Saturday, April 16, 2011

7 Saturday snippets

  1. This morning at home when I weighed myself (in underwear) I was exactly a kg lighter than last week. When I got dressed in my winter clothes that kg (2.2 pounds) translated to an official 0.8 kg loss on the Weigh-Less scales. Yay!
  2. Things that are my friend - soup (lots of it - made another huge pot last night), herbal tea and tomatoes. Every day I probably have about 200g tomatoes.
  3. So you know I read lots of home and decor blogs? Are they just the 10% or does everyone in America "decorate for spring" with all the eggs? And does everyone have basements and attics because where oh where do you store all that seasonal decorating?
  4. D and I got V in and went for a lunch date by ourselves after doing some quick winter clothes shopping for my poor children. I bought stuff in the sales last year but turns out that wasn't such a good idea as all the stuff is still too big for them. Kendra can still wear some of last year's winter clothes. Pants are too short but jerseys and tops are okay. Connor has outgrown everything 12 - 18 months but is not big enough for 2 - 3 years so he got two tracksuits, two jerseys and some long-sleeved t-shirts.
  5. If I'm ever tempted to buy things at Ackermans again, will someone please slap me over the head. I say this everytime but it is SUCH a procedure to return things. I spent 15 minutes with the security guard at the door, 7 minutes in the queue and another 10 minutes with the cashier. All while D patiently waited for me at Mugg and Bean. The last time I had to return things the memory of the previous schlep was still fresh in my mind so I gave V the stuff (came to about R50) and said, "here's the slip, take these things back and get Wisdom 2 t-shirts with the money". Brilliant.
  6. I have been doing the budget this evening and .......... we are waaaayyyy overspending on our food. I need to introduce something soon because this is getting out of hand. This month is 4 days from over (I get paid on the 20th) and already we are 85% over budget. Part of it is Weigh-Less because buying TONS of fresh produce all the time is expensive but next month I am going to be super frugal, eat from the pantry and freezer and haul out all my tricks.
  7. I'm also trying to close all my accounts with the red bank. I've just put a ginormous amt of money into our bond from my one savings account. Now I only have one more savings account left with them. Let's see how many hoops they make me jump through this time. I closed my credit card last year and only managed it on the 3rd try and then only because of my complaint on

So do tell me - how long have you been with your current bank? And then please share one of your best tricks for controlling the food budget.


  1. YEA for a great weigh-in!!! I have a lot of great veggie soup recipes. You can make some really delicious dishes that are low-fat and good for you.

    On the food budget, can you buy more frozen veggies to go into your soups? Maybe also add in some beans? Both are healthy and very economical.

    So glad you had a lunch date! :)

  2. Congrats on the weight loss!

  3. Oh don't get me started on a food budget. I don't know why I bother budgeting?! I always over spend, and I don't buy crap foods! I just consider myself a budding foodie and keep increasing my budget. If I can keep it under $350 (R2379) per month I'm satisfied! I figure food is a luxury I can allow myself so long as I'm not buying sweets and processed food.

    We've been with our current bank only 5 years, I still have accounts at our old bank that just sit collecting the smallest bit of interest. I love our new bank because I have never been inside it! I can do all my banking online or from the ATM and because I do it that way they don't charge me! AWESOME!

    We don't decorate for spring, although I will admit I did have to talk myself out of window clings last week. I think most homes in America have both a basement and attic along with a shed outside. I know we have all three... Welcome to America, we're all horders!

  4. The decorating with eggs thing cracks me up! I guess it's the Easter thing. Our current door decoration is a 'Welcome' sign made of different colored wooden eggs. And yes, we store a LOT here in the U.S. Most every house has an attic, plus lots of closets and usually an outdoor storage room/building of some sort. Basements are a lot more common in the north than they are here in the south, I think.

    Great job on the weight loss! : ) I am working on a budget's time to get serious about our money. I have used my bank for nearly ten years, and I do almost everything online.

  5. Congrats on the weight loss. As to the food budget - I can tell you that food is way more expensive than 5 moths ago.I am certain of that because our food costs more and more and we are not buying new or extra things.

    I have a blogpost I want to write about Ackermans - truly they are now more expensive than Woolworths. I promise. Look at the PJ's.

  6. Oh yes, have been at Standard for year after shutting my accounts are the red bank. But our home loan is there (they gave us a whole 1% lower than the rest) and it has not bee great. We had to FICA 3 times! They forgot to do the computer part every time and then had all on the file.I got a formal apology after they froze our account.

  7. On the food budget - I never cut back on fresh fruit and veg, it's the one area I won't compromise on. However take a good look at the cost of meat and consider joining the "meat free monday" drive - save the planet and your money ;-)

    On savings accounts - they aren't worth having in this country, you are better off putting your money into your mortgage where you will "earn" more interest...

  8. Well done on the weight loss!

  9. Food BUDGET... gives me the shivers just thinking about it as I too battle to keep it under control. Most weeks I'm not organised enough with a plan of what we're eating and I trawl the isles thinking as I go. I know this is the worst way to shop and spend more than you want. You must be one of the most organised people I know as you go with a list. The best advice (which I don't follow enough) is to limit how often your shop otherwise all sorts of goodies jump into the trolley.

  10. We've been with Investec for about 5 years and they are BRILLIANT. Our personal banker in PE is better than the one we had in CT although we never really had to use the one in CT much but the one here is fantastic, you can phone her anytime (on her cell if she's not at the office) and she sends you whatever you need (or gives us advice) immediatly. Our bond and everything is with them. You know I don't budget so have no clue what our food bill is but I think R5000.
    Well done on the weight loss. I'm too scared to get on the scale - not that I normally do but I'm still eating like I'm running 80km a week (including eating out 4 times this weekend alone) but due to my sore leg :( I'm not able to run much. Fingers crossed I'll still be able to do Two Oceans and this can count towards my carboloading. Glad all went well with the bed story.

  11. I bank with the red bank and hubby found that Bidvest is a super place to bank with as well.
    I find Ackermans still cheaper than most stores - especially for the kids.

  12. I don't decorate for anything. I am pretty sure I still have a Halloween sign on my front door, and there's still mistletoe hanging from the ceiling and a santa on the mantle. We definitely don't have the storage.

  13. Well done on your weight loss! Food is very expensive and has gone up a lot in price so I think that everyone is feeling the pinch. I tend to stick to whatever is in season. I experiment with legumes a lot and am eating a lot less meat which saves me quite a bit on the food bill. We only eat chicken breasts (much cheaper than all the other parts it seems) and every month I buy one or 2 cleaning material or toiletry items or dry foods (like rice etc.)in bulk. I look around for marked down prices for this.
    I left the red bank 3 years ago and am currently with the green bank. I am really happy with them and don't feel that I need to change just yet. Having said that, I have no issues changing my bank. The green one is the 3rd one I've been with already and I'm constantly researching new banks. bond is with SA Homeloans. Check them out. They may even match give you a better interest rate.

  14. Decorating? Yes, about half of Americans have huge houses with basements/ attics/ garage space/ out buildings/ sheds and more. The average house is about 1500 sq ft (which often does not include attic or basement space - if not "finished") for a family of 4. .... then you have 5% who are super rich, store nothing, and have more than one house. Then there are those who live in apartments, trailers, or small homes - we have little or no storage - often renting a storage unit to accomodate our "stuff". Shocking, is that much of that stuff is thrown away the next day, only to be repurchased the next year. Most of the decoration and hoopla items are completely disposed of by most people.

    If you were to take our garbage to most 3rd world places - they would consider themselves rich. But our laws are such that we cannot take used items and send or give them to others easily. We have garage sales, thrift stores, freecycle ... but at Christmas, for instance, if you have a toy drive or shoe boxes for Mexico or the like ... everything you give/send has to be brand new!

    When I went to Ecuador in 1989, many of the people told me that I would be in huge culture shock when I arrived. Actually, I LOVED the people and the way they thought - they made do, shared, and were thankful for anything that we gave them - truly thankful. I found fitting in and enjoying their culture easy (I wish I could say the same for picking up the language). Then coming back, I really did find myself in culture shock at how much people wasted, how rude they were, how selfish ...

    But anyway, personally, we are a family of 6 living in 950 sq. ft. trailer. Yes, we have storage. One unit is 2ft x 14ft x 6ft. Then we have a storage trailer (I use to live in it, we left a great deal in it when we moved to our larger trailer across the yard.) But that trailer is 8ft x 6ft (height) x 25ft. The girls and I "lived" in that space and Tim came on the weekends. It was quite an adventure. We also store long term items at Tim's parent's house - as they put in a 3 car garage many years ago. We mostly store Tim's stuff, furniture that we don't have room for but might need later (like the toddler bed Joel outgrew 9 months ago, and now my sister is going to use for her daughter) and hand me down clothes and the kids school papers.

    Our bank? Ummm.... 10 years - since we moved here. People here tend to stay with a bank.

    Food secrets?
    1. Always make a menu
    2. Make a list of what you need.
    3. Watch for sales / use coupons (and plan menu around it)
    4. Carry cash (then you are less tempted to go over budget).
    5. Never shop hungry.
    6. Sometimes you can get produce/deli bargains if you shop later in the evening (here - anytime between 8 and 10 - depending on the store).
    7. Buy bulk.
    8. Look for items slightly damaged or close to expiration date ... then ask the manager to mark them down for you.


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