Creative thinking

Posted August 26th, 2011 by Penny Wise

I am officially a big wuss. I know the first thing I should have done when the proverbial hit the fan a few weeks ago was to sit down with my Bill Payment System, fill it all out and see exactly what expenses were due to come out when, so we knew how much money we did or didn't have. But as well as a big wuss I am also a champion procrastinator and I kept putting it off and putting it off, just going in to check the bank balance occasionally to make sure there was still money there but nothing more because I was too darn scared to find out if we were going to run out or not. That's right Penny, just go and stick your head a little deeper in the sand, that will make everything go away won't it? After lying awake last night worrying (which is also a really good idea because that also makes things better doesn't it?') and with a $2000 tax bill due on Monday I decided I couldn't put things off any longer. I had to have a proper look at the bank balance so I just did so. Life insurance gone through? Check. House and contents? Check. Sky TV? Check. As far as I can see all the direct debits have gone through between now and pay day and whilst it's not great, I think we should just be able to scrape through by the skin of our teeth without going into overdraft. The phone bill only just arrived today, along with the power bill and they're not due until pay day so as long as we don't spend a CENT we don't have to, we should just make it. Yay us!

OK so we're not out of the woods yet but at least the extra effort is already paying off. I've had a $10 note in my wallet untouched for two whole weeks now and I've lost count of the number of No Spend days I've had. I've driven my car once in the last fortnight and I was pleased to see when the power bill came that we've managed to knock $30 off last month's and I'm hoping for a lot lower still next month. It certainly should be, the amount of effort I've been making! Noel weeded and replanted the herb garden last weekend and now it's full of just about every herb you can think of, interspersed with a generous smattering of strawberry plants. I've been baking up a storm, which the boys love (not to mention their friends - I swear Liam's mate Brendin can smell baking from a 500m radius, he has this knack of magically appearing whenever I'm just taking something out of the oven!) and all in all we haven't spent a thing. Noel went to Pak and Save yesterday (supposedly NZ's cheapest supermarket, although we have never found it to be so) and actually walked out in disgust. The quality of fruit and vegetables was shocking and his price comparisons showed they were actually more expensive than our local New World, which has always copped a bad rap for being 'the expensive chain'! I was very proud of him for refusing to give them our money!

Of course you can bet there's always something that's going to come along - like the $50 we needed for tickets to go to the boys' rugby prizegiving dinner. School photos are next week and I'm struggling with those. The boys don't give a hoot whether they have one or not and to be honest I'd rather have a natural looking photo of them having fun at the beach than sat in front of a background of fake clouds but if I don't get one, well I'll feel like a bad mother. Not to mention this could actually be Liam's last school photo as he is allowed to leave school next year (I don't think he will, I've told him even All Blacks and Black Caps need a career to fall back on but you never know!) And the dogs and cats all need flea treatments which I really shouldn't put off but that stuff costs a blooming fortune! Yep, there's always going to be something but as long as we're TRYING that's the main thing. If you try, you'll always make a difference.

We've still got 10 days until the next pay day and I have a feeling they are going to DRAG. Still, apart from any bills coming out which I may have inadvertently missed there is no real reason to spend anything. We have one night out a week at the local pub quiz, which we both thoroughly enjoy and costs around $30 for the two of us. Noel and Ali are out fishing as we speak and Liam went on a class fishing trip yesterday so we should have enough fish to last us several feeds all going to plan. It's definitely the cheapest way we know of getting a feed. Noel invested in a cheap longline a while back and now fishing costs next to nothing. The line has around 25 hooks on it and he just baits it up (using bait he caught himself so no cost there) lets it out and hauls it back in. So far it has never let us down and it has paid for itself many times over. It has reduced his petrol bill down to the bare minimum as he no longer needs to travel anywhere near as far to catch a feed of fish. Every time his fellow fishing buddies see the longline at work they always come straight home and head off to the fishing shop for one of their own.

Oh, there's just one more thing I forgot - Noel's birthday is next week, eek! Thank goodness it's not the big 4-0 until next year or the celebrations could have been extremely small scale on the base of our budget! Even so, it's going to take some creative thinking and shopping on the boys' and my part. We'd better get onto it and quick!

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