I used to enjoy spending money - but I've discovered that I genuinely enjoy saving it much more! There's no comparison. Honestly, sometimes I find myself doing something the SS way and actually smiling smugly to myself, thinking about how much I'm saving and how I'm cleverly avoiding parting with my money. Noel was feeling pretty smug yesterday too when he served us up a feast for dinner. Freshly caught snapper, an enormous crayfish and abalone (or paua to us Kiwis), accompanied by salad made with lettuce, tomatoes, cucumber and spring onions from the garden, and boiled potatoes, also from the garden. It was the best dinner we've had in ages and it didn't cost us a cent! I also felt pretty smug at the weekend, packing up my picnic for our Waikato Simple Savings group get together at the beautiful and 100% free Hamilton Gardens. The boys came too and it was so nice to see familiar faces again and meet a new one. We took a leisurely stroll around the gardens (well, as leisurely as you can with my two ratbags in tow) and could have spent all day in the Herb Garden, Kitchen Garden and Sustainable Garden. Wow - I thought our vegetable garden was big but these were something else! Row after row of enormous raised beds, planted with everything imaginable from giant pumpkins to peanut bushes. There was a huge worm farm and compost bins and even the 'chicken tractors' were in action, scratching up the ground and preparing it for re-planting. The perfect SS-style outing! I can't wait to go back there (without the kids!) and spend as long as I like there. We decided we must definitely get together on a monthly basis. I'm looking forward to it already and as I drove home I thought for the millionth time what a difference Simple Savings has made to my life. Not just through the money I've saved but the people I have encountered. If it wasn't for Simple Savings, I would never have met the lovely, smart, funny people I get to enjoy picnics and hilarious belly dancing with. With other Simple Savers you can talk about anything - often things that you would never dream of discussing with your other everyday friends. That's because we know talking about money helps people. Clamming up about money helps no one. Funny isn't it, why people are so private about money. Nobody wants other people to think they've got pots of the stuff, but nobody wants anyone to think they haven't got any either! Simple Savers aren't like that and it's so refreshing. More importantly, we achieve so much more because we're not like that.
The Forum absolutely blows me away at the moment. What an incredible support network! I can't believe the energy, the advice, the inspiration, and the strength that is there 24/7. Whether you want to save a few dollars, your marriage or a baby chick called Humpty, someone is there who has been through it and can help. We're not just Simple Savers, we're parents, pet owners, gardeners, farmers - collectively we have knowledge of pretty much everything under the sun and we're happy to share it. I feel like I have so many friends, even though I've never met most of them! Then of course there's the GO Crazy clan - a merry band who have been Forum friends for over a year and recently travelled all the way to Tasmania to get together in person for the first time. Brilliant! And amazing to think that a single website is responsible for all this - I can't think of any other website anywhere that enriches people's lives the way Simple Savings does - and in so many ways too!
My No Spend March isn't going too badly I suppose. The kids both have school camps, one week after the other so that was an unexpected expense but I could hardly tell them they had to stay at home because it was No Spend month. No birthdays this month either, phew! I have found the easiest thing by far to save money on is food. I know countless ways to save on buying food! Which is a little ironic considering the media is so full of doom and gloom about food prices. I walked around The Warehouse with the boys at the weekend. They spent their own money and I walked around for half an hour picking things up and carrying them around until one by one I put them all back. Like the Dirty Dancing DVD which I saw on special for $9.99. Reasons to buy it? 1. It's one of my favourite movies. 2. I'd never seen it that cheap before and probably wouldn't again. 3. In light of poor Patrick Swayze's recent terminal cancer diagnosis I figured I should snap it up at $9.99 before they started re-releasing all his old movies at full price again. Reasons not to buy it? I didn't need it. So I put it back, yay me! By the time I had also put back the Linkin Park CD, the Fisher Price toy for my niece's birthday in April and a pair of shoes which I only wanted out of desperation because the sandals I wore had given me blisters all round Hamilton Gardens for the second time, I saved a grand total of $72. I had to drive home in bare feet because they were still killing me but it was well worth the savings! So what if all the things I had picked up were on special? I didn't need them and when I got home and saw the hint 'Be less impulsive with wish list' I knew I had done the right thing because not one of those things were important enough to put on my wishlist. I remember a friend of mine who for years I thought was brilliant with money because she was always picking up bargains. She knew exactly where to hunt them out and never paid full price for anything. I thought that made her a really smart shopper, but you know what? She ended up sending herself broke because she hardly ever needed any of the stuff she bought. She simply bought things because they were a bargain and she thought it too good to miss. I could never understand why she didn't have any savings in the bank until we went out shopping together a couple of times and I swear to you - she couldn't walk past a shop without nabbing a 'bargain'. We both had the same amount of money to shop with but I spent $8 that day and she blew the lot - and I was supposed to be the Sad Sally! I learned a lot that day and ever since have stuck to the mantra 'it's only a bargain if you were ALWAYS going to buy it'.
This 'wants vs needs' lark really does work. Like yesterday, I spent the day in the garden for the first time in months. The painter's back again and the house is nearly finished. It looks great and as I worked my way around the garden my brain soon became full of ideas. It happens doesn't it, when you have time to think - all of a sudden you spot all these things you think you need, that you never knew you needed before! My so-called needs were all ways that would make the place look nicer. Visions of pots and hanging baskets. Another herb garden or two. A water feature or even a swimming pool! Then I went inside to make some lunch and decided my kitchen needed updating, the lounge needed new curtains and the office needs a lick of paint, even though I only painted it a couple of years ago. Then I started to feel grumpy and sorry for myself that I didn't have time to paint the office and I was probably going to have to wait years before I could afford a new kitchen. Then I woke up. Penny you don't need to buy new pots and hanging baskets, hunt around to make something out of things you already have or check the Vault for some cheap ideas. A water feature would be nice but the dogs would probably treat it as their own personal spa and you'd never get them out of the swimming pool if you had one. Plus they cost a fortune to build and maintain and the family can swim for a dollar a day in summer at the local pool which you don't have to clean or pay to keep clean. The kitchen doesn't need updating, it's fine as it is and is built to last for many years yet. If you just kept it tidier it would look nicer more often! The lounge curtains are hideous but they came with the house and go with the carpet and somehow look really quite good together. So what if your office has cobalt blue and lime green walls with starfish curtains? It used to be the playroom! It's kind of a cute place to work in really. When I really took the time to think about things properly I don't need any of those things at all. Or as a recent Hint of the Week asked - would you take them to Europe? No way!
Tomorrow Ali is going for allergy testing. After having a blocked nose on and off for three years he's really looking forward to it. I took him to the doctor last week who told me he was going to treat him with steroid inhalers for asthma, even though he admitted himself he obviously didn't have asthma, plus another course of antibiotics as the whopping dose he had just finished did nothing to help. I knew straight away I wasn't giving him any of that stuff - especially after he told me Ali was going to have to rinse out his mouth at least twice a day to avoid getting thrush from the inhalers - so I asked him if he would please refer us for allergy testing. He looked at me and said 'I think you might be onto something there!' so off we go tomorrow. Ali's willing to try anything to be able to breathe through his nose again. Will be interested to compare the medical findings with what the Kinesiologist told him last year - she told him he should cut out wheat and for the two weeks he did his nose was absolutely clear. But he found it too hard and went back to his old diet, so it will be interesting to see what this more elaborate testing shows. I have a feeling it will be the same. I hope it's the same, would be brilliant, not to mention cheaper to be able to cook the same food for everyone!