Blowing noses and budgets

Posted March 11th, 2006 by Penny Wise

What a frustrating week! After feeling so proud and in control just recently, it feels as though all my good work has been undone - all because I got lumbered with the flu. Well, our whole family did actually and I have discovered an entire week's worth of sickness is not conducive to saving money. My meal plan went out the window as none of us were up to cooking, so the most substantial meal we ate was cheese on toast. Perfectly good home made food went uneaten and perished at the back of the fridge. Technically this should have meant that we were really economical to feed for the week, but unfortunately not, due to the fact I spent over $100 stocking up on necessary 'comfort items' on the one occasion I managed to crawl along to the local store. I couldn't believe it came to that much for so few items which basically amounted to fizzy drinks, ice cream and Cup-a-Soup.

My carefully monitored budget was non-existent for the week - I have no idea how much I spent or what is in my account and worse still, I couldn't even be bothered to use my card in my brain-fogged state and slapped some purchases on the account I so proudly closed several months ago. I was so cross with myself, and even more cross at the heinous illness that drove me to this state. The icing on the cake was at the weekend, when the boys were feeling much better and badgering me to go and 'do something' after being stuck inside for the whole week. It was raining, I was desperate and just wanted to be left alone, so my lovely Mum came to the rescue. She drove us to the nearest town, where the boys had McDonalds, then we let them loose in Video Ezy. They had a 'two for one' kind of deal on, where for every rental you paid for, you got one free. The idea was that they would stock up on videos to take home and watch contentedly for the rest of the afternoon, while I went and hibernated. This plan worked like a charm, unfortunately the total cost of fast food and videos came to more than $60. A hefty price tag for a few hours of peace and quiet and believe me I wasn't proud of my needless splurge, but I was just too ill and exhausted to come up with anything else.

I guess it wasn't all bad though, I mean I did manage to make some savings during the week - even if they were accidental. All four of us had been looking forward to the Super 14 clash between our two favourite teams, the Chiefs and the Crusaders at our home ground. No fewer than 27 past and present All Blacks together at once including our heroes, Dan Carter and Richie McCaw. We had been excited about the game for weeks and promised the kids tickets in the front row, but as the day arrived we knew there was no way Noel and I were going to make it. On the positive side, by not going to the game and watching it on TV at home instead we did save $60. Unfortunately to make up for the kids' disappointment we promised to take them to see the All Blacks play Australia in August, which will probably cost twice as much!

Another event I missed out on that I had been looking forward to was a local department store's end of season sale. With 30% off all children's clothing, I had been really organised the previous week, going through the boys' clothes and making lists of what items they would need next summer. The plan was to buy everything that they needed ahead of time and save heaps on buying new summer clothes for them when the 2007 season came around. Unfortunately I was too ill to drag my sorry self to the store and I was pretty miffed until I saw an ad on television for a Kmart sale at the weekend. Buy one item of kids' clothing and pay only 50% for the second. This was very tempting, as Liam is only nine years old, but he wears age 12 clothes, so most of the time his clothing costs as much to buy as mine does. By yesterday afternoon I was feeling well enough to get along and have a look and I was glad I went. I managed to pick up everything the boys needed for next summer for $190! In previous years I have always ended up spending twice that amount every time summer or winter rolled around, so it definitely pays to shop out of season. A Pumpkin Patch factory outlet also opened in our area a couple of weeks ago, so I thought I would head along for a look. Talk about hell on earth! I have never seen so many bored husbands pushing baby strollers while their wives raided every available rack like women possessed. And with good reason - the bargains were amazing with up to 70% off. A very dangerous place for those with small children, but luckily they did not have much in the way of 'big boys' clothes so I managed to extricate myself relatively unscathed.

Even with my flu-addled brain, I was still impressed with one of my bargains. The food processor my Mum had given me years ago had finally given up the ghost and I was on the lookout for a new one, but wasn't prepared to pay $170 for the ones I saw in Kmart. Instead, I bought an electric hand mixer on special (which even came with dough hook attachments - very handy as I have been making my own bread lately) and one of those 'blender stick' thingy's that you use for pureeing soups, baby food, making breadcrumbs and such. My blender stick even came with a separate chopping attachment and bowl, which meant that I had everything I needed in those two little appliances. I no longer needed a food processor and the total cost of both came to less than $50!

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