Some things I wish I knew As a New First Time Mom

Ok it’s been a while since i’ve done anything parenting related and i know many of my readers and viewers came to my channel because of my original minimalist baby lists videos.

Finn my son is now around 20 months! Gosh time has flown. When i look back to what it was like when he was a little baby and the things that concerned me as a parent i can now definitely see why mothers of multiple children approach their subsequent pregnancies and newborn phases so differently to first time moms. I thought given that i’m now out of this phase completely it would be a good time to reflect on the things i’ve learnt and maybe what i might have done differently (plus things i’m glad i did) or will do differently next time around.

1. Ignore the Clock when you have a Newborn
Unless you have a child that is underweight and you have medical professionals concerned and needing you to log every feed and every wet diaper (which they may do for the first few days after birth in which case use a phone app as your brain will be too muddled to keep track of details like that at this stage), make every effort to ignore the clock. This is particularly the case when it comes to sleep at night. It is going to feel so much worse if you are more aware of exactly how little you might have got in the beginning. Likewise lose any notion that you need to be in bed at a certain time or you or newborn should be sleeping a certain number of hours. Particularly in the first 3 months, just go with the flow, listen to your baby. Feed them when they need. Sleep whenever you can and don’t wear a watch! One thing that really helped me with this was having my newborn in my bedroom with me in a co-sleeper. That way i could easily feed my son while i remained in bed and didn’t even need to turn the light on. If you need to do lots of diaper changes at night use a dim light (or cover a lamp with something to make it less bright) so that you don’t get too woken up and can get back to sleep quickly afterward.

2. Baby Things Seem Really Important Especially Before the Birth but They Really Don’t Matter Afterwards.
I think part of the nesting processes for many first time moms is to get caught up in the excitement of planning a nursery, picking out cute outfits etc. This can extended into the baby phase too especially if you get caught up with something like woven wraps in the babywearing world or collecting different cloth diapers. Personally i did get quite focused on babywearing for at least the first 9 months after having Finn. This was kind of fun, but looking back on it now probably quite unnecessary. You of course need things that work in the right ways, that are functional, but once you have the necessities everything else is just fluff. We still babywear but use a toddler buckle carrier as it is the most functional for us at this stage. I kept 3 baby wraps for when we might have a future baby, but to be honest probably 1 would be enough. I certainly won’t be getting any new ones or trading the ones i have. Avoiding the types of facebook groups that encourage buying and selling certain collectable type baby items (certain clothing brands, cloth diapers, baby carriers, prams etc) is probably a good idea. You do not need to be part of these groups to feel like part of a mummy tribe. Just go to a playgroup or if you want online find a group that is generic and not about owning a certain type of item.

3. Babywearing was/is Awesome. I highly recommend parents get a baby carrier. Preferably something ergonomic as it will be most comfortable for you and your baby. It will free up your hands, allow you to go places you couldn’t with a pram and is great for Dads to be able to be more hands on. Careful though as there is whole consumer world of babywearing which is easy to get caught up in. Unless you want to get caught up in it – just find something that works for you. You might want to trade it for something that works better with a toddler when they get older if you still want to wear. But apart from that it really doesn’t matter what a carrier looks like or it’s rarity or the type of unicorn thread that it was spun from. Your baby certainly doesn’t care.

4. Baby Baths are Better than Many Blogs Say. When i first investigated what the absolute minimalist list of items that i needed for my newborn many blogs said how unnecessary a baby bath was. Personally I have found the opposite and that they were fantastic for the first 6 months. The great thing is baby baths are very easy to come by 2nd hand for next to nothing. I paid $5 for mine and then sold it for $5 when i was done. So there is no need to store one between having babies as you can just get them every time you have a new baby and probably lose no money (same applies to bouncer seats). The reason i really liked it was mine had a kind of reclined seat in built into it. This made holding my baby safely in the bath SO much easier. In fact it really did all the work and i could just use my hands to do that actual washing, of course keeping and eye that my son didn’t fall off. Additionally having a bath meant i didn’t need use as much water as i would have if had to fill our whole adult sized bath. Many people just use a laundry sink. My son was too tall to fit in that from very early on and i would have found holding him safely above the water in a sink much more difficult than it was with my baby bath. Having a seat in it though is key. It isn’t a complete necessity but it does make life easier which you might appreciate given it doesn’t cost much.

5. Choose the Smallest Pram you can Get. I’m so thankful that i made the decision early on to get a very compact pram. So many of my friends got huge monsters that were difficult to get in and out of cars and impossible to take through grocery isles. Many of those friends ended up purchasing multiple prams because of this. My pram was very simple, not a lot of bells and whistles. it doesn’t have fancy holders for things on the handelbars. The basket on the bottom is fairly small. But it works really great. We didn’t use it an awful lot in the beginning preferring babywearing. Now that my son is a toddler though it gets a lot more use. An alternative if you love babywearing might be to just use a carrier until your child is old enough to sit in a stroller. Personally though i like the fact my pram has bigger wheels than a stroller so is easier to take for long walks that are exercise for me. When we travel we just take our buckle carrier and if necessary purchase a $15 stroller at our destination.

6. The Safest Carseat Isn’t Necessarily the Most Expensive. This one i luckily learnt through very detailed research before my son was born. There is no correlation between cost and safety. In Australia we have a website where they publish the result of independent carseat safety testing. It turns out some of the extra features in more expensive seats marketed as providing greater safety actually can do the opposite! Some baby seats aren’t actually all that safe. The required standard maybe isn’t high enough. It really is worth while checking out these independent testing websites (assuming there are others in other countries). In the end our carseat cost $200 whereas if i’d just bought the one i thought would be safer and fit in our car i’d have spent $300. The other thing to know is that not all carseats will fit in all cars. If you have a small car you might need a more compact one.

7. You do not need to buy a 4WD just because you have a baby. This one probably is more of a ‘thing’ amongst more affluent people however there is a  huge trend in certain communities to go out and purchase a new 4WD with the idea that this is a more suitable family car than whatever they previous had. 4WDs are terrible for the environment, cost a lot to run and are completely unnecessary unless you either take them off road recreationally or live in a rural environment where it is necessary. They are also not necessarily any safer than other cars tending to be quite top heavy and more likely to roll and will do more damage to others if you get in an accident. There are compact child car seats that will fit the smallest of cars these days. Unless you have a 2 seater convertible or ute then chances are your new baby will be able to fit into whatever car you might already own. New car purchases because you are having a baby really should only be truely necessary when a family is expecting a new child and they already have every seat full in their current car with their other children.

8. Cots are Pretty much the Same Regardless of the Price. In Australia at least the safety standard for baby cots are pretty strict and anything sold new must comply. This means that a $80 ikea cot will be as safe as a $1000 designer brand one. We went with ikea and it is fine. If you are paying more it is for the looks only. 2nd hand is also fine so long as it isn’t too old as then it might not be complying with safety standards. Getting a new mattress though isn’t recommended as there is some link with SIDS and old mattresses possibly due to bacteria or something that might get into the mattress. If you are worried about ‘off gasing’ of new mattresses, purchase it early on in the pregnancy and unwrap it so it is off gassed before you ever need to use it. Little babies weigh next to nothing so cheaper foam mattresses provided they are firm enough will be just as safe and comfortable for them as an expensive spring or latex mattress.

9. A dresser is more versatile than a change table. We really like the decision we made to not have a change table and instead get a set of drawers and just put an ikea inflatable change mat on the top for newborn diaper changes. As soon as your child starts rolling using a change table becomes unsafe anyway so this way we still have the drawers which we keep all his cloth diapers in. Most of our changes these days as a toddler happen on the floor or a bed with a travel change mat underneath him.

10. Forget fashion and get a backpack. One common status item among moms is designer diaper bags. Some of these can be very expensive and very heavy especially the leather ones. Carrying a diaper bag on one shoulder can also be quite uncomfortable even if it is only occasionally that it isn’t slung over a pram. Give your self a bit more comfort and use a backpack instead. This will not only encourage Dads to be more involved in helping carry the bag from time to time but it just makes much more sense. Backpacks are also easy enough to attach to prams when need be and you also don’t actually need an official ‘diaper bag’ branded backpack either. Anything with a few different pockets and easily cleaned fabric will do, you might even already own something. Try and use something more lightweight. The other thing to note on this topic is that with just 1 baby you probably will go out on lots of trips where you don’t even need a big diaper bag. This is because at the baby stage all you really need is a diaper, maybe a change mat and some wipes. For short trips i prefer to just put these items in a small handbag and i save my backpack for when i’m out for several hours. Even then i don’t bring anything with me except diapers, sunscreen, a hat, an emergency onesie, wipes, a wetbag, a water bottle and some food (and that list is for a toddler who eats solids, a baby needs much less).

11. Every Baby is Different. Every Parent is different, do what feels right to you. Finally as a new parent you probably will get all consumed with conversations with others about the finest details about diapers, developmental steps and sleep schedules. At the end of of the day none of it really matters unless you are feeling like you are struggling and need to reach out to others for help (in which case maternal health nurses are probably your best bet for good advice). You don’t need to feel like you are doing something wrong if it is different to your friends or if your child is developing along a different schedule to other babies. There is so much variation. Do what feels right to you and what keeps your baby most content. Your baby needs love, food and security and not a lot else.

12. Try to Take it In. It is hard at the newborn stage when you are sleep deprived but do the best you can be be mindful and enjoy your child at this stage. You’ll definitely look back on this time in the future and miss your child being at this lovely stage. All stages are lovely of course – they are just very different and the baby stage goes by so very fast!


Financial Independence for Young Adults

I got asked a while back to give some advice to younger people starting out in adult life on financial independence. This comes from me as a 31 year old woman, married with a almost 2 year old and a completely paid for 3 bedroom home in Australia. I do not regret for one minute any of the financial decisions i made to get to this point so do feel like i might have a perspective that is useful to share on this matter. So here it is:

Firstly it is AWESOME if you are in your teens or 20s are are thinking about financial security. You are so lucky that you came to this awareness at this age as you get to take advantage of time in in a way that people who don’t get to this point till much later in their life can. So congratulations!

Now there are a few points i’d like to make:

1. it is about INTENTION, and BALANCE at this age. The most powerful decision making tool you can have when it comes to spending or investing money is what its long term implications might be personally for you. For example money you can save and invest will grow in value which means that if you invest $1000 today it is worth so much more than $1000 invested in a few years time due to compound interest.

HOWEVER you also need to balance the fact that opportunities and experiences that will shape the course of your life might only be available now in your youth and not when you are older. For example if later in life you have a busy job, have children etc. travelling overseas for long periods of time or at all might be more difficult or expensive. If spending a year volunteering overseas is what you are passionate about doing this while you are young and have more freedom might make more sense than delaying it till you are older simply for the purposes of investing money. Likewise spending money on education can be a really wise investment if it is in a career you are passionate about and might result in a better income.

It would be hypocritical of me however to say that you should only invest in education if it is in a career that is likely to make you good money. Personally i studied archaeology despite the fact that many people told me i’d never get a job. Right now i’m finishing writing my PhD which is probably a degree i’m unlikely to require in the kinds of jobs that i’m likely to do. I did actually get work in archaeology, but regardless it was something that loved and i have experienced that the skills I got from study regardless of the field can be valued in the workplace if you sell them the right way in interviews. I also thoroughly enjoyed the experienced is got during my student years which i wouldn’t trade for anything. To me this was money well spent even if it doesn’t necessarily result in a higher income. It is important to note however that all of these choices i made were intentional. I would not have done a PhD if i’d had to take on a lot of debt to do so – rather i was paid a smaller amount in comparison to a normal wage but an amount i could live on and even save. My undergraduate degrees because they were in Australia also were reasonably priced and my loans for these are now fully paid and did not have interest applied (we are very lucky in Australia as our education loans only got up with inflation,  not interest). I think if you are in the US or elsewhere where education prices are a lot higher and you want to do a degree simply because you love the topic without much chance for a job afterwards, i’d be looking for a cheaper university to study at and going into it with the full knowledge that it was paying for an experience. Avoid interest payments on loans as much as possible by either not having loans or paying them extra fast (such as by getting a scholarship, working on the side, studying only part time while working full time or asking parents for an interest free loan if that was within their means). If on the other-hand you are studying to be a medical doctor then taking on debt for education is likely a far less risk to your future financial security as you’ll likely get a much higher paying job to pay back the loan. I would not be going into a lot of education debt if you are going to be studying something you are not passionate about just because you think you should get a degree. Or using university as way of finding yourself. Find yourself though other cheaper means before paying that much for an education to ensure it is money worth spent and is towards something you truly value. The point is to be intentional with this money spent and recognise that there is absolutely nothing wrong with not getting a higher degree especially if you do not have a particular career goal in mind.

2. Avoid loans at all cost and question your true needs. For many people getting a car loan, paying back the cost of their mobile phone though payment plans to phone companies or building up credit card debts is a normal part of life. These behaviours are the biggest hinderances to future financial security as they are essentially spending far more often multiple times the value of the thing you get the loan for. If you can’t afford a car then you can’t afford a car loan. One of our cars i purchased for $500 and it works just great. There are cheap cars out there you can save in cash for. There are often ways to live without a car as well. During my uni years i lived in share houses within biking or walking distance to my university so i never needed to own one. It is often cheaper to change your location to one that you can use public transport, bikes or walk than it is to pay the cost of a car plus insurance, fuel, maintenance etc.  If you can’t afford to buy a fancy iphone upfront then also you probably can’t really afford one either. Get a refurbished 2nd hand one or buy another brand of phone that is cheaper. My current phone cost me $100 new and it works fine. It is because of choices like having a $500 car and a $100 phone that i outright own my $465K house. On the other hand there is also nothing wrong with saving up to buy nice things if they are things you value. Just save up for them so you are only paying the value of them, not that, plus interest overtime.

My thoughts on credits cards though are that there is  nothing wrong with having one if your personality type is as such that you would always pay it off in full without ever having to pay interest on it. Credit cards can be useful as they are great way of tracking where you are spending money versus cash, and depending on how much you spend per month can score you ‘points’ for things like grocery vouchers which might save you money overall. However never make purchases based on trying to get credit card points as that defeats the purpose and make sure if you have to pay a credit card annual fee you actually are getting more than this value back from vouchers. Otherwise just use a no annual fee card without ‘points’ or just use debit. If you are someone that might be tempted to spend beyond your means than avoid a credit card completely and use debit instead so you can still track expenses through statements. There is a big myth that we need things like credit cards  or car loans to build a credit rating to buy a house in future. If you are in the US listen to Dave Ramesey on this subject. You will be able to get a loan if you can afford one in the future without needing a credit score. My bank used to consistently ask me if i wanted a mortgage from them because they saw how much money i had saved in my account. Ultimately if you have a big deposit and a reliable income you can get a home loan when you need one. And ideally a home loan should be the only loan you ever have to get, followed by an education loan if you really need.

3. Track your expenses with a program. One of the best things to do to understand where you money is going and what your true savings potential might be is to track your spending. Websites like Mint can do this from your bank statement or there are programs like MoneyDance (which is what i use) you can download to your computer. This divides everything to categories. This is the first step you need to do if you want to do a budget. Although i’m not necessarily a huge fan of the traditional budget as you can see below in point 6.

4. Have an Emergency Fund. Even if you are still living with your parents, try to build up an emergency fund. When i was 14 and got my first paid job i saved up $1000 before i even spent any of the money i earned and always had at least that amount of savings ontop of my spendings. The amount that is required for emergencies will be larger the older you get and more independent you may be from your family. Ultimately it will be this that enables you to be completely independent which gives you the freedom to make more choices. I like Dave Ramsey’s advice for this. If you have debts then start with $1000 as your emergency savings. Once you are debt free (he doesn’t count mortgages and i wouldn’t count any debt that doesn’t earn interest such as Australian student HECS loans) build that up to 3 -6 months of what the minimum you’d need to get by in terms of living expenses (probably 3 months is fine if you are a single student or a bit less if you have family you can truely rely on as a backup while very young). Have this money in something like a high interest bank account so it can grow a bit by itself but is a bit more difficult to access but not impossible should an emergency arise. And it is ONLY for true emergencies.

5. Save by Investing. One advice my husband was given when he was young  was “if you don’t know what you want to do with your life then just save money”. This was sage advice for him at the time especially as he had started professional work and had a good capacity to save money although he does say he wishes he’d saved more at this age as he could have. Of course don’t save at complete expense of experiences that might later inform you of what you want to do. but you do not need to have a specific savings goal like a home or a vacation, a car in order to save. Save now and you can work out the best way to use that money in the future and you’ll be so thankful you made that choice to do so in the past. Remember the power of compounding interest. And ultimately everyone should at some point be saving for a time they might be unable to work (ie retirement) so again you don’t need a ‘thing’ to be saving up for, it can simply be saving money for future living expenses which is ultimately the whole philosophy of financial independence.

Now when it comes to where to put these savings this is important. You don’t want them just sitting in a regular old bank account that makes no interest. You don’t want it stored as cash under your mattress. The reason being that inflation will erode all the value of that money and you won’t be getting it to work for you by growing and generating more money on its own. Interest rates from banks change a lot so this will take a bit of research. But if the interest rate is higher than inflation from a term deposit or a high interest bank saving account this can be good options when you start out. This is what i did until only very recently although the interest rates available were quite a bit higher than they are currently as i write this article. When interest rates are really low though then it can be better to look to other ways to invest. Bare in mind though investment carries risk – the risk that the things you have invested in loses value. Generally the greater the risk the higher the potential reward. Personally i’m not a fan of risk. And if you take on quite high risks with investing it can be little better than simply gambling.

Now being a younger person chances are you don’t have a large sum of money to invest. This increase the risks if you invest that money in say just a few things such as single stock shares or even an investment property. One way to manage risk is to diversify your investments. When you have smaller amounts of money this can be achieved by investing that money in things that are naturally diversified. For example index funds. They are like buying a share in a company that owns the entire stock market therefore you own a bit of the whole stock market too. Mutual funds can also be another option although make sure you investigate the costs that come with these. Personally we have index funds spread between 2 different funds to increase the diversity. Vangard is an example of this. Do you own research, i’m not qualified to provide advice on this and especially not based on your personal circumstances. But the key things to consider for your own life in investing are 1. manage your risk by diversity  2. find ways to invest that reduce your investment costs 3. Don’t take financial advice from people that will sell you investments, or random people in your life who may have just been lucky and not actually skilled in what they are advising.

6. Pay yourself first but don’t be too strict with budgets. This one relates to budgeting. So after tracking your expenses and working out what is a good amount you can afford to save every month, then set up an automatic payment from your everyday bank account into a higher interest saving account. Even if you are going to use that money to buy something like index funds it is important to have it separate from your general spending account so you don’t use it for anything else. It might not make sense to buy index funds every month due to the buying costs and be better to save up a larger bundle of money before going through with the purchase. That is where having a higher interest savings account is useful. Also the savings account might be it for you if it earns decent interest or you want to wait while you research the best ways of investing while saving money in the meantime. Either way it is best to have at least 2 bank accounts – a spending account and a saving account.

Now after this automatic payment into savings is made, the rest of the money you need to think about what to do with. Some people like to have a very detailed budget with lots of categories. Personally i don’t like strict detailed budgets. To me they are a licence to spend more money than might be necessary in certain categories (ie oh i have $50 left in my clothing allowance, so i might just buy this thing i wouldn’t have even considered if i only bought clothing when i actually needed it). If you have categories though where you tend to overspend and have room to reduce, it can be helpful. Personally our family has a food budget and our savings budget that is it. Our food money goes into yet another bank account so it is easy to track how much we have left. Yes we do tend to go out to eat if we notice we have money left. Before however we were spending much more than our monthly allowance so it helped us to get it down and we have decided we value the experience of occasional dinners out as ‘date nights’. So this is intentional spending which is what i’m saying is key. We do not however have a budget for things like clothing, entertainment, fuel as just try to spend as little money as we can on these things and expenses like insurance are necessities we don’t have any ability to reduce,  so again don’t need an ‘allowance’ as such. The key is getting that savings amount right so there is enough left to cover all your necessary expenses in your spending account. So overall we just try to spend as little money as we can with the goal that any money left over in our spending account at the end of the month then goes into savings. Putting extra into that savings account is very satisfying. So you don’t want to be too hard core with the amount you automatically save, or you might fail with this especially when unexpected expenses come up (which aren’t true emergencies). Too strict of a budget can cause some people to give up when they fail. Better to feel the thrill of having extra money left over after your automatic savings and expenses to save even more.

One approach you might find useful which we recently adopted since we paid off our home (because before everything was focused on just that) ,is if you have multiple big things you are trying to save for, use the left over spending money for these other items. So our automatic savings are for our financial future and our left over spending money is for big projects or things that aren’t truely necessities but we’d like such as holidays, improvements to our home, a new laptop etc. It is nice have a goal that is shorter term to encourage saving because our retirement is many decades off which is why saving for that is better automatically as otherwise we might not be motivated enough to just spend less for something less tangible. On the other-hand i find it quite easy to forgo eating out one night or buying something if i know the money i save by not spending then will go towards an item or experience i’ll get in a few weeks or months time that adds value to my life.

Ok i hope that helps. I think this advice probably applies to people at any stage of life. And remember when it comes to the investing side of things, do your research – i can’t advise you as such on this but can say that investing in something is better than sitting on money that earns no interest or interest less than inflation.





Should you Rent or Buy?

This is a topic that comes up a lot. In my own life, in the lives of my friends and family and in the questions I get asked on the more ‘financial’ videos on my youtube channel. Should you rent or buy?

For me the answer is very simple and obvious. Do what best meets your priorities and needs. So perhaps the reason that people even ask this question at is is that:

  1. They have pressures from society/family etc that tell them they should be doing something a certain way. Generally this is along the lines of they should own a home as that is what grownup people do. Or alternatively fear-mongering that if they don’t get in the property market now then they’ll end up financially behind and that they might regret this later in life especially if they then want to own a home.
  2. They haven’t thought deeply enough about what their personal priorities and ideal lifestyle actually is.
  3. The statement that rent money is dead money

So let me firstly address these 3 ideas. For the #1 reason that most people think they should own a home (or not own a home, although the first is more common) is because people and society tells them it is a requirement, but you don’t have to listen! Your worth and status is not dictated by the things you own. In fact if it is just to impress people that you are thinking about owning a home then know that probably you could afford to rent a far nicer home or one in a better location than you could afford to buy. In terms of ‘needing to get into the market’ then this is also a fallacy. It is a really good idea to invest savings for the future, but property is only just 1 way to do this an often not the best option especially for people with not a large amount of money on hand or who plan on living in one home for the rest of most of their life. You can invest in shares, you can in vest in shares of companies that invest in shares. You can also invest in an investment property that you personally don’t live in. There are many different options with different pros and cons but really all of these things are something to look into from reliable sources of advice (eg. Dave Ramsey) and mainly only after paying off debts you might have. Ultimately if you choose to buy or rent a home, it should be because you want to, and it fits with your lifestyle goals, not because you feel pressure to do so from outside.

For #2 then you need to spend some time really thinking about what your goals in life are. And if you don’t know that is actually fine too, but in that case DO NOT BUY because that is making a long term choice that will reduce your options in the future when you do know what you want to do. Even if you don’t know if you may or may not be happy renting forever or will want to buy in the future, then paying off debts and then saving up a nest egg is a really good idea. It could end up being your future home deposit, or it could just be a great asset of savings for you to kickstart some other kind of dream like travel, starting a business or just retirement. Saving is never a bad thing even if you don’t know what it might be for right now.

For statement #3 that rent money is dead money, then the logical counter to that is “well so is interest paid to the bank”. The reality is unless you have cash to buy a house and do not need a loan you are going to be spending money on your accomodation somewhere that doesn’t go into capital. People also often underestimate the costs involved in owning a home. When you rent, maintenance is covered in the amount, when you own you have to pay for it all yourself, plus rates or body corporate. The other thing is that maybe you are spending more renting than you could buying, but that that money is purchasing you a certain lifestyle you desire. And that is fine too. The point is to be intentional in your choice. Money buys you freedom, and what that freedom looks like is up to you.

So Why Might You Choose to Buy Over Rent?

  1. You know for sure you want to live in the same location for a long time. At a minimum 7 years is often the recommended figure as it costs a lot of money to buy and sell homes and you need that amount to be covered by an increase in value of the property. Bare in mind though there is no guarantee a property will go up in value, and the risk that it won’t increases with the shorter amount of time you wish to live in a location and hold that property. Remember you do always have the option to rent out your place if you needed to move, but that might come with extra costs in hinderances and not every home you might want to own would make a good rental so it is better not to make this this first choice strategy unless you’ve done a through research into the rental potential of a particular property and associated costs.This is the most important factor and everything else listed below should only really apply if this first requirement is met.
  2. Your interests include things not easily done in a rental. People who love gardening, renovating etc. These things may be less easily done in a rental. Bare in mind though if this is your only reason to want to own but none of the other reasons apply then those interests may be better left for the future when your circumstances change or find other ways to satisfy them such as gardening in containers or renovating a caravan.
  3. It is much cheaper to buy than rent. This one depends on where you live and other factors like interest rates, likely maintenance costs (it will cost less to look after a newer home than an older one usually). Bare in mind interest rates do not stay the same overtime unless you get a fixed loan. However rental prices also do not stay the same although the two are not necessarily linked in the same market. So if you want to stay in one place for a decent amount of time and you have worked out it is cheaper then go for it!
  4. You don’t like change. Personally i found the idea of being potentially forced to move at the end of a lease because say the owners wanted to move back into their home or the rent went up too high very stressful. I really liked the certainty of knowing where i was going to be living year to year and felt happy committing to the long term to a property. Bare in mind though interest rates can go up just like rent so you only get that certainty and peace of mind if you truely can afford the property you have purchased.
  5. You really want pets. Depending on the country you live in, and the pet that you want it can be difficult to rent with animals. Owning a home makes that easier. Even if you can rent with your pet you might find it more difficult to find places that will rent to you should you need to move, or you might be forced to pay extra rent. This could be stressful for some people and thus may be reason to think about owning a home of their own.

Why You might Choose to Rent over Buy:

1. You value the ability to move around more. When you rent you are not tied to a place any longer than your lease (and even then…). If you love the idea of living in lots of different places either for the novelty of it or perhaps it helps your career to be able to move at the drop of a hat then renting is definitely the best option for you.

2. You want to live in a nicer location or place. Quite often it is cheaper to live in nicer homes or better locations than it would be to service a loan for the same place. Thus people buying tend to have to get something at a lower value than they might be able to afford renting. This is more likely the case if you accept that accomodation regardless costs money and commit to paying what you have, to have the rental you really want. If you are trying to save up money for say a home deposit while renting, of course you probably want to be in something cheaper so you have more left over funds. If living in a higher value property is your priority then simply look at the money you are spend on rent as what it costs to pay for that experience. It is not a waste of money if that is what you value.

3. You don’t have a lot of time to look after a home. Busy people may not like the added pressures of having to take care of a home themselves. If the only home you can afford is older and unrenovated and you can’t afford to pay contractors to do everything for you, then you’ll probably have no choice but to do most things yourself. If you are about to have a new baby or work very long hours then renting may be a better option as you won’t have to worry about home maintenance.

Ok so there is no right or wrong with this. Decide what is important to you and go from there. Remember what you value can change over time and you can reevaluate, but purchasing a home particularly with a big loan, will reduce your flexibility to have different options in the future so you want to be fairly sure it is right for you before making that choice.

Personally home ownership was right for us now. This is because we wanted to live rurally and farm and be a part of a community for the whole of our lives. We only plan to move if for example the place becomes too difficult for us to manage in our old age. We do not see it as an investment for this reason. Should things go to plan we would be never accessing the capital in our place. Home ownership wasn’t always right for me personally however, even in times i could have potentially afforded to buy a small unit. For example when i was a single woman in my 20s i wanted to be able to be flexible to live wherever my career or life took me. I moved interstate multiple times. My husband also luckily didn’t get into the property market when he was being suggested to do so from family and friends. If he had,  then he would have already owned a home in the mining town where we met, and this would has significantly reduced our options as a couple. The homes in particular that he was being suggested to buy have gone down significantly in value and basically become unsalable as jobs in the area were cut. For this reason many people in that town would like to move on and live elsewhere but can’t afford to do so (yes this is a more unusual case, but regardless this shows how you need to listen to yourself when making such big decisions that affect your personal future, not what just others say will make you money etc).

Ultimately my husband and i have also felt comfortable making this choice for home ownership now because we felt we really could afford it. We saved up 2/3rds of the value of the home and paid the remainder mortgage in only a year. We believe in the principals of financial independence aiming to one day have a full income from our investments. Home ownership for us was the first step in this direction, however there is also no reason that someone couldn’t rent and be financially independent also.  If you are interested in how we saved up for our home and paid our mortgage completely then you can read this post.



How some Vegan Comparisons are Both Wrong and Sexist

This is a bit of a pet peeve of mine. And that is some comparison certain high profile people make in the vegan community with animal products and human bodily fluids. Look i get it – you are trying to gross people out into being vegan. The problem is that you are completely biologically incorrect in this comparison. This makes you look uneducated and silly and completely detracts from the purpose of your movement. Additionally many of these comparisons actually can be rather harmful to women in a way that perpetuates sexism in the idea that natural female bodily functions are some how gross.

There are two common statements in particular. The first: “eating chicken eggs is eating a chicken’s period“. The idea being that eating an egg is the same as eating female human monthly blood. Now firstly this particular statement is completely biologically incorrect. A human period is the uterine lining being shed – not her egg. The egg if unfertilised isn’t even in the uterus (it wouldn’t get there until several days after being fertilised, if it was fertilised) and is simply reabsorbed into her body. A chicken egg on the other hand – well it is the egg of a chicken. They are not the same and making the comparison is 1 stupid and 2 perpetuates the idea that women’s fertility cycles are some how shameful and disgusting. Note that the same comparison is not made with male sex fluids of which many people including vegans would actually even consume without disgust.

Next statement “if you drink cow’s milk you are drinking puss”. This one is less biologically incorrect. My issue with this statement however is that it again labels milk products as gross which is an issue when it comes to increasing acceptance of breastfeeding human moms. Babies drink quite a similar milk from their moms, which also can have puss – and even blood. I remember when i personally dealt with cracked and infected nipples when i had a newborn the health nurse said it was fine if my milk was pink from blood as it wouldn’t hurt the baby and if it got too bad they’d just stop drinking it. Grossed out? Maybe you are, but you really shouldn’t be as it is a fact of life and a greater acceptance of breastfeeding is crucial for both the feminist movement and children’s health.There is already a small group of vegans and non-vegans that think breastfeeding human babies is not vegan because it is technically an animal product. This kind of thinking again makes vegans look silly and extreme. I have no issue with the argument that cow milk is designed for baby cows (although saying that does make you sound a bit like a religious creationist, but that’s fine). My issue is with these attempts for these foods to be made ‘gross’ in our minds.

So that’s really the main ones. Now if you are vegan before you get all upset at this post, I’m not against veganism, in fact i support it. However i’m against stupidity and the perpetuation of ideas that ultimately disempower women. Personally i’d much rather people argue for veganism based on ethics or environmental impact or health – not try and gross people into it. So don’t get upset when someone points out you are wrong if you use these statements. Honestly people using these same statements over and over – some of these people i’m SURE must have done a little high school science in the past and actually know what an egg and period is – it makes you seem just brainwashed. Again that is not something that is going to attract people to veganism. Think and speak for yourself. May the animals and the environment be saved despite this stupidity.

Learning to Play Again: Fun not Exercise

As a kid i’d spend hours jumping on the trampoline, cartwheeling in my backyard, going to gymnastics classes and well just playing. And even without trying this made me fit and I never had injuries except maybe shin splints once i started wearing regular running shoes. As an adult however i’ve always struggled to really get a sustainable healthy exercise routine going. I’ve had times when i’ve had a good streak – with running primarily and very occasionally with going to the gym, doing workout videos or weight lifting. But apart from running and that was only for the brief time i was fit enough and injury free (and not pregnant), i’ve not really enjoyed it and only liked the feeling afterwards and not the process.

So i’ve decided to change my perspective on things. I’m quitting exercise! The word exercise to me is too attached to negative connotations – of pain, of a thing a ‘should’ be doing but feel guilty i don’t do enough of, of attempts at weight-loss. Play on the other hand a world full of fun, of happy memories as a child, of activities done simply for their enjoyment without a specific goal in mind. Therefore i am no longer exercising i’m playing.

Playing of course means different things to different people and it might take a while to workout what is fun. I think i’m going to look back at what i enjoyed as a child to guide me for the most part. So i’m going to be enrolling in an adult gymnastics class probably around the end of the year (after my thesis is handed in). But in the meantime i might do some mucking about at home to get my body a bit more conditioned for it. So i’ll be breaking out the fitball and just having fun with it (i also used to enjoy that as a child with my mum’s one). I think my son’ playmat might be perfect for practicing some things like handstands and whatnot too.

Some other things i’m thinking about trying is finding a unoccupied children’s playground and going there with my son (he’s going to be great for a reason to be there) or one of those adult outdoor public gyms if i can find one. I used to really enjoy bars in particular as a kid.

And then of course i’m putting playing pokemon go and ingress in this category as well.

I’m also kind of tempted to see if maybe i could some elements of parkour. Not living in a city that might limit me a bit. But the playground might be a good location to try some things out.

Will it the gym type stuff hurt at first – i imagine so. My body is definitely not what it used to be. I’m about 10 years older than the last time i did anything gymnastics like. I’ve also had a baby since then! But i can still vividly remember the joy of flying through the air in flips, of swinging on bars. That will get me going. And if it ultimately isn’t fun. Well then i’ll try something else.

How do you play?





Ways to Use Pokemon Go for Fitness

One of the benefits of both Pokemon Go is that it encourages people to get outside and walk. If your focus is just to catch them all however there are definitely ways to play the game without moving much. For example i’ve seen lots of hotspot areas in the inner city were people just sit beside a series of pokestops with lures so that they can catch a bunch of pokemon without even moving. Some people even try to play the game by car which is of course extremely dangerous if you are the driver but downright lazy if you are a passenger.

Assuming you want to use the game as a way to motivate you to exercise however here are some tips to help make this happen.

1. Play the game in less densely populated areas.
In the inner city there are areas where you can access multiple pokestops without even moving. But in more suburban areas the pokestops might be many hundreds of metres apart, even kms apart. Chances are this might describe what it is like near your home. So intentionally play in these areas setting yourself the challenge hitting up the local pokestops in a bit of a walking circuit. Never play the game by car! If you you only have city areas with many pokestops to play in, make sure you are still moving. You can do laps of long strings of pokestops or maybe just spin every few ones if there are so many you are stopping so often.

2. Make the Most of Hatching Eggs
Hatching eggs is one part of the game that is specifically set up to try and encourage you to walk. In fact there are speed limiters that mean that playing the game while driving or even cycling fast will not add up the kms/miles you need to hatch your eggs. The incentive is also always to use the eggs that need the longest distance to hatch as they have the rarest pokemon. So always make sure your incubators as full and use this as a reason to go out and walk with the game even if you are in an area without any pokestops or much chance of finding wild pokemon. The eggs can also act as a way of gaging how much exercise you are really doing too.

3. Aim for the distance walked badges
Another motivator apart from the eggs is the badge that keeps a tally of the total distance you’ve walk while playing the game. So this can give you an idea of what you’ve really achieved exercise wise.

4. Combine the game with a fitness tracker
I have a fitbit and love it in combination with Pokemon Go as it provides me additional motivation to get out and get ‘my steps up’. It also get to compete with my family and friends in little challenges. So i actually are getting my steps up while playing the game, it’s kind of perfect. I can also see from the fitbit app that my amount of activity has significantly increased since playing the game. This is of course not essential, but nice.

5. Run between Pokestops
If you want extra exercise then run between pokestops, only stopping or walking to catch wild pokemon or to spin the pokestop picture. This can be really good for people that are too unfit to run without stopping for a long way. It forces you to not go to hard too soon and you won’t even mind that if you are the competitive type as you’ll be focused on the pokemon anyway.

6. Use the Ingress Intel Map to Plan an Exercise Route
One of the problems with the Pokemon Go game in of itself is that it only allows you to see a small area around you on the actual app. However the game is based off data from another game called Ingress which did provide a map online with all the locations of it’s ‘Portals’ which are now mostly ‘Pokestops’ in the pokemon game. So set up an Ingress account and access the map. You’ll then be able to plan walking/running routes in areas that have regular pokestops scattered throughout. You might even discover you are interested in the Ingress game while you are there and it certainly is another great tool to be motived to exercise and especially for people that might feel pokemon are just a bit to kiddy to be associated with (Ingress is more grown up).

7. Think of it as Fun Exercise
It might be easy to think of the game as a waste of time. But if you are truely exercising by doing it then it is a productive use of your time. The way that you go about playing the game though will probably depend on your perspective of it. If you get focused on trying to ‘win’ and level up as fast as possible over everything else then chances are you’ll start using shortcuts like sitting on lured pokestops as ways of doing this. If you view it as exercise, just fun exercise you’ll more likely make it part of your regular routine and play the game in a way that prioritises the exercise component. Obviously it is a balancing act as it won’t be much fun if you can’t level up at all or catch many pokemon. So find that right balance for you.

8. Don’t bother with Pokemon Gyms
Gyms are kind of pointless for the most part and have you sitting in one place mashing your phone screen. So they don’t encourage exercise. Focus instead on hatching your eggs and catching them all in the wild as well as collecting as many pokeballs as possible from many pokestops.

8. When you get bored of the game, keep exercising!

Finally i think it is inevitable that we will all get bored of Pokemon Go and Ingress eventually. But hopefully the routine of going out and using it to go for a walk or run will become a habit. So when the boredom hits still go out and walk. If you need something external to keep you mind off the actual exercising then maybe look into listening to audiobooks or podcasts as another alternative or just music. There is also a game called Zombie’s Run that many people rave about.

Some Things To do Other than Shop (#MomsLife) | Minimalism

This post is inspired by a great video by a great minimalist channel Jenny Träumerin  where she listed some activities she liked to do instead of going shopping. So check that out for some more ideas, but these are the things I personally like to do which is from the perspective of a mom with a todder.

1. Go for a Walk/Run/Pokemon Go/Ingress/Geocache/Hike
Getting out of the house and going for a walk. Because i live in a rural place without footpaths and i have a 1 year old it does take a little more logistics. Usually i’ll have my son with me so if we are walking locally which will then be in the forest I’ll put him in a toddler carrier on my back. If we are walking around one of the local towns or the small city nearby i’ll push him around in his pram. We particularly enjoy walking around lakes or combining the walk with time in a playground.

2. Hanging out at a Local Community Drop-in/Children’s Centre
There is a wonderful drop-in centre in Ballarat we frequently go to called Parent’s Place. It’s provided by the Ballarat city council so completely free and it’s a wonderful safe place with lots of toys, free coffee and always lots of other mom’s and volunteers to talk to. Since i’m fairly new to the area and are yet to really get to know a lot of people this has been great for giving me a place were i can talk to people and it’s also one of my son’s favourite places to spend a lot of time and play.

3. Playgrounds
I get as much pleasure from helping my 1 year old around a playground as i did when i was kid playing on them myself. So much fun discovering all the different ones locally.

4. Swim
This is the only activity i’ll list that costs money but my son does weekly swimming leasons and given his age i have go get in there with him. It’s an indoor heated pool so this is a year round activity for us. Because of his membership too we can actually go in a swim together for no additional cost anytime. Teaching my son to swim is very important as we have a dam on our property and death by drowning on farms is one of the biggest danger for small children.

5. Play with our Animals
We have chickens and a dog. We also have sheep on our property (not ours), some of which are pets of the owner so super friendly. Our property is 20 acres with a big hill and a fantastic view from the top. So walking up playing with the sheep along the way and letting our dog run free around the fields is great activity. My son is even able to walk up the whole way now and loves chasing after the sheep.

6. Go for a Bike Ride
I need to do this one more, but when i have it’s been great. We got a child’s seat on the back of my bike so I can go for rides on one of the many fantastic bike paths around Ballarat with my son. It’s a great weekend family activity too. We have the one child’s seat but 2 attachments so we can move the seat either to my bike or my husband’s which is great.

7. Go to a Playgroup
We have a local playgroup that meets weekly and i’m involved in running. It’s a great way to get out of the house, meet some people and give my son time to play with other kids who is likely to grow up with and go to school with when he’s older.

8. Invite a Friend Over for Coffee
One of our wedding gifts was a really high quality expresso machine so we don’t need to buy coffee out very often. It is nice having one of my friends over to our house and her kid’s will play with mine. I personally like socialising in smaller groups to get to know people better.

9. Garden
Since we have 20 acres that will all eventually be part of our self-sufficient permaculture system there is endless gardening to do! Finn is now at an age he always wants to help, which is sometimes helpful, sometimes not. But either way he loves being outside in the garden.

10. Create Content
One activity i might do inside my house when i have a few spare minutes is create a video for my channel or a blog post. I find this a great outlet for creativity and communication. If i could just work out a way of lighting my space on cloudy rainy day’s i’d be set as so many of my other activities aren’t the best on rainy days.

11. Learn to DIY Something New
I’m always trying new things in the DIY realm. I find it really enjoyable and sometimes i discover that the homemade version works really well and it becomes a part of my regular routine. I’ve honestly tried more things that i could possibly list over the years but maybe some ideas you could try that i have enjoyed making are:

sourdough bread
baked beans
various spice mixes including Dukkah
almond milk
various cleaning products
apple cider vinegar