WARNING – Long post ahead. So perhaps you would like to grab a cuppa and snack before you start.
This is for Anna** and I. Anna feels that she is falling behind financially and I can see that the things I need to do are fast outweighing the available time.
The first part of this post is about me.
I do not have a lot of preparation to do for Christmas with only a couple of gifts to buy and the only meal I am hosting is for 5 adults on Christmas morning. However, there just seem to be lots of relatively minor things I need to attend to that are getting squashed into the time before Christmas (17 days). Without the aid of a list, I am completely lost so here it is.
Ring telecommunications company re phone charges
Pick up belt from repairer
Move furniture for carpet cleaner (coming tomorrow)
Add photos to Christmas letter
Write and post Christmas cards with letter
Make phone calls re extended family BBQ in January
Set up email list for recipients of Christmas letter via email
Defrost the freezer (and do a stocktake of the contents)
Buy Christmas presents for Missy & Belle (I know what to buy, just need to do it)
Finish home-made gifts and package them up
Check on changing health insurance cover
Even my menu planning has fallen a bit by the wayside recently, although I usually have a rough idea of meals for the next couple of days in my head. This is not ideal and I need to get back on track. Having a written list for the week saves space in my head and leaves room for thinking about other things.
Anna feels as though she is chasing her tail, both time-wise and financially. Does that sound familiar? With a young family there are many competing priorities and every time you feel like you are getting ahead something else rears its ugly head. Many of us see paid work as the only way to get ahead (or back on track) financially. Earning money is certainly the most obvious way to make ends meet but the other thing to remember is that the time spent earning that money is time that you cannot devote to money-saving activities. I am not about to suggest that Anna stop working but it is worth keeping in mind the things you can do to prevent leaks in the budget.
One of the most significant costs in the family budget is food which is absolutely essential. As my post yesterday discussed, there are savings to be made in this area by making meals from scratch. This is easy to say but can be difficult to achieve when you are working so a menu plan is definitely your best friend. Having a plan helps to stave off the “grab a takeaway on the way home” syndrome. Stick to simple meals and cook a couple of meals in bulk. It does not have to be presented as the same meal but you can use the same base. An example is bolognaise sauce which is extremely versatile. Serve with pasta, as topping for baked potatoes or top with mashed potato for a Shepherd’s Pie.
Do not try to do everything but focus on one or two changes that are manageable and reap the rewards. If you put a modest amount of money aside each pay (perhaps, $20 if you can manage) you will soon have a fund to start to cover the unexpected expenses and the budget will not look so bleak.
As I have shown many times before almost everything can be traced back to being organised. We all slip-up from time to time but it is important not to a) lose heart and give up or b) beat yourself up about it. Regroup and try again.
The most important thing is to be kind to yourself and make sure you take time out to rest and relax. I hope you all have an opportunity over the Christmas break.
**not her real name