Successes and failures

Posted August 6th, 2007 by Penny Wise

It seems we have a junior Simple Saver in our midst! The boys' school has recently introduced fee-free school banking through the National Bank and all the kids in Liam's class were required to take a mini banking exam to see who was the most suitable to act as school banker. Liam was the only one in his class to get 100%, earning him the right to record and look after all the other kids' deposits every Tuesday. This Thursday he has been invited to the local branch to get shown all the workings of a real bank and have morning tea with the 'real' bankers. A proud moment for this SS mum and I can't refrain from dropping it into conversation with the other school mums - 'My son's the school banker you know!' It makes me chuckle as it reminds me of a rather well-to-do woman who was the mother of an old school friend in England. I bumped into her a few years later and asked what her daughter was up to these days. 'Ah yes, well she's working in the music industry you know', I was told loftily. Turned out she was working behind the counter of Our Price record store! Anyway, whether he remains in the 'financial industry' or not, hopefully both my children will grow up to be sensible with their money much earlier in life than I did. It shouldn't be too hard, considering Simple Savings is such a big part of our lives. Mr Patel has said for years that Ali will be a bank manager one day, as he is so good at spending other people's money and not his own. This weekend is Liam's birthday and he is hoping to raise enough birthday money to buy his own calf. It might sound a strange choice but he knows that if he spends $80 - $100 on a beef calf, in two months' time it will have trebled in value for very little effort on his part. Smart kid and a definite bonus of living in the country!

As a Simple Saver, I'm always striving to do better (don't we all!) and sometimes I forget just how well I am really doing. Take the power bill for example. I was talking to some other mums at the school gates last week and they were talking about how high their power bills consistently were - often around $400 a month and on occasion it had hit $500. I couldn't believe my ears and was hoping they weren't going to ask my how much my power bill was because I would have been really embarrassed. Unfortunately they did ask and I had to admit that it hadn't reached over $140 all year. In fact, when I went home and checked all the power statements (which are paid by direct debit) I saw that we had actually been in credit for the past two months, due to the power company over-estimating our usage! I asked the other mums the usual questions - did they use a tumble dryer, were they running an old fridge or freezer but they swore this wasn't the case. This month's power bill is due tomorrow and is a grand total of $49.41! I always thought I ran my fair share of appliances but obviously not such expensive ones as they do, and/or not so often. We also have a wetback, which I imagine makes a significant difference to our hot water bill but even so, we only use cold water where possible. For those not familiar with the term, a wetback is a pipe system set up at the back of your log fire that allows water to be heated when the fire is going. This is then transferred via the piping to your hot water cylinder. Wonderful invention but even so, I'm amazed that it would make such a significant difference to our power bill compared with the others I spoke to. Whatever the reasons, we must be doing something right!

Before I come across as sounding too smug however, I must just add that I haven't been doing EVERYTHING right over the past week. The first two weeks I started keeping my dockets from Mr Patel's, I was pleasantly surprised but I have to admit looking at the dockets from the last seven days, I made some crap decisions. I am so embarrassed to admit this - do you know how much I spent on non-essential items? $51.24! I ended up with everything in my basket from a mini microwave pizza to a packet of Toffee Pops. $13.24 was on unnecessary drinks and over $17 was spent on magazines. I couldn't resist picking up the latest copy of Super Food Ideas because the front page caught my eye about stretching meals twice as far but come on Penny, you don't need a magazine for that when you've got the Vault and the Forum! It's the first copy of Super Food Ideas I have bought this year and already it's been put on the shelf with all the others I have ever bought, doubtless never to see the light of day again. On the plus side, there is at least a yummy sounding recipe for Lentil and Vegetable Soup which will use up a sad parsnip in the fridge so at least it has been of some use.

However, I am really cross with myself for wasting more than $50 so needlessly - all those little bits certainly add up! So in order to redeem myself I am going to do a $21 Challenge next week. I would have done one this week but have already made a menu plan and bought everything I need, so next week will be all systems go. I am hoping a Challenge week will also be good for the waistline because if I keep going the way I am at the moment, I'm going to be the size of a house. I received my copy of the new cookbook I won last week - it's called Jo Seagar Cooks and it's absolutely divine. Straight away I felt an uncontrollable urge to whip up her Banana Butterscotch Pudding and polished most of it off myself. Then yesterday I got Sophie's new 'Enjoy' book out and spent most of the afternoon in the kitchen making chocolate and berry Brioche and Mars Bar Slice. The Brioche recipe is actually called Breakfast Brioche but on sampling the results I have been having it not only for breakfast, but for morning tea, lunch, afternoon tea and supper. I can't believe I made something so wonderfully tasting all by myself! Talking of Sophie too, her website has had a revamp and it's looking great! It has all sorts of new freebies on it, so even if you haven't been able to get your hands on Sophie's books, you will now have plenty to go on. No doubt I will be using a lot of these recipes to get through next week's Challenge!

PS - Thank you to everyone for all your carpet saving tips after my SOS in the Forum! I am pleased to say with your help it looks as though I have managed to save my carpet - *huge sigh of relief!*

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