Saturday, September 13, 2008

BIG decision!!!

Okay guys, first I have a confession to make. I spent up BIG last month, as I blew my tax return on my latest obsession, mechanical watches (they are the ones that don't need batteries, they operate either by manual winding or by the movement in your wrist) - after not buying a watch for over 20 years, I brought a german and a russian watch. Still waiting for them to come - I'm a bit worried about the russian one getting held up at customs, but I'm crossing fingers...
ANYWAY, after I did this (ie spent all my excess money) I got my manuscript back from the manuscript assessment peoples (I've been writing a novel in my spare time). They recommended a re-write of half the novel, pitching it to a younger audience (pre-teen) and ditching most of the sub-plots while expanding another. Anyway, a big lightbulb went off in my head and I can totally see how the novel can be framed and the assessment people's thought it had potential and should be re-written which was nice. The problem with this was that I had intended to go back to work in October (which is why I blew the tax return) and the re-write will take at least six months, maybe a year. SO, thanks to you guys and my new consumption awareness, I have taken the plunge and decided not to return to work after all. DH's wage will cover the mortgage and bills (just) and it means that I will have zip to live on - hopefully just enough to buy Xmas pressies and all that stuff, but nothing for me unless I sell something to fund it.
This is a HUGE step forward for me. A year ago, I wouldn't have thought twice. I would have binned the novel and gone back to work, knowing that I couldn't survive without my spending fix. But thanks to you guys and the consumption challenge, I'm going to give it a shot. And the excellent thing is, even if my novel never gets published, at least I will know that I have taken it as far as I could, and there will never be that 'what-if' type of regret. Its also a great lifestyle choice - DD2 is only 2 years old and DD1 is at school and it is so nice knowing that I'll be home with them instead of them being in daycare or after school care while I'm at work. So... here goes! I don't reckon I'll be posting a monthly spend from now on, as there won't be one (!!) but I'll drop in and update every so often.
So thanks dudes. This is really a life-changing decision for me, and you guys have helped me on my way. Hats off to you all!

PS I guess I should explain that the mechanical watch obsession arose out of research I was doing for the book, so its all kind of case you were wondering....

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Still spending, but learning

Hi y'all,

Well I bought more than one thing this month - here's the shake-down

LAST EVER quilt fabric (bargain from the USA) $35
DH's 40th birthday pressie (limited edition print of ship 1815) $170
AC adaptor for stone radio $40
Bubba J fleece nappy cover $10
Clothes for DD1 on sale at department store - jacket, long sleeved top and jumper $60
Birthday pressie and Xmas pressie for nephew (AFL merchandise) $55

Total $360

The made in China items are creeping back in (the clothes for DD1 which she loves and has just about worn out already! and the AFL merchandise and the adaptor - sigh) but I've decided just to live with it. At least I'm aware more now of the stuff made in China that I buy - but to get clothes that are not made in China that my fussy 7 year old will wear is just too tricky. Same with electronic equipment...

Anyway, I'm quite pleased as this month I've really noticed that I'm thinking more about whether I really need to buy stuff. As an example, my faithful moccasin slippers lost all their inside fluff and usually I would buy new ones without thinking twice, but instead I lined them with an old wool sock and will try to see if I can get them last until the end of winter...I know it only sounds like a little thing, but I think I'm slowly changing my consumption mindset - woohoo!!!

Keep warm everyone!

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

OMG I only bought one thing this month

Okay so it was something I didn't really NEED, but it got ticks in lots of other boxes - its Aust made (okay so some of its components are imported, but the actual unit is made here) its funky, it will last a couple of lifetimes and I LURVE it. Its a stone radio - made by a dude living in the Blue Mountains - I could never have afforded to pay the full price for one of these babies but I picked up a demo model from Graysonline for $112. The only issue is that it didn't come with an AC adaptor. I thought it would be easy to source an adaptor but it has proven more difficult than I suspected. Nevermind, I shall persist and one day will be able to listen to my radio.

Hey one thing I spent a lot of time thinking about this month was what would I take if the house was burning down. Our house backs onto a bush reserve and its not out of the question that one day we will be threatened by bushfire and will have to make a decision whether to stay or go. If we decide to go, I don't want to be spending precious minutes racing around wondering what to pack into the car. I want to know already what is important to me and what can be left behind. I thought this would also be a good exercise re my consumption challenge - to find out what material possessions are really important to me and what I really could do without.

For the purpose of this exercise I assumed that DH was working overseas (which he does a lot) and so it was up to me and the 2 kids to load up my small hatchback and scidaddle out of here. Here (in order of importance) is what I decided to take:

1. Myself, DD1, DD2 and the cat. Pretty easy, this one.
2. My watch, handbag, ipod, filofax (which includes all my contacts, addresses, financial and insurance details etc), 2 memory sticks (one which stores our favourite family photos and videos and the other one has drafts for my novel/s) and DD1's asthma medication (she doesn't need it much anymore, but would need to take just in case). Also, our marriage cert and birth certs. All these would fit in my handbag.
3. My quilts, handmade tapestry cushions, and knitted blankets. Totally irreplacable and heaps of memories. Handy too!
4. Overnight bagx3 containing change of clothes for 3 days for myself, DD1 and DD2 and some essential personal items such as DD1's blankie which she has had since she was a baby and can't sleep without
5. My handwritten recipe books - I have 2 with heaps of family recipes and other ones I have collected over the years. I have a terrible memory for recipes and would be struggling to put a meal together without these. I don't think I could restruct them if I left them behind
6. Other sentimental items - a painting I was given for my 21st, a mantelclock I got on ebay which has seen me though some tough times (long story) and our bedside lamps (another long story).

that's pretty much it!! I was quite shocked at what I would be happy to leave. I'm not a clothes or jewelry person and it wouldn't worry me to leave those behind. Same for my book and DVD collections. It was a good exercise in finding out what was really important to me. If it wasn't impossible, I'd also take my piano (I inherited it from my grandmother - her parents gave it to her for her 9th birthday, she learnt to play on it, I played on it as a child as did my Dad, and DD1 is learning to play it now). Priceless! But it is old and extremely heavy. It took a crane to get it inside and we couldn't get it any further than the hallway, so that's where it lives and where it will stay. Also a rug I got with my first paycheck - I love it to bits but there is no way it would fit in the car.

So there you have it! Hopefully I'll never need to use it, but it was an interesting exercise. Hope you all have a great month!

Saturday, June 7, 2008

May wrap-up

Ouch! Not so good this month, but I have an excuse. We are just about to start building some extensions on our tiny house and I'm expecting we will run out of money whilst doing so. So I've decided to buy all the birthday pressies coming up in the next few months before the money runs out. So here tis:

$36 soft soled shoes made in Canada for DD2 - she grew out of her last pair and they are the only ones that stay on her feet

$25 knickers for DD1 from ebay. This was a bit of a disaster. I convinced DD1 (aged 7) to try some organic cotton knickers from Blessed Earth online store a few months ago. I love them, but DD1 reckons they give her wedgies. So I found some other australian made organic cotton panties online but she gave them the thumbs down. I eventually caved in to the inevitable and bought some Calvin Klein ones from ebay. Made in China. She loves them and won't wear anything else. Sigh.

$30 hairbands from Ribbonista online store as birthday pressies for DD1's friends. These are such a hit with the kids - made by a WAHM - absolutely love them!

$80 flannette backing for Q4. Yes I know. Someone hit me. At least it wasn't made in China.

$39 CD from Oxfam online - French cafe music. SOOOOO COOOOL. For myself for Xmas from DD1 and DD2 - getting in early, I know.

$93.50 Handmade stool with her name carved into it, for my nieces 2nd birthday. Handmade in Australia by Sams Handcrafts. Nice!

$139.75 Dollshouse for DD2's birthday from Bentsticks (handmade in Aust). I'm knocked out by how cute this dolls house is. All made from wood, no plastic in sight. Excellent!

$37 remote controlled helicopter for my nephew's birthday from ebay. Yes, its made in China. Doh!

$18 Clock for DD1 from ebay. I truly loathe this clock. DD1 was desperate for it (its a digital clock with different coloured backlights) and I caved in and bought it for her, for participating in an esteddfod. Its made in China, as already gone through a set of batteries and has started to fall apart. Grrrr. It sums up everything I can't stand about made in China items. Dodgy, fleeting items that break easily and then you throw it away and get another one. What a waste. Grrrrr.

$76 flannette sheet set. We needed a fitted QS sheet as ours developed a massive rip and the girls needed a pillowcase each. I really wanted to put my money where my mouth is and get organic cotton ones but they were SO out of my budget. In the end I got 2 sets of fitted sheets, 2 flat sheets and 4 pillow cases for $76 from ebay. Made in China. Gulp. But thick and they look like they will last. Crossing fingers.

Total $574.25. Ouch. But at least all the main birthday pressies from now til Xmas are accounted for.

Anyway, May was a mixed month and I can't for the life of me think of a mini-challenge for June. Last months mini-challenge was finally completed - I managed to fill a bag for vinnies of clothes I will never wear again, and also put away a few baby toys that I couldn't part with and will donate the rest to the school fair, so yay!!! The clothes cull didn't result in the huge amount of free wardrobe space I was hoping for, but nevermind. Onwards and upwards.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

April wrap-up and May mini-challenge

Hmm, not so bad this month, my lowest spending total so far this year. Here's the breakdown:
Freeplay lantern (to replace my freeplay torch which DD2 broke) - I love this company, its very ethical and supplies its products to poor communities etc etc so I'm happy to pay a bit more to support them. We had a stack of power outages last year and really need a non-battery torch or lantern for when it inevitably happens again. $93.50

Lunch bag $15. DD1 needed a lunch box and it was hellishly difficult trying to find one that wasn't made in China. I thought I'd done well when I ordered a homemade insulated and embroidered lunch bag from ebay, but it arrived with a big made in china tag on it - the bag was made in China with the embroidery done in Aust, so I made it halfway I guess.

Three helebores (flowering plants which I hope stay alive over the next couple of weeks) as mothers day presents $45

Winder pyjamas for DH $45. These were very cool ones from Peter Alexander. Unfortunately I didn't realise til after I got them, that they are made in China. Sigh.

Book called Beers & Cheers (locally printed, about the history of Hobart pubs) $40

Backing for Q3 from an online WAHM shop (made of bamboo, wild nettle and cotton) $53.30

Two headbands and one bow from new WAHM online shop Ribbonista $31. I found out about these from a Nappycino thread. I'm going to try them out on my girls and I'm hoping they will be great birthday presents for 7/8 year old girls, in which case I'll be buying them regularly!

TOTAL ; $322.80

Woohoo!! I think I'm gradually improving. Certainly, the urge to go into town and cruise the shops and buy stuff I don't need has disappeared which is a huge step for me! I've been into town heaps recently and only bought what I originally went in for. Most of my shopping now is done online after lots of research and consideration for what I'm buying so I'm well happy about that.

But a big OOPS for the mini-challenge. I was meant to cull my clothes but it just didn't happen. Time ran away with me - will try it as my May challenge instead....

Thursday, April 3, 2008

March wrap-up and April mini-challenge

Well, I didn't go TOO badly this month. Here's the damage:
- pyrex dish (made in USA) $12
- tupperware snack cups $20.50
- $11.15 quilt fabrics from ebay
- cardigan and jacket from The Hempest (made in Peru) $240
- quilt fabric from Craftcon (USA) $80
- queen size merino blanket off-cut; single wool blanket and jumper for DH from Waverley Woollen Mill seconds sale (all made in Tassie - woohoo!) $99

TOTAL = $451.50

My big splurges this month were on the cardigan and jacket from The Hempest and on quilting stuff- again. I'm REALLY happy with the cardy and jacket - I needed another cardy for winter as the one I've had for years is beyond repairing and has gone all faded and threadbare. The cardigan is made of organic cotton and silk and the jacket is alpaca, wool and tencel, all made in Peru by an indigenous womens co-op and fair traded - woohoo!! They are SO comfy and warm and I'm really impressed by the quality.
I stumbled upon a link to an online fabric shop in the USA and it was an aladdins cave of all the quilting fabrics I have ever wanted and with the dollar being strong, it worked out much cheaper than buying from ebay. I also bought the woollen queen sized blanket off-cut in a local seconds sale and will use it as the insert for my last quilt.
All in all, I could have done better, but at least my purchases have not been made in China so far as I could tell (not sure about the tupperware??) so I'm going okay in the mini-challenge. Will try to do better next month!!

Okay for next months mini-challenge - I'm going to follow everyone elses lead and do a clothes cull. I have heaps of clothes that I no longer wear and I have to face the fact that after having 2 kids, I'm never going to fit into a size 8 again. So out they must go (sob). I'm a horder, so this may be tricky....I'll let you know how I go.....

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Feb wrap up and March mini-challenge

Okay, so how did I go in February with my spending challenges?? Hmmm. Well, let's see.
Here's the breakdown:
  • $75 school shoes
  • $95 school uniform purchases from school shop and Big W
  • $45 quilting fabrics (7 pieces from ebay and a length of ribbon from spotlight)
  • $50 quilting bag (from Kirrily at Nice Knickers on ozebaby)
  • $14.88 Organic t-shirt for me from Big W
  • $17.86 Organic t-shirt for DH from Big W
  • $20 Mr Men T-shirt for my Dad's b'day pressie Big W
  • $20 Two egg cup & spoon sets from small local shop for b'day pressies for the boys next door
  • $17.50 taggie blanket for gift for baby of my ex-babysitter, from Loopy Loo ozebaby

Total - $355.24

Well, no so bad for a former consumerholic I guess, and a better total than last month. Still, I reckon I could do better. I really didn't need the quilting bag (although I love it to death and I'm happy I bought it) and I'm bummed about my spend-up at Big W - I really could have thought of a better pressie for Dad than a Mr Men t-shirt and we really didn't those need those organic t-shirts I bought either. Curse that impulsive spending!!!

Well, in a bid to challenge myself further and totally shackle my spending from here on in, my March challenge is.......drum roll........another drum roll......I will not buy anything made in China. That's right. Nothing made in China. Not only for March but for THE REST OF THE YEAR!!! Gasp!!!! Can I do it??? I'm not sure but I sure as hell am going to give it a red hot go.

By the way, in case you were wondering how I went with the February challenge (no tissues) I was cruising with no problems til I got a head cold, then used all my hanky stash up in one day and lacked the energy to make new ones, so regressed to tissues. Oops. Am back on the wagon now though as my cold has disappeared. Yay!!