This month marks my 10th year of Simple Savings, woohoo! Where HAS that gone? I still remember the day I first read about it. I had just spent $17 on magazines at the Post Office, which was pretty standard for me and one of them was That's Life! A photo jumped out at me of a happy young couple walking along with huge smiles and a little boy on a tiny bike I think. It was Matt, Fiona and Sam. I loved the story, which was all about a relatively new website called Simple Savings but what I loved most of all were the tips Fiona shared in the story. For the first time in my life EVER I understood saving money and I realised that I could do it. At the time this magazine ended up in my hands I had been lying awake at night worrying how I was going to pay the mortgage on our first home. I still do that now - but for very different reasons! Back then we struggled to pay it because I was frittering away hundreds of dollars a week on stuff and in cafes. The day I bought that copy of That's Life! everything changed.
What an amazing 10 years it's been, so many highs and lows, ups and downs. If only I had time to read my blog from the start, I'm sure it would bring back many long-forgotten memories! I remember in 2005 our whole family flew to Australia to meet the Lippeys for the first time. As we walked into the arrivals area it suddenly occurred to us both families that we had no real idea what any of us looked like! Still, we worked it out and I still have many happy memories of that visit. Although I do remember one cringe-worthy moment when Matt told me about a chat he had with young Master Ali, then six. Upon asking him if he liked Simple Savings, Ali replied "No, because it takes our mum away from us!" Fortunately Matt thought it was hilarious but I was mortified! Not least because it didn't take me away from them at all. Many a night in the early days I would spend editing hints with a little bundle on my lap when they refused to sleep and they would help by clicking the buttons, saving each hint and moving onto the next one. They had no idea how lucky they were to have a mum who was always at home for them!
However they do now - because finally at the ripe old ages of 16 and 18 it's all about to change. Yesterday I accepted a job at the local supermarket. You may remember Matt the owner introducing himself to me quite unexpectedly several weeks ago when I was at a particularly low point. As soon as he heard I needed work he came to the rescue. And in typical Penny fashion I was also offered a job in a real estate office the same day. Which left me with a decision to make. The supermarket job was minimum wage. The real estate job was marginally more - we're talking a small margin here - and the job required a lot more skill, had less flexible hours and would mean considerably more pressure. The more money the better - but at what other cost? So I went with my gut feeling and chose the supermarket. Call me silly if you want but I truly believe that everything happens for a reason. The day Matt walked across the car park and shook my hand he quite literally picked me up from rock bottom. I doubt I'll ever be able to tell him that, I mean it's hardly the sort of thing which crops up in conversation! And now he was offering me a job. All things considered I felt it was the right thing to do. I've wanted to be a checkout girl since I was at school - all my friends got to do it and I wanted to be like them but I always got put on shelf filling. Even now I'm not going to be a checkout girl, I'm going to be on the deli counter! But Matt has assured me that one day I may get to give it a go. So I shall make it my mission to be the best deli girl there ever was! I don't know how many hours it is yet or when I start but rest assured you haven't seen the last of me just yet!
I don't know how many jobs I applied for in the end, more than I have fingers and toes that's for sure but it's really quite good that I've finally managed to get one because I was getting a bit impatient having no money with which to carry out my plan. Yes, Penny has finally found her focus! All I want to do is pay off these rotten debts! I've written them all down in big letters on a piece of paper and stuck it on the wall so I can have fun crossing them off one by one. Some are $20, some are $200 and some are much more but I'm going to get rid of the whole blasted lot. I'm not sure how long it's going to take me on $14.25 an hour but hey, at least it's consistent income and I'll be able to plan my budget a bit better. I had to chuckle the other day when someone asked how much surplus I have left each week. At last count my budget showed I have a weekly deficit of $363! Which over the course of a month adds up to - well, let's not talk about that! But at least I know how much work I have to do. My little dream is to one day be able to afford to pay myself $20 a week sanity money, just so I can afford to treat myself to a $2 candle or a packet of Reese's Peanut Butter Cups. When that happens I'll know I'm really getting somewhere!
For now I have to admit with a little embarrassment that I'm devoting my life to being rather selfish. Most people know I'm already a hermit but I have recently morphed into a super hermit! It's been a pretty rough time, some of which I'm still not even ready to talk about yet and I need to give myself some time to heal. I don't feel like talking to anyone or seeing anyone and a few of my friends have struggled with that but it's nothing personal; I'm just happy in my own space right now and will come out when I'm ready. As my delightful Purple Plum friend Maree said just a couple of days ago, 'You don't need a lot of people in your life to be happy; you just need the RIGHT people'. My family and the SS community are the right people.
I don't know how many hours I will be working at New World or how easy it will be to juggle the supermarket and my writing but one thing I have discovered through my many job interviews and applications is that I genuinely love writing and without some sort of creative outlet I would probably go a bit bonkers! Another thing I also discovered when I was ill recently is that I work much better in the quiet atmosphere of my tiny bedroom. I love my room and found I wrote so much more prolifically compared to my previous spot in the hub of the house, surrounded by dirty dishes, piles of unfolded washing and a dozen other distractions. So I decided to create a little writing sanctuary. A local girl was getting rid of a computer desk and even delivered it to me for free. I squeezed $7 out of the food budget to buy a little desk lamp from Bunnings and my trusty Tightwad Gazette sits in pride of place. The main problem I have now is staying away from it! Whist some people may not find this idea particularly restful, having a work area in your room, for me it's not a work area, it's a creative area; a sacred space. Now I go to bed inspired and wake up inspired too! I think it will really help with the healing process but hopefully before too long I'll be too busy weighing up meat and dishing out potato salad to worry about anything much. Am off to meet my new manager this afternoon!