Not just jam

Posted February 12th, 2011 by Penny Wise

Sometimes I have to confess I can be actually quite thick. No doubt you have noticed this less than desirable trait in me on countless occasions already in almost six years of blogging but sometimes I need a full body slap with a fish before grasping the obvious. If you think that's a rather strange expression I will explain in due course!

You see, it's No Spend Month and I've been beating myself up for every cent that's been going out of our bank account, no matter how essential. School uniform and stationery costs have had me wringing my hands in despair and why on earth did Minnie have to pick No Spend Month to develop dry eye syndrome? I'm not broke - but broke for me and I don't like it. We're having to be very, very careful and it's going to take time to pull ourselves back up to where we want to be.

It's true, we haven't been saints lately. When the going gets tough, the tough go shopping - and things have been tough lately. When you're down in the dumps you develop this 'what the hell' attitude. You don't care any more, you just want to feel better. Whilst I'm probably painting a far worse picture than it actually is, I've felt far more like Penny the Plonker lately than Penny Wise as I've watched dollar after dollar dribble out of our account and become more and more despondent.

Until I suddenly realised I was missing one rather major thing. Well two actually. My pay packet! After announcing proudly that I wasn't taking any time off work over the summer holidays, I promptly went AWOL for over a month without giving any notice whatsoever. And, being the bright spark I am managed to time my spontaneous meltdown slap bang between two pay days. Which was fine - after all it was totally my fault! But what I didn't realise is that I am actually a breadwinner. Even in today's modern society I still always believed that Noel as the man of the house earned the bread and butter, while my wages were the jam. Turns out I was wrong. Wrong, wrong, wrong! Since 2004 when I became a Simple Saver I have been chanting the 'every cent you SAVE is important' mantra but all this time I've been missing another in that 'every cent you EARN is important!' I never realised just how important until now. No doubt some of you are shaking your heads at my naievity but for all but a few months of our working lives we both have been blessed with secure employment and have been accustomed to our wages just miraculously appearing in our bank account each month. It's really going to take some time and hard work to make up for what I've lost and while I'm always up for a challenge, I'm cross with myself because it doesn't just affect me; it affects the rest of the family too. Still, there's always something good to come out of something bad and I will never take a single dollar I earn for granted again.

A wake up call indeed! Which brings me nicely back to the fish slapping incident. As I have mentioned before, since moving to Whangamata we have enjoyed constant visitors; some of which we haven't seen for as many as 10 years. Two of these are our dear friends Cate and Tony. When I met Noel in 1992 he was actually working in the same tiny pub in England as Cate. He was the barman, she was the cook and we hit it off straight away. Cate was chief bridesmaid at our wedding, I was at hers and over the years we have always kept in touch but as my two boys came along and then her two gorgeous girls, the phone calls and emails became more and more erratic as we immersed ourselves in motherhood. However, I couldn't wait to tell her of our move to the beach and ever since we have caught up with them every few weeks or so. Which brings me once again to the fish slapping incident!

Last weekend was the infamous 'Nauti Girls' fishing tournament in Whangamata; a one-day fishing extravaganza for ladies only with huge prizes up for grabs. Cate and I were keen as mustard to enter and from the moment we jumped on the boat at 6.30am we were convinced we were going to clean up the competition. You know it's going to be a good day when you've single-handedly drunk a bottle of wine by 10.30am and are wearing an empty beer box on your head because you forgot your sunhat! The sea was like glass, the dolphins played and all was wonderful in our little world - apart from the fact we couldn't catch any prize winning fish. They were either too small or the wrong species; which I discovered to my horror after reeling in a glorious nine-pounder. There was Cate and I, whooping and hi-fiving on the deck thinking we had surely won the prize for the biggest snapper of the day when Noel burst our bubble and informed us my monster fish was actually a porae, which wasn't on the prize catching list. Turns out it's not really on the eating list either as we all thought it tasted revolting the next day! To add insult to injury, Cate immediately caught another whopper which bit through the line and the final straw was when I hauled up a tuna which launched itself at me in a full body slap and refused to remove until Noel came to my rescue.

The fishing may have been woeful but the company was fantastic and as Cate and I danced into the wee hours of the morning, all Tony and Noel could do was grin and say 'Look at those girls. Isn't it great to see them together again?' Ah yes, there's no friend like an old friend! I'm just hoping and praying the photos don't end up on Facebook! Still, it was great to blow the cobwebs out and much needed too. I've said it before and I'll say it again, I am extremely blessed. Not only am I capable of earning money, I'm capable of saving it too. So best I knuckle down to doing both!

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