Saturday, August 29, 2009

Superior Scribbler Award

Wow! I was absolutely thrilled to be awarded the Superior Scribbler Award by Glynis of New Scribbles from Glynis Smy. Thank you, Glynis - you made my day! It is an extra special award because it is the first blogging award I've received for Crafts on a Budget!

Here are the rules for the Superior Scribbler award:
  • Each Superior Scribbler must in turn pass The Award on to 5 most-deserving Bloggy Friends.

  • Each Superior Scribbler must link to the author & the name of the blog from whom he/she has received The Award.

  • Each Superior Scribbler must display The Award on his/her blog, and link to This Post, which explains The Award.

  • Each Blogger who wins The Superior Scribbler Award must visit this post and add his/her name to the Mr. Linky List. That way, we'll be able to keep up-to-date on everyone who receives This Prestigious Honor!

  • Each Superior Scribbler must post these rules on his/her blog.

I would like to pass this award onto five bloggers who have inspired me to be creative, thrifty or both! They are (in no particular order):

I find many other blogs inspiring, so please don't be disappointed if I haven't chosen yours this time.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Weeks Two and Three of the Buy Nothing Challenge, August 2009

Gosh, August is going by so quickly - I can't believe that the third week is over already! So much is going on in my life at the moment that I didn't have time to post last week, so I'm writing here about the last two weeks of the Buy Nothing for August 2009 Challenge.

Week 2

In week 2 of the Buy Nothing Challenge, I was aiming to spend no money at all outside the rules. I almost achieved this. The only spending outside the rules was:

  • A total of A$27.50 on Sunday Funday train tickets and a Chinese meal before going to the circus at the Sydney Exhibition Centre. We were very generously given the circus tickets, so we were fortunate enough to have a great family afternoon/early evening out on a tight budget. We went with some friends who introduced us to a great value place to eat Chinese food - the food court on the edge of Sydney's Chinatown. I would highly recommend it - we spent just under A$20 on a selection of delicious Chinese dishes, including curried beef that was so tender that it melted in your mouth!

Week 3

Week 3 didn't go quite as well. We didn't spend money on anything outside the rules on Monday to Friday, but, once again, the weekend proved difficult. However, I did sell a couple of things on eBay, making a total of A$62, which helped to boost our funds a little. Our spending outside the rules was:

  • A$12 on food and drink in McDonalds on Saturday. The children got extremely bored in the house and so I took them to McDonalds down the road where there is an indoor play area. Of course, they wanted food and drink as well (even though we'd already had lunch!) but I guess A$12 was not too much to pay for a couple of hours' entertainment.

  • It was a glorious sunny day on Sunday and we took advantage of it by going to one of our favourite places - Woy Woy on the central coast, north of Sydney. We ended up spending more than we intended - A$7.50 on the train fare (we can resist the Sunday Fun Day offer of A2.50 per person to anywhere in the Sydney area if you are traveling with children!), A$12 on drinks in our favorite cafe in Woy Woy, A$8 on ice cream, and A$30 on takeaway fish and chips - it was such a beautiful day that we ended up staying later than we planned and so had fish and chips there. Total spending for the day was A$57.50.

As for the grocery shopping, it has been at A$200 for each of the past two weeks. Next week, I'm aiming to reduce it to below A$200!

Progress Report

What am I learning about saving money from this challenge? First of all, that frugality is a habit. The longer I am on the challenge, the easier it seems to be to restrain myself from spending money unnecessarily. I'm glad therefore that the challenge lasts for a month, rather than a week or two - I think that it will help me to put good long-term habits in place.

I'm also realizing that we need a have a monthly budget for family days out at the weekend. We enjoy these times together as a family and the fact that we've not given them up during the challenge shows how important they are for us. After August is over, I will set a future monthly budget based on our spending on these days out during the month of August.

I find it much easier not to spend money on week days (Monday to Friday) than at the weekend. It wasn't too difficult to eliminate such temptations to spend money as going to the shopping centre after picking my daughter up from school and visiting a coffee shop with my son while my daughter was at school. I think I'll be able to keep up such habits after the challenge is over.

So, onto the last week or so of the challenge...

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Week One of the Buy Nothing Challenge, August 2009

Week one of the Buy Nothing Challenge for August 2009 is at an end. I don't think I've done too badly this week but I have had some spending outside the limits of the challenge. Here is a round-up of my spending on items other than food and bills:
  • The dental check-up. Unfortunately, the check-up revealed that I do need further treatment, which I can't afford at the moment. I hope that the problem doesn't get a lot worse before I can afford the treatment.
  • A day out on a budget - total spending was A$27.50 for our family of four. Last Sunday was a glorious day and we decided to take advantage of the sunshine by heading for a beautiful place called Brooklyn on the Hawkesbury River, north of Sydney. We spent a total of A$7.50 on Sunday Funday train tickets, ate our packed lunch and fruit, had a nice walk, the children played in a park and then we spent A$20 on ice creams and a plate of chips (French fries).
  • Postage for couple of handmade cards and a handmade note book for my friend in the UK, whose birthday is next week.
  • Oh yes, I almost forgot - I also spent A$29 on a pay-as-you-go credit for my mobile phone. I didn't upload it until I definitely needed to make a call and, since it is valid for a month after you upload, I saved a little money on the days on which I was out of credit. As we don't have a home phone, our mobiles are essential.

I employed a few strategies to stop myself spending money this week:

  • I had to visit the shopping centre to go to the post office but I went there just a short time before I had to pick my daughter up from school. That meant that I had just enough time to go to the post office and walk back to school before pick-up time and so I didn't have any time to browse in shops. I had thought of going after school but I knew that children + shopping centres = spending money, no matter how hard you try!!
  • Often the hardest times to avoid spending money is when my daughter is bored, so this week, she went with one of her friends to the local park. We took along some food that I already had in the house and the girls enjoyed an afternoon tea in the fresh air.
  • Today (Saturday), my daughter has a friend coming around and the girls are going to make cookies using ingredients that I already have.

Although I didn't do too badly last week, I want to try harder this coming week. I am aiming to spend no money on anything outside of the rules. I'd also like to reduce our weekly grocery bill further. In the past few months, I've already reduced it from A$250-280 per week to A$200-220. I would like to reduce it to A$180-200 (and possibily further) but I don't know how as I'm being as frugal as I possibly can at the moment. I'll have a look on the Internet and see if I can find some tips.

I'd be interested to hear how other people on the challenge are doing. I'll be visiting Crunchy Chicken later to find out.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

The Buy Nothing Challenge for August 2009

I have joined the Buy Nothing Challenge for August 2009 being hosted at Crunchy Chicken. The rules are to spend as little money as possible in August by not spending anything on:

* New clothes
* New gadgets
* New furniture or housewares
* Salon services
* Makeup
* Tools
* Whatever else people buy

I don't think that this will be too difficult as I've been trying to save as much money as possible for a few months now, as we knew that my husband's contract was coming to an end.

This week, as kind of a practice for the challenge, I tried to spend as little as possible. I did, however, do a little spending outside the rules above:
  • I paid A$33 for haircuts for myself and my daughter - we both badly needed them and I went to the cheapest salon in town - it is also a very good salon and I'm very pleased with the results.
  • On Monday, I took my daughter to the food court for lunch. It was the last day of the school holidays here in Australia, so I thought that we would have a little treat and I knew that it would be the last time we would eat lunch out for a while.
  • Today, I have an appointment with the dentist for a check-up. Although I could have cancelled this appointment, I regard it as essential spending to avoid any small problem getting worse and requiring much more expensive and extensive treatment, leading to such dental dramas as happened to me earlier on this year. I just hope that I don't need any more treatment as I can't afford it at the moment.

Apart from that, all I have spent money on this week is food/groceries and bills. Why do the bills all seem to arrive at once? In the past week, we have had to pay the gas, electricity and water bills!

I think the most difficult times not to spend money will be the weekends. I'm trying to avoid going out and spending money by planning some activities to do at home. There are several craft projects that I have in mind, so watch this space.

Crafts are a great way to pass the time if you don't have much money...and, as I try to show, you don't have to spend much on materials. I'm feeling inspired already, but I must visit the dentist first!

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