Mentor Mumma

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 πŸ˜‰ )! 

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

 

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

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 πŸ™‚ 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 πŸ˜‰ ) 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 πŸ˜‰ 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 πŸ˜‰ 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 )