Liz’s Diary and Update – 2023 Reflections

A new diagnosis, some wonderful mini breaks, a loss of income, some important money lessons for Andy and lots of writing! 2023 was another big year with big ups and big downs..

Introduction

2023 had its ups and downs! The ups were wonderful but the downs were also very difficult.

I was diagnosed with an autoimmune disease, made awesome memories on holidays, Andy got a job at 13 and a loss of income made me thank past me for building up my Emergency Fund!!

Head to the bottom of this article for my quick lists of ‘What I loved in 2023 that I want to continue doing’, as well as my ‘2024 goals and Resolutions!’

Personal Life

The biggest challenge I faced in 2023 was getting diagnosed with Crohn’s disease which is an autoimmune disease and an Inflammatory Bowel Disease. I wrote an article where I go into more detail on my Crohn’s diagnosis but as this was happening in the middle of winter, my immune system had taken a big hit and I also came down with RSV virus which left me bed ridden for weeks.

As I am primary school teaching on a casual basis, days in bed means no sick pay.

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This is where I thanked past me for prioritising my Emergency fund.

Had I been without it, I would have been extremely stressed about meeting my financial obligations and ensuring all my bills were paid!

On the upside, I was able to make time for some breaks this year; a girls trip to Mudgee, a road trip through Victoria with Andy and a trip to Adelaide for Fringe festival.

I started 2023 with an awesome road trip through Victoria. Andy and I stopped in at Questacon in Canberra, we went to the Australian open in Melbourne and saw the men’s doubles finals which was such a thrill for us! We enjoyed the hot spring baths in Warnambool and stepped back in time in Ballarat when we spent the day at Sovereign Hill – underground mines, gold panning, and old school sweet shops.

In March I took a quick trip to Adelaide to visit some friends and go to Fringe festival which never disappoints.

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Beautiful Mudgee farm life! Girls trips are good for the soul..

In August I went on a girls trip to Mudgee which was exactly what I needed after such a difficult winter! Wine tasting, cheese platters, winter walks, fresh food markets, shopping and fine dining.

Girls trips are honestly good for the soul!

Made pavlova from scratch for Christmas.. this will be repeated!

Money

As a casual primary school teacher, there are many advantages, but the loss of income when I’m sick is not one of them.

When I started working on a casual basis, I was very aware of the fact that I would lose income if I was sick so I prioritised building my Emergency Fund. And thank God I did! When I was bed ridden for weeks I relied on my EF to pay my bills and my mortgage. It provided peace of mind and once I was well enough to return to work, my next priority was building my EF back up again!

I used to aim for $10k, then raised that to $30k, but my next goal is to build my EF up to at least $60k.

On a positive note, NSW teachers got a pay rise in 2023 so my hourly rate increased. To be honest, the increase could have been better, but an increase still helps.

I put a lot of effort into selling more of my stuff in 2023 as well which I still get a thrill out of. I have my top tips for selling your stuff online in my article here.

I sold books, games, appliances, gym gear and some of Andy’s outgrown clothes.

Cash in hand helped to pay bills and groceries, and it feels good to de clutter as well.

Another thing I did last year was rent out my second car spot.

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I have 2 car spots allocated to me in my apartment carpark and I only ever use one. I honestly don’t know why I didn’t do this earlier but I’m now renting the spot out for $100 per month. I could probably charge more, which I may do later this year but for now, it helps pay a bill or two!

I had my apartment revalued last year as well which I’m so glad I did. Property prices have increased a lot and this gives me more equity in my property and raised my net worth too!

After another full calculation of my assets and my liabilities (just my mortgage), my net worth has now increased to $574,422 in December 2023.

Andy got a job last year, pretty much as soon as he turned 13! When I was a kid, you had to wait until you were 14 and 9 months before you could be legally employed but things have changed! It differs from state to state but in NSW, there is no minimum age to be employed so, I helped him to put a resume together, he applied at Subway and got the job!

He works one shift per week and loves saving up for things he wants that I’ve told him I won’t buy. My conditions on him getting a job were clear:

  • Prioritise your homework
  • No more than 2 shifts per week
  • Only keep the job if you really want to
  • Once you commit to a shift, you turn up (unless sick)
  • Once you get paid, that money gets divided 4 ways.

With that last point, I said to Andy he gets to pick the percentages that get allocated the 4 ways, but he needs to have some to spend, some to save, some to give, and some to invest. Similar to the Barefoot Buckets or Barefoot jars explained in Scott Pape’s Barefoot for Families.

Andy was happy with this arrangement and even if he’s saving or investing small amounts, it’s fine by me. As long as it’s something. It teaches Andy how to budget, it teaches him about interest, saving principles, the value of money and the power of investing.

Andy and I loved our Victoria road trip!

Several times this year I have taken advantage of Cash Rewards and Shop Back, and I’ve withdrawn a few chunks of cash back into my account.

I barely ever shop without these apps these days and wish I got onto them sooner!

If you are interested in scoring cash back on everyday purchases, you can get free cash for signing up with my referral codes. This means I get a little cash from this too, and I’m always so grateful when people use my codes as it helps to support my blog.

For $10 free with Cash Rewards, click here.

For $10 free with ShopBack, click here.

Professional

Professionally, I took on more casual teaching days last year and really narrowed down the schools in which I’m happy to attend.

One of the most important things I can do to keep my autoimmune disease under control is to reduce the amount of stress I’m experiencing. Therefore, I now have a list of primary schools I will not return to. Sometimes this is due to behaviour issues, sometimes it’s the school culture or the distance, but I have been fortunate enough to find at least 3-4 schools that are very close to home where I’ve mostly had great teaching experiences, and where they’re happy to keep inviting me back.

I considered taking on another casual position (such as waitressing or bar work) during the summer 6 week school holidays but then I decided that it’s actually super valuable to give myself that break!

So the Emergency fund comes into play again and I’m enjoying the quality time with Andy, with family and with friends.

Parenting / Co-parenting

Andy has had some wonderful achievements this year with his sport. His soccer team won the grand final for the season which was amazing! He got second and third places in his school swimming carnival and achieved his green belt in karate!

Andy was also super excited to get his job at Subway and it has been teaching him important skills as well as improving his confidence.

Co-parenting has been difficult at times, particularly when Andy’s father decided to go overseas for 6 weeks and simply refuses to pay child support while he’s away.

Parenting was also particularly difficult when I was sick through winter and still had to be the responsible parent. Andy’s father was also away during this time, so he couldn’t share parenting duties. Some nights, it was Weet bix for dinner, or takeaway food, as I certainly wasn’t up for cooking.

There were times last year that I really had to crack down on Andy’s screen time.

I try to limit it as much as I can but there were also moments where Andy actually wasn’t truthful with me, and snuck his phone into his room at night to watch YouTube in bed.

Once I realised he had gone against my wishes and stayed up late on school nights watching YouTube, I decided to ban the screens altogether. I don’t know how other parents out there approach this issue if or when it arises but banning screen use (other than necessary homework) sure brings out your child’s imagination and results in a big change in behaviour sometimes too!

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I’ve written a bunch of articles last year including:

Frugal Living In Australia; 13 Reasons Why I CHOOSE Frugality

Triple P Parenting Program; What’s It All About?

My Crohn’s Disease Diagnosis – Definition And My Experience

Life360 App Review; Keeping Track Of My 13 Year Old!

Loose Parts Play; What Is It And What Are The Benefits?

I’ve also been writing quite a bit for Kiddipedia. Articles range in topics from Ways to waste your money as a parent to Why secrets are so important to discuss with your kids, but if you haven’t already, click on over to Kiddipedia to check out all their free resources! Blog articles, written by a range of parenting experts and health professionals, as well as their podcast and heaps of giveaways!

So, like I said, 2023 was a big year for me!

Summary

Thank you so much to each and every one of you who support me and my blog, as well as through the socials (Instagram, Facebook, TikTok and Twitter). It has been a huge year.

I have made some goals / resolutions for 2024:

  • Relaxation and actively reducing stress
  • Decluttering
  • Health goals: a diet that works for me
  • Less pressure on myself
  • Build my EF as much as possible
  • Prioritising friendships that are reciprocal, that work for me, that are free of negativity and toxicity.

Here are the things I’m already doing, that I love, that I want to continue:

  • Continue being the best mum I can be
  • Prioritising quality time with Andy and the puppy
  • Making time for friends and family
  • Making mental health a priority
  • Balance of work – WFH and teaching. A flexible work life.

What about you?? What were your reflections, and what about goals for 2024? Let me know in the comments!

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