$1.00 x 18,000

Posted March 11th, 2010 by Penny Wise

Twelve days into the 31 Tip challenge already! I have to confess I'm not sure I've done 12 but I've done a good few, and to be fair a lot of my time has been taken up doing things I don't normally do, such as stripping wallpaper. Our bathroom has always been grotty and now the house is for sale we really have to try and make it presentable if it's going to appeal to potential buyers. I had been putting the job off for so long that it had started to become overwhelming. Fortunately for me my complaining resulted in an unexpected helper! Alex came up for the afternoon and with the help of this tip we had the whole room done in no time!

It's nice having the house constantly tidy but I have to admit the novelty of ALWAYS having to keep it spotless has already worn off. You never know who's going to come round at short notice so you have to keep everything spick and span 24/7. The boys have been really good at keeping things tidy but the dogs are being no help at all. Yesterday Ella brought home a badly decomposed possum and dissected it all over the lawn. Minnie picked out a stinky bone and brought it inside, engulfing the whole room with the horrendous stench. Hubble rolled in something awful and much to his dismay promptly had the hose turned on him. We have also been adopted by a very friendly, but extremely large dog called Ronnie, who has great delight in chasing our dogs round and round the house, ripping up the lawn with his massive feet in the process. Whenever we come out of the house he gets really excited and tries to jump up, which is rather hazardous because he's so large that he can put his front paws on our shoulders and just about flattens us! Fortunately he hasn't been around to 'welcome' any prospective house hunters yet.

So far we have had three lots of people round. The first wanted to buy the house but couldn't possibly live down a gravel road for fear of damaging their classic cars. The next couple (this sounds awful of me to say but it's true) were of extremely large build and were physically unable to get up and down the stairs, so that was a no go! It didn't help that Minnie took an instant dislike to them and lay in wait for them in every room, growling menacingly - something that she has never done before and was more than a little embarrassing! Today we have had some nice people come around, who the dogs seemed to like - possibly a little too much as Ella kept leaning on the poor man and drooling on him adoringly. One thing everyone is agreed on at least - everyone loves the spectacular views. If only the dogs would leave them in peace to enjoy them!

The Vault is full of fantastic tips on renovating your bathroom, but an ever-growing list of library visits has made it impossible for me to do it myself any time soon so I have had to enlist the help of some handy locals. I had no idea our little town had such an abundance of talented tradies! With Patrick doing the painting and plastering, Russell sanding the old floor, Dean putting in the new one and Brett doing up the shower, there’s no need to go outside the area to get anything done. It feels really good to be supporting local businesses but better still, they are looking after us too. They know we don’t want to spend megabucks; we just want to get the place nice and fresh looking for selling so they have been terrific in helping us cut costs. Instead of charging us for new items they’ll measure something up and say ‘Hmm, I’m pretty sure I’ve got enough paint/vinyl/skirting board lying around at home to take care of that’, saving us money and reducing waste too! At a time where work is thin on the ground and competition is high, they know that if they look after the locals, they can be more confident of future work. Word of mouth is a powerful sales tool and I have already recommended these guys to several people – and now you too!

I’m particularly grateful to these guys for helping us save money as to be honest it’s an expense we could really do without. The last two months have been horrendous for bills (and that's without Christmas!) and Noel and I have been sitting down lamenting where all our cash has gone and what we can do to help claw some back. This week I have taken the advice of Vault members and handed back my gym keys (saving us $600 a year on a family membership). Do you know it felt really quite liberating! I've decided instead to get a group together - there are heaps of mums out there who I see every day walking or running on their own. I'm going to give them all a call and see if they would like an exercise buddy or ten!

Besides, now we have an even bigger goal to aim for! I have no idea if it's going to be possible or achieveable but I'm going to give it a darn good go. Liam has been wanting to leave his current school for over a year now. He desperately wants to go to St Paul's Collegiate in Hamilton. It's unique in that, in addition to their studies, all Year 10 boys are given the opportunity to live in the bush, learning to cook, clean, camp, survive and think for themselves. The students arrive in the bush as boys and leave five months later as independent, confident young men. It's a fantastic opportunity and one we all think Liam will benefit from immensely (especially Liam!) There's just one rather significant problem. It costs $16,000 a year! That's HUGE - but I think it's worth it. I worked out that if I could work another 20 hours a week, we could do it. The only issue there is actually FINDING 20 spare hours, which so far are proving extremely elusive. In which case, the only other solution I can come up with is to utilise as many tips from the Vault as possible and try our best to save stacks of money. Either that or buy a Lotto ticket every week but I think the Vault is more reliable.

In fact, it’s not $16,000 but $18,000 I have to save, by the time we have paid for the gold plated uniform and stationery. That works out to $1500 a month we need to put away. Oh good heavens. Can we do it? There’s only one way to find out! I suppose we could always stand outside The Warehouse in the middle of Hamilton and busk to raise some money but I think people would be more likely to pay us to go away. Nope, the Vault is our only chance. Methinks this 31 Tip Challenge has come along at just the right time!

We’ve been mulling the whole St Paul’s thing over for months now and in the end it was Fiona who talked me into giving it a go. As far as I was concerned this wasn’t a matter for the ‘too hard’ basket; more like the impossible basket! But something she said made me think ‘just maybe’. It went something along the lines of ‘What are you doing all this for? What do you want out of life? This is a once in a lifetime opportunity for Liam. You want him to have the best education possible don’t you? You have the skills and the knowledge to save that money. If you really put your mind to it, you could do it.” As far as she was concerned, it was that simple. She can be very persuasive, can Fiona. And you know what? Maybe she’s right. Maybe it is that simple. Maybe I just haven’t been trying hard enough.

So there you go. I’ve got 12 months to save $18,000. That’s some goal! I keep telling myself it’s like one of my favourite hints from the Vault ’$1 a thousand times over’ - I just have to save one dollar 18,000 times! Yes, I know there are other ways to do it. We could get a loan, increase our mortgage and before we knew it Liam would be starting his new school but I would never consider that, not even as a last resort. It would only put us years behind in the long run. You might be wondering ‘what about poor Ali?’ Fortunately I’ve got two more years to worry about finding the money for him as he’s not old enough to enrol yet!

The only thing I’m not sure about is WHERE to put the savings. Do I open a special ‘Kids’ Future’ account? I want to put the money I save aside, I want to watch it grow, I want to see the results of our labours. I’m going to check the Vault, in particular the ‘Habits’ section for smart ways members have found to save for their goals but I would really like to hear if anyone else has any ideas. I quite like the idea of putting the money you DON’T spend into a separate account every time you make a smart decision. For example, say I eat my lunch at home, rather than grab something when I’m out and about. That’s around $10 I’ve saved, so I could pop that into the new account. If I limit myself to drinking wine on weekends only, that’s another $30 or so. With those two things alone I will have saved $1 forty times over – hey, maybe 18,000 isn’t so impossible after all!

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