Wednesday, 1 June 2016

Wake up Wednesday

Good Morning, I hope you are having a good day. 

If you are a regular reader of my blog you will probably notice that I have gone away from the real reasons I started this blog in the first place...

It all began because life around here was getting difficult, the purse strings were getting tighter and life was becoming a lot more difficult, we had no home organisation and I was bearing the brunt of it by feeling tired, unhappy and worn out.

So, what has changed?

Nothing, our morning routine is a little more organised. Our house is still full of rubbish that I don't enjoy seeing or tidying up. We are certainly no better off in fact things are getting worse with the bills increasing dramatically, a pay rise halt in place for both of us, school trip bills for the thirteen year old and almost ten year old that we are unable to afford and go into the mid hundreds quickly becoming due. No fun days out or holidays in sight. And five of my most favourite people in the worlds birthday descending on us in the next three months.

And the answer to this is?

I honestly don't know. We both have jobs, one of average pay, mine admittedly is low paid but I do get to be there for my beautiful ones in the holidays. I have asked for more hours from September. So we will see.

But the whole point of this post is Full of daily delights needs to get back to basics and the whole point of this blog saving money and organising!

Yes I will still let you know what is going on around here because that's me, I love talking about my children and moaning about my weight (talking about that do you love the picture at the top? I do).

I know I haven't done a menu plan recently and at the moment I have no intention of doing one.
This is because we just didn't stick to it and I ended up spending more money. As a certain house member never fancies what's on the menu!

So I am going to trial a new daily piece on my blog. I am going to shop in the evenings as we all know that's when the yellow stickers come out and I cannot print coupons from my computer (don't get me into that... its a RT so considered to be a tablet and therefore has to use apps to print but the apps aren't available to Microsoft argh... I did say don't get me into that. Your mistake!)
Anyhow, I am going to list what we have eaten each day and what it has cost me and hopefully we will together be able to find A. Some cheap meals and B. A pattern of what is costing the most money and a way to lower it.

This was yesterdays lunch and I haven't kept a record of what it cost, the idea only just came to me, but the pitta were reduced, so were the new potatoes and the strawberries. Hopefully that will give you an idea of where I am intending to go with this.

Let me know what you think?

What's happening around here?

Now normal post stuff, its raining again, yes I wish I could send it to you Nathalie, so you don't have to water your garden. I have washed my bedding but its certainly not going to go out on the line. I guess the house will look like a Chinese laundry again with the Airers everywhere.

My youngest son is laying on the stairs crying that I starve him, yes he is a drama queen!, he had his breakfast about two and a half hours ago and desperately wants a blueberry muffin but has been told he has to wait for lunch which is as soon as I finish this post. Evil mummy!

Liam went to visit someone from another New York University yesterday but I think he has decided that New York is not somewhere he would want to live. He also saw the statue of liberty and he didn't eat bacon!

Today, he is back in Connecticut. He liked it there on his last visit.

Well now this evil mum had better go feed her kids.

Take care xx


  1. Oh I LOOOOOOVE this picture, Tara, LOL. I'm going to steal it and save it so I can reuse it some day. I hope you don't mind :)

    I'm sorry you're struggling with your finances. It's hard to make ends meet nowadays and with several children of course it's harder. One of the tricks that I used is that I raised the kids to never compare themselves to others because they're always be others who have more than we have... and so many more who have far less. I always told them "You've got to do the best you can with what you've got and wishing you could have the better shoes (or worse: buying the better shoes so you can be like the Joneses) isn't going to help anyone unless you're willing to sacrifice a lot and to what end, exactly?" and try to make them understand the difference between wants and needs. So I would shop for the kids at thrift stores, accept all hand me downs, say no to expensive hobbies, we didn't go on expensive vacations. Local playgrounds, very inexpensive camping outings in local campgrounds one weekend a month with a group of parents that I found through our local paper, free festivals and events. We'd pack our lunches, snacks and drinks from home. Instead of stopping at the ice cream store for a cone, I'd stop by the local grocery store (wherever we were) and buy a box of cones (bring a cooler in case I had more than needed but I never did!) which was a welcome treat but cost significantly less. We borrowed books, movies, games from the library and attended their free events, especially in the summer. (I know you said your local library doesn't have those things). I organized play dates with friends at local parks (I don't like other kids over, lol, but I'd send mine to visit the neighbors if they were invited). We ended up being able to do a lot for not much money. You're saving so much by being able to be off when your kids are off school. I can't imagine how much you'd pay in childcare if you had a regular schedule, even though you guys get more paid vacation time than we do here, I think.

    Tara, if you don't mind me saying so, maybe you also need to reign in this impulse of buying items for the kids that are "not the same as what everyone else has" as you were saying about the backpack for your daughter. Remember how, when you reorganized the closet under the stairs, you found all those backpacks that you had forgotten you had? She doesn't need a pretty backpack. She needs a bag to carry her books. Even if it's a hand-me-down and even if it's the same as her friends'. In the grand scheme of your family having enough to pay the bills, it can make a big difference. It's no fun, for sure, but I guarantee you that you are NOT depriving your children by not buying them new things. (part 2 coming up, stupid blogger and their comments' character limit!)

    1. I think that you going back to blogging about how you're making ends meet and you organize your home will be very helpful to you, Tara, because these things, as distasteful as they are at first, will be at the front of your mind so much that they will become second nature. And instead of focusing on the problems, you'll start focusing on some solutions and I think you'll be less frustrated. At least, that's the way it works for me. Sometimes I don't feel like blogging at all, but I know that listing my frugal habits every day, no matter how trivial, really helps me in the long run, especially when I re-read older posts and remember things that I might have stopped doing (good or bad).

      I think Liam is wise to have decided not to live in NYC. It's extremely expensive, but then again so it CT apparently. I'm wondering, if you don't mind explaining, though, how he reconciles spending so much money to come study here when a starting salary is going to be so low in the UK. Wouldn't it much cheaper for him to study in the UK? Would having an American degree be that much of an advantage? I think it would be exceedingly hard for him to be able to work here if he's thinking about moving to the US as the country becomes more and more protectionist. If Trump is elected, I would imagine not many people will be granted any visas.

      I do hope you fed your starving children :) What a drama king! LOL.

    2. Hey Nathalie, can I just say 'I love you' you always point out what I need to hear. I have never considered myself to be a keep up with the Joneses type of person but I am always worried that I don't give my kids enough. Maybe because there is quite a stigma in the UK about having more than two children.I feel that I have to be super mum, and give them as much as other people do.
      But we live in an extremely affluent area where everything is expensive and everyone has lots in general.

      I guess I'm lucky your right my kids are happy, they have me here when they need me and they are truly loved beyond measure. If I'm truly honest with you there are a lot of things in my life, that I would not be comfortable talking about on my blog, that I am not particularly happy with and I guess I try and make up for it with the kids.

      Thank you for putting everything back into perspective and your right I do need to get back to basics with the blog so it is clearer in my mind.

      I love looking back on old posts and remembering the things that worked, I really need to sit and do that.

      You are so much better at this sort of thing than I am and I do appreciate all your ideas.

      Where Liam's concerned he does want to move to America to teach and it does seem to be one of the few jobs that English people can get a Visa for. Like you say with Donald Trump possibly being elected things could certainly change. I think he prefers your education system to ours. Things are changing here and a lot of teachers I know are thinking about leaving because there is so much pressure being put on both teachers and children to succeed, and mental health in children is also becoming a big problem.

      Yes I fed those poor starving children finally! Ha ha

      And of course you can save the picture. :)

    3. Aww, I love you too. Hang in there. It's easy (and don't I know it) to get mired in the depressing stuff and before you know it things seem so much worse than they actually are. You are much to be thankful for (5 healthy, beautiful children to start with, supportive parents) and even though I think I can read between the lines to understand that there are things that you would rather like to be different, you have a roof over your head, a job, your husband is employed... You've probably already done this a million times and there are only so many ways to squeeze water from a stone, but maybe you can sit down and write down exactly how much money is coming in and how much NEEDS to come out and if you have a little left over than maybe allocate a small amount of it for fun and the rest for emergencies. Then go online and look up all the free resources you have at your disposal, both for possible help (with 5 kids, does that entitle you to anything from the government? I know that in France you get X amount per child until they turn 18, or at least that's the way it was when my mom was raising us. Can your local council help with utilities?) and also for free entertainment for the kids this summer. Any local festivals, fairs, historical reenactments that you could reach by bike or public transportation? Gardens or parks to visit? Hikes or wildlife demonstrations organized by some Park Service? I don't know your infrastructure around there. Maybe visiting that other library that's further away but has more resources could be a field trip? Free concerts organized by local radio stations? You could have Family Movie Night or Family Game Night, you could do crafts together with things you have around the house... built cushion forts, water balloons fights... with the Olympics on this summer, maybe you could organize the Tara's Family Olympics at a local park? Have the kids race (maybe with something silly like with an egg in a spoon for the older kids, or a sack race?), go through an obstacle course, swim if you have a local pool, etc. There are tons of ideas online.

      As for food, make sure to only get what you NEED with the yellow stickers. You could come back with a grocery cart of cheap tarts and cookies but if it's going to encourage you to overeat, then maybe it's not a great idea. Are there any treats that the kids like but you don't?

    4. Go through the kids' clothes and put what they're outgrown into labeled bins so you can pass it down to the younger kids. With your daughter, can you find clothes at a local charity shop? A lot of well-off people here donate their almost brand new and sometimes brand new clothes to thrift store. When Greg's girls got to be preteen and more brand conscious, I would take them to thrift store in richer areas and teen clothing consignment stores for them to get jeans and other clothing of certain brands. That was my small concession to "keeping up with the Joneses" but it cost us so much less. Luckily my boys didn't care and my own daughter isn't so much into clothes, make-up and accessories. School trips were only paid for if it was pretty reasonable. The diving trip in the Florida Keys for the science class? Nope. The yearly trip to Washington DC for history that promised to be so educational but cost thousands of dollars per child? Nope. The local trip to a theme park... weeeeelll, maybe but let's see your grades and attitude first. Last year I didn't want to pay $70 for my youngest to go to one of the theme parks (in which he has no interest anyway) so I kept him home and instead bought half-price tickets to a local military museum (which interested him much more). It was very educational, cost me less than $10, I think, and we spent the day together. When the boys were wanting to be in band, we told them we'd pay for band fees in middle school (very low) but once they were in high school, band fees were several hundred dollars per year. We told them that the first year they were expected to pay 1/3 of them, second year they had to pay 1/2 of them, but junior and senior year they had to pay 100% of them. They did chores (for which I "paid" them by keeping track of what they did and paying the band fees), saved their birthday and Christmas money (I only got them small gifts but kept the amount that I would have spent on them aside with their approval and paid the band fees from that too). We did the same with my daughter and volleyball. So it cost us the amount but the kids understood that they needed to contribute.

      About teaching here, sadly the situation is the same, you know. Lots of teachers are leaving the profession. Tons of regulations, lots of testing that takes away from actually teaching and a lot of teachers' pay is tied to their performance, which is measured by how well their students do on the national tests, regardless of their abilities/disabilities or even their grasp of the English language. We have tons of kids with all kinds of emotional problems as well, special learning plans, kids of immigrant families, homeless kids... and they're mainstreaming a lot of children with learning disabilities into traditional classrooms. I'm not passing judgment, just saying that teachers' jobs over here are just as challenging and a lot of them are very disheartened. Things vary from school district to school district, though.

  2. Hi Nathalie, I do pass down the boys clothes, although I can't pass from Liam to the thirteen year old due to the size difference. The two little ones are exactly the same size and people think they look like twins, luckily I did have a lot of clothes for the thirteen year old so I really don't have to buy them too much. My daughter gets a lot of her clothes from family for her birthday as they are her favourite thing and my brother passes all his clothes to my thirteen year old which is great because he only buys Armani and Hugo Boss so he goes out looking like a clothes model, I am hoping my lovely sister in law will do the same for my daughter as she gets older.

    I buy my clothes from the local thrift store although its quite hard to get bigger sizes but Ben would never dream of wearing something someone else has worn so his clothes are always new and not cheap!

    Its school uniform that most of our clothes budget goes on because you can only buy it from the school uniform shop and my thirteen year old is growing so quickly he currently needs a new blazer, rugby short, shoes and trousers which will be a couple of hundred pounds.

    The senior school is bringing out a new school skirt in September which a lot of people are complaining about because the skirt used to be plain black so you could buy it anywhere but now it is going to be a lilac kilt which can only be bought from the uniform shop and is roughly £35.00 (my daughter loves it).

    As far as the school trips are concerned I am pretty much the same luckily Liam only went on one school trip to Belgium and hated it so he never wanted to go on any others. My thirteen year old isn't allowed to go on the skiing trip or anything like that but he does have a Geography trip coming up which will be linked to all of his exams so we have no option but to send him on that and my daughter has her year six residential trip coming up which the whole year group goes on so if she didn't go she would be the only one out of sixty kids and she would have to work with the year below for a week. I couldn't do that to her.
    I do need to be organised though because the little three are a year apart so I have this trip for the next three years! Ouch!
    We get fined if we take our kids out of school in term time, do you?

    I think teaching everywhere is the same now its all performance related, they have closed down the special schools here and pretty much all children go into mainstream schooling.
    It is such a hard job but at the same time so rewarding. Liam likes the more challenging side of things.

    Your ideas on things to do are great and I'm going to make a rota using them for things to do in the summer holidays. Last year it just flew by and we didn't seem to do much but then the weather was awful.

    Luckily, we are able to pay our bills and have a little bit left over but its that money that irritates me because instead of going on constructive things it just seems to get wasted and spent on stuff that clutters the house!

    We were much better off before I went back to work because we got over double my salary in government schemes like tax credits but now I am at work we have lost all that. Grrr

    You wait till you see what yellow stickers I got I think you will be proud of me xxx

    1. Wow, I didn't think about your school uniforms. What a huge expense! I'm sure she'll need more than one skirt, too, no? Here a few elementary schools have gone to "uniforms" but they're simple things like khaki or dark blue bottoms and a choice of 3 or 4 plain colors for the tops (light blue, white, forest green, red) and usually the stores like Walmart and such carry those items. Still, it's another expense for parents and I didn't like it when my kids had to wear it because it does NOTHING to improve their grades, stop bullying or what not.

      It's great that your brother passes on his clothes to the 13 year old. Maybe you can keep those for your next boy when the 13 y/o is done with them... and so on and so forth. Yes, they probably won't be in style anymore but does that really matter? Well, it doesn't matter to me at least. I'm happy my kids aren't into brands or stuff like that.

      No, we don't get fined if we take the kids out of school during the school year, but kids can have an excused absence 3 days at the most (in a row) without needing a doctor's note. If the parents don't send a note or, after 3 days there is no doctor's note, then it becomes an unexcused absence and then there are disciplinary consequences: kids might not be able to participate in school events, truancy officers might be called to the home, in certain cases parents might get their government benefits cut off (but that depends on each state and requires A LOT of missed school days). In high school kids can't get their driver's license if they have missed too much school (at least in our county) and they might not be able to graduate either or qualify for some clubs and other activities that would be beneficial (play sports, for one).

      I understand the pressure that you're under from living in an affluent area when you're not so affluent, but unless you're willing to break the cycle of "let's do this because everybody else is doing it", then I'm afraid it's going to be very hard to get ahead, Tara. No one wants to be the one to tell their kid "all your friends can have this but you can't", but if you explain to the child exactly why you're saying this and make them see that it doesn't have to be a negative (maybe all the other parents are charging all those expenses to credit cards and on the verge of losing their homes? Sometimes people aren't as affluent as they look), and enroll them in helping you keep your expenses reasonable, you'd also be doing them a favor. Because when they're on their own, they won't be so keen on getting into financial trouble just to keep up with their friends. Anyhoo, that's how I look at it but of course you've got to manage your own family.

      I hear what you are saying about making less money, technically, now that you are working! Back in 2010 I went back to work for 11 months at the school where my youngest was attending and I made very little money and it was a stressful job (because of the administrators and the red tape, not the tasks themselves) and it ended up "costing" us money as it made us go another tax bracket. Well, I'm lying we didn't have to pay for me to work but really, when we looked at how much I actually made compared to all the hours I had put it and other stressed it would on our family, it really wasn't worth it and I didn't renew my contract.

      Can't wait to see your yellow sticker finds!

    2. Yes Nathalie, unfortunately she will need more than one skirt but the reason they have been brought in is because a lot of girls wear little tiny bands of skirts that only just cover their knickers and the school are trying to avoid that, so these skirts have to be fitted to the girls. Whilst yes they are expensive I would rather her wear a decent length skirt(although she is not really like that and I wouldn't let her go out dressed inappropriately either).

      You are so right, I must admit a lot of people that I know live off their credit cards, we don't have credit cards or loans, if we can't afford it we don't have it.

      I do sometimes think I'm doing all this and we are no better off for it. I can completely see why you didn't renew your contract. Xx