A Changed Man

Posted March 25th, 2010 by Penny Wise

Mar 25, 2010

No, I'm not talking about my husband in the title! Before I reveal his identity I want to say an enormous, sincere thank you to Barb K and every Simple Savings member who has ever contributed to the $21 Challenge. Together, we have changed a guy's life. You see, when it comes to the $21 Challenge I have always believed there to be two types of men. There's the type who wouldn't touch the Challenge with a bargepole for fear of missing out on their daily dose of meat and veges and then there's the type who say they would love to be married to a woman who can do a $21 Challenge. But in Caleb I've discovered there's actually a third type! I met Caleb on Friday (though I didn't know who he was then). He and his wife were sitting in the front row at one of my library talks in Thames and I was pleased as punch when he came up afterwards and bought a copy of the book. While my library talk audiences are predominantly women, I've been really pleasantly surprised to see the number of men always in attendance and they always end up purchasing a book, whether they are in their twenties or their eighties. Some are single thirty-somethings, some are married with their first baby on the way and some have been married for 50 years, but as one elderly chap told me recently as he bought his copy 'there's always something new you can learn!'

Anyway, back to Caleb. He took away his copy of the book and I figured that was that. What I didn't know was that Caleb worked for a radio station, until his colleague rang me, requesting an interview. 'I have to get a copy of your book for myself', he said. 'I can't believe what it's done for Caleb - he's a changed man!' He went on to tell me how Caleb and his wife had just completed their first $21 Challenge and got through the week spending just over $20. 'Fantastic!' I said. 'But it's not just that - it's the food!' his colleague Alan went on. 'He's actually baking! He made these awesome Peanut Butter Biscuits (from the book) and brought them into work. Everyone's raving about how good they are. You've even got him putting Marmite under his eggs on toast for breakfast. He's literally carrying this book everywhere!'

Well, you could have knocked me down with a feather! It made my day I can tell you. Alan and I had a good old chat and he told me that he first heard about the $21 Challenge a while back but hadn't thought much about it, other than it was probably just a gimmick and certainly wasn't possible. 'But you know what?' he said. 'This is no ordinary recipe book. It's something to live your life by'. I couldn't help thinking to myself 'Wow, how cool is that! This bloke, who I've never met likes our book. He likes our recipes (along with everyone else in the office!). Most importantly of all, he gets the Challenge - but he wouldn't have, if it hadn't been for Caleb. It took a physical book and word of mouth for him to understand what the $21 Challenge was all about. Now both he and Caleb are telling all and sundry how good it is! And that's the absolute best we can wish for, that other people like Caleb are sharing their book with others (not to mention their biscuits!) and helping us to help as many people as we can. We've had Playcentres buy a copy, so that groups of young mums can get together and have a friendly competition. We've had church groups buy copies, so that they can help and encourage some of the struggling families in their congregation. To see people helping each other this way through one the $21 Challenge is just the brilliantest thing. I don't know if 'brilliantest' is actually a word but that's how it feels so I'm sticking to it!

I'm actually pretty proud of myself too this week! My 'Would Have Spent' account is going well and after ten days already contains $71.50 that I would have spent needlessly had I not had my SS head on. And do you know what all of that would have been spent on? Food and drink. It's my only vice really, buying food and drink when I'm out, but it's an expensive one and occurs purely because I'm not organised. However this new bank account is really turning me around. I can't bring myself to make any bad decisions because I want to be able to put it away and say 'see how much I've saved!' Noel thinks it's hilarious and says 'why don't you just leave it in the bank?' but hey, I'm a visual person and I want to be able to SEE the results of my willpower. A whopping $52 was saved yesterday alone! $12 of that was on Noel's lunch, as Wednesday is his early start day and he often buys lunch on that day rather than either of us having to get out of bed earlier to make it! However I managed to throw his lunchbox together in record time and will endeavour to do so every Wednesday from now on. That small thing alone will mean $600 in my 'Would Have' account over a year! The afternoon had the potential to go horribly awry, as we were set for long hours of travelling, dentist appointments and rugby training. Being the thirsty bunch that we are, the boys and I would have potentially spent up to $3.50 each on drinks BEFORE rugby training, then would have staggered out of rugby starving hours later and thrown an extra $30 at Ronald McDonald on the way home. Not so this week however! I had the foresight to pack not one but TWO drink bottles each, one for before training and one after, and plenty of snacks, including a packet of rice noodles each and a Thermos of hot water to pour over the noodles when we were ready to eat them. The picture of organisation I was!

So I was rather peeved when the Thermos rolled off the back seat and on to the floor when I set off on my journey. 'It'll be fine, those things are bulletproof', I told myself. Unfortunately not. 'What the heck is all this glass in here?' Ali asked in alarm when he went to pour water on his noodles. Hmm, that was indeed rather inconvenient but I was unruffled. I had a plan! 'I have to fill up the car with petrol so we'll go to the Mobil station and we'll pour hot water from their coffee machine on your noodles!' I told them. It worked a treat - even though the chap behind the counter insisted on charging me $4.00 for the hot water - the same price as a cup of coffee! 'Make sure you take a cup and lid with you when you go - you've paid for that you know!' he insisted. I would have rather he kept the flaming cup and lid and just gave me the water for free! But still, it could have been worse. Grand total spend for the day was $4.00 and the kids were happy. As long as mum's organised and they've got food and drink when they're hungry and thirsty, I've learned that they really don't care what it is!

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