50 ways to change your life for under R50

At the beginning of the year I sat down to think of my New Year’s Resolutions – I usually pick something to give up (this year is fizzy drinks – Coke!) and a word to focus on (Truth)… besides that I’m not particularly good at keeping them! After thinking about it for a while I realised that what might be easier for me is to make small changes throughout the year – a new one every week. I had planned to blog weekly in detail about each change but as you can tell it is now the beginning of March (how did that happen?) and I have not yet done that… So, I decided to list them all here as a list of 50 ways to change your life for under R50!

I hope you will find a few here that might inspire you to change your life in little but not insignificant ways…

1. Write your bucket list – a list of things you want to do before you “kick the bucket”. This might include places to see, people to meet, things to do or achieve. Sit down and spend some time thinking about what it is that will make you most happy or what it is you don’t want to regret not doing… A very useful exercise in identifying what is more important to you.

2. Go on a “date” night with your partner – this doesn’t have to cost the earth you just have to remember what you you used to do when dating as students – or ask a student what they do for dates when on a budget.

3. Arrange with a friend to swop babysitting duties on a monthly basis and

4. Pack a picnic and stop somewhere with a beautiful view – ideal as a date or for the whole family.

5. Go out for a glass of wine at a new bar. Rose Bay at the Alphen Hotel is our new favourite venue for this!

6. Pretend you are tourists in your own town and enjoy a Sat morning breakfast of coffee and croissants sans kids (if you can convince granny to have them overnight better still!)

7. Go to a movie and see something slightly different from your usual rom com or action. This might lead to a new found love for art or foreign films, at the very least you’ll have something interesting to discuss afterwards. Most have nights when tickets are cheaper than usual.

8. Search through your recipe books and cook something different for supper – try to include pulses or beans! Red kidney wraps are one of our new favourites. Ask a friend what their favourite (and easy) meal is and make that. We can so easily fall into a routine of what meals we make every week that it’s great to be a bit more adventurous once in a while.

9. Stop drinking fizzy drinks – the amount of sugar alone is slowly killing you! This is one I tried recently and I can’t say I miss it too much…btw so called “diet” drinks are even worse for you. I have made a small loop hole to allow soda water and Appletizer so I don’t feel deprived of the fizz!

10. Forgive someone – holding a grudge from last week or 20 years ago? Now is the time to forgive them and move on. They most likely don’t even know you are still angry with them… Unforgiveness has been proven to lead to health problems so ultimately you are the only one suffering.

11. Go for a ride on your bike – take the kids! Exercising in nature is just so much better for you physically and mentally!

12. Clean out your “tupperware” cupboard – or any other one in your kitchen that causes you stress! Mine is def the plastic cupboard – a thousand tubs all balanced on top of each other and do you think I can ever locate the right lid – NO! Time for a sort out….

13. Plant a few herbs in tins or pots on your windowsill or near your back door and begin adding fresh herbs to your meals – you’ll only have to pick what you need instead of throwing away half of the shop bought packet! My favourites are sweet basil, lemon thyme and rocket or lettuce leaves for salad.

14. Create something – make a card for your friend’s birthday present, paint a picture, sew a cushion cover in that fabric you bought and stored because you loved it, start drawing or knitting or writing poetry or gardening. Find a creative outlet that you love – you don’t have to be good at it yet! Having a way to express yourself is so beneficial to your mental health and can only reap good things!

15. Switch to a natural washing powder and save the environment! My kids struggle with very sensitive skin so this is a must for our family. You can also try alternative methods such as the green Icon washing ball for washing your clothes.

16. Start reading a book on the classics list – or one everyone is talking about if Dickens is not your style. Getting lost in a great book is a wonderful way to forget about the cares of this world.

17. And you don’t have to buy the book….Join your local library and have access to books, dvds, cds and plenty of resources for your kids’ school projects all for free!

18. Organize your wardrobe at the start of each season to reaquaint yourself with what you own. Ditch anything you haven’t worn in a year (besides formal wear). If you have lost or gained weight remove items that don’t fit you. Donate your old clothes to a charity shop, not only are you helping those less fortunate you will also benefit by feeling a sense of freedom whenever you look in your cupboard and realise you like everything you see and have plenty to wear! If you’re feeling brave you could organise a clothing swop with friends too…

19. Go on a “mommy date” with each of your children. Start with once and then see how you can fit it in once a month or so. The time might need to be flexible but it is vital to do this while they are still little and want to spend time with you. Solidifying your relationship with one-on-one time can happen anywhere. Take your eldest with you when you have to do the grocery shopping and chat as your wander the aisles, take your little one to the park while their sibling is at a party or extra-mural, drop your kids at school and “bunk” off the morning with the middle child if you can tell by their behaviour that they are needing some time with you…

20. Cut down your sugar intake, if you have 3 spoons in your coffee – try 2 to start with and slowly eliminate a spoonful every few weeks. Aim for none! Substitute with honey or a natural sugar alternative such as xylitol or stevia. Sugar is very bad for your immune system so remember as soon as you start feeling sick cut out all sugar from your diet.

21. Start composting – we use an ice cream tub right next to our bin which we fill with any organic matter such as vegetable peelings and egg shells (but not meat or dairy). Once the tub is filled we add it to the compost heap in the back yard. If you don’t have a compost heap but do have a garden you can also just bury it in your backyard. Be sure to cover any food matter to avoid attracting flies etc. If you don’t have a garden find someone who does or add it to the beds in your apartment blocks communal garden… or start a worm farm. This is another form of composting called vermiculture which can take place on your balcony. We started one and so far so good! We have yet to get the “worm tea” but the process is happening… I will keep you posted!

22. Put on sunscreeen everyday, esp on your face – you know why – it will save you thousands in anti-ageing beauty products in a few years!!

23. Take a trip to a place you’ve never been before. On Saturdays when we have no plans I like nothing better than hopping in the car with no real destination in mind and driving out into the country for an adventure! Go on family outings and explore together….

24. Keep a beach bag permanently filled with sunhats, suntan lotion, swimming costumes, towels, buckets, spades, goggles – everything you and your kids need for a quick exit to the beach or pool. I have found this especially useful during summer. We keep it near the front door so it’s easy to hop in the car for an early morning beach outing or last minute swim at granny’s. When we get home I empty wet things and restock! It might not be a bad idea to have a box of snacks at the bottom of the bag too!

25. If you haven’t done it yet upload all your cd’s to your computer and then to an mp3 player or iPod – a much more efficient method of music listening!

26. Write a letter to someone – maybe to each of your children for them to read when they leave home or turn 21, maybe to your elderly granny living in another city, or maybe to your mom. You know she deserves one!

27. Start writing – a journal or blog about each of your kids or about your life story or your birth stories or how you met your husband or the dreams you have. Write anything. One day the people left behind will cherish your words esp in your handwriting. Remember “The Notebook”

28. Sort out the kids cupboards – toys, books, clothes, shoes can all start to take over. Have an bi-annual clear out. Especially following birthdays when there is an influx of new things. Toss anything broken or stained. Donate items that have been outgrown to friends who have kids younger than yours. If you can’t bring yourself to part with some items then do a toy rotation where you hide a few things away and bring them out again when you hear the “I’m bored” cries. You will notice that often when everything is on display kids become immune to it and don’t see it in front of them! Less toys = more creative play! When you can’t walk to the bed from the door you know it’s time!

29. Stop eating chips. Seriously there is NOTHING good about them! I did this at the start of last year and although I am usually a person with zero will-power I have managed to stay away from them only because I set in my mind that I wouldn’t be digging into the bowl at every braai we went to. Occasionally when I need a “crunchy” snack I try to choose popcorn or corn nachos instead.

30. Schedule your annual appointments with your various doctors – the appointments won’t be less than R50 but the phone call will be – and the ultimate savings in the long run are also well worth it! Set one month a year when you visit the dentist, oral hygenist, gynae, dermatologist. Make it near your birthday so you won’t forget – the best birthday present you can give yourself is good health!

31. Go for a walk in nature. Make it a plan to take a stroll every Sunday afternoon when all you feel like doing is lying on the couch. Take a dog or a child to keep you moving! Breathe deeply and enjoy the fresh air. No doubt it will help you face the week with a better mindset!

32. Switch to organic or free-range meat, eggs and dairy. This might seem an expensive change to make – it has to me in the past but ultimately the food you eat affects your health in the long term so choose organic or free-range now and save on your future medical bills. You’ll also be helping the environment and local organic farmers!

33. Give something without expecting anything in return…. people who give as a habit have been proven to be happier with their own lives. Find a way to give back – money, time, clothes, food, experience. There are so many needs around you esp in South Africa. Find a charity that speaks to you and your interests – read stories to children in a home, help out at an animal welfare society, teach school kids to read English, make sandwiches for the homeless mom on your way to work, donate your old clothes to a charity shop. The secret of “givers” is that feeling that comes from helping others – it can’t be replicated!

34. Bake something from scratch – there is something very therapeutic about baking – it’s not called comfort food for nothing!

35. Research what adult education classes there are offered in your area and ask for vouchers towards an evening class for your next birthday – who needs an influx of body creams anyway?

36. Make a sentimental box for each of your children. Keep copies of their clinic cards, hospital tags, a lock of hair, their blankie or favorite toy, a hand or foot print – anything that is special to you about them. They might not want it one day (or they might) but you will esp when they have left home and empty nest syndrome hits!

37. Visit a museum or art gallery you have never been to. Encourage a love of the arts in your kids by taking them too… Look out for visiting exhibitions such as the annual Wildlife Photographer of the Year at the SA Museum.

38. Watch as much theatre, drama, ballet or live music as you can. Find free music concerts in your local newspaper. Visit school plays or ballet recitals. Once a year (or more) take yourself off to a production at the theatre. There is nothing quite like a theatre outing!

39. Read an encouraging verse, scripture, poem or quote every day. I am trying to be more diligent at setting time aside in my day to read my Bible instead of flopping in front of the latest addictive TV series or pottering around on Pinterest. It’s not easy to discipline myself but it’s so worth it when I do – my levels of patience and peace are much higher afterwards!!

40. Switch to using natural beauty products – an easy one is shampoo as there are brands available on the shelves of most of the bigger supermarkets. These natural products contain no chemicals and are ultimately kinder to your body and the environment. If you’ve not convinced about the importance of avoiding various chemicals in products we use daily then do a bit of research of your own and be informed not ignorant!

41. Find a form of exercise that works for you – it might be gym classes twice a week, or a run up the mountain early in the morning, it might be swimming laps or cycling to work. Find something that you enjoy, that fits your schedule and that you don’t hate! I have never been someone who loves exercising – I wish I was it would make it much easier but it is such an important thing to fit into your day. Aim for 3 x per week! I know I need to…

42. Have that chat that you have been avoiding – it might be with your husband, mother, best friend or boss. Schedule in some uninterrupted time by saying to them “There’s something I need to chat to you about can we make a time to meet over coffee” This way they’ll be prepared that you have something important to say and won’t feel blindsided! It will be hard for you to bring up something that has been bothering you and it will be even harder for the other person to hear what you have to say but in the interests of keeping relationships open and honest it is important to communicate if something is upsetting you. Remember than it can take time for relationships to be restored after a chat but it is so important to talk. Our family have learnt this the hard way and when there is a disagreement we avoid sweeping it under the carpet and rather talk it out which has never been easy but it certainly is getting easier! As Gloria Steinham said: The truth will set you free but it will first piss you off.

43. Go for a professional bra fitting. I recently did this at Storm in A-G Cup opposite Cavendish Square and I can’t tell you what a difference it made! I left the shop with not only a boost to my cup size (!) but to my confidence as well. A well-fitting bra or 2 is essential to your wardrobe and will make your clothes fit better and your posture a little bit taller! I highly recommend it for every women especially during pregnancy, after breast-feeding, around menopause, and if you have gained or lost weight recently…. Don’t be shy the consultants are very professional and so helpful – and they have experience with all shapes and sizes….

44. Take a few minutes to do your health checks such as your HIV status, blood pressure, blood sugar and cholesterol at your local pharmacy every few months esp if you’ve on a medical aid that awards you points!

45. Find your perfect red lipstick – head over to your local department store and sample all the red’s you can find to discover which shade suits you best. When next you’re in the market for a lipstick be daring and try red for a change to boost your confidence, at least you’ll know which one to go for!

46. Buy presents for friends and family throughout the year. Start looking out for sales just after Christmas and keep a list in your diary of who you normally buy for, when their’s birthdays are and if they have mentioned anything in passing or have a particular interest. I try to keep a few generic kids presents in my present cupboard to avoid last minute dashes to the shops…

47. Stock up on a few generic birthday cards for all genders and ages of adults and kids – esp your own kids ages so that you always have a few handy. Alternatively buy a few blank cards and get your kids to make, draw, stamp a few to use for their friends. While you’re at it stock up on wrapping paper and sticky tape too. Use an old present bag and keep a few varieties in one place as a wrapping station!

48. RECYCLE – if you aren’t yet – why not?? It really is so easy. We have a separate recycling bin outside our back door and we add all cardboard, paper, plastic, tin and glass into the same black bag when once a week we drop off at our local recycling center where they sort it for us. EASY! I get anxious when I see people putting their plastic milk containers into the normal bin. Please don’t!

49. Take more photographs. Your kids are changing before your eyes – every month they look different. Take photo’s of you home and garden to document the changes. Capture special moments esp of your children with their grandparents. Take more pictures of your parents if you are lucky enough to still have them around… one day you won’t and a great photo will be so special.

50. Print out photo’s of your loved ones. I know this is always on my “to do” list and I love having printed photo’s but never seem to have the time to sort and organize my photo’s. I really do need to set aside a few hours every month just o sort out the pictures I have taken that month and identify the print worth ones. Print a few a month (even 10) and it won’t cost the earth!

Which do you think you will tackle first? Anything I should add? Let me know in the comments…

Enjoy and Good Luck!


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Kathryn Rossiter

Kathryn is a South African lifestyle blogger and mom of 2 who has been blogging daily for over 9 years! She writes about travel, health, beauty, fashion, decor and family... but not food (unless it's food she's eaten made by someone else) as she is a hopeless cook. She only wakes up early for 2 things... a red-eye flight to somewhere exotic and early morning game drives. She has just finished an extensive home renovation and would prefer to never see another box again. She's never met a chocolate or glass of bubbles that she didn't like!

  1. Awwwww! So true about this things, its really great to enjoy every moment in time… 🙂 I can’t this coming vacation to have a great adventure…

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