How to have the best Christmas ever


I started reading all my old posts about Christmas and realised that I have actually said everything I want to say, so let me link to those posts.

Easy Christmas decorating

Lower your Christmas expectations especially with social media

The Christmas Card controversy

Keep Christmas simple but meaningful

Clever gift ideas for Christmas and throughout the year

and last but definitely not least, my favourite Christmas post ever!

Create the perfect Christmas… for you

What does the “best Christmas” look like for you?

Tell me all your questions and I’ll answer in the comments.

Let’s talk about groceries and spending

One of the 18 in 2018 items on my list is to analyse our grocery spend because it feels like it’s out of hand.

Notice I said “feels” because I don’t know for sure.

I’m hearing lots around these days about grocery spend, money stuff, and so on, and so I decided to use the impetus on the internet to get this exercise done for us, and cross off that item.

A few bits of background:

  • We are a household of 4 – Dion, me, and our nearly 9-year-old twins. Most days, Connor now eats more than I do!
  • Our nanny is here every weekday and eats what we do for lunches (sandwiches and a piece of fruit) and the gardener is here one day but he doesn’t eat sandwiches so brings his own lunch.
  • The children grab a muffin or have a quick breakfast before school, take their school lunch with them, return home, have a small lunch/ snack and then supper.
  • I pack breakfast and lunch to take to work, and have supper at home.
  • D has breakfast at home, packs lunch for work and has supper at home too.
  • So we eat almost everything at home. All of that is considered grocery spend.
  • Cleaning products is also all “grocery” money as is toiletries for the kids. Specialised toiletries for the parents are for our own account, e.g. my shampoo, moisturizer, vitamins, etc.
  • We eat a lunch out on the weekends every second Sunday, and Dion and I have date afternoon once a month, but eating out comes out of its own budget. I don’t believe in takeaways so we never get food to eat at home unless for a very special occasion (Valentine’s Day).
  • I never waste food; I pack leftovers away and once a week we eat whatever’s there. No one is fussy in my house because the rule is “you cook for yourself if you get fussy”. I guess they hate cooking more 🙂
  • We shop weekly at Pick and Pay. I love the quality and I can get 98% of what I need. I have a tiny pantry. It’s smaller than at the previous house and I now consider it a game to use up all that food before buying more.

These are questions I’m asking of our household…

  1. what is our snacks vs real food ratio?
  2. are we shopping at too many stores? many people swear by this but that is precisely why the spend is astronomical, unless you are exceptionally self-disciplined and walk out with exactly what you wanted, and no more in quantity than you need. We have got into a habit of doing an “after church” stop at Checkers which is, on average, R300 a week. Thankfully we don’t go every week.
  3. have we used up all our food before buying more? Or are we lazy to get creative so we just keep buying?
  4. do I need to bring back a focused eat out of the freezer and pantry week every month?

What do you want me to talk about next in this series? 

Questions for you:

do you know what you spend on groceries? do you question whether it’s excessive or not? do you want to save money in this area or doesn’t it bother you?

PS The Frugal Girl writes a post every week on what we ate, what I spent. I love her blog – it’s mindful of money without being crazy over the top.

{Time management} Scheduling regular payments

I want to share something that made me feel oh-so-accomplished last week.

It was during my power hour (which, incidentally, is not very regular, and happens randomly every two weeks or so).

Schedule monthly payments | www.OrganisingQueen.com

I made a list of all my “life admin” tasks and realised that we have to make a payment to the school to secure our kids’ places for next year.

Now, even though the money is ready in the bank account, I really don’t like to pay things any earlier than I need to. It’s a little money quirk I have where I prefer the money in my own account drawing its little bit of interest 🙂

And then I realised… I can schedule a payment to go off 3 – 4 days before it’s due.

Which is exactly what I did.

I can now relax because the mental weight is off my shoulder and the school will get paid on time.

Schedule monthly payments | www.OrganisingQueen.com

I use this scheduling payments feature to pay the regular school fees every month, and the nanny’s monthly salary. It’s so easy and I love not needing to think about it at all because gone are the days when my memory was razor-sharp and I knew at any given point in the month which payments needed to be made…

I set the scheduled payment up once and leave the bank’s system to do its magic every month :)) When Nanny S gets a salary increase, I go in and make the change, and again, the automatic magic happens like clockwork.

Automation is a beautiful thing.

I do bank with the turquoise bank (for the fellow South Africans) but I’m sure all the banks have this feature.

These two payments happen aside from my monthly tithe and the transfer into my savings account, which I like to do when my salary hits my account, as a conscious, intentional action.

Interestingly enough, my mother-in-law and I chatted about this recently and she said she prefers to have no regular payments going off her account automatically. The only ones she does have are her insurance payments.

Do you like using a scheduled payments feature or do you prefer to consciously make every payment?

Let’s talk about money

I hate to say this but it’s true.

I’ve been using money not very intentionally but I’m happy to say I’ve turned a corner…

Bond

I was paying x on my bond and when interest rates dropped I forgot to do what I normally do in these cases which is pay in the difference every month anyway.

Well, I fixed that a couple of months ago.

Interest rates have continued to drop so I’m still paying in the difference into our bond account.

There’s something so satisfying about seeing all those “extra payment” entries on our statement.

Am I the only one who gets excited by debt reduction?

Credit Card

We get HUGE cash back every month (on average R1500) simply by using our credit card at partner stores, like Pick and Pay for groceries and ToysRUs for nappies and other baby-related purchases. Places we were shopping at anyway.

Again, we used to fritter away our cash back which is literally like a credit on your credit card, and the money seemed to just disappear.

Odd, that.

But again, since October, I’ve been adding that cashback to my trusty little spreadsheet as “extra money” coming in. So that I’m forced to budget it.

The weird thing?

We seem to have more money even though we’re not even using that extra money.

It’s the power of intention – it makes you more aware and I think, makes you wealthier.

I know it’s been said that if you respect money, it will respect you. Suze Orman?

On a scale of 1 – 10 with 1 being terrible, how good are you at managing your money?

I’d say I was an 8.

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