Thank goodness I have my Memory Trigger stickers – I'm going to put them everywhere! I've got one on my computer monitor to deter me from doing any more shopping on the Internet and another one on the steering wheel of my car to make me think carefully about spending on unnecessary items when I'm out. They really stand out and make me feel very guilty!

I suppose at least one big difference from my Sad Sally days is that at least Noel knows what I've been buying, rather than hiding my purchases from him. On the contrary, I can never resist telling him about my bargains! It was just a shame so many jumped out at me yesterday, when the only purpose of my journey was to take Dudley to the groomers. My bargain hair clippers have been doing an excellent job or keeping him presentable these past few months, but with summer finally here he really needed a thorough shearing to keep him comfortable in the heat. Unfortunately this necessitated dropping him off and meandering around the shops for a few hours and I couldn't resist from stepping into the big red building that always proves a test for my resolve – The Warehouse. There I was, innocently manoeuvring my trolley past the entertainment bargain bins, when a Crocodile Hunter DVD caught my eye – and then another – and then another. Now I had done my homework on these and the best price I had found a few days before was on the Australia Zoo website, where they have the full set of six DVDs on special for $89. That was too expensive for me, especially with the overseas postage thrown in, so that was how I ended up adopting a crocodile instead! Anyway, here I was in the Warehouse and a bit more scrabbling around found a total of four DVDs for $9.99 each. I went and asked the lady behind the counter if they had the remaining two in stock and she said yes, I would just have to keep searching the bins for them. With Mum in tow, we trawled the crates like two women possessed, but to no avail, so I had no choice but to admit defeat and cough up $39.96 for my set of four instead. At a saving of $49 on what I could have bought, I should have been chuffed with my savings, but the thing was, Ali really didn't need any more presents.

With the exception of the DVDs, I emerged from the Warehouse relatively unscathed. I also picked up two pairs of three-quarter length trousers on sale for $14 each. These were somewhat of a necessity as in typically frugal fashion I had recently thrown out the only two pairs of tracksuit pants I possessed (the elastic had worn out so badly they had threatened to fall down too many times in a public place) and I had been too much of a skinflint to buy any more. However, after just blowing $40 on DVDs I did have to concede that covering ones' bottom half with respectable garments was somewhat of an essential. Almost time to pick up Dudley and I just had enough time to duck into the supermarket to pick up only what was exactly on my list. I'm pleased to say I achieved this almost totally – with the exception of another DVD and a computer game also finding its way into my trolley. As a family, we had been on the lookout for the Robin Hood, Prince of Thieves movie for ages. The only place I had been able to find it had it priced for $34.99 and there was no way we were paying that much for an old movie. So imagine my joy when I found it unexpectedly in the supermarket for $19.99! A saving of $15, but after my Warehouse splurge I felt a bit awful buying yet another DVD we didn't need – even though it was something we were always on the lookout for. I also saved a further $15 on a computer game to strike off Ali's list for Santa. Over the years he had borrowed this fishing game many times from the library, until they took it off the shelves and culled it for being 'too old'. Ever since, we had tried many times to find a copy of our own, but had been told it was obsolete. I had managed to find one on eBay for $29.99 but I really didn't want to spend that much when he already had enough. So I was amazed to see the beloved fishing game on the supermarket shelf for just $14.99! After two years or more of searching, there was no way I was going to pass that one up – but all the while I was feeling dreadful at buying yet another thing we didn't need.

I arrived home with some relief and immediately tried to alleviate my guilt by enthusiastically helping Noel in the garden. The section of land we have cleared of ivy has quickly broken down its layer of much and we were delighted to discover rich, healthy soil below. Noel is so excited about expanding his vege garden! We have broccoli and zucchini coming out of our ears at the moment and our first runner beans have appeared. It felt much better to be doing something that didn't cost anything! The boys were enlisted to help demolish the old post and rail fence and we soon found that Liam was a dab hand with a crowbar while Ali shouted instructions from half way up a tree. One reason for the swift demolition of the fence is that one of our neighbours had offered us a stack of brand new timber, posts and railings to use for free. Having just sold her farm and due to move in a few months, she said she no longer needed them and offered them to us and said we would be helping out by helping to clear them up. We couldn't believe it - thousands of dollars worth of timber there for the taking! We thought she was mad, but were very grateful and can't wait to see our new, free fence completed!

Mum came around and asked if I would exchange one of our zucchini for three lettuce seedlings. My first barter – I felt very Linda Cockburn-ish! Mind you, we could barter a heck of a lot more if the animals didn't keep wrecking things. Friday and Bob are on their final warning. It's supposed to be their job to clean up the GRASS in the orchard, not the fruit trees and vegetables. We thought we had fenced everything off adequately enough but the sheep have annihilated all the fruit trees between them – particularly Friday, who was caught red-hoofed with his head stuck in the deer netting after eating Ali's mandarin tree to within an inch above ground level. While I don't want the sheep to end up as Sunday roasts, I really don't want to lose our baby orchard full of trees either! Luckily my heartfelt pleas seemed to work this time and Noel has attached a further protective ring of wire netting around each and every tree in the hope of keeping them out – but he has made it very clear that this is their last chance and I can't say I blame him. Even the next door neighbour's horses have been taken a shine to our vege garden and we're still having to buy eggs too – it's been weeks since the chickens laid a single egg. Maybe they're lacking in food or something; they get fed every day and look healthy enough but if Ella had her way the poor things wouldn't get a scrap to eat. Three times in the last week we have had to fix up the chicken run to make it Ella-proof. Twice she dug under the netting and the third time she was unable to dig underneath so she literally ripped a huge whole in the chicken wire, large enough to allow a tubby Labrador through. It's not even as though it's the chickens she's after, she doesn't give two hoots about them – she just wants their food! The last thing we need is her to teach Tui bad habits, she's got enough of her own. As it is she recently decided my wine barrels full of bog plants on the deck would be better used as her own personal swimming pools and tossed out all the plants I had spent the last three years nurturing. I think the only dog which hasn't cost us anything lately is Hubble, but even he started limping yesterday so I won't hold my breath!

On a more positive note, I must just share a Christmassy 'warm fuzzy' moment! I've mentioned before how for the past two years my Mum has organised a monthly Luncheon Club for the Senior Citizens in the town. Last Friday was their Christmas 'do' and everyone had a ball! We decorated the local church hall to squeeze in around 40 'seniors'. They had each paid $7.50 and Mum, me and six other helpers all contributed home cooked food to give them a slap-up two-course Christmas meal. The helpers all wore Santa hats and the diners all had a wonderful time, pulling crackers and putting on their paper party hats. The hall was filled with noisy chatter and for the first time ever, they all had second helpings! Mum had even organised 'Father Christmas' to come and visit and hand out chocolates to all the guests. It was so heartwarming to see them all hugging and thanking my Mum and as we led them in some enthusiastic carols, I looked around at them all singing their hearts out. Some of them had terminal cancer, some were recovering from strokes, and many of them were fortunate to have made it through to another Christmas, but they had all been brought together and were having a ball, thanks to my Mum. I felt so proud!

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