Saturday, March 30, 2013

Braving Bogan City for Last Minute Eggs

Happy Easter from the MummyHearts household!

I bought the majority of my Easter Eggs a week ago, at the usual token 25% off. But on the exact day I was nipping up the shops to buy all my eggs I saw in the catalogues that in just a few days time Cadbury hunting eggs would be even cheaper at Woolworths. Instead of paying $10 for 20 at Big W, I could buy x2 packs of 10 for $6 at Woolies.
Well. Tightarse that I am how could I pass that up. $4 savings right? So I bought all my eggs intended as gifts for my family, and left the hunting eggs for another day.
Do you think a single one of the NINE Woolies I have been to this week had any hunting eggs? Of course not. And although I was willing to pay any price this week to get my hands on hunting eggs, my quest was broken by my specialist doctor throwing me into hospital suddenly on Wednesday morning for observation. Overnight. And not letting me out till after Thursday.
So we come to today. The day before the big hunt. And I had no hunting eggs for what would be Lorelei's first hunt to participate in.
I had intentions of heading up to our local Westfield to scour the place for eggs at 9am. But then my eyes flew open at sparrows fart and I remembered that we have a 24 hour Kmart. No fighting the hoards for me, I leapt out of bed and hurried up to the Kmart. Only to find that they didn't reopen from being closed for Good Friday till 8am. So with 45 minutes to wait, I settled into my car to read some good bloggage on my iPhone.
At 7:55am I wandered over to the doors and strategically placed myself right next to the doors. To the distinct lack of amusement to the 50+ women that had gathered.
Women hunched over their trolleys. They peered through the doors, marking mentally which was the fastest route to the eggs they intended to snatch. At 8:01am the crowd was muttering and grumbling, and by 8:02 a women was banging on the door and shouting to encouragement from her audience.
A worried looking manager inside talked on a store phone, glancing nervously at the doors every few seconds, then scurried away without opening doors.
By 8:04 the crowd of waiting women was 75+, and there was plenty of heckling going on. Finally the doors opened and the crowd surged inside, spilling into the Easter aisles. I quickly grabbed some Cadbury Crunchie eggs, being the only hunting egg sized option left. No plain ones for us this year (insert sad face here).
I ran with my treasures to the self service aisle and got out of there as quick as possible. But from my safe vantage point of the doors, I watched as a women in pyjama pants argued with a women with a mullet over the last giftbox of some random egg/toy combination. I listened while a manager pleaded patrons to take care over the loudspeaker.

Only in Mt Druitt. Good old Mounty County. Lesson learned. Never wait till the day before Easter to buy eggs. And I paid $12 for my hunting eggs this year in case you were interested. And only got 18.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Where have I been this month?

I've been to hospital and am out again. They took out a number of body parts I apparently don't need, that weren't doing me any favours, and gifted me a lovely Ileostomy bag for my troubles. If you don't know what it is, lets leave it at that since ignorance is bliss. If you do know what it is, feel free to feel sorry for me, since I know I do. I've only got to put up with the sucker for 3 months (ish) and with 2 weeks down I am counting the days.

I don't write about my health on here, because frankly unhealthy people are boring, but here's hoping that losing all those body parts is going to mean a better quality of life for me now. I'm sick of feeling sick.

Lorelei and Sebastian have found new, adorable ways to be naughty. Seb won't sleep unless he's wrapped up tight, but the cheeky little monkey has started to splay his legs wide on either side of his crib and lifts his bum in the air so that he can wriggle out of his wrap. He then calls out to me triumphantly to come and play with him. I'm going to have to invest in another Love to Swaddle for this little guy, since he's just grown out of the last one.

Lorelei on the other hand has suddenly discovered her words this month. I don't know what I was worried about, because it's like a tap turned on. She can let us know what she wants really well now, and we have no trouble understanding what she is asking for. You would think that now we can understand her that her frustrations and tantrums would be less right? Nope. She is asking for ICE-cream. ICE-CREAM! ICECREAM!!!!! And since we can understand what she is asking for and can say no, not right now sweetie, the tantrums are actually worse.

I'm not even sure where she learnt the word icecream. My idea of a desert for a baby is a bowl of chopped fruit. But she has that one down pat. Along with biscuit, Sebastian, sultana, no, and down.

It's nice to be home with everyone. Once again I missed some seriously awesome blogging opportunities while I was in hospital, just like last year. It's so frustrating because I am itching to run a series of consistently awesome giveaways this year, and I missed the opportunity to build relationships with some great brands.

This month, my Facebook page has GROWN. In excess of 100 people found their way to me this month, and if you are one of them, a special HELLO from me to you. It's lovely to have you around. Hopefully I can deliver plenty of good reading.

Have you lost any body parts you don't need? One of my newest readers? Say hello and make my day.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Size doesn't always much is your grocery budget?

With everyone struggling with their budget these days, one of the things I get asked about sometimes is my grocery budget. Most people aren't sure whether they are spending big on small in this area in comparison to others, they only know how they are spending according to their own habits.

So I thought I'd share in order to provide a bit of a benchmark. I KNOW I have lots of room to reduce how much I spend still, despite my best efforts there is still an element of laziness or unplanned luxury items that affects the outcomes.

My budget (and I do stick to it but feel it could be less) is $300 per fortnight. I have a family of 5, including a 12 year who never stops eating anymore, a 7 month old going through a tin of formula weekly, and a 23 month old who is still in nappies (like the 7 month old obviously). So my $300 budget includes 2 jumbo boxes of nappies, a jumbo wipes, and x2 tins of formula, which would be anywhere between $80-90 depending on sale prices that fortnight.

I know of a lot of people spending much much more than $300 per fortnight on similar sized families, or proportionately much more on different sized families. So I know my budget is pretty tight, but I also know by the expensive Jarlsberg cheese I manage to sneak into the trolley still, and the HUGE amount that gets spent on prepackaged snacks for school, work and outings that I could reduce more. Definitely an opportunity for me this year!

One of the things I do to keep my budget low is meal plan each fortnight AFTER I get the catalogues the mail. I keep an eye out for particularly cheap ingredients - meats especially - and I make sure that meat plays a huge part in that fortnight's plan. I also make sure that those are the meals being made in bulk to freeze for another night, whereas a more expensive meat, or one that isn't on sale I would only cook 1 nights serving of it.

It might not seem so obvious in Australia where so many of our fruits and veggies are available year round, but there is a big price difference when your produce is in season vs when it isn't. So I try to shift our produce needs according to the time of year too so I never pay the top prices. Particularly for fruit - apples and bananas - since just buying a different variety can make a difference.

I am lucky enough to save 5% on my Coles ad Woolies vouchers if I buy them through a work scheme so that also shaves about another $15 off that end cost each fortnight. My $300 budget includes x1 BIG shop each fortnight, a smaller fresh food topup midway through the fortnight, and periodical topups of milk and bread throughout the whole fortnight. It does not include petrol though - no way!

Help me benchmark whether I am on track for getting my budget down. Share your budget and best tips with me!

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Green Eggs and SPAM

One of the irritants of having a blog is the spam comments. I love comments so much, and I get so excited whenever I get an email alerting me to a new one, but lately the only comments I get are anonymous ones which are so ridiculous it's obvious it's some kind of automated system designed to try and get return traffic.

But because alot of these comments give me a laugh, I thought I'd share them with you. Since I've gotten most of these comments several times over, I'm sure theres nothing new here for the bloggers out here that occasionally stumble my way for a read. I'm guessing we all get them. But for everyone else, have a laugh at what the trollbots come up with.

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Um, ouch much? My spammer has decided since gratuitous and gibberish flattery doesn't work he will critique my blog?

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Yeah, I got nothing. It doesn’t matter how many times I read this one it still doesn’t make enough sense to mock.

What's your favourite spam comment? Either my own or one that you have received? 

Friday, March 8, 2013

FFS Friday: What's driving me nuts this week?

Lorelei has discovered how to get her shoulders out of the harness in her car seat. FFS

She starts working on this the minute we get in the car. Every trip out of the house now needs to allow an additional 20% in travel time for me to pull over every 2 minutes to restrap her. FFS

I've made her harness so tight I can barely do it up. The kid practically dislocates her shoulder getting it out, but she still manages. FFS

While she is fighting with her harness, she screams in frustration. Nothing distracts her from her mission. Her screaming inevitably distresses 6 month old Sebastian who joins in out of sympathy. FFS

It's an hours minimum round trip to drop off and pickup 12 year old Maddy from school each day. That's alot of screaming. FFS

Add to this that Maddy suffers from some kind of personality disorder at the moment which turns her in a surly, snarling beast 2 mornings out of 3. Our car trips to school are all kinds of pleasant. FFS

Turns out the iPad we bought for Maddy for Christmas to use for school is just a fabulous, great big toy. Surprise surprise. Instead of using it for schoolwork, Maddy goes to the school Library each day and borrows one of their Macbooks which she does all her schoolwork on. She then tells me she can't finish the work on our PC at home. FFS

As a result we have invested in a Macbook. $1500 of unexpected costs without Christmas or a Birthday to attach it to. The schools position is still that they are transitioning to iPads. TEACH THE YEAR 7 KIDS WHAT TO DO WITH THEM THEN! FFS.

I'm going into hospital again next week for a scheduled operation. No FFS. I'll be glad to have this over with.

As part of my preadmission appointment the Dracula's took a million vials of blood. Then realised after they withdrew the sucker needle thingy that they needed more. Back in to attack another vein. FFS.

I may have over prepared for this hospital visit. I have run out of Tupperware containers for the leftovers from the massive meals I have been cooking so that Husband can just microwave dinner on school nights. FFS

I'm not usually such a negative Nellie, but I just LOVE reading the FFS Fridays over at Dear Baby G, so thought this was my week to overshare. Head on over to absorb yourself in someone else's problems for a bit!

Dear Baby G

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Debt free...When did we get here?

It just crept up on me and I didn't see it coming. As of May this year, I am 100% personal debt free. All we have left is our investment property mortgage which is positively geared.

We have been crying 'poor' for so many years now, and plucking away at the debt in our lives that this is actually a bit of a shock. No credit card balance. No personal loan. No car loan.

And it comes at the most perfect time. As of June I am no longer on any form of paid maternity leave and we are officially on one income. Being debt free is a huge part of being on one income for as log as possible so that I can continue to focus on my health and give the babies as much time at home with me as possible.

13 years ago we had $30,000 in personal debt with nothing to show for it. This amount has gone up and down over the years as we made headway but then reborrowed money to deal with expenses such as cars, holidays, broken down appliances etc. I am so proud to think that our personal spending habits have changed so much that we find ourselves in a place with no debt, no immediate need to enter into debt (both cars run beautifully knock wood) and a reasonable safety net in savings for any unexpected expenses.

It taken a huge mindset change from both husband and I. We had to learn to stop spending everything that was left each pay and start saving. We had to learn to stop buying big ticket items as soon as the urge struck us and think about whether we actually needed things or not, and whether we could make do without them until they could be saved for. And mostly we had to learn to reduce our wastage of everything in our lives. Over consumption of food (we used to throw out so much), clothing (especially for the kids) and toys were big ones for us. I know we spend thousands less per year across these areas now than we did 10 years ago even though now we earn more and have x3 kids instead of 1!

So I will spend the next 6-9 months enjoying the fruits of our hard lessons, which is the ability to stay off work for a bit with my bubbas. And then when I go back to work and our disposable income increases again I think we will see a financial planner first so that we can make the most of our new position and not fall back into old bad habits. It would be nice to see us starting to make some serious headway into a comfortable retirement.

Clink clink.

 I am feeling pretty chuffed at the moment. Lets see if I can resist the urge to go out and spend the contents of our bank account in celebration of our new financial position.