I didn’t know what to call this article, How to save money at Christmas or ‘Tis the season to be freaking out about our budgets! So I chose both! For many Christmas is a decision on not what we want to get the kids for Christmas but what we can afford. Sadly for some they have it the other way around which sends them into the new year in debt.
So let’s share our top Christmas budget tips with each other so we can all enter 2018 debt free (or at least no new debt from Christmas 2017).
So with just 3 weeks to (AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!) what do you do if times are tough. Improvise!
What would you add to the list?
If you’re looking for a gift for teens then check out our $10 book Beyond School: Practical Tips for Teens. You can pick up your copy HERE
So my top tips: Work out your budget and stick to it, make your list, don’t deviate from it and get creative.
Happy Christmas shopping everyone. I’d love to hear your tips? and how you and your family do Christmas?
Tis the season… to batten down the hatches parents. School holidays are fast approaching, but first, the last two weeks of school need to be survived! We can do it. Hang on!
We all know what I”m talking about. That last two weeks of term. The tireds. The tanties. The “I just can’t be bothereds” and that’s just us let alone our kids.
You are not alone. Almost every parent of school kids is on the same journey.
5 tips to get you through the next fortnight:
This is the time of year to let a ‘tude or two slide, the time of year to cut your kid some slack, but not if they’re being disrespectful. It’s okay for them to lose their cool, but not at you. You are not a punching bag. Let them cool off in their own way – often hiding in their room or jumping on the trampoline for two hours! Let them know it’s okay to lose it occasionally, but not at others. Teach them how to handle the ‘meltdowns’ of life. They’ll need it as adults too!
This is the busy time of year. We’re in a hurry. Nothing sets teens, and primary school kids off more than having their every move controlled, planned, manouvered and checked. Give them some space.
You don’t have to do everything. There will be carols nights, fireworks nights, award ceremonies, concerts, mini concerts, parades, tree lightings, break up parties etc etc etc You don’t have to attend everything you’re invited to. It’s okay to prioritise what’s important to you and your family, and let everything else slide.
Kids pick up parent’s anxieties. Take an extra 10 minutes at night as you collapse into bed to meditate. Try getting up 10 minutes earlier and meditating of a morning. Long. Deep. Regular breaths are crucial as is remaining grateful – keep that gratitude list replaying in your head. When you’re stuck in traffic, running 10 minutes late for your child’s “insert any activity”, and all the mummy guilt in the world is running through your head and heart.. take a big breath, relax your shoulders and think of some things you’re grateful for. You’ll be late. That’s life.
Over dinner one night get a piece of paper and have each child come up with a school holiday FREE event that you can all do as a family. Their answers may surprise you. Set a date that you WILL do each. Write these on a sheet of paper, put them on the fridge. This gives you all something to look forward to, and reminds you just two weeks to go, you can make it!
Enjoy as much of the last two weeks as you can – swimming carnivals, school discos, carols nights, performance nights/days, awards days/nights, parent teacher interviews, excursions, break up parties etc etc etc.
HANG ON..we’re nearly there, then the real fun begins 😉
Have you joined our Facebook group yet? You can do so HERE
Looking for a book for your teens for Christmas? Check out Beyond School: Practical Tips for Teens HERE
Thank you. We teach it to our kids from an early age, and often times it can get lost along the way. But why is it so important? Below are just three of the many reasons to say thank you, expect it to be said to you and if you’re a parent, make it a standard response in your life and your kid’s lives.
Saying thank you shows the recipient you are grateful, you appreciate their effort and what they’ve done for you.
Gratitude is a virtue that benefits both sides of the table. When children, teens and adults say thank you they are showing their gratitude, out loud. When they don’t it can leave the giver feeling resentful. Teaching kids and teens to be grateful opens up a whole world for them. Check out our chapter on Gratitude in our book Beyond School: Practical Tips for Teens
2. Personal engagement
Saying thank you engages the recipient and the giver. And when I say recipient and giver I”m not talking just of gifts, I”m talking of actions, of gestures, of thoughts, of the little things we as humans do for each other every day. In an age where eyes are down on devices far too often, engagement is something we need to hold on tight too. A thank you makes you stop and take stock of what was done for you and how appreciative of that you are (or should be).
Saying thank you is also respectful. Show respect, get respect. When we say thank you we are giving a verbal sign of respect, a nod to the giver. If you want your children to respect others, teach them to genuinely be thankful for the things others do for them, the ‘things’ they get etc. and most importantly, role model the thank you.
Let’s bring thank you back.
You’re welcome xo
Where are all the mums? I see photo after photo of family outtings, kid’s achievements, school excursions/discos/sports days/fun runs/dress ups, family adventures, husband and partners, sunsets and bush scenes, food omg sooo many food snaps, and yet there are very few mums turning up in photos, still. I know someone wrote an article on this topic a few years ago and yet mum’s you are still not putting yourselves in the picture.
This photo above had us in stitches. Led to sooo many family jokes and hysterical laughter outbursts as we named our chins, worked out who had the most, worked out who had the best arms for selfies, discussed if nose hair or chins were more embarrassing and all agreed, both together would! Yep, we are crazy at times but geez it’s fun. The point is, kids don’t care what YOU look like, it’s fun for them for you to be in them, and should be important to you to be in them for your kids future selves.
Memories of course. And social media. But whose memories? Not just ours but our kids as well. There will come a day, hopefully in another 60 years or so when we parents will no longer walk this earth and all our kids, grandkids and great grandkids will have are their memories, and these are embelished by ………. yep you guessed it, photos. (I’m sure technology will create something else in the future but for the past 100 years and even now, photos are still the main thing). So put yourself back in the picture, as often as you can. How about for every three photos of the kids you put yourself in the fourth? And if you are putting yourselves in heaps of family pics, yayyyyyy #soproud #gogirl #awesome
Can I let you in on a little secret? Your kids don’t care that you are X amount of Kilograms under or overweight. They don’t care that your hair is ‘too curly, too straight, too dry, too oily, too … ‘, they don’t care if you’re short, tall, in a wheelchair, on crutches, fat, skinny, old, young, got a pimple, having a bad hair day, etc etc. Or that you take a family selfie showing your three chins.. okay maybe they care about that because they can do it sooooo much better, apparently 😉 They love you unconditionally! #mindblown and when you hand them their childhood photos and they’re looking at them when you’ve moved on in life or they’ve moved away from home and are missing you and their childhood, or any number of reasons we find ourselves looking at old photo albums, or online albums or whatever, they will ask “Where’s Mum?” “Why is she not in any or many of these photos? Teach them about self love by loving yourself enough to put yourself in the picture. Do it for your kids, put yourself in the picture.
You might THINK it’s all about them, but really it’s about your journey too, and for them, their journey WITH you.
Put yourself in the picture, for THEM.
My kids laugh at my inability to take a decent selfie. It’s become a family joke, so often we’ll take a really crappy mum family selfie then the kids with longer arms will do the ‘decent’ family selfie but guess which one we bond more over, laugh more over and usually choose as our social media or canvas (for the wall) photos? Yep, mum’s crazy family selfie that has us ALL in it.
Get creating memories you can all look back on and enjoy together, laugh at together.
Now, I have to work out how on earth I’m going to manage my 283gb of photos I have stored on Dropbox and about another 70gb on my hard drive. Any suggestions?
Have you joined our Facebook group? If not, come on over and join likeminded parents HERE
Have a great week and start putting yourself in the picture more, for you and for your kids.
Senior school subject selection is going on in a lot of homes across Australia at the moment. My miss 15 is in grade 10 and it’s that time of her school life. Is it causing your child anguish? You? I hope not.
Almost all of their schooling lives I’ve let the kids decide what THEY want to study and what extra-curricular activities they take part in (within reason otherwise Mr 9 would be doing 10 sports a week!). Senior school subject selection is no different. It’s her choice. And just as with anything choices bring consequences – good, bad and indifferent.
Education is very important in our home, because I know it gives options and opportunities. My main aim with their education has been to get them to a point where at the end of grade 12 they have a variety of choices and are not limited in what they want to do because of grades. We reward effort as much as grades because effort is what gets you places in life. Grades are what open doors. Other pathways offer different doors. I want my kids to have as many doors open to them as possible so THEY can choose – uni, tafe, workforce or a combination. But at least they’ll have choices.
This is where Senior subject selection comes in. Making the right choices and by right I mean the choices that help them reach their goals but also bring joy and fun along the way. One of my favourite quotes:
“Success is no accident. It is hard work, perseverance, learning, studying, sacrifice and most of all, LOVE of what you are doing or learning to do”
Pele (Famous soccer player)
Now, having said that there are a myriad of ways to achieve their career paths these days and for kids who want a profession they’ll need university. However, even university has options these days. Currently Miss 15 is wanting to do be a Doctor of Medicine in the Army. Medicine these days is not dependent on an OP 1, although it helps. There are options but there are also pre-requisites which must be met.
For kids who want to work in a trade, child care, hospitality etc etc etc there are apprenticeships, traineeships, TAFE and trade schools. Just so many options.
Then there are those kids who will want to go straight into work. So many options there too – private sector, public service etc etc etc.
In my book, Beyond School: Practical Tips for Teens there’s a chapter titled To Study or work, or both? In this chapter I talk about encouraging your kids to find their passions early on and try to make a career from that or with elements of it. Not every furniture making super star will want to be a carpenter, but it sure is a good place to start.
So as you navigate these next few weeks encourage your kids to look at what they enjoy and what they’d like to spend their lives doing. Have them look at what they’re naturally good at – a great starting point for career decisions. Remind them that if they change their mind in two years time that’s okay, just as it is if they change their minds in 10 or 15 years time. Very few people stay with the same careers or jobs their whole working lives these days. You can change your mind at any time. You’re not a tree, you can uproot yourself and move and change jobs and careers. There are many many options and pathways to your chosen careers and jobs these days. But as always do your homework and know what they are. If going to Uni know what prerequisites are required. If going to TAFE know what is required. If going straight into the work force look for work experience in areas that enhance their employability.
I’ll leave you with the advice I gave my Miss 15:
“Choose the subjects you NEED to do,
then make the rest of your subjects ones that are fun for you”
So now she’s busy working out what she really needs and it seems although she needs Chemistry for some Universities, there is the option to do it as a 4 week course at the end of grade 11 or 12, and have that counted. Meaning she can do her beloved Drama class for senior years. Everyone wins. There are options. Dare to dream kids, the world is your oyster. What options are you giving yourself?
Have a great week and happy subject selecting. Would love to know what your grade 10’ers are currently considering for their future selves (how many of us actually ended up doing what we initially set out to do..very few I imagine, and such is the fun and adventurous rollercoaster that is life).
You can pick up a copy of my hard copy book here
Disneyland 101 for those who dream of going… tips for the family, the planner and the wallet. This is the first article in a series .. the next one will be called…. Disneyland 102 (genius hey 😉 )!
Disneyland is the original Disney site. The home of Walt Disney’s dreams and because of this it has a special place in Disney fan’s hearts (make sure you visit the Abraham Lincoln exhibit at the start. .there’s a 10 minute documentary hosted by Steve Martin on how Disneyland came to be.. it was brilliant and will give you an insight into the magic that is Disneyland) Now, Disneyland is not as glamorous or as big as other Disney Worlds. But there is something magical about this place. First thing to note is Disneyland is split into two. One park is called Disneyland, and 100 metres opposite it is Disney California Adventure Park. Your hopper ticket allows you to go freely between the two but seriously it’s exhausting so I’d recommend a one park per day pass and plan well. To complete the triangle is Downtown Disney which is a compilation of Disney inspired shops where you’ll pay top dollar but have a great time looking at everything and enjoying the upbeat music that makes you want to spend your money there lol.
We loved Disneyland…after the first day!
We chose to go in May as it is one of the quietest months of the year, EXCEPT for the year we went! oops. This year school graduations arrived earlier and whilst we booked our days around grad nights, I failed to consider the extra families that would be tagging along. Our first day at Disney wasn’t the magical fairytale that dreams are made of. It was ludicrously crowded, noisey and omg if I ever see another stroller again I’ll have issues. The day before our first visit the park had closed as it had reached capacity! The day we went it was close..because for all my research I did NOT think to check when local’s season passes finished. Turns out, the day we went was that day!!! We called it quits mid arvo and headed to the hotel for spas and a swim to return the next day with far less people.
When planning your trip don’t just check the local weather, look at historically cheaper and quieter times for air tickets and the local area for the year you’re going (that was my big mistake oops).
Disneyland is open from 8am til midnight but you can get in as early as 7:30am and be at the rides ready to go as part of the ‘rope drop’. So plan to get there early because if done right you can get a LOT of rides done in the first two hours before the park fills up. Have a plan of the park, your plan of attack and ensure you have a ‘if we get separated let’s meet here’ spot.
Check Disneyland’s website for graduation nights, and what’s happening on the month you’re going so you can plan your actual days and know days to avoid. If you buy a 3 or more day ticket it will include the early entry pass .. make good use of that too.
After walking 15km a day inside Disneyland you won’t want to walk another metre so plan to be at a hotel that has a shuttle to the park or is on the ART (Anaheim Resort Transit) system which costs $5 for adults and $2 for kids per day and is worth every cent (the routes are on their page). We stayed at Super 8 Anaheim near Disneyland because it included breakfast, had a pool and a laundry (important to travelling families) and was on the ART bus line.
By setting your budget. Putting savings goals in place. Getting the entire family on board. For more tips on budgeting for big holidays or items check out our article B for Budgeting
And Don’t forget our article on Chores for kids to get them involved in the budget HERE
THEN, you start researching your optimal dates. What suits your family, your destination and fits with your budget. Start stalking airlines for best ticket prices and then lock in flights. Once you have your flights booked you can then start to fill in the rest of your itinerary by then booking accommodation, then tickets, in that order. Before booking anything though I would highly recommend joining the reward program of the airline you’re about to fly with. Get their travel card, load it up and start paying for things with that card as you’ll then be accumulating points (with money you were going to be spending anyway) and when combined with your flights you’ll find you have a free domestic flight for the whole family when you get back. Score! Use your reward card to book flights, accommodation and park tickets. They also have pretty good conversion rates too.
That’ll do for the part 1 … stay tuned for part 2 in a couple of weeks. We’re moving house (AGAIN) this week.. one of the upsides of renting is a change is as good as a holiday so we’re off to a townhouse complex with a pool, at the kids request (and saves me money so win win).
Have you joined our facebook group yet? Join us here
There are so many differing views on pocket money, chores and kids. So, this is one single mumma’s tale: In our house we work as a team. So there are jobs that need to be done because we all live here! (Such as feed the cat, change the kitty litter, empty the bins, put the bins out, cooking and dishes etc etc).
However, kids who are not old enough to go out and get part time jobs yet need a way to earn an income so they can learn the value of items, pay for things themselves, be financially empowered and learn financial literacy. So in our home there are also jobs the kids can do to earn money. (As a single working mumma this is also a godsend because I just don’t have the time, energy or care factor to do most of the ones the kids can do and plays perfectly into our Team philosophy).
Doing my laundry (they have to do their own for free because well they wear and dirty them!) $5 a load
Towels and sheets, $5 a load.
Washing the car and cleaning the inside $5
Washing out the wheelie bins (cause that’s super gross) $5
Weeding in the garden $5
Cooking and dishes on my night (because I hate cooking and I work) $5
Other jobs as they come up and I encourage them to suggest jobs they can do… there’s always something. Like sorting the pantry $3, cleaning out the fridge $5, wiping out cupboards $3, etc.
My kids are 15, 13 and 8. Miss 15 has a part time weekend job so she’s right but she still likes to earn extra around the home to top up her social life, make up purchases and saving for a car and her gap year fund.
I know some people who give their kids a list of chores and if they do those they get their $5 or $10 pocket money. That’s teaching them to work for a salary and that’s fine too. But it becomes an either or and a point of argument. You really want to avoid that.
By encouraging them to find jobs that need doing, and paying per job this teaches them the harder you work the more you earn. If they dont’ want to do them then that’s fine, you don’t earn money you don’t get to spend money. It really is as simple as that.
Another thing I do with Mr 8 and did with the girls when they were younger is give them smaller jobs or challenges and pay them in my silver change I had laying around.
The upside of helping them earn money is that when you go out, go to the shops, go the local show, go to the movies, go anywhere, they don’t have to ask YOU for money, they have their own to spend! Takes a lot of pressure off you. Gives you a lot of life lesson teachable moments too. Especially if you help them set goals of earning a certain amount each month and help them achieve it and motivate them to reach their goals.
Our local Redcliffe show is this weekend. Charz (Miss 13) went with friend of hers, all cashed up from her bank account (Used her eftpos card for the first time to withdraw) – ran into her a few times, not once did she ask for money just a hug hello, a quick chat and off they went. Meanwhile, Mr 8, counted out his loose change at home ($22.75) and asked me to get $20 out of his spending account so he went with $42.75.
We had an absolute ball. I spent $14 on my own dinner and a Bertie Beetle bag! Dan wisely chose which rides to go on and decided the show bags ‘weren’t worth it because they’re not good value’ (although he did buy a $5 lolly one on the way out the gate later.. just so he had one I think lol). Absolutely no stress for either of us, he went on what he wanted to, he ate what he wanted because he was buying it, and the entire fantastic night cost me $14 for myself. He felt empowered, he got to make choices for himself and he’s very quickly learning the value of things and all that in relation to how much time that would cost him to earn that much. Great life skills, a great night, and absolutely no financial stress on me (I would have spent only $9 save for the enticing strawberry skewer and my must have Bertie Beetle for $2 hehe).
For those parents not working budgets are tighter, you can encourage the kids to approach neighbours you know or friends to do chores for them – bring money from the outside in. Work out your own pay schedule that rewards their hard work but keeps you in budget. If grandparents live close by ask them to join in by having jobs for the kids to do in exchange for cold hard cash – you also want them doing things for grandparents for free too because we help those we love.There are so many different things they can do.
The important thing is to be teaching them financial literacy from a young age, putting age appropriate responsibility on their shoulders so they’ll become independent and grateful teens, and kids.
It’s about finding what works for YOUR family and YOU.
You start by having the conversation with your kids around how you are going to teach them about real life by bringing in chores we do because we live here and things they can do to earn more money, how they will now be responsible for buying their own treats when you go out, how they will be responsible for paying for ‘whatever your family thing is’ and reiterate just how exciting that is because you will have your own money. Tell them how you are going to teach them how to earn the money they need. How the harder they work the more they will earn, and just how much they earn is entirely up to them.
I usually have a list on the fridge with jobs that need doing that week and what each pays. Initially the kids would fight over them. Now it’s evened out. Some weeks one kid is busier than another or just doesn’t want to, so that gives the others an opportunity to earn more, and it seems to even out. The important thing is to let them know that they can’t just wait until you are going somewhere and then do 10 jobs in the one week,
it’s about earning on a regular basis, saving on a regular basis, and then having a savings account and an account from which they can spend.
You as the parent have to work out how much you can afford to spend on additional jobs each week, and get them thinking outside the box too. With the internet, Gumtree, Ebay, Etsy etc there are so many ways kids can make extra money or maybe even team up and find ways to earn extra money as a family.
I had to buy some moving boxes lately. Came across a lovely lady who picks up boxes from around town (fast food outlets, shopping outlets etc) and onsells them for $1 each. I paid $15 for the convenience of rocking up to her place and having them put in my boot. Great little sideline business for her, and a convenience for a super busy mum with extra cash but no time at the moment (usually my life has been the other way around!). Find something for YOUR family.
I’ve written a book full of tips for teenagers but also for anyone else who perhaps didn’t have a family to teach them financial literacy – to help manage money, and learn some life skills. Just $10 and you can get a copy here
Play Monopoly with your kids, that helps teach them about accumulation and money to a certain extent. Or Cashflow for kids to teach them about creating income streams. There are a lot of resources out there. Have you set up their bank accounts yet? Preferably two – one for spendings and one for savings (long term so they can watch the miracle of compound interest work for them).
Join our Facebook group if you haven’t already to join the conversation and other parents in this journey HERE
Have you seen my 5 minutes of fame on Today Extra yet? I had so much fun, but was sooo nervous. Ended up absolutely having a ball, and so did the kids. If you haven’t seen it yet check it out on our Facebook group: HERE
Have an amazing week all xo
The B word.. Budgeting, none of us particularly like it. Most of us cringe at the thought of it. It is however a necessity in getting ahead and not spending your life looking back. I think it was John Maxwell who said Budgeting is telling your money what to do rather than wondering where it went!
Google, and a host of well meaning Facebook memes tell me it’s just 26 weeks until Christmas 2017. That’s half a year! And the good news is with some small changes in your household, you can change financial direction and have a great Christmas, a great holiday and pay off any debts you have (some will take a lot longer). Great doesn’t have to mean big and expensive. Some of our most memorable family moments have been camping in a National Park that cost us less than $25 a night.
Only a few years ago I was counting every cent and had to beg friends for help by laying my heart, and our situation, on the line. Fast forward a few years, a few changes (physical and mentally) and a few improvements and here I am having just taken the kids on an amazing overseas holiday, I’m debt free (apart from that pesky HECS debt) and planning on buying myself and the kids a home (yep I regret selling our family home a decade ago). So here’s some of the top tips I’ve learnt and hope they help you too.
Oh but first have you joined our Facebook Group: Parenting Australia with Mentor Mumma? If not, click HERE
You will be amazed when you start keeping a record of where waste appears and areas you’re spending in that you never realised. By keeping a record of every cent spent you get an idea of where the ‘holes in your bucket are’ and where you can make changes. A 25c exercise book from Woolworths will do.
From this day forward any $2 coins you get, go straight into this bottle. Cut a hole in the top and super glue the lid shut so you can’t get anything out (nor can the kids!). Just keep filling it until it gets to the top, and when you do you should have close to $1000. Some people put any new $5 notes they get in theirs too. Depends on where your budget’s at. This is your ‘adventure’ money. Money set aside for a family memory making event.
Every year get new prices on your insurances.
Set up a direct debit or credit situation where you automatically make payments to your main bills ahead of time, each fortnight (or pay period) for electricity, phone, internet, etc so that you never have a bill again, you’re always ahead.
Shop wisely by creating meal plans, using what’s in the pantry and avoiding as much wastage as possible.
Simple Savings taught me the $21 challenge which I adapted to the $30 challenge. One week take an inventory of what’s in your fridge, freezer and pantry. Then work out what meals you can make with that. The $30 for the little extras you need to complete a week’s worth of meals using what’s already in the fridge/freezer and pantry. This will save a small fortune when done every six to eight weeks.
Plan, plan, plan.
Unless you own your own home and have a redraw facility that benefits your mortgage, and you are also extremely disciplined to pay the card off every month without fail, then do not ever have a credit card. They give you a false sense of security. They teach you bad habits – living off what you don’t have yet. And they 99.9% of the time lead people into financial hardship and a never ending cycle of debt. Instead, only live on what you have and that may at times mean going without, sacrificing and having a few baked beans on toast meals. It’s worth it in the end. You’d also be surprised how many meals you can make with baked beans, just saying.
I saw a billboard recently that said most humans spend more time planning their annual holiday than they do their future and retirement. It’s true. Start to set yourself financial goals. Get your superannuation in order. Dare to dream.
As a single mum I run my family like a team. Everyone plays their part. That means when we have holidays, everyone saves their own spending money, everyone contributes to the family in some way be that saving their own money or turning off the lights, turning power points off at the wall when not in use (this saves a small fortune too), having cold showers in summer, using a timer for hot showers in winter (cause let’s face it we all want to stay in there for an hour!), etc.
I’m reading a great book at the moment by Scott Pape called the Barefoot Investor. For it to be any good to you, you have to be above the poverty line and earning a decent income. HOWEVER, some of his basic principles can be applied:
Christmas is what you make it. If you choose to make it about gifts and overspending and getting in to debt, then that’s what you are teaching your children. THIS is the year you get to decide what legacy you want for your children’s future. DO NOT go into debt for Christmas, or anything else for that matter other than a roof over your head. Rediscover family, rediscover connectedness, put balance into your lives, and start the new year without a Christmas debt hangover. Start your Christmas bottle now – start putting $2 coins into it and what’s in there at Christmas time is what you spend. Nothing easier than that.
Don’t be afraid to dream. Work on your mindset. If things are working for you, change yourself first. I have a great ebook to help you do this if you’re struggling. Hat Trick Therapy: Three ways to change your life – Just $4.95 HERE
There are so many more tips to get ahead financially, but prioritising your expenditure is a key one. I would love to hear your budgeting tips and tricks, success stories, and even failures too because everyone wise knows, failure is a major step in the success process.
Wherever you’re at financially, this is not where you have to live. This is not where your story ends. This is just the beginning.. you get to write the rest of your chapters. YOU get to make changes that change your life, and that of your kids lives. You’ve got this. If I can do it, then seriously, anyone can.
Have an amazing week,
I’m overwhelmed. THANK YOU. Firstly at the amazing response to our recent trip to Disneyland. Seems we appeared in a lot of online media outlet articles and on their pages. Kids were even recognised a few times which has made them feel super special. Then reality hit and we got back, jet lagged, exhausted and my website went missing in action (seems although my domain registrar thought I was paid up I wasn’t and now that’s been rectified we’re back :)).
I have so many articles to write for you I’m a bit overwhelmed with where to start, so thought, I’m just going to start. So here I am, starting.
So here’s a very brief run down of our trip, with much more to come in the next few weeks.
Dreams DO come true. There were happy tears shed for making this trip happen – at the airport, walking through Universal Studios gates, Walking into Disneyland for the first time, Watching the Disneyland Adventure Park World of Colour Display (I bawled), watching Tinkerbell in the Electric light parade, meeting Fantasia Mickey Mouse!, watching Steve Martin host the 50th anniversary of Disneyland video half an hour before we left the park for good and all of us did NOT want to leave Disneyland on the last day, choking back tears. Dreams came true. New ones we didn’t know were experienced.
Another good thing that I did was before we left, a year in advance I told the kids I would pay for most things but they had to pay for their own lunches, souvenirs and extras. This saved me a small fortune and taught them a host of valuable lessons.
We had an absolute ball and would do it all again in a heart beat. I inherited the travel bug from my parents, and my kids are slowly catching it from me – this makes me happy. We travel well together – even after a fortnight sharing beds and being constantly in each other’s space. We’ve even applied for the Travel Guides show on channel 9 – cross fingers, toes and hair follicles for us.
Doesn’t matter where you are, you are there, and kids will be kids! So we had meltdowns (mine and theirs!) and what I refer to as teenage ‘resting bitch face’ moments. When you arrive at YOUR Disneyland and then realise you’re sharing it with 10,000 other people in 30 degree heat, it’s a bit of a shock to the system. That and the strollers. OMG strollers. We HATE strollers now. After 16 hour days, hot days, little sleep, and waiting in queues there were a couple of times where it was all too much for one or three of us, and other times where we went Hurricane Harlow hilarious crazy mode to cope hehe. Hollywood was not what we expected and was a real let down – the homelessness (and homeless men blowing kisses to my 8 year old son and waving him over – thankfully he was head down, walk straight ahead due to our prior warning) and state of the place is a shock (apparently no one but tourists, sales people and the homeless go to Hollywood!). That was really the only bad we encountered so not too bad at all. The bad was outnumbered 1000000 to 1 with the good.
In coming weeks I”ll do some articles with much more specifics on Disneyland, Universal Studios, Travelling with kids, budgeting, budgeting WHILE on holidays (no credit cards allowed), and a host of other things that are on my mind or that you’ve asked for. And I have LOVED getting your messages, thank you so much. If there’s something you’d like me to focus on please send me a message on our Facebook group (and if you haven’t joined, come on over) HERE.
Have an amazing week,
PS: If the kids look tired in this photo it’s because this was our one day at Adventureland, we’d already been there 10 hours and they had milked every second on the rollercoasters and rides having a blast. this was very much a DO day. This is about 8pm at night.. after they let me take this pic they raced off for another hour on the California Screaming rollercoaster (the one you see in the background). I waited on a comfy seat and people watched lol.
So how did this Aussie single mum take her kids to Disneyland! Here’s How….
Just 14 months ago I realised that my eldest daughter’s childhood was almost over! So I decided to make one of her (and her siblings) childhood dreams come true -Disneyland Anaheim (that’s the only one that counts in her books). So I surprised the kids (their beautiful reactions are in the vid link attached below, worth watching..still brings tears to my eyes) with a family trip to USA to visit Disneyland, Universal studios, Hollywood, Vegas and Grand Canyon. We leave tomorrow!!!! A concert to Miss 15’s favourite Youtuber has been thrown in, along with Dodgers games, Santa Monica etc etc. So, how did I, a single mum who just a few years ago was on the poverty line, make this happen for us?
Watch the moment I told the kids ‘via a storybook’ they were going to Disneyland HERE
We’ve approached this trip like we do life, worked as a team and set our intentions. I saw Oprah Winfrey a few years back and as a ‘comper’ (someone who enters multiple competitions) in the past I’ve always been a part of the set your intentions, affirmation and positive vibe ‘thing’. But seeing Oprah she reiterated to me the importance of setting your intentions, every day. It’s like adjusting your sails and setting course. I love it. I love her. So we set our intention to visit Disneyland as a family without financial issues in 2017. And as we did that the universe conspired to make it happen. I started getting more work than I’ve ever had ( I’m a sub contractor (Disability and Aged Care Assessor, and Relocation consultant) so a mega thank you to APM and Nuss Relocations for the extra clients and work – great companies to work with), miss 14 got a job, the kids started earning money from outside sources and we researched intensely for good deals. So step one, was set our intentions and continue to do so each day.
It meant we all got on board. As a single mum there is no back up apart from the support network I’ve put in place, and I’d be lost without them. So my little family, works and operates like a team. This meant we had two no spend months. Other than rent, set bill money, food and petrol for the car, we spent nothing else (I always prepay my bills – put money in weekly ahead of time so I never actually get a bill). You’d be amazed how much you actually fritter away when you’re not looking. Having NO money to spend once the weekly shop and petrol is in the car saves a heap over the course of a month. We also had a few $30 shop weeks where we did an inventory of the pantry, and then worked out our meals with what was already there and what we needed to get to make a meal out of what we already had. This was an idea I got years ago from Simple Savings – thanks guys. You’ll be surprised what you find in that pantry and freezer! It’s about working smarter, not harder. This again saves around $120-$170 a week (our normally shop for 4 is between $150 to $200 a week). We tried to do one every six weeks (some weeks I got so busy we inadvertently did it lol). If you can avoid late fees on bills, reduce your shopping and incidental spends you’ll be amazed that you can save $100 a week, which is $5200 a year!!!. Take care of the cents, the dollars take care of themselves 🙂 Go Team Harlow.
Intention setting is all well and good, so is having dreams but at some point the practical has to step in and that’s where the planning happens. Working out the budget and working to get as much value as we could from each dollar. The conversion rate is a real party pooper however we managed to pay for all our accommodation while the dollar was at 79c, Disney and Universal tickets bought at 77c and cashed converted around 75c (which is really 72c when you buy it .. OUCH!). I also put a shout out to anyone else that wanted to join with us and while a few families put their hands up lifelong friend Feliesha said yep and she, also a single mum, who I used to babysit when she was 3, is coming along with her now 4 year old son Zavia, which has been fantastic as she is brilliant at finding bargains and getting good deals too, so between us we really did get value for money. And that’s important to me. I’m a strong proponent of the, WHEN you take care of the cents the dollars will take care of themselves” philosophy. We worked from our budget, worked out where we wanted to go and then worked out what we could do within those boundaries – a LOT it seems lol. Dreams need plans and goals.
The kids had to work and save their own spending and lunch money. I find that when you feed them a buffet breakfast (which I chose accommodation where this was provided) and a large dinner, lunch is fairly give and take. If I’m paying they’ll want lunch and a lot of it. If they’re paying, they’ll be happy with $5 sangas. So that was the deal, I pay for flights, accommodation, Disney, Universal, breakfasts and dinners. Everything else they have to pay. Miss 14 found a job and started working and saving. Miss 13 and Master 8 started finding ways to earn pocket money at home and elsewhere (which also helped me as I was working a lot – thank you Universe). We were also blessed by awesome grandparents who put in $70 spending money for each of them and their gorgeous Aunty Jarxxi gave them U.S. spending money – that made it a bit more real too, so now they’re set. I set them a goal of saving $500 each, they all surpassed that in 14 months. Way to go kidlets. Already they’ve paid for their hop on hop off bus tour at $80 for the girls and $55 for Dan. It’s been a pain having to pay adult fairs for teens but that’s life it seems. Set the budget then get to doing what it takes. Don’t say I can’t afford it, ask HOW can I afford it <3
This trip has been in the forefront of our minds for just over a year. Their savings goal was put on a Disney inspired sheet and plastered around the house (toilet door, bathroom mirror, fridge – all their home hang out spots 😉 ) as a reminder of what we were doing as a family but also what THEY needed to do to help make it happen. For me I have done a daily intention setting “It is my intention to take Kit, Charz, Dan and I to Disneyland and surrounds in healthy and whole condition, without financial issues in May 2017″ (I set the May date about a year ago – one of the cheapest times to go, one of the less crowded and fitted in with our lives). Also, my favourite celeb on the planet, Dwayne ‘The Rock” Johnson has a saying: “Success at anything will always come down to this: Focus and Effort. And we control both”. His Baywatch premier is in LA the same time we are so, yes, I’m setting my intention to meet him!!! Focus and Effort style.
Besides working, working and working. Finding ways to save money and tighten the belt by resetting priorities. Finding ways to save on the actual holiday by getting bargains. My highschoolers went to their teachers, found out when assessments were due and worked with the staff to get ahead on their school work and make sure things were handed in on time or ahead of time, or extensions granted where needed. (Kudos kidlets #soproud). I also had to improve my fitness. I’m 46, and fat – that’s life. I’m happy with me but the reality is I’m not currently built to walk 15kms a day, so that had to improve so we started getting up earlier and going for family walks. This did two things. Improved my fitness, and got us closer to LA time, and also gave the kids a few laughs at mum TRYING to jog and keep up. It also identified a foot injury I didn’t know I had and was able to rectify before we left. I also decided we would only take hand luggage therefore we had to get the kids the right sized bags (I chose that as less stress and hassle with checking in, arriving, possible missed bags which I’ve experienced in the past, etc etc etc). And the hours spent the past two days printing out all our bookings, setting the itinerary and earlier in the year checking passports (getting passports that was a drama but that’s another story!), getting visas etc etc. We’re even catching up with an old friend of mine June over there #awesome timing. Today I’m crossing the I’s and dotting the T’s 😉 It’s great having dreams but at some point the goals and planning needs to have action to make it happen.
A Dream + Focus + Effort + Intention Setting + Goal setting/planning + Action has resulted in this becoming a reality for us. Me and my three. And the good news is, anyone can make it happen!!!
We teach kids to say thank you but so few adults do these days. I have tried really hard to impart not just the generic thank you into the kids lives but also true gratitude for the experiences they have, the things they have and do and for all parts of their lives – because everything can teach us something. They dont’ always see it that way but they’re learning to, slowly 😉 I think gratitude has a lot to do with achieving goals and dreams. I am soo very grateful for everything coming together (including the mindsets, the actions, the extra work , and the actual initial thought to do this trip) so we could make this trip happen for ourselves. We did it. So proud. So grateful.
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Now, please Watch the moment I told the kids’via a storybook’ they were going to Disneyland HERE
Jo and Co
(Jo has been a single mum for almost a decade now, and has had a rollercoaster of a ride. With a passion for helping others achieve their dreams, she created Mentor Mumma – for those who want to enjoy the ride together, learn from each other, and use the village to raise our kidlets <3 )