Sigh... It's two steps forward and three back for me this past week. I'm so cross with myself! The start to the week was brilliant, I was feeling really positive. Since I started my Simple Savings journey and began keeping this blog, I can see the results really starting to show. For years we had been living from payday to payday. How many times had we phoned the bank to grovel 'Now we might just go a little bit over, but only for a few days until our pay clears?' Not any more! Since I began consciously stamping on our spending habits, we have been going in to each new pay period with some left over, and we make a rule that whatever is left in the bank goes straight in to our savings account. As the 15th of the month approached, I was really excited. Even with all my car expenses and shopping for birthdays, we had been so careful this month that we were going to have $1,000 to put into our savings account! Left over! After everything! Boy was I patting myself on the back. For two whole days last week, I didn't even leave the house and spend a cent! I was a bit grumpy with myself that I had taken the boys into town on Friday, and in my 'nice kind Mummy' state of mind I had somehow spent $12 borrowing computer games and videos from the library, bought them not one, but two magazines each from the bookshop and topped it off with a giant milkshake and chocolate donut from the bakery, but on the whole I was feeling pretty good.
I love cutting corners! I proudly informed Noel that he was now married to a 'half woman', which he was a little perturbed about until I explained further. Yes, my Vault knowledge has got me halving all kinds of things. I halve almost everything I use these days; my washing powder, my dishwasher powder, my shampoo and conditioner, you name it, and everything comes out exactly the same as if I had used the full amount, even my hair! I have transformed into a fountain of money saving knowledge, which I was thoroughly enjoying putting into practice.
...Until some friends came to stay at the weekend and I blew my careful saving ethics big time. I loathe and detest cooking. There are about a thousand things I would much rather be doing than cooking, but for some reason when we have visitors I find it necessary to trick them all in to thinking I am some sort of domestic goddess. Our chaotic family home is transformed into an immaculate abode, reeking of an innocuous blend of Domestos and freshly baked lemon cake. My $0.89c bread is magically replaced by inviting crusty loaves from the bakery. My $3.95 gut-rotting wine bought on special becomes $15.95 bottles of Montana Gisborne Chardonnay. The impending arrival of three extra adults somehow drove me to making a dash to the local shop and spending $78 on all kinds of things such as Diet Coke to replace my Basics brand and dried cranberries needed for my complicated dessert. I'm sure they would have been perfectly happy with tinned peaches and ice cream for dessert, but I had already concocted two impressive and rather expensive puddings from my recipe archives. Needless to say, we all had a wonderful evening and my guests were delighted with their feast.
The following morning, still rebuking myself for the $78 surrendered the day before, I made another brilliant financial decision (not!). Blatantly ignoring the dozen free-range eggs I had bought yesterday sitting in the pantry, I jumped up and announced 'let's all go to the caf for Sunday breakfast!' We all traipsed into town, grabbing my mother on the way and enjoyed another impressive meal of huge proportions. Noel had already commented on my extravagance and steadfastly remained at home eating last night's leftovers for free, but I couldn't lose face now, could I? Absolutely not - I insisted on paying for everyone's breakfast - even though they were dead set on paying for their own, and gallantly parted with another $78. Upon leaving, I headed off to the bakery for another loaf of crusty bread and sliced leg ham for lunch - which incidentally nobody ended up eating because we were all too full. The result? A lovely weekend of excellent food, wine and company, which resulted in my carefully nurtured $1000 savings being whittled down to $835. The ironic thing is, throughout the weekend I was enthusiastically sharing my money saving tips with my guests. They were so impressed with my homemade dog food I had to pass on the recipe for their Mum, and they were even more amazed when I poured vinegar in the rinse aid compartment of the dishwasher! A hard lesson learned, but one day I will get the balance right.