Thursday, May 29, 2014

The Art of Writing a Cheque

Writing a cheque is a lost art in Australia. Gen Y's and Z's in particular don't seem to use them with confidence, and while the cheque book is a dying financial solution, it still has it's purposes in today's society.

There are still business's who only deal in cash or cheque. Tradies in particular will sometimes request a cheque. If you don't have a cheque book, and are not comfortable dealing in large sums of cash the alternatives are to buy a bank cheque, which tends to carry a cost of between $8-$10, or to purchase a money order from Australia Post for between $9-$23. Besides the cost, there is also the annoying time factor of having to organise a cheque or money order.

For these reasons, it's definitely worth finding out if your bank account offers a cheque book feature, and what the costs are to obtain a cheque book or use the cheques. I have a cheque book against each of my accounts at no additional charge to have or to use.

If you aren't familiar with a cheque or how to write it out, follow my steps to ensure you are not exposed to risk due to a poorly written cheque.

1. This number down the bottom of the cheque is the cheque number. This number will progress sequentially through the book.

2. These numbers are the BSB and account number that the cheque will be drawn from. If you have written a cheque that you do not have funds for in this account, it will dishonour. From time to time a bank may honour this cheque within their own policy. They may choose to overdraw this account, or they may choose to transfer funds from another account where available. Best practice is to only draw a cheque for an amount that you have sufficient funds for.

3. On this line you write the name of the person you are making the cheque out to. It is always best to check this very clearly with the person first, to minimise the chance of the bank rejecting it.

4. The "or bearer" comment is important! If you leave this as it is, the cheque can be forwarded or intercepted by another person and banked into their own account. 

5. When completing "The sum of" portion, the amount of the cheque is written as a word. To minimise the risk of cheque tampering, any remaining space on the top and bottom line should be struck out.

6. The amount of the cheque is also completed on the cheque as a number. As with "The sum of" portion, any remaining space should be struck out.

7. In the date field the date of payment should be filled out. If you future date the cheque, the bank should not allow this cheque to be presented until that date has arrived. This is never a guarantee but is standard practice.

8. At the bottom of the cheque the account holders or signatories sign the cheque. Depending on how many account holders are attached to the account, and how many account holders are required to operate the account together, you may require more than one signature. As a general rule, one person can operate the account and so only one signature is required.

9. The tab to the left is a record that you maintain for yourself of the cheques you have written. It is not compulsory to fill this out, as no one but yourself will ever know, however it is good practice as you never know when you will need this information. The fields for "Brought Forward, Deposits, Withdrawals, Subtotal, and Total" relate to your account balance and transactions. This information is easily tracked online these days but the important thing is to always make sure you have sufficient funds to honour this cheque.

And finally a few tips in using your cheques:
  • The cheque may take up to 5 working days to clear. You may see this as uncleared funds in your account for part or all of this time. However, you should not wait for this period to deposit funds to honour the cheque, you should instead make sure there are sufficient funds immediately.
  • The payee may request fast clearance from their own bank. This means the funds will leave your own account as quickly as the same day you handed over the cheque.
  • The Not Negotiable strike out through the payee and amount is very important. If your cheque does not include this, you should strike out the cheque yourself as it protects you. It means that the person who banks the cheque does not have greater rights that the person who wrote it.
Hopefully this will help you decide whether maintaining a cheque book is right for you and assist in writing your cheques correctly! 

Will you order a cheque book now?

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Home Heating Solutions with Real Flame

All rooms from homes we have visited this month! Sourced from

Husband and I have been shopping around for a new home for our family. Each weekend sees us wandering through a variety of homes, enjoying the voyeurship that comes with entry into these open houses. I love seeing how other people arrange furtniture and create living solutions, and of course Husband and I always have an opinion on what we would do differently.

There are a number of different kinds of houses on our list each week, but we start to see a common thread to the features that attract us. High on our list is making sure our new home has a gas connection, because we have been living in a rental property without gas for a year now, and we are shocked by our sky rocketing electricity bills. Not only are we living in at the foot of the Blue Mountains, which is freezing at night, but without gas we are relying solely on the ducted air system to warm our home and the bills are definitely reflecting that.

Lots of the homes we are looking at have alternative heating systems already in the home. We are loving the idea of a fireplace or gas heater in our new home, but we already know we are going to have to modernise whatever home we buy as some of the current solutions are grungy or quite dated.

These are some of the idea's we've had to bring some of the homes we've looked at more in line with our dream home that we will live in for years to come. Don't the photo's on the right look delicious and exactly where you would like to be on a Winter night?

The Elegance Fireplace

The Pyrotech Gas Fireplace 
The Elegance Landscape Fireplace
I can't think of anything nicer than a fire each evening as we curl up to watch TV or play games with the kids. And if that fire doesn't come with collecting and storing kindle first, that would be even better! This final design would be my favourite, who knows if the home we end up choosing could house it though.

This post was partnered with Real Flame who are market leaders in fireplace heating design and manufacture. If you are interested in warming up your home with a gas heating solution, Real Flame provide free quotes.

Monday, May 26, 2014

My Dream Day

I took a day off work today. Not to spend with the kids, I sent them all to school and daycare. Just a day to do....stuff. I've felt like there has been no time left in my week/month/life this year and everything is being neglected. Starting with housework, everything in between, and ending in personal hygiene.

So I took a day to me, and not being one to waste anything, I packed as much into the day as possible. The goal was to accomplish the following:
  • Get eyebrows waxed
  • Get a hair cut, colour, and blow dry
  • Pickup my new glasses from the optometrist
  • Get a pink slip for the car
  • Take Maddy to get her back X-Ray'd
  • Write up x2 partnered blog posts
  • Write up x2 personal blog posts
  • Complete some university students surveys
  • Vacuum the house
  • Put away the washing
  • Cook dinner
  • Solve the mystery of the missing school skirt
  • Complete a coat of paint on the bookshelf project that never ends
  • Generally stuff ass around on social media to my hearts content
Those of you following along on social media today will know that I ticked off that last one pretty well, along with a whole bunch of the rest. The only things that I didn't really do was to complete the 4 blog posts, although this one counts, and add a coat of paint to the bookshelf project that never ends. I did also slip in time to bake a cake and some muffins though.

After this day I don't feel relaxed, not even a little bit. But I do feel satisfied and back in control, even if that feeling doesn't last all that long. I feel groomed again, just having my eyebrows waxed makes me feel a little classier.

I have no doubt that within a few weeks, or possibly days, I will be feeling out of control again, but right this second I'm feeling good. Almost good enough to compensate for the fact that Game of Thrones is not on this week.

I have a little time left before bedtime, I think I'll go grab my paintbrush! 

What would you do with a whole day to yourself? The general Facebook consensus was sleep.

Have you entered my Peppa Pig Friendship Month Giveaway yet? It ends soon, so don't miss out!

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Date Night With The Teen

Madeleine and I made it out of the house tonight for a rare girls night out with friends. We don't do it often, my girlfriend and I both have teenagers and babies so it can be a challenge to coordinate something for the teens.

Maddy was able to pick up some clothes that she tried on weeks ago but didn't have the money for at the time, and was lucky enough to score them at 30% off. Although how she managed to buy a pair of $30 pants for $10.46 is beyond me. Somehow they scanned at $14.95 instead of $29.95 and then got discounted further. Bargain! I grabbed her a pair of the $10 jeans from Target while we were there, this teen of mine has grown like a weed in the last 12 months and can longer fit into all her Aunties hand me downs. I think the time has finally come that she will be handing down to them.

I had a handful of Hoyts vouchers that were due to expire at the end of May, so the trip to the movies for the group was my treat but I completely forgot how expensive the food packages are! Since we had time to kill, we wandered down to Woolies and bought 2 bags of $0.99 popcorn and snuck into the parents room to cook them. A few minutes later we left the room smelling delicious and managed to have some cheap snacks to munch on. Going to the cinema is a rare treat for us these days, and I love to snack on popcorn. It just isn't the same without it, but the bagged kind is almost (only almost) as good as a giant tub.

Since we had been at the complex 2 hours by the time the movie started, the tight arse in me convinced my friend to move our cars. By the end of the movie it would have been $16 in parking charges! Each! 

It was a brilliant evening. It doesn't happen often enough, but we managed to do it cheap. I love my babies to death, but it's nice to have some teen time too sometimes.

Do you take your own snacks to the movies? Maddy thinks I have no shame. I'm pretty sure she's right.

Friday, May 23, 2014

8 Tips to Get The Best Price on Your New Car

I got my first (and only so far!) new car when I was 27. I'd like to say that I saved up and purchased it with cash, but in reality our second household car gave up the ghost right at a time when I had recently been promoted after years of struggling along to pay the mortgage while waiting for our big break. So we financed it.

We hadn't had much luck with cars before that. One after the other would break down, have power windows be permanently stuck unwound, gear box failures, everything seemed to happen. I even remember spending a few weeks with my driver side mirror sticky taped onto the car, which needed redoing every trip to make it stick. After spending thousands over the years fixing some shocking used cars, we decided it was definitely time for a new car.

The first time I climbed in to my new car was so exciting. The new car smell, the clean interior, the perfect handling, it's intoxicating. It was also the first car purchased for me. Every other car had been a hand me down from my sister, my mother or my husband. Good cars that served their purpose, but not ones that I got to shop for and choose as my favourite. Years later and we are always looking out now for our next car. We have long since outgrown our 5 seater medium sedan, and it's time to start considering something bigger.

If you are planning on buying a new car, there isn't a better time than now. The Volvo End of Financial Year sale is on, and now is the best time to pick up a new car with lower prices available and sales men all ready to bargain.

Before you head out on the hunt for a new car, here are my tips for making sure you walk away with the best price.

  • Visit multiple dealerships and explore their offers before you make a decision. Each dealer will have their own approach to customers and by the time you have spoken to two or three you will have a very good idea about the best price you can get and the options available.
  • Consider how the model you are choosing is going to fit your family over the next 5-7 years. This is a major purchase, and your circumstances will change. Is it possible you need a car with more car seat hooks? More leg room for teens?
  • Do some research on the costs of optional accessories and the insurance implications. Often if they are not standard, or not fitted by the dealer, they cost extra to insure or are excluded from your policy. Weigh up these costs when deciding whether to have them fitted as standard.
  • Take your quotes to your closest dealer and ask them to beat it. New car salesman are in a commission based role, they want your business and will look after you if you ask nicely!
  • Choose the last weekend of the month to complete the sale. If your salesman is trying to meet a quota, giving you a bigger discount to secure the deal could be in his best interests! But make sure you did your leg work first heading into the dealers much earlier to go for a test drive and source your quotes.
  • Once the sale is locked down and the price is set, ask again what your salesman can do for you. Road side service, upgrades, accessories, you never know what can be thrown in for the asking.
  • If you are financing your car, talk to your financier about whether they have any group buying discounts. We gave our financier what we thought was the best price, and they organised a further $800 discount for us from the same dealer!
  • Research your insurance costs before you walk into the dealer. Making a hasty decision on the insurance provider at the last minute could leave you hundreds of dollars out of pocket.
Lastly, one of my favourite things about visiting my dealer is the coffee. The very best dealers have a terrific coffee machine in the customer waiting area. If you have visited the dealer and haven't gotten a great coffee out of the experience you've done something wrong.

Do you have a terrific tip to share on getting the best price on a new car? 

This post on getting the best price on a new car is partnered with the Volvo End of Financial Year Sale. Now is the best time to get into your local dealership and start negotiating for your best price.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Reasons I'm OK With the Proposed Federal Budget

The country is divided over this budget, some hate it, very few actually like it, and there doesn't seem to be anyone who is not affected.

I am a child of the 80's. My teenage and young adult working years were all spent under the leadership of John Howard, and in a period of relative political stability in Australia. With the exception of a small period during the GFC I have never really known interest rate pain such as that experianced by my parents. I am fortunate enough to have a family unit that includes two incomes, and a supportive extended family. And maybe this narrow window of life experiance influences how I feel about the budget.

I'm OK with it.

I see the proposed budget a little like my own attitude to my credit card. I wouldn't rest until I paid it off, because I want to live within my means and have something leftover to help others. In the case of sudden financial crisis, I want to respond quickly and with the least amount of pain. You can't truly do that if your budget is out of control.

I want to return quickly to a time when essential medical care is free and accessible by all. I want a prosperous country to hand over to my children, to support those in need, and to maintain a comfortable standard of living for my family.

There are some aspects I don't agree with or that I wish had been handled differently, but one thing stays constant for me. Australian politics annoy the shit out of me. It frustrates me that we attack politicians personally and defocus issues by putting the person under the microscope. I don't care if our Treasurer makes a snotty comment about the cost of people smoking while also being filmed chugging away at a cigar. I feel like that is being dragged to my attention to make me feel differently about this budget, and I wish the media would just focus on how individuals will be impacted and what support is still out there.

I won't break it down for anyone. Unless you've been living under a rock, you probably have a good idea on how you are affected. In case you are not across it, here are a few sources that I have appreciated over the last week or so:

Money Mummy: The Federal Budget 2014. What does it mean for your family
Kylie Ofiu: The Federal Budget. How to survive despite it!
AMP: Federal Budget Summary Federal Budget 2014. Calculate exactly what it means for you
Sydney Morning Herald: Federal Budget 2014. Where will your tax dollars go?

For those people who are going to find life and finances more painful as a result of this budget, I truly hope that when the purse strings loosen again, that it is those in need that are supported first.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

My Blog May Have Abandonment Issues

I'll never be one of the greats. I was on a blogging roll this year until life got really busy. The crazy thing is that my life is so full of blog worthy activities right now, but I have no time to write about any of it. And that's why I'll never be one of the great bloggers.

So what's keeping me too busy to blog right now?

Lorelei turned 3 this month, and between a family get together and a big preschool party I've had no time to spare. Cake baking, decoration and invitation making, party planning, I'm not actually sure how I squeezed it all in but the party was fantastic and my crowning moment was Lorelei sucking in her breathe and squealing "for me!?!" when I did the big cake unveiling. It made staying up till 2 in the morning decorating the cake all worth while. The cake is from Cake2theRescue (who I've featured on the blog before) and if you are looking for some terrific free Dora printables to decorate a party I have a collection of them on my Dora Pinterest board!

This IT gig is keeping me on my toes. I am learning so much every day, and I'm still loving it, but the part I don't love is the hours. At the beginning of a project work and life are pretty balanced but by the end I'm working till midnight every night and weekends. I just wrapped up another one on Friday (while also pulling together Lorelei's party to happen Saturday!) so hopefully I'll be back to being balanced again for a while. This is a (bad) photo of my workstation at the moment. I have the laptop, an extra monitor AND a Mac at the moment, all usually in use at the same time on the same piece of work. If you look closely, you can see a photo of me and Husband way back in the olden days.

House hunting has also been a priority for us this last month, and I'm going to liken it to trying to get pregnant with Lorelei (the only one of my three kids who was planned properly). Finding a house hubby and I agree on, making an offer, dancing the price dance, and losing the property is agonising. What's worse is we actually far enough to make an offer that was accepted this month, put down our 0.25 deposit, only to choose to walk away when we saw the results of our pest and building inspection. That was one of the hardest decisions we've made, both because it means letting of the house we had emotionally attached to already, but also because it means walking away from the deposit, the cost of the building inspection, and the accumulated legals. It's almost as hard as the 2 minutes we waited in between peeing on the stick and seeing only 1 line instead of the hoped for 2.

Credit.  Most definitely not the house we made an offer on. We can dream right?
And finally I'm also trying to do up a bookshelf for Sebastian. With zero DIY skill I thought I would try my hand at a painted bookshelf. We hope to do up his bedroom in our new house eventually in a red/navy pirate theme, so this board is my inspiration for painting this bookshelf. It's slow going, because I only get time to paint an extra layer on the occasional shelf every few nights, but hopefully now that my work has settled down again I will make more progress. What makes it harder than it needs to be is that each shelf is fixed so I can't just remove them and paint them plus the back wall of the bookshelf easily. Slow and steady it's starting to get there.

Each of these things deserved a post of their own but this will have to do. I definitely want to share more on the bookshelf when it's finished.

What's keeping you busy this month?  Any DIY tips for me?

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Bedroom Themes for Kids with Manchester Warehouse

This is a partnered post with Manchester Warehouse who have quality brands at prices well below RRP. If you are looking for Manchester of all kinds as well as some beautiful home wares, make sure you check them out.

After 12 months of living in a rental property, Husband and I are both starting to get antsy. Antsy for a yard that the toddlers can play in, antsy for walls that can be painted to suit ourselves, and walls that can be knocked down if we don't like them.

Renting has had it's benefits, but we are more than ready to start shopping for a new home. With that in mind, of course I've skipped straight over the actual buying of the house, and I'm already planning the kids bedrooms. I can't wait to give them themed rooms that suit their personalities and I'm constantly looking for idea's for their Pinterest boards.

Sebastian's room is going to be a red/navy pirate room. We've already started work painting a new toy box/bookshelf for him, but meanwhile we're also looking out for the accessories and Manchester that will tie the room together. That shark is my favourite accessory of all time, how cute is it!

For Lorelei, we are thinking an under the sea/mermaid them will work, she is mermaid MAD at the moment and it should be fairly simple to pull something cute together. I spotted some cute scatter cushions for her bed, and we are thinking that a gauzy white or blue canopy will give Lolly a sense of being in the ocean when she is tucked up tight in bed.

Madeleine will be my hardest. Despite being my beautiful ballerina who loves nail polish, pointe shoes, and bright clothes, she hates the colour pink and likes to think of herself as a tomboy. She's hard work to buy anything for because she has boxed herself into a cliche that she doesn't actually fit that well. We want to give her a bedroom she will love, so we turned her loose to pick her favourites from Manchester Warehouse, curious to see what direction she would take. Surprise, surprise, she has given me 2 very different themes to work with. And who would have guess, she sniffed out the One Direction quilt cover!

Determined as I am to stick to the themes I've chosen for the kids rooms, it was hard work going past these Cubby House Kids themed quilt covers. How funny are these ballerina and spaceman covers! I have so many nieces and nephews going into big kid beds over the next year or two, at $37.45 I think I have all their birthday presents sorted.

Do you have a unique bedroom theme for your kids? I'd love suggestions for the teen who is going to be very hard to get into a room that will suit her into her young adult years.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Happy Mothers Day! (Attempt 2)

After last Sunday's delightful sleep in it was inevitable that I would be up with the birds for my real Mothers day. Madeleine point blank refused to get out of bed and help her father with breakfast, so after listening to him work his way around the kitchen trying to pull together a hot breakfast with two hungry toddlers demanding breakfast I gave in and got up to help him make Mothers Day wonderful.

Which it was. Choc Chip and Sprinkle pancakes for breakfast followed by a return to bed to open my presents. I'm not sure why we do presents in bed, it's a bit of a nod to the expectation that I will have had a nice sleep in.

The Mothers Day award goes to our preschool teachers. The amount of effort they put into making sure my child gives me something special is phenomenal. Besides the obligatory hand print and rhyme (which I love, I keep all of them), Sebastian's class gave their mums a repurposed Heinz jar which had a Betty Crocker cake baked into it, topped with a patty pan and spoon. Clever or what?

Admittedly Sebastian fought me for cake privileges but I managed to get a few bites.

Maddy thought she had it in the bag with Lindt chocolates and Pj's, and snaps to her and Ahmad, this year they are in adults sizes not kids. I'm looking forward to snuggling up in them for bedtime tonight and the chocolates are long demolished.

Lolly however gets all of my cute points today producing some beautiful roses she picked in the garden and lisping out perfectly "Happy Mudders Day!".

So much effort goes into helping kids make Mums feel loved today. And I feel very loved, so it was all worth it. Thank you to my beautiful children for a fun, funny, day with lots of laughter.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Happy Mothers Day! (Attempt 1)

Husband and I had an awesome sleep in today. That is to say, neither toddler woke up till 6:36am, and by our standards for a weekend that is awesome. Normally Sebastian will need resettling at stupid o'clock, and on the nights that he doesn't, Lorelei decides that breakfast should be served at 4am.

So I was kind of surprised to find Husband sluggish and harder to kick out of bed this morning than usual. Normally a well placed knee in his back will do the trick but today required rousing myself far more than is easy to still pretend to be asleep in order to get him moving.

"You go, I woke up at 2am and couldn't sleep".

I processed this, listening to Sebastian's demands from the next room get louder. "What did you do at 2am?"

"I did the dishes." Sweet.

"I hung out the wet washing and washed a new load". Getting better and better.

"I ducked up to Kmart to do some shopping". (Totes not sponsored btw.) Say what now??

It's not unheard of for me to go and do weird o'clock shopping at Kmart, but then I'm the one who suffers from insomnia time to time. I flicked through all the reasons he might exert himself to go shopping, and finally clicked. Mothers Day! "Why didn't you wait till later this week and go after work?"

The silence was deafening and once again I clicked. "You thought today was Mothers Day!"

Husband grumpily admitted that this was the case, and I started to jump out of bed to give him a little more sleep. Then the penny dropped.

"You thought it was Mothers Day and you were still going to make me get up to make everyone breakfast? AND you left it till 2am on the day to think about a present!"

I bet you can guess which one of us stayed in bed this morning.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Peppa Pig Friendship Month! PJ Giveaway

We are all huge fans of Peppa Pig in the Mummy Hearts Money household. Excitement is building over an upcoming visit to see Peppa LIVE! at our local club, and every night Peppa Pig is the first choice in bedtime stories.

Peppa is a lovable, cheeky little piggy who lives with her younger brother George, Mummy Pig and Daddy Pig. Peppa loves playing games, dressing up, visiting exciting places and making new friends, but her absolutely favourite thing is jumping up and down in muddy puddles. Her adventures always end happily with loud snorts of laughter.

You too can enjoy your own Peppa Pig adventure this May. Simply visit any ABC store this May to ‘find Peppa and her friends’. Collect an entry form from the till point and write down the name of the characters that you find. Once you have completed the hunt, hand your completed entry form to the counter to be entered into the competition and receive a Peppa Pig giveaway.

While you're there, these are some of my favourite products for bringing Peppa's influence into the home where I need it most! Everything is under $10 so doesn't break the bank as a little treat once in a while.

RRP $7.99
 Lorelei was more than a little scared at her first dentist trip and wouldn't open her mouth. We read this story to her every night for a few weeks and then tried again with success. Thanks Peppa!

RRP $9.99
What kid will argue about bedtime when they can sleep with their very own Mr Dinosaur just like Georges?

RRP $5.99

This is the perfect two pack for my little Peppa fans. Admittedly they both already love brushing their teeth, but they love brushing them even more with these.

To celebrate Peppa Pig's friendship month in May, I have a set of the most adorable Peppa PJ's to giveaway!

Easy entry via the Rafflecopter below.