Saturday, 29 April 2017

Simple Frugal Weight Loss April 2017 update

Hi folks

The no-sugar and no bread regime continues here with very little effort (and the occasional falling off the wagon of course!) so  it is time for another weigh in.

Using an iphone now and cannot seem to figure
out how to rotate pictures in blogger. Frustrating.

Start weight: 120.8 kg
Start BMI: 34
Target weight: 79 kg


Weighing in at 112.6 kg
Lost since last weigh-in: 2.9 kg
Total weight lost: 8.2 kg
Current BMI: 32.5 (my first tiny downward shift! Woo hoo!)

Moussaka - utterly delicious way to eat vegetables

Monday, 24 April 2017

Realistic, Thorough and Effective Debt Busting

My, my ..... the topic of debt reduction is just oozing out of me lately. Well, let's juice that orange while it's still there.

If this post quietly and anonymously changes just one person's life, then it was worthwhile writing it down.

I have had quite a while to mull over the best approach to debt busting for recovering consumerists (of which I am one). In all truthfulness, the way to approach debt reduction would begin quite differently if we were on a bare-bones income compare to the both of us working - but I have thought about both scenarios and am ready to 'sprout forth' on the subject some more.

Steamed greens and almonds

This method works for the bulk of scenarios I reckon. So here goes:

Mr & Mrs HM's 20 x Effective Debt Busting Activities

Activity 1 - Be Honest Out Loud
Admit all debts to someone verbally....yep, even the $20 we owe Mum. Everything. The truth. If we are one half of a relationship, then it has to be the other person we tell. (This could be very scary - just do it)

Activity 2 - Check Our Ability to Pay
We must have the income to cover all minimum debt payments. If we are paying out more than we are earning then we are in an urgent crisis situation. Increasing our income immediately by getting a second stream of income is of the highest priority. Get this sorted first.

Activity 3 - Create Surplus Quickly
This means sorting a realistic budget that leaves us something left over after paying all basic living requirements and all minimum debt payments. Don't worry about the size of the surplus at this stage - as long as there is one and it is realistic.

Activity 4 - Automate Our Money
This requires us to set up our banking to automatically assign money out fortnightly (or whatever our pay cycle is) to all billing vendors and to all debts. Only pay minimum payment requirements via automation. All other bills like groceries and petrol (gas) pay cash for, or, use a completely separate non-credit card account.

Activity 5 - Save $500 Emergency Dollars
We do this using our surplus. We stick at it till there is $500 saved. Agree on what this can be spent on - be very strict here about what an emergency is. Do NOT jump this step (I know it is tempting) as it teaches us a multitude of things about ourselves.

Activity 6 - Ramp Up More Surplus
This is were we get creative by either finding other ways to earn a little more or spend a little less - or both. Even if we only squeeze out another few dollars/pounds for the weekly/fortnightly/monthly surplus, then that is OK.

Activity 7 - Document Debt
Document all our debts noting interest rate, debt amount and basic lender details. Using a pencil and envelope is perfectly fine to work this out. Nothing fancy required.

Activity 8 - Pay Off The Smallest Debt First
This will give us a sense of possibility and an early 'win'. Pay this debt off by paying the minimum payment plus our surplus. (This will be the only time we take this approach)

Activity 9 - Save Another $500 Emergency Dollars
This will give us $1000 in our emergency fund. We achieve this step by rolling up the minimum payment of our paid-off debt plus our surplus.

Activity 10 - Pay All Debts to Friends Next
Paying all debts owed to friends next allows us to regain our self respect and rebuild respect among our friend circle again. Let them know we will never hit them up for money ever again. We achieve this step by rolling up the minimum payment of our paid-off debt plus our surplus.

Activity 11 - Save Another $500 Emergency Dollars
This will now give us $1500 in our emergency fund. We achieve this step by rolling up ALL the minimum payments of our paid-off debts, plus our surplus.

Activity 12 - Pay All Debts to Family Next
Paying debts off to family is a psychologically powerful step - don't skip it. This will send a powerful message to our family members that we have got ourselves together and are acting as responsible adults. Equality will be restored once these debts are paid. We achieve this step by rolling up ALL the previous minimum payments of our paid-off debts, plus our surplus

Activity 13 - Save Another $500 Emergency Dollars
This will now give us $2000 in our emergency fund. We achieve this step by rolling up ALL the previous minimum payments of our paid-off debts, plus our surplus.

Activity 14 - Pay Highest Interest Rate Debt next
This is the fastest way to now tackle all remaining debt once we have experienced the early win of Activity 8 and regained our self esteem with Activities 10 & 12. This is the business end of our debt busting war. We achieve this step by rolling up ALL the previous minimum payments of our paid-off debts, plus our surplus.

Activity 15 - Save Another $500 Emergency Dollars
This will now give us $2500 in our emergency fund. We achieve this step by rolling up ALL the previous minimum payments of our paid-off debts, plus our surplus.

Activity 16 - Pay Second-Highest Interest Rate Debt next
We are on a roll now. We have served our apprenticeship and this is serious stuff. We achieve this step by rolling up ALL the previous minimum payments of our paid-off debts, plus our surplus.

Activity 17 - Pay All Debts In Descending Interest Rate Order next by one. Bang, bang, bang. Take no prisoners, show no mercy. We achieve this step by rolling up ALL the previous minimum payments of our paid-off debts, plus our surplus.

Activity 18 - Save Another $500 Emergency Dollars
This will now give us $3000 in our emergency fund. We achieve this step by rolling up ALL the previous minimum payments of our paid-off debts, plus our surplus.

Activity 19 - Save $5000 Confidence Dollars 
...or more if we like. Whatever amount makes us feel safe and free. $5000 should cover a couple of months of modest expenses if the need arises and saves us from having to be reactionary if we ever loose our job or experience a significant life changing event. It 'stays put' in a high interest bearing account - hopefully we'll never have to touch it. Having this amount 'there' is our own insurance policy and safety net. It is quite separate to our emergency find. We achieve this step by rolling up ALL the previous minimum payments of our paid-off debts, plus our surplus.

Activity 20 - Manage Your Surplus Wealth
Now we have ALL the previous minimum payments of our paid-off debts plus our surplus rolling in relentlessly every pay-cycle to build our wealth in whatever way we choose!  In many ways we have only just begun when we reach this vital step.
This activity is the true starting line. We were way behind the starting line previously.

Even a small stockpile is worthwhile

I know it is 20 activities (phew) ..... however I make zero apology for that.
I am confident that every step, in this specific order, is vitally important and necessary to not only pay down debt speedily but also to help cure our consumerist addictions.

Happy to chat in more detail via email or via comments below if you'd like some extra clarification.

Slicing soft soap

Take care folks and stay nice.


Sunday, 23 April 2017

Debt Reduction Myth-Busters

Paying down debt seems to be the focus of so many twee and cheery posts and pins on the interwebs.

The facts are that there is no easy way to pay down debt, no trick, no magic formula, no secret, no book, no hidden knowledge that will help the basics of paying down debt.  It just needs to be done.  True, there are revelations about how much the debt is actually costing us and how to minimize the impacts of interest and also various tips on how to stay motivated and focused.....but absolutely no magic wand.

Line-dried whites.

The cold hard facts are that the entire principal, remaining interest and any contractual fees absolutely have to be paid.  If such-n-such 'real' couple on Pinterest claim to have paid down their debt of $300,000.00 in only two years, then they are absolutely paying down $5769.24 a fortnight - period. The math does not lie....but the stupid hype makes it all sound like debts just evaporate with the greatest of ease just by thinking about it. It doesn't.

Paying off debt takes courage, determination, plenty of sad days and many sacrifices.

If you know someone who has paid off all their consumer debt without assistance, then know of a surety that these folk have characters that run deep.

Saving pennies helps me be prudent with larger sums.

I have had a change in heart about the best method to pay off debt. Once-upon-a-time I used to be a big believer in the power of the debt snowball method (starting with the smallest debt first) which appeals to the emotional side of the brain. I used to argue strongly that because we often get into debt for emotional reasons then the best way to tackle it is to harness the opposite emotions via the debt snowball method. I no longer believe that. I have personally been very successful using the debt snowball method, however I wasted a lot of money choosing this method when I could have used the debt avalanche method (fully focusing on paying the debt that costed me the most each month first). The math speaks the truth of the matter.

Being frugal does NOT mean
living poorly.

I base this change of approach purely on the fact that once we start tackling our consumer debt, it quickly goes from being exciting to utter drudgery (albeit drudgery with a purpose) fact so quickly that the emotional benefits of the snowball method are speedily lost.  That being the case, the quickest way to attack consumer debt is to target the debt with the largest monthly interest/fees first to ensure that the hard slog of debt reduction does not drag on a day longer than necessary. Who wants to still be paying off debt months longer than necessary just because of a spurious long-forgotten notion regarding how we felt about it in the beginning?!

Hot homemade pasties with
delicious flaky pastry

If any of you dear folk are currently using the snowball method, I encourage you to swap across to the avalanche method. You are putting in the hard yards you may as well finish the race sooner using the exact same dollar commitment.

Changing one's mind for a more powerful outcome is always so satisfying.

Kombucha SCOBY anyone?
Plenty to spare!

Take care folks and stay nice.


A Handful Of Tricks

A winter delight - violets.

Hi folks

Here are some little tips and tricks we use here to help stretch the dollar:

  •   Put an extra container out when serving dinner - freeze this serve.  At the end of the week you'll have seven individual dinners in the freezer, or alternatively,  used them to take to lunch the next day.
  •   Sweep instead of vacuum and only vacuum weekly.  This saves on electricity, vacuum bags and noise.

Chook pellets - adding scraps will reduce this cost even more.

  •   Feeding hens is still cheaper than buying organic eggs (I checked the math last night).
  •   Line the bottom of the oven with aluminium foil - saves a heck of a lot of cleaning product.
  •   Stretch your laundry detergent, hair conditioner and hair shampoo with water - mostly an undetectable difference if you get the ratios right.

Frying up vegetables that are a little past their prime
makes the best hot pot.

  •   Know that anything with a heating element in it is an electricity sucker i.e: Clothes dryers, fan heaters, electric blankets, electric ovens, most electric stove tops, electric kettle, urns, hot-wash on your washing machine, dishwashers, hair dryers to name a few. Obviously we use many of these at our place, but it is a case of how much and when. 
  •   Know your electricity plan - we have different charge rates for 4 different time periods in the day and week. 

......even a little stockpile cupboard is worth aiming for.

  •   Be mindful of your driving techniques - practice surge-and-roll to improve your mileage.
  •   Practice ONLY shopping specials - admittedly this takes some serious levels of organisation.
  •   Cut our sugar (seriously!). Your food bill will certainly drop, your weight will certainly drop, your health will improve and you'll feel much better after the first two weeks of hellish detox symptoms.
  •   Change your mobile phone plan.  I recently defected to OVO and now only spend $9.95 per month for unlimited texts, $200 worth of calls and a 1GB of data - it truly is all I need.

Fans.....our favourite appliance.

  •   Use a fan before you reach for the air conditioner. Also experiment with which setting on your fan actually moves the most isn't always 'high' strangely.
  •   Small frugal changes year on year are more effective than big scary changes.....lean into it.

Saving money is not an aim in itself. Saving money is so we can have it for things that are truly important and meaningful to us. 

We can have anything we want if we stop expecting to have everything.

Take care ....and stay nice folks.


Wednesday, 19 April 2017

Weight Loss Trick

Some bunting in one of the HM daughter's rooms that took my eye.

Hi folks

I recently have taken some of Mrs HM's advice in regards to weight loss and I am delighted with the result.

Along with cutting out sugar and breads, this extra little trick has really genuinely helped us both with our cravings. Our cravings are mainly what we call being "head hungry". Being head hungry is our way of identifying that, whilst we are not actually physically hungry, we are urgently wanting to eat based on the thoughts that are seizing our minds and triggering a craving to eat.

My new snack food

Mind Eating

Mrs HM has this trick which she refers to as mind eating. Mind eating is simply going through the motions of eating something completely from beginning to end.....but only in your mind. Take cream buns for example - let's do a mind eating session together right now. Read the following instructions and just do them in your mind.

Reach out and take the plump cream bun. Lick the bit of cream and jam oozing out of the side. Run it around your tongue slowly and swallow. Slowly push the bun part way into your mouth and feel the soft sweet dough against your teeth and tongue. Bite down and feel the cream and jam oozing into your mouth and the sugary glaze sticking to your lips. Chew slowly and feel the texture of the bun, cream and jam moving in your mouth. Notice the difference in taste between the glazed top of the bun and the inner soft dough. Swallow. Take another bite and press that cream up onto the roof of your mouth and roll the dough and jam around in your mouth as you chew. Feel the sensation of it filling your gullet and stomach as you chew and swallow. Put the last piece in your mouth  and gobble this piece quickly swallowing hard. Lick your fingers taking care to ensure there is no glaze, cream or jam left on them. Reach out and take another cream bun.

Keep repeating this in your mind until you have genuinely had enough of thinking about cream buns. Your mind has consumed about 1800 calories if you mind-ate three cream buns, but you actually didn't. If you do the exercise mindfully, you will actually taste and feel all the nuances of eating a cream bun and you will eventually get bored and stop willingly when your mind is satiated. The craving actually abates and stops. When the next desire to eat a cream bun arises, just do it all over again.

You can do this for any of your crave/trigger foods - just eat it slowly and decadently in your mind from beginning to end.  As much as you like.

The canister on the left has been sorely neglected of late.

You have no idea just how many cream buns, peanut butter sandwiches, triple layer caramel cakes, scones, lollies, chocolates, cheese cakes and eclairs I have mind-eaten over the last few weeks.....and lost weight.

Give it a shot - if it works for you, then that's a win. Just think of the savings too!

Take care folks and stay nice.

Mr HM (Phil)

Tuesday, 18 April 2017

And We're Back.....

Spiralised zucchini with fresh pasta sauce

Well folks...we're back. It is so nice to be back too.

There were oodles of comments waiting to be published on my last mid-holiday post all of which were thoughtful, encouraging and intelligent. Some were out-and-out enthusiastic and some had warnings and concerns - I appreciate every single one of them as they all give Mrs HM and I so much to think about. What a fabulous community!

Cauliflower fried rice - a revelation and
a perfect rice replacement

So, I said I would be back in a couple of weeks but it inevitably took longer to return. After all, I did post about our future plans in the middle of my sabbatical for you all to read - so I feel OK about the longer absence. (That's my excuse and I'm sticking to it - ha!)

Baked veggies - yummo

So I am back working locally and it is truly amazing sleeping in till 6:00 am everyday. The extra sleep has assisted me to lose some more weight (lower cortisol levels with more sleep apparently) and I am feeling much, much brighter and alert. In fact I just feel much better about life in general.

Romertopf lamb shoulders - oh the decadence.
This literally fell off the bones

I spent my two weeks off doing much less than I planned to do - probably a good thing really. One thing that we have really got a handle on is better eating and diet across the whole family. This change mainly consists of actively eschewing sugar and bread....our two-drugs-of-choice previously. The five HM daughters have been enthusiastic in various ways about the changes and the shopping bill has also benefited big time as we actively now purchase very little in the way of processed foods. We expected a big hike-up in food costs by buying so much fresh produce, but the opposite has been true. Delightful really.

Lightly floured deep-fried chicken

I have been chatting to an old friend who is marketing some essential oils and I am keen to test-drive them in my next batch of soap to see if they hold their scent. I have had significant hit and miss with essential oils losing their top notes during the soap curing process in the past, so am keen to see if this line of essential oils stands up to the rigours of soap making....will keep you all posted if successful.

An evening with the oil lamps and wine,
good food and friends

Two of my ISA brown hens have just stopped laying - nothing - zip - zilch.  The rest of the flock are powering on unabated. Perhaps these two need a grease and oil change....or a sharp axe.  I'll do another full hen house clean out and dust on the weekend and see if this does anything. Poor old Blacky's dementia is getting worse and she does a lot of aimless wandering and worried clucking. I am keeping an eye on her to ensure she is at least eating well.

Sunset over the chimney tops of Newcastle

Anyway...there are quite a few posts on the boil including another episode about what Kate did. So these will materialise soon for your enjoyment. In fact I am brimming with stuff to post about - I'll have to pace myself!  Gosh.

A perfect pasta replacement - spiralised zucchini.

Ah - it is good to be back.

Take care and stay nice folks.


Sunday, 2 April 2017

Our Plans For The Future

Crisp raw beans in home-made humomus 

Mrs HM and I have made a decision about how we wish to live the last trimester of our lives. It simply is this:

  1. Buy a caravan and suitable tow-vehicle for cash and travel for at least 6-9 months of the year around our beautiful country. Maximum spend A$100,000.00
  2. Buy a small property in rural NSW or QLD to be our base and for the five HM daughters to use/come-back-to as needed. Maximum spend A$100,000.00

This will mean a secondhand caravan and tow-vehicle and a humble country property.....both of which are totally fine by us.  The amount of near-new caravans that come up for sale is just astounding and the amount of affordable rural properties that become available is also very achievable - I've been watching both for nearly 4 years now and know that these goals are doable.

Frying up succulent chicken

If Mrs HM had her way it would be just the caravan and the tow vehicle and full time nomadic lifestyle.....I see the need for a basic base-property in the event of either one of us getting seriously unwell or any of our five daughters needing a place to call home for the short or long term.  Also if the economy goes bad or political unrest hits then at least we have a place to call our own and be self sustaining.

So how long away is all of this?  Well - it depends how quickly the following list of events gets ticked off:

  1. Cash saved for caravan and tow vehicle
  2. All five daughters finish their university (college) degrees and gain employment
  3. Cash saved for a rural small holding
  4. Skills and qualifications gained to support earning potential whilst traveling (very important)
  5. Divesting of all our unneeded worldly goods
Number 4 above has been the topic of interesting conversations lately with us both coming to an initial agreement that we would both complete a Cert IV or diploma in Nursing to give us national accreditation as AIN's.  This would allow us to pick up shifts through Nursing agencies as we travelled.  We have two daughters who are finishing Nursing degrees as we speak who can assist us with our studies too if needs be.  This may be a little bit of a rose-coloured plan, but the facts are unless we have a usable,transferable and portable skill whilst we travel then the plans will not eventuate - simple as that. (Nurses - your thoughts on this plan would be appreciated too please). Both of us would go 'nuts' not working at all and this profession would allow us to also contribute directly back to the communities that we spend longer periods of time at as we travel.

BIG kitchen cupboard declutter today........

.....Mrs HM's on a roll!!
I guarantee this will be sparkling by tea time.

So how long?....well our guess is probably five and a half years to be realistic. We will be both 56 by then.

Are we dreaming, or do you think this is achievable?

Take care folks and stay nice.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...