What size scoop? 

Subtitled: Saving for a whole year off – income cut, not lifestyle cut tip number 6

You may have noticed that every Tuesday I have been posting my money saving tips. Our ways to save without impacting on our lifestyle are generally the lazy way out or the easy guide to saving. Little things that don’t take much effort. Things that can become routine and thus don’t involve much thought. They also tend to be environmentally beneficial, which is generally why I put them into place.

So onto my next tip.

I’m not really the world’s best housekeeper. I like a clean and tidy house, I just don’t have time nor inclination to clean much. 

Friends and family say I should get a cleaner. Been there, done that. One did an awesome job. But she got pregnant, damn her. (Only joking!) The others did really bodgy jobs. I resented paying for something not done properly. 

I’m just too tight-arsed now to pay for a cleaner. Even if I could be bothered finding one I was happy with, I’d rather spend my money on travel and our mortgage and clothes and our year off. 

I still sort of keep clean house, well not really, but I am quite fastidious with my clothes. So here’s one of my money saving tips around cleaning clothes. 

Again, this is not a new tip for this year on 80% of our income. Still, it’s one that allows us to save money where it doesn’t make an impact on our life but allows us to spend on things we like. And while it might be pennies, take care of the pennies and … blah blah blah you know the rest.

Tip number 6: Use less detergent than they say on the package to wash your clothes.  

You don’t need a full scoop to clean your clothes. I buy the top quality clothes detergent, mostly when it is on special. I don’t use pre-stain removers, except sometimes on white clothes. I don’t use a full scoop of detergent. Ever. Half a scoop is enough. Three-quarters if the clothes are really dirty.

Having an outstanding brand of washing machine (Miele), the best detergent and drying clothes in the sun means, in the main, stains and marks disappear. (Except for wool but that’s not going to change as you can’t bleach knitted clothes anyway.)

OK, we’re not mechanics or working in environments where are clothes getting really filthy. But then neither do most people. 

Really, you don’t need much of any product to clean anything – sinks, cupboards, door frames, floors. The water and rubbing gets rid of most dirt. Any detergent really does the same job. So buy fewer products all round and use less of it. Most liquid cleaning products are mainly water anyway. And scent. 

If you don’t believe me, here’s what Choice, the Australian Consumer Advocacy group says:

How much laundry detergent should I use?

Depending on which laundry detergent you choose, you may be able to use half (yes, half!) the recommended dose and still get a great wash, saving yourself money and giving the environment a bit of a break. In the past we’ve tested top performing laundry detergents and they performed just as well on all stains at half the recommended dose, while others performed well at half the dose on several types of stains. While we can’t test every dose variation, treat the dosing scoop or cap more like a polite suggestion and experiment with your detergent – you may find you can use a lot less than you think and still get a wash you are happy with.

I can’t stand it when clothes stink (and I use that word with full intent) stink, I say, of detergent scent. Doesn’t smell fresh to me. Smells overly perfumed with cheap artificial scent. If you can smell the detergent after the clothes have dried, you’re using too much. Use less. Dry in fresh air.

And this applies to all products for cleaning all things. Use less than the “recommended” amount on the packaging.

Save money. Save the environment. Chances are you will also get fewer headaches. 

This is why I stay out of the shops

I ventured into a shopping centre to buy some thick tights. The leg brace has pulled holes in my two pairs. I could have waited until next winter but I wanted to take two pairs to France to wear with skirts and my boots.

I only like the Italian brand, not the cheap Chinese copies that are not as smooth and silky, not as long lived. The Italian brand are about $24 each.

I went to a larger shopping centre, not my normal small, local centre as I also wanted to check out flat dressy shoes for work. I won’t be wearing high heels again this year and I can’t wear my boots for many of my work outfits. I had already looked in my local centre and they didn’t have anything that appealed to me.

I ran into a neighbour who works in my preferred department store. She offered to use her staff discount.

All this is a long-winded preface to say, needless to say, I didn’t just buy stockings.

Three tops; three pairs of shoes; a scarf; a pair of jeggings and two pairs of tights.

I might availed myself of some discounts but thank god I have been saving money; I can cover this splurge. Yet all my principles of sourcing socially and environmentally just clothing went out the window. Opps.

Here’s a peak at what I bought, minus the scarf and pants.

I saw The Wiggles before they were really really big

While on the topic of children…

The Dreamer was mad keen on The Wiggles. Actually mad keen on ONE of their videos – A Wiggly, Wiggly Christmas. 

If hearing their songs over and over again wasn’t bad enough, listening to Christmas songs in April was pretty awful. Feliz Navidad is an ear worm that will never leave me. 

We ended up hiding the video. Much to Dreamer’s distress. 

But before The Dreamer’s fandom, Older Boy quite liked The Wiggles. 

We spent a year living in a rural town on the far north coast when Dreamer was born. Older Boy was three. I had the year off on maternity leave. The Wiggles toured and played in a community hall. No ticket numbers. No seats. Just pre-schoolers and mums with prams. Even then in Sydney, they were playing in large venues with so many in the audience that you wouldn’t get anywhere near the stage, even if you were lucky to get tickets. And the stage would have been up too high for littlies. 

One of the benefits of small town living! We got to be close up to The Wiggles.

What prompted this reminiscing?

I received a regular email from a ticketing company with info on buying tickets for, among others bands, The Wiggles. 

Ha! I saw them when they were the original line up and before they were an international success. 

Had the Dorothy cap and tail too!

Why I had children!

A FB “friend” posted an article about being childless.

The FB article said it would address our misconceptions (okay maybe not the word it used), okay it said assumptions about why women do not have children and the stereotypes of childless women.

I think the reverse is also often true. There are false assumptions about why women get pregnant and stereotypes about what motherhood is.

I never wanted children. I had children because I got pregnant.

I was unable to take hormones, such as the pill, for medical reasons. And let’s face it, who wants to use a condom in a committed, monogamous relationship? I hate the smell of rubber and latex and I react to it in ways I won’t go into.

My gyno actually said having a child would clear out my uterus; I was having multiple false positives to Pap smears.

I was in love and pretty sure I had found a man I would spend my life with. So there was no way I would have an abortion. Hey, we had a solid income and a home. There were worse things that could happen.

If I’d been able to take the pill, I probably wouldn’t have had children for a very long time as it’s never the right time. My studies. My career. Our relationship. A mortgage. My travels.

Three years after my first, I had my second child for the same reason as my first. I had sex and in the moment of passion didn’t care about the very unreliable method of contraception we were using. I got pregnant. I still couldn’t take the pill. No one would prescribe it for me as I had had a blood clot which caused temporary blindness and still affects my vision.

I remember a sexist, pompous prig of a single man with whom I worked saying, “I didn’t think anyone had unplanned pregnancies anymore!”

Spoken like someone who was single, had limited knowledge of women’s bodies, and didn’t understand, or have, sex drive. Or no one who wanted to have sex with him.

So there was no burning desire within me, no plan, to have children. And I wasn’t particularly maternal. I still largely am not with other people’s babies. I never saw myself with a house in the suburbs and kids in the yard.

But I was a god damn great mother once they came along. Yes, there were moments that I hated it, moments that I wanted out, moments of utter boredom.

But I’m so glad I fell pregnant twice. So glad the decision was taken out of my hands.

Yes, without children my mortgage would have been paid off. We’d have travelled more. We’d have had more dinners and nights out. I might have finished my masters.

But that’s more of the same-same. Really big woop if we got to go to more restaurants, to more expensive places. Big woop if our mortgage was now gone.

We would have missed out on the pure love of a baby and toddler; sharing the wonderment and joy of learning and experiencing the world through a child’s eyes; creating the magic of Christmas and Easter bunny; the palpable love between brothers. (Look at photo below. Can you see the pride and awe in The Dreamer’s face at the cleverness and skill of his older brother?)

I would have missed out on my boys thinking I was truely awesome and amazing because I could make an ugly, wonky brown caterpillar cake that adults saw as ugly and wonky but they saw as cool; and my boys thinking I was truely skilled because I could sew on a button. No one else would think that. No one else would share my view of myself as incredibly clever.

And I got to experience the joy of silly games and play and uncontrollable laughter.

My relationship with my boys is changing as they reach adulthood and become more independent. (Well as much as millenials can be.) I get to go to stand up comedy shows with my son who shares my sense of humour, which is brilliant as my husband hates comedy shows. I get to learn current slang terms and social media changes and what is happening in my neighbourhood because of my connected son. We go to concerts together. We have political discussions. We enjoy each other’s company.

I never wanted children. I never planned to get pregnant. I wasn’t maternal. I didn’t plan to be a family in the ‘burbs. But I don’t resent that sliding door opening. And that it did, it is not the sum totality of my identity. You don’t have to give up career and travel and studies and love and “lifestyle” when you have kids.

I know there’s many who can’t get pregnant, who struggle conceiving a child, who have all many of heart-wrenching conditions which don’t let the baby go to full-term. My heart goes out to them.

And I know people don’t have children by choice for many, many reasons. For these people, just as you may not want others to make assumptions about your choice, don’t make assumptions about what I may or may not be thinking about your choice, even to thinking that I might be making assumptions. I don’t think all women should or want to have children.

And if I now think work and travel, and not being comfortable around babies (god sake you can learn) and not feeling maternal are shit reasons not to have kids, well listing these reasons in an article, especially when the person quoted is in their 20s, is not going to convince me of the logic and validity of the arguments. But I also think my view is as irrelevant to someone’s childfree-by-choice decisions as their view is on what they think I am thinking of their childfree status from my status as a “breeder”.

Comment or not, as you wish.

Enforced margins at work

Being on deferred salary scheme means I am getting 80% of my pay. Maybe it should be called the deferred gratification scheme?

Currently I am having some, for want of a better phrase, immediate gratification when it comes to creating my desired margins at work.

OK there is a better phrase. It is called sick leave.

My leg injury means I am working 80% of the week. Yes, I am working 4 days a week for a few weeks. God it's good. Not the being injured bit; the part time work bit.

I could soldier on and not take any sick days. But I found my manic and long work days fatigued my leg. And then I was too buggered when I got home to do my exercises. If I want to heal, the exercises are mandatory. Even without the lack of exercises, work is just fatiguing for my knee. And I am not sleeping well as the brace is extremely uncomfortable. When I take the brace off my knee hurts as sleeping on my side puts sideways pressure on my knee. Flat on my back isn't better as I need to have pillows under my knee as it doesn't straighten out. And yesterday my back started spasming. I think it is all related. Add in I can't do my normal walks which are my relaxation technique.

My award says I work a 7 hour day, but that is sooooo not the case. Nine to ten and a half are the more common, with a few twelve to thirteen thrown in every week or so, and and a fifteen hour day for good measure this week.

My doctor asked what if she gave me a certificate that said I had to work no more ham 8 hours. Ha!! Once I'm there, I can't just walk out. The work doesn't even get done in 10 hours I do work. Parents would complain if they saw me walking out at the eight hour mark for weeks. And the complaint would mean hours more work dealing with pointless complaints. And there's always something more to do. I never get through my work so I often stay for "just one more thing". And it is expected I will be at evening functions.

So I am having a day off a week for two or three weeks. It will cover the final weeks of wearing the brace.

As I am having a sick day, I refuse to do any work on those days. My first one I just relaxed around the house. And did my exercises, of course.

But that limit doesn't mean I have big margins. In the first week, I still worked over what my award says I do, just compressed into four days. So instead of working 35 hours in five days, I worked 42 hours in four days last week.

If I worked in head office, I'd accrue flexi time and get a day off. But I don't.

Not that I am glad I am injured. I truely would rather be working more than full time and have my knee back. But stuff work if it means my future mobility, health and life will be sacrificed! No one from work, no head bureaucrat will be there holding my hand when I am in pain or can't manage stairs.

Still, part time would be so much better. If only I could job share!

Meanwhile I can have breakfast and enjoy looking st my flowering azalea at my back step.

Stay out of the shops.

Subtitled: Saving for a whole year off – income cut, not lifestyle cut tip number 5

I've been cheating with my last two tips. I have been doing them for years so they haven't really saved me extra money this year since we've faced the income cut while on the Deferred Salary Scheme. 

So in a similar light, half of my next tip is not new. But it is saving me money. 

Tip number five: stay out of the shopping centres and unsubscribe from online shopping emails. 

I don't get how shopping is now a family activity. Want something to do on a Sunday? Take your family to the shopping centre!

When did that become a thing?

Years ago I stopped "go shopping" to "look" for something as a regular weekend thing. Now I only go if I need to buy something.

We never took our kids to the shopping centre as something to do even when I did go to shopping centres. I mean why impose this on little kids and why impose little kids on others? We took our kids to parks and playgrounds and the harbour and the beach and the botanic gardens. Places they could run and chase and shout and burn off energy. But it didn't stop me going shopping alone or with friends.

This year I added the second half of the tip. I unsubscribed emails from online shopping retailers. I was deluding myself that these didn't affect me. 

Now I don't get tempted to buy things I didn't know I wanted before I got the email.  I am not tempted by deals which actually cost me money and which if I didn't get the email I would have saved money by not spending in the first place. 

So save money and increase your self-worth and lifestyle by not looking to go shopping for fun and to fill your time; by not feeding the desire for the new, for things you didn't really want in the first place; by not raising dissatisfaction with what you already have. 

I still buy things. I love clothes and shoes and bags. I still visit shops occasionally. But I am not shopping as an activity.

Fill your time with the want to do but say you have no time for.

I've been doing the things I like – reading, visiting friends, exploring our city, planning our next trip away, learning a language. 

Bingo: saving money and improving lifestyle!!!

A movie to fall asleep to.

I watched Effie Gray with Emma Thompson, Dakota Fanning and Julie Waters.

I didn't fall asleep. But it is the sort you might. Dark, slow, "atmospheric", moody, slow, quiet, dark, turgid, too serious.

Great acting. Everyone inhabited their characters. Emma Thompson was Emma Thompson. Or a recurrent character she plays. Large. Generous. Kindly. Loud. But that was the character she played. Perhaps she wrote the character in so she could play her usual role.

The story was nuanced. Why did Ruskin not have sex with his wife? Why did he push her towards Millais?

It's also the sort of movie I like watching at home so I can Google details of the central character. Fascinating.