Usually, when reflecting on the year that has just gone I talk about the highs and the lows. But let me just say that 2018 was pretty stellar. It will be tough to beat in 2019. But bring it on!
So what happened in 2018 that was so special? Well, a lot of things actually. At times there was so much happening that I wondered if I could pull it all off. I was tempted to say ‘not now’ . But I believe that when the universe gives you opportunities, it is best to seize it and say ‘I’m ready and grateful for the opportunity – bring it on!’.
- I married my Neil. Yep, Neil and I got hitched – in a rather spectacular frugalista style. We had around 200 guests, I arrived at the church wearing a Hollywood style dress that my Neil bought for me in Antwerp, transported in a late 1950s vintage Bisque Chevvy. We then arrived at the reception in a horsedrawn carriage. We had four photographers (and two drones) and I felt like a movie star (albeit a frugal one). We had a fabulous signature berry cocktail (thanks Christine), lots of booze (we overdid it a bit – we have lots stocked in our kitchen), and guests dined on homemade sausage rolls, freshly made paella, chicken pad thai, homemade wontons and homemade fennel and pork sausages (to name a few things). We were crooned by talented country singer/songwriter Dana Hassall, and entertained by Majura the Magician and the ACT Town Crier. The best part was that it was a community and family event that radiated the love we felt. The second best part was the price tag: under $5,000 with our contribution of around $3,000.
- We had a big, long adventurous honeymoon – with the whole family. There were 13 of us all up: my Neil, my boys, in-laws and friends. What a party! And considering what we did, also good value. We took Murray’s bus to Sydney, hopped on a Scoot flight to Singapore (booked a year before and ridiculously cheap) and then spent three days there catching up with friends, eating local delicacies, and then going into Malaysia to see LEGOLAND. (Funny story that – we pranked my sons by telling them that I wanted to go shopping so that going to LEGOLAND would be a surprise. They had absolutely no idea, even as we were walking into LEGOLAND. They did not complain once when they thought they were going to watch me buy dresses.) We then boarded Royal Caribbean’s Ovation of the Seas cruise liner, and spent two weeks enjoying the ambience, food and entertainment on board. What a spectacular ship it is! And we all got a little bit too used to being waited on hand and food. And I put on weight (doh) despite daily tai chi and walks along the top deck.https://www.instagram.com/p/BpN-WmBhNXl/
- My Neil is recovering in health after his heart attack and subsequent pneumonia. Last year, I celebrated NYE as he lay in the ICU in the hospital. While we are planning a quiet night, it is a blessing to be able to celebrate with him. He had several months off work as he recovered and waited for the second set of stents to be inserted. He was lucky that he had over two years’ worth of sick leave and had a supportive workplace. We are also both in a good financial position so we can survive the unexpected. But not everyone facing major health issues is that lucky.
- We had a fabulous ski trip. Yes, I took my heart attack recovering fiance on a ski trip. With my dad. And made him drive (because I can’t drive his car). Thankfully, we had a great time. We took it easy and only did half days and it felt great being back on the skis. While skiing is not a cheap sport, we reduced costs by buying second-hand skis online that Neil waxed himself. We also got a great deal on the accommodation using my Entertainment Book.https://www.instagram.com/p/BlfjG_elL3Z/
- We travelled to Europe. My Neil accompanied me on a work trip (at his own expense). Actually, I had quite a bit of travel this year in a new role I landed. At times it was busy and stressful but it was also rewarding as I had an opportunity to demonstrate leadership. I inherited a curly and difficult issue and at first I wanted to run away and hide, but with persistence and by establishing trust I was able to find a way through. In my full-time work role, I finished the year on a good note.https://www.instagram.com/p/BkIK-N0DMvd/
And then there is the writing. Perhaps you have wondered why I have been quiet on here. Maybe you haven’t heard from me for a while, but there is a lot happening on the surface.
- I wrote a book – The Joyful Frugalista. The Joyful Frugalista is being published by Murdoch Books and will be in bookstores on 4 February. The book draws on themes that you read on my blog, but it is much deeper and more personal. The central theme is showing why being a frugalista is hip, cool and empowering. I hope you enjoy the book. You can pre-order it via Booktopia, and by doing so you can purchase it at a discount (14 per cent at the time of writing). I would be so grateful and appreciative if you could support it by preordering as this sends a message to bookstores that people WANT this book! (By the way, if you were wondering, my website has been renamed to reflect the new book title.)
- The first newsletter was published in December. I’m still working out how to save it onto my website (doh), but for now, you can read it here. If you like it, please subscribe and tell me what kind of content you would like to see.
- I was profiled in The Sydney Morning Herald/The Age – and in Money Magazine. Yep. It was kind of weird seeing a big picture of myself on the front page of the Money lift out section. But it is so validating to know that people are now starting to ‘get’ what being a frugalista is all about.
- I have been writing for Money Magazine Australia. I love Money Magazine. I have been a regular reader for years, so I was super chuffed when they asked me to write some articles for them. Check out an article on the cost of living that I wrote for the November 2018 print edition, and an article about Christmas gifts that help you save money that was shared online a few weeks ago. (What would YOU gift someone to help them save money?)
- I have written a few articles for news.com.au. Thankfully, I am good at laughing at myself because everyone had a giggle about me buying 60kg of white rice to take advantage of a Groupon voucher. True story. We do eat a lot of rice, but perhaps not quite that much …
- We now have a The Joyful Frugalista Facebook group. I am loving the community on here, and the way that everyone is so supportive in helping each other to live a fabulous frugalista life. I am learning so much from being a part of this group. Today’s discussion: what is the best saving’s tip you learnt in 2018?
While 2018 was an amazing year, it was not without its stresses. A new job, new relationship, family dramas, wedding, travel plus a book deal created a sense of competing urgency. Added into that was the paperwork surrounding a new name (ditched my married name and went back to my maiden name), a new website and new banking details as I shifted to a joint account with my hubby. My ’embrace everything the universe sends to you’ approach works for me as I loved the positive buzz, but oh my it required courage to keep to the course. The downside of all of this was that at times I felt frazzled, overwhelmed and scared about not being able to pull it all off. I’m deeply thankful to my Neil, and family, for their support during these times.
I also finished the year 5kg heavier than at the beginning of the year, which is especially embarrassing for me because I want to model a healthy lifestyle consistent with the Heart Foundation guidelines for my post heart attack Neil. 2018 was *supposed* to be my year of wellness, and while I did do a lot of healthy things, I still ate too much and my daily cycling routine got disrupted. So in 2019, I will need to prioritize my own health and well being. Thankfully, one of my good friends has given me a large stack of Weight Watchers magazines, and a close family member wants to embark on a similar journey, so I will be doing it the frugalista way. Please join me if you are also on a wellness quest in 2019!
At the end of this amazing, awesome, busy and productive year I wish you and your family all the best for the year to come. May 2019 be a year of love, opportunity and prosperity.