Week 13 Officeworks and saving money

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Wow what a massive temptation, I had to go to Officeworks this week, to get some supplies for an upcoming consultation, this could have been bad.

Stationary is one of my favourite indulgences (along with Gin), I just love notebooks and pens and pencils, particularly mechanical pencils, they are the best. So when I have to go to Officeworks or another stationary store, I usually pick myself up a couple of note books and a pencil or two to add to my collection – after all I am bound to need them one day.

So knowing that this was a weakness I determined to be strong and only buy what I needed for this particular consultation. I wrote a list and set off to the store, to discover I had forgotten my list and the USB containing the map I needed printing. Still I persevered and wandered round the store looking at all the cool stuff, I picked up a very nice looking notebook just $4.50, what a barging! Still I was strong and put it back down again. I bypassed the mechanical pencils – will power is a limited resource and I did not want to take that risk. I even got through the check out ‘maze of temptation’ (you know that bit at the end that has lots of $3-$5 bits and pieces that look oh so useful). When I went to pay I was surprised by how cheap the trip was – I might be onto something here.

Well, I think we can call that a success and saving money is always good, in fact many people have said to me ‘you must be saving heaps of money’ doing this (stuff reduction). Sadly this is not the case. Well I say that but in truth I have no idea how much money I actually spend. My brother, who is an accountant, was amazed when I told him that. He genuinely could not comprehend that I could not be aware of where my money was going. To be truthful it is a little bit silly on my part, I have always lived within my means but if I ever want to retire I may have to be a little more grown up about this.

So I installed an app on my phone called Money Smart. You log all your expenses into categories and you can see where your money is going. I have been doing it for three months now so I can see some patterns.  I decided  that the easiest way to save money was to look at where the biggest chunk of my money goes and stop or cut down on that particular expense.  After a quick review I can see that cutting my biggest expense means  I wont be paying my mortgage or utility bills anymore.

OK, that is probably not going to work so I looked at the next biggest expenditure which turns out to be entertainment and eat out.  Saving money is going to mean I will be cooking at home and catching up on a heap of DVD’s and books in the next three months – I can live with that.

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Week Twelve – A logistical Challenge

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Stuff Diary Week 13

I confess I bought some stuff, well a stuff. But I have an excuse, or even a reason. I am about to go on a walk for a few days, (you can read about it at www.wayfaring140.wordpress.com). Water will not be freely available and what is available will not be treated, so I had to come up with a solution. In the past I have relied on purification tablets, which make your water taste like a swimming pool. Then, a bloke I met while walking last year suggested I get a Lifestraw. This is a clever little piece of kit that filters your water as you drink. What is more Lifestraw commit to providing water to a child in a developing country for one year for each Lifestraw sold. I did think about it and workshop the idea with a few friends one of whom, Matt, has appointed himself as my ‘Consumption Probity Officer’ he confirmed that this purchase could be considered both a safety item and charitable donation and as such he could ‘inform you this ‘donation’ meets our non-procurement of new stuff guidelines’. Given Matts’s love of outdoor gear is even greater than mine I am not he is the best person for the job, but we will have a lot of fun discussion Stuff.

So now I have bought a book and a Lifestraw, however I will be using both the week after next, I didn’t buy them just in case, or because they were cheep, or because they might come in handy. I haven’t bought anything that I don’t have an immediate use for, and that is good except…

Gin. I have been stocking up on Gin, now like Gin and I particularly like all the fancy types you can now buy (at great expense).   But I don’t actually drink that much and I think I am at risk of becoming a collector. I reckon I am buying Gin to sate my buying stuff desires and so it is going to have to stop. I have put a temporary embargo on buying any Gin until I drink all that I already have, at my current rate of consumption verses stock available this will take me pretty much up until Christmas.

Fixing stuff – part two

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The new tablet and dog (she doesn’t need fixing she is perfect)

Just to recap – I broke my tablet while trying to fix it last year – check out Fixing it part one for the whole sorry tale)

I was totally lost without my tablet because I use it….. well, occasionally in truth but I was used to having it around and it had a new SIM in it so I had to come up with a plan. The obvious thing was to buy a new one, and never being a very subtle person that is exactly what I did. I got on Amazon and checked out suitable replacements, the exact version no longer exists so I looked for alternatives. As usual when it comes to buying stuff I carefully considered all the options over the period of about 10 minutes and made my choice pretty much at random

Having ordered the new tablet, a case and a screen protector I sat back to wait for it to drop through the door (well actually I did a bit of gardening at Dad’s, went for a walk, went to the pub, read a book, general holiday activities). Just a couple of days later, while out, I got a message to say my tablet had been delivered. Excitedly I went back to Dad’s to get it, but it was not there.   A level of panic hit me (after all this was not a cheap bit of kit) and I went around looking for it. None of Dad’s neighbours had seen it but were all most concerned, a white van had been spotted – not the usual postie, perhaps this had delivered it? However if it had where was it now? There was quite a stir in The Close.

My next option was to phone the delivery people, never a good option and while they were most concerned and very lovely they could do nothing, it was recorded as delivered.

I was perturbed. My brother pointed out that this being Cornwall it would arrive d’rectly and it was best not to fuss (he can be quite annoying – I was doing a good job at fussing and saw no reason to stop).

I got on with quietly fretting and doing a bit of pottering as well (yes I can multitask). Then I saw some activity in the Close, the door bell rang, Dad went to answer it and came back with my tablet. I was now less perturbed but a little confused and a lot relieved.

It took a bit of sleuthing but the story seems to be…. because we weren’t home when it arrived the neighbour next door had signed for it and noted it was for Helen. When Helen (from across the road) arrived home the neighbour handed it over and then went off to do something. Helen from across the road hadn’t really looked at it but had put it aside to open later. Meanwhile I went next door to ask I had asked the wrong half of the couple who knew nothing of the previously delivered parcel. Finally Helen from across the road went to open it, realised it wasn’t for her, remembered that Dad had his daughter staying, and delivered it to Dad. Confused? Well it is Cornwall.

And how does this get my original tablet fixed? Find out in the next gripping instalment.

 

Week Five – Week 11 Missing the Buzz? and the Hedonistic Treadmill

 

Les at 4 Pillars

Goodness I seemed to have dropped the ball rather with the diary side of this endeavour – I am not Samuel Pepys and I am certainly no Edwardian Lady…

That being said I have certainly not given up on my quest – it just turns out that once you start on something like this all sorts of things come up, lots of fascinating leads to follow, more to come on that very soon.

In the meantime I thought it would be good to check in on how this whole thing is going. A few people have asked if there is anything I miss buying. In truth I have so much stuff I often find things I forgot I had – which is a bit like shopping but without the crowds and credit card. So generally, no I don’t miss buying stuff.

In fact one of my friends introduced me to the concept of the Hedonistic Treadmill. Wiki (pedia not links) defines this as ‘is the observed tendency of humans to quickly return to a relatively stable level of happiness despite major positive or negative events or life changes’. So going out and buying that piece of stuff gives us a fleeting moment of joy before we go back to feeling just as we were before. I will try and remember that next time I head for the biscuit barrel.

Fixing Stuff part one

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When you commit to not buying stuff for a year the issue of what to do when something breaks arises.   As previously noted I could be accused of jumping to the – ‘buy a new one’ option a little too quickly in the past. Now that option has been taken away from me (by me) I have to think a little bit more laterally.

Obviously most stuff can be fixed, some stuff I can even fix myself (I am an excellent darner though I do say so myself) but most I can’t. This means that when something breaks I have to either:

  1. Learn how to fix it
  2. Find someone who can fix it
  3. Put it on the ‘to be fixed’ pile and leave it there until I next do a big clean out.

Learning how to fix tings can be fun, YouTube is amazing for showing you how to fix things. In fact it was down to a YouTube video that I found myself at the back of a house in rather a dodgy housing estate thinking – I might not make it out alive.

This little adventure had all begun about nine months ago on a station in southern England. The train was late getting in and I ran like the clappers down about four flights of stairs and up about four flights of stairs to see my ‘connecting’ train pull out. I threw my bag to the floor in a bit of a strop and cursed the useless railways – how hard is it to hold a train for 30 seconds?

When I got back to Dads house a couple of days later my tablet would not boot up. After a quick search online I found that this was probably due to ‘being dropped’ and had a simple fix. I needed to open up the tablet and reattach some wires, how hard could that be? So I had a glass of rather nice Cornish gin and got to work. In retrospect the gin might not have been the best idea. It was not as easy as suggested but I did manage to open up the tablet. Once inside reattaching the wires was easy and having done that I snapped it all back together and hey presto it booted up a dream. I felt rather pleased with myself until I realised the screen would not work – it had a tiny crack and was completely unresponsive, the sad thing was that I had done this while ‘fixing it’. Google suggested this was also easily fixable but I was a little more circumspect this time so what was I going to do now?………to be continued….

Week Fourish Unsubscribe (but not from my blog)

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Most of my email inbox is people trying to sell me stuff, I delete the majority without even looking at them. A couple of times a year I go through and unsubscribe from most of the lists but they just seem to come back. So when I am feeling weak it is so easy to click on the link and find myself in the wonderful world of stuff. I don’t even need a credit card – most are linked through PayPal so a couple of clicks and I can expect a package at the front door in no time. I love those packages, I love the knock on the door, the box, the pleasure of opening it and pulling out the stuff…. And then, well it is all a bit of an anti climax and the stuff gets put with all my other stuff.

So this week is the great unsubscribe, remove those tempting emails and clean up my inbox to boot – with the time I save trolling through emails I can actually get to read some of those books I own, use some of that stuff I bought or just sit in the sun.

I unsubscribed from a heap of shops with no drama and then I came to Bonds – I seriously never remember actually subscribing but I will remember trying to unsubscribe. I clicked the button and got the ‘we are sorry to see you go’ (no you are not, we have never even met, you are just a computer program and if we had met you would probably be glad to see the back of me… I digress). Great, I thought, job done. But no, another email arrived, so I unsubscribed again thinking I must have done something wrong. This second unsubscribe was followed by another ‘buy our stuff’ email, I unsubscribed again, with the same result, and again, and again, and again, and a few more agains, until I got grumpy. I emailed bonds, did a ‘chat’ message and when they ignored them I left a Facebook message. Finally I got a response and touch wood I am free of Bonds and will never buy one of their crummy products again – stuff pushers.

Week three – I discovered a place

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My current reading pile

Readings sent me their weekly list of books to read, there were some really good ones – books shortlisted for a prizes, some of them look really good and I want to read them. This provides me with a quandary – I have hundreds of books already that I haven’t read, they all looked really interesting when I bought them. I just don’t have enough time to read all the books I want to, what with working, procrastinating about working, lying on the couch, sitting in the garden looking at the weeds playing with the dog and everything.

 

So if I buy them, the chances are I wont read them, but I would like to have access to them on the off chance I find some spare reading time. What should I do? If only there was a place where you could just borrow books (preferably for nothing), read them and take them back…… Yes I rediscovered the local library.

 

Well I never – libraries are the best places ever- like a free bookshop but without the guilt. They have all the books and you can just pop on the website and reserve the ones you want.

I looked up the local library website and sure enough they have all the books I wanted, I reserved one I will save the others until I have time to read them.

 

My Mum and Dad always got her books from the library, they had a mobile library that came to the village. If one of the oldies didn’t turn up to get their books somebody would contact them to make sure they were OK. The library came in a really old van that would regularly break down and there was a phone tree of library users who would phone each other and let everyone know, what an amazing community service.

 

I have been a big fan of the elibrary for ages but am really enjoying reacquainting myself with the solid resources now. Me and the dog wander down and pick up my books (she is not much of a reader) meeting people along the way – it is all very lovely and I can fully recommend it. I am definitely a library person now.

Stuff what I mended, part one

A new occasional section on stuff that has been mended rather than replaced

Sue has reminded me of a few more almost purchases, I don’t even realise I am doing it.  The saucepan lids had cracked handles, excellent at letting steam out, particularly when draining vegetables.  Having been burnt by the scalding steam about three days out of five I declared that I was chucking all the saucepans in the bin.  Before I got the chance Sue had sourced and had delivered new lids which I affixed to said saucepans and there you go – new saucepans and at a fraction of the cost – who knew you could get replacement handles for saucepan lids?

I like to think of myself as pretty handy and it has to be said I am a very good darner – thanks to excellent training from my Mum.  But in truth I am a bit rubbish. I really did glue my fingers together when trying to fix the oven door with superglue (while my fingers were firmly attached to each other the door was sadly not).  I broke my tablet screen when I took it apart because it wouldn’t boot up (it did boot up afterwards – but the touch screen wouldn’t work).  However I will persevere because when I do fix things it makes me really happy and not a little pleased with myself.

Week two – I almost bought a…….

This week I nearly bought a fridge, and a hat – both without even really realising what I was doing.

How did this happen?

Well, after a couple of rather warm days our 10-year-old fridge started making very loud noises. Its cooling power was also diminished and the beer was not chilled. It was obviously a very sad fridge and I was a sad person, contemplating mouldy food and warm beer (no comments about British beer being warm – it is not warm just not freezing).

Living without a fridge in the middle of a Melbourne summer was not an attractive option. I found myself online looking up potential replacements, star ratings, reviews, size, running costs etc – it was all an excellent form of procrastination. I soon found a suitable replacement and was all ready to break my pledge – after all a fridge is essential.

When Sue came home I explained the problem and the solution I had come up with only to be countered by ‘shouldn’t we just get it fixed’. I hadn’t even considered this as an option, in fact I didn’t realise you could mend fridges but it turns out you can. So for about 10% of the cost of a new one it was up and running again. The repairman said we should get another 5 years out of it – who knew (probably everyone except me actually). So I guess I almost failed my first test but was saved by Sue and a very nice fridge repairman.  He also fixed the fridge light and I cleaned it out too so it is like having a new fridge anyway.

The almost hat purchase was at the tennis, it was only $5 and you can never have too many hats. Only luckily I remembered you can have too many hats and I already do, so I didn’t, buy it.

 

Diary of my stuff reduction adventure – week 1

Here goes

OK I am a bit behind because, while I started this whole thing at the beginning of the year getting the blog happening has taken a bit longer – because frankly I didn’t even really know what a blog was.  So over the next couple of weeks I will work to get us all caught up – don’t worry i know what I am doing…..

Week one – will I do it?

The idea is there and I want to do it, but should I tell anyone? Once I announce my idea I will have to either:

  1. do it – which seriously means not buying stuff
  2. take the teasing from my friends when I fail.

I am pretty keen on the idea, I really want to break my stuff addiction but maybe I should just do it quietly – tell the world when I have succeeded. It is a nice idea, smugly telling the world (well the tiny part of my world that would be interested) on December 31 that I have bought nothing and have saved enough to buy a….. (what would I buy? It couldn’t be stuff).

But in truth that’s not going to work, I am going to need something to keep me honest, and a public profile along with the possibility of humiliation and teasing is probably just the ticket.

I announced my idea on Facebook and then tried to work out how you do a blog.

PS thanks Scotty for the spell/word check – there should be prizes for that too!

Confession time

I will confess when I err so here goes.

I bought a book, but it is not just any book, it is one I have wanted for a while and is a map book of the Great Ocean Road Walk. I am planning to do the walk in April and have been trying to get this book for some time. I don’t feel too bad about this as it is an essential tool to do this walk – it has all the information you need, there is a website but internet access is patchy on the walk to say the least.   The only other option I could see was printing off bits from the website or borrowing the book – I probably could have done that but I will need it for a couple of months for planning (perhaps not need but want) and then on the actual walk where it is likely to get a bit battered. Is that an excuse or a valid reason? Tell me what you think.