Talk the talk, walk the walk

Posted January 28th, 2011 by Penny Wise

Lately it appears I've had more in common than I'd like with one of my favourite movie characters, Austin Powers. For starters, we're both British, have crooked front teeth and share the same disturbing penchant for toilet humour. However, just as Austin famously lost his 'mojo', lately I appear to have lost mine. My money saving mojo that is. I guess with everything that's been going on the past few months it's impossible to be all things to all people. When the kids don't think they are getting enough attention they throw a tantrum. Come to think of it when the husband doesn't think he's getting enough attention he throws an even worse tantrum! But unlike my family, my money saving mojo doesn't throw a tantrum or demand immediate attention. It just skulks in the corner, watching you make stupid mistakes, watching you throw good money away and saying nothing. Until one day you check the bank balance and almost have heart failure. 'Where's all the money gone? Eek, someone must have hacked into my bank account! Quick, check the transactions!' And realise to your dismay that there is no hacker. The only saboteur is you.

And you sit there, staring at the evidence in black and white, kicking yourself for every stupid thing you could have done differently. At which point there's not much you can do. There's no point beating yourself up; you just have to dust yourself off and move on. I've been through the scenario enough times to know! But if there's one thing I've learned is that it's not hard to get your money saving mojo back. That's the stupid thing. As Fiona has said all along, saving money is SO easy when you know how. And I do know how - so I'd better get to it!

Of course the great thing about being Simple Savers is that we know how to save money faster than anyone else. Whilst other poor souls are struggling with complicated budgets and losing sleep because they don't know where to start saving, we just throw ourselves headlong into fun stuff like the $21 Challenge or No Spend Month. So that's exactly where our family is going to start next week. In fact, we're going to do both at once!

What I both love and hate about No Spend Month is that it makes you cringe sooo badly. Every time you fill in the Savings Diary and the little box which says 'Essential' next to each purchase doesn't get ticked I feel like a total plonker. No matter how small and insignificant the amount is, if it's not classified as essential when I enter it in the diary I feel like a failure. It's such a huge wake up call when you are forced to be accountable for the number of times you get sucked in every day! It's great for the kids too. They both have jobs and earn their own money and while it's not a huge amount, what they do with it is up to them. Most of the time they do pretty well; now we don't live near any major shopping centres all the big 'wants' such as video games have disappeared off their lists. However I have a sneaking suspicion that a lot of their hard earned cash goes on Koola Bear frozen drinks and macadamia nut cookies from Subway! So they will be taking part in No Spend Month too and I think they will be surprised at how much their bank balances will have increased by the end of it.

As for the $21 Challenge, what can I say that hasn't already been said? What I love about the $21 Challenge is that every time you do it, it reminds you exactly what you are capable of. My favourite chapter of the book is actually Chapter 2, firstly because it was so unexpected; Fiona and I never dreamed the benefits of doing the Challenge would be so huge or so many but also because Chapter 2 acts as a memory trigger. I see what other people are achieving and it reminds me of what I have also been able to achieve in my own household and makes me strive to do it again. What with the Challenge AND No Spend Month, I reckon my mojo will be back to full power in no time!

Actually, for the first time ever it was Noel who suggested we do the $21 Challenge! So there you have it; for all the women who complain that their husbands would never let them do a $21 Challenge in a million years, you may be surprised! I can't say I blame him though; even with our extra storage shelves in the garage our tiny pantry is a total mess yet again. We can't find anything, we can't see anything, it's just a big jumble. So we're doing the Challenge to help us unearth what the heck is lurking in there and use it up so we can make some space and restore a little order.

One thing that Noel and I have both wondered out loud is that now we have achieved our dream of living in Whangamata and our lives (apart from the obvious as outlined in the last couple of posts) have become so much easier, am I going to run out of things to blog about? I would like to think not; I think it's purely because we've lost our mojo over the last month or two. When it comes to saving money there is always more you can do. Look at Lynda Hallinan, the author of NZ Gardener - she's inspired half of NZ to 'get growing' from her vegetable patch in urban Auckland. Moving to the beach is no excuse. If she can do it, so can we!

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