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Snowflakes Update

July 17th, 2016 at 03:17 pm

Challenge starting balance: $5,146.49
Plus:
- weekly EF savings $35.69
- football winnings $11.00
Challenge closing balance: $5,193.18

Last week the usual weekly EF savings of $35.69 got transferred over on Friday so that got added to the challenge balance.

As I am now not saving every spare dollar towards the holiday I am doing the same football challenge as last year. For every point my team (St Kilda) win by, a dollar will get added to the challenge and will go towards the holiday fund.

So last week my team won by 11. Then over the weekend they won again! This time by 36 points. That will be a nice snowflake. They have won 8 games so far this year so on the weekends that they lose I will backdate and add those wins to the challenge.

This brings the holiday fund in negative of $-481 now.

I am trying to post a bit more regularly so I hope to do small updates each day. We'll see how this goes! (And you never know I may finally upload my UK pictures to show you guys!)

Various Financial Transactions

July 7th, 2016 at 08:17 pm

Challenge starting balance: $4,932.01
Plus:
- March mortgage interest payment: $214.48
Challenge closing balance: $5,146.49

One of my 2016 goals was to pay no more than $300 per month interest. Looking back at the bank statement I can see that $548.48 interest was charged, leaving $248.48 to pay. Looking back at my March blog entries I can see that we paid $34.00 towards the interest charged. Therefore to match that goal I have transferred $214.48 onto the mortgage.

Also happy to see that I have now clicked over the $5k mark in the challenge Smile.

***

My lovely boss gave me a bonus of $1045 on the last day of work before my holiday. I transferred $102 onto my credit card (the overspent portion), $398 onto my credit card to be allocated against the dog's dental surgery (estimate has now been changed to $900-$1200) and $500 repaid to the holiday fund.

I also repaid $500 from our pay for this month against the holiday fund. Balance now owing is $492.00.

***

I knew I wanted to buy another 99 QBE shares by September (dividend payment time) to even it up to 300 shares. Due to the Brexit happenings our market has dropped and my shares have dropped significantly.

Therefore I have now bought 99 shares at a price of $10.39, total cost of the purchase was $1,048.56. Basically $1045 went into the account and $1048.56 came out, so not bad at all.

My average QBE purchase price is now $10.71, so I am down slightly there. The MXI shares owned are down heaps, hopefully one day they increase value again.

The EF breakdown will now be:
Mini EF: $2,636.28
Maxi EF: $3,584.25
Holiday Fund: $-492.00

All in all, $6,220.53 at this point in time.

***

I have dropped the dog off for her dental surgery and her physical shows that her heart, lungs and temperature are ok. They do blood tests before giving the anaesthesia also to check that everything is ok.

I just got a phone call from the vet that her blood test recorded a low white blood cell count which we need to get looked at in a couple of weeks.

And the happy news that she is ok!

They have said that 7 teeth were taken out, mostly the back ones. My poor baby. Hopefully she recovers well.

They changed the estimate from $900-$1200, so am interested to know what it will be. If she was in pain from the broken teeth then it is completely worth it for her to be pain free.

I'm Back From The UK Trip; Goals Checkup

July 7th, 2016 at 12:11 am

Challenge starting balance: $4,744.82
Plus:
- Fortnightly balance transfer repayment: $151.50
- Weekly EF savings: $35.69
Challenge closing balance: $4,932.01

Hi everybody, I'm back from the UK trip! Had a really lovely time, it was amazing. Saw so many cool things, had quite a few "wow" moments. It was so lovely to meet SG in Scotland, had a really nice lunch with her and her family and my friend.

I will upload pictures when B is around - I had problems doing it last time, so pictures will come soon.

My friend and her husband were such wonderful hosts, they took me to see so many places and made a really big effort to show me the UK side of life, especially food. I am so grateful to have been able to do this big trip.

They live in the middle of England so we checked out lots of castles, historic buildings and English gardens in their area; they took me to a place near Yorkshire where we stayed in a really nice caravan; we went to London for a couple of days and to Scotland for a couple of days.

Financially I only overspent by $102. They are pretty frugal so we cooked a lot of meals at home and mainly ate out on the weekend and when we were away in London and Scotland. My main expenses were meals when out, gifts and alcohol. I am currently staying sober for the rest of July to make up for it! In Australia we have a charity thing called Dry July, so while I am not entering it officially - I had a few drinks at the start of the month so can't - I am basically doing the same things as the people who enter it (except for raise money). I am now on Day 2.

I was lucky enough to have wifi so was able to speak to B pretty much every day. All the same I was very happy to come home! B said the cat was driving him crazy because she was meowing non stop. As soon as I got home I gave her lots of cuddles and it soon stopped. I guess this is her way of telling me I was gone too long!!

The dog decided that she was a daddy's girl and ignored me for the first night and day - now after feeding her and walking her, I am back in her good books and all is normal again.

Jet lag - all I can say is oh my god!!! Yesterday (my first full day back - I got back into Oz the night before) - I experienced a new level of tiredness I have never had!!! Even my bones ached and I was too tired to sit up. Today I don't feel wonderful but have more energy. All the same, I am going in the spa soon to try and help the aches. I guess if you sit mostly still for 27 hours you can expect a touch of pain.

It was still worth it though Smile

***

While I haven't been posting or commenting on the blogs, whenever I've had a chance I've lurked and even on holidays my mind was never truly off financial stuff.

I didn't track expenses for the entire month of June, simply set automatic transfers weekly for our spending money and B's credit card, and fortnightly transfers for my balance transfer repayment. I decided I liked having our spending money and B's credit card payment get deposited every Thursday so simply changed the weekly spending amount from $300 to $500 (being for both of us), and left B's credit card payment at $80 per week. I can simply look at the monthly budget and if something needs to be changed it is very easy.

Being halfway through the year I looked at my 2016 goals and realised that while I have saved just over $2000 into the EF, I have only realistically paid no more than $300 per month mortgage interest for the first two months of the year so need to work on that goal.

As a result I have adjusted the weekly EF savings from $71.02 down to $35.69 (being $3000 - $2072.10 / 26 weeks), and will be working more on the mortgage interest - will write more about that next week.

***

Back in March I took the dog to the vet for a checkup and they reported that she has two broken teeth and needs her teeth cleaned, with an estimated cost of $900-$1100. It never left my mind that I needed to get this done and as I have a day off work tomorrow (I don't start back until next week); I have booked her in to get the work done. As she is 13, I really really hope she will be ok. Cross your fingers for her.

Possibly My Only June Blog Entry

June 6th, 2016 at 05:06 am

Challenge starting balance: $4,378.78
Plus:
- Monthly balance transfer repayment: $303.00
- Mortgage repayment: $63.00
Challenge closing balance: $4,744.82

Realistically this will probably be my only blog post for June. I would love to write more often but it's crucial that I keep an eye on my energy levels when I'm this busy. I need to not forget stuff and I need to not get sick, so while I need to keep a close eye on the to-do list I also need to be strict with rest. Maybe I'll write some during this week, we'll see how we go.

In May we overspent by $416 which came out of the savings in the mortgage account. Because of all of the outflow I decided that just for one month I would stop the EF savings and sweep that money into the mortgage savings we dipped into instead.

So for June the only savings/debt repayment we'll be doing is $303 for the balance transfer and $63 for the mortgage. The balance transfer will be $917 and the mortgage will be $120,999!!!

I took a day off on Friday as work was quiet and I got to thinking about if B does do something on the walk-in robe he was planning and that I should probably do a major declutter of my clothes and things. I threw out 2/3 of my wardrobe!!! 1/3 was just old and worn to an inch of it's life so I threw that out and the other 1/3 will go to charity. These are generally wrong size clothes that did not get worn much so are in good condition.

There is a door at the other end of the wardrobe which goes through to another room so if B does anything while I'm gone it will only be sealing it up and plastering over it.

Thankfully the GBP has gone up! I transferred my last lot over to the travel money card and looked up the rate and to buy on the card it is about 0.475, which is better than 0.46. I was really worried it would drop even further but luckily it's gone up instead. Tomorrow I will buy so there is 750GBP and then will buy cash so there is 300GBP cash.

Financial transactions for today:

- Bought a Aus/UK electrical adaptor so I can charge phone, straightener etc $11.50
- Transferred $495 to the travel money card account so I can get 232GBP (currently 518 there)
- Paid $72 on my credit card- groceries were $89 and we had $72 cash. I have been eating down all of my food (me & B have different workday breakfasts, lunches & snacks) and have barely had to buy anything for me. Had to buy almond milk, apples and a chocolate bar! The rest of B's food and our dinner food, animal food and cleaning supplies. I was craving sushi last week and decided that instead of buying more lunch food I would eat mine down and buy sushi for lunch 2 days this week - we would have to spend this money anyway. Looking forward to sushi tomorrow!
- Had to pay my phone company $30, was not happy about this! They told me to pay $100 bond to activate global roaming which I did; as soon as the money hit the account they issued me with my monthly invoice which is not due until the 18th and promptly deducted the $30. Grrr. Had to quickly transfer in business hours so they can get it asap and activate it before I go.

Financial transactions done with, very much looking forward to visiting the land of the castles, cottages, cobblestoned streets and of course Scottish Girl!

New Computer Keyboard & Fortnightly Transactions

May 19th, 2016 at 05:16 am

Challenge starting balance: $4,040.78
Plus:
- 2 week's EF: $142.04
- 2 weeks balance transfer repayment: $151.50
- Mortgage repayment: $44.50
Challenge closing balance: $4,378.82

A while ago we replaced the batteries in the keyboard and it seemed to work fine until it died last night. We only replaced them last month so came to the conclusion that it was the keyboard that was the problem, not the batteries.

So today on my lunchbreak I got us a keyboard & mouse combo (upon B's request). I ended up buying a middle of the range Hewlett Packard set for $48, with the flat keys I've become accustomed to from work and really love now. Typing is a dream! Our previous keyboard was top of the range Logitech with buttons to instantly do this and that - go to the internet, open up a calculator etc. We never even used that stuff and they were priced at $100 which I felt was far too pricey. Feeling much better about $48 than $100.

***

Then got home tonight and B set it up for us, it is all working fine and have just now been able to do my favourite thing of the fortnight - money transfers. (This time it was my pay we received)

Logged into the EF and transferred $290 over as half holiday savings. The EF is now around $6k, so nice that this is the new normal. (Don't want to say anymore and jinx it). I actually received $10 Safeway everyday rewards last week and paid it against the amount owed from the holiday fund.

I am currently not fussed about repaying it back yet, will be fully into repaying this after the trip. I then transferred $360 to the travel money card account and also some to cash to buy GBP from the money exchange.

Paid $151.50 towards the balance transfer card - it would now be $1,068.50 - can't believe it was around $4250 back in July last year! Very happy about the progress.

Paid $44.50 against mortgage interest - our loan balance is now $121,498 - next month it will be $120,999!!! That is very exciting to be down into the next lot of numbers.

***

Other than that I have been recovering from my cold, it was actually pretty bad - I was sick for 6 days before I started feeling better. The last couple of months have been so hectic, especially the last couple of weeks with the major deadline I am now focusing on rebalancing. Less rush, more relaxation. I have not caught the early train one day this week and have been leaving pretty much on time. Went to the gym last night for the first time in a while. I'm just trying to get back to my more relaxed self.

Other news is B has been going well at his job and in one of their meetings today they were talking about employees who were doing well (the senior managers were speaking) and his name was one of the names mentioned which is great news. (They were talking about employees who looked likely to receive a bonus). Really nice to see that he's doing well and making a good impression Smile

$4K Reached; Travel Money Card Frustration

May 3rd, 2016 at 04:51 am

Challenge starting balance: $3,702.74
Plus:
- 2 week's EF: $142.04
- 2 weeks balance transfer repayment: $151.50
- Mortgage repayment: $44.50
Challenge closing balance: $4,040.78

B got paid on the 30th so have now made the fortnightly challenge payments; happy to say the challenge total has now hit $4k! It took just over 4 months to get here.

I decided to change the bank account our automatic EF savings gets withdrawn from to be from the account our pays go into; before it was in another account and I was always having to transfer money over there. Much easier.

I sent over the balance transfer to the bank - realised it was due by the 7th so thought I'd better hop to it. That card balance is now $1,220 and only four months to go; it's starting to get exciting. Did I used to pay credit card interest? It's now a distant memory, hasn't happened for nearly a year.

Mortgage interest that got charged last month was $589 and I realised that if we can just pay the $89, we will be under $121,500; should be $121,498. That was motivating so this pay we saved $44.50.

***

Now for the thing that is making me want to bang my head on the desk.... I got around to setting up my travel money card, they sent me out the cards and tonight I have activated the cards and had to set up a user name and password. It then asks you to choose two security questions and write the answers.

I thought I had the details of how to transfer the money to the card and realised I'd gotten something wrong, so had to log back in. (of course I'd logged out...). Type in the user name and password, and it gives me two completely security questions!!!

Aaaargh. I've now been locked out of it temporarily. I've possibly typed in a slightly different password I'm guessing (the user name is easy for me to remember). I'm annoyed at the moment because I was looking forward to sending over the money but I guess it will have to wait until tomorrow. Or until I have to speak to a banking operator.... Grrr, so annoyed. And possibly over-tired. Will need to revisit this later. (And get some zzz's now).

It's Been A While

April 20th, 2016 at 05:10 am

Challenge starting balance: $3,297.90
Plus:
- 2 week's EF: $142.04
- 2 weeks balance transfer repayment: $151.50
- Safeway everyday rewards: $30.00
- Maxitrans dividend: $21.00
- QBE dividend: $60.30
Challenge closing balance: $3,702.74


April is typically a very busy month. We have Easter plus my birthday plus another family birthday (niece) plus another public holiday, Anzac Day, which remembers Australian and New Zealand soldiers who fought in the First World War, plus work gets busy in the lead up to our annual major deadline (15 May- this year 16 because it's on the Monday.

So I've been doing lots and simply jotting down the spending etc in our spending app. Financial things have been plugging away.

I have put the previous two week before's EF savings in the challenge total. I also transferred 2 weeks balance transfer payment - finally got around to updating my credit card paydown spreadsheet. I received a statement on the weekend stating that $1432.10 is now owing, according to my spreadsheet by the middle of May I will owe $1220.00 on the progress payment. By the time I go to the UK I will be down to below $1000, so am looking forward to that.

Along with the busyness, we have been going away, celebrating my birthday, adjusting to a new budget and it hasn't been pretty. Yes there are snowflakes up there but I have had to withdraw $405 from the EF to be able to save the certain amount each fortnightly pay for the UK holiday.

I am hoping we can make up for our overspending in May and start to find balance again. I decided to withdraw some money from the EF each fortnight because I didn't think it was fair that B suffers because I am going on an expensive holiday, so was thinking I need to save $580 per fortnight so would withdraw $290 per fortnight to ease the burden a bit and repay it back over the next few months. Was not thrilled about withdrawing $405 though, that was higher than I would have liked. For repayment purposes I will have the Mini EF and the Maxi EF at their current balances with a negative balance in the holiday fund. As it gets repaid it will be adjusted.

***

Have done well with the Safeway Everyday rewards and was happy to get dividends from both the Maxitrans shares and the QBE shares.

With Maxitrans the purchase price was $614.25 and the dividend received was $21.00. The return on that is 3.42%. Unfortunately the value is $546.00, so while the return is more the value is now in negative of $68.25. Not great but I was not planning to buy more of these.

With QBE the overall purchase price was $2183.61 and the dividend received was $60.30. The return on that is 2.76% and the value currently is $2243.16, up $59.55.

So overall the outlay was $2,797.86 and the remaining amount is $2789.16, down $15.18 in total. The return from dividends was 2.91%. The loss of $15.18 is -0.54% from the balance, so 2.91% - 0.54% = 2.37% overall return.

It looks like my return is currently roughly the same as an average savings account. You can get up to 3.60% interest however there are clauses, ie it is an introductory period rate and will revert back down.

Currently I'm happy with the return, will have to see how things go in 6 months time when the dividends get paid again!

Quiet Weekend Planned; Holiday Purchases

April 7th, 2016 at 05:45 am

52 Week Challenge Opening Balance: $3,166.28
Plus:
- Weekly EF Savings $71.02
- Weekly credit card balance transfer repayment $60.60
52 Week Challenge Closing Balance: $3,297.90

I'm looking at buying a couple of Expedia activity vouchers so am thinking this weekend to keep everything very low-key to balance this.

The things I am looking at purchasing are tickets to go on The Eye with skip the line ($54pp) and tickets to spend the day at the Tower of London, the Crown Jewels and they have a beefeater tour ($43pp). When we (my UK friend and I) buy vouchers we buy for each other too, so I will be buying two of each thing. As this is around $200, I've decided that these will be my April purchases to cash flow.

My friend is getting the hop on hop off bus tickets and she is getting cheap accommodation to a surprise place - either Wales, Cornwall, Devon or Yorkshire - through some accommodation chain she is a member of. She is booking this for my last week and asked if I wanted the location to be a surprise. At first I was too excited so wanted to know whenever she booked, but now I think the surprise will be fun; so told her not to tell me.

All so very exciting!

As a result I want the weekend to be super quiet. I have to get my hair done, go to an inlaws birthday for lunch and that's about all I want to do! I know what the cost of hair will be; have set it aside. Hoping lunch will be cheap. I'd like to rent some DVDs ($7), get a couple of bottles of wine ($15 max in total) and make a nice dessert (up to $10 depending on ingredients needed).

Growing up my mother was a wonderful cook, we were spoilt. She used to make really nice desserts- rhubarb crumble, bread and butter pudding, chocolate pudding, rice pudding, and I can't remember the last time I ate anything like that, have been craving it. I saw a recipe for apple and peach crumble, so am looking forward to making it.

I'd also like to get our printer working again and spend some time on Sunday tidying up the study, downloading apple updates, printing off various holiday documents (as long as the printer ends up working!).

Hope you all have a lovely weekend!