Technology-phobe goes travelling

That’s me – the technology phobe.  Yes I write a blog 5 days a week, but honestly, I avoid getting techy.

So I’m in Melbourne where another regular reader lives – not to stalk her, but to get 16 more hours towards my 150 hours for my continuing professional development.  On review, this should nail my hours, and I can get ready to submit my 16 episode reports I mention in my monthly goals reports (which I will publish next Friday for August, when all the moneys are settled).

Now, the technology phobic bit?  Well my phone company decided to ‘dump’ me on the way to the airport on Wednesday.  This means I have NO data.  I did know this was coming, as the company I am with (Kogan) is having some disagreement with the network, and can no longer provide service.  I did buy a new sim card and was ready for this ‘switch’.  To switch (to Aldi) I needed to activate the sim – online or over the phone.  Seeing my phone wasn’t playing ball with data entry on the train to the airport, I called them.

I did get it all registered, but because I’ve moved address (or perhaps because she failed to ask me my unit number) my over the phone identification was not complete and they need a photo of my ID – licence, medicare card and credit card.  All of these can be sent in a photo message.  If you have data! So my old Kogan has disabled data, and my new SIM’s $5 credit does not include data.  And I’m literally travelling – no friends, no work computer or home laptop.

Sigh! Groan! Both!

source: techbeat.com
source: techbeat.com

I did accost a course participant, and I have now sent the ID photos to Aldi, but am delightfully informed it could be up to 96 hours til I move my number to Aldi.  In the meantime, I have no data – meaning I haven’t been approving comments (except for the few I worked out how to ‘auto’ approve no matter).  I also haven’t been replying to comments – bad Sarah! (Well you guys would make this course WAY more interesting… cause… yeah!)

Seriously though, how many other Kogan customers is this inconveniencing?  Why did it HAVE to be the EVENING I was flying interstate?  Woe is me right – wrong, I did get an exit row on the plane, and I did find out we have free meals with the course, and their coffee is just awesome.  And I get three nights of snore free sleep, in a plush hotel room I didn’t have to pay for.  So, on the balance, life’s sweet, if a little weirdly technology free (that goodness for antique business centres in hotels!)

Does anyone out there manage to carry their number from one mobile carrier to another without headaches? One day I’ll share the blow by blow of every time I’ve done this, and every time it taking an age/going wrong!  And have you mastered replying and approving comments?  I used to have it down, but man, I’m techno-disabled at the moment!!

Entryway reveal

Well, I’ve finally got my stuff together, and I’m ready to show off a full snippet of my new place (code name Cohab’ Central).

Here we go!

View from the front door - the mirror's yet to be hung
View from the front door – the mirror’s yet to be hung
Entry way and the buffet
Entry way and the buffet
The BF's change receptacle - he stored it on the floor, before I came along!
The BF’s change receptacle – he stored it on the floor, before I came along!
The box for the BF's effects
The box for the BF’s effects
Outbound bags for shopping and returns to people
Outbound bags for shopping and returns to people
The hall comes with a closet, so one half is for the linens
The hall comes with a closet, so one half is for the linens
Show rack INSIDE the linen closet - such a win!
Show rack INSIDE the linen closet – such a win!
More shoes, and the donations/freecycle box
More shoes, and the donations/freecycle box
Ikea Grundtl S hooks fitted over the existing railing.  I knew I'd be too lazy to use coat hangers.
Ikea Grundtl S hooks fitted over the existing railing. I knew I’d be too lazy to use coat hangers.
The gym supplements, hats, there's a heater in the box...
The gym supplements, hats, there’s a heater in the box…

So there begins the tour of the new house.  To compare it to my last place?

Now, all in one, before, in two locations
Now, all in one, before, in two locations
When I could drill vs making to with what I've got
When I could drill vs making to with what I’ve got

There you have it!

Zero Waste and Meat

Reuse

I thought I’d share something I’m sure I’ve mentioned, but I’ve never actually photographed and documented.  How to eliminate waste when buying meat.  First, start with a butcher.    These are (surprisingly) common in the two suburbs I’ve lived in recently, and even in my parents local shops! Maybe your supermarket has a butcher in house, that can work too.

I’ve chosen to *reuse* my waste from other products in order to package my meat to bring it home.  It’s quite simply a ice cream container.  It’s a large mouthed container with a lid, making it easy to put in mince, a steak or two or a smallish roast.

Given that I shopped before each meal at the loft, this worked well.  I’m yet to fully adapt it to a weekly two-person shop. However, on the weekend, I took the ice cream container into Harris Farm green grocer (an Australian chain) to get some $6.99 per kg chicken breasts (an unbelievably good price in itself too).  I said to the deli counter man ‘can I have as much chicken breast as you can fit in this conatiner, please?’.  He didn’t even bat an eyelid.  As he filled it up, I was excited to see there was salami, prosciutto and other deli meats – all unpackaged! I was that nerd being visibly excited and pleased to have discovered this!

Reuse
No, that’s chicken breast, not ice cream in there!

In another interesting twist, my solicitor sent me an unsolicited gift, thanking me for my previous business, and reminding me I can recommend him. I’m convinced he might be a reader (at least of this post), look what he sent me:

Keep cups - thank Mr Solicitor
Keep cups – thank Mr Solicitor

Do I need more keep cups? Well probably not, but then again, I keep being without one when I crave a coffee. Or there’s some in the dishwasher waiting to be run, so in reality, I think they’ll get some good use!

And now to the dirty, business end. How did this week’s weigh in go? (rest assured, there’s single use meat trays in there still…)

Slim your bin
Weigh in for Wed 28 Aug 2013

That’s two weeks weight, that 406g, meaning, this week’s weight is 406g-248g = 158g! 

Better than last week – no way!  I think it helps to keep the same bin bag/liner and stuff in there, and the two of us think ‘wow that’s heaps of waste’ – and forgetting it’s really two week’s worth!  A short list of culprits to the waste

  • meat trays – bacon and mince I think
  • Philadelphia cream cheese wrappers (from a delicious cheesecake) <- perhaps this are recyclable foil?
  • other cheese wrappers – haloumi and fetta cheese namely
  • paper towels soaked in soy sauce.  Now that was a funny accident – the BF spilt it all over the (thankfully navy) sofa… He also ended up soaking the back bottom hem of his shirt, which looked ‘interesting’ – had me laughing hard which is a positive, as lately I’ve been tired, and when I’m tired, my reaction isn’t usually laughter!

Any soy sauce soaked bottoms out there?  Have you attempted a zero waste meat purchase?  Was it scary or did it go ok?

He says, she says – Puppy vs Baby

Nappy on a dog

Today, let’s have some fun.

There is a ‘thing’ on some of the blogs I read – namely blogs of dating/recently engaged couples like GMD at and EM at Journey to Savings. They share the lovely two sides of a conversation between them and the man behind their blog/them :p  I’m always keen to get on what the cool kids are doing, and the BF suggested I take this little disagreement of ours to the blogosphere, so here we are!

He says

  • a puppy is practice for a baby
  • if you can put a nappy (diaper) on a puppy, you’re set!
Nappy on a dog
I can’t tell you how wrong I think this image is!
source: www.stylehive.com

She says

  • a puppy should *not* be a substitute child
  • a puppy should could come at the same time as a baby, so that said ‘he’ can have his thing to play with and be loved by unconditionally by, whilst ‘she’ is distracted by baby love
  • and the above means any lifestyle adaption/restrictions will dovetail nicely!
OH so cute! source: othersiderainbow.blogspot.com
OH so cute!
source: othersiderainbow.blogspot.com

The BF is well aware of my doggie demands/concerns

  1. It’s got to be the right colour – ie golden
  2. It’s got to have a good nose to face ratio
  3. It must abstain from ever touching me with it’s wet nose
  4. It needs to not be the size of a slipper, cause I’d hate to get confused 😉

And let’s not forget, I am currently allergic to dos, cats, bird, sheep AND horses, as per my allergy tests!

May I remind me, you readers, stats don’t lie – so put it all in the comments, and vote for the best woman!

[poll id=”2″]

A reason to get another bank account

Commonwealth Bank Can campagin

So, regular readers, remember how I tried to cataloged my bank accounts, and then thought about how to minimise and streamline them?  I closed some accounts and withdrew one bank completely from my tally – I was no longer actively using their online savings accounts.

Love and money
Love and money

Well, the other day, the BF and I went to *another* bank to sign up for a joint account.  That’s right, we went to the bank that ‘can’ – Commonwealth Bank.  This isn’t in my suite of banks, although it seems they have my details on file from uni days when I set up an account for a uni club, so that made things quicker (maybe!?)

Let’s just say this – my ‘home’ bank, the ANZ, offered me (over the phone) an online savings account which has a EFTPOS banking card attached.  And an interest rate worth looking at (it won’t make me millions, but it will be a small token amount each month).  And there were no fees.

The Commonwealth Bank doesn’t really have a cross platform account (ie, both card access and a competitive online interest structure).  And, they will waive fees if you have more than $2000 through your account in a month.  Which is kind of them, but I don’t like that it’s a conditional fee free account.  Oh and the interest makes it not worth mentioning – as in, I’m not sure the tax office will notice or care if I don’t report the 1c I earn per annum.

Commonwealth Bank Can campagin
source: blog.commbank.com.au

I suppose I found Australia’s biggest bank, the Commonwealth Bank, to not meet the standards I set for it.  I wasn’t comparing them to a rouge new player, fooling around in the market.  I was comparing apples to apples.  And challenging what was on offer didn’t get me any further.  All they wanted is to sign all of my business over to them – the mortgage particularly.  AND, cheekily, both the BF and I got letters printed for us, to take to our payroll should we want them to directly deposit into this ‘new’ joint account.  Ah hmm, no?! Did we mention it was shared (therefore, in my opinion, not necessarily where ALL our money might be).  Anyhow, I found that to be savy, but silly.  And a waste of paper.

So why did we choose to get a joint account?

  1. To pay the rent from: I get paid weekly, and would like to move money for the rent, at the same frequency.  However, the rent is a fortnightly expense, and it makes sense to pay it with the regularity expected, lest everyone gets confuse.
  2. To pay household bills from: if we’re both topping up the account the same, it’s easy to just pay any household bill from the one place.  So that’d be lights, internet… what else is there?  Water and strata (building) fees are the landlord’s responsibility, and there’s no gas
  3. To pay for groceries: to save paying each other back, or keeping a tally, this was I can do the bulk of grocery shopping (seeing I get home a nice 2hrs+ before the BF) without feeling I’m out of pocket.

Let’s see how ‘sharing’ my money goes!

Other posts on joint finances:

Evolving Personal finance on gifts being an excuse not to have a joint account

Girl Meets Debt about not sharing accounts even when engaged and buying a house

Cash Cow Couple’s guest poster, Pretired Nick weighed in with Money and relationships

What am I allergic to?

Well, today was the day I went to the allergy specialist.  I had a long chat with the lovely doctor, recounting my medical roller coaster.  I went equipped with my face cream ingredients, from the co-op bulk section, after my mum reported a mild reaction to the same cream.  This helped narrow down some of the things to test me for, so from memory there was, on the right arm

  • cinnamon extract
  • some artificial cinnamon like thing
  • coconut
  • almond
  • daisy
  • avocado
  • sesame
This was the right arm at the start of the testing – the squares are for the suspect moisturiser

There were more than this, but it was all verbal and I’m bad with memory!

Then for the left arm – which was the more common allergens, like grasses, animals, moulds etc.  Look at how much was going on in that arm!

Left arm fully loaded
Left arm fully loaded

 

The + and – are controls. One is saline – which you’re not to react to. The other is histamine, you’re meant to react to that (if you don’t, it indicated you might have taken an antihistimine in the past 6 days). After you’ve been a human voodoo doll, you have to wait, so for that, I got you a waiting room photo (cause seriously, my arms are not that interesting):

Very nicely outfitted in an otherwise non descript aging building
Very nicely outfitted in an otherwise non descript aging building

Oh, so the guy (nurse?) doing all the pricking gave me photography hints! Using the light and turning my arm so you can see the nice raised bumps. I may or may not have mentioned I might blog about this, but if nothing else, family would be interested to see how I went.

So, the afters:

Right arm
Right arm

Wowa, I was itchy! That was 10 minutes of annoyance, cause of COURSE you can’t scratch!!

So what was the result?  I definitely react to the daisy family (Candula is an ingredient in the face cream, so that’s why I was tested for that) on the right arm – which was number 7.

Left arm close up
Left arm close up

On the left arm, I tended to react to everything, but most notably to a type of grass!  I also reacted to two different moulds, that the body can have – that seriously gave me the heeby geebies!   And I think the big post closest to you is from dust mites – which I was a little surprised by. Not that it’s uncommon, but I’ve never thought that I react to dust.

The top right of the photo, the 1-5 are for cat, dog, bird, horse and then sheep – all of them giving mild reactions.  This is interesting, as I mentioned I didn’t mind reacting to cats (not a family favourite), and I’m drafting a post about dogs/puppies *smirks*.  The technician/nurse suggested we could fudge the photos with histamine to make it LOOK like I was allergic, but when he saw the results, he actually said ‘well fudging the animal reactions won’t be necessary!’.  To be honest, for all I say about not loving animals, I didn’t really want to be allergic to them either!

So what happens next? I got given a patch on my upper left arm with the offending moisturiser to see how I react.  If it gets ‘really bad’ I can take it off, and photograph it.  But otherwise, I’m due back in their rooms on Tuesday morning to see how things went.  And then, I might start on periodic injections, which will help build my immunity to allergens.

Did I ask about gluten? The doctor touched on it, but as I suspected, my reaction two weeks ago would be unlikely to have been caused by it (not surprising, I didn’t eat any!).  I know this allergy specialist is likely to become a more regular part of my schedule, so I’m sure I can nut out the details with him over time.  There’s some great charts, I took a photo of the snippet that most relevant to my current reactions:

Relationships between different allergens (not really explained on this snippet)
Relationships between different allergens (not really explained on this snippet)

So, what are you (formally or informally) allergic to?  How did you come to work it out?

House Inventory

Inspired again, by An Exacting Life, I decided I should do a house inventory.  Over a few months, I’ve share a number of posts, and this is the post that links them all together in one place.

What also prompted me to do this fiddly task was the fact that  when my contents insurance came due, I asked about what the insured value was.  It seems they annually increase the amount insured.  A smart idea for most people.  But I wondered when I first got the policy if it wasn’t a little overstated on the contents value – so I was wary when it increased again for the next year.

I worried ‘what if they know something I don’t know’.  I thought I could sit down with a nice spreadsheet, and work room by room to work out what I have, what I paid for it, and what it might cost to replace. The bulk of my ‘stuff’ was purchased in the last 18 months, since I moved.  In 90% of those cases, I have the receipt filed.

Some was bought prior to 2012, such as my bed, the mattress and other ‘bedroom’ stuff.  I was lucky to be ‘gifted’ some appliances,  and I took all sorts of things from Mum and Dad’s house (with permission of course).  Where things were purchased in the past, or ‘stolen’ – I’ve worked out the replacement costs. From privacy’s sake, I’ve not shared the cost of items in my posts, but there’s lots of lovely photos.

I did not include my stationary as it was of negligible value.  In the event my place burnt down, the replacement of these items would be on an as needed basis.  Also, a lot of the stuff was from when i was a student, and I ‘worked’ from home.  Now that I work in an office, my access to stationary is sufficient at work that I need a much smaller collection at home.

Lastly, this post is of my stuff – there’s more now that we’re two households, and I’m planning a cheeky poem to outline the duplication (in the form of ‘The 12 Days of Christmas’).

What do you think I might have missed?  I certainly haven’t counted all my screws, but they are pictured in my ‘buffet drawers’ post.

Way under on my zero waste weigh in!

Turn away – it’s the rubbish post again!

And it’s a good week at  248g (last week was 1.071kg)

Weighing in at 248g this week! Yay!
Weighing in at 248g this week! Yay!

What’s in there?

  • meat tray – pork mince
  • choc chip packet
  • sticking back and toner strip (?) from Dymo labeller
  • fabric from the sofa’s underside – undoubtedly plastic/synthetic!
  • moisturiser – out of date – I’ve wasted the parts, but the contents didn’t seem to suit the compost/Bokashi
  • sliced cheese packet – may be able to be recycled with the plastic recycling at the grocery store, but seeing I wasn’t sure
  • vacuum dust – when there’s glass etc, I prefer not to compost it
  • scrubby bit from a dish sponge – it came away from the sponge
  • plastic measuring cup handle – it snapped off 🙁
  • foil lined bag – from some ‘kit’ food, can’t recall what exactly
  • baking paper too soiled for reuse
  • plastic bags from Clive Palmers election materials, and other such junk mail

Where I could improve

  • get the meat from the butcher
  • find metal measuring cups at a thrift store
  • burn that baking paper!
  • move away from kit food – I did make my own taco seasoning for Monday!
  • stop breaking light globes, so the vacium lint is all compostable!

I’m pretty happy with this tally.  I didn’t take this trash out – there’s room in that bag for another (good) week.  Progress!

Things to think about when setting children’s pocket money

Most children live with their parents til they reach majority (or older). I did not – I went to boarding school from the age of 10.  I think that’s a large reason why I’m financially responsible (and independent) now.

I’d like to share my experiences and hope it’ll give another way that parents can look at teaching their children about money, budgeting and priorities.

Set a time based budget

My father gave me a cheque every term for the term’s expenses.  I knew how long a term was (at 10, you can read a calendar!) This was ‘walking around money’ – money for movies, snacks, outings like ice skating, but also gifts for friends and family.    My meals were provided from the school, which including morning and afternoon tea.  But that’s no soft drink or chocolate bars!  When I started, at age 10 in 1995, I was given $100 a term.  It worked out to about $10 a week.  The reason I think this works well, is it gives you a good window to look at what you want to do, and what you’ll have to spend.  If I’d started with a weekly or fortnightly ‘pay’ or pocket money, I might have spent it all each period, knowing more was coming soon. A term is a longer amount of time to forecast for, and teaches discipline quickly!

Set boundaries

Know what’s included and what’s not. My pocket money did not (generally) include any toliteries – those were refreshed in the holidays.  Clothing wasn’t included in this amount either – I do like how 71 toes does it – the children contribute a percentage of clothing purchases, which I think is fair and a good way to slowly transition to full ownership of this cost (that link’ll teach you all about their system too).  I also could ‘charge back’ any expenses at the school’s clothing shop, and any medical appointments or taxis (to the airport or medical appointments) were all on an account that my father settled with my fees.

source: parenting.kidspot.com.au
source: parenting.kidspot.com.au
source: parenting.kidspot.com.au
source: parenting.kidspot.com.au

Tracking

To withdraw money, we had to go to the office (at set times, as I recall), and ask for the amount we wanted.  We then had to find out ledger sheet, and subtract the amount from our total.  It was great maths practice, but also gave us an idea of how much left.

Ownership

By signing over a lump sum to your child allows them to ‘own’ some money, but also some responsibility.  Try not to cave into paying for things that should come out of the child’s budget.  I don’t think it hurts for kids to have to pay for their ice cream or their pop corn at the movies (heartless parent I’m going to be!)  A few ‘ouch’ moments teach more than someone swooping in and solving it!

The system above worked for a number of years, when I didn’t have access to an ATM for a bank deposited amount. When we were allowed more freedom as boarders, Dad moved away from the school based cheque system, and went to putting money in my bank account every time he got paid.  As I’d learnt to manage a lump sum, it wasn’t much of a stretch to adjust to a fortnight pay schedule and ‘save’ for the future.

What are your thoughts and the pocket money systems you use/used (or had used on you)?

Stress bunny

Let’s be honest here – I’ve been a bit of a stress head of late (which might have come out in last Wednesday’s post, among others).

I think there’s a few key reasons for my stress:

  1. Money
  2. Work
  3. Moving house
  4. To do lists!

Cause my blog is as much my journal as anything, I’m just going to workshop it out a little now.

1. Money

I’ve had to pay close to 4 figures to move house, on top of new rent – all whilst not getting ANY rental income.  It’s due at the end of the month, but will be less the expenses (advertising, landlord’s insurance etc), so it won’t be as much as it will be other months.  So, basically, I have rent + mortgage + bills for two houses on the same income that used to do mortgage + bills.  Naturally, an adjustment.

Then, on top of that, is working through how to budget as a household, not a single being who goes on dates.  Suggestions welcomed!!  Once I have a day off (which I usually get once every ten days), I shall head to the bank to set up a shared account for shared expenses – hopefully this Friday.

2. Work

I went from a role where I managed construction projects – so big things, that happened slowly, with lots of warning.  I blogged and read blogs and did many other things (managed a water polo club for example) to fill the inevitable gaps in my work flow.  For the last few weeks, I’ve been in a maintenance based role.  EVERY single day, two crews must have work from me to do.  It’s nice to have dedicated staff to do work (in the construction role, I waited to be ‘given’ them on a said date).  However, there’s a constant demand for me to output work for them! Then, from the other direction, I have a L-O-N-G list of tasks that all of management are diligently tracking (against my region and others) and hoping to see drop.  Let’s say there’s at least 6,000 tasks on said list for me to work on.  I hit the jackpot the other day, when 19 tasks = 1 day’s work, but it’s not always that good!  Anyhow, I’m constantly analysing spreadsheets and coordinating with the same five people over and over.  It’s a HUGE change from what was a much more stop/go mode of my former role.  Now it’s mainly go go go (and cheer when it’s the weekend!)

source: grantbuist.com
source: grantbuist.com

3. Moving House

I always think moving house will be a breeze, cause I’m organised.  But it’s not – there’s always so much to ‘settle’.  So many little tasks you want done.  And you just want to start feeling ‘at home’.  Thankfully, as a renter, I asked for a few pictures to be hung and doors and shelves to be planed (so they fit the spaces) – and I got a lovely handyman delivered.  I do get joy in doing the tasks, but just having them done is nice too!  I have also finally rebuilt my sofa – it now has two arms!  And I’ve rebuilt my lovely acro lamp.  I’m still getting accustomed to my wardrobe, and the shelves that are less wide then before (see my wardrobe before).  The second bedroom shelves are far nicer, but I know once I move stuff in there, the possibility of renting out the spare room will vanish… So I’m hesitating and cursing my small shelves daily.

4. To do lists

As my blog name implies, I like to list.  And this weekend, I listed! But then I had a mini meltdown on Saturday – started from frying my nerves driving (even though I drive every day!?).  Anyhow, the BF sat down with the list, and assigned priorities to what was on there – I had to achieve one high, one medium and one low each weekend day.  And anything extra could hold off (the ‘rest’ were predominantly low – no urgency to get done).  In the moment, I may not have been totally on board with the prioritisation.  However, as I write this on Sunday afternoon, with the list more or less completed (at least the important stuff), I’m pretty chuffed at his suggestion!  I got my run in, I rebuilt the sofa (not again… just once!), I baked and delivered brownies to my neighbours.  And (not on the list) I even finished a novel (Amity and Sorrow – I did enjoy it Lucinda!)  So, I end this post with – overall, the stress bunny has relaxed a little.  For now.