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Work Issues Re Leave

February 5th, 2017 at 11:32 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 09:17 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 10:46 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.

***

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)


Christmas Savings Challenge Month 1: Met!

January 30th, 2017 at 10:23 am

Happy to say that I've now met $60 challenge amount for month 1 of the Christmas savings challenge! Next month is $75.

Things that have happened of note in the last few days are:

- Thursday was Australia Day so we had the day off work. I was seeing a friend who I haven't seen for nearly a year and who is not on facebook so this motivated me to upload some photos from the UK trip to show her. Because there are so many pictures I have uploaded the first week only and will do week 2 and 3 in the next two weeks. (ps my picture of my meeting with Scottish Girl is in week 3 so stay tuned folks!)

I was trying to add some of my favourite week 1 pictures but could not get it to work. Tips would be helpful, it's been a long time since I've done this!

- Friday I called up the university about a permanent place in my accounting degree. They have been sending many emails about it because I am eligible. It is now enrolment time again and Friday was the cut off date so I contacted them and was given a permanent place. Now because they require 4 units per year to be completed they don't require upfront payment and instead a student loan called "fee-help" is created. The interest rate is currently 1.5% after 11 months of any unpaid debt and they charge 25% of the unit fee per unit. However because this is directly linked to my work I can claim the fees as a tax deduction so can pay my tax refunds against the loan.

- Saturday was a very quiet day, I just relaxed at home and watched some DVDs. I also baked some dairy-free egg-free muffins for Sunday's visit to my sister and her family (my nephew is allergic to dairy and eggs). I made blueberry muffins and choc-apple muffins. The choc-apple muffins were divine! They were so moist and the apple and cinnamon flavours mixed amongst the chocolate worked well. Definitely want to try it again!

- Sunday I took my brother to see my sister, her husband and little nephew in their new place, which is now 1hr 10mins away from us. It's a lovely unit and they are very much enjoying getting to know their new surroundings. My nephew is now 2 and so cute! Love him to bits.

I also had an interesting conversation with my brother (the kind of conversation I love). He can't decide between getting a new car (say 3years old) or buying a house. He is in his early 30s and has $14000 saved. He earns around $800 per week, like me pretty much. He is not fussy about the house but a garage is on his must have list. Houses here that are around 1980s with a garage go for $320,000-$350,000 (unfortunately the prices all go up from there).

He can qualify for the $10,000 first homeowners grant offered by the state. I found out after talking to him that banks are again offering 5% deposit home loans. I did some mortgage repayment figures on a 5% deposit home loan and they equaled roughly half of his pay before any other expenses. I definitely think now that he should stick to 10% deposit instead. Hopefully property prices don't go up further! Maybe when he gets closer to 10% he can get pre-approval so if a good priced property comes up he can get it. But on the other hand what if the prices go up further? Not sure what to tell him. He currently pays $250 per week rent and the mortgage on 5% deposit would be $370 per week which would break him I think. I'd like to see him paying $300 per week (he won't be able to get a mortgage with $250 per week repayments)

Weekend Doings

January 23rd, 2017 at 10:30 am

It was good that we didn't have to go to work on Saturday, being the day after the guy ran over all of those people. After the heaviness of Friday it was good to not go back there and spend a couple of days doing various bits and pieces. A few parts of the street have spots laden with flowers and teddy bears where various people died. They have a memorial at 5.30pm - I didn't go but I did stop at one spot and spent a minute in silence to pay homage. Now 5 are dead, one of those is the 3-month-old baby the guy drove into. Awful awful awful.
***
Saturday morning I started off the day doing my first body pump class (weights) in about 5-6 months, it was great, I want to do it again this week! Unfortunately I am now suffering from second day soreness. Moving anything is an effort!
***
I again consulted my reminder app to do a few productive things. They were:
- buy coloured printer toner for the printer (we can now use it again!)
- Check to see what can happen to the money we have in our mortgage redraw. I read that if it looks like we can't pay the mortgage some banks automatically can take whatever cash you have in redraw and use it for a mortgage repayment. Not that it will happen to us but all the same I want to know how much control the bank has over that money (the bank clerk looked at the loan information and said that the loan is so old he can't tell so he gave me the mortgage information centre phone number). He also said that he thinks we can get a way better rate. We currently have a rate of 5.29%. All the loans I have seen with the better rates have a minimum loan amount of $160,000 which I pointed out to him. He said most of them do but still give it a try and tell them we are looking at going elsewhere and see what they can do (and don't tell them he said that!). I said ok and looked around on the weekend and found a financial institution with a rate of 3.92% for our loan amount, which is a reputable institution so I think it's worth looking into definitely.
- Change my name with this bank to my married name. All associated cards got changed also. They couldn't change the name on our loan though so I have to go through the mortgage department for that.
- Spend some time cleaning out the study while doing an apple update on my iPad. Turns out it only took 4 minutes to download so I simply spent an hour cleaning. Next weekend, the iPhone if there is time available.
***
I got my bathers on the weekend from Zulily - $49 for a bikini bottom and two different tankini tops, very happy with the purchase and don't need to send anything back! Now just waiting on my Thailand 2017 calendar I ordered from eBay (one of my other Christmas presents), apparently it's due between now and the 25th.
***
On Saturday night DH & I went to the movies to see the new xxx movie with Vin Diesel and out for dinner first. Glad I got the movie card the week before because dinner came to $95.30. It was well worth it though to spend some quality time together! There is now $7 left on the gift card for whenever I/we go to the movies next.
***
Our monthly grocery tally now stands at $607.20 with one week to go and we now have to buy meat for maybe 2 nights for the rest of the month. I was hoping for a super low shop this week but Safeway have just given another rewards challenge - spend $135 per week for 4 weeks and receive 12000 points ($60). I activated the challenge, we'll see if I can stick to it.. I didn't stick to the last challenge because they set the spend amounts too high- it was spend $195 one week and $145 the next- I spent the $195 but it was close to a fortnight of food so couldn't spend $145 the next, we didn't need that much food. As a result they have lowered the challenge amount to $135 each week, which is probably a bit more doable.
***
I watched catch-up tv on my iPad using data for about 20 minutes for the first and last time.. I watch it using wifi at home and watched about 40 minutes of Code Black before work but then had to get ready, so I thought it's only 20 minutes, how much data can it use? Uh... lots!! I checked how much data the iPad had before doing it and the month just started so I had 4GB available.. I checked it this morning and it used 3.7GB!! There's only 300MB left until next month. I've now turned off the data and will turn it back on around the 20th next month, until then it's wifi or nothing!

Tragedy Close To Work

January 20th, 2017 at 11:33 am

This is not a financial post, because my head's just not there at the moment (not to mention it's Friday night so we are relaxing in front of the tv).

Lunchtime today was just a normal day. I went out and did some errands, then had a quick sandwich which I was debating about putting in a complaint in.

Went back to work and about an hour later my boss got a message from his daughter saying the city centre is in lockdown... Turns out a guy with mental problems on a likely drug binge deliberately drove into about 30 pedestrians on a street around the corner from my work... Three died, more are critical..

It's so weird to have something that you normally see on the news happen so close to where you are. And the people who died- a man, a woman, a toddler.. He deliberately hit a pram, the three month old baby went under the car and is critical...

I'm shattered, and pretty emotional because it happened so close to where I am.. How do emergency services deal with this, day in, day out? I've been relaxing for hours and still feel emotional!

Appreciate your loved ones, today is an example of how short life can be..

Updates 17/1/17

January 17th, 2017 at 10:42 am

I have nothing overly exciting to report, just bits and pieces of various things, will try to run through my movements for the last couple of days:

- groceries: I could have spent $145 to earn more Safeway rewards but felt that our monthly spend was already pretty high. Instead we spent $115, so far we have spent $425 for the month with two weekends of grocery shopping to go. We may go over our monthly $600 but I am hoping to not go too far over.

- date night: B suggested going out to dinner but then I wanted to see the new "xxx" movie with Vin Diesel, which is not out until 19 January. We held off going out to dinner and I remembered that Safeway has 10% off movie gift cards at the moment. We had a little bit left over in our checking account yesterday so I bought a $50 gift card for $45. I was rather happy, I must say! We can both go to the movies and then there will be some left over for another movie day.

- productivity: I use the reminder app on my phone to do out of the ordinary things (not everyday tasks like washing, dishes and tidying up) however I struggle to actually "do" the tasks! I set myself the task of completing four things and failed this weekend. The things were:
1) descaling the coffee machine (I actually did it but the orange light on the machine is still flashing - I don't think I've done it properly so will need to get more descaling mix and do it again. Was super annoyed about this!)
2) fill out the Medicare form so we can finally get B's doctor co-pays refunded to us (expecting about $90). I have filled out the form and need one more signature before I can mail it off.
3) check that the cat's vaccinations are up to date before putting her in the boarding kennel. DONE. She is up to date which is great.
4) clean the study while running apple updates for both iPhone and ipad. Not done and did not have a spare 5-6 hours for this task.
I'm hoping that if I write about this stuff often enough I will move through the list quicker, because there are plenty more things to be done.

- B's credit card repayment: I transferred this month's $180 over, the balance is now supposed to be $2527 owing (with the additional $90 from doctor co-pays, $2617 owing)

- my credit card fixed payment offer: this is more a reminder that should the need arise I may be able to get 10.9% on set purchases with my credit card for 1,2 or 3 years. They have this offer out currently so it's a possibility in future. This credit card is 20% so definitely worthwhile remembering. You can either buy something or write a cheque to yourself.

- B dejavu: he is so funny sometimes. While in the UK I could not access the bank to do transfers but I have an app which allows me to view bank balances and transactions (that's all you are allowed to do, which is good I think for your ipad) so because B is not computer savvy I set up automatic transfers so he could have money for food etc from our pay account to our checking account. For the first week while I away I kept looking at it and he was barely spending anything on food and I was getting worried that he wasn't eating. Then I saw a small amount go on food and the rest on motorbike parts!!!! So the first week of work last week he was barely spending his weekly money on takeaway like he normally does and then... it all went on motorbike parts!!! Again! I don't mind because he's not over the top with spending. He said he planned the big spend while I was in the UK but he didn't even realise he was going to buy that stuff last weekend until about an hour before. I still say it's dejavu Smile.

- today: I went to bed early, then the cat woke me up early while B was in the shower to go to the toilet so was up an hour earlier than normal. I spent this hour drinking coffee and watching Code Black on my ipad. What a great start to the day! Maybe it can happen again tomorrow!

I guess I've chatted enough about various things, must go to bed.

First Safeway Rewards For The Year; Cat Stuff

January 12th, 2017 at 11:01 am

On Tuesday I cashed in my first lot of Safeway rewards for the year. I had to buy B his breakfast drink so also bought a few more items to bring the total to $20.38; I got charged $0.38 for the groceries because of the $20 credit reducing the price to pay.

Today we received our spending money so I promptly sent the $20 saved to the Christmas savings account - there is now $46 there so far! We will easily make the $60 goal for the first month of the challenge.

The other day I started a snowflakes spreadsheet; so far for the month of January we have received $27.83 ($6.29 digital change, $1.54 interest received for December and the $20 Safeway rewards). It all adds up! Looking forward to not having to find all the spending money for Christmas.

Other financial doings for today:
- I bought a bottle of wine for $9. Had a hard day and needed a couple of glasses to relax.
- I collected the cat's arthritis medication we are starting her on. The cost for this was $112.90; apparently this will last her two months.

We actually have big things going on with the cat. She will be 15 this year and recently has lost bladder control. The vet thinks it is due to her arthritis (hence starting the medication) - it is too hard for her to go in the kitty litter so she holds on until she can go outside when we are home. Unfortunately she cannot always wait...

We changed the kitty litter to a lower one with a much lower front part to give her easier access.. still no good. The vet said either the problem is either arthritis or a urinary tract infection but given her age and how she is moving we will try her on arthritis meds first.

Most of our house is tiled except the bedrooms and lounge which are carpeted so at night or when we go out we close all bedroom doors. She has her own bed in the entry to the lounge are and plenty of room to move around.

We didn't know what would happen when we went away but B's parents fed the cat and dog daily and let her out for a while each day, but her thing lately is first thing in the morning she needs to go so by the time they would come she would have made a mess.

We had to decide that when we go away she would need to stay at a boarding kennel. We're hoping she will be ok. We've found a place and have a couple of trips planned in the near future (starting off with only a couple of days) so have inspected a nice looking kennel and have booked her in. The price is $20 per night, which is reasonable.

Because of this going on holidays will now be much less often. We will still go to Thailand as planned but that will be the last trip for a good few years.

Most of all, we just hope that she is ok taking the arthritis medicine and staying in a boarding kennel occasionally. It's so hard watching our animals get old, and it seems like suddenly last year it happened instantly to both of them! They will always be our babies.

This And That

January 9th, 2017 at 10:41 am

We received the new mattress and it's so comfortable! The bed is so much higher also. I'd been wanting to update one of the doona cover sets for a while and as we updated the mattress, I found a nice doona cover set for $78.

I paid for this on my Velocity rewards credit card and then yesterday bought far too many groceries on it ($173- note that there was also bulk toilet paper and pet food purchased here as well as some good deals on meat).

On the plus side we will now earn $20 Safeway rewards off the next shop. Safeway have been churning out the bonus rewards over the last few weeks, for spending $195 we earned $290 in rewards and they have a deal this week where if I spend $145 we will earn $200 in rewards (for $200 you will receive $10 off your next shop). As they have had rewards challenges going since the middle of December, I will actually look at our monthly shopping spend. If it looks like we're going to go over budget I may not bother with it.

However we generally spend $600 per month on food and it is the 9th and we've already spent $312!! Part of the $173 spent yesterday was some good meat buys including a pork loin roast but still, we only have $288 left. So, really if I'm going to spend $145 on food next weekend I will need to look at what we actually need or do some items as a fortnightly shop. You guys with your pantry challenge are helpful in this area!

Also, we repaid the credit cards not long after Christmas for the Christmas presents so I have about $233 in items ($45 half of my shoes from last month, $103 for the cat's arthritis medicine, $78 for the doona cover set and $7 for the balance of the groceries) sitting on my velocity rewards card. Both credit cards I have have a monthly cycle that finishes on the 20th of the month so it is important to clear them by then. I love that there is no more credit card debt hanging over my head! It feels like total freedom.

New Tyres Became A New Mattress

January 6th, 2017 at 04:34 am

Hoping everybody had a lovely New Year's. We went away for a few days in our camper trailer, which was lovely but B's back got really sore from sleeping on the rock hard mattress. We put a foam layer on top of it to soften it but that has only lasted so long.

B thought my car needed a new set of tyres however after looking twice decided it was fine. We then decided to use the money allocated towards tyres towards a new mattress for our bed. We will then put one of our other mattresses into the camper trailer and get rid of the really hard mattress. We haven't bought a mattress in 15 years, so I didn't have any objections to buying a new one.

The maximum we had to spend was $1000 and the mattress came in at exactly that. I have just done our monthly budget (normally I do this between the 25th-3rd depending on how expensive I anticipate the month to be) and have found that we can afford this, we just need to not overspend our weekly allocated spending money; as in be super-diligent with this.

Looking forward to seeing what the new mattress feels like to sleep on!

My other financial transaction of note was that I have transferred all but the $110 allocated savings towards shares ($3018.59) into our bank account, which will be then transferred into our mortgage redraw account (which is also a mortgage offset account).

If the maximum interest paid pa is 3% but we are being charged 5.29% pa on our mortgage it seems to be more useful to reduce the interest payable on the home loan. (If anybody has anything to add here, I'm interested in hearing because I could be wrong).

As far as I knew we could have up to $15,000 in redraw. After we transfer the $3018 in there, there should be $5,065 so it would be quite a while before we hit $15,000. Eventually I will have to enquire with the bank as to how much is the maximum you can have here.

Must tidy up our room a bit before we get this new mattress put in tomorrow!

2016 Savings Balances / 2017 Plans

December 28th, 2016 at 08:05 pm

I don't know what I will be doing over the New Year, it is all changing but generally around this time I find it hard to blog and update so I've had a look at the savings account and the final balances are as follows:

Cash (Mini EF): $2,233.21
Study unit (from Xmas bonus): $500.00
Holiday fund: $485.00
Shares (Maxi EF): $5,586.00

Total: $8,804.21

Yesterday I bought another 100 QBE shares for $12.48 per share. These shares are doing really well at the moment. Therefore the mini EF is slightly smaller than usual.

I've decided that I'm going to do a savings challenge on a smaller scale this year and simply budget our savings.

The challenge I am planning on doing is a 12 month Christmas savings challenge. SA had a 12-week $1000 challenge, so I have used the same amounts but modified it into a monthly plan. The January deposit required of $60 already has around $18.50 in the account, which is great.

In 2017 we are going to be doing a few much-needed things to our house as well as taking a holiday, so there will be less going to savings than in previous years. I feel like we have had two good years to repay debt and build up savings so this is kind of a year off from that.

I have cancelled the weekly EF savings debit and have created a yearly planner showing which month each goal will be accomplished, savings will be transferred accordingly.

Our plan for 2017 savings is:

- B's tax $1390 (due March)
- B's credit card repayment $2160
- Phuket balance of deposit $815 (due around April)
- Phuket spending money $2000
- New security doors for house $1000
- Garden updates to front and back $1500 (due by September, our spring time)
- New tyres for my car $600 (due asap - could be up to $1000, we will save the balance)
- Savings - shares $1265
- Savings - cash $1270

Based on these items, the percentages for the categories is as follows:
- Tax/debt repayment 30%
- Travel 23%
- House spending 21%
- Car spending 5%
- Savings 21%

B's credit card won't be repaid by the end of the year, but the balance will be much lower. With regards to travel, it is probably going to be our last overseas holiday for a couple of years (unless we do something for my 40th). I had a category for a new car fund but have been finding it too hard to do this as well as repay debt so may simply when B's loan is paid off in 1.5 years use the amount we were paying for that loan to save for a new car.

If I don't get around to checking in, hope you all have a wonderful new year!

Merry Christmas Everyone :)

December 23rd, 2016 at 09:32 pm

It's now Christmas Eve here, merry Christmas everybody!

It's not very often that I have Christmas Eve off work but it's Saturday so that's good. Have done the Christmas shopping except for two gift cards which B will be getting (it's from a hardware store so that's his domain).

I got a bonus from work, which is great as always - very much appreciated. We will be able to repay the Christmas shopping which is awesome as we can start off 2017 with a fresh slate. There is $159 on one card and $223 on the other which relate to Christmas presents, so $382 to be repaid. The gift cards will be $100 and then we want to spend possibly $130 on a portable speaker (UE Boom 2), which we will use when camping. The other $400 I may leave aside for another study unit, I'm not sure.

B's sister came down from interstate for three days, which was lovely. His family had a quite a few happy moments and on the last night we went out for dinner to my favourite Chinese restaurant, which was great!

Yesterday we had our work Christmas do at my boss's favourite restaurant. It has very high quality food and is five minutes from our office, what's not to like? I then came home and relaxed with B and did my nails for Christmas. I wanted something Christmassy so spent $2.50 on a colourful glitter polish (did red underneath).

Today promises to be a standard busy Christmas Eve. There will be cleaning, food shopping (the balance of ingredients plus vegetables), doing my hair, wrapping presents and baking. We're not motivated to put the Christmas tree up so it may not happen.

We go to lunch at my SIL's tomorrow so I'm making red velvet cupcakes and want to put candy canes on top. Then we'll be hosting Christmas dinner so because we only have limited time we're cooking the meat today and will reheat it tomorrow while we cook the vegetables. Mum and my stepdad are vegetarians so I'm making a quiche for them and my nephew is allergic to dairy and eggs so for dessert I'm making a chocolate mousse with coconut milk and almond milk, along with Christmas coloured jelly.

Merry Christmas all, enjoy your day no matter what!

Final Snowflakes for 2016 Plus Final 2016 Challenge Tally

December 15th, 2016 at 07:22 pm

Challenge starting balance: $9,880.47
Plus:
- weekly EF savings x 5 $178.45
- Safeway everyday rewards $10.00
- digital change $11.52
- B's credit card repayment $180.00
- B's tax savings $463.33
Challenge closing balance: $10,723.77

Around this time last year, I tallied up the annual challenge, and have decided that this will be all the snowflakes and savings for December month, and to finish up this year's challenge.

Last year we saved $10,014; this year we saved $10,724 so we had a slight increase Smile.

I have already updated the sidebar to show what was saved for various categories but here it is also:
- Mortgage repayments $1729.46
- EF savings $3000.04
- New car fund $150.00
- Holiday fund $485.00
- Debt repayment $3,747.40
- B's tax savings $1,329.99

Of the savings for this year, savings that went directly to us were mortgage repayments, EF savings, new car fund and holiday fund totaling $5,364.50. (If I was to include the amount saved for the UK holiday of $4500 then this total would be higher but did not include it in the challenge. It is important to note though that while around half of our savings for the challenge did not go directly to us, I was able to take an expensive holiday also so it is not all bad)

Savings that went to other people were the debt repayment and B's tax savings totaling $5,077.39.

There is also within the challenge $281 unaccounted for, however I think a big part of this could have been savings for Christmas.

The only debt we have left other than the mortgage is B's credit card debt of around $2700 and we will be carrying some credit card debt (of around $500 I imagine) on my card coming into the new year for Christmas presents. So we're not doing too badly there compared to last year.

Financially I think my new car savings were replaced by B's tax savings as this has a due date and because it is so large has become more important.

My new year's goals of 1 bottle of wine per week plus keeping the kitchen bench clear every night didn't happen. Oh well. I'm ok with this.

Moving into 2017, I will work out the savings allocation soon but my goals will be:
- have $1000 saved up for Christmas by December by adding digital change and snowflakes to a certain bank account
- move the cash portion of the EF into a high interest bank account and restructure our bank accounts
- create a separate spreadsheet for snowflakes and do one savings & snowflakes blog entry each month

Looking at what we will be able to save directly to us compared to going to other people, we will have debt repayments of $2160 to B's card as planned, and $1390 tax repayments, so that will be $3,545 going to other people. This will mean that if the challenge is roughly the same that the amount we will receive directly to us will increase to $6,455, which is an improvement.

2016 has been great, looking forward to 2017! I will most likely post a bit more before end of year though.

Twelve Days Until Christmas! Monday Stuff

December 12th, 2016 at 09:21 pm

As Alice4now said, it's now 12 days until Christmas. I don't know that I watch heaps of Christmas movies but I do like to read a light-hearted Christmas book around this time of year, so bought Christmas at Coorah Creek off Kobo for $2.65. This is a romance story set in the Australian outback.

My only other Monday spending was $25 on a new heel for my two week old shoes. Last Thursday was an expensive day! I was walking to work and clipped my heel on the kerb as I was crossing the street and completely snapped the heel off. That meant that 1) I needed new shoes and 2) I needed to fix broken shoe. On the way to work the only shoe shop is Nine West so a pair of patent flats on sale set me back $90! I think my work shoe collection is complete for a while now....

I got to use my new straightener properly and am happy to see it works well, I hope to keep it for a while (and $40 is a better price than the previous $200)

B and I are both better now pretty much which is great. I have some residual sinus problems, hopefully they fade off soon.

Have done half the Christmas shopping pretty much, spent around $170. The other half of the presents are more expensive, expecting to spend around $300 there. If I'm lucky enough I can grab those presents after work or in my lunchtime around my work area, instead of going to the awful busy shopping centre in my area.

Sick

December 7th, 2016 at 10:07 am

Unfortunately I had to take a sick day today, as I started coming down with a bad cold yesterday and my throat was too painful today. B also came down sick - this is our first time ever we have come down with a cold at the same time. It was really quite hilarious last night, and fun to have someone suffering the same ailments. We both had aches and chills and everything was just too DAMN hard!!

B had to go to the doctors to get a medical certificate so I asked my boss if he wanted me to get one too and he said no it's fine, which was nice. Colds are an expensive thing. I bought lemsip and B bought strepsils with anaesthetic in them so between the two of them we have been sharing. Today I then spent $15 on throat lozenges and a medicated throat gargle.

Last night I had no idea what to have for dinner because our throats were too sore for solid food. I ended up making pumpkin soup for me and B had a toasted cheese sandwich. I accidentally put too much garlic in the soup so couldn't eat it; B just couldn't eat his because it was too solid.

Then today we have steak and sausages defrosted to eat either today or tomorrow and I couldn't bear to throw it out or feed it to the dog so used the steak in a beef vegetable soup in the slow cooker which was really nice and so easy to make. The sausages I will deal with tomorrow.

B is now sicker than me. I think part of the reason is I slept through the night while he woke up every 10 minutes or so - he has been sleeping a lot today so hopefully is a bit better tomorrow. I do feel that having the day off was the best thing to do because it has really sped up my recovery time. I have energy when I'm sitting but get lethargic when moving around; if I went to work I would have been really lethargic and sick for a lot longer. My throat will still probably be really painful but think I will be over the lethargic side of the cold.

About the most useful thing I did today was actually plan out all the Christmas presents, there are now only two which have a question mark. I read the catalogues for ideas and then researched the stores I shopped at, trying to keep the presents generally between the $30-$40 mark. I don't want to say what the total will be but we can afford to pay for the presents this month and that's the main thing. It's good to be organised.

Doings Of The Last Few Days

December 5th, 2016 at 11:13 am

What's been happening this last few days? Here's a few things, financial and non-financial:

- the most important thing of the last few days is I said goodbye to my childhood home. It has been in my family 33 years. Maybe around 12 years ago, Mum sold it because she was moving in with my stepfather; so she sold it to my sister and BIL, who sold it in October and moved out on Saturday. They have pretty much changed the entire inside so it is really a shell of my childhood home. All the same, I took in every last detail for the last time ever. It was a pretty emotional moment. As B said, "you will always have the memories", which is very true.
- Christmas parties Saturday night and Sunday day, both related to B. I have a couple of weeks break from parties etc which is good, a chance to catch up on things and relax a bit.
- Spending has been all over the place, have only been tracking every few days. This weekend we were only slightly over though.
- We were over in spending because this morning my straightener died! I had one which we paid $200 for about 8 years ago, so it has really lasted well. As it was December and this is usually an expensive month, I picked one up for $40 from Priceline. Hopefully technology has improved straighteners and it lasts a while. If I don't like the quality I may get a better brand for my birthday (already have my Christmas present). This went on my credit card, need to repay it this week.
- Only starting to think about Christmas, which is standard for me. B and I already have our presents, and I have 11 presents to buy. Will need to either get them this weekend or next as Christmas weekend will be purely devoted to socialising, cooking and cleaning. If I plan well enough, I can get them all in a couple of hours.
- On Friday the combined value of shares and EF hit $8k! Exciting stuff.

Must make lunches and go to bed, talk soon.

Snowflakes & Savings 30-11-16

November 30th, 2016 at 10:21 am

Challenge starting balance: $8,898.75
Plus:
- weekly EF savings x 2 $71.38
- digital change $7.01
- Safeway everyday rewards $10.00
- B's credit card repayment $180.00
- B's tax savings $463.33
- Phuket holiday savings $250.00
Challenge closing balance: $9,880.47

What a month! Thank you for your well wishes for my exam everyone. Last week I was lost in a cocoon of economics related subjects but all in all I think I did ok on the exam. I did some revision, did a practice exam, found out where I was deficient and studied on that. When I was doing the exam paper, while I don't think I'll pass with flying colours I felt like I had enough of an idea to pass in any case; nothing was foreign to me.

Economics was actually an interesting subject; I learned all about productivity (there is no such thing as a free lunch), market equilibrium (balance - one of my favourite subjects) and many other business things. I did feel guilty about how much time I was spending away from B though. Even with the best time management, it's still hard to avoid having to shut yourself away for 5-10 hours per week (or 15 like last week). Anyway now it's time to focus on other areas of my life, like Christmas - I've spent a couple of days getting things back into order ie washing, tidying up.

***

The challenge keeps on clicking along! I do believe that we will comfortably save over $10k. If the only thing we do is save the weekly EF savings and the monthly holiday savings, make the $180 payment on B's card and save the $463.33 for his tax the closing result will be $10,925.

In reflection, I'm happy with the EF savings and the debt repayment (ok really happy with the debt repayment! SO happy!), but the mortgage repayments and the new car fund have taken hits thanks to having to save $463.33 per month towards B's tax which is due to be paid in March next year.

The other thing stopping me from saving more is that we have a big insurance payment due in March also, which is around $2000 (this is for both cars) and while we have been saving an averaged amount of $4041 to cover all bills and loans, for the last few months all bills and loans have roughly been this amount. I just checked what is left over in the bills account towards future bill savings and it is $283. Not wonderful.

I've been spending a little bit of time doing some cash flow forecasting for the next few months and there are a couple of low bill months ahead. I think if bills are roughly the same by the time it hits March we will have $1690 leaving around $400-$500 to be paid out of pocket. I just have to remember to be mindful of the insurance savings and what the monthly bills are in case we need to save a bit extra.

The final $124 in the study unit has been repaid and we added $250 to the holiday fund. My coworker went on a trip to Thailand just last week with her new partner and loved it so that was good to hear great reviews about the place we are planning on going to.

The EF has been looking much healthier lately, thanks to the market going up. For so long it has kind of been stuck at around $6500, now it is around $7900 since the shares value has now risen plus the final part of the study unit got repaid and we've added more to holiday savings.

The Mini EF is $3,923.16 (I still need to repay that $80 from the UK!!! I might actually upload some pictures to here when I do it) and the Maxi EF is $3,970.50.

One of my goals next year will be to sort out our bank accounts. The Mini EF is sitting in an account which earns next to no interest, so I will be on the lookout for a high interest account. We have a bunch of bank accounts which we pay a package fee per month of $15 for (four bank accounts) plus we have a bank account for B's now closed down business which we pay $10 per month for. After his tax is paid we will close down the business account and look at restructuring the accounts and try to avoid paying fees.

Must try and wind down a bit before bed after this long entry! (Has been great to jot everything down though and touch base with you guys)

Rewards Credit Card

November 24th, 2016 at 09:12 am

I got my Virgin credit card statement today and was happy to see that for the last month I've been using it regularly and repaying it regularly and no interest was charged this time. After the balance transfer was repaid a couple of months ago I used it pretty much straight away and interest got charged so I held off on using it, now I'm glad to see that interest is not being charged just the way it should be.

Apparently I now have 602 velocity points. These can be used towards Virgin Airways flights or redeemed for gift cards. I looked up points to redeem gift cards, for 9000 points you can get a $50 shopping gift card.

When I get a spare second (like after the exam), I will look into ways to boost points. Four days of studying to go, hopefully I can remember everything.

Oh I have 6 NSDs now and I know tomorrow will be a NSD (unless an unforeseen and unavoidable emergency happens).

I don't know when your thanksgiving is but I am reading posts about it, so I hope you all have a safe and happy thanksgiving!

Quick Hello

November 21st, 2016 at 10:28 am

Life is super busy here, I am in my 12th week of this online subject and the exam is next Monday. I've also had a good friend move house so we have been having going away get-togethers, and have been helping her with the move; then had another old friend's 40th on Saturday night.

I've been keeping up with the coursework but will have a pretty intensive week of studying to brush up on various bits and pieces. This studying of economics really gets you thinking about productivity and efficiency just to name a couple of things.

I haven't told my work I am studying as yet because I didn't know if I would continue the studying and would rather tell them when I know that I can do it and stick at it. (Sticking at it is the hard part because even with the best time management other parts of your life get left behind and public holidays crop up and then studying becomes hard). So they don't know, but I will need to take a sick day to go to the exam.

I do have snowflakes to report but I think I will just do it at the end of November, much easier.

Please accept my apologies for not answering back to the comments on my last post guys! I am looking forward to not being frantically busy all the time and being able to interact with you guys a bit better again.

Also, I'm hoping Imasaver is ok, was just thinking of her.

Snowflakes 14-11-16; NSD #4

November 14th, 2016 at 10:16 am

Challenge starting balance: $8,840.21
Plus:
- weekly EF savings $35.69
- digital change $2.85
- Safeway everyday rewards $20.00
Challenge closing balance: $8,898.75

The weekly EF savings got withdrawn, some more digital change got transferred to the Christmas savings account and then I redeemed $20.00 in Safeway everyday rewards tonight while getting some groceries - we only have $10.00 left there now.

The Christmas savings bank account is currently at $96.98, will be over $100 very soon. It may not pay for all of our presents but every bit counts. For example my main Christmas present that I would like is a gold bracelet to replace my fake gold bracelet, the cost of it marked down is $149 - I tried it on today and it looks nice. These savings could very well pay for that.

Speaking of Christmas presents, B wants to get a sticker kit for his motorbike at $300 (I'm told they will last a very long time though!). I told him he can order it, he is really very good with not wanting too much I don't mind a splurge now and again.

Just think, if I did this next year from January we could possibly effortlessly pay for Christmas...

On Thursday I had a NSD, then yesterday I was feeling pretty tired from having my friends over on Saturday night so decided not to do any grocery shopping and just use up what we had, and we had plenty of leftovers so it was fine, so then was able to add another NSD to the challenge! I could possibly make Wednesday and Thursday NSDs also - need to get petrol and the balance of the groceries tomorrow, so if I plan well enough that could be it until Friday.

I really need to do some more savings transfers soon and credit card repayment etc so you will see another entry soon.

NSD #2

November 9th, 2016 at 10:33 am

Mrs Frugalista got me thinking about the no spend November challenge. While I'm not doing nearly as well as her, yesterday was my second no spend day and tomorrow I plan on making it my third.

The fact that you are planning to spend on certain days only does make you think about what you are buying, and you tend to plan more. If I can get 10 days this month, that would be great.

Today I bought enough food for the next four days for us, groceries came to $56.61. I am then planning on not spending anything tomorrow, buying a tshirt on Friday and then buying required food on Saturday - I am hosting a small get-together with my friends so will need to pick up more food.

I have already got mini-quiches for hot food(we are doing nibblies and then later on putting some hot food in the oven, everybody will bring something each) and am doing a spinach dip in a cobb loaf for nibbles. Will no doubt buy a few more things but just a couple of extra things really.

On another note, I just paid some bills and among them was our water bill, which was a case of bill shock - it was up 45.51% from last year! Roughly $100 extra. We went through the bills and checked the gas meter, but later on I compared October's weather this year to last year and it turns out it has been much colder this year - we had 18 days where the heater was required to be on, compared to 9 last year when the weather was much warmer. I'm hoping we get a couple of months weather where no heater or air conditioner is required - November hasn't been too bad, I don't think we have turned the heater on since Saturday.

Snowflakes & Savings 07-11-16

November 7th, 2016 at 10:27 am

Challenge starting balance: $8,779.91
Plus:
- weekly EF savings $35.69
- digital change $3.61
- Safeway everyday rewards $10.00
- Melbourne cup winnings $11.00
Challenge closing balance: $8,840.21

I've been pretty busy lately so I think my goal at the moment is to just write a little bit about whatever happens each day.

The Safeway four week shopping challenge (where I had to spend $90 per week at Safeway for four weeks in a row to receive $40) has ended so there was $40.00 sitting there to be deducted off my shopping bill. Today I bought some groceries worth $13.80 so $10.00 was automatically deducted - I have then sent it off to the Christmas savings, along with digital change for the weekend plus some winnings for the Melbourne Cup.

The Melbourne Cup is a horse race and a big event in Victoria and we get a public holiday from it. Just for fun I chose some horses and while I didn't actually place a bet, I allocated the winnings to savings. Christmas savings are now $74.13, looking forward to reaching $100 on the weekend.

On the weekend I also sent $10.00 to the UK owing amount, it is down to -$80.00.

That's all, hope to talk soon tomorrow!

Snowflakes 30-10-16; Into The $117's!

October 30th, 2016 at 10:20 am

Challenge starting balance: $8,739.85
Plus:
- weekly EF savings $35.69
- digital change $4.37
Challenge closing balance: $8,779.91

Our weekly EF savings were transferred over as usual, which is great but the two financial things of note were:

1) Our mortgage payment hit, and then interest was charged, the end result is we are now into the $117's!! New balance is $117,703. Very exciting. I don't think we will make $115k by the end of the year, but I do think we will make it to $116k.
2) My tax refund was received and was promptly sent back to the EF. The balance looks much healthier now! Breathing a sigh of relief.

Looking at the EF; the mini-EF is now $3,504.55 - this is the cash portion of the EF. The maxi-EF has only gone up $1 since last month! This is the shares portion of the EF. Thankfully the shares have only dropped a little bit; they were purchased for $3,826. So if the shares were at their purchase value the EF would then be $7330.55 instead of the $7,177 it currently is. Still it's great to be up into the next thousand, it feels like it has taken all year to get there.

***

Non-financial things were during the week we celebrated our 6 year wedding anniversary, then yesterday it was a beautiful spring day so we caught up on the gardening at home. We then said hello to our neighbours across the road and we had heard that the wife had changed jobs; she told me she was made redundant in the July of this year and it took her a full month to find a new job. She is the sole provider for her family; her husband has an illness so looks after the kids while she works. I told her I thought it was great that she was only out of work a month; she is really liking her new job.

Today we took our inlaws out for a country drive and we had lunch with them (I suggested this because we have spent the last couple of weekends with my family so thought it would be a nice thing to do), which was a really lovely day.

Snowflakes & Savings 24-10-16; Saturday Happy Events

October 24th, 2016 at 09:44 am

Challenge starting balance: $7,748.09
Plus:
- weekly EF savings x 2 $71.38
- Safeway rewards $10.00
- digital change $2.93
- Maxitrans dividend $10.50
- B's credit card debt repayment $180.00
- B's tax savings $403.33
- Phuket holiday savings $235.00
- my car savings $150.00
Challenge closing balance: $8,739.85

September was a huge month not only for bills but also because it was a five week month so October has been pretty lowkey. We repaid back the savings used to pay the bills and reduced our weekly spending in October to offset the overspending in September.

Still, I've had a bit of low-level anxiety with our money this month so have held off making savings transfers etc. Now that it is the end of the month nearly have felt like we could do it and be fine.

Among our snowflakes was a Safeway reward of $10, received today. That plus the digital change was sent over to the Christmas savings account; there is now $45.13 there, will top it up to $50 at the end of the week. Another snowflake was the Maxitrans dividend (small dividend but it is a small shareholding).

We sent another $180 to B's credit card - it is now sitting at owing $3012 - will be under $3k next month which is exciting.

I finally got around to lodging our tax returns last week! I will get back $1073 which will go back to the EF to repay the study unit; B owes $2780 from his business income which is due March 2017. This month we have saved $403.33 towards it.

I also saved $235 towards our Phuket trip; $1065 remains owing to be paid whenever we decide to go before September next year.

I also sent $150 to my car savings; normally should be $300 but we overspent a little this month so reduced it slightly. $124 was also repaid against the study unit.

While it would be great to be sending all of this to the EF, sometimes we have things which need to be paid (like B's tax) and things we should save a little for (like a trip which is booked).

****

Saturday's happy events were:

1. My sister and her husband sold their house for $70k above reserve at auction, which they were really happy about. My BIL is a MMM (aka Mr Money Moustache) convert and wants to retire in 5 years time (he'll be early 40s then). They are moving to the country and want to build a sustainable home so the extra $70k will definitely help their plans. Auctions are so exciting.
2. It was our 6 year wedding anniversary so we went out for a fancy dinner to celebrate Smile.

Hope you're all well!

What An Intense Week Last Week Was

October 18th, 2016 at 10:34 am

It's been an intense week. I had a massive assignment due on Sunday so spent pretty much every ounce of my spare time working on it from Tuesday to Sunday - about 12 hours. I find it interesting but felt bad about not really being present around DH. Was nice to spend this evening just relaxing and spending quality time with him.

I wish my work were open to me working 4 days a week so I could spend one full day studying instead of trying to cram it into every spare second of my free time but alas they have made it clear that they are not. Oh well, we can't have everything.

Anyway, after spending so much time studying I couldn't look at it yesterday, instead caught up on home duties after work that were much needed. Walked the dog, hung out the washing, caught up on dishes, cleaned the ensuite (really needed it), folded the washing, I think that's enough until next weekend. Need to go to the gym because I haven't been there in a while and then need to catch up on week 7 of study (last week, not heaps to do) and work on week 8.

*****

B has been sick on and off with the flu, went to the doctor for a flu shot and found out he has a combination of hay fever and asthma???? Not in his family history, we never expected this. They say it's only mild so we'll see how he goes with the puffer. He also has had a shoulder problem so has been given steroids for a few days and a referral if it doesn't get better. Doctors will be about $30-$40 after government co-pay and medicines were around $50. Let's hope he picks up soon!

*****

My spending yesterday was $4.12 for some watermelon for me, tomato soup for B and some chocolate for me, and $20 for fuel for my car - today was a NSD.

Another spending item yesterday (although not a cash outlay) was a $3.99 iTunes subscription for one month to Money magazine (it's Australian) because although I love flicking through the various areas of SA (articles, blogs, forums) it's important to occasionally spend some time reading Australian financial items.

Well that's all for now, speak to you guys in a few days!

Snowflakes 07/10/16; Life

October 7th, 2016 at 11:09 am

Challenge starting balance: $7,581.56
Plus:
- weekly EF savings x 2 $71.38
- Safeway rewards $10.00
- digital change $22.14
- QBE dividend $63.00
Challenge closing balance: $7,748.09

It's been a while between entries, have been super busy with this studying and trying to keep all the other areas of my life afloat too. I have to do 10 hours per week study, and last week as it was a public holiday we went away and therefore I only managed 6 hours.

This weekend is a very quiet weekend so will most definitely be catching up. I have made up last week's 4 hours, so tomorrow and Sunday I need to do 5 hours each day. I would have done more during the week but catching up on home duties after work took up some time. I'm looking forward to spending some blocks of time to increase my understanding of the material; have been so busy I feel like I'm doing the work but not really retaining anything or understanding much.

***

Because I didn't write an entry last week I didn't note down the EF savings, so this entry I have put two weeks in.

The supermarket chain I have rewards with, Safeway, have reintroduced their old rewards program again, so after spending the required amount (I think it was $100), I got $10 off the shopping, which I sent to Christmas savings. They have introduced their biggest rewards deal ever since I have been doing it - spend $90 per shop there for four weeks in a row to get 8000 points ($80.00 off the next shop). We've spent $37.76 there so far this week, have $52.24 to go, which can be done on the grocery shop for the week.

Trying To Get Ahead with all of her change jars prompted me to do an experiment for the month of September and I have been doing it still. What if every transaction from our checking account we round up to the next dollar and deposit it into our savings account? I know somebody wrote that there is an app for that, but I didn't find it in Australia so have just been doing it manually. So far we have saved $22.14.

We also received a dividend of $63.00 for our QBE shares. They are currently way down in value so I am considering buying another 100 but that would bring our cash down a bit so am sitting on the fence. Our averaged out purchase price is $10.70 per share and they dropped down to $9.33 which is a year low. (It was also a big loss so I was a bit worried) Now they are currently just under $10, so still lower than normal but at least we have not lost as much now. Will see what happens over the next month before deciding. Was actually going to buy in about January, give the EF a chance to build up a bit.

I also added $8.00 to the holiday fund, so the balance there is $-90.00 now.

***

This month we are on a five week month so funds are a little bit short. Our usual spending money is $580 ($500 into our checking and $80 onto B's card to cover his work expenses and takeaway) so have decreased it this month to $430 per week into checking and $65 onto his card; so usual monthly spending money was $2320, with these adjustments and an extra week included it only increases to $2475, which is not too painful.

We did work out his tax though which will be $2780 due in March, so have to save $463 per month. Ouch. Oh well, it must be done.

And also need to start saving $250 per month towards Thailand. And hopefully we can still afford $300 for my new car fund but we'll see. We need to start saving for Christmas so may need to shift some money out of certain categories to make it happen.

According to my Christmas saving challenge we need to save $330 this month, and so far have $32 saved however it is only the first week of October however I may even re-examine Christmas spending money and cut it down slightly.

Balance Transfer Card Not So Appealing Now

September 24th, 2016 at 01:36 am

Challenge starting balance: $7,545.87
Plus:
- weekly EF savings $35.69
Challenge closing balance: $7,581.56

As written a few days earlier, I finally paid off all of my credit card debt and was looking into earning some sort of reward for using credit cards now.

I linked up my Velocity Rewards account to the credit card as you can earn points, however while I knew the credit card had a high interest rate it is supposed to have 44 interest free days.

So it was completely free of any charges on Wednesday as per the website so I used the card on Wednesday night and repaid the transactions the next day. There was a total cost of $28.72 charged on it (for groceries).

So I have just received my credit card statement and have been charged $0.65 interest??? I don't care about the amount but why have I been charged interest when there was no previous amount owing? Unless I had to wait until the next monthly period before using the card?

I doubt I will want to sit on the phone with the credit card company to discuss $0.65 but I may hold off using the card for the rest of the month and then use the card and see if interest is charged when the card is used again. If interest is charged without the interest free period then I will probably keep the card as an emergency measure only and close it off after a while once I have found a replacement.

Balance Transfer Card Repaid!; Broken Door Lock

September 19th, 2016 at 11:40 am

Challenge starting balance: $7,353.93
Plus:
- weekly EF savings $35.69
- football winnings $46.00
- my FINAL credit card repayment to balance transfer card $110.25
Challenge closing balance: $7,545.87

That day finally came where my final payment to the balance transfer left the bank account! I imagine I will see a zero balance on that card either tomorrow or the day after.

Only $54 left on my normal transactional card to pay by the end of the month, will do this easily. (In a week or so, must get used to using the balance transfer card as a transactional card to accumulate points.)

I'm so glad to be off of that debt cycle where I was getting charged around $58-$62 in interest on a debt I couldn't afford to pay. I'm so glad I just had this moment where I had had enough and wanted things changed asap, and got the balance transfer card and got off the cycle of simply paying interest on things which had long been used up. I appreciate credit cards now because you can have funds available at your disposal no questions asked, but do not ever want to get complacent with paying interest again. I want to be much more careful with it now.

Feeling like I'm in a better place than a year ago, that's for sure. Next month onto saving for a new car! (that I hope to not have to buy for a long time!)

***

I paid the third round of my football wins over to the holiday fund; now owing only $98. Also paid back $124 against the study unit. Study is going well but I'm finding myself a bit time poor and when I get tired, I'm worn out. Luckily this only happens every few days. I'm into week 4 and not doing too badly.

***

On Saturday my car door broke, this time my driver door. This is an ongoing problem; has happened between 5-10 times in the time of car ownership and each time it happens I cannot lock the car until it's fixed. The last time it happened was April last year.

The cost of a new lock was $200 plus some beer as a thank you gift to my father-in-law for fixing it $31. Better than $400 at the mechanic which is the going rate. This is the last time my father-in-law will do it though, as he is getting too old. Next time it will be either B or the mechanic.

Because funds are a little tight I used the additional money I was going to repay on the mortgage to pay for the door lock. Didn't want to draw out from the EF again, once this month was enough ($160 for the sewer blockage).

I really want to get the mortgage down to $115,000 by the end of the year and it looks like all other things going ok, we should be able to.

Credit Card Sorted

September 14th, 2016 at 11:14 am

As written in my previous entry, my credit cards will be repaid in full by the end of the month (woohoo) and I have been trying to work out what to do with them.

My balance transfer card is actually a velocity rewards card (Virgin Airlines), so today I have linked up my credit card to my velocity rewards account, then in October when the debt is completely cleared I will start using it to accumulate points. Obviously paying transactions back as soon as possible to avoid being charged interest.

The annual card fee of $129 is valid for one year to use as a credit against a flight also. I'm interested to see what my points balance in a year will be!

Snowflakes 11/09/16; Credit Card Musings

September 11th, 2016 at 12:28 am

Challenge starting balance: $6,835.74
Plus:
- weekly EF savings $35.69
- football winnings $48.00
- my credit card repayment to balance transfer card $151.50
- B's credit card repayment to his card $180.00
- extra credit card repayment to his card $103.00
Challenge closing balance: $7,353.93

This week's additions to the challenge are the usual EF savings, plus football winnings for games 4-6 from my team (these were all fairly low wins so could add them all together), plus repayments to both my and B's credit cards.

With my credit cards, I am all set to be officially retired from credit card debt by 30th September. That has a nice ring to it, I must admit!

There are some small transactions on my credit card I use amounting to around $77 for 3/4 of a tank of fuel (which I pay back at $20 per week) plus some cosmetics I needed to buy.

There is the anticipated $110 remaining on my balance transfer card plus I have been charged a $129 annual fee for this card.

Which brings me to reassessing what I want to do with this card after it is paid off at the end of the month.

I had the idea of either earning cashback rewards on various cards after the cards were paid off to actually bring some income in after paying credit card companies interest and whatever charges for so many years; or getting a points card and using it to earn rewards.

Now that I have to pay this $129 I'm thinking I may as well keep this card open for a while to utilise the annual fee paid. I've kind of had a shift in thinking of my thoughts about credit card debt too, so I have to consider that.

The thing is our EF is generally at the moment around $7000 give or take a few thousand. So really the credit cards when they are paid off are technically an asset because they are credit available to be used at any point in time if needed, no questions asked.

So if there was a major emergency ie I suddenly lost my job we would be able to use the cash saved in the EF possibly to pay mortgage and bills and use the credit cards to pay for food and other necessities; and we would most likely have six to nine months emergency money available as opposed to two to three months with the cash only.

Perhaps I might revisit the points/cashback ideas in six months or so. Would need to change at least one credit card in any case. My everyday credit card I use has a 14% interest rate (best rate possible for the big 4 Australian banks) while the balance transfer card has a 21% interest rate - so will need another card to replace that with a much lower rate in the next few months. I could increase the credit available on the 14% card, but really I would rather get a lower rate card from a smaller institution - you can get around 8% cards.

Sorry for the super long post guys, I'm just trying to formulate ideas and plans and put them in writing to refer back to later! Feel free to add any thoughts or suggestions.

With B's card I paid the monthly $180 and then referred the balance against what I had in our debt paydown spreadsheet. According to the spreadsheet his card should be at $3192 - it needed an extra $103 repaid to reach this amount. Next month he will be owing just over $3000.


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