Then we had lots of inspiration from Vicky, seeing what she achieved last year and just what is possible. You can do big things in a year!
Yesterday we started thinking about what we want to make, use up, learn as far as crafts and present making for the year go. And I got started and made my first thing which is a ballerina pillowcase for Harper. Today I have lots of cutting out to do.
Now we are facing the finances and savings! I know many of you are having big financial challenges. Some are paying things off. Several I know are working to build good emergency funds.
In 2016 I started The Vicky Challenge which is what I called it because I just copied what Vicky did!
She told me she always recorded her savings from her own work and efforts at home as a personal challenge to herself and also an answer to anyone who said the familiar "Oh, you don't work then?"
When you looked at her savings it was tough to figure out if she would earn more if she worked outside the home or not. Probably not.
A few years ago we gave up take aways and I learned to make a good pizza! Don't have a fit but this saved $2600 in the first year! Now I keep ahead with meals in the freezer so I am never caught out.
Years ago I used calculators on a website called Crown Financial Ministries. It helped you work out how much you were making per hour at your job. I sat and did this with my friend who had two babies and she was considering going back to work. You went through a process of starting with your wage then subtracting tax, childcare and all work related expenses such as uniform, fuel etc. etc.
Then you considered more extended work related expenses like having less time so buying more ready made and convenience things, the work rated social things that always seem to come with any job, the things you end up outsourcing due to having less time.
With this final figure you divided it by the hours worked.
Hers worked out to be about $1 an hour profit after all that was taken out.
She was amazed.
Yet many people never even do the maths!
At the time I said to her how she could SAVE hundreds a week with her work at home and we started coming up with lots of ways to save instead.
This exercise taught me that saving is like income that is not taxed!
One of my easiest meals for the freezer are pies. I found anything I make in the slow cooker i.e. a chicken, lamb or beef casserole makes the most delicious one filling. And pies freeze beautifully!
The way Vicky did things really amazed me and I wanted to try it! I love a challenge and I like the motivation. So from Jan 1 2016 I wrote down all my savings week by week. I kept a list on the fridge and at the end of the week I would add it all up. I counted things like the savings I made from making things from scratch, supermarket savings, making meals for the freezer instead of buying takeaway, mending, packing lunches etc.
I didn't count the normal things I do like cleaning the house. But if you had a house cleaner and took it over yourself in order to save then I would count that.
So it is up to you what you count and how you approach it.
The first few weeks I was amazed by my savings! At the end of the year my total was well over $30,000. I took on big things! I was quoted $25,000 to get my house painted and I did it myself for $3000. So I "paid" myself $22,000!
In 2015 I started on soap making. I included Miracle cleaner, Wool wash, laundry detergent, bubble bath, hard soap...
This supplies us and also adds to my gift cupboard.
If you want to read more about this challenge read Welcome to the Vicky Challenge. There is a link in this post too back to when Vicky first explained it to me. I have found this such a motivating exercise I will be doing it again this year. Last week I added up all my savings for 2017 and I beat the year before by several thousand dollars! I could see each individual way I saved for the whole year. Andy could see each one and the totals. He was amazed. You really have a great sense of achievement. Starting again now I am determined to beat last year!
In 2015 I did a challenge that I found on Money Saving Mom. This was amazing and such an eye opener. You had to find 52 ways to save $100. Each one could be anyway it added up to $100 i.e. it could be a one off saving such as rising up your insurance company and getting a lower rate. Or right down to 100 ways to save $1. I remember giving up a weekly coffee and cake I had for $8. When I worked out that saved $416 a year I was able to cross off FOUR of my $100 segments!
You can find this challenge here: 52 Ways to Save at least $100. I really loved it and I learned a lot. And it really saved me $5000 plus! If you want to establish an emergency fund, get some savings, pay something off... this is fantastic. Many of my savings ended up being different to Money Saving Moms but I also got heaps of amazing ideas from her. The biggest thing was calculating the ANNUAL cost of things rather than the weekly cost. Things that seem small and harmless suddenly seemed enormous.
Some of my $100 savings areas were things I stopped doing rather than things I started. i.e. organising my fridge better and checking through it twice a week to make sure nothing is wasted. So much food is thrown away and it is just money down the drain. A simple habit of adding what needs to be used up into your menu plan can be a huge money saver.
Each of these things really helped me to see my work at home as a real income and to see the potential. Last year I found new savings. This is the amazing thing... just when you think you are doing great you find new ways to save. My sour dough was one thing. Yoghurt making was another. This saved me at least five dollars a week on yoghurt but then also gave me further savings as it replaced ever needing to buy sour cream, I make my own raita, tatziki and it adds nutrition to cakes and muffins as well. One thing leads to another!
Then I learned to make my own enchilada sauce (also thanks to Vicky) and ridiculously, this one thing saved about $12 each time I make a big batch of enchiladas! Since I have an enchilada cook up about once a month that is $144 a year on this one small thing.
Butter chicken spice mixes, Enchilada mix, cream of Chicken soup, french onion soup mix.
I use all these so much!
Each one is a significant savings and none have any artificial anything as an added bonus compared to bought mixes.
Amazed by this I learned to make my own butter chicken mixtures and just about everything else that I ever used to buy in a packet!
Menu planning and shopping at many more places was a major saver. I was shocked at the price differences by going further afield. It took me time but it was very well paid time! Another way I think menu planning saved me was just a change of awareness of what I have in the house. Knowing I am over twenty meals ahead and seeing that list I know I do NOT have to buy anything so I can wait for the deals. Then I buy up.
Another way this has helped me save is with the challenge to have a list of meals I have on hand I am always trying to add a meal to the list.... this seems to have made me much better at getting another meal out of things. I am forever setting aside something because really the meal I am making has enough and I will save an ingredient for something else. These ingredients often soon add up to an extra meal. Mimi taught me a lot about that! Once a week or so I get an extra meal just having a left overs night. This could be making something creative with what is in the fridge or even having different things for dinner. You know when you have a bit of left over this and a bit of leftover that? I will say to Andy "would you like left over curry or left over chicken?" He will say the curry... and I will eat the chicken! Who cares if we are not both having the same thing! I just got an extra meal and extended my list! 😊
This year I want to add selling things to My Vicky Challenge. I know many of you already sell things and several that want to start. Adding alternative income streams is a really good idea. I have a few things in mind and I need to make it a habit and get good at it! I used to sell cooking to a cafe and embroidery to a baby store. I made and sold baby blankets, embroidered sheets and pillowcases, ladies nighties, pram sets and toys.
I created my own little characters and made scenes of such things as mice getting married, pushing baby mice in prams and so on! haha!
When the girls were little I sewed into the night!
I also have a stash of things I have accumulated knowing I COULD sell them but never got around to it. So selling things is being added to my challenge.
The Vicky Challenge is financial. And finances are a big part of life! But it does't take into account the other benefits of your work at home. To me the biggest part of being home is about creating the home, atmosphere, a safe haven from the world! Over the weekend I hope to work on a post about this.
I will be back tomorrow with Feather your Nest Friday and sum up the week! I hope your first week of 2018 is off to a good start!
What are your savings goals this year?
Have you thought about new ways to save and new ways to bring in more money?
What do you think would work for you as motivation? I like to do challenges as these motivate me. But we have to do something that works for us. Some people like spreadsheets, or apps or a wall chart.... work out what would work best for you. Another reason I like a challenge is reporting how I am going here makes me think I better DO SOMETHING or I will have nothing to report! If this works for you then join in and report here every week in our Friday round up.
Some of you achieved fantastic things last year! I loved hearing this! There were some big ones like loans paid off and deposits saved!
I notice many things we can do seem very small. But seeds are small too so think in terms of you are sowing seeds and sooner or later you will be reaping a harvest. Lots of really small things add up. I am always amazed by how much!
It is going to take me a while to catch up with comments and replies for this week but I will get there. I really wanted to get things going and set plans into action. It is helping me heaps! It is exciting to see the opportunity of a new year. xxx