The dilemmas of buying clothes

white linen shirt, blue line shirt, cotton strip top

2016 update: the tops are still going strong, and in high rotation.  Both bras -> bin.  Pink one stretched out.  The teal one was a creeper, up over things it shouldn’t.  So it moved on 🙁

Yesterday evening, I involved myself in some retail therapy.  Planned spending on clothes (not planned on what clothes, though I did want a white top).

Oh my, shopping since reading blogs so extensively is such a minefield!

Firstly I was shopping in normal retail stores, so nice and new.  Not like Economies of Kale, who is so much more patient and shops at thrift stores (where, incidentally, I bought ‘new’ lavendar blue skinny jeans, ie never used, but sold at Red Cross for a majorly reduced price last week).  Sorry, no photo of those today.

Then everyone reviewed the Overdressed: Shocking Price of Cheap Fashion by E Cline.  Consider

But I also read personal finance blogs (the most extreme of which now deletes my comments as I challenge some of their ideas) and they talked about being frugal to become a millionaire, and I think, at what cost to the people who make the clothing?  (Jacob from said blog probably stopped reading back when I posted about buying $300 shoes!)  Admittedly, none of these purchases pushes the ‘clothes’ threshold the two clothing cost thresholds he mentions!

All this weights on my mind as I browse stores, and make decisions on what to buy.  Here’s what happens on my shopping mission:

Here's my thought process!
Here’s my thought process!

So it’s any wonder I came home with anything!  This is even before I try things on, and the self esteem monster reveals itself. This monster has curves in all the wrong places!

white linen shirt, blue line shirt, cotton strip top
Ducks in a row – all natural materials!

In the end, I spent a lot (in the ballpark of three hundred dollars) for two linen shirts and a cotton light weight 3/4 sleeve sweater.  The first two were made in Vietnam, the last made in China.

I then bought one bra (definitely made is a sweatshop, and ‘reduced’ to $19), and another bra from Myer, just as likely to be a sweatshop item, but priced higher, and both made in China.

teal bra and baby pink bra
Lovely bras – one for under the white top, and the other cause I’ve been wanting a teal bra since forever!

Overall, I love my new purchases.  I feel like they fit my style and age, and at least with the tops, I ended up with natural fabrics and a price that seems fair, even if they are made in developing economies.  The bras are definitely not fair trade, but I’m just not sure where to even start for a ethical bra (though I have read about Jen’s search, linked above).

How do you balance cost vs materials vs where things were made, and assumptions you make about the conditions of the workers?  Is your figure the last things from you mind when you’re shopping now, and how do you feel about that?

Income protection?

To be honest, I’ve not done a lot of research to share with this post, but seeing as we’re in different corners of the globe, well, it might be moot anyhow!

What's the chance? soruce: Shelley Marsh moneymummy.com.au
What’s the chance?
soruce: Shelley Marsh moneymummy.com.au

So, for a long while, I have been ruminating about getting income protection insurance.  My superannuation (which is the retirement savings in Australia) covers death, and that would go to whomever I choose (my brothers at this time in life).  But what if I accidentally chopped my hand off (not likely)?  Or if I got electrocuted and couldn’t work anymore (much more likely)?  I know there’s workers compensation, but I don’t think that’s a successful insurance plan.

Have you consider income protection?  How relevant do you think it is?  I wonder how many people are temporarily or permanently disabled, statistically?  Would it be worth it, or would if I decide not to get it, and something horrendous did happen, would the state benefits have me living as a pauper?  Would I burden my family and friends with my poverty?  So many what ifs….

More questions than answers, so I welcome your thoughts and ideas!

Goals Update – September

To be honest, usually I spend the month editting and drafting my monthly goal update post.  Not this month! So, there’ll be no list of my meals.  And everything feels a bit sketchy!

For new readers, every month, I like to check in with the ‘New years goals‘ I set.  It’s a regular reminder of what I’d like to be doing!

Financial

Save $20k $26k cash by 22 Dec (for when I get a mortgage offset account): stalled
August: $21,140.13
September: $21,020.20 (-$120)

Such a nice looking number, but sadly not on target for my stretch $26k goal.  Thanks to… booking a holiday to Vietnam with the BF!

12 in 2 Adventures savings fund: hahaha what? nope
July: $749.93 (how’d that go down?)
August: $1.72 (-$748,21)
September: $1.73 (+$0.01) Oh for interest!

Grocery spend: improved from August’s HUGE spend

I’m loathed to share figures, as Australia’s costs vs other countries and readers might be misinterpreted.  Let’s just say, it’s a little more than double my ‘usual’ spend when I lived alone.  I’m happy with that.  22% is on meat, 13% on dairy (we eat so much cheese!).  I’m pleased that fruit and vege % spend are up on last month.  I’ve got a piece of fruit a day as a snack (banana or apple), plus frozen berries on my porridge.  Vegies aren’t so simply integrated, yet.

Volunteering hours: alright (poorly remembered though!)

Sat 13th: 4hrs doing church flowers

Health

Cook at home twice a weekAchieved! 

The BF and I have a great ‘menu’ for every week, which helps the ‘I don’t know, what do you want’ conversations.  I’ll get a few more photos together, and then I’ll share it with you.

Sugar: Totally not on my radar

Although, after our housewarming this weekend (I’ll bake a number of treats), I’m pledged to try and join Lucinda Sans in her first mention of the Droptober challenge to eat less sweets.  Here’s the rules she published.

Train for polo – Training to run a half marathon:  inconsistent, but some running

Actually, the summer water polo season is starting, so far I’ve not been to training, due to a cold, then my lift/carpool hurting her toe, and the next week being out of town.

However, on the running front, I did a 9km organised run, and I’ve signed up for the Neon run in October (5km) and the Color Run in February (5km).  This past week, which is technically October, I’ve run twice, though quite short distances, and once the week before.

Cultural

2 films a month: wow, another month with no cinema visits

2 books a monthachieved

I read World War Z (remember I saw the film earlier this year?)  The book was totally different, as commenters warned me.  I enjoyed the book, but it took me a while to get through it.

Then I read Plastic Free, by Beth Terry which I reviewed earlier this week.  I really enjoyed it!

I’m in the middle of Mr Know-it-all by A.J. Jacobs.  I read his book about reading the bible and living it literally, and was reminded of this book of his thanks to Lucinda’s review.

Social

Call/connect with an out of town friend: Did wonderfully

I had a friend from Orange come to town, and we met for a hot chocolate.  Another friend stayed two nights in our guest room when she came to Sydney for a wedding (I’d seen her a few weeks ago in Melbourne!).  A very dear friend in Brisbane has been great at encouraging me via Facebook, so I feel closer there, and another friend who used to live in Sydney and moved to Alice Springs, and then to the UK, we had a great chat on Facebook the other evening.  We couldn’t believe it was three years almost to the day, that I’d visited her in Alice!

Career

Certification: last edits needed, then submit them in October

All my episode reports are written, and long enough.  My external mentor has reviewed them all, and now I need to make some improvements and submit them!  I hope to have them submitted by the end of October.

Sorry there wasn’t any photos… How are your new year’s resolutions progressing?

Grocery Spend sky rockets!

Extra extra, read all about how I went nuts and spent an outrageous amount on groceries!

Grocery haul 1 from Coles
Grocery haul 1 from Coles

For less regular readers, I have spoken a few times about my grocery spend, and how I think increasing it would mean I’m spending less eating out, and ready made meals.  It’s a rough measure, hardly exact, but still.  So to read about my grocery spend for the first 6 months of the year and the glaring discovery that I spend peanuts on food (as a function of my take home pay).

I’ve started reading Creative Saav’s blog and been inspired by the wholesome food she feeds her family, on the tightest of budgets.  I’m not at her stage at all, but I’m inspired.  I’m tracking costs, both what I spend, and the cost of things in different stores (now that I have easy access to more).

At the end of August, I sat down with all the receipts I’d collected from groceries, and came to a nice total, on par with past months.  But then I asked the BF to export the totals of grocery spending from his bank.  Sadly, we missed those receipts, so couldn’t track against categories like fruit/vege, meat etc.  It’s just a total sum.

So, in August, together we spent 2.7 times what I spent in July.  On my average grocery spend since Dec 12, it was 3.1 times more.  Now there’s the thing about combining households, and two bills. But it has MORE than doubled!  And that didn’t include any ‘big ticket’ items like cleaning products (cause I make my own, or I get given some to try).

If I look at my July spending and then portion off half of August’s grocery costs, I still spent 30% more.

And the Harris Farm haul (some great deals)
And the Harris Farm haul (some great deals)

Last time I looked at this in May, I looked as a comparison to take home pay.  I reported spends from 2.9-3.5% of my take home pay (I’v even re done them for this post, so it’s a truer base wage per days in the month!). I should also mention there was a nice pay bump in early May too.

In June, I saw a jump in the amount spent, and the percentage rose to 4.35%.

In July, the spend was 3.95% of my take home pay (even though in dollars I spent on par with the month before, maybe a -5% difference in the final raw $ total)

When I look at my income in the weeks of August it’s 5.32% of my take home pay.  (If I was covering all the grocery costs in August, that’d be 10.65%)

Aborio rice in packaging :( and bananas
Aborio rice in packaging 🙁 and bananas

Neither of us are exactly sure what happened, but it certainly effected our weekend shop on the first Saturday of the month September! We decided to use up all the extra meat, such as pulled pork prepped the week prior and frozen, the cheap chicken at $6.99 a kilo and some bacon and mince hanging around (in the fridge of course!).

Sadly, there’s been little increase in fresh produce – if anything I’d say there’s a decrease now that I don’t live next door to a green grocer.  But there’s been a marked increase in meat meals.  That’s to be expected with a man in the equation.

Now, two grocery shops into September, I can say things are looking a little more stable.  The two week’s totals are on par for a monthly total like when I shopped alone – though we’ve bought minimal meat.  So it’ll increase a little I expect, but in line with the fact that it’s two people, not one.

Anyhow, we’re not at a stage where we’ve set a budget for the groceries.  I am however starting a grocery price list.  Intelligently, I started this whilst shopping at IGA near the loft, so I have a greater collection of prices.  I’ll also add in the co-op prices from my post about their prices.

This week, I started shopping smarter too. I’ve started with buying bulk oil (3L) against the co-op’s self serve, or more smaller bottles.  And this week, I used my own container to get salami at Harris Farm’s deli counter – so much cheaper than the prepackaged sliced pepperoni (with a complimentary side of grief about the container for one lady – even though her boss was on board!).

What tips do you have for keeping the grocery budget in the reasonable range?

Goals Update – August

Every month, I like to check in with the ‘New years goals‘ I set.  I’m getting a little rusty on updating some of my reporting (like meals and volunteering), but if nothing else, it’s a regular reminder of what I’d like to be doing!

Financial

Save $20k $26k cash by 22 Dec (for when I get a mortgage offset account)nicely replenished with a tax return
July: $18,035.56
August: $21,140.13 (+3,104.57)

12 in 2 Adventures savings fund: something had to give in the month of rent + mortgage
July: $749.93 (how’d that go down?)
August: $1.72 (-$748,21)

Grocery spend: increase achieved

That’s a blog post in and of itself – probably on Monday.  Let’s just say it’s more than doubled, and we’re shocked!

Volunteering hours: alright (poorly remembered though!)

Sat 3rd: 4hrs doing church flowers

Sun 4th: 1 hr doing Sunday School

I’m sure there’s heaps more – bad at tracking!!

Ah that's right - I did church flowers this month!
Ah that’s right – I did church flowers this month!

Health

Cook at home twice a weekAchieved! Since no eating out month (and the BF being around all the time), I’m much better at eating hearty, homecooked meals!

Items in bold were cooked at home from scratch

(Thu)
Dumplings out (Fri)
Apple sauce (sick) (Sat)
Domino’s pizza (Sun)

week 1 –
Soup and garlic bread (Mon)
Mac & cheese (Tue)
Leftover Mac & cheese (Wed)
Nothing – feeling bloated (Thu)
Cauliflower risotto – as in no rice!(Fri)
Mum’s birthday dinner (Sat)
Roast lamb (Sun)

week 2 –
Quesadillas (Mon)
Out for a 30th (Tue)
Pizza Risotto (Wed)
Omelette (Thu)
Leftovers?! (Fri)
Thai out for another 30th (Sat)
Roast beef (Sun)

One of the most vibrant things I've seen whilst on site!
One of the most vibrant things I’ve seen whilst on site!

Week 3 –
Cornbread, with pork mince with homemade taco spice (Mon)
Macaroni with anchovies and bacon (Tue)
Leftovers (Wed)
Crust Pizzas out(Thu)
Schnitzel/grilled chicken & chips <- ready made (Fri)
Beef sliders (even using left over cabbage!) (Sat)
Pulled pork nachos with Mexican beans (Sun)

week 4 –
Macaroni & Cheese (Mon)
?? (Tue)
Red Rooster (Wed)
Mexican out (Thu)
Gnochhi, then Nutella pizza (out) (Fri)
Risotto (Sat)
Dinner at parents for Father’s Day (Sun)

The boyfriend has taken the lion’s share with cooking.  He doesn’t need recipes, it’s tasty and it’s about 1/3 to 1/10th of the time it takes me.  I enjoy weekend prepping ‘weird’ hand and home made meals (like gnocchi).

Sugar:

What? Surely I didn’t think I’d stop eating sugar.  I have a killer caramel cheesecake recipe, remember! With a gluten free gingernut biscuit bases… mmmm.  And then… there was a lemon meringue pie for the greater good of the family.

Made this for the big family dinner for Mum's birthday.  She got a coconut and date mousse (as it was sugar free)
Made this for the big family dinner for Mum’s birthday. She got a coconut and date mousse (as it was sugar free)

Train for polo – Training to run a half marathon:  sort of – good weeks and bad

Stopped for a week after I got some bad shin splints!  So I just bought some new shoes to (hopefully) help.  Thankfully I googled for a outlet, and shaved $70! (!!!!) off the price by buying the old style.

Cultural

2 films a month: still  none!?

2 books a month: achieved

I finished Zero Waste Home and I will add to my blogger friend’s review.  I’m likely to be a little harsher, I looked very intently on all that was said :p  I did read something else, but hmmm not sure what.  Maybe there wasn’t

Social

Call/connect with an out of town friend: YEP!

Thanks to a Melbourne trip I caught up with a friend!

Career

Certification: oh so close…

 Oh so close – I have the 150 hours (over the past three years), and I have one episode report that’s too long (a mash up of two ‘episodes’ and totally disjointed) and one that’s too short AND makes no sense… I have no idea what I was trying to write/say!

What’s the best way with money?

I had an interesting conversation with someone the other night.  When I say interesting, I mean to say, I had a conversation that got my back up.  And I started to wonder why.   At the heart of it was: what is the best way to ‘manage’ your money?

source: ozgworks.com
source: ozgworks.com

I know the answer is most simple form is ‘whatever is right for you’ – and that is exactly what I feel I’ve done.  But these are some of the questions that come to mind.

Mortgage:

Why did I fix? Because the rate was significantly less than the variable rate.  Because that way I could budget for a fixed period of time (2 years fixed).  Because I couldn’t ‘pay more’ than $5k per annum – which was manageable.

Surely you could see the market would drop and rates would fall? Really, can anyone 100% predict the future – and this doesn’t contradict my other responses above

Shares:

Do I have any? Yes, but ‘not enough’ would probably be the assessment.

My question is: How many’ should I have?  What % of my ‘money’ (between the equity in my mortgage and cash savings and shares?)

Savings:

Why do I have a savings account when it’s effectively ‘negative’? (as you pay tax, and you earn less than inflation.  In an offset to a loan, I could be ‘earning’ better money.) Cause cash buys tickets to far off destinations, and that spontaneity and ‘security’ of the cash makes me happy.  Selling shares takes some time, admittedly not heaps, but still there’s a ‘cost’ for the transaction.  My current loan doesn’t allow redraw or have an offset facility.

Taxes:

Why do you overpay your taxes, wouldn’t you rather the money? No, I prefer lump sums to small amounts every week.  AND I hate having bills, so by overpaying I ensure I’m covering any unexpected taxes I might have missed.

source: theundercoverrecruiter.com
source: theundercoverrecruiter.com

Things people (in real life) don’t ask

How much do you have in your ’emergency’ fund? For when I lose my job, but still have things to pay for.  Cause NO ONE I know in the real world seems to have considered this, or have actually worked out how much 3 or 6 months of expenses would be.  I’m not there yet, but the ‘savings’ is aiming to get there.

How much do you pay to your retirement fund (above the 9% national standard required by employers)? In reality, my employer contributes closer to 12%.  And I put in another $50 per week.  One day I’ll be baby making, and not earning.  Start earn and start small and compound interest in my friend.

What money related questions do you wish you were never asked?  What questions do you think people should be asking?

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

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)?

Goals Update – July

Every month, I like to check in with the ‘New years goals‘ I set.

Financial

$20k $26k target by 22 Decah, maybe this will need to be adjusted again with the move.  I’ll leave it for now, and see how things settke
June: $17,938.69
July: $18,035.56 (+$96.87 thanks to moving costs :()

12 in 2 Adventures: failed: not done any adventures, working on the two long term ones, and no adding to savings
June: $898.81
July: $749.93 (how’d that go down?)

Grocery spend

I thought I’d add a quick update, seeing my July challenge was no eating out, I figured my grocery spend would go up.  It hasn’t, it’s about the same.  Although, I probably ate at the bf’s more this month, so that might be why?

Volunteering hours
Tue 2nd: 4.25hrs at the co-op
Sun 7: 1hr at church
Sun 14: 2hrs at church

Health

Cook at home twice a weekdefinitely achieved with my ‘no eating out’ month, but records are patchy!

week 1 –
Leek tart(Mon)
Coop food provided (Tue)
Wedding meal (Sat)
no more records?

week 2 –
no record for the rest of this week, except:
Multi course birthday dinner (Sat)
Chinese roast beef with vegies (Sun)

week 3 –
Another forgetful week!
Dinner @ parents (Sat)
Pizzas (ready made from grocery store) (Sun)

week 4 –
Gnocchi with tomatoes (Mon)
Sweet potato chips (Tue)
Fried Rice (Wed)
Sushi (Thu) <- yes bought out
snacks/leftovers (Fri)
Macaroni & cheese (Sat)
Spaghetti bolognese (Sun)

Week 5
Quesadillas (Mon)
Leftovers from Mon (Tue)
Beef with rice noodles (Wed)

Sugar – so so, not commited like I have been, but not entirely a free for all
It started well, but ended poorly, with lots of cakes at work, including me trying a gluten free sponge recipe, making a GF chocolate cake, using a packet mix for brownies (just to use it up). I also made a vegan cheesecake with dates and a touch of sugar. Then I also ate dessert at the fancy friend’s b’day dinner, and we bought ice creams in the past week. Sigh!

Train for polo – Training to run a half marathon: just platueaing! Something I want to achievely work on once I’m settle in my new home
2nd – couldn’t run 3kms to Co-op, so mainly walked with some jogging stints
9th – home to co-op, 2.93kms with some running
12th – 1.23km walk to the bf’s work
13th – 2.83km jog with hills around the bfs, with running
15th – 4.8km run back from dancing, some walking
22nd – 4.4km est, home to pole dancing, more walking than running
23rd – 4.3km mostly walking to/from hair dresser
29th – 1.53km jog/walk to appt

Cultural

2 films a month: failed (though did see two DVDs)
I can hardly believe I’ve not seen a movie in a cinema in a month – that is SO unlike me. I did mention to the BF that perhaps we could see something last night. I did watch two DVDs recently, one based on the IRA (slow burner, not really recommended). The other one was called The Factory and was better than I expected – it stars John Cusack and Jennifer Carpenter (from Dexter), and follows serial abductions of prostitutes, until John Cusack’s daughter also get abducted. There’s an awesome twist too!

2 books a month: achieved
I read Bottlemania, which you can read the review of here. Other than that, I finished The Heart Broke In by James Meek, and here’s my review (gosh that seems like a long time ago I read that!). Lastly, I’ve started on a book about called Nice Girl by R.j. Chin about Keli Lane. Keli Lane has been convicted of murder of her second child, who disappeared after an informal adoption. This is one of three children she had in secret, the other two being formally adopted. Her fourth child lives with her. This story is compelling to me, because… Keli was my boss at the school she was employed at during the years much of this drama happened! She was an Olympic water polo hopeful, and recruited me as a casual coach at her school. She left suddenly during my time working at the school. Based on the half of the book I’ve read, most people who knew her, myself included, do not believe she killed her baby. I think it’s rotten you can be convicted of murder when there’s no proof of murder. I’m sure there’s crimes committed, but murder is certainly not one of them! Here’s some more background in wikipedia

Social

Call/connect with an out of town friend: achieved
YES! A friend I made in Paris, who at the time lived in Wollongong, has been in Sydney since Feb. So I finally had her around for a cuppa, before moving out of my place. I also spoke to a number of school friends with the bad news of a friend’s death. Lastly, I semi spammed my nearest and dearest (but not local) with the link to my new house, so they could ooo and ahhh… So all round, a great month on social connections.

Career

Certification: minimal progress

Seriously, other than three hours spent at talks for continuing professional development (I need 150 hours).  I booked into a pricey course to get another 16 hours.  I’ve also been meeting with both my mentors, I’ve really not moved forward with this one as much as I could have. I need to set some time to get onto this and get it DONE!

Looking for next roleachieved, will remove from goals list

I’m in the new role, and I’m swamped. Let’s say I was under utilised in the last role, and now I hardly can think straight! But I love being busy, just perhaps not at the same time as moving house!!

July Challenge: No eating out

Although it’s not the true end of the month, I thought I would check in with my experience of my self imposed challenge not to eat out for a month!

1. I was innovative, with packing everything for a two day road trip. So I know I can be ‘frugal’ and skip eating out. (I will summarise grocery costs at the true end of the month, and see if there’s been a noticeable increase, and probably update this post with more info).

2. I did cheat. There were a handful of take away coffees (some even in single use take away cups!). There was one breach in the first weekend, and then two breaches the following two weekends. I also went out with my next door neighbour for Vietnamese. I didn’t want to reject her suggestion (it’s our first ‘date’), and cooking at home wasn’t practical with going to open houses on the same night.  Last night I got sushi from the sushi place outside the grocery store – so it’s sort of out, and sort of not?!

source: www.mslimalicious.com
source: www.mslimalicious.com

3. My boyfriend was on board (but bored!). He encouraged me to stick at it (like last night! He cooked nachos, but I didn’t want nachos). Though it’s become a common placeto say ‘we’ll do that/go there in August’.  Bring on August and some dates!

4. I did buy some ready made meals from the grocery store, such as garlic bread, soups and (freezer) pizzas. I’d like to move away from processed foods, as I’ve mentioned before, but it’s just too hard sometimes to balance all the things you want to do, with LIFE! So I gave myself leave passes.

5. I’ve certainly spent less money, with every week having some of my weekly allowance still in my wallet. That being said, I’ve spent way more than a usual month as I outlined here, and more recently with the rental bond and that sort of thing.

Overall, it was an interesting challenge.  I proved to myself that I can cook at home, and eat at home, and it’s not all that taxing, though I do occasionally take short cuts with ready made meals.  It is a little more socially challenging to not eat out, and my relationship with my colleague seems less strong after missing our weekly lunch date.  Actually, in light of my role change, a few one on one lunches might have been better to keep the relationship strong, even though I’m ‘jumping ship’.

On the whole, I don’t think I’ll re-do this challenge for the sake of it.  It’s good to know I can tighten the belt, but it’s all been a bit too much of a challenge in these later weeks of the month, with all the moving plans.