And we're off

WE'RE off in earnest. The credit card has been cleared and we are at zero.Even though the New Year has only just begun we really started in the last week of December as a dry run.So far, so good.Gift Challenge number 1:My grandmother's 88th birthday on January 3rd was the first of the birthday gift challenges.Normally, I would go out and buy her some useless ornament which, while sweet, just acts as a dust collector in her room.Presenting - Cherry Coconut Macaroons!OK — so Adriano Zumbo won't be tapping me on the shoulder to open a new Victorian outlet, but (once wrapped in red cellophane) my Nan was suitably impressed and more than happy I actually made something for her.With only five ingredients these little gems actually worked out pretty well. Like a Cherry Ripe without the chocolate.$10 in my purseWhen I wrote my last blog prior to New Year's I had a $10 note in my purse. Last Thursday, December 29, I received my weekly $20 allowance and today I have received another $20. So how much have I spent out of the total $50? Just $2!! And that was on a packet of Cheezels. And well worth that $2 they were.I know — I'm amazed too.Here's what I have done to avoid spending my money.I gave Oscar plenty of chances to go out and do things in my week of annual leave and all he wanted to do was 1) play with his toys, 2) go to the local playground or 3) Walk the dog. I am beginning to think that the person who felt he needed to do all the biggest and best activities was me. Hence — no spend.I received a travel mug for Christmas from my brother and sister-in-law. This alone has saved me at least $10. I have had a coffee machine at home for years, but chose to stop in at the local cafe on the way to work for a coffee. How stupid!Now I make a coffee before I leave the house and take a lovely hot cappuccino to work with me. No cost.Once a month I bath our dog. For those of you who don't know — he's not a small dog. He's a 40kg greyhound, so a bath for him is no small feat. Instead of dragging said monster to the nearest dog wash and giving him the luxury of a wash and blowdry (the extravagance of which is lost on him) I chose the near 40 degree day on the weekend to hose him out in the backyard. A saving of $10 minimum.Before anyone emails me about water waste I used a hand held trigger and I can assure you — he didn't want a nice, long, cold shower :).I don't know about anyone else, but the crisper in my fridge is basically to create cold compost. I have been taking a 'waste not, want not' leaf from my grandparents and great grandparents book on this one. Instead of waiting until everything is so decomposed it has to be thrown out I have been stewing the fruit and making soup out of the veges. That way I can freeze anything we can't use immediately and there's always a quick Friday night meal in the fridge.The hiccupRemember the old rule about animals and children? It could probably be extended to the best laid plans. We have had one 'hiccup'. We spent the last couple of weeks loading unwanted items onto Ebay and turning them into some very welcome cash. That's a good thing.Bad thing is when seven-year-old downloads an app which goes onto to 'upgrade' continuously spending $100 in 2 days.Nett gain of Ebay sales down from $200 to $100. Not happy Jan :(What's this thing you're doing?I have had so much interest in this challenge from so many people. Some laugh, some are intrigued and others have actually said they want to give it a go. I think it's all great.I am certainly not suggesting that we have come up with a new idea. Some people cut down on their waste to live more sustainably. For us it's about the $ we waste on 'stuff'. Even our money saving ideas are not new. It's more about identifying where we have wasted our money and how we are stopping it. My feeling is it will be different for everyone.The great part is just by talking about our experience I am finding lots of people are stopping to think about what they could be doing for themselves.The lure of a nice new pool also helps ;)Until next time.S