Monday, March 25, 2019

This week

So, it’s been a big week for New Zealand.  We had a tragic mass shooting in the city of Christchurch, a city which has already suffered enough from the devastating earthquakes of 2010 and 2011.

I don’t want to ignore the mass shooting, and at the same time I don’t want to give airtime to the gunman and others of his type.  For me, it feels better to send love and blessings privately, and continue with my focus of creating beauty through words which will uplift and inspire you, my reader.

I don’t want to be scared or cowed by thoughts of all the terrible things that can befall us, and that’s why I don’t watch the news.  If something is big enough, they say you will hear about it, and I did, that’s for sure.  You can’t escape something as monumental as this and rightly so.

I’m more talking about all the sensationalist items that masquerade as news these days.  Positive Pollyannas are right when they call it ‘the Bad News’ because it is.  If I could suggest one change that would benefit your life, it’s to stop watching the television news or reading it online, and to cancel your newspaper delivery.

Find other things to fill your mind with – a novel to entertain and bring humour to you; a non-fiction book which will inspire you to try something new; a soothing book of life meditations.  My Kindle is filled to the brim (literally) with so much goodness, both fiction and non-fiction.  And before my Kindle I always had half-a-dozen books by my bed to flip through along with my current novel.

I know from my father dying recently that life is fleeting, and it’s also for the living.  We literally can be here one day and gone the next and it’s almost too big to contemplate a thought like that.  I’m sure those who died in the tragedy ten days ago fully expected to be home that evening for dinner with their family.

All we can do is enjoy each day to the fullest and treat everyone we meet with love and respect.  Recent events are a sombre reminder that we are alike underneath.

xx Fiona

Friday, March 15, 2019

5 Ways to be Financially Chic

I thought it was about time for a money post today.  Even though I don’t write about money a lot, it’s one of my favourite topics to ponder.

Back in the day I was all about living frugally.  When my husband and I first started working together in our retail footwear business we were b-r-o-k-e.  Not broke-broke, I mean we could still buy food, but we both our incomes dropped severely to get our business off the ground and we watched every cent like a hawk and read the supermarket specials each week like nobody’s business.  We made an art form out of finding free things to do and it’s a lucky thing we both love spending time at home – our little rented place was our sanctuary back then.

Even when we were able to let the purse strings out a little, we were still in that thrift mindset.  We carried on and saved up a deposit on our house at the same time as paying off our business loan.  Once the business loan was paid off we bought a house with that deposit.  Then, and I still can’t believe we did it, we paid off our home in less than five years.  (If you’d like to read more about this, my book ‘Financially Chic’ on Amazon goes more in depth).

Somewhere about that time I discovered the concept of having an abundance mindset; that to only pinch pennies was not the final answer.  I now have a very happy balance of frugality and abundance, and this is something I tailor-made for myself because it didn’t feel right for me to be either one or the other.  And that’s how I came up with the term ‘financially chic’.  It’s about being a good steward of your money and living in a way that is low-stress because you’re not worrying about your finances, but also of living a life of beauty, ease and pleasure.

In that spirit, allow me to share with you my top five ways to live financially chic a la Fifi:

One. Talk positively about money and finances

As much as possible I endeavour to keep thoughts around abundance and money high.  I try not to judge people for spending lavishly and trust that there is enough for everyone.

Some believe that money is like air – you don’t gulp in great lungfuls of air because you’re scared it is going to run out, and you don’t chastise others for taking too much.  It’s an interesting concept, isn’t it?  I remind myself of that when I start feeling panicky because of something like a large bill that’s just come in.

Two. Replace shopping with other hobbies and pastimes

When I used to shop for leisure, it impacted my finances severely.  I was spending as much as I was earning so was never getting ahead.  At that time I was paid monthly and the balance of my entire pay after rent and other expenses went on the credit card not long after I received it each month.  And it’s not even like I was getting that much pleasure from shopping either, it was just a weekend habit I’d gotten into.

Nowadays I might shop for something I need, otherwise I’ll enjoy meeting friends for a dog walk or a coffee, do some writing, sewing or organising at home, or get my shopping fix by menu planning for the week and shopping for my groceries in a leisurely way.  I make better food choices when I am in a relaxed frame of mind too.  When I do buy something like clothes for the new season, or a pair of new sunglasses (which I did last weekend!) I enjoy it so much more and appreciate what I've bought too, because it's not an everyday occurance.

Three. Make home a fun and nice place to be

This could tag onto point number two nicely – imagine if instead of going shopping on a Saturday afternoon you decided to makeover your home instead – a makeover-lite.  For me it this would entail tidying up the main living areas and our bedroom, then adding homemaker touches such as candles, a couple of new magazines displayed, bottles of sparkling water on the kitchen counter and stylish music playing.

My point of reference is always a boutique five-star hotel, so I think how I can recreate that at home and make it feel like I am checking in for the weekend.  When you make the most of your home, you are saving money in two ways – by not going out and spending it, and also by making the most of the money you are already spending on your home (rent/mortgage etc), plus you are creating a beautiful space that you can enjoy every day, not just for the one evening you go out for an expensive dinner, say.  Why not organise a dinner party while you’re at it?  It doesn’t need to be expensive; serve something you’re good at and have fun with your family and/or friends.

Speaking of dinner, I dreamed last night that I went out to dinner by myself at a very fancy hotel restaurant and decided to order whatever I wanted off the menu.  I remember a bottle of champagne that was $1,200… Throughout the dinner the waiter kept coming over to check that I knew how expensive it was going to be with everything I was ordering, and I said yes, thank you, that's fine.  The bill came to $4,798 – yes I recall the numbers – and I was so glad when I woke up that it was only a dream – I just saved myself almost $5,000! If anyone has dream analysis skills, please enlighten me :)

Four. Plan no cost outings (or ‘innings’)

As with dinner-at-home-with-friends, there are tons of things you can do that don’t cost money (or much money anyway).  Just as you can get into the habit of going to things that cost such as concerts, dinners out, skating, bowling etc, you can get into the habit of doing low- or no-cost activities.

Some of my favourites are taking a picnic to a public park or beach (or the winter equivalent, the carpet picnic which is so much fun), getting a stack of books and magazines from the library instead of a retail store, a games night with friends, a movie night at home, dinner parties (pot luck if you want) and afternoon tea (the image on this post is at my aunty's house - she hosted her own ladies afternoon tea for her birthday recently).

Five. Insource something you currently outsource

Think about all the things you pay someone else to do and see if you really value the service or if you aren’t fussed that much.  Is there one thing you could take on yourself without much deprivation?  Some things, I LOVE having done or can’t easily do them myself.

I now have a weekly cleaning service which I would go without other things for, because my ladies do such a great job whereas I can procrastinate a whole day away on a few hours of housework.  I also love having my hair done every couple of months, but for everything else I do it myself – facials, nails, waxing my legs.  I actually prefer to do these things myself, it feels more luxurious to do them at home.

It will be different for everyone, so make a list of your outsourcings and see if you love them all or if you can save some money effortlessly.

And that’s what it’s all about for me – not feeling deprived.  Compared to others, I still live a very frugal life, but I feel so abundant every single day.  I am grateful for everything I have, I don’t take things for granted and I don’t like to waste money.

I hope my five tips have sparked off some ideas for you, and please tell me, what’s your favourite way to feel financially chic?

And if you’d like to read more of my thoughts on feeling abundant on little money, please visit my book ‘Financially Chic’ on Amazon and read the free sample to see if it might be a contender for your Kindle library or bookshelf at home.  My aim with this book is to inspire you, the reader, to feel differently about money and personal finance - to view it as fun and exciting and not scary at all.  I want to inspire you to change your financial life for the better and it totally is possible, because I've done it myself!


PS.  Thank you for all of your thoughtful comments regarding videos versus written posts.  I plan to do a mix going forward, because I love doing both.  I know from videos I have watched of others, I have enjoyed getting to know them more.

Transcripts are just not viable for me at the moment sadly; it would simply take me too long to do myself and I haven’t found a transcription service that picks up on my accent well (and doesn’t cost a fortune as well).

When I do a video I will try and remember to do a few notes while the topic is still fresh in my mind so that if you don’t want to watch the video, you can still get value from my posting.

For me, I prefer to read too, but I listen to YouTube videos on my phone while I’m tidying the house, weeding the garden, going for a walk, washing the dishes, chopping the vegetables...  It passes the time quicker and I learn something new.

Perhaps you could put your headphones in and listen to my videos that way if you don’t have the time to sit and watch one?  After all, it’s just talking, I’m not actually showing you anything so you can happily listen along and not miss out on any visual action.

Also, I have started a new book!  No details just yet but know I am writing, yay!  I always feel so energized with a new project, it’s a wonderful feeling!


Monday, March 4, 2019

Creating your dream life in one hour a day: 6 tips to get you started

Where I am in my life today feels like a dream come true. 

For decades I worked in an office (and then our retail business) but I longed to be at home, a happy housewife with her creative pursuits.  I am a homebody who loves to create a serene space.  Now that I work from home as a writer I feel like I get the best of all worlds: spending a lot of time in my home environment, satisfying my creativity and being self-employed too.

In this video I share with you my six tips to getting started on creating your dream life… in an hour a day.  I wanted to talk from this angle because a lot of ladies say they don’t have time to do anything different when they are already working hard at their job and looking after their home and family.  I want to encourage you to not settle for ‘the normal life’ such as this if you want more.

And it’s not just about becoming a writer either, it’s about following whatever that dream life is for you – whether it’s starting your own business on the side or something completely different.

I hope you enjoy this video and please let me know your thoughts in the comments!

xx Fiona

PS.  I know the video is a little quiet again *le sigh*, but I have now worked out the issue. Another new video has already been recorded, but after that... the sound will be louder! Yay!

Mentioned in my video is the free ten-email mini course to start creating your dream life as a successful author.  If this is something that interests you, you can request to join here:

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