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Feeling Ostomistic
Wednesday, September 12 2018

This post is a collaboration between Feeling Ostomistic and Electricity Monster

You might recall from my post earlier in the year about "18 goals for 2018,"  that I wanted to find ways to reduce my bills/expenses - especially power - and that I wanted to do my bit to save the environment (such as getting solar panels installed and reducing my waste). I had read the Barefoot Investor and was determined to implement changes and see better financial stability this year.

Last year our bills were up around the $1000 a quarter mark, it was definitely a huge expense for us and each time the bill was due it was a stressful time.


Our March 2017 bill

I thought getting solar panels on would reduce my power bills dramatically and had hoped the huge outlay of costs would help us reap the rewards of cheaper power. We'd hoped we would see the value of our investment almost immeditately, but several months on we weren't yet to see a change in our bills or power consumption. 

Our bills were still between $500-$1200 a quarter!


Our March 2018 Bill, had reduced but still large

I was determined to find better deals and had tried to compare all the companies individually, but with my health and not having much attention span due to medications, along with not quite understanding all the charges and components of the bill and how to accurately compare, it was becoming a rather daunting and overwhelming task... so it was put in the "too hard basket".

I wished I had of known then that there were power brokers like Electricity Monster that existed!

It wasn't until this week that Russ was really wanting to get the power sorted, especially as it is heating up in the lead into Summer, when we would be using more air-conditioning and power (due to health reasons I struggle in the heat so need the air conditioning).


Our March 2017 Consumption per quarter


Our March 2018 consumption per quarter, was reduced compared with 2017 but wanted it to be better

I stumbled across an article by Electricity Monster online when I was searching for "ways to save on your energy bill" and some of their savvy tips sounded great and easy enough to try and implement into our household.

As I scrolled down the page I saw a sidebar advert that said "do you want to lower your bills?" and I was very intrigued. I submitted my details and awaited a call back.

I can excitedly say that finding and comparing plans was so easy!

Electricity Monster are brokers for power and can help you find a better deal, even for internet plans too! And the process is so quick and seamless.

 

After paying almost thousands each quarter, the idea of not having a bill or if we do have end up with a bill it would be a very small bill, it is all very appealing.

I checked with Russ to make sure he was happy with the proposed new plan, and he was. So off we went changing providers, and we didn't have to do anything, Electricity Monster did it all for us!

While the existing Simply Energy account offered a 20% pay on time discount, we are only being offered a 12% pay on time discount with Power Shop. Although the discount was lower, the usage rates and supply charge after discount were pretty much the same. The real saving was made in the higher feed-in rate I was receiving for the excess solar I feed into the grid. So although I was already on a competitive rate with Simply Energy, by calling Cyrprus I was able to make my solar system work harder for me and in return look to reducing my electricity bill in the future.

But I am just so happy with how efficient she was at comparing all the deals out there and finding ways to reduce our bill to the point we shouldn't get a bill and if we do it will be minimal, and best of all I didn't have to do anything except send her a copy of our bill via email.

Wanting to try the service yourself?

It is absolutley free to do so, do check with your current provider if you have any locked in contract or any exit fees, thankfully it wasn't costing me anything to change and I am not locked in with Power Shop or have exit fees too, so if I find in 6 months it isn't working out I know I am not obliged to stay, but if the bills remain as small and minimal as we are expecting I shouldn't have a need to change.

I spoke to Cyprus who was a really knowledgable broker who has been in the energy business for a while, so she knows what she is talking about. She also deals in internet brokering too. You can reach Cyprus on her direct line 1300 232 848 or via direct email and feel free to let her know I sent you.

I really hope that you too can save money just like I have and I am excited at the thought of cheaper power bills (aren't you?).

Disclaimer: Whilist this was a collaboration between Feeling Ostomistic and Electricity Monster, all the experiences and opinions are entirely my own and based off my own experience of the company. I would never share something I haven't and don't use myself and this service helped save me hundreds each quarter off my power bill, and I genuinely believe you could save too

Posted by: Talya AT 11:44 pm   |  Permalink   |  Email
Friday, January 12 2018

I know I have chirped on and on (and on) about how we are struggling financially and that I am concerned about when I die and if Russ can manage it on his own. I know you're probably sick of hearing me go on about it, but it honestly is so stressful.

It is hard being on one income, I know it is overwhelming for Russ too.

So last week we got a letter from our bank informing me that as of today (the 12th) our mortgage will be going up $500 a month.

This really scares me.

Not only do I not know where I am going to pluck that extra $500 from this month considering we are already halfway through the month, but that I really am so stressed and upset.

Yes, I acknowledge my priviledge in that we have our own mortgage, but even when we were renting things were hard and the rent assistance really made the world of difference when it came to our budget. But it doesn't mean that things instantly became easier when we got out mortgage. I didn't realise how much harder it was to have your own place.

I see how worried Russ is over this and I know he is on the fritz of losing it as it was before this letter, now he is just even more stressed. I feel so guilty, I know it isn't my fault and that I couldn't help getting sick but it is my age old issue with that I should have gotten life insurance earlier or made more of an effort to do extra super contributions when I worked as it would mean I have more than $3000 in super.... which I am still fighting to get out mind you.

Argh.

That is a fight for another day.

My Solution:

Yesterday I got a copy of Barefoot investor in the mail (thanks to a beautiful friend buying and sending me this copy) and started reading it, I have heard everyone rave about it and how effective it truly is, so it gives me hope for the first time that maybe I can get things under control this year.


So many have raved about the books!

It is one of my goals to get things neater for Russ, I don't know how much time I have and I think it will just be a massive peace of mind to know it is under control.

We have our mortgage, debts, car loan plus our other bills. So I try each year to review things to see if there is savings to be found, so I am hopeful that this book will help me even more.

Plus, it is one of my goals to read more too, so this is already tackling my goals for the year.... maybe this year is getting off to a stressful start but it might be turning around? Always hopeful that things will get better, surely they have to?

A friend has put me in touch with a broker and hoping we can find a new bank with a better rate and can consolidate our debt which will mean freeing up a lot of weekly expenditure and might mean we can afford to start saving.

So tell me, have you read the book? Did it help you? What was the biggest take away you had from it?

I will let you know when I have finished reading it and what progress I make.... until then, wish me luck!

We also got Solar Panels on recently, they had a 5 year interest free offer, so we are really hoping that on our next bill we can see a difference, otherwise I am going to be rather upset. Russ assures me we will be better off and that it will improve the value of our home too. Do you have solar panels and do you see a difference? Next bill is March, so will let you know if there were savings to be had.

As always, thank you for listening and wish me luck as I tackle this mammoth task!

What goals are you hoping to tackle this year?

 

Posted by: Talya AT 07:35 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Sunday, December 10 2017

You don't need me to remind you that Christmas is around the corner and fast approaching, I am sure everytime you step into the supermarket you're reminded with visual cues.

But just in case you live under a rock.... there are exactly 2 Sundays left until Christmas.

so #keepcalm, don't panic - you've got this!

I have always had this dream of hosting Christmas one year, not realising the full extent of what that might involve, I naively and dutifully spent time preparing and getting the house and ourselves ready last year - as it was indeed my turn.

As my family live 2 hours away, this meant they needed to travel up the night before (for those who stayed the night) or the next day (for those who didn't stay). I am the oldest of 10 kids, then there are our partners and now nephews, so there were a lot of people coming for the couple of days.

So here were the things I did to help myself prepare and get ready for having guests over the holidays or throughout the year, based off of various guest's experiences or feedback over the past year....

My 10 top tips to getting ready for guests at Xmas time: 

#1. Ensure there is plenty of toilet paper:
It is just usually my husband and myself, so we buy our toilet paper from Who Gives A Crap which is good stuff for your bottom and the environment, plus every roll of paper goes towards giving someone access to a toilet for a week. Living with bowel relatable illnesses for years, I know how important proper sanitary access is.

So a normal shipment lasts us 3-6months, but as we were having around 15 extra people in the house we decided to order our shipment early and have toilet paper supply at the ready.... last thing we wanted was on Xmas day to run out and the shops are closed. I felt a little less stressed knowing that we had ample supply.

#2. Knowing the meals or menu ahead of time:
A month before Xmas I had finalised the meal plan and menu for Xmas day, I had spent the month beforehand getting input from family attending on the day and curated a menu that I then knew was to everyone's liking. I asked people to bring their own alcohol or seafood, as everyone has their own preferences and that shit is expensive, so this helped me to stick to my budget too.

By having the meal organised ahead of time it meant I could shop where items were on sale and could get things such as soft drinks when on sale and kept aside. I just had to get the fresh stuff like bread rolls, meats and salads Xmas eve.

By also knowing what I needed to grab Xmas eve it made a quick dash to the shops a breeze, we even had to get the wheelchair out, but we had a list, we checked it twice, and we were in and out of there in a jiffy. 

Yes, I designed and sent out a flyer for Xmas day - I informed the menu plans, what they needed to bring, accommodation options and also offered to wrap presents... I think the last part people may have thought I was joking about. But Talya doesn't joke when it comes to wrapping presents - I love it!!

#3. Prepare things before Xmas day:
I am unable to stand for long periods of time, so cooking is something I delegate to Russ nowadays as it gets too painful and tiresome. If I can prepare things seated, I will. But knowing my lack of energy and ability to cook I knew I couldn't be the host slaving away in the kitchen all day and as a result missing precious family time.

So I had most things done the night before in the fridge, then I spent some time in the morning quickly doing the salads and cooking some foods. I was lucky and grateful that my family did most of the cooking for me, it made the day less stressful.

#4. Ensure your guests have easy access to items:
I know when I have been a guest at someone's home, I always felt awkward when asking where things were such as toilet paper, towels, soap etc. So keeping this in mind, I tried to make my guest's stay easier.

I know if I am resting people don't like to bother me, but I know this is out of a place of courtesy and caring but also they don't wish to be a bother. So I tried to organise my guest bedroom and bathroom with this in mind too, trying to keep people feeling welcome and at ease is important to me... as I do hope people come and stay again.

So in the room I have a basket of various toiletries and items I have collected throughout the years. Whether it is hotel soap or shower caps, or a pack of disposable razors, or pads/tampons, or even sunscreen and aeroguard. Most items were on sale or as part of a 3 pack and were naturally spares. I also have toothbrushes too, in case a guest forgets theirs. I also have spare heatpacks too.

I hope that by having all the items one may need readily and available to them, that it might help offer dignity to their stay.


The basket looks more full now, but this was the first items put in there. I just add things when on sale etc.

#5. Have plenty of towels available:
When you have over 10 people staying in your house, you need a lot of towels!

I spent the weeks leading up to Christmas re-washing our spare towels (they had been in storage since the move) and made sure that these were fresh and in ample supply. I gave at least 2 on the bed for each guest (in case one was needed for hair), along with a face washer, soap bar, and had all of this ready for when they arrived.

In the linen cupboard were 50 more towels ready, we just wanted them to be prepared.

#6. Have empty and clean bins near all toilets:
I found this tip on a blog by Rebecca Senyard who blogs at "The Plumbette" which said to save your plumbing this Xmas, to have an empty bin near your toilets for guests to dispose of sanitary items. I was shocked to think people flush them, and as a home owner, I would hate to foot the bill to repair the plumbing (especially over Xmas) because something blocked it. Gross!! So to avoid this fiasco this Xmas pop a bin nearby, if you already have a bin there just be sure to make sure it is empty before guests arrive! This again helps your guests to have dignity when they visit too!

#7. Have a toilet plunger, toilet brush and spray ready too
As important as step #6 is, this one also applies. Guests may require the use of a plunger, toilet brush or spray, so make sure you have your bathroom stocked and ready for guests this Xmas. Saves them the embarassment of needing to ask.

#8. It's okay to need 'me time' and step away for a breather
I am a person with high functioning anxiety, I tend to get overwhelmed very easily and even around my family or in social settings sometimes I don't say much or I just say drivvle because my brain just freezes and I just don't know how to act or what to say. I tend to be over analysing every word said, every social cue, what someone is thinking of me, and this is rather tiresome.

It can be hard when you're hosting Xmas or any event as it is your house and everyone is there or everywhere, you tend to feel a bit overwhelmed. It is important to have somewhere in your house that is YOUR (underline YOUR) space and somewhere that is off limits to everyone. You might not necesarrily make this a known no-go-zone or add signage to the door, but as long as you know you have somewhere you can escape to it will help you.

I love my family, I love spending time with them, but there can be times where I need to just disappear for 5 or more minutes for my ability to keep calm and carry on, so when it is at your house it can be harder. So have a space where you can just be alone to regather your thoughts or to practice mindfulness techniques or to just take a breather... it is important to know your own limits too. This can be a form of self care too.

#9. Have a fan or cooling option available, especially if it is summer
Here it can be pretty hot and muggy (humid) around Christmas or Summer, so while we have ducted air conditioning, we also have a pedastal fan in the guest rooms to have options to what makes them more comfortable. It is hard sometimes in Summer to get a good night's sleep, so if you have a big day planned your guests might need plenty of rest.

A fan is good too, as sometimes people have trouble sleeping away from their own beds and a fan offers white noise which may help them to feel calm or relaxed, even if the fan is kept in the cupboard in their room for example, it gives them the option of not having to ask or be embarrassed because they need a fan.

#10. Have fresh linens on the bed ready when guests arrive
When you know you have guests arriving, especially if they are having to travel, having their beds already made with freshly washed linens will help them to retire early if they are tired without the delay of waitiing for sheets to dry or the bed to be made; and by having the bed ready to go when they arrive, your guests can rest whenever they need to without the embarassment of needing to ask. I know when I travel I am in pain and I often just want to have a nap, so it helps to have this all ready for them when they arrive.


Dusty loves when people visit - as do I!

bonus tip #11. Have plenty for your guests to do
I know not everyone likes to be social 110% of the time, so we have tried to have things that people can do if they wanted to. Whether it be a TV in their room to watch their own TV shows (my MIL always watches Star Trek or Castle box sets when she visits) and having a spare TV means we aren't bothering each other with our own shows. We also have a board games cupboard with a massive range of games, not to forget our book shelf with heaps of books, or our large DVD collection. We also got some toys for when young children visit and to keep them occupied.... we have bikes and spare helmets, a dart board too, we have so many different things that we hoped guests won't find our place boring... we aim for fun yet inviting, so it is a work in progress!

So while I know there are plenty of ways to help prepare yourself and your house for guests, whether it is the holidays or anytime during the year, these are just some of the ways I have tried to ensure my guests had a good time when they visited.

Wishing you a lovely holidays, hope that you have a wonderful time with your family or friends and thank you for your support during this year and beyond, it really means so much to me! Every comment, message or email doesn't go un-noticed and are very appreciated.


Merry Xmas and a Happy New Year from my family to yours (2016 photos)

p.s what other tips do you have for getting your house ready for guests or to ensure guests have a good stay? Let me know in the comments

Posted by: Talya AT 09:31 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Friday, October 27 2017

In July 2015, my husband and I met with a local bank, well a credit union, because we were told that they put their members first above their profits and were meant to be a great bank to deal with. We told the bank's home loan manager that we wanted to buy a house asap as I was going to start chemo in September and we really wanted to get settled in our own home sooner than later (knowing during chemo wouldn't be the ideal time to move house). We told him that I was terminal and we just want to start the next part of our lives. We wanted to make a home our own. We said how we wanted a level home as I am in pain and struggle walking stairs or distances. It was this employee that ran the sums and said we could build as it were cheaper to buy a house, so we did!

Now, over 2 years later our bank is using the fact that I have cancer and take pain medication against me, all because we asked for a better rate.

We are currently on a 4.85% interest rate. We keep applying for a cheaper/better rate and they keep declining us... using my cancer as a reason.

This isn't the first issue with the bank this year.

They changed their BSB number and who hosts their cards, as a result EVERY member got new cards which now won't work as visa debits online for purchases which is infuriating. The old cards worked fine. Then the new BSB also meant that no major banks were recognising this new BSB and for months we couldn't direct transfer money from our ANZ account to the credit union which our only option of paying our mortgage was by direct depositing into the offset account and we got charged fees each time.

THEN....☟ ☟ ☟ ☟

We approached the bank to ask for the 3.5% fixed rate they had advertised (was a limited offer). We wanted to fix the loan for financial security and knowing what the loan payments were so we could better set out weekly/monthly budgets; we also wanted to fix the loan due to the uncertainty in the market predicted over the next couple of years, rates were expected to rise, and we wanted the best rate possible.

The bank came back and declined us (without talking to us about it) based on the reason that I am terminal with cancer and that they wouldn't do it as my husband could sell the house after I have died... but IF THEY HAD of bothered consulting WITH US to ask if this would be the best outcome, they would have known that Russ has no intention to sell and that Russ can't afford to move anywhere else even if he does sell, he would never get a brand new house for the tiny profit the house is now worth, so it is pointless and it isn't something he wants to do. He wanted to stay in this house for a long time to come. BUT they decided they knew what was best for us without talking to us or asking our needs first.

THEN...☟ ☟ ☟ ☟

The bank said as a counter offer that they would allow us to switch to their OMG home loan (a limited time offer) of 3.8%, so saving 1% in interest to what we are currently paying. Told it was a straight process since we had signed the documents for the fixing and that it would be done without any issues. That was on the 6th of October

THEN... ☟ ☟ ☟ ☟

On the 23rd of October, I got an email saying "there is no definite answer if this variation change will be approved," the email continued "they have expressed concerns regarding your health, you mentioned do to me that you regularly take pain medication to help with your current circumstances, they are worried that you are not capable to sign legal documents yourself and have requested that you have a legal representative or Power of attorney sign on your behalf."

I replied that my husband is my power of attorney and that despite taking pain medication it does not interfere with my cognitive ability or influence my thoughts. I said I run this blog that is well read, I write for other sites/publications too, and that I also launched a magazine that I write/design/edit 100% myself and that I take pride in my work.

I said my Doctor would happily write a letter of support to state that my mind is in good health and that there isn't any issues cognitively.

THEN...☟ ☟ ☟ ☟

The response was " I am sorry that bcu has questioned your cognitive ability, we did not want to come across like that at all, I honestly do feel horrible. [insert institution name] will always have the best interests of our members and that is why we have requested the documentation. You have mentioned previously that you do take pain medication to help, and that you have forgotten if you had made payments to your current loans."

The last comment was taken out of context, when trying to consolidate our debts there was one credit card that had a late fee for the month and when this employee asked why I explained "I have been unwell and had a lot going on healthwise I simply forgot if I had paid it on time and realised the following day but it was a day late and got a fee which is all there".

I forgot one payment (on a card that isn't through their bank), now they are using this against me saying I am forgetful because of having cancer and taking pain meds and that I am unable to do my own banking.

I was told that my banking would need to be done with someone present overseeing things, that I would lose my online banking privileges and my card access too, because you know, apparantly I am not thinking clearly because I am asking for a cheaper rate and I clearly don't understand what I am wanting to do.

THEN... I received this email today☟ ☟ ☟ ☟

To go ahead with offering the lower interest rate "we would require that the variation be signed in front of a solicitor (at your expense), as you have mentioned that you don't believe your cognitive ability has been affected by your medication you are taking we need this to be signed in front of a solicitor to ensure that you are fully aware of what you are signing and they will be required to sign the document stating that you are aware of what you are signing."

To make it more patronising the email said "again we apologise if we made you feel like we are judging your circumstances".

Uhhhhh, how are you not judging me?

You are telling me that I am unable to think clearly for myself and that my cognitive ability is impaired, you are telling me I am not of sound mind enough to be ALLOWED to do my own banking, you are telling me that you believe that I don't understand what I am signing up for simply because I am requesting the lower interest rate to save myself money.

Next, are you going to tell me that the entire basis of your argument that I'm not of sound mind is: because I am Aboriginal? Or is it because I am a woman? Because, that is as ridiculous as you saying that I can't be able to think for myself because I have cancer. It is being prejudicial, patronising and discriminating.

☟ ☟ ☟ ☟☟ ☟ ☟ ☟

I feel so trapped, I absolutley loathe this bank, I wish I could afford to take my loan elsewhere.

If I win lotto tomorrow it would be 21 million reasons to not bank with them!

But it is complete and utter BS that they claim to be putting the best interests of members at heart, because all they have done these past months is cause me nothing but undue stress.

I take pride in every single thing that I do in my life, and a large part of that is because of my brain. I have felt my self worth and self esteem feel threatened with each email I receive telling me that I am no longer able to think for myself, it truly hurts me.

I can tell you that my husband is not thrilled about their treatment of me either, and if it weren't for having the home loan with them and being trapped, I would be changing banks ASAP. I will let you know the outcome.

I had given the bank until today 5pm to get their shit together, instead of working with me within reason they continued to patronise me and undermine me. I will be going to the financial ombudsman on Monday and seeing what they have to say.

Posted by: Talya AT 02:51 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Saturday, September 16 2017

Is it only me who feels like the last year has been a complete blur? I know this is how it feels for me! I started writing this post back in 2015, then wrote more a year ago but only now have I finished it. I know it is long, I am sorry, but excitedly it was something that took time to write and unfold. I am not writing this as a brag post, merely sharing the process and how we got to building.

12 months ago we got given the keys to our first home... I remember this day so well, as if it were only yesterday. Gosh, that year has gone so fast, crazy!

12 months ago I didn't even think I would be here a year on to celebrate!


The day we finally moved into our first house after years of hope for this day! I was so, so happy and proud too!

We finally were getting our house, a house that we worked hard and sacrificed over years to get, the house that I thought I wouldn't be alive to see. It was a massive goal and dream of mine (well, ours) to have our own home.

I know a lot of people have judged us for "not really doing it hard " when we were able to build a house and loved making up rumours that we were rich, but we weren't and aren't flushed with cash by any means at all. We saved and sacrificed and worked hard over years to get our own home and we had our fair share of setpacks and hardships during those years, but we never gave up hope.

I have copped a lot of flack on my blog and my facebook page about building and buying our house, I have been told I am a fraud, I have been on the end of horrible jealousy and judgement when inviting people into our home.

While I acknowledge that yes I am fortunate to have my own house, I really don't deserve the vitriol and to be made to feel ashamed of having my house or that I could achieve something that I have always dreamed of doing which was to be a first home owner.

I acknowledge that it is very unaffordable to live in places such as Sydney or Melbourne or Brisbane and it is harder for first home buyers to afford their own house. We live in an area of rural NSW where house prices are a fraction compared with those in the bigger cities.

So this is not a brag post in anyway, it is a post that showed our story to how we remained hopeful that one day we would be lucky enough to be home owners. A story of how we eventually got to something we talked about for years. A story that I want to share of our house and how it came to be....

It was cheaper to build a house than buy one, but it doesn't mean we aren't still struggling each week to make ends meet. I still don't have any life insurance and still haven't gotten my super out, we are still drowning in over $15k in credit card debt. 

☟☟☟☟☟☟

But out decision to have our own house came down to several factors:
Interest rates were low and affordable - could coast around same to rent as it was to own our own place;
we wanted to secure our own house before the market is too unaffordable to us;
we were sick of paying off someone else's mortgage paid over $150k in rent in our last house;
✘ we wanted to move out of Coffs, to settle down and build our future we dreamed of;
we were sick of rental inspections which are inconvenient especially when you are sick and dying;
we wanted to stop renting and feel like we have something to show for our life;
we were worried about having to suddenly move at a moment's notice, especially if I was on my death bed;
we wanted a pet, I needed company and Russ too when I died;
we no longer felt safe where we lived, so we wanted to move;
I wanted to live in my own house somewhere I could make a home;
✘ It was always a dream that I could have my own place and host Xmas lunch;
I needed stability;
✘ It would be a dream come true and massive bucket list goal too!


The text I got from Russ the day we got the keys! Aww cute as!

How we got here:

We would apply for a homeloan every 6 or so months since early 2010 and usually would be declined and told to come back again in 6 months and try again.

We were fortunate that with Russell's income, we had worked off some of our debts to look more appealing, the little we had saved over the years and the low interest rates meant that the banks were willing to offer us a homeloan, we weren't even expecting a yes that day, I remember we went home and we cried and hugged for hours that FINALLY we could be getting our own place.

It was a dream come true, really!

But for what we needed there wasn't anything in our budget that didn't require a lot of work and rennovations which was money and stress we couldn't afford. Also, because Russ was still on his L plates or his learner's license we were more or less confined to living within walking or riding distance to work, which limited the area we could look at.

We also wanted a house that was:
flat levelled;
in a nice neighbourhood;
with a garage (double preferred);
a seperate lounge to the kitchen/dining;
a nice generous bathroom with a wide shower that could fit my shower chair plus the room for someone when assisting me, plus a bath for Russ (bonus points if it were a spa);
a toilet that was spacious in the room around/in front that I could put a little shelf or table in front to help with bag changes;
at least 3 bedrooms so 1 could be a study/craft room and 1 a guest room;
easy to maintain yard;
aircon;
and be NBN ready.

If we were lucky  to find something that ticked most of the boxes it still needed a lot of work done.

I know it sounds like surely a lot of places would easily  fit our budget, but with only a budget of $350-390k our options really were limited to:
areas that had high crime rates;
where insurance prices were sky high;
areas prone to flooding;
or even a unit where we couldn't have a pet (I longed for a little companion to keep me company)
✘ one place we were almost considering buying the strata was over $12,000 for the year. 

Deciding to build over buying an established house:


When we first got our keys! Proud hubby!

We had mostly given up all hope of having our own home, then the bank manager said these 5 words: "have you thought about building?" and it changed everything. Yes, we had thought about building and No, we didn't think it were possible based on quotes we had years ago the house cost more than our entire budget!

We had always hoped to move out of Coffs at some point and preferably would move to Woolgoolga. We had always felt Woopi felt more like home for us and Coffs was just far too busy, noisy and crowded for our likes. It was close enough to Coffs if we needed doctors or work but far enough away. It is only around 20km north of Coffs Harbour.

When we looked into land, stand alone house costs to build or house and land packages in Woolgoolga (and surrounds) we noticed that the land outside of Woopi in older beachside towns/suburbs was cheaper too approx $200-300k difference in price than in Woopi but only 5km away.

Russ was keen on the move too and I told him he wouldn't move until he had his P's, so he became more committed and took up driving lessons and actually would drive most places to get his confidence up. Excitedly he got his P's first go in June last year (2016), I cried tears of joy and relief and was so proud... been a big year for milestones for us both!

We found this perfect house and land package that fitted our budget perfectly that we drove out to Woolgoolga that next day to enquire. We got to the real estate office and told that the contracts were exchanged earlier that day and that it was now off the market.

I felt a bit bummed out, it was the last available block in the estate, I felt like the hope I had for our future was gone.

But, alas, there was hope again:

On the drive back to home (Coffs) I called into the display home for the builder the earlier package was from and wandered inside. I told the salesman we were interested in the property that was sold earlier that day and if he knew of any other developments coming up that we could secure something early to avoid missing out again.

He replied: "I think I have something for you", feeling hope returning he ushered us to have a seat at his desk. He pulled out the estate plans and circled LOT 14, he said "a block has just become available today after a couple pulled out due to finance falling through, it is double the size of the one you were keen on for a fraction of the price. It is in the first stage release and building can commence in the New Year". 

I was so surprised when the builder said the house could be built for $235k! I almost fell off my chair. It included rendering the house and we opted to get airconditioning installed post build as we ran out of money in the budget initially. We had to pay for extras like fencing, tiles on the outside patio, landscaping, turf etc.

It was 16 September 2015, (year to date later we got the keys and moved in) I was due to start chemo in the coming weeks and not knowing how long I had to live, we wanted to do whatever it took to secure this block and start the build, so we could move in the following year and thus ticking off another life goal of ours.

I looked at Russ and asked him if it felt right with him and he was definitely keen, so keen he handed me his credit card. We handed over the deposit they needed which was only $1k - and we just put it on the credit card so we didn't miss out.... and so the process began!

I think the sales person thought I was nuts for opting to build a house while undergoing chemo.

But you know what, I think the build was the one thing that helped me to get through chemo - knowing there was something so exciting to look forward to- it became the best part of my week driving out to check the house progress. 


First day the walls started going up!


Progress - Bricks stage!


Our house almost there just driveway to go

Which brings us to 12 months ago today!

The house was 3 months behind schedule which meant that it was 3 additional months we hadn't quite budgeted for with the additional rent and were struggling. We were paying rent of $375 a week plus the mortgage on a house we weren't even living in, and I was so stressed trying to pay all the bills and afford to eat that we added everything to the credit cards (which we are now drowning in debt to repay and get on our feet).

But the day for final inspection and key handover was finally here, after being pushed back weeks and even days that same week, Friday September 16th had arrived!

We had to be out at the house by 7am sharp ready to do the handover, Russ was having to leave for work by 8am and our furniture pieces (spare bed, lounge and outdoor setting) were due to be delivered at 8am too, the fridge and dishwasher would arrive at some point that morning too. It was absolutley pouring, so much rain and very wet and muddy.

When Russ left, it was just me at the house all day without a car as he took the car to work. I remember just walking around the house all day just feeling so surreal that this was actually ours. Everything looked so new and shiny and was too perfect to live in, I was scared to make a mess. That new house smell too, it felt like I were on holidays.

The builder gifted us a picnic hamper and wine, which came in handy as we hadn't thought as far ahead about plates/cups/cutlery! Was a very thoughtful and unexpected gift.

Wasn't long and I scratched the wall and the place felt like home.

Our first night in our own home:

That night we ate pizza out the back on the patio on the new outdoor setting (was our only table setting for a fortnight) using the picnic hamper the builder left as a gift for us, and we toasted to our first night in our house drinking homebrand pineapple fizzy!


*clink*

We slept on the spare bed that had arrived earlier that day and I never stepped foot in the old house again.

Never have I ever felt more at home before, but here I feel so happy and we truly love it here. It is so quiet compared to where we lived which was on the highway in Coffs Harbour at one of the busiest traffic intersections.

I feel healthier in this house too, which sounds strange to say as I am dying from cancer. But, the old house I think was making me sicker than I was already as the house leaked/flooded everytime it rained, normally in winter I struggled to breathe and my asthma is horrid - this winter I wasn't in hospital once! It is normally my second home in winter as I can't breathe. Could be there isn't the added pollutants of the traffic too here.

We just love it here!

It is only 17 minutes for Russ to drive to work of a morning and after he got used to the routine of driving of a morning instead of just walking or riding his bike he was fine. He is a lot happier here too.

Woolgoolga was where Russ called home for most of his life, he said it feels great being back.

The town is so welcoming and kind, everyone is always saying hi and smiling, kids you hear laughing and playing in their backyards, they too seem happy which makes you happy too knowing others are happy. 

But the 5 best things about finally having our own home is:
 I have my beautiful koi pond and garden;
 I am blessed with Dusty our furbaby;
 I can sit outside and it is peaceful and not horribly loud from the traffic comapred at our old place plus there isn't all the soot either ;
 I can finally hang up photos on the wall;
 
and last but not least
✔ I feel at home, I feel safe and I feel content.


Love the kitchen, doors are soft close too!


My perfect accessible ensuite, handheld shower head and spacious

It was a long road to get here, so many times we almost gave up along the way thinking that it would never happen. Never give up on a dream.

I had some people when we said we were going to build say to me "but you're dying, what is the point really?". How I saw it, was that no matter what my prognosis is, Russ still needs somewhere to live.... but why should I give up hope on seeing a dream I have always hoped to come true just because I won't have a long life. I know it is hard at times to understand why, but everyday that I am alive I want to live a life I love and that I am proud of... just because I am dying doesn't mean I stop wanting to live or to achieve my heart's desires... dying just made me want to move a lot of things along earlier than expected.

Please keep an eye out for more posts I am writing, I am catching up on over a years worth of posts. But if you want to ask advice and you haven't been able to find it on my blog feel free to contact me or check out my facebook page too as I often blog on there too.

P.s if you read this far, thank you! Russ and I are working on some more posts about the build and advice for others just lessons we learned along the way, so keep an eye out!

Posted by: Talya AT 10:14 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Sunday, August 13 2017

It is hard to believe that it is almost 12 months since we have moved into our new house! 


Top = today a year ago; bottom = recent picture before the birds of paradise
were planted under the window shown. Behind the fence is my koi pond!

I have been so busy trying to live and love life, plus enjoying the good days, that we haven't yet completed unpacking our house and we have so much left to do. This has had me feeling rather disappointed in myself as I was really hoping to have had the house set up and finished by now. So while we have nothing planned for the next few months, I really want to focus on finishing the unpacking and working on styling the house.

Having a beautifully styled house that I am proud of is one of the things I wanted to tick off my bucket list!

The first room I want to finish is our master suite (bedroom and ensuite). I spend so much time in my bed, bedroom and ensuite, that for me it is my most used/lived in space. I really wanted the room to make me feel happy, safe, comfortable, relaxed and proud; but more importantly, I want others visiting me to feel the same sense of comfort.

I had hoped by now to be able to have afforded a full room makeover, or to be on our feet financially for that matter. We have been adding pieces to the room as our budget has allowed us over the last year, but we still have a way to go. I love a good bargain and hunting for things
on sale. I also like to use my phone or laptop to browse and compare different products/prices online. We don't have a lot of money so I need to ensure that our money is well spent.

Russ thought it would be a good idea to perhaps write a blog post as a wishlist of what we want to achieve so that in a way we can hold ourselves accountable for ticking off this goal of finishing the house, and especially our room.
 
So, this is the accountability post for completing my master bedroom and my wish list for the tropical styled things I want in it.

I promise to do an 'after' or finished/completed type post, otherwise I will share the gradual progress on social media until then!

With spending so much of my time in bed, or unable to get out to shop in person, a lot of that time is spent just browsing sites to get a clearer picture of styling/product ideas. It is always nice when companies have a good online store with stock updates that are timely and reliable. If they have social media too you can see how other customers are using their products to style and get ideas from actual users of the products. I know I browse through Fantastic Furniture and Pillow Talk online all the time (as they are two stores close to where I live), always keeping an eye out for sales or new stock. I have a few other sites that I regularly do the rounds to check for the latest products, styling ideas or latest sales (I wish the reject shop had an online store), it really does help to pass the time when you are otherwise stuck in bed.

Another way to pass the time and find inspiration is Pinterest! I only hope I can create and style a Pinterest or Instagram worthy house on a budget!

Why tropical?
I wanted to choose a tropical styling for my room as it could be a way of adding my favourite things: timber, cool white, actual greenery and more vibrant colours without these elements being too overpowering or clashing with each other. I love birds of paradise and grew up with a frangipani themed room, so tropical has always been rooted in my core. We have birds of paradise in one of our bedroom windows as well as a frangipani tree in the garden we can access via our master ensuite. A tropical room has always been a dream of mine!

Quilt:
I really wanted a quilt that was bright, fun and certain to help lift my spirits on days where I'm struggling. I wanted it to be a way to motivate me each day - 12 months on and this quilt still does all that.... I purchased the quilt from Pillow Talk (it is now unavailable) before we moved house, along with the matching print on the wall (see below). I used these two items to start my tropical themed room. I know it isn't traditionally tropical but it is as I say "contemporary tropical" or that's how I've interpreted it. The quilt means I can add pops of colours into the room without seeming untethered to the core concept.

 
My beautiful, fun, bright and happy quilt from Pillow Talk & my bed

I am hoping the quilt isn't the reason the styling of the room falls apart, so I am hoping I can make it work to pull it off! I really love this quilt especially as on the reverse side it has this nice aqua colour + it matches with my purple (fave colour) sheets, so not sure if I want to part with it. However, if necessary to better the room then I might, but it makes me feel so happy and that is my priority!

Were I to change quilt covers if I felt it (the above quilt) really wasn't a fit, I have found some others from Pillow Talk and Spotlight that I have pictured below. It is so hard to choose what one I like the most, so these are my top 10! Pics to the left are from Pillow talk and pics to the right are from spotlight respectively.


Again not sponsored, these are just my favourite choices.

Bed:
I absolutely love my bed (pictured above)!

We purchased it back in 2012 from Beds R'Us and it was looking amazing until Dusty recently decided it was in fact his clawing post (I cried, it was heartbreaking to see/hear). I had thought about upgrading our bed but my heart is too set on it. It is a king size; it is leather which is easy to clean; it is white which means ANY quilt cover looks great and that it can be suited to any theme; it is the right height for me and doesn't hurt to get in and out of like our timber bed before; and besides, it looks so elegant too!

I know Russ has thought about upgrading our king bed maybe after I die, he feels it is too pretty for a guy and too hard to keep clean because it is white, not that he wants to remove my existence from our home- just he might feel like a change, who knows? If he/we did upgrade this is one that he has his heart set on. 

I know he likes timber beds a lot (we have 2 timber beds in the spare rooms, one was his from when he was a bachelor up until we upgraded to our white bed). We were looking around Coffs recently at the different options of tropical-esque furniture and he decided he really likes the 'Toronto King Bed' from Fantastic Furniture


Toronto King Bed plus bedroom package suite from Fantastic Furniture

Something to note is it is made from Acacia wood sourced from sustainably grown plantations (which is a tick from us as we try to be environmentally conscious), but the beauty of this timber is that it would beautifully match a tropical themed room! It is a bargain at $799 with 6 years warranty too (I think Russ is all for extending our warranties from his job as a salesman), as opposed to the $3500 we paid for our current bed, so if we/he upgraded it is a nice and affordable option indeed. Felt pretty solid too.

TV Stand:
Russ had said 11 months ago that he would organise some mates to come help him mount the TV in our bedroom, I hate being a nagging wife, but sometimes nothing would get done if I didn't keep asking. Most of the time I think he isn't listening but then some days he surprises me.... like last week. 

I have been wanting the TV set up in our room so that I could watch Netflix, a movie or catch up on missed TV shows. I'm not well enough to sit out of bed for long most days, so having the TV in the room would help. I am struggling typing or holding my phone and iPad the last few months, the nerve damage from chemo and the tumours are making it painful to touch things. I try to use my iPad but it is frustrating sometimes at how small the screen is or at the lack of sound (remembering I am deaf in one ear) so it makes sense to set up the TV where I can see it comfortably.

So Russ one afternoon last week told me to stay in the lounge room as he had a surprise planned... surprise (see picture below)! He had set the TV up on top of some cheap/flimsy bookshelf from the shed. Doofus! I loved the sentiment, but I am so worried as Dusty is a climber who likes jumping on shelves. But it has been great the past week enjoying TV from the comforts of my own bed!

We have been looking into options to put the TV on. It needs to be at a height of 900mm or higher due to laying in bed and not having a clear view if any lower.

So we have found two options: We thought that a chest of drawers would give the best height plus allow for additional storage. Russ wants the tall 4 drawer as it is 150mm taller than our current set up, but aesthetically I think the 6 draw would look and fit the space better - though it is 100mm less (but TV is awkwardly watchable). The two we like are in the Toronto range from Fantastic Furniture and there is only a $100 price difference. I can't decide, but once we do we will enquire into layby options to pay it off over a set period which makes it more affordable. I know $599 or $699 respectively might not seem like a lot - but it is for us when there isn't a lot in the bank.

Chair:
I always felt awkward on days where I was bed ridden and loved ones or palliative care nurses were visiting me. They were always either standing around or sitting on the bed next to me. A friend flew up from Sydney for my birthday and while she was here I was in bed with so much pain that I was unable to get up. I ended up having to text her to say "help yourself to the kitchen" so she came in and she layed herself down beside me, we just chatted for hours (it reminded me of sleepovers from the good ol' days). But I knew we needed to organise a chair sooner rather than later. So a chair was top priroty on our list of room additions.

We needed to get a cupboard for the hallway (can never have enough storage) and Super Amart had a 'buy one get 2nd item half price', so we only paid $225 for the armchair (it all went on our G.E. interest free card)! It is the 'James' and is the same as the lounges in the living room and it is wide enough so I can sit in it comfortably - if I want to sit and read, it has big arms and is really spacious. Russ often sits there reading a book while I am sleeping, especially on my bad days, so that he can watch over me and feel he is close by. Dusty also has claimed the chair as his, so just like every other part of the house this was business-as- usual.


As a family we all love this chair!

The chair for us was a must have for the future too. There will come a point when I am declining in my health and I want people to visit me and be comfortable. Russ tells me that it is 'typical Talya behaviour - always thinking of others needs', but all I want is for people to want to visit. It is a fear that I will be dying and be alone and I don't want to die not knowing that I am loved. So this chair is important and it gets used often.

Bedside tables:
I currently have 2 x white wooden bedsides I got from Fantastic Furniture way back in 2011 that still look in new condition. I like that these are timeless and can go with any trend/style and are sturdy. With a big cupboard space I have put baskets in there filled with medications and syringe safety bins for my Clexane injections. So keeping these and using them will save on costs, which is always nice when you're styling a room on a budget.

Wall Decor:
I have one framed print of a birds of paradise that matches the quilt (pictured below), but with so many walls still bare in my room it can be mistaken as being clinical. I want to get some wooden shelving, cubes or hexagons to make a wall feature which doubles as storage to have some plants around the room and to hold other little nick-nacks.


Birds of Paradise framed print from pillow talk

When we were in Fantastic Furniture recently I stumbled across this flamingo canvas artwork (below) that has all the colours of my quilt and is keeping in with the contemporary tropical theme, Russ really liked it too, so we are hoping to get it when we can afford it. It wasn't much, around $49 from memory.

I also enlisted the help of Foote and Flame to cut out some bamboo shapes of different tropical leaves so that I can hang these around my room and make an art piece from it. I also found some cheap tropical leaves in Kmart for $3 in various sizes and styles too. I know pillow talk have some too. I am hoping on the next day Russ has off to look at placement of the wooden and artificial leaves. 

Nick-nacks:
I have been keeping an eye out over the last year for different tropical themed pieces or even nice wooden decor, and trying to nab a good bargain. I have my eye on some timber framed artwork, some timber pineapple frames and other odds and ends like fake succulents. I really want to have some fake plants around the room to fill the spaces (My thumbs aren't green and Russ is not always home). 

I know we are trying to fit a lot into such a small space and I do hope that in the end it all looks as homey and relaxing as it does in my head. I am hoping now that I have written this that it holds Russ and I accountable for getting our house sorted. I know 12 months ago I didn't think I would still be here today and I know the outlook isn't too great for the next year, but I just really want to feel calm knowing my house is in order.... literally and figuratively! I want to not feel anxious over if I have done enough or if people are judging me.

I am really wanting my room to be my tropical escape as I won't have the ability to travel there myself I want to bring it to me.

I am also not an interior designer or stylist, so I don't know if the mood board I have in my noggin' is going to work, I will just have to see won't I!

If you know of any tropical themed wares over the coming weeks and months feel free to let me know so I can check them out. I am really wanting to have my room finished by Christmas/New Year at the latest. Plenty of time I know, but if the last 12 months have taught me anything it is that Russ is a snail (when it comes to getting things done) and time certainly does flies by!

So tell me, do you have a themed/styled room or house? Which room of your house is your favourite?
Comment below or join the conversation on Instagram or Facebook search @feelingostomistic or twitter @feel_ostomistic

Posted by: Talya AT 08:15 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
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~  Living with Familial Adenomatous Polyposis - Effects of FAP  ~

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Talya Goding - Feeling Ostomistic   talya@feelingostomistic.com.au  |  0447 426 860

Thank you for stopping by Feeling Ostomistic. It has taken a lot of courage to share my story and I ask that you show me and my site/blog respect and courtesy. Views expressed in this blog are my own and I am not a nurse or a doctor. If you need medical advice please seek your medical practitioner.

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