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Archive for February, 2017

Sometimes It Pays To Wait; Feb / March

February 28th, 2017 at 02:49 am

Yesterday I started another study unit and the textbook requirements weren't clear. It also wasn't clear because now I have committed to studying and enrolled in the university for the degree the method of payment is via a student loan. It said textbooks were required however on the enrolment letter it said to complete the form in time to ensure that your materials arrive in time so it was unclear as to whether I have to pay or it goes on the student loan and gets delivered. Then the university gave the login details and stated that no printed material would be distributed. (I am studying through distance education and while the majority of the units are through one university, some are through others). Due to not being sure of whether we buy the books or the university sends them and adds the cost to the student loan I decided to wait until the date the unit started. No books were sent and my form was submitted weeks ago (3-4) so it's clear I had to buy them. The cost through distance education was expensive at $168.75 for two. So yesterday I logged on to the course (which is at one of the different universities) and they had an ebook option with a discount code which amounted to $94.42! I was happy to use this option. It definitely pays to wait sometimes Smile.

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Our shopping for February came in at $621, which for us is pretty good - I like it around the $600 mark so this is fine. Our biggest expenses for February aside from the normal mortgage and bills category (which equates to 47% of our monthly income) were B's savings towards his tax payment next month of $570 and our cat's expenses of $744 (vet visit, then her medical test, then boarding kennel when we went away).

I have low-level anxiety about the cash outflow that's going to happen in March. I've known about it for a while and have budgeted and saved but really hope nothing goes wrong this month as it will stretch us. Pretty much on the same day we pay B's tax bill of $2780 plus get two car insurance policies deducted from our bank account for the amount of around $2100 - so $4880 roughly; a big cash outflow.

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I received the $60 Safeway everyday rewards the other day so transferred that to Christmas savings - $4 to go then month 2 is complete!

At this point in time this is all I can think of, hoping that you are all well.

Fell Off The Wagon

February 23rd, 2017 at 02:27 am

I think I see a pattern here. When I came back from the UK I decided to go on an alcohol fast and it ended up being a period of low alcohol instead and unfortunately it has happened again - some things I have next to no willpower with. Why do I need to impose a restriction on myself anyway? I just bought one bottle of wine for the weekend so I can have a glass here and there. I had one tonight and that is all. This bottle was $15 which is my usual allowance I give myself for two bottles. Oh well.

Other spending today was petrol of $60, which should hopefully last a month. I also want to wash the car on the weekend too.

Tomorrow I am going to hunt for a new suit after work - I got a stain on one of my black suits which won't come out. I've had it for 2 1/2 years so got plenty of wear out of it. Unfortunately the material in my my favourite suit (1 1/2 years old) is also starting to wear dangerously thin; I can see the pants ripping one day so I actually am up for two new suits. I will put these one or two suits on my low rate credit card to repay back at around $40 per week until it's done.

Speaking of credit cards, small amounts of spending here and there meant I owed at the end of the credit card period $46.95 on one and $82.06 on the other - so have paid $64.51 this week and will pay the remaining $64.50 next week. It's amazing how these little things creep up, I barely remember what I bought - the scariest thing is when the credit card debt is larger can you even remember what you spent it on? I'm not going back to that place so will have to be more diligent with noting down what was spent on there.

From One Restriction To Another

February 20th, 2017 at 01:35 pm

Yesterday was the first day of the new billing period for the Internet on my iPad and I am sooo happy. The month of restricted internet wasn't too painful as I have games I can play offline and books downloaded but the time spent on the blog really suffered, so it's good to be back to normal again and not really have to watch the data usage.

I have pretty much gone from one restriction to another in the same day though. The last two weekends have been busy and full of fun (2 weeks ago went out with friends, last weekend went away with hubby and his friends - all couples and families) and I feel like I've probably had too much alcohol so really want to have a bit of a break.

FebFast, DryJuly and OcSober are quite popular here; they are basically a month of abstaining from alcohol in February, July and October and you can get people to sponsor you and donate the proceeds to charity. Nowadays they have also added in abstaining from sugar if you like instead of alcohol.

I am two days in of a two week stint of alcohol fasting. Ideally I would like to do a fortnight each in February, July and October. I don't really drink during the week but will probably miss the wine on Friday and Saturday nights; I foresee snacking and possibly baking to deal with this. Wish me luck!

Quick Hello

February 15th, 2017 at 03:17 am

Hi everybody, just wanting to say a super quick hello. Here's some financial goings-on in the last couple of days:

- yesterday we took our 15yo cat to the vet to get an old-cat profile done. This is various blood tests to see if she can tolerate a stronger dose of pain meds and a check on her organs. The check on her organs found that she has very early stage kidney disease so now the stronger dose has been ruled out. Hopefully with some dietary changes she will have an improved quality and length of life. $652 all up, so we have spent $712 on her this month. I am glad we got the medical done but really am now hoping to rein the spending in.

- on Monday I had to buy a birthday present for SIL so decided to get a gift card. Turns out the supermarket was having a $10 reward if you bought gift cards for certain shops. As this is a good shop, I bought the gift card for there, and received the $10 off a purchase tonight; have now added this to my snowflakes tally (SIL was happy too!)

- tonight I did my fourth weekly shop in a row and completed the required spending - now have $60 rewards waiting to be deducted off our next shop! This will mean that we will easily make month 2 of the Christmas savings challenge Smile.

I now have to go to bed but just thought I would check in and jot a few things down.

NSD, Short Entry Today

February 7th, 2017 at 03:22 am

Today I was lucky enough to not need to buy anything for me or B so it was a no spend day. Just a quiet Tuesday. Work is going ok after the end of last week which is good.

Quickly the latest few financial transactions I have carried out are:
- tonight submitting the student loan application for the next subject in the degree
- shopping on the weekend was $168, a bit high, we seemed to run out of a few things
- with shopping I have completed week 2 of the 4 week spend $135 per week to receive $60 in rewards so am on track to receive that
- the Thailand calendar I ordered from eBay never arrived and was being sent from the UK so had to allow 3 weeks delivery. I sent the seller a message and they figured it had gotten lost in the mail so I could either reorder a calendar or get a refund. While I wanted the calendar I couldn't be bothered waiting another 3 weeks so asked for my $16.50 to be refunded back. I then found another calendar at a bookshop for $5.

I wasn't sure what else to get from the bookshop but then I saw a 4-ingredients cookbook which I have been interested in for a long time! It was $20 so have spent $7.50 out of pocket. Just like ceejay I am looking forward to trying out lots of recipes! I want to do one a week if possible Smile.

Work Issues Re Leave

February 5th, 2017 at 03:32 am

Warning: long post about my job below!

On Friday there was a misunderstanding at work which needs to be rectified tomorrow. The only reason why it wasn't rectified Friday was because it happened on closing time, and I needed a bit of processing time to work out the best way to deal with this.

I'm jotting this down here because I would like to have the information documented plus this is a financial site, and it's definitely of a financial nature. There are two matters that I am writing about:

Matter 1: Unpaid Overtime & Going Home Early.

I work at a small accounting firm (boss R, senior coworker C who is second in charge, myself next in hierarchy and junior coworker J), so it is salary income at a professional services firm, not wage income where you clock on and clock off and get paid an hourly rate. The hours are 9-5 with some overtime required to be worked if needed and I've always been ok with that.

I don't really do much overtime after work, maybe between 5 and 15 minutes a day, but we work a 7 hour day with 1 hour for lunch however I rarely take the full hour, only really if I go out on the lunchbreak. I am totally ok with this as I'm not really a lunchy type of person. I like to eat and read a bit from 12-12.30 then spend 15 minutes making a coffee and looking at my phone, and am back working at 12.45. So there is 15 minutes per day unpaid overtime before working back after work. C works through her lunch but she plays sports so goes home early 1 day a week for that and also goes to appointments and things in the daytime. R is like me, eats and reads and goes back to work. J always leaves the office and generally takes the whole lunchbreak but not always.

With my work sometimes R will go home early on a Friday and usually C will say ok is everyone ready to go at about 4.30, every now and then at 4 but not often - usually on a public holiday weekend.

A couple of weeks ago I asked R for half of a Friday off in the next few weeks by putting in a formal leave application for the 4 hours. He asked me what it was about and I told him but also said that if we were busy (it is our busy time of year) I don't mind leaving a bit later - I could work up to 2pm. I thought I was being nice. He said ok, in that case don't worry about the leave application, we'll play it by ear on the day, if needed work up to 2pm. Then he asked if I was ok to work last Friday which was a public holiday weekend (Thursday was the public holiday and he didn't want to close the office on Friday) and I said fine, no problem. Thought there was nothing else to note really? Friday I was working a normal day, my usual hours and that was it.

So on Friday R went home early and at 4.30 C asked if we were ready to go and we said yes thank you. I generally talk with C about when we leave early and it's by mutual agreement that it will not be before 4.30 on a normal Friday or 4 on a public holiday weekend. So I was just chatting and told her how I let J and I go home at 4 last Friday. She then yelled out "just how many liberties do you want to take V?!"

I had no idea what she was talking about so I asked her what she was talking about (no tone however, as I genuinely didn't know and was trying to work it out) and she said "so you went home early Australia Day weekend and now you want to go home half a day or so on the other Friday?" and I told her I put a leave application in for that, I was using my annual leave. It's just R said don't worry about it because I offered to work a bit more.

She then said not to worry about it because we (R & I) have something worked out between us. I then said to her that I'm happy to use my annual leave, that's why I put the application in. I would expect no less for a half day, it's not like going home an hour early. She then said to sort it out with R.

I think it's best to insist that he accept the leave application now. Even if I finished at 2 I doubt I would have 3 hours unpaid overtime to use up so it's the right thing to do and I'm more than happy to. Plus I do not want anyone to think that I am taking advantage of my boss by getting paid for time I am not working and may not have worked. I don't want anyone to think I am ripping anybody off.

With leaving at 4 last week, I know that from Monday to Wednesday I worked a shorter lunchbreak so there is 45 minutes unpaid overtime. I think from now on I am going to keep a spreadsheet with all of my unpaid overtime just so that I know if we get to go home early on a Friday I have actually earned that money, no questions asked. (And also in the event that the unpaid overtime starts to build up I will use up more of my lunchbreak so that I am not working too much time which is unpaid.)

Matter 2: My Long Service Leave

Not sure if you have long service leave where you are but here in Australia generally after more than 10 years of service in a job (or some industries you can have a portable long service leave which is contributed to by whichever employer you are working for, does not have to be 10 years in one job) an employee is entitled to around 1 week leave per year which can be either taken as leave or withdrawn as a cash payment.

Here employment standards change with each industry and they change all the time so you pretty much always need to deal with the government institution to find out what is currently correct.

A while ago C was talking to R about long service leave and he told her that we are not entitled to it. (I always kept this piece of information in the back of my mind to refer back to). I would actually like to know what my entitlements for long service leave are and would like to be able to see on my payslip the long service leave accrued as well the annual leave (currently we only see annual leave). And as this is currently worth 12 weeks pay it's quite a substantial snowflake!

I hope to deal with this in the next week or two, in the near future anyhow. Must make lunches and go to bed.

Possible Takeover For My Largest Shareholding

February 3rd, 2017 at 01:17 am

I don't really check what price the shares I have are that often - maybe a couple of times a week to ensure that they haven't massively dipped or also to see if there has been a big rise in price.

Anyway this morning I checked and they had risen a fair bit since the start of January but on the 31st there was a media release that a larger global insurance company had made an informal takeover offer. Who knows what will happen because apparently it is a rumour so far and nobody is verifying anything. However it was a media release on the stock exchange so there must be some truth to it.

These days I am more of a hold for as long as possible person so this was a bit of a shock and my initial reaction was now what? There are two reasons why I am like this: 1) at work we prepare financial reports for clients' retirement accounts and the shares that have the highest gains and income received the clients have had for many, many years and 2) it's so easy to lose money so if you find something good you should stick to it. Who knows I might change my way of thinking, but this is currently the way I think.

Apparently the offer is $15 per share which is above the current price and above the price I bought for. I wouldn't say there is a huge profit and then tax has to be paid on that also.. total outlay was $5194 and if the takeover goes ahead the sales proceeds would be $6000.

I will be watching in the next few weeks to see what happens and if I have to pick out another share to buy.. In the back of my mind I was thinking next time I want to get something more global.

In other news keeping up with this blog is so hard with my limited ipad internet access! I have 17 more days to go until the end of the billing month and my monthly data is restored. Normally during the week I would read quite a few blogs on the train but now I have to wait until I get home and quite often don't have a lot of spare time in the evenings, in between spending time with B and doing various housework items.

Spending today has been:
- descaling kit and 2 sets of coffee pods (occasional treat) $32.20
- sushi for lunch $5.60
- iTunes card $25.50 ($30 card with 15% off)
- half rockmelon, spinach & ricotta pastizzis $7
- wine $7

Yesterday I got another snowflakes to add to my yearly other sources of income spreadsheet, Priceline rewards to the value of $5.58. So far the spreadsheet total is at $48.75.

Hope you all have a lovely weekend!

UK Pictures Week 1; Recipe

February 1st, 2017 at 02:46 am

Hoping that I can now upload some of my favourite pics from Week 1 of the UK trip! Week 1 was spent settling in and exploring the surrounds closest to my friend's place in the West Midlands (I think? anyhow she & her husband are in the middle of England). Here goes:



A 15th century Tudor in the middle of town



This castle dates back to the 11th century. The green grassy surroundings were lovely also.



This street is in the town centre. I love all of their quaint streets!



And I love their traditional telephone boxes, they are so cool!



We don't have beaches like this with mossy cliffs in Australia. It was a totally different experience. It all looks so dramatic!

I will post some of Week 2 on the weekend Smile.

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FrugalTexan requested recipes for the dairy free egg free muffins I made on the weekend. I thought the blueberry muffins were ok but really loved the choc-apple muffins, the recipe is as below:

Ingredients

1 1/2 cups plain flour (I used wholemeal, it made no difference)

1/4 cup NESTLÉ BAKERS' CHOICE Cocoa

1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 1/4 teaspoons ground cinnamon

3/4 cup raw caster sugar

1/3 cup vegetable oil

3 teaspoons white vinegar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 medium granny smith apple, peeled, grated (see Notes)

1 tablespoon icing sugar mixture

Step 1
Preheat oven to 170C/150C fan-forced (the blueberry recipe had Fahrenheit temperatures, I think it was around 375 or 400 - just use the standard temperature for muffins). Line each hole of a 12-hole, 1/3-cup-capacity muffin pan with 2 paper cases.
Step 2
Sift flour, cocoa, bicarb, salt and 1 teaspoon cinnamon into a bowl. Stir in caster sugar. Whisk oil, vinegar, vanilla and 1 1/4 cups cold water in a large jug. Add 1/2 the oil mixture to flour mixture. Whisk until smooth and combined. Repeat with remaining oil mixture. Stir in apple. Divide mixture among prepared pan holes.
Step 3
Bake for 20 minutes or until tops spring back when lightly pressed. Stand in pan for 5 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.
Step 4
Combine icing sugar and remaining cinnamon in a small bowl. Dust muffins just before serving.

Hope you enjoy! Now I must be going off to bed, speak soon. (There was no time tonight for financial updates, I think I will have some tomorrow though)