NST Awesome August

NST Awesome August

The Ninja Saving Turtles aim to get out of debt or save for the life they want (pay off the mortgage/ retire early/ live well on a modest income). In addition to our main aim we believe in a holistic approach to our health and lives. We encourage, commiserate and celebrate as appropriate and we aim to have lots of fun (getting out of debt can be a long hard slog and we don't want it to suck all the joy out of our lives). Newcomers are always welcome. Our challenges are tough but addictive, so don't be afraid to get into the water. No turtle gets left behind. 

So, welcome to this month's Challenge and I hope we all have an
Awesome August

Awesome - You are awesome. Believe it. No negative talk, no false modesty ('Oh, it was nothing, anybody could have done it'). What some of you have been through in recent years, what some of you have to live with each and every day could be overwhelming but we are still here. Survivors. Warriors. Tell yourself every day 'I am awesome' (whisper it in your head if you feel daft saying it out loud in front of a mirror)

Wellness - is at the heart of everything we do. For the first week of the challenge I'll be talking about reaching rock bottom - when you have a life threatening disease, chronic health issues, a temporary disability, depression. Just little tips on how to cope, eschewing the guilt doing what you can. If you don't have any of these challenges, it will make you more aware of people in your life who do have them and possibly think about changes that come as we age (although sudden illness/ disability can strike at any age). Don't worry, it won't be gloomy.

Exercise - is another key turtle concern. Targets this month - Average 4 x 1/2 hour sessions a week or an hour long daily walk (more if you want to), Tough 1-2 hours a day/ 5 out of 7 days (for gym bunnies and runners - you could walk or do something less strenuous on the other 2 days but you are supposed to give your muscles a chance to relax). Rock bottom/ Poorlies - find something you can do and do it consistently (even if it's moving to a chair rather than lying down or changing your position every 15 minutes).

Stay in the Moment - it's all you have. Enough of us have been touched by death in the last few years, some after a long and mostly happy life but others cut off 'in their prime'. Live your life, live every moment, smell the roses (other flowers available), savour the food you eat (how many times have you eaten a meal or a bar of chocolate and been unable to recall a single bite), sit and watch the bees and butterflies flitting around the garden or your local park, take note of the patterns of the leaves or the clouds - be still, listen to the birdsong or your favourite music (if you can only hear the aeroplanes above think about all the places they could be going), hug your children, feel your baby's skin, be aware of all the textures around you - tree bark, the softness of a petal or a feather, the comfort of a squishy sofa. 

Overwhelmed, Overthinking or Overburdened - delegate, ask for help, drop a commitment (or just one meeting). If you're always at everyone's beck and call, you need to establish BOUNDARIES

Meal planning and preparation are vital. They save time and money (and if you wait until you are very hungry, you will make poor choices). If you cook from scratch you know exactly what's in there. It's okay to buy some things in (you can make your own cereals, yoghurt, cheese, ice cream, jam but you don't have to and SM purchases/ bulk buys will be cheaper than the 'not so convenient shop'). * More on 'poorlies' short cuts next week. Take your lunch to work or hospital appointments, pack a  picnic for days out (unless it's specifically part of a birthday treat or other celebration).  Avoid using food as a reward or consolation, if at all possible (this one's for me, really).

Every one of us has some things we can live without. Sell or donate 23 items this month. If you need to seriously declutter, aim for 23 a week or 23 a day (even if it's only rounding up all the dead batteries and taking them to a recycling point). You can also live without toxic relationships or excessive social media (just think how sad some people's lives must be if they have to take photos of every meal they eat or constantly show everyone what a wonderful time they're having).

An Attitude of Gratitude is a good thing to have. It focuses your mind on what you have rather than what you 'want' (not need - it's very important to distinguish the two). 3 things you are grateful for, every day please.  It will make you happier if practised regularly.

U - you need a budget. a budget tells your money where to go rather than wondering where it went. For this challenge, you need budgets for all your regular spending, set before the month starts. FOOD, TRAVEL, ENTERTAINMENT (school holidays so there may be planned activities which need to be paid for), any birthdays or other 'events', personal spending if you have an allowance for this. Spend Free Days - choose your own target this month. Tough target -23 SFDs, Average 15 (every other day for spending + 1 bonus), Low - get your first one and then add them as you get them. Medical expenses or travel (from within the allotted budget)  will not cost you a SFD. Pay to debt or savings first.

Goals - You need to know where you are going (what your purpose is) whether that's getting out of debt or setting aside a small regular amount to buy something you need (or want). If you have goals check if you are on track and if you haven't started, is it an unrealistic goal or fantasy  you. You need stages on your journey (short and medium goals) so you don't live your life in anticipation (the woman who looked after me when I was a baby postponed her retirement to retire at the same time as her husband, had a stroke 2 days later and died within a week). ***

U - Use what you have. Check your cupboards, fridge and freezer, plan your meals around what you have. Use up all the weird things at the back of the cupboard, have a box or shelf in the fridge (eye level) of things that need using up (or freeze them). As you start to 'tidy up' the garden, check your sheds and garage for things you don't use or haven't used for a while. Unless they're seasonal items (bad weather kit or camping things to be stored for next year) ask why you haven't used them, whether they are still useful to you and if not pass them on (or sell them) to someone who can make use of them. If that spade always goes back on the rack because you know it's too heavy as soon as you pick it up, it's time to pass it on If you haven't been camping for 3 or more years are you going to do it again. (old garden tools make interesting plant supports if painted in bright/ toning colours and there are organisations that refurbish all sorts of manual tools to send to the developing world).

Staycation - If you have not been away this year, I think you are entitled to a staycation. It doesn't have to be grand and it doesn't have to be this month - you could embrace hygge or turn your house into a Swiss chalet to brighten up November - candles, hot chocolate or gluhwein and extra blankets (and without the inconvenience of strapping a couple of planks to your feet and letting a mountain beat you up). If money is getting tighter you could plan a staycation for next year - a series of days out means you don't pay for accommodation. I think the open garden scheme is next month but some gardens have regular open days throughout the year or over several months. you could set up a list of local galleries and attractions you've never been to.

Treat yourself (and others) kindly. Nearly everyone is doing the best they can, often in difficult circumstances. Help out where you can - give time, money (one off donation or DD), put something in the food bank collection at the SM (if you forget,take something out of your trolley), volunteer do a good deed or a week of RAKs or just listen to someone who needs to talk.

So who will join me for an Awesome August

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