Full steam ahead

Posted April 23rd, 2008 by Penny Wise

Eek, sorry it's been so long! School holidays are here and the last week has been a blur of sports activities and other people's kids. Not that I'm complaining, it's great for the kids but I'll be so happy to stay in one place for just a day or two - I'm exhausted and I'm only the taxi driver! Have had to fill up my car twice this week already and it's only Wednesday - rather painful with the current fuel prices. It's been worth it though and apart from the petrol our school holidays have hardly cost a cent so far. I booked the boys into a three-day cricket workshop with former Black Cap Grant Bradburn. I did briefly question my sanity at having to drive an hour each way into the city when we could have chosen something much closer to home but it has been well worth it. The boys had a fabulous time, learned heaps (so did I!) and made lots of new friends. We'll definitely do it again!

It seems after my ranting and raving last week that our luck has changed dramatically! First, not one but BOTH the boys won a radio competition for a two-hour personal coaching session with the Chiefs rugby team. I don't know who was more excited, the kids or me! We all had a wonderful time, the boys learned heaps from their heroes and even received a free Chiefs reuseable bag full of goodies. That was awesome in itself but you would not BELIEVE the email we came home to! I have absolutely no idea how it happened but we received an email out of the blue from a television company asking if Noel and I would be interested in taking part in a TV show about home makeovers, where we would get two rooms of our choice made over for free! Who knows, maybe someone read my blog and felt sorry for us living in such a shambles but I'm absolutely stoked regardless. I've got no idea if it will definitely go ahead or when but it's fantastic to be asked anyway. Although I'm not sure how the show's interior designers would feel about me trying to come up with a cheaper alternative to all their ideas! Will keep you posted.

To top it all off, Noel is currently on his EIGHTH smoke-free day! And you know what - I don't think he's cheated even once this time. Thank you to everyone who posted on his support thread in the Forum, it's really worked a treat. I have noticed already that he no longer coughs - and no longer stinks either, hooray! Best of all however has been the huge reduction in his spending. He is now down to just one beer a night and had great delight in proudly informing me that over a five-day period he spent a grand total of $2.40. 'Beat that! Now who's the best Simple Saver around here!' he gloated. Good on him though - he hasn't even been that hideously grumpy yet. Well, perhaps a bit...

So we make a great team. A cash-carrying frugal warrior married to Mr Squeaky Clean. He even went clothes shopping the other day with a colleague. It was a bit spontaneous but kind of necessary as they got stuck half way down the country and ended up having to stay overnight but neither of them had any spare clothes. So they decided to see who could get the best outfit for the best price. Noel ended up getting socks, undies, a singlet, shorts, jersey and a pair of sneakers for under $80, beating his buddy fair and square who spent more and bought less. I wish the boys and I had been able to go shopping in the same store - the same day we had to buy two new pairs of school shoes, which ended up costing more than Noel's entire wardrobe!

Mind you, even I had to draw the line the other day when I was at Mr Patel's. I picked up a 500g block of cheese and found it was $14 - and that was just for Pam's cheapo brand! Talk about ridiculous; I would much rather go without. Ali on the other hand was feeling far more generous. A woman came to his school a few days ago who rescues injured birds at her home for the SPCA. The kids were asked to bring a coin donation to school to support her work but Ali my little wildlife fanatic went to his money tin and pulled out the $20 he had been saving since Christmas. He was adamant that this was how he wanted to spend his money, saying it would be put to much better use than on toys for himself. His dad thought he was mad but I was super proud of him. He still dreams of being the next Steve Irwin and if he keeps saving hard his dream will go some way to coming true in July. Our trip to Queensland coincides with Australia Zoo's 'Zookeeper for a Day' program - he's over the moon! What a saving incentive, although he has to save an extra $20 now!

Apart from that there's not much news. The last week or two has been too hectic to even get my brain in gear, there's probably heaps of things I've forgotten to write about but had to put 'pen to paper' while I had the time. Tomorrow is going to be daunting but very exciting. I've been asked to go and talk to Work and Income NZ (WINZ) about Simple Savings and how SS can help their clients learn to manage their homes and food bills for less. It's a huge honour but I have to talk for two hours - eek! I don't know why I'm panicking really, I mean I'm never usually short of words when it comes to Simple Savings! I'm really looking forward to showing them the tipsheets, the Bumper Book of Cleaning Clues, the Menu Planner and $21 Survival Guide, the newsletters... that should keep them going for a while for starters!

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