Hard as it is to believe, living at the beach during the winter months is just as grim as anywhere else. We've been lighting the fire for weeks and have already had more than our fair share of flooding - and it's only May! I can count the number of fine days on one hand lately but I guess I can't really complain too much when I'm still sitting here in shorts and singlet. And there's something pretty cool about lying in bed at night and hearing the ocean crashing around like mad while we're all tucked up cosy and warm. Which is another bonus; this house is so easy to keep warm! The fire is brilliant, so economical and the wood lasts for ages. No more trudging back and forth in the mud pushing wheelbarrow loads of firewood up to the house day after day like the old place! All I need to do these days is zip out to the garage for half a dozen logs and it's enough to keep us warm for up to two days!
Still, I have been in slight danger of the winter blues setting in lately. Much as I love the warmth and cosiness of our small house, it's easy to get claustrophobic when you're stuck inside day after day watching everything around you getting beaten and battered by the rotten weather. Town is now pretty much empty during the week so it's a pleasure to walk down the peaceful streets and browse the shops without fighting for space. The shopkeepers have plenty of time to chat now, so chat we do! Everyone is so lovely that we can while away hours nattering away and before I know it something has caught my eye and I'm trying it on and next thing you know I'm bringing it home. It's a real danger for me but fortunately I recently discovered a great strategy which is really helping to protect against budget blowouts. It's hardly rocket science but hey, it works for me! One of the first Simple Savings tricks I learned years ago was Fiona's 'Time is Money' equation. I find things much more appealing if they have a name so I've called mine the 'Eek! It's a bill!' equation. I know, it's a rubbish name but that's the one which got stuck in my head which is the important bit if you want to actually remember something and use it! It's a really handy equation to protect me from impulse buys and it came about quite by accident a few weeks ago. I was merrily chatting to one of my shopkeeper friends and bemoaning the fact that the kids needed new school shoes AGAIN but the shop only had one pair of shoes to fit Liam's massive size 13 feet. I went over to the display to look at them - and that's when I saw them. The most sublime pair of women's Nike hi-tops. 'They're cool aren't they!' Braedon grinned, picking them up. 'Check them out, they're so light and comfy!' I did so and before I knew it they were on my feet. They were indeed sooo comfy! I didn't need them but one thing was for sure, I wanted them. Stuff it - I had to have them! And that's when I saw the price - $140. I shouldn't, I really shouldn't but I was really having trouble trying to talk myself out of them, even though I knew I was going to feel hideously guilty about it forever afterwards.
Just in the nick of time, my SS light went on. 'Eek! $140? That's an entire bill you could pay with that!' my conscience screamed. 'That's your insurance bill! Your phone bill! Half the power bill!' That was all it took. In an instant I was back on the planet. I've lost count of how many times I have used that equation since. Every time something appealing jumps out at me or I consider buying something that's not essential it pops up in my head automatically and I immediately start gauging what bill this money could be going towards instead. Everybody is different and what works for me may not work for somebody else but for an impulsive person like me it's brilliant! New clothes in particular I have to be really wary of at the moment. You may remember way back in 2008 I lost around 15kg. It was the lightest I had been since I got married and I went absolutely crazy buying clothes. Anyway, in typical all-or-nothing style I ended up putting all the weight back on again but since we moved to the beach the weight has all come off again. Which is brilliant but this time I'm determined a) to keep the weight off and b) not to make the same mistake again, rushing out and buying tons of clothes! For one thing the budget can't handle it so I just have to wear it (pardon the pun!) I now have a wardrobe full of clothes which are literally falling off but I just have to make the best of them. So last rainy Sunday I went shopping in my own wardrobe! I've been wanting to do this ever since reading about it in this month's newsletter. Isn't it funny how the right mindset can turn something mundane into something enjoyable? I had always thought of decluttering my wardrobe as a chore, not an indulgence, but once the 'shopping in your wardrobe' seed planted itself in my head I couldn't wait to try it!
Even though we only moved house seven months ago I still couldn't believe how many clothes I still hung onto. However this time I was determined to be ruthless. The result was a huge pile of clothes in the middle of my bed. There were heaps which I never wore at the old place and certainly haven't worn since. Even though I always used to say 'If you haven't worn it for 12 months you're not going to wear it so get rid of it', I still steadfastly hung on to most of them! There were also heaps which were now way too big. In years gone by I would have simply given them away but the cold hard truth was I needed clothes and couldn't afford to buy new ones. So I tried them all on and took a good look at how they could be saved. I have to say I'm really pleased with myself! I tried wearing a belt to stop my shorts and jeans falling down but most of them looked downright daft with so much material bunched up around the middle so I'm selling them on Trade Me and using the money I make to buy smaller ones - again on Trade Me! I'm no seamstress but I've discovered a great lady down the road who does clothing alterations for a very reasonable price so she is taking in my skirts and dresses. T-shirts which now resemble tents are being recycled into night shirts and I'm learning the art of layering to save a few of my favourite ones which are in danger of being indecent every time they fall off my shoulders. Wearing a long-sleeved t-shirt or singlet underneath them is working out really well. They look completely respectable and I actually get twice the wear out of them now as I wouldn't normally wear them during the colder months but now I can! If anyone else has any other tips for saving or recycling clothes I would love to hear them!