Sunday, July 18, 2010

WISH card challenge end of week ten

As expected, a hideously expensive week.  Both cars needed filled with fuel and we also bought lots of fruit and veggies. I expected to spend around $150 but spent a whopping $202.04. Yipes.

This week will be much less expensive as we'll only need some fresh salad veggies and fruit.

Everyone was feeling much better but as we were all back at work and school,  lots of early nights and no sitting at the computer until late evening was the rule for last week.

I think we may just wring two weeks out of the WISH cards we have left.  Will all depend on how much we need to spend on  fuel. Cross your fingers for luck!

No movement in the stockpile fund.
Week ten, day seven

Gift cards $147.81
Stockpile $237.50
Spent so far $1752.19

Average spend: $175.22 per week

Sunday, July 11, 2010

WISH card challenge end of week nine

Another week completed.

Everyone in the house shared a virus, with a bonus ear infection for me thrown in. It meant that we've stayed close to home for the week and have only spent on some petrol and fresh fruit.

Any money saved through no shopping was spent on doctor visits and prescriptions this week.  It's also meant no posts from me as I have stayed away from the computer.

I expect that a massive shop will be needed this week. We're pretty much out of all fruit and veg. We have an onion, two carrots, three apples, some mandarins and kiwi fruit left.
The freezer was a godsend this week as we had a number of ready meals in there and it meant that GuitarMan could heat something up if I didn't feel up to cooking. Thanks to my freezer inventory I knew exactly what we had and where to find it.

Our spending was $83.79 this week as we only bought some petrol plus fruit. I expect to spend at least $150 this week.  I'm dtermined to stretch what's left of the WISH cards to the end of twelve weeks.  Should make for some interesting meals!

Nothing spent from the stockpile money, but haven't added to it as there's enough in there at the moment.  Will have to do a shop for some of my stockpile soon as I'm almost out of a number of our staples.

Week nine, day seven

Gift cards $349.85
Stockpile $237.50
Spent so far $1550.15

Average spend: $172.23 per week

Sunday, July 4, 2010

WISH card challenge end of week eight

Well the eight weeks I had originally hoped to complete on this challenge have ended.

I can easily keep going for another two weeks.  Although it will be challenging, I'll squeeze the most out of every single dollar for the coming month. Maybe we can complete 12 weeks!

Thanks to our freezer inventory and full fuel tanks our spending was just $66.40 this week.

Still nothing spent from the stockpile money, but I plan to make a trip to Costco tomorrow as we'll be in the area.  Will stock up on some things using my credit card (to get some frequent flyer points) and then transfer money from the $237 in the stockpile fund.

Week eight, day seven

Gift cards $433.64
Stockpile $237.50
Spent so far $1466.36

Average spend: $183.29 per week

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

School holiday spending

Well, it's Day 2 of winter school holidays. 

I thought it would be interesting to post what we have planned and the cost of school holidays when we are at home.  Over the years I expect that while cheap right now, school holidays will become more expensive with each year and as TootToot becomes a teenager and is less satisfied with free (or inexpensive) activities and entertainment.

TootToot was sick last week and not at school for the whole week. Instead of being happy and content for the first week of school holidays almost immediately she gave the usual school holiday war cry of "I'm bored". The weather hasn't been co-operative and it's been so cold and miserable that outside play hasn't been an option.  Is this boredom because she was sick or is it because she's getting older and getting her grumpy pants ready to wear for adolescence?

Now, how do we entertain an already sick of being at home, bored eight year old without blowing the budget?

We allow TootToot to choose one special activity each school holidays and she can take a friend to do it with if she wants. This time she chose to go bowling with GuitarMan. Just her and Dad and that's nice. 

We are extremely lucky that Nan (my Mum) is able to look after TootToot for two days each week and that certainly cuts our school holiday costs in half. We're also fortunate to have kids a similar age to ours living on either side, and TootToot will play with them on holidays and weekends as well.

Here's our rough plan. I haven't included weekends as we'll do the usual stuff like horse riding.

Week One:

Monday - Day with Nan

Tuesday - hanging with GuitarMan. Two games of ten-pin bowling in the morning, a hot dog each, a drink and $5 of game tokens. $35

Wednesday - spend day with Nan. Collect a free Wednesday movie from the OOVIE Kiosk to watch

Thursday - Day with Mum. Go to a birthday party at lunchtime. Present is in 'present box' so nothing to be spent. TootToot's friend Rapunzel will arrive at dinner and stay over until Friday afternoon.

Friday - If weather is still horrid, will do one of the craft activities we have lying around.  I think I might get the girls to carve some apple people which they can decorate at Rapunzel's house next week. If weather not too bad we'll head off to the Botanic Gardens with a packed lunch and do a school holiday activity for $3.30 for each girl.

Total cost for week $41.60


Monday - Day with Nan

Tuesday - Day with Mum. Girls Day. We usually choose to stay in our PJs all day and just chill. Eat some chocolate and watch one of TootToot's DVDs and snuggle in my bed. GuitarMan often comes home on Girls Days to find us fast asleep in our bed.

Wednesday - Day at Nan's

Thursday - TootToot will spend the day at Rapunzel's. I think Rapunzel's Mum has promised to take them to see Shrek. I'll send along $20 for popcorn and a drink for the girls.

Friday - Day with Mum. We'll visit cousins in the morning and after lunch spend some time at the library.

Total cost for week $20

I'll post an update at the end of school holidays and compare how we really did compared with our plan.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

WISH card challenge end of week seven and still rolling

Seven weeks of the challenge are over and a very good week it turned out to be.  Our average spending for both food and fuel has made it under $200 per week, only by 1 cent but under none the less.

There was an article in the Sunday Herald Sun last week which quoted current Australian Bureau of Statistics cost of living figures with an average of $250 per week spent on food and $100 on transport.  We are averaging only 57% of that amount.

This was definitely our most successful week so far on this challenge. Doing an inventory of the freezers and pantry has really helped me plan and reduce costs. The total spending for this week was $114.91 for fuel and food.

I expect that I won't buy much more than basic staples such as fruit, vegetables, bread and milk this week.  Spending for this week should stay well below $200.

No spending from my general stockpile money and have enough funds in that at the moment.  So the 'spare' $40 will be spent on school holiday fun in the coming week.

Week seven, day seven

Gift cards $500.04
Stockpile $197.50
Spent so far $1399.96

Average spend: $199.99 per week

Sunday, June 20, 2010

WISH card challenge end of week six

Six weeks successfully completed.  I've managed to keep the combined fuel and grocery spend to just over $200 again.  Fuel accounted for $70 of this weeks spend, so $130 this week at Woolworths.

I found the last three marked down bags of Purina dog food on Monday and bought those.  As the saving is $5 per bag they were too good a buy to pass up even though they cost $60 and almost doubled this weeks Woolies spending. I won't be buying any dog food for at least three months now.

Still nothing spent from my general stockpile money so another $40 added to that.

I'm doing a stocktake of the freezers, pantry and stockpile today.With some careful meal planning, I hope to extend this challenge beyond the eight weeks by living from the freezers a fair bit.

Week six, day seven

Gift cards $614.95
Stockpile $197.50
Spent so far $1285.05

Average spend: $214.18 per week

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Pantry Magic

At the same time as the WISH Card Challenge, I've been taking the opportunity to organise my pantry, freezers and stockpile.  It's meant that I've uncovered some finds that quite frankly nobody wants to claim.

The finds have not been anything to be excited about - usually something that has been pushed to the back of the pantry because nobody wants to look at it never mind eat it.  The exception are the surviving chocolate bunnies from Easter. Said bunnies are now living on borrowed time now that TootToot has remembered they are there.

One particularly unpleasant find was the discovery of a container of a muesli type cereal which had been lurking at the back of the middle pantry shelf since February. The picture on the box had promised us a feast of dried fruits, wholegrain flakes, oats and slivered almonds.  At home and with the box opened up it both resembled and tasted like horse chaff or sawdust.

Could frugal knowledge and cooking from scratch skills allow me to turn something that was truly inedible garbage into a tasty treat?

Muesli bars were thought of and swiftly discounted. TootToot has braces and really chewy sticky foods are not on the menu.  GuitarMan asked if it could be used in cookies. Brilliant!

I grabbed my $21 Challenge Book and made a half quantity of the basic biscuit mixture on page 176 and added a few additional ingredients.  Here's the result.

Muesli Cookies

1/2 quantity of bulk cookie mix (you can view the basic recipe and method via the link above)

To this I added

2 Cups Muesli Cereal
5 Tablespoons Maple Syrup
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

These may not be the best looking cookies you ever saw but they're tasty and will make good lunchbox treats in coming weeks.  I got 65 cookies from this batch and I'll freeze them to grab later when making up lunches.

You know, when I think of the amount of food we previously threw out I cringe.  When we were still firmly in our spendthrift ways, the cereal would have gone straight into the garbage with never another thought. Now I view things differently, challenging ingredients are an opportunity to work some pantry magic.