Mentor Mumma

29/12/2017

Mindful Parenting for 2018…

This photo was taken almost 40 years ago!  And when looking for a suitable photo for today’s blog on Mindful Parenting I came across it and thought it illustrates perfectly what I want to say today. The older child, is me.. almost 40 years ago! When I turned 21 my Dad said from now on you’ll find time goes so much faster. He was right. This parenting caper we think will never end when they’re toddlers and primary school kids, goes at lightning speed once they hit the teen years. For my parents they don’t just wonder where the 18 years of our childhoods went, but where that last 40 years went! And as our own kids near their teen years or enter them we begin to think have I taught them all they need to know, there’s still so much more they need to learn for the real world, have I prepared them enough.

 

In Australia we have 25% of our population living in poverty! (Oh wow this blog took a hard core turn! Did not see that coming!). The Poverty In Australia Report (2016) states that 17.4% of all children (under 18) were living in poverty in Australia in 2013-2014. For single parent homes that rose to 40%! And that was an increase from the 2003 to 2004 period! 

 

“More than 730,000 children live in poverty
(one child in six). In single-parent families,
four children in ten now live in poverty.
After 25 years of uninterrupted economic
growth, we can do better than this!”
David Morawetz, Australian Communities Foundation (Social Justice Fund)

One major way this stops and corrects itself is to break the cycle (you may have seen me use #breakthecycle a fair bit, it’s so close to my heart). And how do we do that?

It starts at home.  It starts with making different choices for ourselves and our kids. We can blame the education system all we like but the harsh truth is real life lessons should be learnt and taught at home. Sadly,  many adults do not know how to get themselves out of poverty or are unable to and therefore are unable to role model and teach this to their own kids. (Obviously I”m not talking about people with significant disabilities (mental or physical)).

HOW? – Mindful Parenting

Mindful parenting is the idea of raising your kids in a purposeful way. On top of all the extra curricular activities and being a ‘kid’, it’s about implementing things in the home that teach them life skills and more importantly money skills and strategies that will help them stay out of poverty.

What? Ten top mindful parenting tips to help your family #breakthecycle

  1. Teach them real life skills such as how to cook and make them responsible for planning, preparing, cooking and serving a  meal and cleaning up from it once a week (From 9 years onwards with lots of guidance and teaching from you to start with).
  2. Have them earn money from a young age and teach them the value of money. One of the things we do is when we go out for a day my kids buy their own lunches with money they’ve had to earn. This teaches them the value of hard work, the value of a dollar, the value of spending wisely, the value of saving so you can spend it in the future (and as they get older teaches them about saving so they can invest in the future). Find something for your family.
  3. Become financially literate. Teach your kids to budget. As they enter the teen years show them the household weekly and yearly budget and help them do the budget for the week/fortnight/month including the shopping list, shopping, paying the bills etc with your guidance. Help them set savings goals. As parents I highly recommend you read Scott Pape’s book “The Barefoot Investor”. I promise you will thank me.
  4. It will not kill your kids to do their own washing (after about age 9 – when they can reach the clothes line and washing machine). In fact it will teach them mum is not a maid, they are responsible for themselves, and a life skill. 
  5. Do your future son and/or daughter in laws and grand children a favour – teach your kids how to be great role models for their own future families with money, relationships, goal setting, dreaming, working hard and having purpose. For some of us we need to learn these skills ourselves. Education is not just 12 years it’s life long. Teach them to educate themselves – this is a vital life skill. Some kids don’t know how to research on line, show them, some kids don’t know how to get a book out of the library, show them….
  6. There are plenty of online financial courses you can do – everything from budgeting 101 to how to invest to make your money work for you. If you are Centrelink recipient with a little bit of income coming in from somewhere even cash in the hand jobs, the Benevolent Society has a great course which teaches you to budget, tips on savings and at the end of the 10 months the $500 they have had you save (which is surprisingly easy when shown how even though you think no way!) is matched by ANZ and you have $500 to spend on educational expenses.. well you spend your $500 and get $500 back!
  7. Mindful parent – it’s hard not to get lost in the busy-ness of everyday life with kids and teens, but a little planning at the start of the year can make all the difference. Think about the things you’d like your kids to learn this year and set about thinking of ways you can teach this to them. Just one example I hear so often is “the school holidays cost me a fortune!” well why not plan for next Christmas for the kids to be paying for their own outtings and fun by setting a boundary/purpose/goal that each child will try to earn X amount per month so by December 2018 school holidays they have enough to fund their own entertainment. This is obviously for kids over 9 (but many adaptions can be made for younger kids – perhaps they can fund their own treat at shopping etc), and there’s always room for parents to treat their kids to movies, bowling etc on top of what they pay for themselves. Find what works for you and yours around what you want to teach them. Another complaint I hear from parents of teens is the laziness issue – this is sometimes due to parents doing everything or most things for the teens. Just stop it and let them bare the consequences of their own actions or lack thereof. No one said parenting is easy in fact it’s 18 years of fun, laughter, love and adventures but also of guidance, role modelling, boundary setting, boundary relaxing, teaching, learning (them and us), advising and letting go so they can soar on their own.
  8. If you lack the information/tools/capacity to educate your kids in the ways of the real world and making money work for them, there are plenty of online resources to help. Libraries are full of books and magazines. Self education is possible – you don’t just owe it to your kids, but to yourself!
  9. When doing up the kids chore lists for the year, think about what it is you want each of them to learn. Not just the basic skill, but going above and beyond, taking pride in their work, the value of hard work and it paying off, being part of a family (we all live here we all help) etc. Our latest thing in this household is “Are you proud of the job you’ve just done?”. Especially with Master 9 and his sweeping skills. He has the ability to do a good job, he just often chooses not to do a job he’s proud of so for the past week or three when he finishes his chore I’ll ask him if he’s proud of his effort and the result? And I don’t ask in a condoning tone but a questioning one, getting him to evaluate himself. At the start, about nine times out of ten he’d say no and go back and redo it. He now does a better job and it’s only every so often he says no, most times he looks over his work, smiles and says yes. Of course if he says yes and I know he’s not and he’s done a crap job he gets to do it again AND another one and I tell him good try mate.
  10. Words – are extremely powerful in mindful parenting and in life. We become what we think and say we are. Help your kids and teens choose their words carefully. Redirect negative talk and thinking. Some of us might need to retrain ourselves in this regard. Regular routine dinner times with all the family are vital (this gets harder as teens start working outside the home but most nights can be sit down family meals with a bit of preparation and retraining the family, and while you’re all there this is where your mindful parenting comes into play – think about what you want to teach them for the week, weave it into conversations and teachable moments.

Your kids only get one childhood. it goes by so fast. My parents look at the above photo from almost 40 years ago and wonder where the years have gone, let alone the 18 or so we had as our childhoods. Parents, we’re all doing our best to make them memorable, but we also need to focus on making our kids childhoods and teen years purposeful and ready for real life so they can not just survive, but thrive. THIS is how we break the cycle, together.

Of course I can’t let the opportunity go without plugging my book “Beyond School: Practical Tips for Teens” which may have some great information for parents too who perhaps had parents themselves who couldn’t pass a lot of real life skills and knowledge on to you. Sixteen chapters of guidance, advice and tips on succeeding in the real world. Only $10. If you know someone who’d benefit why not buy a copy and gift it to them, maybe even anonymously if you’re worried how they’ll react. TOGETHER we CAN break the cycle!

 

You may have also noticed a name change from Mentor Mumma to Parenting Australia. I felt the latter was more encompassing. If you haven’t joined our online group yet please do so HERE

Happy New Year. I have such a great feeling about 2018. Let’s make it fun and full of adventure for our kidlets and ourselves but most of all, let’s make it purposeful for them, and ourselves – we all deserve it. Together, we WILL break the cycle!

Love

Jo

03/12/2017

How to save money on Christmas or ‘Tis the season to be.. .freaking out about our budgets!

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).

Top tips to bring in 2018 without a financial Christmas hangover: 

  1. Set your budget, know your budget, don’t spend more than you budgeted. And make a list of all the gifts you need to buy, fit them into the list and stick to your list.
  2. Start early (Bit late for that THIS year but after Christmas get saving for next year). Get the $2 coin bottle or Christmas account or buy your $5 gift card each week at shopping, or open a Christmas savings account or whatever your strategy is, happening stat.
  3. Make a choice RIGHT NOW that you won’t go into debt for Christmas. This changes your future. It changes what you role model to your kids and teens. It sets the standard to live within your means and this changes your financial future for the better.
  4.  Set a new trend in 2017 to show your children you value their futures and yours rather than instant gratification on things that will put you into debt or financially cripple you.

So with just 3 weeks to (AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!) what do you do if times are tough. Improvise! 

Top tips for improvising when times are tough (AKA How to do Christmas on a budget):

  1. The calendar. This is my go to.. you buy a $2 calendar for each of the kids, and write in it future events that you WILL honour such as 1 on 1 kid dates, family movie outtings, concerts, whatever your family and kid’s things are. What this does is gives them experiences over ‘things’ and you don’t have to fork out prior to Christmas, but instead can budget throughout the year for events. Some do vouchers instead of the calendar and wrap individually in a gift box.
  2. Share the cost: Is there something expensive they’ve asked for that you really want to get them but just can’t afford? Then perhaps you can give them half or a quarter or third of the cost so they can choose to add their own money in or buy something less expensive. Eg this year a lot of teens are asking for iphone 6, 7’s and 8’s. The iphone 6 is around $600 give or take. You could put $250 into a box with a note saying toward your new phone if you choose one more than this price, or you can use this to purchase a new phone. Help them contribute to larger ticket items.
  3. Relatives: Ask your kids, even the teens, to write a Letter to Santa, that you can keep in your handbag and when rellies ask what can they get them you can pull out the list and let them choose one of the items from the list. This spreads the blessings and the burdens.
  4. Charity shops have some amazing bargains. I have noticed that more affluent areas have a lot better things so have a shopping day with friends in a richer suburb’s charity shops. The Gold Coast has some fantastic ones around Harbourtown.
  5.  Shop around. It really does pay to shop around and if you find it cheaper in one store mention it to the store closest to you, they may just match the price.
  6. Help your children re-evaluate what’s important at Christmas.
  7. Start new family traditions that don’t cost the earth.
  8. If you have a large extended family and it’s stressful buying for everyone, instigate a Secret Santa style gift giving for adults (or everyone) with an appropriate budget limit.
  9. It’s still not too late to sell off any unwanted things around the house on Ebay, Gumtree or in a garage sale to make some last minute money.
  10. Shop on Ebay and Gumtree! So many bargains to be had. 
  11. Are there other ways you can earn some last minute cash in the next fortnight? Babysitting so other parents can go shopping in peace? Working extra shifts at work? Taking on an extra client or two? Doing some pet sitting for people going on holidays  early? I overheard two working mums discussing how good it would be to be able to give someone a list and have them go shopping for you! (Not a bad side business idea for someone). What’s your thing? What can you do to earn a bit extra in the next fortnight?
  12. If looking for electronics check out EB games etc they do reburbished items at much cheaper prices.
  13. Check your Woolies, Coles and other rewards cards. You might be surprised to find you have enough to trade in points for some gift cards.
  14. DO NOT go to the shops without a list because impulse buying will send you broke quicker than a teen uses their data!
  15. Make Santa Sacks the ‘practical’ items bag including new pyjamas, school supplies like coloured pencils, specialised pens and pencils and colours, underwear, snacks.
  16. Do you have a friend or a friend with a teen who works at a shop that has items you want to buy? Ask to borrow them so you can get a 5% discount. It all adds up and friends help friends.
  17. Get creative with younger kids at Christmas time. Google is your friend for a whole heap of super cheap presents and ideas. I remember when Dan was 2 I was pretty broke that year so his main present was a large box filled with blown up balloons. He and the girls played with that for weeks after Christmas and a restock of balloons was about $2 until the novelty wore off.
  18. Shopping online can save you money – you only buy what you need and impulse buying isn’t as dangerous (for most of us, I know some of you are click happy but you can control that 🙂 ).
  19. Make a list, check it twice. Who are you buying for? What are you going to get them or what budget do you have for them? Stick to your list and don’t detour, and you’ll be just fine. Sometimes combining gifts can save you money for example rather than buying your sisters family of four a $30 gift each why not a family gift for $100 – such as a trip to the local movies, outdoor cinemas, is there a drive in close by to send them to, family restaurant voucher, local sporting event, how about buy all their favourite snacks and make a hamper with instructions on a hike or picnic or whatever they’re in to ..maybe it’s a sports event.
  20. Think experiences more than ‘stuff and things’. The memory lasts longer.
  21. When shopping stick to your list only and make sure you don’t touch items – I was reading an article that said if you pick something up you are much more likely to buy it. Tell yourself the same mantra you’ve been yelling at your kids for years ‘Look, DON”T touch!”.
  22.  Shop earlier rather than later to avoid the crowds, the stress and overspending because ‘they’ve run out’ of whatever it is you’re looking for.

 

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?

Love 

 

Jo

09/07/2017

Disneyland 101

 

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!

Choose your days wisely

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. 

Where to stay

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.

Where do I start? 

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

 

Love,

Jo

 

27/06/2017

Pocket money, chores and kids (aka, one less parenting stress, Part A)

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).

What and how much?

These include:

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.

Empowering and teachable moments

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.

An example: Dan (Mr 8 at the local show) – 

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).

But I’m on a restricted budget.. what can I do?

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.

 

Where do I start?

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.

Extra resources…

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).

Mentor Mumma… 

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

Posted in: Budgeting
25/06/2017

The B word … Budgeting – for all types of parents.

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 

Top Tip – Set your intention! Get a goal. Keep it in mind, every, single, day. Write it on your fridge and toilet door.

Tip 1 – Keep a record, even if just for two months

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.

Tip 2 – Get a water bottle or old coke bottle

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.

Tip 3 – Plan, Plan and Plan some more

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.

Tip 4 – DO NOT USE CREDIT CARDS

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.

Tip 5 – Set yourself financial goals

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.

Tip 6 – Team effort: Get the kids on board

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.

Tip 7 – 60/10/10/20 rule. 

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:

  1. Ensure your bank account does not have annual fees.
  2. Set up four accounts: 1. Spendings/Daily living = 60% of your income. 2. Savings = 10% of your income. 3. Splurge = 10% of your income. 4. Fire Extinguisher (which is used to pay down and off debts quickly) = 20% of your income.

Tip 8 – Christmas bottle

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.

Tip 9 – Dream.

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,

Jo

11/06/2017

Overwhelmed… Disneyland, Dreams and Reality.

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.

The good

 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.

The bad 

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.

Coming up…

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,

Jo.

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.

 

 

15/05/2017

This is how an Aussie single mum took her kids to Disneyland…

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 

Intention setting

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.

Team work

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.

 

Planning

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.

Saving

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 

 

Staying focused (Focus + Effort)

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.

Practical 

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!!!

Gratitude

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.

What’s your family’s dream?

Join us in our FACEBOOK GROUP to share in our journey, and others parenting teens and preteens.

Now, please Watch the moment I told the kids’via a storybook’ they were going to Disneyland HERE 

Love,

 

Jo and Co

xo

(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 )

12/01/2017

How many did you create?

Office supply shops are doing their biggest trade of the year. Shoe shops are inundated. Socks are flying off the racks. “omg what is that smell’ has been found, in the bottom of someone’s school back from 6 weeks ago! Yep, it’s the lead up to back to school which means just one more week of school holidays *insert sad face*.

Which brings me to my question, how many memories did you and yours create these holidays?

We created some big ones. Master 8’s first ever plane ride (which was part of a work junket). Kids spending time with one of the most amazeballs people in the world in Townsville. Checking out beaches, rock pools and anywhere to keep cool. Spending Christmas with my brother and his family at mums and her pool and ocean breezes! A midnight to 6am road trip to get to Mums! Lots of memories created. Most were free or very low cost. All included lots of laughs, jokes, fun and of course the occasional tired tanty (often by me!!). Then there were the high cost events we did that were great memory makers such as taking the kids to speedway for my birthday! A trip to the movies with recliner seats and all the bells and whistles, popcorn and treats. (Almost had to sell a kidney for that one!).

One of the big tricks I use to keeping costs down is at the start of each week or holiday I give the kids a lump sum of money, they can spend that any way they like but once it’s gone it’s gone. If there’s anything left over it’s theirs to spend. This is when you see them making smart choices, learning to budget and prioritise, and it saves me a small fortune. Highly recommend it. Eg when we went to Townsville for the week I paid for them to visit Magnetic Island and they had an additional $80 for the six days we were there for the movies, lunches, outings they’d do with Aunty Jarrxi. They all came home with money! Jax wondered why they were so grateful when she bought them all an ice-cream at the movies hehehe.

Memories are created from people who love each other spending time together doing things they enjoy. That’s what makes a great holiday and lifetime memories, not the cost. I hope whatever you did you enjoyed it and I”d love to hear what you did to create memories with yours these holidays. Still a week left to create more……

Mentor Mumma
aka Jo xo

20/07/2016

How can I afford that Vs I can’t afford that… teaching your kids and teens goal setting and budgeting for a life of financial success, not a lifetime of slavery to others.

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With or without  a goal, you hit it every time!

Teaching kids and teens to budget is vital in their financial success, however, part of  budgeting is helping them to set goals and achieve them. Whether it’s saving for a new custom made skateboard or concert tickets or their first solo backpacking trip when they finish highschool or even their first car or first home. All very important in a teens or kids eyes and fantastic goals for teaching budgeting and goal setting.  

If you’ve never been particularly good at budgeting and goal setting yourself then this is a great time for you to learn, and then in turn mentor your teen. Or, even better learn together. Admitting we don’t know something or have a weakness is not a bad thing. It shows our kids we are human. That there is ALWAYS something new we can learn, and by admitting our weaknesses we can get help in those areas.

On top of actual budgeting is the mindset training, teaching kids, and ourselves not to go to the default of ‘we can’t afford that’ but retrain ourselves to ask ‘HOW can I afford that‘. It gets the brain thinking differently. (Thanks Robert Kiyosaki for that brilliant insight – that’s him in the image above). It really does work.

When budgeting always remember that anything that puts money INTO your pocket is an asset and anything that takes money OUT of your pocket is a liability.

Some wise words on budgeting: 

 “Creating a budget and living within its limitations is crucial for achieving financial freedom in your life. A budget gives you the input you need to manage your income and control your expenses. In short, a budget gives you a sense of accountability. If you want to secure your personal finances, then a budget will provide you with tools to achieve just that. Robert Kiyosaki 

One of the key fundamental practices to achieve financial freedom is to work for yourself, rather than work for a bank or a credit card company. Learn to pay yourself first before you pay someone else. By doing this you achieve two things: you make yourself richer, and you stop getting poorer. Only when you save money today can you invest it tomorrow, ensuring your financial freedom in the process. Robert Kiyosaki

I quote Robert a lot because I have read all his Rich Dad Poor Dad books and learnt a lot from him, I think you and your kids/teens would too. They’re available in most libraries and in audiobook format too. 

If you yourself aren’t sure how to budget there are many apps, websites and books that can teach you or please feel free to drop me an email at mentormumma@optusnet.com.au and I’d be happy to help.

One of the key’s to financial success is learning to pay yourself first. ‘They’ (the rich) say pay yourself 10% out of anything you ever earn and with that 10% buy investments. It’s something I’ve known for a long time but have only recently started doing and boy it sure does start to change your mindset. It’s something we can easily teach our children too. Always include in the budget room for generosity and giving to charity – these are life lessons and character building values.

Exciting times when a teen conquers a budget and takes control of their money, rather than the other way around. Teaching your children to manage their money, set goals, and only ever paying cash for what they want and avoiding debt except for primary residence (or when they’re financially literate enough to understand asset debt and tax relief) will save them a life time of slavery to others.

What a great way to put #mentorparenting into action. Maybe you can get your teens mates around and they can all do their budgets. Even those on pocket money can do one.

Save and prosper.

Jo
xo

Jodie-Anne Harlow (Bachelor Psychological Science (Honours) and mum of 3.