Fabulous freebies

Posted December 5th, 2007 by Penny Wise

What a great week it's been so far! Last Saturday marked the very first meeting of the Waikato Simple Savings group. Our merry band may have been small, with everyone's social calendar's filling up until Christmas but we still had a great time. It was so funny trying to spot each other for the first time, I felt as though I was waiting for a blind date as I sat on a lonely bench waving my SS shopping bag and sporting a huge name tag. Mum attempted to drag an unsuspecting stranger into our group before spotting the real Glennis, waving a huge box of chocolates as promised! It didn't take long for Bobbie to join us and soon we were sitting down to enjoy a very unexpected freebie - a belly dancing display! I had never been to Hamilton Gardens before but we all agreed it was a great place to hold our future get-togethers. There was so much going on! It took us a good couple of hours to get around and I couldn't believe it was all free - I've been charged a fortune before to walk around a plot the size of a postage stamp! Obviously a lot of other people feel the same as we counted no less than seven different weddings going on while we were there! It was lovely to meet everyone, we had such a giggle and Bobbie's children were total angels - although I don't think two-year-old Ben will be in any hurry to go back and visit the mysterious hooded didgeridoo player! We're hoping to plan our next get-together after all the New Year madness - I'm looking forward to it already!

Sunday was another exciting day for Ali and me. Remember how I said I would love to go and see 'We Will Rock You' for the third time but had to concede that the budget wouldn't allow? Well... I did end up going again! It was the last day of the show (so I can't go any more - really!) and Ali and I wanted to go so badly that my lovely mum paid for our tickets as an early present for my birthday next week. Hooray! Noel thought I was mad but we loved it just as much as before, and this time it was even better because we got to meet the cast. They couldn't understand why I looked so familiar until I confessed I was visiting for the third weekend in a row. The highlight of the day was meeting the star of the show Mig Ayesa. What a lovely, sweet and humble man! I still haven't recovered and he made such a fuss of Ali. Even as we left he shouted out above the crowd 'Bye Ali! Thanks for coming!' I was too shy to have a photo with him but I got a couple of lovely ones of him and Ali, which I have posted on my Facebook page, along with the belly dancers!

December 1st also marked the day I was finally able to access the Christmas money I have been putting away all year. I had time for a little Christmas shopping before our SS meeting so with cash in hand I hit the shops. Whitcoulls (the book store) had a big sale on so I soon filled up my basket but in the end, I had been having a lovely browse in the shop for so long that I had had time to think about my purchases and by the time I reached the checkout I had put a heap of stuff back, saving myself $135! It's not the first time I've done that lately. I've put a couple of things on lay-by for Christmas for a month or so but by the time they are due to be picked up, I can't really justify the purchase so just let it go! I haven't worked out how much I have saved for my paint fund in the last week but I know I spent next to nothing on food as we have been living for days on free venison courtesy of Noel and his hunter-gatherer mates. Of course I don't touch the stuff but it has certainly come in handy, although if anyone has any venison recipes pleeease send them to me as I am running out of things to do with it. It's supposed to be very good for you too, lower in cholesterol but it would take a lot more than that to get me to eat deer thank you very much. Still it was free and has kept the rest of the family well fed.

Even though I'm scared to look at the bank balance at the moment, I'm actually feeling quite rich! Just not in cash - I've managed to score heaps of free vouchers lately. I currently have $30 in petrol vouchers, $30 in supermarket vouchers (as a thank you from Noel's work), $100 in vouchers for Mr Patel's Four Square and $40 in reward vouchers and coupons from Whitcoulls. That little lot should help with Christmas no end! I really have to get my bum in gear about Christmas; especially as The Sunday Star-Times newspaper is interviewing us next week on how Simple Savings families enjoy a cracker Christmas on a budget. Ha - well it's not like we have a choice at the moment, is it! Still, I had better start making the place look a bit festive; if there's one thing I really want to get across in this interview it's the fact that being frugal does NOT mean having to go without. I'm quite curious as to what the response will be from people I know when they read it - no doubt a few of them will think my kids get nothing but an orange and a piece of coal in their Christmas stockings! Liam has written another Christmas list - well, two actually, one for me and one for Santa. Now he knows who does all the buying on Santa's behalf the poor chap is full of remorse for his lengthy and extravagant wishlist, so has presented me with some new ones. Santa's list has a total of 10 requests, most of which cost a maximum of $6 and two of those are present requests for the dogs. Mum and Dad's list now reads just two words - "SURPRISE ME". How cute! If only his younger brother had such a conscience!

Still, all the scrimping and saving will be worth it. For starters, we now have paint on our house! OK, so only on half the house and it's only undercoated so far but it looks so much better already. We might not see our painter very often but I have to admit, on the rare occasions he's here he does work like a Trojan. Also, thanks to the extra weekly payments I've been making on my car, this will now be paid off in the New Year, meaning an extra $480 in the bank each month AND an extra $1000 saved in interest! I haven't even noticed the extra $70 a week going out either; aren't forced savings wonderful - out of sight, out of mind!

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