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Archive for February, 2015

52 Week Challenge Week 7/ low-spend week progress/ Debt Payoff

February 28th, 2015 at 11:44 pm

The debits for week 7 52 week challenge have been applied in the various places, and now the EF category there is just under $500. (With banking the difference also it is standing at around $810, so it's progressing well)

We have tried to spend as little as possible this week. Takeaway has been the lower end of our scale. Friday night B was out with friends and had McDonalds. I felt like getting a good quality bread (which is more than our grocery spend) so spent $3.50 on it instead of getting takeaway and had dim sims from our freezer for tea. B's Saturday takeaway was $6 chicken & chips (he can easily spend $15 on KFC, so swapped it this week)

We held a thank you dinner for B's parents and repaid them the final $700 of the money we had to borrow at the start of the year. They were very happy and we are so happy to have finished that chapter. Roast dinner with all the trimmings = $55 (we got a piece of roast beef plus we got all the vegetables also, bakery bread, nice icecream & cream to have for dessert, $9 vodka drink in case B's mum wanted something).

B plays poker once a week with his friends and they rotate whose house it is at. This week it is his turn. We decided to have a bbq for it, bbq meat = $25.

We have found that while we had to buy roast meat & bbq meat, we have enough food in our freezer to only buy 1 night's dinner this week so our spending has been offset by that reduction.

Of our $600 weekly spend, $256 has gone towards savings and debt repayment. ($106 52 wk challenge, $50 xmas gift card, $100 loan to inlaws). We have $143 left. With that I have to buy groceries (not looking at a huge spend), develop some photos and B wants to get some more alcohol before tomorrow night. Maybe we might go over but it won't be by much and it feels like we have done some good things this week.

One of the best ways to pay for Christmas presents is...

February 27th, 2015 at 06:53 am

By paying with gift cards.

A friend of mine did that last year or the year before and put a picture up on Facebook of all the cards she bought, and I thought that was such a wonderful idea.

I figured if I divide the Christmas spend by 10 and buy 1 card per month from February to November our Christmas spending will be taken care of, and not only will one headache be taken care of, but it should add to the enjoyment of the season. (Sure I could save the monthly instalment into the EF and withdraw at Xmas but I want the EF to be a place where money floods in erratically & often and dribbles out only in the event of a true emergency, no transfering between accounts willy-nilly).

Gift cards have a 1 year expiry date so I will buy first the ones I know I will be shopping with and last the ones that we will be giving.

Last year because we were so broke our Christmas shopping was phenomenally low - $180 and we only bought for the niece and nephews. We felt bad, it's not really the meaning of Christmas to make other family members miss out because of our money dramas. It sucked.

So as it's the 27th of February I thought I'd better get card number 1 and bought one for $50.. 1 down, 9 to go!

Banking the Difference $150.13

February 26th, 2015 at 08:18 am

It's bill-paying day today so had to pay B's motorbike registration, council rates & my phone bill. The motorbike registration is new from last year, the council rates have increased but my phone has decreased. For some reason the phone company when I set up the phone insisted on my bank details in case I don't pay the bill in two weeks. I paid by the due date and yet they also took out a payment. (I paid $26.13 and they deducted $26.13). This was last month. This month I got a phone bill for wait for it - $3.87!!! I know really it's not that exciting because it's an overpayment from last month in actual fact. They didn't direct debit it this time which I am happy about. I don't have a lot of time to call call centres so was not looking forward to it.

Anyway the $150.13 savings consists of:
- House insurance saving compared to last yr $8.70
- Car insurance repayment we're not making at the moment (but need to save for) $90.24
- Phone savings compared to last year $51.19

I had to check the bank account to make sure that I can do all these banking the difference amounts & pay our automatic debits (still have $149 on mortgage expected to go), but the balance is fine, can do them.

So now expected savings by mid-January next year = 52 wk challenge $5512 + Banking the Difference $616.45 = $6,128.45. Over $6000! Exciting Smile

Low Spend Week Day 2 First No

February 24th, 2015 at 06:34 am

I got invited to go to a lingerie party tomorrow night. Kind of like Tupperware but instead, lingerie. I ummed and ahhed because this is so not my thing but I felt bad saying no. Then I thought of what I said Sunday "if it involves money or energy this week that is not needed then the answer is no", and sent off a text nicely explaining that this is not really my thing but have a lovely time. My SIL who was having the party was nice about it which makes me happy.

So it's Tuesday and the week is so far so good. I'm at 2 no spend days, have avoided a big spend (that lingerie would not be cheap) and am creatively aiming this week to avoid spending as much as possible. 2 down 5 days to go!

52 Week Challenge Week 6 Wrap-Up / Weekend Recap & Meal Plan

February 22nd, 2015 at 07:44 am

The payments came out on Friday as scheduled (so handy having it automated!).

As it stands this week the balances are creeping up but no real digit change. Next week the EF category will be a couple of dollars shy of $500 which will be nice.

I could have had a Banking the Difference snowflake but we overspent this week and this helped to offset the amount we overspent. (Overspend of $110, snowflake of $48). Sometimes you have to allow a little leeway.

But not next week! We had a huge expensive week last week but this week we over-indulged in our favourite comforts so it was just an expensive week (fish & chips for Friday night tea, KFC for Saturday lunch for B, I went out with my mother & sister today, we borrowed DVDs, I bought a book) and bought a few new items- shoes for me $50, wine cooler from op shop (me) $2, camping plate set & kettle (B) $32. It all adds up. Did we enjoy ourselves? You bet. B had a day out with his friends ($29), I went out with my family ($20), we had our favourite takeaways and bought new things. Life is to be enjoyed sometimes. (All the time is unrealistic)

So now I am planning on having a low-spend week this week. If it involves too much energy or money it's not happening, it can wait! This week will be the week of no. It has to be said now and then.

Meal Plan:
Tonight: chicken drumsticks, roast potatoes & veggies
Tomorrow: fried rice with chicken as the meat portion
Tuesday: steak with mashed potatoes & veggies
Wednesday: schnitzel with mashed potatoes & veggies
Thursday: spaghetti bolognaise

Hoping you all have a lovely frugal week!

B's Withholdings

February 18th, 2015 at 08:29 am

My husband B is self-employed so it is important to keep up to date with his tax Withholdings in order to avoid being in a world of financial pain when it's time to lodge the tax return!

We had money problems while he was off work but now he is back working and we are recovering, he has a lot of work at the moment.

Now that we have money again a friend has offered to sell him a camper trailer for $2000 which is in pretty good condition and would be a valuable purchase for us, we would get a lot of use out of it. I told him I would let him know this week if we are able to get it.

The Australian tax year starts on July 1 and ends June 30. The way I look at his tax is to pay instalments towards his tax as the government advises for the first half of the year, and then between months 6 & 8 start looking at his profit & loss to see have we paid enough tax? If not, we have a few months to get things back in order by year end. (If he was making way more money than usual I would be checking earlier).

So I had the family banker hat on this week and have found that he is doing ok. He hasn't earned much this year ($27000 so far), tax payable is $1300, tax we have paid is $1700. So it works out I have over saved for tax so we can use that money to buy the camper trailer. It's nice to know that we're on track and won't get any nasty surprises in the form of big tax bills. Really hoping B will make a taxable income of over $40000 by year end (which will be an improvement on the $37000 he earned the year before).

Oh, and once I start checking at months 6-8, I continually check at the end of each month to keep a clear picture of where he's at. (As a salaried employee I don't need to do this for myself, there's not a lot to report and tax is withheld at the right level).

Banking The Difference deposit $135.00

February 17th, 2015 at 10:02 am

I had to pay our phone bills today and there were no savings there (B's mobile had a saving of $5 while the home phone had an increase of $5), however it is also time to buy my monthly train ticket.

The monthly train ticket went down from $190 per month to $130 per month as of 1 January 2015 so there will always be savings there, but when I compared February 2014 $290 to February 2015 $155 there is a saving of $135.00 there. (Last year our weather was really hot so I drove to work a few times and parking is expensive). So I sent over the $135.00 to the various places (sidebar updated).

I think I can see a couple more saving opportunities for the month- car insurance, my cellphone and our mortgage repayments, but will do these deposits as the bill payments get made. Who knew paying bills could be so much fun!

Challenges Tally Month 1!

February 16th, 2015 at 10:04 am

The fifth week of the 52 week challenge came out on Friday but rather than update on the weekend I really wanted to wait until exactly 1 month from the challenges start date, which was January 16th.

For month 1 of the 52 week challenge, approximately $533.00 has been saved/repaid against the various places.

For month 1 of the Banking The Difference challenge approximately $331.32 has been saved/repaid against the various places.

For both a total of $864.32 has been saved/repaid. Total current goal $5512 + $331.32 = $5843.32. This makes progress of having saved 14.79% of the total goal.

The result so far for each account / card is:
EF = $478 saved
CC 1 = $145.46 repaid
CC 2 = $92.60 repaid
Mortgage = $149 saved

This has been a good month and we are in the better times of the year. (October-December is never good for example) I'm pretty happy with the result, it's nice to have a little bit saved away.

The Weekend & Meal Plan

February 15th, 2015 at 10:47 am

It's the end of our big weekend, it's Sunday night. We had a mini-date night the other night for Valentine's Day, ate our chocolates, went to three birthdays yesterday, two of which were out at a restaurant. It was nice to go out to dinner for once but if turned out to be expensive. We took $120 thinking it would be fine but everything cost more. As soon as we ordered I had to tally up how many drinks we could afford to have so we wouldn't spend over the $120! We ended up spending $104 and while the entree was nice, the main wasn't worthy of the charge. I love marinara dishes and you can usually expect 2-3 each of prawns, scallops, fish pieces, mussels and a couple of other fish things. For $25 I got 2 scallops, 1 prawn, 1 mussel and a lot of cheaper fish pieces and a lot more pasta. If I wanted mostly pasta I would have spent $10 less & got a pasta dish! They did have a nice band though which made it a fun night.

I got a text from a very good friend the other day to meet for coffee this morning, which was a really nice catch-up. We have a lot of the same values and I trusted her enough to tell her about my blog (the only other people who know are my sister and B, who has no interest in the blog anyhow). She is currently going through hard financial problems and hopefully everything will change for the better soon. We had lots to talk about.

I bought a pair of work shoes for $50 and B went out and spent $29 - both things were from our spending money for the coming week so will need to adjust accordingly.

Meal plan:
Sunday- we were bad & had steamed dim sims!
Monday - omelette
Tuesday- chicken sausages, mashed potatoes & veggies
Wednesday- pork chops, mashed potatoes & veggies
Thursday- steak & chips

V-Day Changes

February 12th, 2015 at 06:46 am

Both my doctors visit and the dog's trip to the vet cost more than expected, especially the dog. We had to buy antibiotics and other bits and pieces for her, costing a whopping $174 (and my doctors visit ended up being $115). We already see an improvement with the dog so we're happy about that.

While I was killing some time before the doctors appointment I decided to buy a Valentine's day card & chocolates- got a big $15 box of Cadbury Roses for $7.50 so was really happy.

Then afterwards didn't feel like having the curried sausages so we just had something little. We decided that because the appointments cost more to save money instead of going out for tea we will have the curried sausages followed by the Cadbury Roses for dessert. I'm not even bothered, I'm just looking forward to the chocolates Smile

Meal plan & expensive week coming up

February 9th, 2015 at 06:53 am

Meal Plan:
Sunday: curried sausages w/ mashed potato (double batch made from scratch)
Monday: sandwich steak & veggies
Tuesday: the other half of the curried sausages
Wednesday: pork chops & veggies
Thursday: out to dinner

The week started off quiet. Then I had to go to the doctor for a routine test. Will be $70. We planned to go out for Valentine's Day and still want to. SIL's birthday on Valentine's Day so we have chosen to go out Thursday, have an early Valentine's Day. Then SIL's birthday became a double birthday (a cousin born on same day) and out for dinner too. Then there is another birthday that we got invited to in the daytime.

Then we found a skintag on our dog which needs to be looked at by the vet. Oh and I'm getting my hair done too!

A quiet week turned into two medical appointments, a triple birthday, two dinners out and me getting my hair done! Wow. I try to plan ahead as much as I can but sometimes it doesn't matter how much you plan, there'll be a curveball or three.

The thing which is stopping me from worrying is knowing that we put money aside for my hair and Valentine's Day dinner (we're now just going out for a cheap pizza dinner) and we have a quiet week the week after. Really hoping that the dog will be ok and not cost too much.

52 Wk Challenge Week 4 = Done! & $50 Snowflake

February 8th, 2015 at 10:06 am

Our debits for 52 week challenge came out on Friday, this is now Week 4 (yay!). Sidebar is updated and next week will have saved/repaid over $100 on 2 out of 3 items. Getting there.

I received onFriday a $50.32 snowflake which was a credit from my old phone company for an overpayment (I paid the bill, then 2 days later got the final bill showing a credit of $50.32 but as it got paid in full I needed a refund). Amazingly the phone company did it within 2 days which was really good service for a now ex-customer!

I sent this over to Banking The Difference challenge in various places, sidebar is updated.

Now looking at $5512 52 wk challenge + $331.32 = $5843.32 anticipated savings at end of challenges.

I'm looking forward to recording at exactly 1 month from the start dates of the challenges exactly how much has been saved and how far along we are Smile

Banking the Difference $12

February 5th, 2015 at 09:53 am

Had to pay the water bill and hubby's business insurance was deducted, the savings from both added up to $12.00, so added it to Banking The Difference (sidebar is updated).

Total for year now $281, plus anticipated 52wk challenge of $5512 = $5793.

Changing My ideals about what should be brand new

February 5th, 2015 at 07:09 am

I'm not one to op-shop. I probably won't change in that respect.

But when visiting my sister last month (who had a baby with her husband and because they went from 2 wages to 1 they drastically overhauled their finances) I was reading a tip in a frugal living book she borrowed.

It goes: research what you want to buy, then look not only for the best deals but also check eBay.

Which made me think really how much stuff do we need to buy brand new? I don't think I care anymore about certain things. Last night I felt like Internet shopping, gave myself a maximum limit ($20) and bought an umbrella for $12. I do need one.

Then the tip popped into my mind (of course after buying!) and I checked eBay. I could have got an umbrella just like the one I bought for the same price but not paid shipping (eBay had it listed as free for that item as long as you choose standard). I paid $12 plus $10 shipping on my site.

So then I thought I don't care if things like umbrellas and accessories are second hand? So my ideals have kind of changed when it comes to shopping. I think from now on I am happy to search eBay for accessories and little items here and there (like for example I want to buy a shower timer, an iPad case and a phone case- so I don't care if they're secondhand)

What items do you guys search eBay for?

Semi FebFast

February 3rd, 2015 at 09:18 pm

My hubby has been feeling the damage of the holiday season. Too much alcohol, plus weight gain. I nearly fell over last night when he suggested doing a FebFast (he likes beer).

Do you guys have that where you are? It's spending the month of February sober. You actually enter in a fundraiser and get people to sponsor you (we have FebFast, DryJuly and OcSober). We're not entering just planning to abstain for the month.

I call it semi because I had a glass of wine last night. Last glass & not planning to buy anymore. I looked at our weekly spend on alcohol and decided we could use that money to go to the movies Saturday night instead. At the moment thinking it be a good thing to do and looking forward to going to the movies instead Smile

52 Week Challenge Week 3 - Done!

February 2nd, 2015 at 10:42 am

Another lot of payments have now come out and the sidebar is updated!

Small accomplishments Smile