Thursday, January 31, 2013

No Shopping Challenge - 1 month down


Today marks the half way point of our No Shopping Challenge!

It's been an interesting month. I remember when I first decided to commit to this challenge I was really worried about whether I would be able to follow through. The thought of not buying anything caused anxiety for a few days, which only goes to show that it was a challenge I really needed to do.

I've managed to stay motivated over the last month mainly because we're saving up a house deposit. Mr J and I are desperate to get out of renting and into our own place where we can plant trees and grow our own food. I've reminded myself of this dream whenever I've felt tempted to buy something and it's helped me to focus. Over the last year of saving I've often moaned about how hard it is to save on one income and at times I've been really discouraged about the whole thing. Tens of thousands of dollars is a huge sum to save and sometimes it just feels plain impossible. Over the last 31 days of this challenge I think I've learned a thing or two about spending & saving and it's made me realise that our goal isn't impossible at all.

Here's what I've discovered:

  • It's just numbers.  That's all it is. To save the money we need we must spend LESS and try to earn MORE.
  • We can save a thousand dollars - that I know we can do, then it's just a matter of doing that over and over  until we have enough in the bank.
  • Shopping shouldn't be a recreational activity. It's a lazy choice. There are so many things we've done with the kids when shopping or window shopping simply wasn't an option.
  • Every financial choice we make whether it's $2.50 or $250 has an impact on our savings.
  • The less I shop, the less I want. The more I spend, the more I think I need.
  • Life isn't going to go perfectly just because you've decided to save. The car needs new tyres or someone gets sick and it costs money. What's important is getting back on track as soon as you can.
  • If we keep going we will get to our goal. One day we'll get to dig a hole and plant our first apple tree. It's just numbers and simple arithmetic at the end of the day. There is no mystery behind saving, it's just one decision not to spend made over and over and over again.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Home made laundry liquid (and day 27 of the no shopping challenge!)



Since we're focused on being frugal with our No Shopping Challenge happening at the moment I thought I would try my hand at making my own laundry liquid. It only took me half an hour to make about 10L of the stuff - enough for months for my family and some to take along to the Crop & Swap next month. Nice.

There are loads of recipes online for making this stuff but this is what I went with:


8L water
1 C washing soda (NOT baking soda)
1 C borax
1 bar Sunlight soap - grated
2 Tbsp pure eucalyptus oil

  • Heat 4 L water in a large stock pot that will take at least 8L of liquid
  • Add grated bar of soap and stir until dissolved
  • Add washing soda and borax and stir until dissolved
  • Bring to the boil and let it simmer until you're convinced everything is incorporated and dissolved (about 3 minutes)
  • Let it cool a bit then add the other 4L of water
  • Once cool add the eucalyptus oil and stir
  • Bottle and label

For a normal size wash I use about 100ml and that works well for us. You can use this in a top or front loader but in a front loader I would try using less liquid first to see if you can get away with it. The consistency is more like a gel than a flowing liquid and you may want to give it a shake before using it. You don't have to use Sunlight soap - any soap will so. 

While I was at it I thought I'd make some dishwasher powder using this recipe:

Washing soda, borax, and salt in equal parts plus a small amount of citric acid. This was my first try so I made a small batch in case it didn't work. My ratios were 1/2 C each of washing soda, borax, and salt, and 2 Tbsp of citric acid. We used 1 Tbsp in the dishwasher and everything was sparkly and clean this morning. 

You can get washing soda at the supermarket for around $3.60 a kg, and Borax was just over $7 a kg at Bunnings. There are cheaper places to order Borax online in bulk if you search for them.

The No Shopping Challenge

We're almost half way through our challenge and we're doing great. Our attitude to shopping has definitely changed and we're thinking a lot more about what we want to use our money on than we did before. We've had some big bills and a holiday last week so we haven't saved as much as we wanted to but I'm hoping that will change next month!

Saturday, January 19, 2013

No Shopping Challenge Day 19



So here I am on holiday almost 3 weeks into my no spend challenge and I thought it was high time for me to let you know how I'm doing.

Being in a beautiful summery tropical place with new shops to look at and new food to try is definitely making this harder than it is at home. The morning we left had us spending over $50 on train tickets to the airport and lunch when we were there - I had planned to pack a lunch then realised that it wasn't really feasible. To make it worse, I hated the lunch we spent the money on and wished I could have had something healthy at home rather than fork out over $20 for greasy chips and burgers. A bit of a rip off really.

Then there's the sightseeing here and the activities. I'm trying to have a much needed real holiday and play the tourist and I'm also trying hard not to spend money. I'm finding the two don't really go together that well. I did promise I would report back and be honest so here it is!

We've been to an amusement park and packed food which saved us loads. We did spend $10 on ice creams for the kids.

I did a big grocery shop when we arrived and stuck to the budget, but I did put in lots of treats and quick meals rather than my usual organic allergy friendly stuff.

Today we went to a mall and bought the kids school shoes and socks which was planned and we had allocated money for. I bought two singlet tops using a gift card although I cheated slightly because I had to pay $1 on top. We got out without buying anything else which was actually a bit of a major for me. I saw lots of lots of things I really wanted and it was tough. No more malls for me until this is over I reckon.

Tomorrow we're checking out a free museum but we'll be paying for parking - which I reckon is within the limits of household expenses.

So, we're doing ok so far. I'm trying hard but I'm also not going to beat myself over the head if we spend more than we normally would on food/parking/transport while we're here.

How are you doing?
Have you been tempted this week?
How long are you doing the challenge for?

Monday, January 14, 2013

Day 14 - Free fun & Fimo






Today started as one of those days. The kids were sick and tired of being stuck inside following a week of weather that made it too uncomfortable to go out. No matter how hard I tried I couldn't get them to agree to disagree and tempers were frayed (including mine).  Time to go out!

We had planned to do a quick trip to the park hoping that some fresh air and exercise would change their moods for the better. Then someone mentioned a walk to a cave down the road in the National Park where you can see Aboriginal hand paintings and suddenly we were on a bush walk. Half way to the cave we saw another sign to a swimming hole that we've been meaning to look at since we arrived in the mountains. Our plans changed again and we took off down some steep rocky steps.

Gosh, I'm so glad we did. We hadn't planned to visit the National Park today and we certainly hadn't planned for a swim -but with my children where there's water and a bit of sunshine someone is always going to get wet. We had the whole place to ourselves so I let them strip off to their underwear and dive in.

In seconds my tired and moody kids were happy again looking for "crystals" in the sand and splashing around in the cool water. If I'd packed sun screen and food we could have stayed all day.

With my patience restored I was in the mood for some craft this afternoon so we got out the Fimo clay and made some beads. Ben made a robot to make into a magnet.

I'm two weeks into my no shopping challenge today and we've done really well. So far we've stuck to our plan. It's been hard at times. Mornings like this morning usually make me want to go and do something with the kids - the mall, the zoo, a trip to Sydney, DVD's from the shop. Today we did get to do things together - free things - and it was just as fun.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Day 13 - You'll thank me when you're older


At around 12.30pm this afternoon I found myself swinging open the door to my pantry, balancing on one leg while drumming my fingers on the other one - all while staring into the dark nothingness before me. There is, of course, plenty of food in there. But there was nothing at all I wanted to prepare for lunch let alone eat. If I wasn't in the middle of a self imposed spending embargo I would have probably nipped out to the shops to buy the things we like for a Sunday throw together lunch - potato chips, ham, cheese, grapes, and chocolate for after.

But I am in the middle of a no spend challenge. I reached for the lentils. I don't know about other kids, but mine are less than enthusiastic about lentils. My daughter has an annoying habit of popping up every time I start making a meal to ask me "whatarewehaving?" and it's never what she wants, so it's always followed up with negotiations and bargaining that I usually have no patience for.

Clearly unimpressed with the lunch menu Jemima asked me what was for dinner. As I said Curried Cabbage Stir fry I couldn't help but laugh at her face. My poor children.

When they're grown I wonder what they'll remember about these years. Will Jemima remember that her mother made her funny looking dresses out of old tablecloths and doilies? Will they recall the felt soft toys stuffed with the rice that spent the next 6 months escaping through the stitches grain by grain? Will Ben remember his pirate pants, his "yee-ha" cowboy pants, his explorer bag? I wonder if when they're feeding their own families they'll follow the food philosophies they've been brought up with - or reject them entirely?

There are definitely things I've carried with me from childhood to parenthood.

My mum making us lunches made up of lots of little morsels of food that we rather originally named "things on a plate".
The big carton of little boxes, egg cartons, and food wrap rolls that mum had saved up for a rainy day of "making stuff".
The way our dinner plates were always piled high with mountains of vegetables.
Knowing that if you wanted something it was always possible to make rather than buy.

So early this afternoon I resisted the urge to spend money and made dal and rice with roasted cashews on top and it was actually really yummy.

But if I'm honest, what I really wanted was hot chips.


Saturday, January 12, 2013

No Shopping Challenge Day 12 - Bartering

Today was my community Crop & Swap meet. Once a month we get together in a local hall and swap our home made produce with each other. It's a cashless way to get some fruit and veg that we may not be able to grow at home and stock our cupboards with delicious local chutney, jam, muesli, and more.

Today I took along 3L of organic unsweetened yoghurt (in 7 jars), 3 small jars of lemon and mint cordial, two kombucha cultures with starter tea, four tomato plants, and a big bowl of cucumbers (but forgot the camera so here is a grainy mobile phone pic of our mat).



The kombucha cultures went in seconds so I'll definitely try and get some more ready in time to take along to February's meeting. The yoghurt was another big success. At the end of the 45 minutes we had swapped everything except the tomato plants - I guess everyone has tomato plants at the moment! We popped them into the 'Share Barrow' at the end - the spot for leftover freebies as well as donated magazines and egg cartons.

This is what we received in return:


Here we have:

Coffee beans roasted yesterday
Ginger beer starter
Pineapple sage plant
Chocolate mint plant
Hummus (hommus for you Aussie folk)
Rhubarb
Apricot jam
Plum paste
Mulberry syrup
Lavender and Chamomile soap
Spicy peach chutney
Medlar fruit chutney
Medlar jam
3 magnets
Chilli jam
The most beautiful maple syrup and cranberry muesli

Isn't that amazing? I feel like I've been gifted the most incredible hamper of locally made food. For my part, it took me a couple of hours to make and bottle the yoghurt and about an hour to do the rest of it. I spent maybe $8 on ingredients for my contributions.

Bartering is the perfect thing to get into while you're doing a no shopping challenge. If there's something you need think about who might have it and see if there's anything you could swap for it. Maybe you have a crop & swap in your local area. If you do, be brave and give it a try. Not only will you come home with lots of yummy treats but you'll meet some fun and interesting people too!

Friday, January 11, 2013

No Shopping Challenge Day 11

Today we went to some of my favourite shops in the mountains and I managed the trip without buying anything except for a gift already saved and planned for (before the challenge).

I saw many, many things I would have bought last month and it was interesting seeing how differently I felt about it this time. It was actually ok. When I saw something I'd like to buy I knew I could have it one day, just not right now. These aren't big extravagant things by the way.. I'm a sucker for nice food items and health products over big ticket items these days.

Tomorrow in the true spirit of the No Shopping Challenge I'm taking my home made stuff to the local Crop and Swap to trade. I have 7 jars of home made organic yoghurt, 3 jars of lemon and mint cordial,  a huge bowl of cucumbers, two Kombucha cultures, and some potted up tomatoes. I'm hoping for some treats and some fruit and vegetables in return. It should be a fun morning, my only hesitation is that we're in the middle of a heat wave over here and it's mighty uncomfortable being out and about.

Ill let you know how I go!


Wednesday, January 9, 2013

No Shopping Challenge Day 9

Not much to report today. I did the weekly shop and found it easier this week to get in and out and I'm pretty sure my desire for shopping is waning. The children have been brilliant too. Miss 8 totally understands the concept of the challenge and has stopped asking for things (why didn't I think of this ages ago!).

What I'm working on is living in the moment and not thinking ahead to what I can buy when the challenge is over. I found myself saying "In March I want a..." rather a lot, and I've decided to try and stop that.

As far as motivation goes all I need to do is look through real estate websites and dream of planting my own vegetable garden.

I hope everyone else is doing well and managing to build up a bit of savings!

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

No Shopping Challenge Day 8 - Simplify

On this intensely hot blustering day we are hiding indoors with curtains closed and windows tightly shut. The children are continuing their long running game of Lego and we are all still in our pyjamas at 10am. Since we are forced to be inside I've spent the morning walking around the house, going from room tidying and sorting as I go.

At the end of my tour I came to a realisation. Our children have too much stuff. Ben's room is overwhelming. Two big wooden shelving units full to bursting with crates of Lego, old transformer robots we've collected from op shops, Playmobil, board games, puzzles. There's so much in there I'm not surprised that he has trouble playing with any of it. It's hard to see what there is with such a jumble of colour and shapes.  On closer inspection I saw that he no longer enjoys or has grown out of a lot of it. Even his closet held 5 pairs of too-small shoes that I have been holding onto so I can give them to a nephew"one day".

Under the stairs is a cupboard full of stuff. We have Ben's stroller that he hasn't sat in for two years. We've kept it in case someone with a baby visits us. Seriously.

It is clearly time for an edit of the things we deem to be essential. After all, just 3 years ago we arrived at Brisbane airport with nothing but a few bags and here we are now with too many things yet again.

What is it about humans that makes us want to hold on and stash away?

This week we are starting a list of things we'll sell and a list of things to donate. We may even come out with some money to add to our savings which would be brilliant. If not, we will still gain some space and some room to breathe.




Monday, January 7, 2013

No Shopping Challenge Day 7 - Hello Savings!


Today is the end of the first week of the challenge for me, so it's a good time to look at my bank account and work out how much I'm saving.

We're definitely up a few hundred dollars - which is both exciting and a bit frightening. Was I really spending that much? I realise now just how much I was spending on multiple small trips to the supermarket and at the food co-op mid week. It's so easy (in my mind) to justify buying more ingredients when they're really healthy for you. Junk food I can easily say no to. We are being more conservative with using petrol too at the moment, and of course there have been no trips to the mall or to cafes for lunch.

Today I had to hand over my debit card for the first time in a week. I bought some bananas, washing up liquid, popcorn kernels, and milk - total $13. Then I bought some vitamins for $10. I see them as household expenses even if I have already spent my grocery budget for the week. Next week I'd like to get through without having to do a little top up shop though so now I know what I need to buy more of.

It felt a little odd spending money today I have to admit. I felt a bit annoyed with myself, like I was cheating or letting myself down. It's silly really because it's not like I bought shoes or takeaways for dinner. I just would have liked to get through to next pay day without spending anything at all.

One unexpected result of the past week has been that I've been consciously thinking about how we deal with money as a family. At the moment neither child has pocket money, but they both have savings accounts. In the past when they've wanted something big like a new toy they've either worked for it by doing odd jobs for us, or they've sold something they no longer wanted on eBay. I would like them to have a better understanding of spending and saving when it comes to the every day things so I think once this is over we'll have a Family Kitty set up with some cash in it. The kids can ask if they can have something (usually for them it's an ice cream after dinner or a DVD from the shop) and we can count the money in the Kitty and see if it's a good idea to use it or not. J and I will use it too of course.

Do your kids get pocket money?
How do you handle your family's miscellaneous spending?



Sunday, January 6, 2013

No Shopping Challenge Day 6 - Trigger Happy


What are your spending triggers?

Like most mums I have trouble saying no when it comes to buying for the kids. They are a big trigger for sure. Books are a another one for me. I am a self confessed book depository addict. Craft items - that piece of elastic I pop in to buy inevitably turns into a $30 or $40 bag of fabric and bits.

In order to complete this challenge, and be kind to ourselves in the process, it's going to be important to identify our triggers. What are the things that make you reach for your credit card? The things that give you a rush adrenalin when you buy them?

If you impulse buy in shopping malls stay well away from them while you're not shopping. It's just plain mean to tempt yourself like that until you've really broken the habit. If you buy craft supplies commit to using up what you already have. If you love to buy books commit to using the library instead. If you buy toys for your kids make yourself really look at all of the things they already have - do they honestly need anything else right now?

To make it easier for me I'm not looking on book depository at all over the next two months. I'm not entering a Spotlight or a Lincraft. I've promised myself to use some of the many craft items I already own.

Here's your homework for next week:

  1. Write down your spending triggers.
  2. Talk to your family about the challenge, get them all on board. It might be wise to tell your kids what you can spend money on. When I told my 8 year old about it (after she asked me for a T-box movie for the 5th time) she looked horrified and said "what about FOOD?"



Saturday, January 5, 2013

No Shopping Challenge Day 5 - A No Spend Saturday

The key to No Spend Saturday success is all in the planning. I don't want to wake up and mope about thinking about the things we can't do because we're not spending any money. I don't want to feel deprived or like I'm missing out on all the fun.

So over the last few days I've been checking out the free things to do in our area.  I knew today was going to be hot (currently 34 degrees and climbing) so I wanted our freebie activity to be somewhere with shade and preferably near the water. As it turns out we have a river about 25 minutes drive away in the Hawkesbury region.




I packed morning tea and lunch for a picnic and we spent a few hours there hanging out and eating. The kids had a splash in the river which they loved and we realised that freshwater swimming is way less hassle than beach swimming! Now we're inspired to look for more rivers and swimming holes.

Overall it was a pleasant morning, I didn't miss spending at all but it definitely required more time and organising to get the food ready to go.

If you're participating in the challenge I hope you managed to have a stress free No Spend day today. Let me know how you got on.

Bec

Friday, January 4, 2013

No Shopping Challenge Day 4 - Eliminating the noise


We went camping over Christmas. The campsite was deep in a National Park on the South Coast of NSW and it was around an hour (on an extremely uncomfortable dirt road) drive to the nearest town. For the first time in years we had no cell phone coverage at all, no 3G.. nothing. We couldn't even send a text message. It was lovely.

After 7 days in the bush we packed up and drove home and on the way I checked the phone to see if the signal was back. It was. And along with entering a 3G area came 277 emails. Two hundred and seventy seven.

When I got home I went through them and was shocked to find that just four of them were from real people. The other 273 were marketing emails telling me to buy things. And most of them I had signed up for myself not wanting to miss out on a good deal.

Is it any wonder that this generation finds it hard not to buy stuff? Everywhere we go we see advertising. The technology we have allows it to infiltrate our living rooms and our bedrooms, it comes along with us in our handbags and cars.

So my goal through this challenge is to eliminate the marketing noise as much as I can. When I get those advertising emails I'm unsubscribing myself from each one. I never read those emails, ever. From today I'm reclaiming the minute or two a day I spend deleting them all.

Wouldn't it be nice to open your inbox and see only emails from family and friends?

Thursday, January 3, 2013

No Shopping Challenge Day 3 - I deserve it

I deserve that. I've had a really crappy week. I didn't get much for my birthday so this is a late birthday present. It's so cheap, it would be silly not to buy it when it's on sale. I'm buying things from markets and op shops so it's not really shopping. These are all organic, fair trade, ethical things that I'm buying so I'm actually helping people by shopping. This is a one of a kind, never going to find it again thing, I can't let it go.

Sound familiar?

Today I'm thinking about changing the definition of 'I deserve it'.

I deserve to be in control of my finances.
I deserve to have a healthy savings account and the peace of mind that comes with that.
I deserve to meet my financial goals.
I deserve to be a strong independent thinker who isn't at the mercy of advertising and mass marketing.

Yes. I deserve that.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

No Shopping Challenge - Day 2


So, it's been 24 hours.

Already I've had to remind myself (or J has had to remind me - hmmm) that I can't just go out and buy if I want to. I think it's going to take a while to get my head around this, which is silly and pathetic really considering so many people in the world don't buy anything other than what they need to survive. It goes to show how normal consumerism is for western world folk like us.

Every season we create a Nature Table on the top of an old buffet cabinet that we picked up at an op shop. I like to bring some of the season indoors and it's a great way for the kids to tune into their surroundings because they're always on the hunt for something to bring home and put on display. I was working on our summer one yesterday - placing shells collected from our camping trip onto pieces of leftover blue and sea green tulle. A couple of weeks before I change over the Nature Table I like to think of ways to make it look nice.. things I could make.. things I could do with the kids. I had an artwork in mind for this nature table, and when we were away I took some close up photographs of trees and rocks in the National Park to use on it. So there I was happily getting my supplies together to make this artwork and I suddenly realised that I couldn't go and get the photographs printed. And then I saw that I'd run out of gel medium and I couldn't go and buy that either. It was a bit disappointing. And a good reality check. This is what it's all about - learning how to say no to myself. Not being able to do what I wanted to do will force me to think of another way using what I already have, and if you could see my workroom you'd understand that I have so many supplies down there - I really shouldn't be buying more.

Jemima wanted to watch a movie on the T-box yesterday. It was almost 40 degrees and on a day like that we'd normally watch movies with the house all closed up to keep it cool. I said no and explained why. She asked again this morning. Twice.

This morning I'm going out to do the weekly grocery shop. I have a budget of $175 for the week and not a penny more. I increased our budget by $25 recently because we were doing lots of midweek trips to get little things and it added up to a huge amount at the end of the month. My challenge today will be to only get food and ignore all the other things supermarkets have started selling recently. Have you noticed that a trip to Woolies is starting to look a lot like a trip to Target or Kmart? They're selling slow cookers, televisions, clothing, and a huge range of toys in there now. Just about every week I seem to find myself held captive by a five year old boy in the toy aisle staring at Transformers.

24 hours in - how does it feel? It feels liberating and exciting thinking about the money we'll save. At this stage is also feels a bit uncomfortable. It's nothing I can put my finger on really, just a quiet anxious feeling. I'm used to the freedom of buying what I like (within reason) and this feels a bit strange.

If you're joining me I'd love to hear how you're going!




Tuesday, January 1, 2013

No Shopping Challenge Day 1 - Cold Turkey


There's a lot to love about shopping in Sydney. Every day, somewhere in this city, there is a sale. Not just a measly 5% off sale. No, I'm talking about an 80% off-holy cow-look at that discount-sale. And then there's the online sales. And eBay. And even op shopping. Don't be in denial like me, telling yourself that op shopping doesn't count.  It does. Just the other day I walked out of a Vinnie's having spent $60 on things I didn't exactly need. Self control when it comes to buying can be hard to come by in this town.

Mr J and I watched a documentary called 'I Am' recently and it got me thinking about shopping. The doco is about a Hollywood movie director who gives up his possessions and travels the world asking religious leaders, academics, poets, and scientists two questions: What is wrong with the world today? What can we do about it? It's an interesting watch.

I try to moderate the way I buy by thinking about where products are made and if they're fair trade or not. But it doesn't always work out that way, and sometimes if I'm honest, I get caught up in the moment just like anyone else.

It's not really shopping that bothers me. It's more the culture of shopping. Shopping as a recreation activity, something to do in the weekends instead of being outdoors or hanging out with the kids at home. I dislike it intensely when the kids list "look at toys" as something they'd like to do as a family activity.


Now I don't want you to go thinking that I'm one of those crazy women with fifteen identical pairs of jeans in the closet all with their labels attached. I'm not a serial shopper at all and I'm by nature very thrifty. But I am sometimes impulsive when I like something and when I look at our bank accounts I can see that there are lots of little purchases eating a large hole in our savings plan.


Which brings me back to the documentary. I had a thought as I was watching it - that I've trained myself to spend. There are always things I think I need and as we get money we go out and spend to tick things off that list. It made me think. Could I go without buying for a month, two months, three? Shamefully, as soon as I had the thought another one popped into my head. The thought was: what about the new BBQ we want to buy? And that sealed the deal. I can't even think about not buying without trying to convince myself I need to shop. Maybe it's a habit, like biting your nails or never shutting the kitchen drawer. Maybe we need to break the shopping habit so that we're no longer on consumer auto pilot.

I mulled the idea over for a few days and decided to look for some blogs written by people doing a similar challenge. I found lots of them, it seems many people are like me - trying to give up the lure of the shops and save some money at the same time. I'd find an interesting looking blog, read the opening post about the challenge, then look for the follow up posts... and find nothing. Out of the ten blogs I looked at, only one had a follow up post, and in it the writer admitted to buying a new purse!

So my pledge to you is that I will follow up. I'll tell you how I'm going, and I'll be honest if I cheat (but I'm not going to cheat). 

The only thing left is setting the parameters for the challenge.

1. No clothes shopping, toy buying, book depository shopping (my weakness), no craft supplies.
2. No thrift shopping, no markets, unless I'm window shopping.
3. Food, petrol, household expenses are allowed.
4. Gift cards are allowed but only up to the limit of the gift.
5. Any birthday presents needed during the challenge will be hand made (it's OK, I can make cool stuff).
6. The challenge starts January 1st and runs until the last day of February - maybe longer!

So my first admission to you is that I've spent the last few days furiously trying to work out how I can get things before the deadline - like if I buy it just before Jan 1st is that allowed? See, I need help.

To make this even more tricksy we're going away for a week in January on holiday. Can I really not shop on holiday? I think I can do it. I'm going to try really hard to do it - because buying stuff isn't what a family holiday should be about anyway. And if I succeed in not buying anything other than the essentials while on holiday, then keeping it up when I'm at home should be easy right?

If you're game how about joining me on a month or two of not spending. Kind of like a post Christmas detox don't you think? Wish me luck, I think I may need it.





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