Happy Thanksgiving!

Even though it is not part of our traditions in Ireland, I love the idea of Thanksgiving. The name appeals to me – a day to give thanks.

So this year I have decided to attempt to bring a little USA Thanksgiving to our house. I’ve the kids all coming down, there’ll be 14 of us (4 of them under 10). I’ve already had a few disasters, like my apple pie falling to pieces in my hands, not being able to find cornmeal for my cornbread and it seems our sausage behaves differently to how the American recipes say it will!! But its an experience… and a great reason to get family together.

I’ll let you all know how it goes. Happy Thanksgiving to you, wherever you are in the world. I am so thankful for all I have, and I’m happy to give thanks and celebrate today.

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Christmas Planning!

I LOVE Christmas!

I refuse to start decorating, or “getting in the spirit” until December…. but I start planning ages in advance.

We have a big family, we have a lot of people to buy for, and a lot of days to organise…. which of course costs a lot of money, but also takes a lot of organising, and can cause a lot of stress if I don’t feel I’m sorted early enough!!

Every year I feel that I leave certain things until the last minute – and therefore the following year I strive to be more organised. It means then I can enjoy December and all the festive celebrations properly!

Our first tradition of the season (actually starts before December!) is that on the last Friday of November, “The Toy Show” is on. This is an Irish television programme where children play with toys and show them to the presenter, there is some music and dancing and a bit of audience participation… with lots of prizes thrown in (cue “and there’s one for everyone in the audience”) – and our kids are allowed stay up late for this, as we were as children, with a big box of Christmas sweets. And I set up mini Christmas trees in the kids rooms for them to start it all off.

The rest of the decorations then go up on the 1st of December, except the tree which is around the 8th.

What do you think, is it too early for Christmas planning or discussion?

Take a breath

I’ve had a very bad morning, kids late to school, Baba Z screaming and throwing everything off the table and counters and around the rooms – everything has gone wrong. I have recently been trying to take a deep breath to calm down when I can feel myself getting annoyed. But this morning was bad, my head just wasn’t working (so much so that I brought the buggy outside to put in the car so we could go to the shops after the school drop, and drove off leaving it outside the front door!!) – so I cancelled all my plans.

I have just put Baba Z up to bed, and I had to go into the back yard to close a gate. And I just stood out there, in the drizzly rain and the wind, and I just stood there breathing. And I really feel so much better.

So if you’re having a rough day – step outside, and take a breath xx

How do you budget your money

Like all of us I’d say, we have had times over the years that we are flat broke, and times that we have a bit extra money, but no matter what we have coming in – we’ve always made it work.

The way I have always worked it is that we have a “bills account”. All the household bills (like rent, electricity, gas, phones, etc) are set up by direct debit to go out of this account, and each week we put a set amount in. I have worked out the annual cost of all our bills, and divided it by 52 weeks and each week we put that into the bills account. It means that in the summer time we have a bit of money built up in the account because the heating costs are down, but it balances out again once the winter comes in. We don’t use this account for other costs like food or other expenses.

In the past few years I met with money and budgeting advice people, and they gave me a format to look at all expenses for the year – from car taxes, back to school costs, Christmas, birthdays, health, optical and dentist, right down to hair cuts, makeup, clothes and even lotto tickets and car parking costs. No expense is too small to take note of. It is a lot of work, but it is amazing to see it adding up. These extra costs are added up, and again broken down to a weekly amount, and this amount is put into a different account – like a post office or credit union, one that cannot be accessed by card easily! When these costs come up, you can go and take out the necessary allocated money.

What is great about this system is that the money accumulates quickly in the first few weeks, so you might only be putting aside €15 per week for your car tax – but because you’re putting in a higher amount to cover all of the annual costs, after a few weeks you will have the cost of the car tax, and can tax the car, knowing that you have it balanced out over the year.

And then there is food money, a certain predetermined amount which is taken out in cash.

Now, we haven’t been in a position in recent years to have savings, but if you have excess money left over after the necessities are accounted for, then you would be able to set your savings accounts separately too.

I love our system, because it really takes away the stress of managing money. There is very rarely a shock cost that I can’t cover, although this year I didn’t have enough allocated to car repairs!! It does take a bit of time to set up and work out EVERY SINGLE annual cost, and of course you might miss a few. I’ve a folder in my notes section on my phone for expenses I missed (like a football registration cost!) so that I can update it going forward.

What do you think? Do you guys have any budgeting tips?

Where to start?

Hi all,

There’s so much going on that I don’t know where to even start! I just know I really want to get this blog up and running, but I am being pulled in all directions and therefore not managing to get anything done properly.

I have decided that a priority is my house – I need to get it organised. I feel the clutter is negatively affecting me and my mental health. I am a hoarder, and I live in a very “compact” house. It is a lovely house, but there is very little space in it, and as we have not have much money over the past seven years we haven’t been able to buy or build much clever storage. Bit by bit we are getting there. But of course I am accumulating more and more too! So I have decided I need to start being brutal and clearing some of it. And giving everything I am keeping a “home” – where if it goes back to after you use it.

Last week I got a suprise, because these guys called to the door to assess our house for insulation and vents (I was very sceptical) but it turns out that at some stage this week our landlord is having our attic insulated. And they told me I need to empty my attic so they can do it. Oh my God. That is a job and a half. My husband and one of my step-sons spent hours taking down all the boxes, and I told them where to put it (separate piles for different categories) so now I have decided I am going to clear through an awful lot of the stuff before it goes back up. It is mainly kids clothes. From Princess P for Baba Z, from the Boy in case I have another baby boy… and from Baba Z in case of another baby too (even though supposedly I am finished having babies!)!

So I have an awful lot of work to do, and no idea where to even start to be honest. And I’m having a bad time with my body at the moment, my back, shoulders and hips are in bits – so I’ve started seeing an osteopath… who says I shouldn’t lift, bend or twist! Talk about difficult with a 1 1/2 year old and trying to sort stuff! But I’ll do my best.

I have taken a few photos of the boxes from the attic in the bedrooms… and I’ll post them soon. I’ve shown a few friends and they have all said its like an episode from one of those hoarders shows!