Stop, Think and LIVE

Posted December 2nd, 2010 by Penny Wise

Well, yesterday I tallied up all our dockets from the Box of Accountability! You may remember I was keeping track of every transaction we made for the months of September and November. I didn't keep track in October because there were all sorts of extra expenses that come with moving house that we wouldn't normally have so it wasn't a realistic month to compare with. Anyway, the results are in! I won't bore you with every single detail but, here is a brief breakdown of the differences I found:

Savings made

Mobile phone - $10

Takeaway food and drink - $204.49!

Sanity Money - $250

Petrol - 180.71

Power - 79.07

Lease land for livestock - 233.00

Household sundries - 200.00

Total savings = 1157.27

Hey, that's not a bad saving in six weeks! Although I was horrified to see $208.69 had gone on takeaway food and drink in September; which included things like bottled water when out shopping and that sort of thing, not KFC and the like. I used to have lunch with Mum once a week at the local caf but most of this would have gone on bottles of drink and bits and pieces when I used to take the boys to and from school. Now I no longer need to leave the house, I no longer spend on those things! I also stopped my weekly Sanity Money payment shortly after we moved here, as I soon realised I didn't need it any more. There's nothing I need or want to spend money on, I've got nobody to go out and spend it with and I'm too stingy and enjoy living here too much to drive miles out of town to buy anything!

I was also surprised though to see how some of our expenses have actually increased; the main one being food. Our total grocery bill for November was $500 more than it had been in September. Wow, it just goes to show how much the chickens and the vegetable garden at the old place was saving us! I also put this increase down to living so much closer to the supermarket, although we try to stay out of it as much as possible now, as we could see it was becoming too much of a habit, ducking in for this and that rather than doing a big shop. We're still not really buying in bulk either and I'm surprised to see how much of a difference this makes to our expenditure. Obviously our mortgage is now bigger too, at an extra $900 per month and I had a chuckle to see that the 'recreation' category had increased from the princely sum of $3.50 in September to $276. Methinks someone has been having a ball stocking up at the fishing store!

All these things I would not have known about (particularly the fishing shop!) had it not been for keeping all those dockets. Talking of which, the number of dockets was reduced from 50 in September to 34 in November, so that's a definite improvement! It's an improvement I intend to keep on making too. We also had several expensive one-offs, such as almost $340 on the boys' new school uniform and stationery and spent $240 on the garden getting things set up there. Although of course Christmas is just around the corner! But I have actually already purchased the majority of my Christmas list and taking stock of our expenses this way will help me to continue keeping a tight rein on the Christmas budget I'm sure!

As far as I'm concerned my little experiment has done a lot of good and I'm going to keep on stashing away my dockets each month. That little Box of Accountability really does make you accountable! When you're faced with the black and white evidence in the form of those wee dockets and you picture yourself in the shop grabbing those impulse buys, it actually makes me feel quite sick.

But there's something else which I think has had an even bigger impact on my spending and that's TIME. Or having more of it, to be precise. When you spend your life rushing around the way I used to, your mind isn't clear and you make crap, hurried decisions. Fiona's mantra 'Stop, Think and Save' is so true. When you have time to think clearly and weigh up the pros and cons, nine times out of ten you end up making the decision NOT to spend money. To make a decent lunch at home instead of buying it. To leave chores like going to the shops until another day. I've become an expert at doing that! We've been here six weeks now and so far I've filled my car up twice; once when I met my mum for a day out for her birthday and the second time when I had to travel for work. Apart from that, nothing and I'm envisaging spending even less this month!

Mind you, actually getting my car out is such a mission in the first place that I have to REALLY want or have to go somewhere. Noel has conveniently parked his boat in such a place that I have to squeeeeze my poor little car down the drive in reverse and it's so tight I've lost count of the times I've scraped the side of the car along the deck as I creep past! I'm sure he's done that on purpose but it's probably a good thing!

The absolute best thing of all that I have found about having more time is that I am finally being the sort of mum I want to be. Way back when my blog started I would talk often about my friend Rochelle and her four kids. I used to admire (and frankly envy) Rochelle and her husband so much for always having so much time to spend with their children - but I no longer have to envy them because I can be the same! I have time to cook them breakfast every morning and scrummy lunches and baking on the weekends. I have time to help with their homework. Time to get involved with their science projects. Most of all, time to listen, REALLY listen to my boys. Noel and I took them and some of their friends to the beach on Sunday and it was absolutely magic. The sand was burning hot on our feet and the water was crystal clear and warm. We all floated along blissfully thinking 'this is brilliant. This is what life is all about'. We just never made the time to do it before. I guess when you stop, think and save, you stop think and LIVE too!

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