Investing in the future

Posted December 6th, 2008 by Penny Wise

Does anyone mind if I cancel Christmas this year? Could I at least postpone it, do you think? There's just too much going on at the moment! The boys are convinced there's going to be no presents for them this year as nobody's had time to go Christmas shopping and won't for quite a while yet. We're supposed to be putting the tree up today and I know they're going to be waiting excitedly for parcels to start magically appearing at the foot of it but sorry, no can do! Not this week anyway. As I write, this time next week Alex will be shivering in Lake Taupo, waiting to begin his 2km swim for our Half Iron Man. I don't mind admitting I'm absolutely flipping terrified, whose idea was this? Ah yes, mine. The local paper even ran a story on our running exploits earlier this week! We felt like a right couple of plonkers but I have to admit it's been really good in terms of encouragement as now people always beep and wave madly or offer words of support when they see us out training. Noel has appointed himself as my own personal trainer and has been really cracking the whip. I don't dare stop running as I never know when he's going to appear alongside me in the car with a water bottle!

Mind you, much as his support has been invaluable, I think he'll be glad to have his wife back. He's been holding the fort through all the training, taking care of dinner and all kinds of other things to enable me to run. And what do I do in return? Forget to pay the bills! Boy, did that land me in the doghouse. There was Noel, delighted at how healthy the bank balance was looking, all the while blissfully unaware that his dorky missus had incurred around $70 interest on the credit card by forgetting to pay it off for the last two months. Not only that, she hadn't actually got around to paying some of last month's bills at all! Unforgiveable I know - I had to fess up and tell you as he told me if I didn't write a blog about it, he would! As for the reason? Pitiful really. I've become so accustomed to paying bills online in a matter of seconds that on the odd occasion I have to actually write out a cheque and post it, it all seems dreadfully lengthy and inconvenient. That day I had several cheques to write so I paid the rest of the bills online first and stuck the rest in the 'to do' tray until I could be bothered dealing with them later. Unfortunately they soon got covered in all sorts of other stuff, I stopped reminding myself they were there and the rest is history. Or should I say, interest. I was too busy focussing on all the other things I wanted to do to take care of the most basic things, such as making sure the phone didn't get cut off. Fabulous attitude, Penny!

Just as well one of us has still been steadfastly waving the Simple Savings flag. Noel has been keeping an eye out for some time now on two very important purchases and finally found them at the right price. Top of the list for some time has been a new water tank. Aside from being a rusting, leaking eyesore it wasn't even sanitary. Hardly reassuring when you're filling up the kettle from the tap and look out the kitchen window to find a cat sticking its head through a large hole in the tank roof, sharing your drinking water. After five years I'm amazed we haven't all got toxoplasmosis! Still, just as important was the fact that since moving there we have shared a water easement agreement with the neighbouring farm. Now the property has sold, there's nothing to say that the new owners will be as generous. We've seen too many of our friends get stung the same way and have to keep forking out for the fire service to deliver water by tanker regularly. We needed to be more independent and the only way to achieve this was to get a larger tank. So Noel doggedly shopped around for months and finally found a great deal on a smart 15,000 litre tank. Not only did he save $1400 on the price we had anticipated, he also managed to secure free delivery! So although it was still a major expense, it was a necessary one and an investment in the future. With summer now here, we can be sure that not a single drop of precious tank water will go to waste - or the cats!

My savvy husband also managed to score a fantastic deal on a new fridge-freezer! Sometimes you have to spend money in order to save more long term and more fridge and freezer space has been a priority for quite some time. Our existing fridge wasn't big enough so we had an old beer fridge to cope with the excess but it leaked and didn't seal properly (understatement!) Because we are growing so much of our own food now, freezer space is essential if we are to make the best of a glut of anything, or when we have a whole cow butchered and delivered, such as been the case this week. So Noel shopped around and shopped around until he spotted a Harvey Norman sale. Well actually the sale had just finished but he rang up and asked if they had any left that they would be willing to sell at that price and they did! So we are now the proud owners of a DOUBLE fridge-freezer (you know, with a whole fridge on one side and a whole freezer on the other) for $700 LESS than the price of a SINGLE fridge-freezer. Well done my love!

The new fridge-freezer has definitely been a good move. Noel has been taking care of most of the grocery shopping lately and has been horrified at the price of things so this has made him even more determined for us to be as self-sufficient as possible. We had our first feed of runner beans yesterday and we never know what's going to pop up in the garden. Even though we've been doing this for several years now, going out to the garden to pick things for dinner never stops being a novelty. Noel happily brings me in a head of broccoli, lettuce or whatever we need in two minutes flat. Sure beats having to drive to Mr Patel's or the supermarket when we need fresh food! In fact the last couple of times we have bought things that weren't homegrown have been a huge disappointment. We used up all the lemons on our tree and had to go and buy some more the other day - what a letdown! Instead of the sunshine coloured lemons so full of juice you could squeeze them with your hand, we had to make do with these pale, rock-hard offerings with barely any juice at all. I'm not sure which was worse, those or the eggs. The chickens were being a bit slack for some reason so we had no choice but to go and buy half a dozen. Instead of our delectable, golden eggs, so perfectly formed and delicious, Noel was horrified at the sloppy, splatty things he cracked into the pan. I would never have believed homegrown eggs could taste so different but there was no comparison. In the end we were all arguing who got the homegrown eggs and who didn't. First in, first served!

Fortunately the chooks have gone into overdrive and we have lovely fresh eggs coming out of our ears again. I was also delighted to see that for the first time ever, our cherry tree has proper fruit growing on it! I can't wait for those to be ready, I love cherries but have always been far too stingy to pay the $19.99 a kilo they usually charge in supermarkets. Now I can scoff them as much as I like for free! As I mentioned, we also had a beef animal delivered this week. We now have precisely 196kg of prime beef in the freezer. You name it; we've got it - sausages, mince, corned silverside, pot roasts, rib roasts, seasoned roasts, topside, schnitzel, steak of all descriptions as well as stewing steak, shin, oxtail - even bags of bones for the dogs! We were almost completely out of meat and Noel had his eye on one of our two-year-old steers but there was no way I was letting anyone put

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