Sunday, November 30, 2014

How to have a memorable Christmas on a budget

This week I saw some interesting survey results showing that over 30% of those who took this survey will budget for up to $1,000 on Christmas, but over 20% of these same people expect to overspend! If you have a budget in mind, why are you expecting to over spend?

The survey was done by Fair Go Finance and had 3,940 people take it. Some of the other facts that stood out to me were the fact that 36.25% expect to spend more on Christmas than they did last year, 28.23% of people don't even keep track of their spending and 20% plan on going into debt or using a bonus to pay for Christmas. This is crazy! The people involved were pretty evenly split around Australia, between the ages of 18 and 60, mostly on incomes under $75,000 and only slightly more females than males.

This survey shows to me that despite the fact we all know Christmas comes at the same time every year, many of us do not budget or plan for it appropriately. I'm a single mum and I know how hard it can be to give your kids everything you want to give them but the most important thing for kids is fun, memories, knowing they are loved and not a bunch of 'stuff'.

How to have a memorable Christmas on a budget
1.) Create traditions
Growing up we had traditions like the Christmas tree went up on the first Monday of December, on Christmas Eve all the kids slept in one room, we had an advent calendar my mum made that had pockets and in each pocket we placed a lolly for each family member plus something to do each day eg sing a Christmas carol, do something nice for someone else, bake cookies together etc. All these things made Christmas special.
2.) Plan ahead
I plan for Christmas by putting aside money every pay, working out who I need to give presents to, what they might like, what gifts I could make and working out my budget which I stick to. Then I start getting what I need throughout the year, in sales and listening to those around me to see what they want as well.
3.) Go potluck
Instead of one person catering for everything, get everyone involved to bring their favourite dish and share the load.
4.) Reduce the amount of gifts
I am one of 9 kids, most are married and there are quite a few nieces and nephews now. You can imagine how crazy and expensive Christmas would be if we all bought for each other. Instead, we pull names out of the hat and buy for a few nieces/nephews each, don't buy for adults (except our parents/grandparents) and have reduced the amount of gifts while increasing the quality of gifts everyone gets.
5.) Go local
Check out local Christmas light displays, get involved in local Christmas events and find out what fun free things there are to do where you live to entertain the kids.
6.) Make your own wrapping paper
Buy a long roll of butchers paper and let the kids go nuts decorating it. It's cheaper than Christmas paper and is a great annual tradition for the kids too.
7.) Book ahead when travelling
If you know where you need to go or what you will be doing over the Christmas period, do some research to find out the cheapest and most practical way to travel, then book ahead of time to get the best deals.

What do you do to save money at Christmas? How much do you budget for and do you mange to stick to your budget?

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Win one of 5 Pantene haircare packs

We've joined with The Thrifty Issue to giveaway 5 haircare packs! Each pack contains:

- Pantene Ultimate 10 Shampoo & Conditioner RRP $7.99 each
- Pantene Ultimate 10 BB Creme for Hair RRP $10.99
- Pantene Volume Booster Dry Shampoo RRP $9.99
- Pantene Nature Fusion Dry Shampoo RRP $9.99
- Pantene 7 Day Smooth &Manageable Kit RRP $10.99

Everything you need for gorgeous hair! After 10 years of research and listening to thousands of Australian women, P&G has recently introduced a breakthrough formulation in hair care; new and changed Pantene.

New Pantene is designed to meet the needs of Australian women by addressing their number one hair care concern; damage.

How does it work? Well, the optimal blend of Pro-V in new Pantene nourishes and protects your hair to deliver up to 100% damage protection with a lightweight feel.

The new Pantene formulation also contains a revolutionary technology called Keratin Damage Blockers, which helps to defend hair against irreversible oxidative damage.

As part of this new change, Pantene has also recently announced Australian Supermodel, Robyn Lawley, as its newest brand ambassador.

You can read more and enter here or fill in the widget below.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Making our home a home

We moved house again last month. Our last move was meant to be the final one until we bought our own home, but circumstances changed and we had to move again. Fortunately our new home will be our home as long as we want. I know the owners are not going to be selling, especially now we are here. My daughters adore it and best yet, we can do anything we want to it.

I moved 2 nights before I flew out for an overseas conference, then it was school holidays so I am only just catching my breath now to sort out the house properly. I am pretty excited to say the least about implementing some tiny things that make a huge difference to organization within the home.

We started with the garden this week. The weeds are taller than me in some sections.

We will be planting a vegetable garden. There is already an established orange tree and I noticed our back neighbours have chickens, which is something we want too.

It is such a relief to be living somewhere I know we can be for years and that I can treat as my own home. In my last property I couldn't even have fish according to my lease.

The plan is to stay here for sometime while I invest my money elsewhere. I want to make this our home, but as frugally as possible.

What ways have you renovated, improved a home or garden on a budget?

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Choc Ripple Cake

This is a firm family favourite. Here's the way my mum always made it.

2 packets Choc Ripple Biscuits
600ml cream
2 Tbsp icing sugar
1 Flake or grated chocolate (optional)

Whip the cream, then add the icing sugar.

In a dish place a layer of biscuits followed by a layer of cream. Repeat this until everything is used up.

Leave in the fridge over night to set.

Before serving crumble the flake or sprinkle the grated chocolate over that. Serve.

To make it like a log I layered the biscuits and cream in an ice cream conatainer.
The next day I scooped spoonfuls out onto a tray and shaped it into a log. I put cream over it and sprinkled it with chocolate.

Some people soak the biscuits in liquer first, but I don't drink alcohol and I don't use it in my cooking, nor did my mum.

I've also sliced banana over the top before serving because I didn't have enough cream for the top layer and it went slightly brownish, so I used the banana to cover it up and everyone loved it. So if you'd like it to be slightly different, banana's or strawberries taste good with it.

Monday, September 1, 2014

9 ways to make yourself feel sexy

To be clear, this is not about feeling sexy for someone else or to the opposite sex (although that can be a side benefit). This is about feeling sexy for yourself, feeling good about yourself. That is the most important thing.

After having kids my body was messed around a little. I got stretch marks, my tummy is not as flat as it once was and I just felt less sexy all over. It doesn't have to be that way though. I have dropped a lot of weight since giving birth and while it shouldn't, my 'feeling sexy' goes hand in hand with my weight. But whatever my size is, that is not really what makes me sexy. Sexy is a state of mind and there is a lot you can do to make yourself feel sexy.

1.) Dress for your body shape
This was a huge learning curve for me. My sister is a personal stylist and once she showed me what suited my body I had a lot more confidence and love my wardrobe now.

2.) Take care of your body - not just the weight
Aside from getting to whatever your ideal weight is (which, by the way, probably isn't what you want, you want to be healthy), take care of it in other ways:
- Dry body brushing helps get rid of dry skin, stimulate circulation and reduce cellulite
- Moisturise your body, but massage it in instead of just rubbing it on. Try a light tanning lotion too.
- Nails: do a manicure and pedicure. Even if it is just using a pumice stone or file on your heels and putting on some polish.

3.) DIY Makeover
Check YouTube, Pinterest and blogs for different make up looks, hair styles and beauty tricks. Try different ones, take photos, compare and have fun.

4.) Tell yourself you're sexy
Look at yourself in the mirror and look at the good points, tell yourself you are sexy over and over with conviction. Do it every day. Don't criticise your body and hate yourself. Love yourself and it will show.

5.) Lingerie!
I am obsessed with lingerie. I feel so good in it and honestly spend more on it than anything else in my wardrobe. Good underwear can do wonders for your whole outfit and self confidence. Add in some nice stockings and heels, then BOOM!

6.) Role play or fake it til you make it
By this I mean ACT confident. Project confidence with your body language, walk straight and tall, don't stand with your legs crossed and own the space you are in. You might not feel confident at first, but the more you project confidence, the more you feel it and confidence is sexy.

7.) Work out
Getting fit and healthy does wonders for you self esteem. The better shape your body is in the better you feel about it. You need to love your body so focus on healthy when you work out, not a particular body size.

8.) Compare photos
Take a photo of yourself right now and compare it to a picture when you were bigger. Look how far you've come! For me, how I look in photos is often very different to how I think I look. I view myself much larger than I actually am.

9.) Take time for yourself
You need time just for you. We do so much for everyone else, it can leave you feeling frazzled. Take some time to switch off, take care of yourself, do some things you enjoy and you will definitely feel better about yourself.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Natural Remedies by Mim Beim - Book review

In the past year we have barely been to the doctor. I like using natural remedies, especially for viruses, colds, coughs and similar. I have a collection of resources I use as needed and various ingredients I ensure are always on hand. Last week I was fortunate to receive a copy of Natural Remedies by Mim Beim, one of Australia's most respected naturopaths.

It covers over 200 ailments with natural remedies to help. Each ailment is clearly described, what causes it, dietary advice, remedies and other advice. It is very easy to read and being an A-Z reference it is the sort of book you can keep on hand as needed, flicking through when you feel something coming on to get the remedy instead of having to read the whole thing cover to cover.

That said, it is great to read about the different remedies and how similar remedies can fix different ailments. It is very easy to read, understand and follow the practical tips and remedies Mim offers. 

I don't often get sick and am fortunate that the few times I have it has not been too bad, however, I have discovered there are natural remedies that work much faster for me than many prescribed medications and without side effects I have suffered before. 

There was one particular issue that had I not used a natural remedy for it, I would have required surgery. Instead, it took 2 days to clear with no side effects, not time off for anything and I was able to do it at home, quickly and easily. 

What natural remedies have you tried or are your go to methods?

Disclaimer: this is simply my opinion and even though I prefer natural remedies, you should seek your own professional advice for your ailments and issues, making your own decision about natural remedies.
Check out for this and more great books!

Monday, August 18, 2014

What would you do if you knew your children's friends were homeless? #Laceitup

Did you know that over 47,000 people in Australia, under the age of 25 are homeless? That is nearly half our homeless population.

Did you know that couch surfing, staying with friends, sleeping in the car, any form on unstable or temporary accommodation is classed as homeless.

One of the big issues with homelessness is it is so hidden. I have spoken with people who know 50% of their children's friends do not have stable accommodation.

There have been times in my life where I didn't have stable accommodation. I was living in a garage, sleeping on friends lounges, I have slept in the car once and another time I had to move interstate. Most of those experiences happened when I was under 25. The worst was only last year, when I was 27 and 28, but I know of so many people under 25 how don't have much hope for their future because of how they are living.

What would you do if you knew your children's friends were homeless? Would you offer somewhere to stay? Would you try to get them some help, direct them to services that give assistance or would you stay out of it?

One way you can help youth homelessness is with Youth Off The Streets. Buying a $5 pair of laces helps raise funds to go towards helping homeless youth, plus wearing them helps raise awareness and start conversations. I have been amazed by how many people here in Canberra are oblivious to our high rate of homelessness. We have the second highest rate in the country, yet it is so hidden.

I believe that by helping the youth we can help break the cycle of homelessness, give them hope and help them start their lives again. Check out more from Youth Off The Streets and take pics of your laces when you get them, tagging them with #laceitup