The Credit Controller from Hell

Posted July 27th, 2009 by Penny Wise

Good grief! Do you ever find that the harder you try to save money, the more it slips through your fingers? The last two or three days I've been convinced someone 'up there' hates me. Take Friday for instance. Being the clumsy oaf I am I managed to break my toe by whacking it on the corner of the kitchen cupboard, so had to go and get that seen to. Several hours later I was all strapped up and driving merrily home at 100km along busy State Highway 1 when my speedometer died and all the dashboard lights went out. I just about had heart failure but by some miracle the speedo sprung back to life. Still, it kept flatlining at regular intervals until I made it to the nearest mechanic and that's where it is at as we speak. Blasted car has been nothing but trouble lately. 'Why don't you just get a new one?' asks Liam. If only it was that easy!

However, my Friday was about to get a lot worse. I walked through the door as the boys arrived home from school and noticed a bit of a funny smell but didn't think much of it, after all, the place was spotless as I proudly noted. Or at least I thought it was. Until I heard Ali bellow a barrage of expletives and come hurtling past me with his shirt over his face, out into the fresh air. I went to the lounge to investigate and that was when the stench hit me. There in the middle of the floor sat Nushka, tending to a very old, very rotten possum's head. She had been having a lovely time with it and had rolled an impressive trail of blood and filth all over the lounge carpet. And I mean all over. This needed more than just a spot clean - in fact I reckon even Shannon Lush would have balked at this one! I paid Ali $5 to remove the offending possum head (thank goodness it was all the cash I had or I probably would have given him $50 I was so desperate!), threw all the windows open and did the only thing I could do before evacuating - make an SOS call to the carpet cleaner.

Two hours later and $225 out of pocket for after hours service on a Friday night, the carpet was as fresh as a daisy. Nushka however, although by now freshly bathed had not quite finished. She proceeded to throw up what she had consumed prior to her discovery no less than three times. Fortunately the carpet cleaner had taken pity on me and left me with a whole can of very expensive super strength spot cleaner for free in readiness! Needless to say, Nushka is still well and truly in the doghouse.

I thought my run of bad luck was surely over, but no. Noel went fishing at some unearthly hour yesterday and the boys and I got up to find no water in the house. Not a drop. On the positive side it meant I couldn't do any dishes or laundry! So I decided to tackle the ironing instead. No sooner had I set up the ironing board and turned the iron on than I tripped over the ironing cord and sent it crashing to the ground. Clumsy Penny strikes again - the iron was history. Now what was I going to do? Noel needed his work shirts for ironed for the next day and the kids needed their uniforms pressed. I had no blasted car to go and buy a new one or even go and borrow one because my car was still undriveable - I had just about had a gutful! Fortunately my mum came to the rescue and personally delivered her spare old iron so I could at least get something accomplished for one day!

At least there was nothing wrong with the Internet so I made the most of not being able to do an awful lot else to list a heap of stuff on Trade Me. I've made over $300 in the last two weeks already, just on bits and pieces! I can't believe how much people pay for things, especially when I'm only sticking $1 reserve on most things. Not that I'm complaining of course! I'm just so grateful all my Sad Sally purchases are finally being put to better use. I'm also grateful to Liam for being so motivated in the first place and setting such a good example to his mum! I was interested to read the results from a recent survey carried out by eBay. Check this out - apparently the average Australian could be more than $3,000 off. Judging by my online auction experiences so far, I can well believe it!

The results say that 37% of Aussies stash their clutter and potential dollars under the bed and in drawers, cupboards, and garages, while 11% of people put their unwanted items out on the curb for council collection. Other points of note included:

20% of Australians have jeans they no longer wear

19% have boots or shoes they don’t wear

20% of women own handbags they no longer want

23% have at least one watch lying in a drawer

Top money makers sitting unwanted in Australian homes include:

Electronics: 29% said they have unwanted electronic items such as stereos, videos, televisions, desktop computers, and monitors. In the portable electronics category, respondents have superfluous mobile phones (15%), portable CD players (9%), MP3 players (6%), and PDAs (3%)

Household: 24% of respondents have unwanted furniture, 22% have unwanted kitchen or home décor items, and 18% have unwanted collectables cluttering valuable cupboard space.

Toys and baby items: 23% said they have children’s toys that are unwanted; with 14% of respondents having baby items they no longer use.

It's criminal really isn't it, how much stuff we have going to waste? Mind you, there's nothing like a bit of pressure to really help you tighten the belt. I remember years ago when I worked as a newspaper typesetter we jokingly referred to the accounts lady who co-owned the business as 'the credit controller from hell'. She was hellbent on receiving every cent that was owed to her on time each month and had no hesitation in chasing up late payments. The truth was, back in those days she needed the money and wasn't scared to go out there and get it. When she and her husband started out they had barely two cents to rub together. She was diagnosed with a brain tumour when her son was just two years old and her husband had to give up his job to look after them both. When his wife recovered, they started a business together as a last ditch attempt to make ends meet. Her 'credit controller from hell' attitude got them back on their feet and her frugal ways have paid off. They now have a successful business, a beautiful home and a stress free lifestyle. A classic example of what you can achieve when you really look after the pennies!

So I have appointed myself the 'credit controller from hell' in our house. Noel doesn’t think I’m serious but I am, deadly. I don’t want to spend a CENT we don’t have to! It's not like we have a choice really, it's the only way we are going to manage our trip to Australia without putting everything on credit and I REALLY don't want that. I'm sitting here typing with gloves on rather than turn the heater on and I'm constantly going round shutting doors and turning off lights and heaters. I just can't bear to see waste, we need the money too much!

Our $21 Challenge week went really well - better late than never! I ended up making the Chicken Cacciatore without the capsicum and it was still absolutely divine so all I ended up buying for the week was a lettuce and two tomatoes! I've decided to aim for a second $21 Challenge week in a row, starting today. We're off to a great start already as Noel went fishing yesterday and we have enough fresh snapper for today and tomorrow's dinner, yum! My mum game me a fantastic recipe for lamb shanks so have got half the week sorted already without having to buy anything but a lettuce again! Most rewarding of all however is the fact that if I manage to pull off a second week in a row, we will have an extra $360 to put towards our Australia fund!

Even though Noel may proclaim himself the smarter shopper, I still know I do a darn good job. There are so many things I do without thinking and a thread I saw the other day in the Forum called 'Things I no longer buy' got my brain ticking. How many things do us SS'ers do that are different from other people? I started looking for things around the house which are a dead giveaway and came up with the following for starters - I call them 'SS signals!'

In the kitchen alone I found:

Potted fresh herbs on the bench and window sill

A 'Foamie' full of diluted handwash

Two baking tins full of home made muffins on the bench

Destitute Gourmet cookbooks and home made recipe folders full of SS recipes

Frozen leftover soups and curries in the freezer for work lunches and bags of home made stock

A pot of Easiyo in the fridge and two glass bottles of chilled water from the tap

All the jars in the fridge are upside down!

Plastic bag holder

A pantry full of ingredients, not ready made food

An old converted bookshelf filled with reuseable jars and plastic containers

An old plastic three-drawer toy box converted to a recycling bin (one drawer for plastic, one drawer for glass and one drawer for paper)

Home made spray and wipe on the bench

A plastic dish drying rack and knitted dishcloths - no dishwasher

Menu plan stuck to the fridge

'Little bits add up' poster on the cupboard door

Home made white boards made from old picture frames on the wall

And that's just one room! I'd love to hear of other people's 'SS signals' - if I popped in to your place, how could I and other members tell you were an SS'er? I feel a Forum thread coming on!

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