Apologies for not wishing you all a Merry Christmas! I hope you had a wonderful day. Ours was full of mixed emotions - obviously that was to be expected, being our first Christmas as a separated family but funnily enough that part wasn't too bad; maybe because Noel and I strive to keep things as amicable as possible. The hard part was that we ended up being more separated than we had anticipated, due to Liam moving out to live with his father on December 23rd. It was sudden, unexpected, traumatic - and could potentially blow Ali and my little world apart. Ah yes, nothing like a Christmas cliffhanger to end the year with is there!
Obviously this is about Liam so I'm not going to share too much for his sake but what I have stupidly neglected to realise all these months is just how hugely protective my boys are of me. They're so grown up and becoming more independent by the day - I never realised how much they worry about their little old mum but they do and Liam, bless his heart, after carrying months of stress, sadness and emotional upheaval on his 6'3 high shoulders, just couldn't cope with worrying about me any more. Putting some space between us is what he needs right now and that's fine but there is an awful lot hanging in the balance as we wait to see what eventuates over the next few weeks. At this stage, it looks as though he wants to return and will do so in a couple of weeks. If he does, that's brilliant! But if he decides to stay with his dad permanently, well that changes everything. With Noel and I having one child each and equal parenting and expenses, I will no longer receive child support from him. In addition, the benefit I currently receive from Inland Revenue will be cut in half. I will effectively lose a quarter of my income, which coincidentally is the exact same amount as my mortgage and with at least two or three months' worth of outstanding bills to clear before I even get on track with my usual monthly expenses, the fact is that I will no longer be able to afford to pay for my house. There will be no choice but for me to put it on the market, hope it sells quickly and find a tiny pet-friendly rental property for Ali and me. The budget will only stretch to two bedrooms which means Liam will no longer have a room of his own if he does want to come and stay overnight or even come back permanently. While Liam knows all this, I've made it clear that he must not let the consequences cloud his judgement and what he really wants. If he returns to live with us it has to be for the right reasons and because he wants to, otherwise it just won't work. All in all it's a horrible situation and one I really didn't envisage starting the New Year with!
Hopefully the situation will be resolved before too long and I'm trying to remain positive but it's kind of hard when you can't plan anything! For example I've grown very attached to my vegie garden. It's enormous, so I've kind of had to get accustomed to spending hours out there if I'm going to keep it in any kind of order but I've come to love it. It's relaxing, it's therapeutic and so rewarding! I'm so proud of my forest of tomatoes, all carefully staked, my jungle of beans curling and winding up their brightly coloured bed frames and my wonky rows of freshly sprouted carrots. I don't even know what I'm doing but everything just seems to grow and flourish and I want to keep nurturing it and adding to it. There's nothing I like better than trotting off to Bunnings for more seedlings (even better now, I get a discount as Liam is working there full time all summer!) My ultimate aim is to return to the lifestyle we enjoyed when we lived on our acreage in Te Kauwhata, before we moved to Whangamata. My garden is already full of fruit trees - at the moment we have plums, apples, lemons and red currants but there's something all year round and I never know what I'm going to find. Just the other day a neighbour pointed out I have two avocado trees, a row of feijoa trees and a whole bunch of olive trees; I didn't even know! The same neighbour suggested I could transform the old children's sandpit into a potato patch, maybe even grow them in straw for something a bit different and I'm keen to give that a go. I'd love to get a worm farm again (my old one blew away in a storm and broke!) and the boys and I have talked about getting chickens again like the old days. There's nothing like free, fresh eggs and there are plenty of large areas in the garden I would love some feathered friends to scratch up and de-bug! So much I want to do - but I'm trying not to get too excited as it could all be lost before I know it.
Still, there is always ALWAYS something to be excited about and no matter what happens I'm determined to make 2014 a great year for Ali and me and Liam if he is with us. I'm so looking forward to starting the new Wealthy Habits calendar challenges! I'll be doing them along with everyone else on the Forum (heaven knows I need something to keep me on track or I'd forget my head!) and I'm really hopeful that I can make some serious financial headway in 2014. I love the new hint 'Weathy Habits folder helps me save money every day!' and I'm going to make my own folder up for sure, as well as fill in my Savings Diary every day. If you haven't seen this, it's free for everyone on the SS site, all you have to do is fill in what you spend every day and it makes you accountable for every cent you spend and every one you waste. It's brilliant (the team will even email you a nightly reminder to fill it in if you like!). Don't be put off that you can access it through the site, nobody else can see anything but you, it's simply a spending diary, no bank details required but it is a fabulous free tool so if you haven't checked it out before now do give it a go. I have to be realistic, I very much doubt that we'll be rolling in money this time next year, I owe too much to too many people! But if I can manage some decent (and I mean DECENT) debt reduction I will be very happy. For the millionth time I find myself thanking my lucky stars for Simple Savings and all the inspirational people on it. There are a couple of members in particular who have really inspired me and lifted my spirits lately at a time I have really needed it - they are RoseRed and OneStepCloser. Both these wonderful women have faced enormous challenges, overcome huge obstacles and demonstrated what amazing things can be achieved in a short time. They have really given me hope and the desire to see how much I can also achieve both personally and financially in 2014. You can read RoseRed's heartwarming story here and catch up with how the last 12 months has treated OneStepCloser here. A huge cyber hug to both you ladies and all the best for another wonderful year ahead!