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No Christmas Debt Hangover; 2016 Goals Musings

December 28th, 2015 at 01:18 pm

Like many others on this site, I am happy to say that we have carried no debt for our Christmas presents etc. We don't normally carry much of a debt for Christmas presents, perhaps $100-$200 usually. This time, nothing (which was a great feeling).

I stopped tracking spending on December 22. I don't know what it is with me, in normal everyday life I track constantly, but when I hit holiday mode I just cannot do it (except for the last time we were away when I was really motivated). Part of it was also because we saved $800, which is the spending money that B normally covers; so rather than eating into our everyday money we are simply spending money which was allocated for this purpose. It has been so helpful having the spending money aside.

I won't say that the money situation has been stress-free because with him being self-employed it is never stress-free at Christmas time. Funny things always happen with his payments he is owed at Christmas time. This time he got paid for the larger invoice but not the smaller, even though they were invoiced on the same day. So instead of being worried about that, I was simply mildly annoyed. I know we'll get it in a few weeks.

On the financial side of things, I got paid my Christmas bonus from work. I knew that if I got it, I would buy some bar stools for the kitchen area, and bank the rest, so that it can be put towards a study unit. The bar stools came to $207. They only had one in stock, so we are waiting for the other two to be shipped in. We took the other one home though, it looks very nice! The balance of the bonus was $800, which is also the allocated spending money from the EF to cover B's wages, so instead of withdrawing from the EF, I just used the balance of the bonus. The $800 in the EF will be left there until needed.

I have simply been charging things to my credit card, so have just paid over all that has been spent. Such a lovely feeling to have that all squared out and back to what it was before.

****

Christmas was a busy blur; it always is! Christmas Eve was my work do - we went to a Moroccan restaurant and had a six course meal, which was really nice. Christmas day we had the inlaws over for lunch for the first time ever - that was busy as we pretty had to spring-clean the house beforehand! Everything worked out wonderfully though. Christmas night was at my sister's house, which was also wonderful. It was a hot day, just under 97F. We got home and the power was out, probably because so many people were using their airconditioners. So we sat outside on that really balmy night, listening to music and having a couple of drinks. WAs a really lovely end to a great day. Then on Boxing Day we had to go to B's extended family, aunties and uncles etc, which is always a nice day.

Yesterday I was so tired from it all though that I spent hours watching catch-up tv and music videos, and basically hibernating, to bring myself back to my normal self, rebalancing etc.

****

Now thinking about goals, I can't seem to find a concrete plan. I'm probably too tired still with too much going on. I know that this year, from this month onwards, I don't want us to pay more than $300 per month interest on the mortgage. At the moment on average, interest is about $560-$570, so we would be paying $260-$270 out of pocket against the loan. By doing this, as our monthly mortgage payment is $995, roughly 70% of each payment will then work out to be principal.

I also want to try to live off much less than what I am paid; for two reasons: 1. pretty much whatever savings/debt repayment goals there are will be easily met, 2. I want to feel like I don't need to rely on my full pay to make ends meet, because I think that so many people tell themselves they must earn $xxx when they could live off far less.

I will also update the sidebar to show mini-EF (available cash) and maxi-EF (invested cash). This currently stands at $2135 available cash and $1138 invested cash. Maybe if I aim to increase invested cash by $3000, then the total EF will be roughly around $5k.

So my rough plans for 2016 are;
- pay no more than $300 interest on the mortgage (average of $270 per month x 12 months = $3240)
- save a further $3000 to the EF
- continue debt repayment to credit cards as previously. When the $303 monthly balance transfer payment is finished after September, that $303 will instead become savings for my next car. (Hopefully I don't need to buy for a while though)($303 x 12 months = $3636)

Estimate of total savings cost for 2016 = $9876. Based on 2015 savings made, this should be possible.

Apologies for the super long post, I really needed to do some thinking out loud! Now, must fall into bed as it after midnight and I am exhausted. Goodnight all!

Final Balance Transfer; Final EOY Results!

December 19th, 2015 at 07:16 pm

Last week among financial things I made my final balance transfer payment of $303 per month for 2015. The balance transfer card should be at $2734 owed after the payment hits. It's good knowing that I will close the year out at under $3k credit card debt compared to $5400 at the start of the year.

I was thinking about adjusting the totals down to reflect what the balances actually are but have decided against it. The reason being we did actually save that money at some point during the year. It was simply used for certain purposes. Some of it was used on holiday purposes. Some of it was used to cover B not being paid in the first week of December. Unfortunately what was used on B's card I cannot exactly say what it was for; a lot of it would have been work stuff, fast food, motorbike stuff.

Eventually we will need to look at that card and work out some sort of solution. He doesn't need a card with $3700 credit because his spending habits are to spend whatever is available. Probably a card with $1000-$1500 credit is better for him. Big enough to make decent sized purchases (eg car stuff) but not big enough to cause too much drama. So eventually, probably after my balance transfer has been done, we will organise a balance transfer for him and a new card with a much lower balance.

Anyway back to end of year stuff. I am doing end of year totals now before christmas and new years in the event that we are a bit too busy for me to sit down and work this out, and I know that no more savings will be made for the year. My end of year total will be as follows:

50 Week Challenge $5300 + Banking the Difference $4379.54 + $90 Caravan Park accommodation spent + $210.00 Phuket Holiday Deposit spent + $35.00 Cash Savings =

$10,014.54!!!

Thank you all for sharing my first year of savings challenges, your advice and your journeys with me. You have all helped me to become a bit more financially responsible and you have all inspired me in your own different ways!

(Most likely by the time you read this I will have updated the Banking the Difference category to read $4679.54, with $818.00 holiday fund)

What does next year hold??? I'm not sure yet. I don't feel I need to do two separate challenges anymore. I think I will work out a couple of goals and plans, maybe possibly do one challenge like Imasaver but with a different name to $20 challenge. I have roughly 11 days to decide, so the thinking cap is on!

Holiday Fund Snowflakes, Credit Card Payments

November 18th, 2015 at 10:42 am

I got my tax refund a couple of weeks ago, which included a $203.00 snowflake(the rest was simply repaying the EF, which has also been done). Add to that a $30 Safeway gift card for my three weeks of spending over $100 per week on groceries a few months ago, another $10 gift voucher for Safeway and a Paypal refund of $15.00 for a top I bought for my spring capsule which wasn't in stock after all. (I didn't see any like that for that price, so decided I couldn't be bothered and claimed it as a snowflake!).

The total amount added to the holiday fund was $258.00, bringing the holiday fund to $518.00. As earlier discussed, the holiday is on the backburner so this will be the last deposit for the year I imagine.

Banking the Difference is now $4,076.54, so that plus $5,300.00 will bring an anticipated year end balance of $9,376.54. In a way better place than this time last year!!!

I paid the balance of the $303.00 monthly balance transfer payment, that card is now at $3,034.00. There is still a balance of around $30.00 on the original credit card. One day I'll clear it out completely!

I also repaid the last of the New Zealand expenses on the original credit card (which I use as a transaction card).

Have barely been spending, have been spending lots of time studying for my degree unit which is near its end, and my body is at its end of its tether also. Battling sinus and a toothache and possible ear infection - but really I think it's all sinus-related. Tired and achy is not a great thing. At least the financial house looks a bit more orderly! (Other than that life here is not too bad, husband and animals are well).

Banking the Difference on Mortgage, etc

October 25th, 2015 at 05:31 am

Hello all, hoping all is well!

My latest financial transactions of note are adding the $183 mortgage savings straight onto the mortgage principal. Have added this amount to the banking the difference challenge, and the anticipated end of year figures will now be:

$5300 50wk challenge + $3558.54 banking the difference
= $8858.54

At the same time, I also put our $180 monthly insurance savings into the mortgage offset too - we now have $760 saved up for that, so those savings are on schedule.

The mortgage interest rate has gone up so next month our payment might be a bit higher, which reduces the savings Frown

***

On my mind as well as going away on our camping trip is paying for the balance of the Thailand trip next year. We paid $300 (which mostly came out of the holiday fund) deposit and $1300 remains, haven't been advised as to when it is payable so it's best to work towards repaying it anyway.

I lodged our tax returns and I receive back $1616. Of that $1283 goes back to the EF for the study unit I purchased, and $130 goes back to the EF for money we borrowed from it.

That will amount to a $203 snowflake which I will put towards our $1300 payment, leaving $1097 payable. Over the next couple of months I think our focus will be trying to save a decent amount towards it.

I also lodged B's tax return, but he is payable and that payment is coming out of his business income which he has saved.

***

The only other thing on my mind right now is doing the grocery shopping. I was given a $10 off voucher if we spend over $100, so I'm pretty sure we will need to spend that - so there will be the first $10 towards the holiday fund!!!

3/4 Through The Challenges

October 8th, 2015 at 09:24 pm

It's October 9th but I haven't updated my sidebar since the last week of September so thought I will mark my progress at being 3/4 of the way through both challenges.

52 week challenge total saved so far = $3,805.48
Banking the Difference challenge saved so far = $3,168.54

Total savings as at 30 September = $6,974.02

The banking the difference challenge has changed totally since moving my credit card over to the 0% credit card and putting myself on a 14 month repayment plan to get it paid off by the date it comes off 0% - I now find that we can afford to pay the $303 payment, 52 week challenge savings and the $183 mortgage saving and that's as far as it goes to be able to live kind of comfortably.

It works out to be about 15% of my pay which I think is reasonable. It's funny how things change in such a short time!

Holiday Fund Complete Withdrawal, EOM transactions

September 23rd, 2015 at 12:12 pm

So glad I thought of the holiday fund earlier this year, it has become so useful! Was not even thinking about overseas holidays at the moment but then yesterday a good friend of mine (whose wedding we went to in March) invited us to go with them and a bunch of friends to Phuket, Thailand next year! She found a deal of $800pp for 7 nights accommodation, airfares and breakfasts. We have not planned dates to go as yet but once we buy the package they are valid for two years - we imagine we will be going next year sometime. So excited - did not consider going to Thailand but many people have said how beautiful it is, and it looks gorgeous. Luckily B agreed to go! So there was $207.00 in the mini-holiday and deposits to lock in the deal were $150.00pp, so I transferred out the $207.00 from mini-holiday fund and $93.00 from our bank account.

Must do the tax return and get the EF back to what it should be.... So bad with procrastinating on this one...

I worked out to get 15% savings I would need to save an extra $188.

$58 of that had to go towards the Balance Transfer payment of $303.00. I transferred over the payment tonight and the balance in a couple of days on that card should read $3,644.00 - which is awesome. The balance on the actual CC1 is around $68 now, eventually it will be down to $0. No rush there, I just keep on transferring $10 per week.

The remaining $130 saved was part of the mortgage snowflake of $183.00 reduction in our mortgage compared to what the repayment used to be (B covered the rest).

I also transferred our insurance savings towards the two cars tonight as well of $180, there is now $580 saved up.

As it is the end of the month (well close enough) spending will be minimal from now on. I had a long day at work and craved a bottle of wine and gave in - there was $10 spent (had two glasses though, the rest is still there). But there is no weekend plans, so should be very quiet. Will need to be because most of the money is now spent! I am not bothered though because I feel like it is going to useful places.

Turning a 5 week month into a 4 wk month musing..

September 22nd, 2015 at 08:08 am

It's the 22nd today and I've survived September so far. It doesn't even feel like I've really struggled despite having to pay a whole lot of bills this month. Still have around $900 or so to shell out tomorrow but it's accounted for.

Am now through 90% of my pay. We allocate our spending weekly every Wednesday which this month would be 5 weeks in a month. Because the expenses have been high the next two Wednesday's would be living pretty scantily.

So I'm thinking why don't I transfer next week's spending money on the first, as the bills are lower next month. Then I can definitely save 15% and live kind of comfortably? I'm liking the idea of saving 15% this month as the last few months we've only been averaging about 7-8%, and that post in Donald's investment blog inspired me! And as only 8 days are left in the month it should be manageable.

Misc Transactions, Goals Progress, Dead Work Computer

September 17th, 2015 at 12:51 pm

I will start off with the financial transactions for the week. The 50 week challenge payments for the week have been updated and I have added $110 to the Banking the Difference challenge, which was savings for my credit card for the $303 monthly balance transfer payment.

Like Mrs Frugalista, yesterday I was reflecting on my goals and the progress so far and how likely it is that by 31 December they will be met. I have dipped into the EF a couple of months ago and still owe $130 for that. Have also withdrawn $1283 for my study subject. So while the totals on the sidebar look wonderful, in actual the EF is a bit leaner than that! I need to do my tax asap to get the $1283 back. I'm actually due a bit over $1500 so the $130 will be repaid also. For our situation, it's so important to do this now while we're in high season before we get to low season and the tax refund then has to get used to live off, not repaying the EF. *So* don't want that.

B's card is shocking because he's been getting underpaid again. The sidebar says he has repaid $472.30 and $379.63 for the two challenges, yesterday I checked and he only had $155 available. I have since repaid $225.00 from his earnings tonight, so that he now has $380.00 available (as per Banking the Difference challenge).

So we have a bit of work to do to get back up to speed. *If* things go well, we get back to normal and all our money gets repaid back into the right places, and I continue to pay at least $100 on my credit card on top of the 50 week challenge, and we bank the difference for the mortgage savings of $183.00 per month, we should meet a pretty awesome goal of having saved/repaid $10,000. But as I'm seeing at the moment it will require some careful watching and ensuring the balances are repaid and not used (eg not dipping into the EF or using the credit cards).

But it is so important to not just plan and carry out the plan, but to also occasionally sit back, reflect on where your progress is and decide if any action needs to be taken, as I have just seen.

Finally - have had *the*worst*week* with computers, both at home and work!!! Monday night our computer would start but the monitor would then say "no signal" and go blank, nothing would happen. Then B came home a couple of hours later and tinkered around and 10 minutes later it was working. So glad about that, even if I lost 2 hours before that. Tuesday at work just after 5pm we were winding our day down and all of a sudden the network was lost, the server lost power. My boss got on the phone to IT and reset the server and it was ok. I got home Tuesday night and our toner ran out, and B put new toner in. But something went wrong with it and black wouldn't print. Have left it for now, we will look at it soon. Yesterday our part-timer couldn't get her computer on, they ended up finding out it was a problem with a graphics card and she got a new monitor, everything was working.

But today I got to work and when I turned my computer on, it had the graphics of the brand on the screen, and then it went black. Nothing. IT came and got my computer, worked on it for a couple of hours and brought it back. This time it loaded up to desktop stage but none of the programs would open. Then after we tried opening them an error message came up, and then the whole thing closed down. Our manager then spoke to IT, who said it sounds like the hard drive had died and it needs to be replaced. My boss looked at when it was purchased and would you believe it, it was only 3 months out of warranty!!! Talk about not good value for money!

I spent the day summarising things manually, just like accountants did in the old days, with a notepad and a calculator with a printer ribbon. Luckily I have the day off tomorrow so hopefully something is sorted out while I'm off work.

After all these dramas I am currently backing up our hard drive to an external hard drive we have. It's taking a long time though, so might turn it off and do it tomorrow while I know I'll be on the computer for a couple of hours, have to get some sleep.

Hopefully you all back up your computers! If not, please take the opportunity and do it!

Withdrawal from the Holiday Fund

September 9th, 2015 at 12:04 pm

Last week I did something exciting and applied for annual leave! This year we are doing more camping things, so we are going away to see friends a few hours away for a weekend and we are also going away camping for four nights for our wedding anniversary to a place called Bright, which is in the mountains and is really beautiful.

The campsite at the caravan park was $45 per night, so $180 in total. I decided to withdraw $100 from the holiday fund (because that's what it's there for) but didn't want to withdraw too much either. Because I've withdrawn $100 from the holiday fund I've reduced the holiday fund and the Banking the Difference challenge on the sidebar accordingly. This way we pay $80 out of pocket for the accommodation, feels much better, less of an outflow. So $207 is left there, might add some here and there to build it up a bit.

Very much looking forward to both holidays Smile

Other things of note:
- no charge for paying the minimum late on the balance transfer card, woohoo!
- the fan belt on the dryer broke. We have had it for 12 years now so B was thinking maybe it's time to replace it. Instead I found a parts kit (there are four or five different parts, and the dryer fan belt is one of those things) for $56 in total off eBay. When it arrives B will fit it. I am so lucky to have such a handy husband!

Balance Transfer Card Due Date

September 6th, 2015 at 12:09 pm

I received the credit card statement a while ago but didn't check the minimum payment due date. (I know, so not clever.) The credit card statement showed that I paid the $303 from last month and added on the $64 annual card fee. So from the close of the credit card statement to now I have paid $64 against the credit card, to clear the annual card fee.

So all weekend I've been thinking "really must check the due date for payment"... well I did and it's due tomorrow, the 7th! So I've shortpaid by $17 (the minimum payment was $81)! I had a look on their website to see if I will get charged any fees, it doesn't say. I promptly transferred $30 over, so the amount paid will be $94. I am still sticking to $303 per month though, so later on I will pay $273 instead. SO annoyed with myself! Grrr.

Anyway, now I know the due date, don't I...

Also, I forgot to share my thoughts of the Vacation movie, which I saw last week. I thought it was great! A bit gross in some parts, but it is a fun family movie where you will leave with a smile on your face and a warm feeling.

And just quickly (as I have to go to bed soon) food shopping was a respectable $145 for us, so was happy with that. Got the gas bill, which turns out to be $522 (up $17 from this time last year - due to running the heater all winter). The electricity bill is also so high because I use the dryer every weekend during winter. Looking forward to the weather warming up so I can stop using it.

I have accounted for all the bills for the month, with that and spending up to this point of time, am at 71% of the total budget. Will be continuing to try not to spend too much so we don't see a financial haemorrhage.

Lots of Little Things

August 28th, 2015 at 11:27 am

Lots of little things have been happening this week. B went to a friend's house on the weekend, and his friend's son had a stomach bug. This is of no relevance until B gets a job interview on Tuesday to be a new homes building supervisor.. To explain, B used to work in this job role up until about 8 years ago when he opened up his carpentry business. Now he wants to work in this role again to get out of physical work but it's hard to get considered for because of the 8 year gap.

So he got this interview because he knows someone he used to work with that recommended him. And then got the stomach bug five hours before the interview! He got lots of powerade to help him through it and soldiered on - luckily the interview only went for half an hour. He got a second interview today and unfortunately just missed out- it ended up being between him and one other guy so he did well. I just couldn't believe of all the time to get sick it had to be then!

With me, I have my exam for my study unit on Tuesday so have lots of studying to do on the weekend. I'll get through it. I've been really tired and emotional though, exhaustion set in and I was considering quitting everything and just doing bookkeeping. But then the work I do is interesting and it would be a waste of a good opportunity - I was given the chance to do a job it would normally be hard for me to get into and am lucky. So back to the drawing board it is Smile

Financial things - last night I paid $64 annual fee on the balance transfer card, paid back the EF $50 ($155 left to go now), have saved $21.20 towards the $303 balance transfer payment ($281.80 to go), paid around $60 in interest and credit repayment insurance on B's card. B's interest is creeping up because his income has been so erratic that he hasn't been able to repay all of his work purchases. Looking forward to seeing more of the income he's owed and a bit more stability there. I also saved $180 towards our car insurances - we paid for both in full in March and were planning on saving $180 per month. It's now August and we'd only saved $220, so really is time to resume those savings so we're not in for a big shock next March - $400 there now. All we need to do for August now is save the mortgage repayment difference from last year of $183.

I shopped for three weeks in a row at Safeway to get the $30 gift card and have now completed the requirements. On the final purchase I received a receipt saying that I will be getting a $30 gift card before 16 October, so that will be a nice snowflake. The next deal they have now is giving $10 off coupons for purchases over $100 - I've been given two, planning on using one this weekend.

Looking forward to seeing the movie Vacation tomorrow night and going out for dinner - we didn't spend much last weekend so have a bit extra spending money Smile

Hoping you all have a nice weekend Smile

Now Saved/Repaid Just Over $8K

August 14th, 2015 at 07:18 am

Last night when doing our weekly money transfers I realised that as I bought some wine last week I don't need to get any this weekend so transferred the usual spend of $15 to go towards the $303 monthly payment. This is a saving to go into the Banking the Difference challenge.

I added it and also the $30 transferred on Monday to my Banking the Difference sidebar and excitingly we have jumped up into the next thousand!

$5300 + $2708.54 = $8008.54

Happy dance!

On another note as of last there was $97.60 saved and then today 52 week challenge money of $21.20 was added, now there is $118.80 to go towards the $303 balance transfer payment.

Misc Financial Transactions

July 22nd, 2015 at 12:58 pm

I prepaid $60 onto my credit card for the interest charge and yesterday it got charged $53.50, so have counted the extra $6.50 as a snowflake in the Banking the difference challenge. Was so over the monthly interest charges that I started to apply for another card on a 0% balance transfer. Then chickened out when I had to put the employer details up - can't handle my boss getting the phone call! I guess this means I'm slightly embarrassed about my credit card debt because I so didn't want to have that conversation...

****
We had $29 left over from our weekly pay, so I sent $24 over to repay the EF from what we borrowed. Now the amount owing is $275.93.

****

B got paid his small pay for the week where he only worked 2.5 days. I bought more groceries last week in anticipation, spent $200, so my goal this week is to only spend $80. We need to buy fruit & veggies, some red meat, bread, almond milk, tinned cat food, lunch meat, eggs, and some snacks for B. Looks doable. I'm putting it here so I can be held accountable and will *not* buy extra stuff. Wish me luck guys!

Snowflakes Withdrawal

July 13th, 2015 at 10:32 pm

Three weeks ago I stopped my banking the difference challenge where whenever there is a bill reduction the difference gets saved away, due to saving for the party. So I've been paying bills and not saving the reductions and it's been killing me!

We had $6 left in our checking account after weekend spending so I thought I might pay it back against the money we borrowed from the EF. Then I thought maybe just a couple of small bill savings too??

Last week we paid for business insurance, the home and B's phone bill. The savings on the first two are $15.23. B's phone bill is $78.00 less than last year but that looks a bit unattainable at the moment.

So I repaid $21.23 ($6 unspent & $15.23 bill savings). Previous amount owed to the EF was $321.16, new amount owing $299.93. Getting back to normal!!

A Snowflake, Environmentally Friendly Coffee Pods & Party Savings

July 8th, 2015 at 12:27 pm

Lots of goings on today!

Firstly I received a snowflake. For my online study unit I bought a book and then found that I had an older version from a couple of years ago and am allowed to use it, so returned it and received the refund today of $109.76. Postage to send it was $23.15, so net snowflake is $86.61. As I am not collecting snowflakes and the EF is owed $407.76, I transferred $86.60 to the EF, and now $321.16 remains owing.

The $86.60 is on my credit card so I transferred cash from our weekly spending money and need to use the $86.60 for weekly expenses. Had to pay back $17 for alcohol bought and $20.52 for petrol (they were bought ahead for this weekend), and bought coffee pods online (more below) for $22.50 and grocery items tonight for $7.04, so $19.54 remains to be spent. This may simply be next week's petrol expense I think.

I have coffee pod machine (which I love dearly) and have been reading backlash about the fact that once the coffee pods are used they cannot be recycled (Nespresso) and simply sit in landfill, which is a huge problem. The cheaper pods I often buy (Piazza L'Or) are not much better. However I have read about a better more environmentally friendly coffee pod made by a NZ company called Eco Caffe, where their pods are biodegradable. Today I ordered two sleeves a trial. They are the same price as Nespresso so are not cheap but when I think of the environmental benefit, I think it is an expense worth paying. The two sleeves are $14.80 with a postage charge of $7.70 (ugh). If you order more than $100 worth of pods, postage is free. So if they taste ok and I can buy that amount (depending on the useby date on the box - will have to look when I receive the two sleeves), it's about as cost economical as I can get it. (And I would have, say, four-five months worth of coffee pods- kind of like Toilet-Paper-Tracker with her tissues!). We'll see how this idea pans out.

Finally, we received the remaining two invoices, so have the party money saved away, which is a big relief. We are not out of the woods yet with him though, because they are still behind with their invoice payments (just not as behind). He also only will have worked for 2.5 days of this week so will not be invoicing out, so I am currently looking at the invoices he has owing and I can see already that in between slow payments and one week of nothing billed out, it's only the 8th but we will need to watch our money carefully to be able to make the car payment, his motorbike payment and superannuation (in total $1405) which is due at the end of the month. So I'm happy we have the party money but still a bit worried, not quite in comfort zone yet! A quiet week this week it will be!

Week 24 & Football Winnings = Mini Holiday Fund

July 6th, 2015 at 09:51 am

Week 24 ended up going pretty smoothly. I was stressed out last week about having to spend for a birthday party at the last minute when we didn't really have a lot of money available but it ended up ok.

I got invited out with my friends on Friday night, so I drove and had wedges with sweet chilli sauce and sour cream ($9) and bought a wine and soft drink, so did not spend much. I bought a perfume for the cousin worth $30 and she really loved it (was good because it was worth $60 and I have it, it's a great perfume called Wish). B found out we can bring our own alcohol which saved about $40. The restaurant was expensive, $70 for the both of us, so at least we didn't have to pay for overpriced alcohol! Groceries were as cheap as I could get - $94, which is what I was spending for us when B was off work. It was B's turn tonight to host the poker party (his Monday night event) so we spent $38 on food for entertaining- he did a beef casserole for 8 and I managed to score a plate (yum!).

We did have to draw some money again from the EF but not as much as last week - $142, $45 to cover the shortfall from spending and $97 to cover B's petrol for the week. Total amount now owed back to the EF is $407.76.

This week we are hoping B gets paid for all old and current invoices so then we can have the party pretty much paid for and start getting back to normal. I want to have the party money well ahead of time so that we can enjoy his birthday and make it a memorable occasion instead of it being a stressful occasion!!

Now for something I consider pretty exciting.. Every time my football team wins I save $1 for every point they win by. This weekend they won by 110 points!!! Their biggest win against this team in 119 years. I actually owe $2 for a win a couple of weeks ago and now $110 for last weekend's game. I felt like celebrating so thought you know what, I'm going to turn their winnings into a mini holiday fund! Travel is a big part of who I am and what I love- I love at least one holiday a year. So I worked out the winnings and have adjusted my sidebar accordingly. Currently there is $270.00 there.

The mini-holiday fund can be a contribution towards a holiday or perhaps simply a leisure event. I'm just giving these dollars a particular purpose. Our wedding anniversary is in October this year and we haven't really planned anything because our focus is on the party. For $270.00 we can get a room in the best hotel in Melbourne (marked down from $400), so we could go out for a really nice dinner and a great hotel room is already paid for. Or we could put that towards three nights in Port Douglas, Queensland ($100 might have to be paid out of pocket). Flights up there and back are pretty cheap. Swanky hotel or fun in the sun, what would you guys choose? Decisions decisions Smile

Party Savings, My Retirement Fund & A Gripe

July 2nd, 2015 at 12:48 pm

B got paid and after tax we have saved the majority of this invoice - $1470. Two more invoices to go and $2230 left to save. I can't wait to have it saved because I'm out of my comfort zone with having to save this much money in such a short amount of time - the anxiety I am experiencing is my indicator. $1470 is just under 40% of the required amount, I am reminding myself of this. And reminding myself that this will be a great night, and worth the anxiety.

B keeps telling me that we still have 5 weeks to we don't have to save so hard, but I worry that something expensive could come up and derail us, so it's better to get it over with. Even if the expensive thing is simply a slow-payer for his business! I do look forward to getting back into the challenges too - the mortgage dropped again, now it's $995 per month with a saving of $183, looking forward to adding that saving to the challenge, trust me Smile

Invitations got sent out to everyone this week, so that is an important thing done.

****

All of the talk on this site about retirement funds has made me want to check mine - I really only look at the annual statements and that's it. Last year at 1 July it was $69000. So I decided that on 1 July I would get out the statement from last year and register to log into the website and check everything there. I did that, and found that it has increased to $79031! My current pay is $55000 per year, however I'm not sure that I would need that as a retired person, I'm imagining I could get by on $40000 a year. Remembering Ceejay74's post a while ago about saving amounts by looking at the annual pay and multiplying it by x depending on how old you are - I am 37, so would fit into needing 2 x times my salary in my retirement fund. If the market continued in this fashion I could have my actual annual salary by 40 multiplied by 2, but currently it is sitting at 2 x $40000, so I am happy with that.

****

My gripe: my inlaws are lovely but have become accustomed to eating out at every birthday, which is so expensive! We had to go out for the MIL's birthday last Sunday and his cousin's birthday is this weekend. (Close family) The uncle told us that she just wants to go out with friends for her 30th. Now we get a phone call today that we the family are to go out a restaurant in an upmarket suburb for the family celebration the following night! Grrr. Two days notice is pretty rude for something where you need to buy a present, pay for two dinners and drinks. Do they think we're rolling in it and would just happen to have a spare $150 to blow??? No, they obviously didn't think.

To cut costs I told B that we would buy her present, not put in with his sister (she likes buying vouchers, so will ask for $50, whereas I will shop around and spend around $30 - I'm thinking perfume of some sort), and to call back his uncle and ask him if the restaurant has BYO alcohol (a lot of chinese restaurants do).

I know, looking at the bigger picture, it is good to have family that do these things and are close, and we will get to have a nice meal. Hopefully we can bring our own alcohol too to cut costs too. I told B that we will not be spending a lot on food this week - we have bulk bought so only need to buy meat and vegetables, everything else we have. We have a spaghetti sauce and spaghetti, so just need mince, and I am thinking instead of having steak etc of just buying a big packet of sausages and eating that a few different ways.

Apologies for the super long post! I am constantly telling myself to relax and not be so anxious - I figure if I keep doing this, keep breathing and going to my happy place, everything will all work out and it will all be fine.

June 30 -Halfway through the Challenges

June 29th, 2015 at 11:02 pm

The moment I've been waiting for has arrived! We're halfway through the two challenges created, yay. So to officially mark where we are $2438 has been saved for the 52 week challenge and $2458.04 has been saved for the Banking the Difference challenge, a total of $4896.04 saved. Woohoo!

Credit card debt is roughly $7.5k now ($4541 for CC1, $3003 for CC2, so rounding down we can say $7.5k), down from $9.1k at the start of the challenge. The EF was $2651 (up from $0) but unfortunately I had to withdraw $265.76 to cover the balance of personal and business spending expenses for the week. And then there's also $745 in the mortgage home offset account.

****

With the savings for the party, we have enough to cover expenses and live on the bare minimum because we are short $4200 which I've earmarked as to be put straight to the party when these funds arrive. So we have the option of using credit cards to cover the shortfall or borrow from the EF. As we have the choice to choose from either I'm going to borrow from the EF. The EF is held in an online trading account separate from our bank (mind you I don't think I've traded for a couple of years! That will change as the EF grows) and earns a pitiful amount of interest, so while we might not earn interest there, at least we're not going to be paying extra interest on the credit cards.

Last weekend we had a birthday party at a restaurant so that was expensive and had to repay $265.76 on our credit cards that we overspent. I'm going to start a tally of how much needs to be paid back to the EF, so far $265.76.

****

B's earnings for 11 months of the year are now $37633, tax payable $3777 (up from $3115). Will need to make up the difference of $662.

*****

Frugal things I've been doing: instead of buying invitations we designed them off a free template, did four to a page and glued them to a thicker paper backing. Found among our wedding invitation things 17 unused good quality envelopes worth $8.95 (woohoo) so only had to buy 20 envelopes. Envelopes, glue, textas and thick paper cost: $10.50.

*****

FrugalTexan inspired me with her banana and oat pancakes! I had a day off today so made them this morning, they were so yum!

*****

Super happy today, I feel like we've done so well!!!

Week 23 Update

June 28th, 2015 at 11:12 am

We're now 2 days from being halfway through the challenges (June 30) and I look forward to marking the occasion with a post. It's all going well and on Friday I got our half yearly bonus from my boss for $980. I was very happy about that because I took $1000 out of the EF to pay towards my study subject and I was then able to transfer it back into the EF (did it Saturday).

I spent a lot of the week being really worried about how we will come up with $4000 in 6 weeks without relying on savings or credit cards. I could feel anxiety coming on all the time and it was giving me a stomach ache.. Had to deal with it! Then in a moment of a mishap the answer presented itself.

B got paid on Thursday but I noticed he got paid for an invoice dated the middle of the month while there were still invoices dated the 1st, 4th and also a couple of 14th invoices (he sent out 4 invoices that day). So I asked him what was going on and he told me he was working for two different guys in the same company and one guy is new and so far not so good. The outstanding invoices are for his work. B said he will follow up (clearly as this guy is new B has to be speaking with him regularly to ensure the right thing is being done).

I looked at what is outstanding- it's $4200, so after tax will be $3800. We paid a deposit for the party of $300, leaving $3700. I realised as the invoices are old, B has since earned enough to cover expenses that are upcoming and I can earmark the outstanding invoices as savings for the party!! Yay!!! No more anxiety! We may have to dip into the EF for a couple of weeks but it looks like we may need a few hundred not much more. Have been feeling so relieved.

Another relief is my MIL who has onset Alzheimer's/dementia has been ruled unfit to drive. This has been a huge worry because I know that she wouldn't have the reflexes to avoid an accident if a situation presented itself and she's so independent that she would not see reason and continued to drive. And the fact that even though she has onset Alzheimer's/dementia the tests for being fit to drive were yearly not quarterly- so much can change even in a quarter, I thought they were all mad! I know she will have adjusting to do but it's for the better good. People don't realise that driving a car is operating a piece of heavy machinery and that they could take somebody's life. Am *so* relieved with this decision.

Week 22 & We Are Having a Party After All

June 22nd, 2015 at 07:54 am

It's now week 22 of the challenge and everything is going well. Banking the Difference challenge is on hold until after B's birthday as we now need to come up with about $4000 in 6 weeks

We confirmed the party venue this morning. $4000 might be too much but it's the absolute maximum we will spend. We worked out the list and there are about 100 people on it. So if all 100 people came, that's what we would spend. (I doubt everyone would come though, there are always people who can't make it to these things).

We were on track to come up with half the money by the end of the month but then B's drill broke and a replacement cost $660. That definitely cut into the profit.

We have been spending as little as possible and have been trying to be creative with ways to save money, we just need no more big repairs or things to be replaced. But at least we have savings there to use if needed. I just don't want to use them because I know how much effort went into getting the savings in the first place.

Financial & Non-Financial Going Ons

June 8th, 2015 at 08:16 am

Had a really spendy start to June. Got my hair done ($105), the car exhaust system replaced ($580) and then bought a new suit ($285). I had to replace it anyway so I thought may as well do it to wear to a fancy lunch. The suit was bought on my credit card - I repaid $85 this weekend, have $200 to go. The car exhaust system and my hairdo were bought using extra money in the home loan offset account. Will be repaid by the end of the month.

****

When doing B's tax I calculated how much he earned and to the end of April it was $34596, tax on that is $3115 - we have paid $2400 so have to start making up the difference, $200 has already been saved and we will make up the balance soon.

*****

One of my games I play on my iPad is words with friends and one of their new options is to play in another language- I studied Italian all through high school so I thought why not? It's so much fun!! It's like this whole new little world has opened up, am really enjoying it.

******

Just finished a really great book last night called The October List by Jeffrey Deaver - it was slow to start (which wasn't a problem with me as I've been a bit too busy to be engulfed in a book - a chapter here or there has worked well for me) but last night I was able to sit down and read the last three chapters (which were long), did not disappoint! I guessed half of the ending but the rest of the ending took me by surprise, delivered lots of twists and turns, which every thriller should. Highly recommend it.

******

Today I took the dog to my friend's place, who lives by the beach and went for an hour and a half walk with my friend and her 5yo son, was a really lovely morning Smile

*******

And finally, my last piece of news of what has been going on in my life lately - B's 40th party. We didn't know what we were going to do for it, and B was ummming and ahhhing, and thinking of perhaps going away on a holiday instead. It looks like we will most likely have the party. I have no idea how many people will come - the list we drew up was 88 in total but some people live interstate, and it is likely that they won't be able to come. We're looking at having it at our house (there'll be a fair bit of work there) and B said to just do finger food, but we thought we will also check out catering. The caterer we used for my 30th now has a website (um my 30th was quite a few years ago now!) and their prices look reasonable - $15.90 per adult for 3 meats, 4 salads & 3 desserts, $11.90 per child.

We're thinking of going with the catering option (I can't see myself handling the food for 88 people maximum singlehanded!), and providing the alcohol also. (More calculations required there).

The party is exactly 2 months away (on a Saturday) so we need to do proper calculations (especially for the alcohol portion!), prepare invitations this weekend and book the caterer. I hope we go ahead with it, I'm starting to get excited! I already have various ideas going through my head.

Financially it will probably be a stretch, but I think once we start to have concrete estimations of price we will be more motivated to save whatever we have towards the party, especially as it's only 2 months away. If we go ahead with the party, the 50 week challenge will still be proceeding as normal, but I will be putting the Banking the Difference challenge on hold for the 2 months while we are saving for the party instead.

Challenges Week 14 & bits and pieces

April 19th, 2015 at 09:02 am

As always, the 52 week challenge debits got paid. I was a bit busy during the week so didn't get around to paying bills until just now (I usually do this Wed/Thursday).

This week's bill savings were $133.27, from the following places:
- business insurance $9.68
- my phone $55.45 (thank you $30 plan!)
- animal registrations $7.50 (our cat has a reduced fee to due to her age now- lower price for animals over 10 years old)
- train ticket savings $60.64

Other stuff that went on:

I went to the dentist for the first time in 4 years, due to a chip on one of my fillings. Amazingly, that was my only problem (I'm strict with brushing, flossing & mouthwash). So a clean, polish & filling patch up was $270. I'm pretty happy that there was only 10 minutes of physical pain and, while $270 sounds a lot, over 4 years it works out to $67.50 per year. Not bad.

We are starting to plan B's 40th, which is 4 months away, and saved our first $100 towards it. While we're not sure how many people will be there, we do want to pay for food and alcohol. (We're not sure what type as yet though, that is negotiable)

We had some friends over from dinner last night that we hadn't seen since January, so was a lovely catch-up. We decided to do a last BBQ of the season. All up $60, however we put leftover meat in the freezer and are eating salads again tonight.

Today I went for a swim first thing, then went to the shops and spent some of my birthday vouchers- I got a pair of winter pajamas for $20, and my friends got me a Rebel sport voucher worth $150, so I got a nice tracksuit worth $130. Was great spending money that wasn't my own for once! (or our own I should say)

Then we went "camping shopping" eg getting things for our camper trailer. Today we ended up replacing my broken chair. We got a good chair worth $140 for $70, which I was very happy with.... If you are sitting around a campfire all night, a good chair is something that is money well spent. This chair is fairly straight with padding, I think it's a bit better for your back.

Food shopping wasn't too too bad at $120, however I pretty much got the bare minimum. Tonight we are having steak & salad, tomorrow ham, cheese & mushroom omelette, Tuesday pork & vegies, Wednesday & Thursday meatballs with tomato risoni (new meal, however looks like I can stretch to 2 nights).

Time to cook tea & then catch on blogs. Hope y'all had a lovely weekend!

Challenges Tally Month 3

April 16th, 2015 at 07:55 am

Today it is exactly 3 months since I started the challenges, so it's time to note down the progress for a quarter of the year!

For month 3 of the 52 week challenge, approximately $1,381.00 has been saved/repaid against the various places.

For month 3 of the Banking The Difference challenge approximately $1,563.75 has been saved/repaid against the various places.

For both a total of $2,944.75 has been saved/repaid. Total current goal $5512 + $1,563.75 = $7,075.75. This makes progress of having saved 41.62% of the total goal (if there was no more banking the difference for the rest of the year and we just stuck to the 52 week challenge).

The result so far for each account / card is:
EF = $1,545.23 saved
CC 1 = $462.96 repaid
CC 2 = $489.56 repaid
Mortgage = $447 saved

It's great to see some results, now it's just a matter of not getting too complacent. It still looks like we kind of have a mini-EF now which is good. Credit card debt at the start of the challenge was $9.1k and is now just under $8.2k, so is moving further away from the $10k mark (which to me is scary). Mortgage $127k (we'll tackle the savings and credit card debt first).

Challenges Week 13 & money to repay CC

April 12th, 2015 at 10:26 am

Week 13 of the challenges has been a huge week. Not so much for the challenges, but more because tomorrow is my birthday and we have been celebrating all weekend. Currently we're winding down in preparation for the work week, so I thought I'd create an entry while we have some downtime.

Of the 52wk challenges, the EF is now creeping up to $1000, will be nice when it hits it!

Of the banking the difference challenge, my team St Kilda won the football by 28 points, so $28 will be transferred to the EF. Yay!

After Easter, a heavy workload at work and going out to our niece's birthday on Thursday night, I was glad that I thought ahead and decided that this birthday would be a quiet one. When we have parties with all our families, mine & B's, a birthday celebration becomes not only expensive but a lot of work. Before Easter I decided that as my birthday is not a special year, all I want to do is go out with my friends on Saturday night, and have my family over for afternoon tea on Sunday. B also came out with my friends, amazingly he was ok with being the only male, was very proud of him.

For my friends I decided to do nibbles platters plus put on some frozen food (mini-quiches, sausage rolls, spring rolls etc), and for my family, nibbles platters. So I decided when shopping to look for buy 2 get discounts deals. For celebrations I buy mostly brand name food. It's a celebration so I allow leeway in the budget to enjoy the nicer things. $111 in total, $10 was for grocery items however. Didn't have cash or money in checking, so used CC & need to repay tomorrow when I log into Internet banking.

Got my hair done, this was $95, paid cash.

Bought petrol & am hoping to stretch this for 3 weeks (fingers crossed), $50, which needs to be repaid back to CC.
Bought alcohol & am hoping to stretch that to 3 weeks too, $47.48, this needs to be repaid back to CC too.

So in total, I need to transfer back $209 back to CC tomorrow (rounded it up slightly), and $28 to EF.

We didn't go out until 10.30 so only had a few drinks, $65 was spent.

Had such a lovely time with friends and family! I'm glad that I decided not to do anything huge, because I had a great time, am relaxed and feel like I'm glowing! I love the people in my world Smile

Money Mindfulness

April 10th, 2015 at 07:58 am

There is a quote I see quite often which is "the price of anything is the amount of life you pay for it".

Today my boss emailed me my payslip and for some reason (maybe I just needed a mental break for a minute) as I opened it that quote popped into my head. So I spent a bit of time actually analysing it.

My pay period starts on the 1st of the month, I work 154 hours a month for a rate of $23.27 after tax. As this is the amount I receive in the bank, I am using this rate.

I guess by doing this exercise I want to appreciate what my time spent at work pays for. It has made me appreciate having a monthly pay, that's for sure!

So far I've worked out: I have to work for 22hrs to pay for my share of the mortgage (we don't split money but for the purpose of how long do I have to work to pay for that thing, I am splitting because I am only looking at my time spent), for example. I have a page on my iPad where I have jotted down things bought & the time needed to work to pay for it. High point is so far $156 has been saved, equal to 6hrs 40 mins of my 154 hrs. Low point is the car door lock we had to buy cost $180 equal to 7hrs 40 mins of my time Frown

I also just bought a bottle of wine for $10 which is just under half an hour of my time. Happy to say it's nice & well worth it!

52Week Challenge Wk 10

March 23rd, 2015 at 06:40 am

I wrote an entry yesterday and when I pressed "save & publish" it promptly disappeared. Maybe it's a good thing! I wasn't my usual self and was a bit cranky, so maybe I simply got to vent, let it all out and feel better without putting you all through my rant. (I feel better than yesterday).

We're now at week 10 and there's enough in the EF to consider it to be a mini-EF. I was thinking a mini-EF should be $1K per family member and readily accessible in a cash form, which means we're a bit over halfway there in that case. And then I was thinking the balance should be a maxi-EF which is saved/invested somewhere which earns a good return.

Checked the credit cards and my credit card stands at $5049 owing. Would love to bring that down to $4999 by 31 March. One more challenge payment will be made by then which will leave $29 to be made to reach that goal. If there are no more banking the difference payments I will pay the money. B's card stands at $3328 so we could also get that down to $3299. We'll see what happens within a week Smile

Challenges Tally Month 2

March 18th, 2015 at 10:12 am

Month 2 actually finished two days ago but I guess I've been busy and had other things on my mind. Now there's lot of money things to do, so need to get on it.

For month 2 of the 52 week challenge, approximately $957.00 has been saved/repaid against the various places.

For month 2 of the Banking The Difference challenge approximately $1,074.53 has been saved/repaid against the various places.

For both a total of $2,048.53 has been saved/repaid. Total current goal $5512 + $1,074.53 = $6,586.63. This makes progress of having saved 31.10% of the total goal.

The result so far for each account / card is:
EF = $1,087.97 saved
CC 1 = $301.78 repaid
CC 2 = $343.78 repaid
Mortgage = $298 saved

It's great to see some results! It looks like we kind of have a mini-EF now which is good. Credit card debt at the start of the challenge was $9.1k and is now just under $8.5k. Mortgage $127k (we'll tackle the savings and credit card debt first).

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

February 27th, 2015 at 06:53 am

By paying with gift cards.

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

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

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

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

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

Low Spend Week Day 2 First No

February 24th, 2015 at 06:34 am

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

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

B's Withholdings

February 18th, 2015 at 08:29 am

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

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

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

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

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

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


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