The little birds...

If you watch little birds you will see they are busy and happy! Using whatever they can find they create the most gorgeous little nest.
I would be the little bird with some glittery thread in her nest!
We can be like this. Happily working away with the things that are available to us to create a beautiful and happy home.
All the while with a little song in our heart.

Banner by Free Pretty Things for You.

Sunday 3 January 2016

Welcome to the Vicky Challenge.

Welcome to The Vicky Challenge!

For anyone who might have missed it here is the introduction The Vicky Challenge. Read this first.

I have always considered my work at home to equal money saved is money earned. But I have never actually added it up!  Vicky told me she knows what she saved the family and "earned" for the year and I was amazed. Why didn't I think of this!?

So this year I am going to do my best to count my savings and I am pretty sure this will be encouraging and motivating to me plus inspire me to save in new ways, maybe ways I had not considered before! Maybe to learn new skills, make subsititutions and be more creative. I certainly learned a lot of new ways to save in 2015. Changing chemists saved us $600 alone!

If anyone would like to join me please do! I am going to try and make it very easy and very flexible. I think even after one week most of us will be shocked how much our savings are. In many cases we would be hard pressed to go out to work and end up with that amount after you subtract tax, fuel and work related expenses.
Now, this is about the finances. We frequently talk about the money can't buy values of what we do in the home. These things are all above priceless. In this instance we are looking at the financial side and not implying at all that this is more important. It is just the other side of it all.
Since I know many are facing reduced incomes, increased challenges, anything encouraging and motivating is interesting to me. Plus I like a challenge. Challenges motivate me!

I also hear so often someone say that they are under pressure "to contribute financially" as they are a stay home Mum or whatever the circumstances. Or working part time etc. This drives me crazy. It is extremely insulting to think that a persons hard work at home is worth nothing and means no one has bothered to acknowledge it's worth. If even one week of this challenge was to prove to someone how much they save the family then it is worth it.

If you work part or full time your efforts at home are still saving money. I know ladies who make meals all Sunday afternoons or gifts in the evenings and many many things. All these things save a huge amount of money.

I am going to use a small note book and fill it in each day. If I am out and about I will jot things down and fill it in at the end of the day. You could use your phone, computer, diary or whatever suits. I will do weekly totals, then monthly then the whole year.

Week one will be a bit of an experiment.  There are things we each have to decide ie what to count.
I am not going to count housework. I do that anyway. But maybe if you have a cleaner and decide to do it yourself you would count that.

I am going to count the amount I save doing my own hair since I know I save a lot this way.

I am going to count that I send all of Andy's lunches, snacks and coffees each day to work.

I will count the amount I save on a gift by making it, the preserves I make, when I make a birthday cake and so on. Many of these ideas you will find covered in Vicky's original article.

Also I am counting the amount I save painting my own house! I will ask my friend who is a painter how much he thinks it would have cost. I'll save all my dockets from paint, brushes etc and subtract all of those and at the end of the year add in the savings in one lump. I think it will be over $5000 anyway.

To do this we need to know at least roughly the cost of things. This is an interesting exercise!  I took a photo of the bakery price list so I know just how much are sausage rolls for when I make trays of them! Even that amazed me!

If you consider the things you do yourself or make yourself try and gather prices as you go about your normal things. I am counting doing my own nails and toes since once I paid for those things.  I snapped a photo of the price list as I went by the salon the other day. Easy!

To make it really simple this week try and update yourself on the cost of things. As if you do that you will easily be able to add that amount each week or each month accordingly. So it is only one time to work it out. In my case this applies to the lunches and my hair, nails etc.

Being entirely out of touch with hair services I went into my two closest salons as I went past and picked up price lists. Chloe assures me these two salons are not particularly fancy ones, just nice. So prices are pretty normal for my area.
The two price lists only differed around $10 at most for each service.
After fainting I calculated that my colour, trim etc is around $225 per month. I cannot go a month without touch up colour but I will go with a month. And to get out of a salon you have it dried etc. Anyway it is $225 a month minimum. (By the way it costs me about $15)
So each month when I do my adding up I will add $225. I don't have to work it out over and over. I'm done.

Then to Andy's lunches...

Another shock! He takes a double coffee in the morning, morning tea, lunch and some nuts or fruit incase it's a long day for late afternoon. I checked a sandwich or roll and the type of things he takes in the bakery, subway etc. I have come up with it would cost about $22 a day. Which is horrific but thats what it would cost to buy. That is $110 a week. I followed up and asked two girlfriends how much their  husbands and family spend on food at work. And this lined up as "normal". Truly it would be cheaper to stay home I think!

So again I don't have to work this out over and over, I will just add this amount each week.

Savings ie meat on special I will count those savings. These are easy to work out from the prices on the goods vs what we paid for them.

Odd things we need to check out. ie I am about to pick a few buckets of peaches. I will guess the weight per bucket and times it by the price of peaches in the store. This means checking on current prices but that's easy enough. Then write that in my savings.
Anytime I see the price of something I often make I will record it and maybe have a little price book so that I have the information on hand as I need it.

We want to make it as easy as possible.

Even if you do not want to do the challenge I hope you notice how much things cost and how much you are saving! Also sometimes thinking of things differently gives us ideas! We might decide to give up something expensive and find a substitute and realise we just saved some ridiculous amount per year. Many times something seems a small saving until you work out what it equals over a year. Suddenly it is a big saving.

We have to note that prices of goods and services vary widely according to where we live. I notice the US ladies food prices are much different to ours. We have to go by our own local prices.
What we choose to count and not count will vary. That is a personal decision.

You may or may not want to say how much you saved! That is fine. You might like to share HOW you saved and your successes and failures rather than numbers. That is ok.  As long as you are feeling happy, saving and feeling motivated then that is all that matters. If you have an idea that someone else might use please share it. Heavens it is only that Vicky was telling me what she does that made me realise what I could be doing. We get ideas from each other.  Something you might say may be a big help to someone.

I am counting from Jan 1. So this week I only have 3 days to report. Partly by luck my savings in the first three days are crazy!

Andy was not at work so I have no lunches to count.
The first big one was my washing machine broke down. It is pretty old and Andy looked at it to see if he could fix it but no. Well, I follow Laines advice. If I have a chance to have a back up appliance I do. And about a year ago I found a brand new washing machine put out in the flats near us with all of someone's furniture! I reported it here. At the time I googled the manual and printed it and saw it was worth over $800.
So that is right now $800 for our efforts and putting this away. I cannot tell you how glad I am about this!

Next on Saturday we finally pulled up terrible carpet from our bedroom as we discovered there are lovely polished floorboards underneath! It was a huge and messy job. We both worked all day. In the end our floor went from this:

To this:

I know polished floorboard floors would cost a lot to put in. However they were already there...
So I will count we didn't hire tradespeople we did all this ourselves. Last time I had a tradesperson he was about $100 an hour! Man hours was all day for the both of us! I will just count $500 savings and be conservative. I would also say this added value to our house.

So I have $1300 to write in my savings book, without even thinking of anything else! Talk about a good start! I am going to be very interested to see what a week holds and then what my total is at the end of January.

What you do with the savings is another personal thing. Some of us, including me at times, will save in one area and allocate the money to another. ie last year I saved in lots of areas and used the money on building up my pantry and emergency fund.
You might like to save for a holiday or lower the mortgage or anything at all!
But many times the fact is we have saved an enormous amount of money and it's money we don't have spare to actually put anywhere. It is more a case of value adding and having and doing things we could not normally afford. There isn't cash to send from A to B. Instead our efforts have greatly increased our families lives, meals, beautified the house, allowed us to give lovely gifts and all sorts of things far above our actual income. Either way is wonderful.

Your efforts build up your home enormously. Financially is just one aspect but I want you to see how huge it is. Laine always made a point to showing her husband what she had been working on, what she had achieved that day and how much she had saved. I thought this was wonderful. That man knew how hard she worked and how far she made his hard earned wage go. That made them a great team. I loved that. He knew she could take $10 and turn it into much more!

I will re start my count from today and report a full week next Monday. I have a grocery shop to do so that will be my first chance to save. It will be an interesting week!

I am hoping to add many new savings by doing things I haven't even thought of yet! One really good way to make huge savings is to identify your leak or weakness. It might be magazines, work lunches, takeaway food or lottery tickets! It could be anything... but if you know what it is finding a solution to that one thing might mean thousands are saved this year. Many things have very simple solutions. This is the challenge!

This first couple of weeks of January I am setting the scene for the year. I have some extra posts as I think about the whole new year and how to go about it.

Wednesday we will start The Christmas Challenge. I start making presents now toward next Christmas and also all the birthdays during the year.  There will be loads of ideas of what to make, how to present it and at the end of each month a show and tell. But the rest I will post on Wednesday! (All your savings on gifts will also go into your Vicky Challenge savings!)

Have a wonderful week. It is so exciting to get going into the new year. Today is beautiful, sunny and mild. I can't wait to report back next Monday. I am sure there will be lots of astonishment as we work out what we saved!xxx


  1. You are off and running, Annabel. I hope you have a wonderful New Year. You are an inspiration to so many young mums out there including my girl. Something I learned this week on another friend's site was about an App called TrackmySPEND by ASIC. This might be helpful too.

    1. Thanks Nanna Chel. The app is a good idea thank you. If I had someone techy we could develop The Vicky Challenge app! How good would that be! You never know... maybe one day!
      Have a good week of savings! xxx

  2. Good morning Annabel love the challenge but not sure I will be able to take part - a few things that I need to do health wise that will probably impact on things here, if they go wrong that is.

    As previously mentioned we needed a new BBQ - ours was at least 12 years old, cost around $100- when we purchased it and has been moved (and broken in the process) at least twice since we purchased it.

    Yesterday my husband went and purchased the new BBQ, he then did a tip run to get rid of the old one and the accumulated cardboard boxes etc.

    He has been putting it together and is now on the home run.

    The BBQ was $400- off, her purchased a cover that was 1/2 price so another savings of $50-.

    The BBQ comes in pieces so he is putting it together, working on $100- an hour (and if my memory serves me correctly that was the base figure quoted in a magazine story I recently read) I can add another $300- to the savings.

    I have some soaps to wrap for gifting tomorrow - if I say $2-00 per wrapped soap (remember these are the organic ones from Kogan) I have seen wrapped soaps advertised for at least $10-, sometimes $15-, I will work on $8-00 savings x 24 = $192-.

    So far I am up to $942- without even trying.

    We also have the rental bathroom to do - quote from the builder that the property manager organised was $17,000-.

    The builder I called in has given us a base quote of $10,000- without any fixtures, tiles etc. There is no way that we will be spending $7,000- on those items. My budget is $2,000- but it will probably be less.

    Annabel my suggestion to you for painting is to make sure that you use a paint shop and not a place like Bunnings - we had problems with Bunnings messing up the tint, it meant that we had to paint the whole room again. This hasn't happened since we moved to using a paint shop.

    Also see if they will give you trade discount because you are going to be buying a lot from them - it doesn't hurt to ask and you may just be lucky.

    I hate to think of just how much we have saved just by getting trade prices.

    I think you know this trick but you can cover your paint brush and roller with a plastic bag when you are having a break, means you just need to wash them out at the end of the day.

    Have a great week


    1. Dear Lynette,
      You are always reporting ways you save as you renovate and do things and tips. I am more than happy and grateful for that and know it has saved you a fortune! Also the way you re use things.
      Thanks for the painting info. I am investigating a few things... thanks for the tip about the colour mixing. Andy has a trade discount at our local hardware and they are very good on paint, tinting etc. Also we know a painter. Maybe I can get paint wholesale through him... and finally through Dads business maybe I can get a discount or wholesale. I am checking each of these out. I looked yesterday and paint is so expensive, I saw a large tin of exterior for $204. So I will be checking how to do this as it could make a huge difference... further adding to the savings of doing the painting myself!
      The way you worked out the savings on the gift soap is really good. It goes to show how fast these savings add up! That is wonderful.
      Thank you for your help Lynette. Have a great week. Love

  3. Dear Annabel,

    The Vicky Challenge is finally here! I can't tell you how excited I am about this, both to see what my work amounts to financially and the ideas and accomplishments of the other ladies. You are absolutely right that what we do is priceless, but this will also prove to ourselves that our work contributes greatly to the financial side of things. When my husband and I first got married, his family would drop little hints about me getting a part time job. They would say the local cafe is hiring or some such thing. They were kind about it but I knew what they were getting at. (I mean, what could I possibly be doing all day? I may as well spend all of that "free time" I have getting a paycheck and helping with the bills, right? Lol!) But one of the reasons I get on so well with my in-laws now is because they see how much I take care of my husband and the home he leaves in my hands each day while he is away at work. (They have even told me this.) That is my full time job, and I don't need or want another one. And if I did get a job, we may have more money coming in, but our lifestyle would become so much more expensive and stressful. It's hard to get people to see that. I am grateful that my husband does. We have lived off one income from the start (five years ago), not a high-paying one either, and I know that part of our financial well-being (aside from my husband's hard work, of course) is due to my efforts at home. I look forward to sharing them here and hopefully it will be an encouragement to others.
    January 1st and 2nd, I bought gift boxes on sale, sewed a small curtain from free material and trim, baked pies for a family function, altered a skirt, and made a handmade card from things I already had. I'm probably being a bit conservative, but I don't want to exaggerate, either, so I'm going to say I saved about twenty dollars those two days. That looks good to me:)
    Happy savings, everyone! Love, Kelsey

    1. Dear Kelsey,
      Your husband and you sound like a great team. I am so glad his parents appreciate you too!
      Thank you for joining in! You will be a great asset. You already are!
      For instance, the story you just told about early marriage. There are ladies who will read this and they are there right now experiencing the same thing! So this is very encouraging to them I am sure.
      Have a wonderful week. I look forward to hearing what you got up to next Monday! I am looking forward to seeing how it works out for me... just now I am going shopping to see if the turkeys are marked down. If so that will be my first savings. With love

    2. Kelsey, I don't know your age, but you are doing the right thing by taking care of your home and husband. It is a priceless and wise thing to do. With the condition of our world, I firmly believe a husband, child, or whoever needs to come home to a refuge... a warm, clean home where the wife is doing all she can to save money and contribute to running the household efficiently. Who wouldn't appreciate being able to sit down to a healthy meal and have clean clothes to wear as he goes out the door to work each day. Gosh, we have to show our appreciation and love, and taking care of husbands is so important.

    3. Joy what a wonderful comment. Thank

    4. Joy, Thank you for that lovely comment. It has truly blessed me this morning. I am 24, so I'm in an age group that typically is not encouraged to care for my home. I see it as my God-given calling, and my years as a homemaker have been my happiest and most fulfilling. Thank you again for such kind words, they mean so much to me. Love, Kelsey

    5. Annabel, after replying to Joy's comment, I really got to thinking about it, and there's something I would like to humbly say to the ladies that comment here, as I know many of them are of an age when their children are no longer at home. That is, please do not underestimate the importance of continuing to teach the younger women (Titus 2:4-5). This is so valuable. When society tells us our homes are not important, we need you. We need your wisdom and encouragement. Even just a few kind words like Joy's can help more than you know. That is one of the reasons I am so thankful for this little community here on Annabel's blog. Love to all, Kelsey

    6. Hello to Kelsey and all ladies of all ages! Another point I want to make is that I first married in 1975. This was right smack dab in the beginnings of the 'women's movement' when women were told we could "do it all", meaning have children AND work outside the home--after all, we were told that being a STAHM was boring, unfulfilling, menial and it was a life style that was ridiculed. I thought I should buy that line of thinking, when I actually knew deep inside that raising my children at home and not sending them off to day care while I tried to bring in a pittance of money, was my heart's desire. I even felt inferior to a 'working woman', as if they as a group were more intelligent than I. I was embarressed when I met someone new and they asked me what I 'did' (which actually means 'where do you work?') I felt so inferior to tell them I was a stay at home mom. Inwardly their eyes would roll and the conversation pretty much stopped right there! I've always loved being a home maker and that's truly what we are. We make a home. A house by itself is nothing until we bring care, love, good meals and nurturing into it. I have never regretted my years home with my children, especially since I divorced when they were ages 12 and 15, and I didn't get custody of them (no, I am not a felon, bad mother or anything like that!) You can never go back and regain the lost years of your children's upbringing, but you can return to the work force later in life with some updated skills. Your children and husband are the most important at this point. The culture that told us we could "do it all" finally admitted that something had to give--either their outside job or their family. And I always thought, do you see a man "doing it all"? Do you see a man working and taking care of the home? Ha! Laugh about that one for awhile! So, if you want to work outside the home when your children are growing, please realize it is not utopia--something always suffers. And for any young women who did or are working outside the home because they must add to the income--I won't criticize you--my own daughter works outside the home because she must. I understand. But for me, I made my choice and I have never regretted it. Even now at age 62, and after various part time jobs through out my life, I am now once again blessed to be able to stay home and do so many lovely and important things to make my house a home. My husband even calls me his 'House Muffin'. He loves coming to a warm home with something good cooking for supper and clean bedding, clean clothes, errands and filing/paperwork/calls having been taken care of. And don't forget this: "The hand that rocks the cradle rules the world." You are raising future citizens of the world, just think of the implications and of that responsibility and privilege! Wow! Ladies, we are Warriors for the Home! We have the most important job on earth!

    7. Dear Joy,
      Thank you for this. I appreciate it very much and there are things going on in my life that mean I needed to hear this today.
      I was very lucky that I knew I wanted to focus on just raising my children and I had a supportive family. I became a single mother before Lucy was born. I knew I had to do it and on my own. When Lucy was born I had determined I would not date until they were grown up! Im not suggesting anyone else should do this, its just what I felt as I thought the risks were too great. I got slammed by a lot of people for "ruining my life" and told the kids would grow up and I would be lonely etc. I loved being a Mum and put 100% into it! And I stuck to my plan. I just mothered and kept house, cooked for a coffee shop and sold sewing. I did not date until after Lucy turned 16. They were the most wonderful years. Now I am married to Andy and I still am having wonderful years. I dont think there is any job more important than Motherhood and keeping a home. Sometimes we have to do all kinds of things but these are still most important. I am working on a post on this as this thing about feeling less and people asking what you "do" is prevalent. It drives me crazy! With love and thanks,

  4. I started tracking our savings on Jan 1st and made 5 pounds of brown sugar myself (saved $2.42), hubby DIY fixed clothes dryer (saved $143.89),picked up Friday free loaf of bread ($1.99), dried 2-1/2 trays of parsley I picked from garden (saved .75) bought 40 pounds of boneless,skinless chicken breast @ $1.47/lb ( saved $20.80),made taco seasoning (saved $4.13), bought 8 gamma seal lids@ $7.43 each ( saved 17.89 ), paid 3 bills online (saved $1.47), Hubby DIY built 2 kitchen cabinet doors and installed them ($50). So for these first 3 days of January we have saved- $225.45!!!
    Not as much as you, but I can tell you that we are quite amazed and pleased!!!

    1. That is exactly how you do it gardenpat! Great job!

    2. Dear Gardenpat,
      That is wonderful! good tracking too! Over three days that is so good.
      My first few days were far from typical and partly with Andy being home to do this renovating type work. But still it launched me!
      Well done to your hubby too as building cabinet doors and installing is really wonderful and these things add up so fast! You had good team work! Many thanks for sharing this. Amazing isnt it!? Love

  5. Hello lovely Annabel!
    So excited for both of these challenges to start (Vicky and Christmas)
    Your talking about Andy's lunches got me to thinking about my children. I have been asked many times why I don't let them buy lunch at school. Besides the fact that one of them isn't interested in the school lunches and the fact that what I send is better for them, I just worked out that I save $55/week by making them! Wow!

    1. Dear Jenn,
      All the years ago when I was doing school lunches... the girls were allowed to have school lunch from the canteen a couple of times a year. In the end they mostly said no thanks! I dont know what it saved me back then but alot! We have a nexe boy who lived next door. WHen they were all teenagers I had a tree cut down out the front and this boy helped me with it. After I offered to pay him and he said no thanks. I guess he was around 16? I said ok then how can I return the favor? He said could I pack him a lunch like Chloe and Lucys. Seriously. This big boy. I was amazed. And so I did. I packed him the loveliest lunch, probably did cupcakes etc but I forgot now! and he was happy! this was somewhere between very touching and very sad. If you see what I mean...
      So one day your children will remember how you packed the lunches. Well done it shows love and care. And $55 a week is a huge saving right there! I am so glad you worked it out! Its like a good moment going wow really?! :) xxx

    2. Annabel, your comment about the boy next door showing his appreciation for you packing a lunch for him reminded me of all the school years (and 2 work years for me!) my mother packed lunches for me and 3 siblings. After I got married (eons ago), I realized how what a loving gesture it was for my mom to have made my lunch, and I thanked her. Sometimes it takes years for a child to show their appreciation for something so 'simple' as their mother packing a lunch. I never bought a school lunch my entire school life, and neither did my 3 brothers. Can you imagine the money that was saved over those years?

    3. Let me first agree with Joy's earlier reply to Kelsey. I think it's much easier for anybody to go out into the world feeling loved, fed, and cared-for, and knowing they have a "safe" place to return to at night. Annabel's neighbor boy sounds like he might know a thing or two about that.

      While I haven't packed school lunches or work lunches because we home educate and my pastor-husband comes to the house to eat most meals, I did get in the habit of making certain foods and portioning and packaging leftovers, leaving them on a designated freezer shelf so my son could take them to his summer job. My son told me that not only did he save lots of money (probably an hour's pay per meal) by not buying his lunch at work but he also, in his opinion, ate better than those who purchased meals. Being a mother doesn't always pay out financially (it's nice when it does!), but it is rewarding. To use a U.S. turn of phrase, "Rock on, Mom!"

      Blessings, Leigh

  6. Annabel,
    What a great start you are having! Some weeks are slow and some really pop when it comes to the figures. Some things may be big like labor costs those are such a huge savings! So my first week here will be a big one:
    Rick finished the log splitter completely and built it from scratch design and all. He bartered for some of the parts had all of the metal in the scrap pile and the tires from who knows what and he bought the hydraulic parts. It is a $10,000 yes thousand dollar splitter, but it's a beast. He has roughly $800 in it plus he did all labor himself so that saved us $9200 on a splitter that size. So my savings book looks like this so far.
    $9200 saved on log splitter
    $45 saved on gas from fuel rewards
    $15 saved with coupons
    $36 saved on clearance Christmas items(some are small bowls that I am thinking I will gift with dip ingredients or fill with candies or cookies)
    $10 cut Rick's hair
    $70 cash from scrapping metal and junk
    I hope everyone enjoys the challenge and seeing how much their work and efforts add up over a year. My nosy self asked one of the wives of Rick's friend how much of her income helps financially? So if I have it right by the time she pays childcare, taxes, gas, clothing for work, lunches, eating out 4 days a week and paying someone to clean her house only about 10% of her earnings goes towards household expenses. And she is not a high income earner so it just goes to show that what we do is more than 10%.

    1. Dear Vicky,
      First of all so anyone reading will know.... Vicky sent Andy pics of her husbands log splitter. Andys eyes nearly fell out of his head. This log splitter is the biggest one he has ever seen. It splits giant logs off huge trees that you cant even get your arms around. This was very impressive and inventive and clever. The value on it is not exaggeration what so ever. This thing is HUGE!
      The rest of your list is awesome too Vicky. It is great to sell scrap metal. We have seen some good prices now for that.
      So your 2016 savings book is off to a fantastic start! I am so glad for you. Totally inspiring! Many thanks for your help Vicky! With love

  7. Hello Annabel, I am so excited to join in the Vicky challenge. I didn't think I had saved much so far until I thought about it, my parents gave me 2 meals yesterday . I am going to say that I saved$ 7 per meal which I think is pretty conservative , so that is $14 savings there. I got a sheet from my mum to cover my budgies cage another $3 or $4 savings based on what it might cost at an op shop for a sheet. I am making a card for my mums birthday using materials I have here, I estimate that that is a $5 saving based on what handmade cards cost. I need a haircut this week, at a salon it's about $35 . I pay a hairdresser friend $15 so a $20 savings there. I won't have to buy many groceries this week so estimate I will save about $70 . So Annabel, I am doing ok after all!. Thank you Annabel and Vicky for this challenge. Love Barb

    1. Dear Barb,
      That is all a lot! And also I bet at a pet shop a bird cage cover is twenty something dollars or more!
      It certainly all adds up and will be very interesting after a full week!
      It is wonderful you have a friend who is a hairdresser! That is very handy!
      Barb have a great week. It will be a really good 2016! With love

  8. Dear Annabel,
    **jaw hitting floor**. LOOK at those GORGEOUS FLOORBOARDS!!!! Well done and congratulations! I would be turning cartwheels, I am so excited for you! I would certainly agree that adds value to your home.
    Your totals are excellent! Good job on getting the prices in your area for hair.
    I started my Vicky challenge. We are at $325.00. I'll take it, I think it's an excellent start! My first leak as you say, is our food budget. Although I've improved there is so much still to be done. What I'm learning about myself is:
    1. If I make an effort to have freezer meals on hand, that saves me from making lazy spending choices I'll later regret.
    2. If I don't consistently make an effort early in the day to start dinner in some way whether getting a salad done or the meat cooking, etc., I get overwhelmed and it's a disaster, also leading to the aforementioned lazy spending choices that I later regret. Amen.
    There. I've confessed my shortcomings amongst sisters and friends and humbly ask you to love me anyway :)
    I've read all of the comments. There is so much good stuff here. There was a time when I was a very young mom that I wish I had this information. Onward and upward. My home is my ministry, my blessing, and my business to run. So many are really going to be blessed and helped by this!
    Love, Colette xxx

    1. Colette we love you.

      I am also in the same boat, unless I have a definate plan organised for the evening meal and made a start on it in the morning my husband takes over and his idea of a good meal does not include vegetables.

      This was fine while I was unwell but he continued this line through the holidays - he starts back at work tomorrow and my plan is to keep him out of the kitchen as much as possible (a bit hard as he works from home).

      The menu plan is done and the slow cooker is at the ready for those 'tricky' days. I am sure that you will all hear the grumbling from him.


    2. Dear Colette,
      I hope you surprised yourself with such a big total in a few days! That is amazing.
      We all have these leaks! It is very helpful when we just know what they are. Years ago one of mine was magazines! Now I have pinterest and blogs!
      I know you do well and make good meals. Having a selection of super easy dinners is a big help. Also an agreement that sometimes toasted sandwiches or scrambled eggs (or some such thing) are ok and just fine. One of ours used to be fried rice. The kids loved it. I loved it when I was a kid. It uses up practically anything... the secret was to have cooked rice that has dried out a bit frozen and then just thaw that in the microwave and toss it in with everything else and the kitchen sink. My other one is tuna mornay. I keep those vol au vent cases in the pantry too as that makes good old tuna mornay a bit glam. (a BIT)
      Anyway easy plan A, B and C will do the trick. When you have after school activities and a busy day it is hard. I love the crock pot as soup can be going or a curry or something. That saves me often.
      You are right... home is a ministry and like a business too! It is a big job. I think you did great. And yes we still love you! With LOVE

  9. Dear Annabel thankyou for this challenge and hi to all here. Colette you made me smile , thank you x as I just lost a long reply . So this will be shorter .
    Everyone is doing so well on their first week !
    My savings have been around cooking and baking by not rushing out when we had more family visiting at meal times. We ran out of coffee so used the sachets collected last yea from our travelling.Saved $8.Made 3 pasties saved $30. Made a picnic pie saved $14,made cheese puffs saved $10. Meat discounts on grocery shop $35.Mispriced plate bought ,saved $3.Made a nice cake for unexpected family today saved $10.Family gave us garden silverbeet worth $7 Hubby has waterblasted deck and stairs , and repaired broken slats , saving $250 in labour costs .
    Thinking about all the ideas I shared some with DH and he said we made huge savings last year by me being our family taxi driver to and from the airport .One way trip by taxi is aprox.$120 or shuttle bus aprox. $65. I did at least 1 return trip per week over the year 2015, and nearly as many for the previous 3 years as DH worked in the South and our 2 sons and other family live across the sea.
    So a few savings , and no takeaways which we could have done with family arriving here and there.Ive updated the freezer contents and busy menu planning in between so I can cook up some meals and freeze them.
    Thankyou inspiring ladies x

    1. Dear Maria,
      I am amazed by the savings re the airport pick ups. I hadnt thought of that! And your husband obviously appreciates this too. I just calculated at one trip a week vs taxis over the four years thats almost $25000!
      All the meals you make the family are wonderful. The home maintenance too is a huge saving. We notice this, I need to get better at knowing what it would cost... before the NY Andy pressure cleaned the whole yard and my Mums yard too! Not sure what it would cost to get that done but he worked a day and a half on it.
      I am loving the sound of cheese puffs! Sounds good for our next picnic.
      Maria that is a lot of savings. Well done. It is such a lot!
      With love,

    2. A friend had someone in to mow and clean up the yard, back deck etc - do not know how long he was there but it was $250- - no pressure cleaning just the mowing and picking up and taking things to the dump.

      That might give you some idea of a cost.


    3. Thank you Lynette, that is a help. I might go by that for clean up days and gardening days as they are fairly regular. What a big saving then!?

  10. Hello Annabel. Firstly I want to thank you for your encouragement to share with others at Christmas when I was never going to have a Christmas again. I truly had a wonderful Christmas.
    The Vicky Challenge. Please count me in. I didn't venture out on the weekend however I went to the supermarket today and bu good luck, I bought $172 worth of meat marked down by half price, and also bought 1/2 price specials. Later today I felt like t.away fish & chips but controlled myself and cooked the mince I had defrosted. $12 saved there. I am quite chuffed. Also today I joined the Cheapskates Savings Revolution, hoping to save enough money to complete renovations at our future retirement home. We are both in our 60s, we rent and it will be our first home together. Its almost 100 years old but taking a long time to complete. It will be fully owned with no mortgage. A good year. I sincerely wish all the Vicky Challengers great success with their savings. Thanks Annabel for the work and motivation you send to your readers. It is much appreciated. Christine xx

    1. Dear Christine,
      Thank you for telling me about your Christmas. It nearly made me cry that you had a wonderful Christmas after how you had been feeling. That is fantastic.
      I want to tell you that I had an awful afternoon yesterday. I came home quite down hearted. Then in the evening I read your comment. Then I read it to my husband. It totally made my day and Andy said "see! Keep going!" and I felt so blessed that you took time to tell me this. Thank you.
      You have the most exciting goal! I hope the savings you make will get those renovations done. To own your home and share it together will be fantastic! I hope 2016 is a great year for you. I am sure it will be. Everything adds up and the meat you bought in itself is a huge saving. Well done!
      Thank you so much for such an encouraging comment! With love,

  11. What a blessing to find the floorboards looking so amazing underneath all that carpet! A lot of work, but wonderful results! :-)

    Some of the savings, or should I say "earnings" reported so far are fabulous! Especially that log splitter from Vicky!! Whether we have big weeks, or small, it is so encouraging to see it all add up.

    The app Nanna Chel mentioned looks like it could be useful. I tried it out, thinking of adding my earnings (instead of spendings) to it, working in reverse so to speak. I Just put it as a figure like $300 for the week allotted for spending ( i.e. Earnings) and add each expense (i,e. Savings) to it. It is the Trackmyspend app I used.

    I think this will be an interesting and eye opening exercise and challenge for us all! :-)

    1. Dear Kaye, That is a good point. We will have good weeks and small weeks but they all add up. I am so interested to see a week, a month and the whole year!
      I am trying the track my spend app too. We need a clever person to make us a Vicky app!
      Have a very good week. I almost cant wait for next Monday! With love

  12. Hi Annabel, you are so lucky to have those beautiful floorboards under your carpet. It definitely saved you a lot of money.
    You did well with your savings this week, mine are only small savings but they are a saving. Took my lunch for the 3 days ($60) filled up my car here locally saving 20c/l as opposed to on my way to work and have no idea why it is so much dearer closer to the bigger town ($10) I also saved on discounted meat ($20), Though when it is added up $90 in 3 days isn't too bad.
    Looking forward to the saving over the year
    Take care
    Debbie xx

    1. Dear Debbie,
      $90 is three days is great! It is wonderful. Yesterday at the shops a lady told me lunches cost her family $200 a week. I now can see how that can happen easily but wow! So taking lunch is a massive saving over a year.
      Every time I walk past the bedroom or into the room I am taken by how nice the floors look. The room looks bigger, cleaner, fresher. So happy!
      Have a great week. I cant wait to see your next gifts you make by the way! With love

  13. Hi Annabel, the green monster of envy reared his ugly head when I saw those lovely floorboards. You are so very, very lucky!
    The Vicky challenge is here and we are off....
    Hubby made our son a battery box for the back of his 4WD. Considering costs of materials used to make this and the cost of a new one, a saving of $200 at least. I made my future grandchild three bibs, using fabrc from my stash and old towels, a saving of $9. I also made three newborn modern cloth nappies using materials from my stash, a saving of $60. A friend gifted me a dozen free range eggs a saving of $4. The same friend gifted me a large bag of mangoes. These have been made into chutney. All I needed to purchase was the sugar. Considering the cost of home made chutney from the local markets I have saved another $20. I made my DIL a chocolate mud cake for her birthday. All the ingredients came from my pantry. The cost of a woollies one is $6. we are away. Woohoo!

    1. Dear Jane,
      I love that you have started sewing for the baby! That is wonderful. Also the gift our husband made.
      Vicky would count the cost of a supermarket mango x by how many in the bag you were given as they were value added to your household. Then you made the most of that as well with making the chutney! That is so good. I love how we can make the most of things that come our way.
      The birthday cake sounds beautiful. You have me thinking its time I made a cake. I didnt over Christmas as there was so much food already but we could do with one now!
      I hope you are having a good week! With love

  14. I am in the Vicky Challenge too.... as of this morning. Things like picking oranges and lemons every day will be added to my new (read recycled) notebook. Looking to forward to knowing how much we save. Cheers

    1. Welcome Jo, (I hope Jo is ok)
      You will be amazed at what you find and the values. It just adds up amazingly. You can count the recycled notebook too!
      With love

    2. Hi Annabel... Jo is fine. I love your enthusiasm and all the great ideas. I also love actually tallying up the savings and having a true record of it. Rather than just saying "We saved....$...' I will now have it written down to reflect and improve on. This is my year of buying only consumables...having recently moved I know I have enough "stuff" for a long time and at the moment I know where it is!! Love card making and have just started quilting. Cheers Jo

  15. Hi Annabel, im going to try to keep up with you all here to. At first i was thinking that i dont really make any savings at home but im sure i do. With that said mine are small but im not buying Lettuce, tomato's, chillies, strawberries, basil, rosemary, beetroot and asparagus at the moment but picking and eating them every week. I cant believe i actually cut my own hair the other week, i've never done that before and thought i'd give it a try, not perfect but not bad lol Im having my nails done soon and it wont cost anything as my daughter is a beauty therapist and nail technician, lots of savings for me there with make up, massage, nails, waxing ect, there not actually things i do myself but she lives at home so its all here lol We'll just see how i go with this challenge and im pretty sure it will end up being a real eye opener xoxo

    1. Dear Karen, All that fresh produce is fantastic and certainly must be a big saving. Your daughter probably knows the prices of the beauty services in the salons and stores so you can add those in. Enjoy them too they are lovely!
      I think many times we just do what we have always done and dont even think how much people pay for it all. It is a real eye opener. It then seems to lead to new ideas. I think when we see just how much it is that its really motivating! I am getting a few surprises already anyway! Im glad your hair turned out! With love

  16. Happy New Year Annabel and all of the regulars.

    I'll have to be with you in spirit on the Vicky Challenge as I can never quite get my head around it being a 'saving'...not for me because I would never have spent the retail/going rate amount of money. So I'd never think I had ANY savings to report. Every week I'd have to say 'No savings for me' and that isn't very inspiring. LOL. Not for me or for anyone else. I am well aware that we couldn't live as well as we do without the efforts I make to stretch our money but, for me, I can't truly say that is a 'saving'.

    I do have a couple of things I would count though.

    I got my husband to ring and query some account fees on one of his accounts (which he would NEVER do) resulting in the fees being refunded and about $7 per month (an ongoing charge otherwise) of legitimate savings, because he would have otherwise just paid it.

    I re-read the fine print on a contract that netted us a $150 rebate that I had thought we were not eligible for and wasn't going to bother with and would have therefore paid the extra $150.

    So that's a $234 saving I made for this year, not counting any of the sorts of things listed.

    And I transfer an extra $50 per pay from my husband's account. He knows but forgets. He is TERRIBLE with money and spends whatever he has. So I transfer the $50 into an account he forgets he has, he hasn't given it a thought since I mentioned it this time LAST year, and at Christmas he 'gets' $1300 'extra'. Which he thinks is great. LOL. So I GUESS I save HIM $1300 because he would otherwise just spend it.

    I have SPENT money on fabulous bargains though. The after Christmas sales have been especially kind to me. But I believe you will be having a Christmas challenge so I will perhaps tell you of them when that post arrives. I am not crafty and can't cook so I won't be able to share what I've made, but I have picked up some fabulous things for almost nothing that have been put aside for Christmas. And other celebrations that will arrive before then.

    So whilst I don't classify them as 'savings' I surely know that I get a lot more from my 'spending' than a lot of people do.

    1. Dear Lorax,
      Since it is only the fifth you have saved a lot so far! I love what you did too, these are good suggestions and reminders for us all. Sneaky fees, rebates and all kinds of things are quite painful to keep track of but sometimes one phone call to get something reversed, a better deal etc can really pay off. Also sometimes you have to be a bit brave to actually ring up and ask etc but that can be so worth it. Well done I think.
      From past discussions I know you save a complete fortune in marked down meat, op shopping bargains also! What you say is right, it all makes for a life above a set income and such a difference. I have a good memory and can remember some of your op shop finds!
      Well done on the present bargains to put away. That is really getting ahead which I just love. These things will be great to find in your cupboard in December. I usually have forgotten my finds by then and it literally is like Christmas when I go throught the present cupboard and have all this stuff! Lol I say this after just saying how great my memory is!
      The savings system you have for your husband is really good. It sounds like it works so well and makes Christmas wonderful. Tactics. I love finding ways like this that work and we dont even miss the money at the time if the amount is manageable but it adds up. Thanks for awesome ideas. Love

    2. Lorax you have reminded me just how important it is to keep an eye on not only charges for bank accounts but to review everything and make sure that you are getting the best deal for your needs.

      Also warranties/gurantees, keep them and make sure that if anything goes wrong that you follow up on them.

      Case in point we purchased some new suitcases through our road service group - great price $300- saving BUT first time we used them the handles started to give way - not good especially as the company is a well known company and you would expect more from them.

      My husband couldn't find the guarantee but the next magazine had the same deal and quoted a 5 year guarantee so I suggested that we start the process.

      Up shot is that we have been refunded our money, the company do not want the suitcases back but are replacing them - we have also had a 'phone call from the company and they are now double stitching the problem area and wanted to know if we would be happy with this.

      I might be a bit foggy at times but sometimes I do remember important things like this.


  17. the floorboards are awesome Annabel. i would love to have seen your faces when you realised what was under the carpet. still trying to recover at the moment so won't join in, but cant wait to see what you have drummed up for the Christmas challenge on Wednesday. fi xx

    1. Dear Fiona, I hope you are improving and feeling better! You have to see Wednesdays post,ok?
      I am seriously in love with the wooden floor! We have another room to do now! With love

  18. Like many others, I'm excited to follow the Vicky Challenge and the Christmas Challenge. (I already gleaned a useful gift idea from Rhonda's blog and will be going through my sewing stash for good potholder fabric once we get the painting and flooring done here at the house.)

    When my children were much younger I sat down and calculated how much we might actually profit from my returning to the work force part time. (Not full time since we value having the children brought up primarily by their parents.) The net result was that we would about break even if I went back to work, considering the loss of my homemaking efforts, the cost of child care for the children, and the expense of maintaining a professional wardrobe for me. It was a good exercise because it just added to our confidence that we made the right choice when we decided I would be at home full time.

    We shopped for our new paint and flooring on New Year’s Eve, so I technically can’t count it for 2016, but we got a better price and a little cash back reward by going through a shopping site online. We’ll see savings on labor and installation because we’re going to do it ourselves, so I’ll include that as it comes.

    I made some “junk stock” that was basically free and used some of it for a pot of homemade soup. The soup alone would amount to good savings vs canned and a huge savings vs restaurant carry-out.

    My husband and I bartered some items we were willing to part with for a nicer mobile phone for our daughter. It ended up being a good trade for everyone involved.

    This isn’t a glamorous list, but the cost-checking exercise years ago leaves me confident of the financial value I (or any homemaker) can bring to the family. Even if we don’t always have the actual “saved” dollars to allocate to something else, the savings have allowed us to have a nicer lifestyle than we might otherwise have enjoyed while I am staying home full time with my family.

    Here’s looking forward to everyone’s tips and successes! Blessings, Leigh

  19. Dear Leigh,
    We are both in the floors and painting challenge! We have one room to go to pull up carpet and I have a lot of painting to do! But it will be worth it!
    I feel quite excited about it now.
    I very much like the way you did the sums and worked out if working outside the home would actually pay off. We all need to look at what we are doing and assess if it is actually working. I asked someone the other day if they were financially ahead due to her working (which she was complaining about) and she didnt know. I cant imagine doing all that and not knowing if there was any point!
    Also you explained the savings mean living a nicer life factor well. We dont always have the cash left over as it didnt exist in the first place! But we are still doing much better!
    I love making stock. It is really like free nutrition and flavor. I am making it as the base for baby food now as well. I think it is so good for you and vitamins and minerals we might normally throw away. Apart from soups and baby food I am using it to cook pasta and rice. It is way better than bought stock too.
    Thank you so much for joining in and sharing your thoughts. With love

  20. This is excellent! Thank you for sharing all your encouraging posts with us on the Art of Home-Making Mondays Annabel. May your 2016 be bright and beautiful! :)

  21. Dear Annabel

    I have been busy also this year and cannot believe how the time is flying. Already I am working up journal entries on how much of my money stays in my pocket. Saving furiously here for a renovated bathroom as the one we have is leaking and rather that we fix it now before it does any real damage.

    I think the greatest savings so far is two bad habits that I am breaking. It is not the huge savings that we make (though they are fabulous, love your floors) but I think the small habits or the small savings that we repeat over and over...taking our lunches to work and on outings, making our meals from scratch... these are the things that ultimately save us big time.

    Best that we turn back the clock to what some say a simpler time but what I call a more sensible time.

    I love reading the comments here from so many wonderful minds as much as I love reading your posts.

    God Bless and looking forward to hearing all you have in store for the future.

    1. Dear Mel,
      I agree that little savings consistently will win every time overall. They sure add up. Also that simplifying and going back to basics helps. I think it helps mentally with the pace of live as well as healthier food and money saving. It all got out of control!
      Thank you so much! Im so glad you have a journal. It helps me enormously! With love

  22. This is so exciting and inspiring! I've missed several weeks of my Thrifty Week at Harvest Lane Cottage. I am ready to get back at it. My husband and I have done some really thrifty things over the last few weeks due to a huge drop in income, but I haven't taken time to report. Maybe this Friday would be a good time to get it going again.

  23. Well I said I was ready, and we've done some really thrifty things, but the most important was we bought an old car in excellent condition instead of a next-to-new car. We saved $10,000 or more.


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