Ugh, it feels more like a No SAVE Month at the moment than a ‘No Spend Month!’ Ten days in and so far I have managed just one measly day of spending nothing at all. I’m trying not to get too down in the dumps about it because they have all been essentials – it’s just there are so many essentials this month that I couldn’t have predicted!
As well as having to keep popping back to the school for various uniform items for the boys, I also lost count of the letters sent home requesting text books which were not mentioned on the original list, totalling more than $80 on top of what I had already forked out on stationery.
The same week I inadvertently backed into a high kerb, causing the muffler to fall off my car. I was completely oblivious to any damage but unfortunately Noel spotted it and made me go and get it fixed immediately. Still haven’t had the bill for that one – with a bit of luck I won’t have to pay it until March!
Then we have the saga of Noel’s teeth. Like many people (me included) Noel puts off going to the dentist until absolutely necessary e.g. until the pain renders him unable to sleep for more than two nights in a row. With his annual five-day fishing trip coming up, he didn’t want his teeth to play up when he was miles out at sea with no hope of medical help, so he gave in and went to the dentist. The verdict? One of his wisdom teeth had grown crooked and was pressing on the tooth in front. Over time, this had caused a cavity, which the offending tooth was now constantly pushing into. Ouch! Fortunately, this could be fixed, along with some other minor dental work for the bargain price of $1000. Noel thought this was very reasonable and went ahead and booked an appointment for the following week but all I could think was ‘but it’s No Spend Month!’
Unfortunately for Noel, the antibiotics and pain relief he was given to tide him over did nothing and once the numbness wore off he was in a worse state than ever. I have never seen anyone in so much pain, it was awful to see. Sleep was out of the question and at 4.00am he could take no more and drove to Middlemore Hospital, which offers an emergency dental clinic on a ‘first in, first served’ basis. After a painful six hour wait, the offending teeth were at last removed for the princely sum of $40. A fantastic saving I must say – it’s just a shame poor Noel had to endure a night of such hell to save it!
Mission accomplished and pain free, he is taking off on his fishing trip today. I’m hoping the boys and I can get through the week without incurring any more unforeseen expenses! I’m looking forward to see how little we can spend actually. Noel is convinced we’ll be living on fish and chips while he’s away but no way – this is no spend month and I’m looking forward to making pizzas and things together. Mind you, with all the sports they’re doing at the moment there’s not really time for much else! Ali is training madly for school swimming sports and gets up at 6 o’clock three mornings a week to do laps at the local pool, while Liam does weights in the gym next door. After school they like nothing better than going to practise their batting and bowling at the school cricket nets. All good, wholesome fun! I’m happy to say Liam has also kept up with his reading since No Screens Month!
Talking of reading (ooh, smoothly done Penny!), I spend a wonderful morning giving a talk about the $21 Challenge in Glenview Library in Hamilton earlier this week. I was expecting around two people to turn up so imagine my amazement when the staff told me they counted over 120. They had never seen anything like it! I sat down nervously and immediately was delighted to see the smiling face of Simple Savings member Glennis, sitting right in the front and clutching a box of chocolates! It really helped to put me at ease and it was lovely to meet some other SS members afterwards for the first time too. I guess I must have said something right in amongst all my rambling because we sold out of books!
The two things which struck me most of all though, were firstly how many people are obviously desperate to learn how to save money. They had literally turned up to the library in busloads so that they could learn. It was very humbling and I really hope that I managed to help them in some way. It really brought home how much the Simple Savings way of saving money is needed. I remember when Simple Savings first officially launched in NZ. I couldn’t wait to tell the Kiwi media, ‘woohoo, we’re here!’ Back then I’m afraid to say that more often than not, I was met with the reply ‘That’s very nice but we already have plenty of financial experts who we like to ask for advice’. ‘But we’re different!’ I would try and tell them, to no avail.
Still, as the Mainland Cheese commercial says, ‘Good things take time’ and these days it’s very different. People who are struggling don’t want to be presented with complicated, time consuming budgeting systems. They want to know how they can afford to send their children off to school with enough food in their lunchboxes. They want to know how they can save enough money right now to be able to put petrol in their car. Whenever I give a talk on anything to do with Simple Savings, I always love to see the older people in the audience nodding their heads and smiling. They do it because they know our way of saving money works. They know it for a fact because they did it. You can see that they’re smiling because we’re there, talking sense to the younger generations and hoping they ‘get it’. I really think that people are ‘getting it’, more and more.
The second thing which struck me and made me feel humble all over again was how I got to be sitting in the middle of a library, talking about the $21 Challenge to 120 people. Anyone who knows the story of the first $21 Challenge will know how SS member Barbara wrote to me to tell me about the joke her cheeky husband played on her. I thought it was a brilliant idea and challenged other members to give it a go. And you did. Heaps of you! You did the Challenge and loved it enough to tell your family, your friends and even people on other websites and forums to give it a go. Your desire to save money, your willingness to try something new (even if it did sound completely mad!) and your shared experiences made us see that we really had something special here that could help a lot of people. Which has just given me an idea! The boys and I can do a $21 Challenge this week while their dad’s away! That should help put our ‘No Spend Month’ back on track!