Friday, January 31, 2014

Showcase Your Motivation - Part 3

Oversized dry erase calendar

This last part of the showcase your motivation series is a little less motivational than the savings jar and dream board but no less important.

I saw the idea for the calendar on Pinterest (really is anyone surprised?) and thought it would be perfect to help keep track of your budget if you're on a savings journey.

It's kind of self explanatory. I visited Bunnings and raided their paint colour card racks (thank you Rocky Bunnings and btw you're out of emerald green) took them home and retrieved a large frame from the shed (there are only three hooks in the rental house we are in and I have over a dozen frames with various artworks in, I won't go into the dilemma I had picking which disney pictures went up and which got stored in the shed) gave the frame a wipe down and covered the board with white paper then went about sticking down my colour cards.
Now I lack talent like you would not believe when it comes to anything artsy or crafty so my board looks like Miss Four put it together, the important thing to remember if you make one of these gigantic calendars is that it's for you and not the world. If you are happy with it then it's perfect.
So with my 'perfect' calendar ready to go here's what I did...
I got the easy stuff out of the way. Birthdays, Miss Fours kindy days and any appointments we have. Then I logged into Internet banking and scrolled through until I found each day that a direct debit came out.
When I found one I wrote down in that day the amount that would be leaving our account. I also added rent days and went back through our phone bills to see when they are usually due and then added it to the calendar as well.

Now at a quick glance each month we have all our outgoings clear as day in front of us so there is no forgetting a payment, no being surprised when a bill is due as it would have been on the calendar for us to see for weeks.

As the husband is on wages now and being paid weekly - after years of being on salary and paid monthly - this helps us budget from week to week as due to overtime he doesn't bring home the same amount each week now and some weeks are tighter depending on what we have coming out. Like for example when a rent week falls in the same week as our personal loan repayment...ouch!
With this new calendar though it's there for me to see so I have no excuse for not bring prepared.

If you like you can use any free space to write down how much you saved the previous month and try and match it or exceed it, keep a total in the corner so you can see how all your hard work is paying off - literally - over the year.


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Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Showcase Your Motivation - Part 2

Savings Jars

Remember as a kid saving every coin you could get your hands on and hiding it away in your money box? Then once a week - or more if you were me - sneaking a butter knife to your room to pry open the fidgety opening at the bottom and shaking out all your coins to see if you had saved enough for that must have new toy? Aaahh the memories.

Sadly as we grow up we tend to lose the joy in saving coins. But the joy is the only thing to fade because all those coins still hold their value and each one takes you a step closer to your dream/goal.

That's where savings jars come in. We're too old for money boxes and piggy banks as adults they're called savings jars.

Savings jars can either be just that or they can become a loose change dish. Ours went from being a crappy old jar that fell off the fridge and smashed into a thousand pieces to a loose change dish on the kitchen bench, the money wasn't being saved it was being used if we had to run up to the store for milk, or you know the emergency fish and chip lunch.

That changed this weekend. I found this tutorial for a Disneyland funds saving jar and I was immediately motivated.

And can I just take a moment to say that as a huge disney fanatic I am thrilled at how many people have disney savings funds set up, it's still obviously the happiest place on earth - just maybe not the cheapest.

See the good thing about savings jars is they are homemade and therefore can look however we want them too.

So back on track I searched the house till I found an old coffee jar and raided the kids toy room for the perfect motivational piece. For us it's an aeroplane. Ultimately all our goals end with us travelling. We want the house first so we are settled and then we can hit the road and see this amazing world we live in. So I stuck the plane on top of the jar painted it with spray paint hubby had stored in the shed - I thought the silver would look better than sunflower yellow - and hey presto one motivational savings jar ready for use.
The loose change dish was emptied into the new jar, the jar was placed beside our hard copy motivational board that I spoke about yesterday and our savings corner was ready to go.

It was once it was all set up that I thought of a big problem. I hardly ever have cash on me, ever. I don't go out a lot and when I do go out I tend to go for the ease of the debit card. Now if we are to carry on doing it that way my motivational savings jar is never going to fill up so here are some options on how to use your savings jar.

*Withdraw your budgeted spending amount each pay day and keep it in your purse. This should stop you over spending on unnecessary items which itself will help toward your savings goal but also if you put any loose change into the jar after each shopping trip the jar will soon fill up.

*If you know you tend to have money to spare at the end of each pay week still withdraw your spending money but instead of loose change try the $5 note trick. Anytime you get a five dollar note as part of your change when shopping put it in a separate part of your purse and once you get home put it straight in the savings jar. If you manage this option you'll see yourself needing to take a trip to the bank sooner rather than later to make a deposit.

*Get your significant other to get in on the action too. Have them empty the loose change from their wallets/purse at the end of each pay week. If your house is like mine you'll see more change come from hubby's wallet than your own purse.

*Don't just stick to silver. when I say all your loose change goes in the jar I mean the shiny gold ones too. As tempting as it is to hold on to them throw them in the jar and watch your dream get closer. Gold adds up quick.

Do you have any tips to offer that I missed? Let us know and share the motivation.


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Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Bed canopy update

A quick update on the canopy the husband was building for our daughters bed. It's complete!
We haven't managed to decorate it yet - we ran out of spending money this week - but it's up and painted and she LOVES it.

In total it cost $42. Everything needed was at Bunnings. Pine, screws and paint brushes as we already had the paint but never have paint brushes.

If you or your significant other are not so handy when it comes to building check out places like Red Dot and The Reject Shop for garden arches. You can paint them and decorate in the same fashion you would a canopy.

I'll come back and update again in a week or two when her behaviours improved enough to earn the pink curtain she wants for it.


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Showcase Your Motivation - Part 1

I started writing this as one long post but after paragraph 8 I remembered I was meant to be writing for a blog not a short novel. So in hopes of keeping my readers entertained I've broken it in to three parts.

Part 1 - Motivation boards

With anything we do in life we need some sort of motivation to keep at it and succeed. Saving money is likely one of the hardest things some of us will set out to do, I know that's certainly true for me, so we need to have our motivation - our reason for saving - out in the open available for us to see at random moments through out the day.

The best way to do this is to create a motivation board. I have a digital version as my wallpaper so I see it each time I use my computer and also a 'hard copy' on the table with our savings jar (more about those in part 2).

They're really easy to make all you need to do is find images that represent your motivation, images of your goals and dreams whatever they may be.

Above is my digital version. The two larger images are our big goals. We want a house of our own and we want to go back to Disneyland/America. The smaller images are other goals we would also like to achieve. Home decorating ideas and other travel destinations. They're smaller because well we can't decorate a house until we have one and we've made Disneyland our must see destination - if we are only ever able to make one more trip overseas it will be back there. For us all our goals and dreams depend upon us buying a home. Once we have that we will have achieved our biggest goal and can then look towards the other dreams we have - I'll be honest we have a LOT.

The hard copy is quite similar but as I see it on average every two minutes due to where it's placed I added images that will really help motivate me. We still have a house on there but we also have a house all decked out for Christmas in a winter wonderland as that is our ultimate goal... To move to America or the United Kingdom. We still have Disneyland but I've also added an image of Rockerfeller Center in New York City as it is part of our big America dream.

What you will need to keep in mind is that it's going to take time. Unless you win significantly in the lotto - in which case wahoo! - saving for a goal will not happen overnight. I bring this up, as obvious as it may be, because motivation boards can sometimes become de-motivational. My board has only been up for 24 hours and I've already had to remind myself at least four times that "it takes time". Seeing your dreams staring back at you can often make you think it's all too hard and it's never going to happen. It's at those times when you need to remind yourself why you made the motivation board. It wasn't to rub salt in the wound it was so you would look at it and say loud and proud "I will save the money, I will reach my goal, I will have that (insert dream/goal here) one day"

Now for the how to...
The digital version is probably easy to figure out. I searched my Pinterest boards for the images that truly represented my dreams, saved them to my camera roll and then used 'photocollage' to put them together. You can use pic monkey on a PC, I highly recommend it as it's easy to use and best of all it's free, or any photo collage app you have on your mobile device.

Once your motivation board is complete be sure you make it your wallpaper, then Bobs your uncle you're all done.

The hard copy is just as easy. I had the husband make me a board from some scraps of wood but you can use anything you have lying around the house. A piece of cardboard from a box, an old photo frame, a canvas, pin board. It doesn't have to look nice as you'll be covering it with your motivational images.
As for the images themselves search magazines you have lying around for photos that mean something to you. If like me you have no magazines because you threw them all out in a mad cleaning craze before Christmas then hit the computer again and print some out.
Arrange them how you like on your board of choice and glue them down. Lastly find a spot in your home where you will see the board the most and create a space for it, make sure the spot you choose has room for a savings jar - we'll discuss that tomorrow.

Once you're done creating your motivation boards I'd love to see them so come back here or in our Facebook page and share what you're saving for, after all motivation can come from our friends too.


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Friday, January 24, 2014

Sweet colourful dreams

Bedrooms are fantastic! This may be the sleep deprived mummy part of me talking but I seriously love my bedroom. It's nowhere near looking how I want it to yet but it's certainly my favourite room in the house...yep definitely the sleep deprived mummy talking.

The husband and I bought a new bedroom suite late last year. It was a long time coming, the old one being over ten years old and uh hmm, squeaky.
It's nothing flash, just a pine set from furniture spot but it's a look we love and a look we can work with when we get to decorating the rest of the room.

In fact half of my to do list and future blog posts include items in the bedroom and I really look forward to sharing them with you.

Today though I'm going to talk kids rooms.

My Miss Four is finally into girly things. I am by no means a girly girl, I do love a good bit of sparkle in my life but I'm no princess, for some reason once she was born I immediately wanted a room fit for a princess for her to sleep in. She had other ideas. Her first big bed linen set was Thomas the tank engine. After that we had an avengers poster hanging from the curtain. But now, now she loves pink and princesses and fairies. She still has to have the Avengers and Scooby Doo but I can live with that, it expresses who she is.

The husband with his amazing building skills actually built her big bed, and using paint the we bought to paint her dresser we finished it off nicely.

The bed The Husband built

Well I thought it was finished until I saw an image on Pinterest that got my mind swirling with ideas.

The original photo that inspired me, source:

Now the husband has been enlisted to build a canopy, four simple posts connected at the top like your average four poster bed, which will connect to the existing frame.

My hope is to bring more of Miss Fours personality into her room. This will allow us to hang small frames, drape fairy lights, maybe even a hammock for her assortment of stuffed friends.

The great thing about beds is that you can do anything you like to them. One thing I have learnt is that ANY surface can be painted if you correctly prep it. If you need tips on how to paint a certain material send me a message and I'll walk you through it.
It's a great way to bring your child's personality to their bedroom.

Another is with window furnishings. Curtains can be expensive but if you browse your local op shops you are bound to find something you can use and if it's the wrong colour but right fit, dying fabric is really easy. So for a fraction of the price you can have amazing looking curtains.
Ombre curtains, very easy to DIY
Lastly to really finish off the room paint the dresser or tall boy or whatever piece of furniture that's in the room. If it doesn't fit with the new theme change it so it does.

Another use of ombre. A few sample pots should be enough to create this look

I'll be sure to share photos with you once Miss Fours canopy is complete, it's a long weekend so that could be as soon as Tuesday with the husband home for three days.

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Thursday, January 23, 2014

Not for the faint at heart

Warning! This post will contain words like finances and budget if these scare the bejeebies out of you then well to be honest I recommend you keep reading... Trust me.

A couple of the items on my 2014 'I Will' list came together in the form of a short free course provided by open universities Open2Study and Macquarie University. The course is financial literacy and as boring as that may sound I sincerely believe if you can find about two hours a week you should enrol to do it.

I've just completed week two, of a four week course, and with it I also completed a budget/financial plan for our family.

It was a serious relief to do so. No I didn't discover hundreds of dollars hiding behind the gas bill nor did I curse us all to beans on toast for a month. What happened was that I realised even if we do struggle some weeks, and even with our personal loan and credit card debt we are still, miraculously, in the green as my husband would say or to use my lecturers words we're in surplus.

Cross my heart and stick a pin in my eye I was bowled over by this fact. I honestly thought our budget would show we were spending far more than what we were earning. Both the husband and I, but mainly the husband, have a very bad habit of turning to the credit card for more than emergencies so for that reason alone I thought we'd be in the negative.

If you're reading along thinking " I know our budget and it's bad, there is no need to write it down" there is!
I used the budget planner on you can sign up for free and this allows you to save your budget and go back later to alter any changes. It's easy to use and comes with a heap of options including fast food and take out, school uniforms even dance lessons so you won't have to worry about missing any expenses.

Now if you are lucky enough to also come out in the green the planner will give you an amount for this. That figure is 'technically' how much you should be able to save in a year. Divide it by 52 and you'll get a much nicer to look at and easier to digest weekly figure, aim to save even half of that weekly figure a week and you're already doing better than you were before you started reading.

It's slow going, it will take you a year to see results, but going slow is better than standing still or worse going backwards. It's like that quote that relates to running...
It doesn't matter how slow you go you're still lapping everyone on the couch.

We want to get off the couch, even if it's $5 a week less than a dollar a day, you're still saving something.


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Re-discovering a childhood favourite

As a kid we lived hours from the beach, seriously hours. I grew up in Western Sydney and my mum who grew up in Cronulla would only take us to that beach. It was hell on wheels for the almost two hours it would take us to drive down there. The heat, fighting over what music to listen to, and then finally reaching your destination only to have to spend another 20 minutes looking for a car park. Ugh!
Needless to say we didn't go to the beach that often. Instead like most normal people in our suburb I spent a lot of time at the local pool. I have awesome memories of jumping in and out of the pool not worrying about the coolness of the water, running between the kiddie pool and the BIG pool, diving competitions between friends, icy poles, chlorine soaked hair...well ok I used to hate how my hair felt after swimming but it was worth it.

Since about 6 months after re locating to Perth I have always lived with in twenty minutes of the beach so if it got hot we hit the beach, simple. Two years ago we moved so close you can hear the waves and smell the disgusting stench of seaweed - again totally worth it - from the back yard.
Naturally then since having kids we've just gone to the beach, it was free and you can't get any cheaper than that.
The thing is my husband is English and I'm not sure if it's an English thing but he's not too fond of sand. He also happened to get stung by a jelly fish on our last trip to the beach. So I did some looking around.

Just up the street from us is an aquatic centre. Indoor heated pools, gym, outdoor pools. The problem is the entry fee is extortionate. We're lucky enough though that we also have a local council pool the good old fashion type, all outdoors, and the best part was it is only $9 for us all to get in!

So we went. The husband was cautious even admitting once we were home that he didn't wear the right shirt for swimming because he thought we either wouldn't go in as it would be too packed or if we did go in we wouldn't stay long and only the kids would be getting wet. Well let me tell you he had the most fun of all of us, hands down!

I strongly recommend searching out your local pool. On a hot day you won't care that it's not heated and it cost less than running an air conditioner or a thousand fans... Or both.

What I love about the pool is the big kids stay out of the kiddie pool so your bubs are free to enjoy themselves without fear of being trampled. Also, unlike the beach, you do have to pay to get in. Although it's a small fee it still creates a safer environment in my opinion for your belongings. Parentless kids left to their own devices are more than likely there to impress the opposite sex and not to scan unattended bags. However if you're still concerned then check out what I found on Pinterest last week....

This has got to be the best idea I've seen in a long while. The thief would have to be pretty desperate to open up a 'used' nappy to check it's contents.

So pack a picnic lunch, and a clean nappy, and while it's warm head to your local pool for some affordable good old fashion family fun.


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Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Where do you keep your crystal?

For years, probably more than I actually remember, we have had a huge collection of Crystal bowls. Some large, probably technically called a punch bowl, right down to what I lovingly refer to as mousse bowls as it's what the chocolate mousse was served in each Christmas Day.

They have been in my family for around three decades if not a few more and when I moved out they came with me.

Their home for a long time was the very back of the bottom shelf of the kitchen cupboard under the dinner plates...whew what an address.

That all changed a few months ago.

That there is my ensuite vanity. I used to have an ugly old wicker basket holding all our crap on the sink because it was cheap and I couldn't think of another way to bring my style to a room where there are not many options to decorate without painting, re tiling, or drilling holes in the wall - all options not generally allowed to those who rent.

Ensuites are generally small, and ours is on the small side of small so adding a towel rack or shelving of some sort wasn't an option it's also that icky rental peach/cream combo so if I added colour it had to be something that would make the marble look laminate bench top fade into the background.

One thing you'll quickly learn about me is I LOVE Pinterest. It's a great resource that I fully  encourage everyone to use.

I had seen so many candy jars and mason jars being used in bathrooms and as I stood staring at my old wicker basket wishing I had a cupboard full of mason jars I realised I had something better...Crystal! What was better still was I had a whole cupboard full of Crystal in varying sizes and it was just gathering dust waiting to be appreciated, no one would miss it if it disappeared.

Now I have three Crystal bowls proudly sitting on my vanity, giving the ensuite a chabby chic/vintage feel and the best part of it is it didn't cost a cent!

The wine glass holding our toothbrushes is the sole survivor of my favourite set and I figured it was safer and would go on surviving if it was sitting on my vanity than if I left it sitting in the cupboard my two year old has now discovered.

So the tip to take from this is look around at what you already own. If any of it can be transformed or re located to a new room to help create your style do it. If you don't have a heap of Crystal just lying around op shop it. Op shops have a tonne of awesome old vases, glassware, bowls even tea cups and saucers, something for every style and usually each under the $2 mark. If by some rarity your op shop is out of Crystal take a trip to your parents house and raid their cupboards, they don't need to know why all of a sudden you have a great need to be the new owner of grandmas Crystal bowl.


Hi, my name is Skye and I rent!

Living while renting
And maintaining a sense of you

Renting, I often think the word should be considered a curse and it is in fact often treated that way in my home receiving the same scowl from me towards whoever says it as I give out to those who use true curse words.

The word makes me shiver, well at least it used to. Thoughts of rent inspections and rent increases, following my children around like a hawk with crossed fingers hoping they wouldn't damage anything or put dirty handprints on the walls, anxiety attacks over spilt milk - yes I have been brought to tears once or twice - and trying to figure out how on earth I would remove purple oil based paint from the back brick patio. That was the old me the 2013 version. 2014 saw the arrival of a new improved, slightly to start with, version of me that is determined to actually LIVE my life while we rent.

We still have rent inspections and increases, the first of which comes into effect in 4 weeks, but I'm not going to sit and sulk about it like I used to. I'll still complain, complaining and sulking are two totally different things in case you were wondering. I can complain while at the beach watching the kids enjoy their summer but if I were to sulk while at the beach I'd miss out on enjoying my kids not to mention burn to a crisp under the WA sun. So yes I'll probably complain just as much as the 2013 version of me did but sulking is in the past.

This year I'm going to start to live the life I want, work towards creating the home I want and do it all while sticking to our savings plan.

This blog, 'Living while renting', is my way of sharing any knowledge I gain on how to be you, how to enjoy life while living in a rental home. It was an idea that came to me while sulking (I'm pretty sure it was still 2013 when this happened) about not being able to do what I wanted to the house to make it ours. Truth is it's not our house, but it is our home so why not let our personality shine through? I was also sulking about what little there is to do as a young family that is affordable and would fit into my renters budget. A lot of that is just a Perth thing I think, I am very harsh on my home town, but talking to friends interstate it seems it's true in other parts of the country too so I'll be sharing what activities I find that are not only affordable but entertaining and a good use of valuable family time.

I look forward to hopefully inspiring others to enjoy their rental life. The journey is sometimes the best part of a trip so come along as I journey to my destination of a happy life and a happy home.