Monday, October 27, 2014

Trick or Treat

Each year since I got my first job I've always bought candy to fill a huge bowl to hand out to any trick or treaters who knock on my door on October 31st.
Last year we got right into the spirit and bought a pumpkin and carved it with the kids, this year we are going even further and adding black crepe paper, garden lights, a skeleton or two and this sign.

I do it for the kids, mine and those in my neighbourhood who can't help but see and hear about Halloween in all they read and watch and want to take part in the holiday.

I don't have much time for anyone who wants to rant about it being 'An American thing' or just another money grabbing scheme from the stores.

Kids with parents who feel that way won't be the ones walking my neighbourhood streets, adults who feel that way will be the ones to not open doors, or turn away kids with a scowl.

My family celebrates Halloween to keep up a sense of community, to encourage children to try new things, learn about other cultures and to show them that not all adults are grouchy, that some know how to have fun.
We decorate our house so parents will recognise it as a safe and inviting residence. A place their kids can go knowing we are happy to welcome trick or treaters.

Our family celebrates Halloween because a couple of bags of candy is a pretty cheap price to pay to see bright smiles on kids faces and to receive warm thank you's from their parents.

Give it a try this year. Don't think about the commercialism behind it, or where it came from. Just think of the happy boys and girls who will smile brightly as they walk down your drive having scored some more awesome candy and if that's not enough then think about how grateful you are that its not your kids carrying a huge bowl of sugar that will have them bouncing of the walls all weekend.

Happy Halloween Week


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Monday, October 20, 2014

Let's Go Shopping

No one panic, I haven't fallen off the 'get out of debt' wagon. The shopping I had in mind today is the type that will save us money in the future.

You often hear the saying "boys and their toys" in relation to the men in our lives and their must have computer games, motorbikes, remote control anything, boating equipment and so on.
While you are on your journey to getting out of debt big buys are usually not recommended but today I'm going to discuss 'toys' I believe are a good idea to invest in if you are looking to save money.

These won't be for everyone but if you consider yourself crafty, look at DIY projects on Pinterest with longing and have no issue gifting home made goods then keep reading.

Number one on the toy list is a sewing machine. Just a basic sewing machine will allow you to make nearly anything as long as you are motivated.
Three years ago I asked for spotlight gift vouchers from family when they asked what I'd like for Christmas. Then Spotlight had a New Years sale in January and I managed to pick up a $200 sewing machine for $20. It was on sale and my family had chipped in $100 worth of vouchers.

That basic machine has made summer shorts and skirts for two years for my children, baby blankets, sarongs, super hero capes, dinosaur tails, ironing board covers, couch covers.

This shorts pattern is a favourite of mine. Great for both boys and girls.

You see the list is endless for what a basic machine can do. This means that come gift giving time you'll have so many options that won't blow the bank.

Your local op shops are a treasure chest for fabric. Most shops will have a fabric selection but if they don't or its minimal they will have old bed sheets, quilt covers and curtains not to mention racks and racks of old clothes. All of these usually can be found in great prints just waiting to be turned into something new.

And don't worry about having to pay for patterns. You can find free patterns for almost everything on the Internet, in fact I'm part of a Facebook group that's specifically about its members sharing free PDF sewing patterns. There are literally thousands of them out there.

It truly is a great money saver. If you have family or friends having babies all you need is an old t-shirt and a free pattern for baby hats, or an old towel and some cotton from a sheet and a free pattern for burp cloths.

This baby hat pattern is really easy to follow and the end product is adorable.

As the seasons change usually so does your child's clothing size. Pick up an old sheet and a free pattern for shorts and no need to spend a fortune re stocking your kids wardrobe.
Have that one family member who is so hard to buy for? Search the racks at your op shop for some nice prints in old clothes, Google for a free make up pouch tutorial, and you've got yourself a unique birthday gift.

This pouch pattern is my current project, sitting in pieces on my sewing desk as we speak.

The list is truly endless, if you need proof go ahead and Google 'free sewing patterns'.

So do what I did, when family ask what you'd like for Christmas tell them spotlight vouchers then sit tight for the new year sales. If you're anxious to get started though spotlight have machines starting at $149.

Next up on my good investment list is a good quality hot glue gun.
I'm saying good quality because yes you could go to spotlight and pick up their $10 option however I have heard too many people say that their own $10 spotlight hot glue gun spontaneously burst into flames. Not exactly a thought you want in the back of your mind every time you go to use it. Also I'm all for budget friendly but really how long do we think a $10 hot glue gun is going to last??

The good news is that you don't have to spend much more than $10 to get a better quality gun.

I picked one up this weekend from Bunnings for $22.40. It comes in a carry case with 6 glue sticks. The next option up was $40 and from the looks of it the $20 increment seemed to continue as you went along the shelf.

If you're wondering why I'm suggesting you invest in a hot glue gun then you're just not crafty enough for this post. Like a sewing machine there is so much you can do to create amazing handmade gifts with just a few materials and a hot glue gun.

Don't throw away empty wine, sauce or beer bottles. Clean them up and remove all the labels then with some paint and your hot glue gun you have spectacular trendy vases to gift.

Re vamp old lamps,

Create some adorable button art for new babies

Again go take a minute and Google hot glue gun projects.

With these two toys you can potentially save a bundle while gifting family and friends with unique items made with love.

Have fun shopping,


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Monday, October 13, 2014

He's At It Again...

Good Ol' Murphy he's gone and done it again, sort of.

I'm about to express my humble opinion on why if you rent you can't afford to NOT have an emergency fund in place.

Our landlord is selling.

We're lucky though for a few reasons.

One we live in WA. Over here in the west if you are in a rental contract and the owner sells the new owners have to see out your existing lease. So we are lucky that we have till July next year till we may have to move. I say may as I'm holding out hope that another investor will buy it and let us continue renting here till we are through with our Debt snowball.

Two we have time. If it is not an investor that purchases the property we have time to save moving costs, de clutter more crap, find another rental we like instead of taking the first house that is available.

Three and the most important is that we have an emergency fund in place.

A few short months ago if we had had to move quickly we would have been up that proverbial creek.
Today we have an emergency fund in place so IF we did have to move a lot sooner we would be able to do so WITHOUT getting into more debt.

An honest show of hands right now, who could financially afford to move next week if you had to?? Keep in mind the average bond on a rental property is around $1400, moving costs could add up to $500 possibly more, that brings us to almost $2000.

I'm going to go out on a limb here and say that had I asked that to a room full of renters the show of hands would have been dismal.

It's not something many think about. Moving costs when you have no intention to move. As a renter though it should be a priority.

This is one of the main reasons I loathe renting. At the end of the day it is not secure. If you rent you should have the ability to move your family immediately if the need arises.

A new bond at least but as not everyone has a handful of family and friends with Utes and trailers then truck hire as well and you should probably think about incorporating cleaning costs also, carpets and windows all need to be cleaned professionally when you vacate a rental house.

Chances are you may not ever use it but chances are if you don't have it you'll end up needing it.

Please think some more on starting an emergency fund. Go back and read through my original post if you're after ideas on how to go about it.


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Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Clean Cooking

Before I get started let me assure you this post is not about eating greens and organic or any kind of diet.
No in fact it's far worse than that, it's about cleaning your oven.

I think I've mentioned I have a list of my most hated cleaning chores. To be honest cleaning the oven wasn't even on that list because I never did it. You can't hate something you don't do right??

I've always cleaned the oven door - we rent and it's kind of a necessity to pass inspections - but apart from that I'll confess to never cleaning the oven.

Sunday night while cooking steak the oven started smoking, it's done it once before and I did clean out the racks and scrape the charcoal chip from the back of the oven floor but that was it, this time I decided I'd get in there and give the whole thing a good clean.

I'm sure if you rent you know of the basic rental rule 'leave the house in the same condition it was when you entered'.
Well I kind of live by that. The oven has been black since we moved in three years ago so I've just sort of thought 'yeah it's good' and went on my merry way.

It's like the front and back yard. They were both more weeds than grass when we moved in and that's how they remain to this day. We water the weeds to make sure they stay lush and green, we mow once a week to keep them short but weed treatment is expensive and money I'm just not willing to spend on someone else's property.

Oven cleaner Isn't exactly costly but the store bought ones have scared me - I have issues with strong chemicals that can burn - so I've steered clear of them.

Today I tried something so simple it's genius.

One cup of baking soda
Half a cup of salt
A quarter of a cup of dishwashing liquid

Mixed altogether to create a paste.

I slathered it on the walls and floor of the oven and left it for five and a half hours.

When I went to wipe it down it had pulled so much of the grease up I was in shock. I'm always skeptical when I first try a home made version of anything so I wasn't expecting this to do much at all. It truly did do a fantastic job.

I'm embarrassed to say that when I started scrubbing the floor of the oven I originally thought I had pulled up a lining of sorts - I know nothing about oven construction - the grease it pulled off was so thick that it broke apart like rubber. I know I was disgusted too don't worry.

Now I have a lovely clean oven - minus the racks, those will be done tomorrow in the bath with the same paste - and let me tell you I have now added cleaning my oven to my list of most hated chores as I will be doing this monthly to make sure it never gets that bad again.

Use a bowl of warm water to wash it down and give a spray with white vinegar to be sure no paste remains.

Happy oven cleaning


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