Q: What do you call a deer with no eyes?
A: No idea! (No eye-deer - gettit?)
Sigh, pardon the daft joke but that's how I feel at the moment. There I was, happily whizzing along in super-frugal mode. I saved a bundle on last week's grocery bill with the almost-$21 Challenge and I felt we were doing really well, living off the smell of an oily rag. Then the painter asked me to pay an instalment upfront, which was no problem as he's almost finished and it looks terrific. 'I'll just check the bank balance before I write the cheque but it should be fine', I joked. However, the smile soon disappeared from my face when I checked the bank balance. Where had all the money gone? By the time the painter's cheque came out, there would be hardly anything left - and it was still almost a week until pay day! Noel was none too impressed either and started pointing the finger at me as usual. Immediately I started berating myself - I guess I hadn't been doing so well after all - but as I looked through all the transactions for the last month I realised no! I HAD been doing a good job. I could account for every cheque - nothing was unjustified. Well at least that made me feel a little better but I still was determined to show Noel exactly what our money had gone on. I was pleased to see that nothing had been spent on work lunches - we've both been so dedicated about packing lunchboxes and I even bought a cute little 'tiffin' container the other day so Noel can enjoy hot leftovers and soups now the colder months are coming. However I could see a LOT of supermarket transactions, and hardly any of them were mine.
As I'm sure I've mentioned many a time, I have an automatic payment of $200 which goes into my household account every week. I usually manage to get well within budget - maybe once every few months I'll have a big shop which might come to $400 when I really need to stock up but the rest of the time I get by with just menu planning and picking up what bits and pieces I need. So how on earth was there a total of 23 supermarket transactions on that statement in five weeks?!! It soon became apparent Naughty Noel had struck again, ducking in for cigarettes, beer, chewing gum (another one of his expensive habits) or whatever. I'm not even going to TELL you the total amount of money it all added up to as I'm too embarrassed but I couldn't wait to show him. As it happened, by the time he came home from work he had already been mulling it over and drawn his own conclusion. 'I'm crap, aren't I?' he admitted woefully. Too right matey. I was bloody furious to be honest. I mean, what is the point of me trying to manage a separate household account if I'm the only one prepared to use it? There's me, thinking I'm doing so well and staying well within budget, when all the while Muggins is trotting off and spending up large on our main account! Even the boys weren't prepared to take the blame, as they too have been really good, only using their own money to buy their lollies, drinks and magazines. Grrr...
If there's one thing I've learned from 16 years with Noel though - there's no point being cranky with him, or he'll go and deliberately do the opposite of what you want! Nope, all I can do is lead by example and hope that eventually he'll start making an effort to live a healthier, cheaper lifestyle. His smoking never really bothered me all that much before - it was up to him whether he wanted to fill his body with crap - but now it really does. I hate hearing him cough all the time. I hate the smell of it but more than anything I worry that if he keeps going the way he is, he will be cutting his own life short and where does that leave me and the boys? We love him and want him around forever! He told us he was giving up smoking on Sunday. He lasted ten minutes before he went into town to buy cigarettes. When he got back Ali was sobbing his heart out because he didn't want his dad to get cancer. Even that didn't stop him; he promised that Monday would be the day. It wasn't. Today's now the day apparently. I'll believe it when I see it. I probably sound like a real tyrant, but the thing is, HE'S the one who always says he wants to give up. Before it was always a bit of a standing joke but not any more. He needs to give up for the sake of his family, his health and our bank balance. Enough is enough!
Never mind, I'll just keep up with the effort myself, because apart from all those supermarket transactions I was really happy with the way the bank statement looked. No non-essentials or splurges, yay me! Although I confess to feeling a little down for a couple of days. In the end I gave in and treated myself to a day of retail therapy - what the heck! I deserved it as far as I was concerned. But you know what? I just can't shop any more! I had set aside the whole day for shopping but was home two hours later (and travelling there and back took up an hour of that!) I couldn't bring myself to buy anything I didn't need. I ended up buying two winter jumpers at 20% off and a new wallet. Yes, would you believe it, I did not own a wallet or purse until a week ago! I figured I needed one now I'm a cash carrier. It's bright red and I love it! So such was my splurge. I have to admit, it didn't make me feel any better though!
I'm keeping up my Vault Challenge, although I didn't get around to trying ALL the ones I wanted to from last week. We did make our Save-O-Meter chart for our trip to Australia though (I hope we still manage to get there now!) I also decided to get back into another couple of great SS ways that I had lost. One of which was the Pride Challenge. I figured that just because I couldn't afford to buy all the lovely new clothes I would like for winter, I could at least feel a little more dressed up with the help of some cheap beads. I see brightly coloured ones wherever I go at the moment and have picked a couple up for as little as $7. They really cheer up an outfit - and me! The only thing is, I always forget to wear them, so I decided to take advantage of a wet weekend to try out a Vault tip called 'Pretty board to store jewellery'. I pinched an old pin board Liam no longer uses and I love the results. Now I'll never forget to wear my beads. The only problem is they all look so lovely now I never know which ones to choose!
I also signed up for Flylady again this morning. I joined up a long while ago but all the emails put me off, I just couldn't keep up. However, I have decided it's definitely what I need. I'm sick of getting up to a sink full of dirty dishes every morning so I've started shining my sink again and in only two days I have been so much more organised. We're actually ready for school 10 minutes earlier! I even found a great new hint which will help me shine my sink, 'Body scrub glove keeps kitchen shining'. I had never thought of that before! I bought a cheap pair months ago and use one for cleaning the shower so I have a spare. Unfortunately I can't remember what else I'm supposed to do apart from shining my sink so I've signed up for the email reminders again...
At least through the doom and gloom of the last week I've still managed to make some savings. The painter has just about finished our house, he's down to the last wall. It's now up to me to clear up his trail of destruction and rescue what used to be my flower beds. Fortunately I managed to save almost all the plants but the garden needed re-barking, which wasn't going to be cheap. At $7 a bag it was going to cost $150 for the amount I needed - not exactly in the budget at the moment! Luckily Noel remembered our local garden centre sells five metre loads in bulk. It gave me exactly the same amount but for half the price. Shovelling it all out of the trailer almost killed me but it was definitely worth it and now the house - and the gardens - look great!
I also managed to save $40 on a school winter jumper for Liam. They normally cost $75 each and with the onset of autumn the poor kid was freezing. Unfortunately the school had no jumpers available for purchase in his size - even though they had ordered them from the supplier back in October! I was starting to despair so I posted a free 'Wanted' sign on the notice board in town and another in Ali's school newsletter. Bingo! Liam is now toasty warm for a much more reasonable $35! A valuable saving indeed, especially now petrol has gone up to $2 a litre. Ay-ay-ay!