Ideas for a no-spend weekend! (That I would actually want to do)

Everywhere you look on the ‘frugal’ side of the interwebs, you’re going to stumble across a bazillion list-oids for great ways to save money. I love saving money! Count me in.

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Hello darkness my old friend…

One of the more popular lists seems to be ideas for things to do on a no-spend day/week/weekend/life. Again, I’m so on board with this. It’s easy to look at the day off looming ahead and start to wonder what you’re going to do with all of that spare time- maybe the movies? Brunch? Dinner with friends? Or perhaps you should go and check out that sale, just in case…

I am a huge fan of all of these things, but if you’re trying to save money for something special, weekend spending can really derail your efforts. The only problem is that a lot of these lists are full of things that don’t really appeal (or apply) to someone like me:

Meet the neighbours (you mean, talk to people?)

Join an organized sport (nope)

Hold a baby (could be creepy)

Window shop (you think I have that much self-control?)

So without further ado, I present my abridged list of things to do on a no-spend weekend! To keep it short, I haven’t included anything that I would do anyway (going for a run and meal prepping both seemed to crop up a lot). Nossir, these are all activities that I don’t normally participate in, but would definitely consider a fun or productive way to spend a day off.

Here we go!

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Volunteer There are so many places that are always looking for helping hands to support their daily running- it’s just a matter of finding one that aligns with your interests. For example, I would definitely be on board with gathering some friends and going to volunteer at the guide-dog HQ in exchange for wriggly puppy playtime! Maybe you love sports or get joy from being up to your elbows in dirt (me). I can promise you there’s someone out there just waiting to put those urges to good use.

Visit a Library  Apparently libraries are something that still exist? Who knew. The library used to be my absolute happy place when I was a kid- I would always leave with more books than I could carry, and could easily burn through one a day. I even remember a period where I would get my ‘quality time’ with Dad by going to the library and then out for takeways on a Thursday night.

So many great library memories! I don’t know why I ever stopped going.

– yes I do. Because I grew up, and grown up Abbie likes excuses to spend money.

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But in a library, there’s never any pressure to pick a book you’re definitely going to enjoy, or that you’re even going to read. Apparently libraries these days are also full of other great things like DVDs, audiobooks, movie nights, craft clubs and laugh clubs (maybe that’s just mine?). Channel eight year old me and head to your local library for so many books they make your arms hurt, and then head home to binge on your new (free) treasures. Can’t be bothered signing up at your local? Dig out that book you’ve been swearing you’ll read ‘one day’ and make it today.

Play tourist in your own city When you’re travelling, it’s normal to walk out your front door with a to-do list bulging with great activities for the day ahead. But be honest here- how many great activities in your own town will you ‘get around to doing one day’, or dismiss as ‘just for the tourists’? Time to play make believe! Write a list, grab your map, and try to tick off as many spots as you can on your tourist adventure. You may need the help of google beforehand to get a complete list of museums, art galleries, tourist sights and fun free activities to cram in- the friendly people at your local Visitor Information will be a wealth of information as well. Throw on a fake moustache and your very best foreign accent, it’s time to explore your home town like you’re not a local (bonus points if you find a Gallery opening with some free bubbles).

Host a Film Festival So what if all you’re playing is the first three seasons of Breaking Bad, or if you’re the only attendee. You are a classy individual and the sole curator of the latest entry on the festival circuit- Cannes, eat your heart out! If you feel like socializing, invite some friends over to join and really turn it into an event. Pick a theme (maybe every film with Jennifer Aniston ever, terrible horror films,  the most obscure 80s DVDs you found during your earlier library visit, or each person’s favourite childhood movie) and binge your heart out.

Crank out the board games or cards  Those pesky friends still hanging around from your film festival? Time to bring out those dusty old board games! I secretly love game nights- a group of my friends have co-ownership in the Firelfly boardgame and get together regularly to try and finish it (we have- once). And who doesn’t like Monopoly? Everyone apparently, but I’m going to make you play it anyway. If you really want to make it interesting, you can always play by my family rules- winner does the dishes, loser gets first go at the dessert.

Deep clean the house I know, this one doesn’t sound that fun. But how great will you feel at the end of the day when that one nagging corner of clutter isn’t glaring at you anymore? Ideas to get you started – the patch of mould in the bathroom, the expired goods in your pantry, that overflowing cupboard, or that task that came into your head as soon as I said ‘that one nagging thing’. Find a playlist or audiobook that is going to make this less painful for you, and get to it!

Bake One way to really clean out the kitchen is to use up all of those half-empty treats in a delicious experiment. If you’re anything like me, you’ve probably got a few boxes of pre-mix that are waiting for the apocalypse. Now is the time! That warm, gooey brownie is going to taste a lot better fresh from your oven than it would on an afternoon coffee date. If sweets aren’t your thing, why not try your hand at a loaf of home-made bread?

Learn a new skill The more ridiculous, the better. Always wanted to know how to juggle? This is the day. Or how about knitting or origami?  Or those crosswords that apparently make you really smart. Even learning a new language is easy to get started in this technological age- free programmes like Duolingo can get you on the right road.  Just be sure not to rush out and spend all your moolah getting set up for your new skill- if you’re anything like me, there are probably more than enough resources lying around the house.

Review your budget Yaaasssss, Abbie’s favourite thing. Pour yourself a nice cup of tea and clear a space, it’s time to brush up on your finances! Look over your spendings for the past few months- anything you can cut back on? Anything you need to start setting more money aside for? Now is also a good time to call up your suppliers and try your luck at getting your bills reduced- most companies have a surprising amount of wriggle room once you break the news that you’re considering changing suppliers. Make sure to check for any subscriptions that you’re no longer using (do you really need that Audible subscription now that you’ve discovered all the audiobooks available through your library’s website?). While you’re at it, why not set some financial goals for the rest of the year? Look at what you want to achieve and then work backwards to find a way to squeeze it into your budget.

Write down some goals While you’re planning ahead with your budget, why not think about what else you want to achieve in the next six months?

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It’s proven that writing your goals down makes you much likely to achieve them and even the most overwhelming goal can seem a little more possible if you break it down into baby steps. Use your no-spend day to get on course for the rest of the year or if you’re really artistic (which I am not), you could use the day to make one of those fancy vision boards.

Have a pamper day I guess? I’m as much of a sucker for a newly painted set of nails as the next gal so team this with a movie & a steaming cup of tea (can you tell it’s winter here at the moment?) and that sounds like a good avo in.

Host a clean-out potluck with friends Round up a bunch of friends, forbid them to spend a penny, and watch what everyone tries to create from the depth of their pantry. Edible? Maybe not. Hilarious? Hells yeah. I’m going to give it a go and report back!

Reach out to someone Be it that parent that you really should call, or that high school friend that you haven’t seen in years. Pick up the phone, or even better- send a letter! Channel your primary school crafter and make it a work of art. Make sure to put some glitter in that envelope as well- just so they never forget you.

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Rearrange your room Because nothing makes a fun day off like lugging heavy furniture! But seriously, changing things up is a great way to make you look at your room with fresh eyes, and maybe you would like to try the bed on the other wall for a bit?

Start a journal Is it just me or is journaling back in style? It feels like I’m seeing amazing layouts everywhere these days. You can use a journal to clear your head, tidy your thoughts, or record your daily life. It may feel dippy to be recording your deepest dreams and fears or who you saw for coffee yesterday, but as someone who has found diaries from eight year old Abbie, I swear that you’ll be happy you wrote it all down later!

Do any of the above in a blanket fort Because blanket fort, obviously

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Ideas for a no-spend weekend! (That I would actually want to do)

Have you embraced your Freebie? (Tom Hiddleston has)

While enjoying my morning routine of interwebs and procrastination – yes, I know I’m trying to cut down, but sometimes a gal has a moment of weakness and that moment is every morning ever.

Anyway, while browsing I came across this fun nugget of trivia that I’m sure everyone but me has probably already stumbled across. Apparently Kingofthebritishgentlemen Tom Hiddleston originally wanted to audition for the role of Thor in the Marvel Universe.

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Oh, darling

According to rumours, he actually got close to the final audition rounds before director/Shakespeare God Kenneth Branagh pulled him aside to gently break the news that they weren’t going to be offering him the part-

“Ken told me that every actor has something for free. Jack Nicholson has an irreverence for free, Anthony Hopkins has a majesty and gravitas for free. Idris Elba, who plays Heimdall in Thor – and, by the way, anyone who’s been complaining about a black actor being cast as a Norse god is just crazy; this is a fantasy world, for goodness sake – has a watchful gravitas for free. He explained that what I have for free is that I can’t turn off my intelligence. Therefore Loki would be much more up my street.”

How cool is that thought? That there’s some trait that’s so inherently you, that it’s just suffused into every role you’ll ever play- no need to work for it, it’s always just there. And the more I think of it, the more I can list actors and their ‘freebies’. Morgan Freeman has that playful God vibe, Helen Mirran (my queen) has that edge of ‘don’t mess with me bitch’- And Hugh Grant? Floppy fringe. I don’t think he can act without it

Acting world aside, I got to thinking of my own Freebie in the real world- the part of my personality that is just waiting to burst out. I would say that mine is enthusiasm. Push the right buttons and I will gush at a hundred words a minute about something I’m passionate about (you don’t want to be near me when you’re complaining about an unexpected bill, or how you don’t have any savings). The same will happen if anyone even breathes about a theatre piece I love, or some passing obsession that I currently have. It’s like my brain is wired to thrive on that endorphin kick I get from being ridiculously over-excited about anything.

I think I look like this…

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But I really look like this…

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For so long I’ve spent time apologising for my random outbursts, or trying to pretend that I am waaaay cooler than I actually am by moderating my responses (sound familiar?).

Recently I’ve started to wonder if maybe it isn’t just better to embrace that side of myself. And if I come off a little manic (and maybe a little ax-murdery, as has been mentioned in the past) then phooey- playing a serial killer is definitely on my to-do list anyway.

And if I know what makes me a little more ‘me’, then maybe that will help me pinpoint when I’m losing myself a little. If I can’t be bothered to muster a kitten scratch or a suggestion than an actor should roll their fifteen super funds into one account, then something is wrong in my life and I need to identify it. Because not having the time to scratch a kitten? Definitely not me.

So what would your freebie be? Is it something that you’re happy to indulge in, or something that only your nearest & dearest get to see? Maybe you have the dryest sense of humour, or you can’t help working to turn any room you walk into into a place of calm. Maybe you don’t even know what yours is yet (Hiddles clearly needed some help). Or am I raving (with enthusiasm) on a topic that isn’t really applicable in the real world?

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Have you embraced your Freebie? (Tom Hiddleston has)

Acting Jobs You’ll Never See

Mention to anyone that you’re an actor, and invariably the first response you’ll get will be somewhere in the ballpark of “Cool! What have I seen you in?”

If you don’t have a suitably recognisable response lined up, you’ll probably get a vague knowing smile and the sinking sensation that you’ve been filed under the category of “actor”‘ (aka bless her, she’s still clinging to those dreams).

But just because an actor isn’t appearing in the latest blockbuster, doesn’t mean they’re not making a reasonable living. Here a few jobs that you’ve probably never realised that actors are getting paid for right under your noses (and yes, I’ve done most of them).

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Corporate Work

Ah yes, the only time I get to dress like a fancy office worker (I secretly get office-wear envy, I love a good pencil skirt). Corporate work can encompass any number of different jobs, from filming informational videos to using improvisational skills as role-players. Want to train your staff in dealing with difficult situations in the workplace? Hire actors to portray the customer of nightmares and let the training ensue. Now doesn’t that sound like fun?

Simulated Patient

I’m sure you’ll be reassured to discover this job exists- I know I was when I first stumbled across it.

Similar to the above, simulated patients work with training medical specialists to ensure that when they actually encounter real-life patients, they’re ready for it! Simulations  can be recorded for education purposes when it isn’t ethical to record an actual appointment, or can take place ‘live’ in an examination setting.

‘Communication stations’ in medical exams are usually used to asses a candidate’s ability to communicate appropriately, on top of all their medical knowledge. As easy as it sounds, experienced simulated patients are highly valued because of the high-emotion situations that are normally portrayed. Faking a cough may sound like an easy job, but I can promise you that after eight hours of sobbing over a dire medical diagnosis, I’m using every last bit of my actor training to keep my ‘performance’ real, and that headache has nothing to do with my acting ability.

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Presentations

Got a great product? Need to tell a lot of businesses about it at presentations or conferences? Hate standing in front of a crowd? Hire an actor! We can remember huge amounts of tech-heavy jargon, thrive on engaging a tough crowd, and we don’t scrub up too badly either. Product presentations are my favourite thing because (super nerdy moment) I get to pretend that I have this whole other life as my product hawking alter ego aka lady version of Gus from Psych.  (She likes stationary and long walks to the coffee cart for pastries. Just in case you were wondering)

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Voice Acting

While voice acting is a legitimate career of its own and there are many talented performers who specialise in it, a lot of screen and theatre actors also work behind the mic to record ads, voiceovers, videogames or dubbing- even that annoying voice thanking you for your patience after 15 minutes on hold. Voicework is the best (mostly because I can turn up in my comfies and don’t need to worry about that strange bald spot my fringe makes for once).

Motion Capture

I don’t even know what this involves. I just know that there are funny suits with white balls, and some actor is probably getting paid to move in it. It sounds awesome.

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Acting Jobs You’ll Never See

Wanted: Cabin in the woods

As I write this, winter is slowly creeping in on Melbourne. The trees are dropping leaves and nights are cool enough that I’m sleeping snuggled around a hot water bottle. I miss the feeling of sun soaking into my bones, and the way it lingers on the corner of my couch when I have time to sit for a morning coffee.

Maybe it’s the change of season getting the best of me, but I’m also feeling as though life is stretching me thin at the moment. I haven’t had two days in a row off in forever (at least it feels like it) and I can feel my poor body struggling to keep up with the endless balancing act of my bill paying work and the ‘work’ of building an acting career. I get a sort of tightness in my brain that makes me crave a cabin in the woods somewhere with nothing but green as far as the eye can see.

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My soul needs this…without the stabby stabby

Failing a cabin, what would you suggest? How do you cope when life is getting a bit much?

 


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Wanted: Cabin in the woods

How the bank almost got me

Banks are funny things. Credit cards are funny things too. There’s something about turning money from something heavy and real to numbers in a computer that seems to make it much less…worthy. More like monopoly money that we shuffle among ourselves than real,  valuable currency.

 

Prior to this year, I’ve never had a credit card. I was burned my first year out of home when my bank offered a ‘complimentary overdraft’ on my account of $2,000. It vanished in a matter of months (a good chunk of that went on a shopping spree when my little sister came to visit), and I’m pretty sure I was paying it off for the next two years. Lesson learned! There’s nothing more depressing than getting a paycheck and realising that none of that money is even technically ‘yours’- it all has to go straight to the bank.

Cut to five years later and I was finally tempted back into the world of credit by an unmissable offer on a card with no annual fee. I’m pretty on top of my spending now, so as long as I was careful to pay off my card each month, I was getting 50,000 frequent flyer points for free! How could anything possibly go wrong?

 

Ahhh, but here’s the thing the credit card companies know that we’ve all probably figured out the hard way – chances are, you’re going to be unconsciously spending a buttload more if you’re putting it on plastic.

Don’t ask me how it works, I reckon it’s hoodoovoodoo. All I know is, for the three months I was putting every payment on card, my spending was sitting a lot higher than it normally would- even though I have a rock solid budget and I knew exactly how they were trying to hook me!

Now I’m not saying I’ve been flashing around dolla dolla bills y’all…

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Does anyone think that getting hit by a solid gold coin would really hurt?

…probably worth it though

…but a brunch here, a book purchase there- it all starts to add up across the course of a month. And if you’re not seeing those purchases appear on your statement for a few days, it’s easy to forget that it even happened, and so you’re ok to spend juuuust a little more until that hideous bill arrives at the end of the month. Hoodoovoodoo!

So I’ve tried being a credit-carrying adult, and I guess I failed? Or maybe realising that I was altering my spending habits means that this counts as a pass (after all, you should never let the bank win).

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This card came with a year of free usage and as a newbie to the credit card rewards world, I have to confess that I’m still bemused and amazed that every month I’m racking in more frequent flyer points off my daily spending than I did flying to the other side of the world (!!) I still have seven months of free card usage before I have to cancel it, so it seems a waste to leave it in a drawer and miss out on some of those points that could help me get back across the world in the next few years. But how to do it without having to chip into my savings to cover that extra bit of free spending I’ve been suckered into?

I’ve decided to come to a compromise- bills are going to keep going on the card, but for the rest of my spending, cash is back to being King, baby. I’m going ol’ school and withdrawing my spending money for the week until I’ve built up my savings again. Time to go back to filling that piggy bank with change!

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Yes, I’ll take any excuse to GIF my spirit animal

This post was triggered by the extremely disturbing ‘debit card for pocket money’ that facebook threw up at me because apparently it thinks I should have spawned some rugrats by now. It looks like a great idea on the surface- parents can preload cash for their kids and the app seems to have integrated savings system- but with Visa pulling the strings, it all gets a little icky. On top of an annual card fee for the pleasure of not handing your kids cold, hard cash, I’m not sure parents should be comfortable letting one of the biggest credit card companies in the world groom your pre-teen for credit card ownership. What do you think?

 

 


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How the bank almost got me