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Tips to do a No Spend Month: $1k here we come.

One way to raise money quickly is to do a no spend month. Budgeting and saving money comes in many shapes. This is just one. Won’t you join us?

For the Month of May our little family of four will not spend any money on anything other than what has already been budgeted for (Food, bills, petrol, mortgage/rent) – no entertainment or social budget this month, no eating out, no coffees, cokes or maccas, no socks, jocks or million other things we ‘need’, no extras at all. (As a disclaimer I do have a 3-day cruise this weekend and have already budgeted and saved up my spending money (aka booze money) for that #priorities!!).

And, Yes there’s Mother’s day this month – if you haven’t already purchased a prez or budgeted for it in another account you’ll have to get creative. We had an early Mother’s Day dinner while Mum was in town kid sitting for me while I worked away. Meanwhile let me tell you, vouchers for massages from kids are THE best prez us mums can get, seriously better than diamonds if the massages come to pass! We also love hand written poems from the heart and who hasn’t still got a macaroni cup or equivalent on their desk! Get creative.

Below are some tips to help you and yours embrace a No Spend Month.

Tip 1.

Know your why. Why are you doing a no spend month. What’s your goal?

This month I need to boost our emergency fund by $1000. The purpose of an emergency fund is just that, for emergencies. Things you don’t see coming, so you’re prepared and won’t have to go into debt, hopefully. Ours took a beating with me needing to dip into it for car repairs I wasn’t expecting to be so high, time to top it up again so I have a buffer. Anything we save above that will go into paying down a HECS tax debt I incurred last financial year #oops. Holiday fund needs a top up too. What’s your why and your goal? Write them down and display it prominently on the fridge or back of toilet door, or both. Keep it in the eyes and minds of everyone.

Tip 2:

Get the whole family on board. Set the expectation. Let them know why and what and for how long. Turn it into a game if you can. Let them help you come up with creative ways to not spend money. Make up charts if you have smaller kids. If you have teens put up motivational money saving quotes around the house. Teach them the life lesson of sacrificing now for safety in the future (or a holiday or whatever your goal is). In a generation of ‘give me now’ delayed gratification can be a brilliant life lesson.

Tip 3:

Ensure you have budgeted correctly. You should already have your budget planned for the year – how much each pay you need to set aside for the bills, education (which seems to increase every year lately!), petrol, food, and mortgage/rent. Not another penny gets spent (and let’s put it out there no emergencies occur this month!). Having budgeted correctly, stick to it. With food and petrol, I find it good to get that amount out of the bank which reduces the risk of overspending. I get paid fortnightly, so I plan to shop and fill up with petrol each week (So it feels like I’m spending some money and so it’s easier to manage the sticking to budget – this is what works for me).

Tip 4:

Reduce food bill on top of no spend month. Our normal food bill (for myself, Miss 17, Miss 15 and Mr sporty 10, and the cat) is normally around $200 per week. For this month I’m reducing it drastically to $125 per week! #gameon

a) Meal preparation is the key to this one. Plan what you and yours are going to eat for every meal for the week, including snacks. What home made snacks can you make. Account for every dollar spent in the shopping by tying it to a meal (or household need – e.g. toilet paper, cleaning items etc).

b) Pantry challenge. Using what’s already in the fridge, freezer and pantry may seem logical but have you emptied the pantry to see what’s in there that can be used? Simple Savings have a $21 challenge where all you spend on food for the week is $21 to top up bread, milk, fruit and veg then everything else for the week comes from being creative with your pantry, fridge and freezer supplies. I haven’t shopped a full shop in a while so not sure we can do that, but we’ll certainly be inventorying our pantry and freezer. Over the next week I’ll do a post on our pantry and meal preparation and how I went sticking to $125 for the week. Wish me luck!

Tip 5:

Make sure you still have family outings.

Get creative. Perhaps sit down as a family and come up with some free family outings or social things you can do. Some suggestions:

  1. Invite friends over for a BBQ – everyone brings their own food, drinks and eating utensils.
  2. Organise a play day in the park if you have smaller kids – take your own snacks and sangas.
  3. Family beach day with a picnic.
  4. If you have petrol left over for the week take a drive somewhere you can go for a family walk/hike.
  5. Have a family games night/day at home. If you’re game invite friends and ask them to BYO snacks.
  6. Local museums are usually free entry. Check out what other local attractions are free and visit them – play tourist in your own region.
  7. If you’re so inclined and have the equipment, go fishing and get creative with bait (or budget into the food shopping!). If you catch dinner, that’s a savings!
  8. Visit relatives you don’t see often, especially elderly ones.
  9. Get out into the garden and do some gardening, potting, planting or tidying up.
  10. Declutter the house and look for things to sell to make some extra cash. You could make it a family challenge – whatever we sell this month we put towards eating out, going on a holiday (even if it’s just an overnighter somewhere) etc to inspire the kids.

The list is endless. Would love to hear what you’ve done with yours that was free or budgeted from the food budget.

That’s my top tips. Will check in with you all later in the week to see how you’re progressing. Don’t be shy…the only thing you have to lose is unnecessary expenditure. It’s amazing once you take out all the ‘wants’ as opposed to needs, how much you can save and how quickly.

Show us a photo of your goals/whys posted around the house.

Love,

Jo

Mentor Mumma

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7 Tips to help your teen through exam time

Helping your teen through exam time doesn’t have to be a mine field of walking on egg shells and tip toeing around. It’s about being practical and helping them identify their own responses and showing them how to address these issues. Ensure you’re not adding pressure by setting unrealistic expectations or standards on them, and they’re not doing the same to themselves. Their lives, their choices, their consequences.

Some students will mask their stress and anxiety with a complete shut down of “I don’t care” and take themselves out of the game by just not trying, or taking part. Making out they don’t care about their grades (if a child in senior is doing this either they’re doing the wrong subjects or they’re not equipped to cope with real world stressors’ or aren’t worried about the future which is another topic for another time).

Some will take on board every little thing and react with either emotional or angry outbursts or both! 

Some aren’t academic and may or may not stress over upcoming exam times by getting depressed at their perceived lack of achievement.

Some kids will breeze through exam time, knowing they’ve done the hard work and their best is all they can do (for this group, a huge kudos to you as parents for teaching them these amazing life skills).

But what can I do?

   1. Help your teen recognise some stress is okay.     

 Stress is a natural response. It’s a healthy response. It can motivate, drive and keep you focused. But there comes a point where too much stress turns to anxiety and causes mental health and/or physical issues. Everyone’s stress levels differ. Help your teen identify when they’re moving into unhealthy stressing and give them some coping mechanisms such as the one’s listed below. If it gets too bad it may be time for some professional intervention such as school guidance counsellor, seeing a psychologist through a GP Allied Health Plan or Headspace etc or helping them learn meditation and breathing exercises.

   2. Check in with them regularly

You can check in with them regularly – not when they’re studying but on the drive to school, at breakfast or dinner time – it’s important during exam times to have family meal times – no devices, no study notes, no headphones, just family time to offload, talk things through, to keep a bit of normality in their lives. 

     3. Give them their space

You can give them their space. Ensure they have a quiet, suitable study place in the home where younger siblings will leave them alone and they can concentrate. 

   4. Spoil and remind 

Spoil them: My grade 11 daughter has her study desk in her bedroom which at the start of study period I plaster with positive and encouraging post-it notes for her, reminders to take a break, breathe and hydrate etc. I also stock it with bananas, fruit and nut mixes and her favourite chocolates – Lindt.

   5. Prioritising study over work

If they’re working part time help them to manage this with study and deadline expectations. For student’s going for university entry scores now is not the time to be getting as many hours at work as possible, now is the time to prioritise study. Teach them how to liaise with their boss to get required time off. Short term losses for long term gains. It’s also a great life lesson to teach them.

   6. Prioritising tasks

One of the greatest skills teenagers can learn is time management. Teach them how to prioritise tasks can help reduce stress and help them feel more in control. Having assessment pieces handed in prior to due dates teaches them not to leave things to the last minute, reducing a lot of stress. It also then clears them up to focus on exams.

   7. Teach them all your study tricks

Teach them all the tricks you learnt or if you weren’t very academic or scholarly ask someone you know who was, for their top tips. As someone with 3 degrees, mine are:

  • Eat properly during study and exam periods, it makes a big difference to mental state and memory
  • Magnesium is natures chill pill – most of us are deficient in it, and if your student has a lot of acne it could be a magnesium or zinc deficiency. Grab a bottle from the chemist and have them take one of a morning, if taken at night it can cause sleep disruptions for some people.
  • Teenagers get less sleep during exam times but it’s important to encourage them to get adequate sleep, to go with their healthy eating to get optimal results.
  • Each day during term recap what was taught in class. Learn it as you go along – a lot less time consuming and a lot less stressful than leaving it to a few days before the exam to learn and understand.
  • If you can’t explain something in under 3 sentences, you don’t understand it well enough. Study to understand, not remember.
  • Hydrate regularly
  • Set an alarm on your phone and get up every 45 minutes for a 5 minute stretch and walk around to get the circulation moving in your body.
  • Record your notes during the semester onto your phone and listen to them as you go to sleep. You’ll be amazed at what gets into your conscious and sub-conscious that you can recall when required.
  • The mark you get on this assignment or exam is not the definer of future success and careers. There are so many different avenues to so many different careers and jobs these days. Do your best but don’t let it affect your mental health.
  • Set realistic expectations. If you haven’t put in 2-3 hours of study each night after class for most of the semester (remember we’re talking to OP/ATAR seniors here) then you can’t realistically expect to fly through your exams. Recognise the effort you’ve put in and be realistic about the outcome you can achieve.
  • Remember, failure is a crucial step on the path to success. Worst case you fail, and learn from the mistake. 
  • Post-it notes around the house are under-rated – use them, everywhere.
  • “Whether you think you can, or think you can’t, you’re right”. Henry Ford. The mind is amazing, teach your teens to think positively. Teach your teens of the plasticity of the brain and how they can change their lives by changing their thinking.

Remember, if stress gets beyond the normal, seek professional counselling and services.

Good luck seniors, school holidays are so close.

Good luck parents, empty nest is far too close now (and that’s a whole other article).

With Christmas and Graduations just around the corner, get in early and pick up some of our last remaining copies of Beyond School: Practical Tips for Teens which is 16 chapters of tips to help your teens navigate the real world. Pick up a copy for just $10 HERE

Love,

 

Jo

 

 

 

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Where are all the mums?

Where are all the mums?

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.

Why do we take photos?

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

But I hate my … *insert any body flaw*

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. 

But it’s about them, not me

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.

Love,

Jo