Dollar Diet 2017: Week One

My Dollar Diet didn’t get the best start because:

a) it’s summer holidays here in New Zealand, and

b) Sausage’s birthday is almost upon us.

I snickered as I wrote ‘summer’, because the weather has been total RUBBISH.  We get one or two nice days, sandwiched amongst day upon day of cloud, rain and unrelenting wind.  I’m sure I’m not alone in dreaming of summer holidays.  Kids laughing and playing in the water, while I’m sunning myself on the sand.  Long walks in the forest, day trips to the many attractions in our area.

Dream on, Angela, dream on.

Because of the weather I spent more than I would normally on petrol, ferrying the kids over to Palmerston North and Feilding so I wouldn’t go insane from having two ratty kids with a bad case of cabin fever.  Our trip to the Coach House Museum was great, and definitely worth the extra cash.

I needed to go over to Palmerston North (a bigger city, 45 mins away for my non-NZ readers) for a few things, and decided it would be a great opportunity to take Sausage to find her a birthday present.  D and I deliberately make birthdays a bigger deal than Christmas.  As my kids grow, they will get big-ticket items like bikes etc.  At the moment there is nothing Sausage needs, so for the first time ever I took her shopping to choose whatever she wanted.  Of course she chose something at the top end of the allocated budget (a castle), but I admit it felt great to be able to say ‘Yes, of course you can have that’.  Her castle is tucked away until the big day, and she tells me ‘I will be so surprised when I open it Mummy!’  Ah, kiddo.

I spent money on some picture frames.  I don’t know why, but I got the urge to change up our artwork and put out some new pieces.  We’d had professional photos taken of the kids last year, and I wanted to hang those on the wall too.  Poor Chip, first professional photos taken at two years old.  Second child, that’s for sure.  Anyway, the whole exercise was relatively inexpensive, and I’m getting a lot of delight from the new things on my walls.

I also took my yearly retreat.  I use the time to take stock and to go into a new year intentionally.  Plus the silence and peace does wonders for my frazzled mummy eardrums.  This year I paid $70 for a 5-bedroom(!) holiday home about an hour’s drive away.  It even came with breakfast.  The holiday home is on a working farm and has SPECTACULAR views.  My trip was worth every cent as I came back with recharged batteries.  I’m already scheming to return…

mangaweka

My view

While I was away, D hired a mulcher to turn some trees we’d cut down (they were pests, not planted by us!) into mulch for my garden.  $140, kerching.  Worth it though, our place was looking so scruffy with bits of dead tree lying around.

And lastly, I had brunch out with friends ($21.00) and took an historical guided walk around the city ($4).  It was good for the soul to swap stories with other mums in the trenches over brunch.  I know I’m not alone in my childrens’ refusal to eat leafy greens!  The walk did wonders for my brain.  I am a history nerd, and thoroughly enjoyed hearing tales of early life in Whanganui.  As I said in my last post, a fun budget is necessary in life.  Small things to look forward to can make all the scrimping and saving much more bearable.

It wasn’t all throwing money about though this week.

  • I shopped our pantry.  Even though I meal plan, stuff happens from time to time and things don’t get used as planned.  I tried to use up all the things that were lurking at the back of the cupboard, and as a result our big grocery shop total was quite low.  Most people probably have a week or two’s worth of meals in their pantries.  It can just take a bit of creativity to make use of mismatched ingredients.
  • We took lunch and snacks on trips out.
  • We played close to home when the weather allowed, mixing it up by going to play in a couple of school playgrounds that are open to the public.
  • We did plenty of indoor activities like painting, reading, playing board games and watching movies.

    painting-2-totsin-tawhero

    Sausage with a new creation

  • I had some avocados that were about to go off, so I turned them into dip along with a languishing-at-the-back-of-the-pantry can of lentils, some Greek yoghurt and some lime juice.  The dip was quite nice!avo-dip-totsintawhero
  • I made berry-yoghurt popsicles, using up some frozen berries that have been in our freezer since Noah was a boy.  Just blitz some berries, a banana and some Greek yoghurt in a blender, pour into moulds, and voila!  A healthy treat.popsicle-tots-in-tawhero
  • We had friends over (*waves* at E and P).  The best and cheapest form of entertainment.
  • We played in our own backyard.  To keep Christmas-related costs down, D and I made a sandpit from an existing veggie garden for Chip (still in his pyjamas and dressing gown on Christmas morning in the photo below), and hopscotch for Sausage.  Throw in a trampoline and a pole tennis game from grandparents, along with a paddling pool, it means our backyard is pretty much paradise.  When the weather lets us enjoy it.

     

    Some big expenses kicking off the new year, but most were one-off happenings.  Next week has a 4th birthday party in it, and I’ll be blogging about how to throw a kid’s party on the cheap.

How is the start of 2017 going for you? Chime in below.

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