Showing posts with label budgeting. Show all posts
Showing posts with label budgeting. Show all posts


Making Tea


When we think about making tea, we immediately think of the brand, the bag, the pot. 

We are so conditioned to associate an item with a brand first and foremost. 

I can still recall jingles about tea bags from my childhood..... and that is frightening. Where is this data stored in my brain for all these decades ? 

Did you know that gresh spices make a lovely tea ? They are the same spices that I often use in cooking and you can buy them in bulk. 

For a refreshing tea, the basis would be coriander, fennel and cumin seeds, however, I like to 'spice mine up a little. 

I like to add some cardamom pods (broken open) and some cinnamon stick. I also add some mulberries from the freezer from last year's surplus. I like to call the tea ' Mulberry Spice'. 

You can make enough for a week or so by putting those ingrediatents into a dry jar. Don't woryy about quanities.... just find your own taste and change it up as you like. 

I have a little jar that I fill when I am travelling. 

I have a little tea strainer ball that cost me $1.00! I also use an old inside of a tea pot... or if you like, why not make the pot! 

The point is, it's straight from the jar.... sooooooo cost effective, no packaging (after the bulk purchase) and you can change it to suit the season and your taste. 

It is the perfect ritual to start the day with.... to sip slowly.... to be at peace..... THEN, you can dive into the coffee and the crazxy world. 


Working with a cash budget (repost)

Over the years we have tried many different methods for controlling our spending and working on a budget. By far the most successful method for us is to work in cash. I have worked out what we need each week and I withdraw that amount of money.

The following are our ' cash categories'.

Scarlet Ribbon ( clothing shoes etc)
Kids Banking

You can see in the photo that I use resealable plastic bags with the category and the amount written on it. Each week I go to the bank or post office and I have a little card in my wallet that says " 3x $50, 4 x $10 etc and get the exact breakdown. When I come home I give the cash to our young sons and they go through and put the amounts into the bags. Then, when we want to do something like hire a DVD or buy a present etc, we just go to the appropriate bag.

Having the money in cash is great for a couple of reasons. When you have cash in your wallet you are much more careful about spending it. My sons have also learnt the value of money because they control it. We are also empowered by the fact that we have money in advance for needs that may arise.

I call one category 'scarlet ribbon' because of the proverbs 31 woman who has no fear for her household for when the winter snows come her household is clothed in scarlet. It is a very old proverb but one that has always stuck with me.

I have also calculated how much we require for bills. You can do this by looking at what your bills are over a year and dividing the amount by 52 or 26 depending on when you get paid. Then I transfer that amount into an account we use for bill paying.

So.... what do you do when you finally sit down and add it all up and the results are frightening ? When I did this the first time I was totally shocked at our living expenses. Son number one was about 12 months old and I was faced with the prospect of going back to work. I was a school teacher then and was going back to work just two days per week. I hated the thought of it! So, we sat down and worked through everything in a huge amount of detail. I called it my " Plug the holes audit". By this, I meant that I thought the ship ( our house) would sink by the little holes that were in it, not the gaping big holes. So I set about saving money on little things, $2 here, $1 there. I changed phone plans, shopped for cheaper insurance, worked out a price book to track specials and calculate unit pricing, worked a cash budget etc etc. The results were amazing and I gave up teaching at the end of that year.

I often hear people talking about how difficult it is to make ends meet ( while they are watching pay TV and smoking and eating take away food). My answer is to be totally honest with yourself and live within your means. Take control of your money so it doesn't control you. It is such a wonderful feeling to jump in the car and go for a holiday with the freedom of knowing that you have the cash for it all and you won't have to face the credit card bill when the holiday is over.

If you can't be bothered with the hassle of micro-managing it all then you will need to be happy with staying in debt and having no money and having lots of stress. The choice is yours to make, so which path will you choose ?


Time For A New Budget

It is coming up to the end of the financial year and time to do up a new budget.

Budgets always need adjusting, they change as family needs or incomes change. As your budget evolves you may notice that you have more than enough income in one category, but are always running out of funds in another category. As seasons change you may have different expenses. In our household winter sports and less water skiing means that one category goes up while another comes down.

I never view a budget as a negative thing. I think it is one of the most powerful tools that a family can use in order to bring peace to a household. Involving your children in the family budget is also a great way to teach them how to save and use their money. My boys have learnt the value of money, for example, if they are putting $15 a week in a particular category then they know how long it takes to save $90. If we want to do something on a weekend they look in the ‘entertainment’ envelope and can make decisions about whether we can order a pizza or go bowling and eat out. There is very little nagging or squabbling because they understand the process.

As my regular readers know, I work with a cash budget because this system works really well for me. I have read about people who budget using a credit card and virtual envelopes and that works extremely well for them. The secret is finding a system that ‘honestly’ works for you. Because of the state of financial markets I am considering parking the ‘savings’ type categories into my no fee investment account to maximise the interest ( a whole 3.5%). If I do this, I will still break it up into ‘virtual’ envelopes so that I know what is what and so I don’t start spending savings amounts or spending bills money by buying clothing. Having said that, the majority of my categories will be cash based. Things like groceries, fuel, pocket money, kids sport, entertainment etc work best if they are in cash for us.

Is your budget constantly changing? Have you noticed that it changes as the seasons change ? Do you successfully budget with ‘virtual’ categories ? I’d love to hear from you.


My Grandmother's Money Tin

This is the tin that my Grandmother used to organise her bills. Inside, she had an old tray that she labeled with the names of the bills she had to pay. She would then put a little money aside into each category. Simple isn't it ?

She also gave me a collection of the old paper money that Australia used to have. It looks very different to the plastic money we have these days. We also no longer have a one or two dollar note. They became coins in the mid 80s.

Hubbie and I were discussing how we used to have pay envelopes that had 'actual' money in them with a hand written pay slip. Hubbie remembers keeping so much of it for 'spending' and then banking a portion of it, using his bank book. He said you would put the money in your bank book and put it through a little slot like a slippery dip and the teller would process it and call your name to come and collect your bank book.

Very different to our world today of 'virtual' money. Today you can go to work, get paid straight into your bank account, pay for things straight put of your bank account and never actually 'see' your money. In fact you can work for years and have no idea of how you are actually going. Sure, we get pieces of paper that tell us how we are going, but how many people sit down and add up this account and that account to see whether they are getting ahead, treading water or sinking fast!

Gee times have changed. Have they changed for the better for us as consumers? After all, this 'virtual' money was sold to us on the basis of how convenient it would all be. I am guessing, however, that you and I are not the winners in this new system.

I wonder how we would protect and guard our money if we were given it in a little brown envelope and told 'that has to last you the week, so be careful with it'.


I'm Taking My Sanity Out To A Movie

After reading one of Anita Bell’s personal finance book I introduced the idea of sanity money to the household. This is an amount of money that is allocated to you personally that you are allowed to do anything you like with. When you first start budgeting and you find it quite restrictive, you may allocate yourself an amount of sanity money that, whilst being restrictive, you can actually live with.

Over the years, my sanity money has dropped down to $10 per week. It seems I have weaned myself off buying things to make myself feel better or feel less deprived. I often don’t spend all of my sanity money and have some ‘carry over’ amounts which build up. Other weeks I blow it all on my addiction, - my signature vanilla latte on skim. The more I space these coffees, however, the more divine they are to sit and sip.

It’s important that you have sanity money, for without it you go mad! You start buying things willy nilly because you are not allowed to. When you are given an amount to simply blow on magazines, lottery tickets, coffee, wine or cigarettes you find you are a little more careful with it.

I keep mine in this ridiculously small old style purse. It reminds me of one my Nanna F had, before the days when you have to carry around 125 different plastic cards. The purse is so tiny I can’t even fit a credit card in it ( he he he I am outwitting myself! ) But it’s MINE! All MINE!!!! ( I say as I rub my hands together evilly) My other ‘sensible’ mother type purse has all the cards, library cards and all the household money for when I am shopping, putting fuel in the car etc.

So tonight I’m taking out my ridiculously small purse and I’m blowin the lot! ( she says now, but will probably be rather conservative when it comes to the crunch) I’m taking my sanity out to a movie with a girlfriend and will probably then paint the town red ( meaning will most likely have a hot chocolate after the movie) so…. Look out…… I’m gonna kick up my heels!


Slash Your Grocery Bill Immediately

The easiest way to drastically reduce your grocery bill is to avoid the cleaning and non- food aisles. When I think about the layout of my local supermarket I could easily spend one third of my budget on cleaning and 'lifestyle' products before I even get to the food section. As I stroll down the aisles I first come across the pet food then toilet papers and glad wrap, foil , plastic bags etc. When I think of alternatives I can use my plastic containers instead of plastic wrap and foil and also use them to replace those sealable bags. I am not ready for the 'cloth wipe' era that seems to be sweeping the green bloggers in the US, so yes I will put toilet paper in my trolley.
In the next aisle I see batteries, fly sprays, cockroach baits, toilet cleaners, disinfectants, air fresheners, bathroom cleaners, kitchen cleaners, carpet cleaners, stain removers, washing powders, ironing spray and cleaning cloths . Hmmmmm I think to myself - if I use rechargeable batteries, keep the doors closed and use a fly swatter, use my Grandmother's recipe for getting rid of cockroaches, clean the bathroom with bi carb and vinegar, use my Enjo and home made cleaning cloth, and spray my ironing with a fine mist of water - I will never have to go down that aisle again.
I think to myself, if it wasn't for advertising, I wouldn't even realise that I NEEDED these products.
My point is this, a lot of what you buy at the grocery store you don't really NEED. You could spend $40 or more without having a thing to eat in your trolley. If you are trying to reduce expenditure, then prioritise your list and shop in order of importance. Start with essential food items like your staples and fruit and veg and forget the non food items (except the TP of course!)
I saw an ironing aide spray for $4.67 this week. Considering that I made a lasagne yesterday from scratch that fed us last night and tonight plus enough for lunches as well for about this price, I can't really justify the cost of the product for that cost.
I went through my master grocery list and wrote an alternative to most things on the list. It was really quite easy once I put my 1940s hat on. There are now so many aisles in the supermarket that you don't need to venture down.
The choice is always yours of course to spend what you like, but if you are having trouble coping with increasing prices, try the concept of shopping in order of importance or going without the cleaning and lifestyle products and see if it makes much difference to your bill. It has really changed ours! Let me know how you go!


Detailing A Simple Life - our budget

I have been getting more and more emails asking for assistance in the areas of simple living, home management and budgeting. It gives me great joy to know that my writing is actually assisting you! Please keep the emails coming. I try and address them with detailed responses, just be aware that sometimes it takes me a couple of days to get through them all. I will also try and give more specific details in each of the posts I create.

In return, I ask that if you gain some benefit from my writing you put a link on your blog or send all your friends a link to the site and ask them to tell their friends!

At the moment I have turned my mind towards tightening our budget. I think it is because of all the news coverage about the current financial climate. I really feel for small businesses who are the first to suffer when there is less work around for people. It is okay for us to say we will cut out non-essentials like coffees, magazines, restaurant meals etc - but what if you are the owner of the restaurant, coffee shop or news agent who has to put food on your table. It really is hard, because the truth is, that in difficult times it becomes a case of 'everyman for themselves', meaning, if I don't have extra money to spend I am not going to eat at your cafe. The good thing is that the economy works in cycles, we just need to ride out this downturn.

So if I can't help you by spending money at your cafe, the only thing I can do is, as I have said before, swap you spinach for eggs, or jam for beans. This is the great Australian way - swapping the pickles over the back fence. We just need to re-establish these traditions.

I have just re-done our family budget again. Partly because I want to reduce it and partly because it changes every season because of changes to our entertainment and eating habits.

As my regular readers know I am an envelope girl. I have little bags for each area where money is required and withdraw the correct denominations of cash each week. Recently I have changed this from plastic bags to a little mini accordion file with labelled compartments.

I include not only amounts that I know we spend each week like food, fuel, entertainment but also include seasonal categories like clothing, holidays, Christmas birthdays. Whenever we need something I just go to that category and pull out the cash. This really works for us and it gives me tremendous joy knowing that we always have the money there for things that we need or if we want to go and do something as a family. There are from time to time expenses that I haven't thought of but because I have been doing it for many years I have it pretty well worked out.

Hubbie needed new shoes today ( I have begged him for weeks to replace his ones that were just about needing sticky tape!) and he was able to go and get the cash out of the folder. Number One son has a birthday party to go to on Saturday and I know that there is money there for a present. If the kids bring home a school excursion note or we want to hire a movie or go out for tea, the money is there. We don't have to worry about the guilt of knowing that we can't afford it but stick it on the credit card anyway to worry about "later".

We now allocate $365 per week, down from $449. The categories are:






Clothing/ hair

boat fuel



pocket money

sanity money

kids banking.

This is separate to the amount I have for bills and savings. I always take savings out first and have a bills amount worked out by adding them all up over the year and dividing by 52.


The kids pocket money is $5 per week. They use it to buy treats and save up for things.

The sanity money is $10 each that Hubbie and I have that we just blow or save or whatever we feel like. I allocate $150 per week for groceries but never spend that much. I usually spend under $100. I collect the extra money and blow it in holiday times or when we have visitors or at Christmas time etc. Sometimes I have to buy things out of that amount if they breakdown, like a toaster or something.

I love having Christmas already paid for. I love having our yearly resort holiday already paid for. There is great peace.

Having cash on hand is extremely powerful. I love the concept of poverty by choice. I like shopping knowing that I have a set amount in my pocket. It makes me really consider each purchase.

Are you a cash person ? Or do you have some other fabulous way of staying within your budget ? Do share !


Emergency Fund - but how ?

Every where you look there is talk of economic down turn. The news today is that there are predictions that there will be about 200,000 jobs lost in the next 12 months. I am wondering how you will weather the storm. will you be okay ? Do you live paycheck to paycheck ? Do you have an emergency fund? If you lost your job, do you know how long you could survive without an income ?
How can you start or add to your emergency fund ? I think the very first area to look at whenever you need to find some funds fast is your grocery bill. A few changes to meals and cooking habits or switching brands can result in huge savings. It is a question of what you are willing to forgo in order to have financial peace. I am a big believer in small things that make the difference. Everyone dismisses the smaller purchases as "just $2" here and there, but these purchases add up to hundreds of dollars every year. Even a saving of $25 per week can equal $1300 per year. The trick is to physically put the money somewhere. A bank account with no fees and high interest is good, or you can always stick it in a sock in your undies drawer!

There has been much talk comparing the 'recession' of today to the Great Depression. I have always believed that the true state of the current economic times is concealed somewhat by the availability of credit cards. If we all worked in cash the true problem would be much harder to mask, because people would literally have no money to pay for things.

I constantly think of my Grandmother telling me that they rode out the Depression quite well. She says that because they had their own fruit and vegies and had their own meat they were somewhat insulated by true hard times.

I think if there was a true Depression this time around it would have a tremendous impact on our families. My reason for this is that there is an incredible lack of skills now. I am 36 years old and my friends and I comment that we are the first generation who's mothers burnt their bras and went to work ( and yes I realise how much I am generalising here). As a result we did not learn many of the skills that have been handed down from generation to generation for hundreds of years. Now, even baking batch of cookies is beyond the ability or interest of most mums my age. I do agree that there is a growing group of frugal, green blogging mums, but generally speaking no-one cooks! There are very few people that I know that sew, except those brilliant quilt makers that learnt this fantastic hobby. I would bravely suggest that most mums don't even sew a button back on !

We could insulate ourselves somewhat by becoming more self sufficient and think in a cooperative manner e.g. I will trade you my spinach for a few of your eggs. Actually having someone 'working the home' often results in more savings than if both parents work and spend the majority of the second wage on child care and convenience products!

If one parent in the family decides to stay home and look after young children and run the house it can be a huge money saver, but you must have skills. Cooking and gardening would have to be the two most important ones.

If you can't cook - google it !!! That's the extent of my advice. You can find detailed sites that show you photo by photo how to do basic things. You can borrow books from the library or tune in to a cooking show. There is nothing stopping you.

When it comes to gardening my best advice is to just try it. Once again google it or borrow a book and take one small step at a time. A good place to start is with sprouts on the window sill. Then venture into some herbs in pots. Even a small balcony can grow some tomatoes, lettuce and carrots in pots!

Many of the answers to today's problems lie in the old fashioned ways. Think like it's 1940 and you will reap huge rewards in health, finances and of course the joy factor !


There's More To Life Than Money ?

There’s more to life than money. We hear that saying all the time but for many people money is at the centre of their existence and I believe, rightly so.

If you are thirsty and dehydrated you can think of nothing but water. If you are starving you can think of nothing but food. So it is right to think that when you are out of money or you have money troubles then that is all you can think of.

Poor money management creates tremendous stress. There is stress because of guilty feelings of over spending. There is stress not knowing how bills will be paid for. There is stress in knowing that you are going backwards. This stress is often the basis of many disputes and marriage break ups.

The only way out is to WAKE UP from the CONSUMER NIGHTMARE.

If you are unhappy with your present financial circumstances then you must make changes to your relationship with money or things will not improve or they will get worse.

1. WORK OUT WHERE YOU ARE FINANCIALLY – list everything you have and everything you owe. A total clean sweep – right down to that 10c on your bedside table and the 20c coin in the glove box of your car. Gather it all up and FACE YOUR FINANCIAL TRUTH.

2. LOOK AT WHAT YOU HAVE – If you are in debt, look around your home and ask yourself ‘was it worth it’. I remember seeing a TV programme once where a finance expert was in someone’s home and they opened up the storage cupboard and just started counting - $30, $25, $75 etc as they were pointing to board games, hairdryers, DVD collections, toys etc. How much of your money is just sitting around in cupboards. It’s a VERY scary thought.

3. THINK ABOUT WHAT YOU NOW DON’T HAVE: Think about this- if you have a mortgage and you haven’t paid it off in ten years, ask yourself where that money went that could have been used for extra repayments. The answer is – thrown out! You have spent thousands of dollars that could have got you out of debt on things that you have bought and thrown away. How many clothes do you have that are more than 5 years old ? We buy them then they go out of fashion and we throw them away. We also buy popcorn makers and electric slippers, music CDs, storage baskets, doona covers, computers, TVs, lounge suites. We have them for a while and then they become old, boring and unfashionable…. So we buy new ones. So instead of now being debt free, we accidentally spent the money that we could have put towards extra repayments on …… things that we thought were good at the time.

4. KNOW THE TRICKS OF THE TRADE: Advertising is seduction. The sooner you understand this, the better you and your money will get on together. Don’t believe what you see. No face cream will make you look younger, no car will improve your life, no office furniture will increase your income. What will really make you feel great is being financially free, having positive relationships and finding your ‘JOY FACTOR’ – that is, something that truly gives you joy in life. Think about why companies offer - BUY NOW PAY LATER type deals. It is because they know that the majority of people don’t pay on time and they will make extra profits.

5. IF YOU HAVE A POOR TRACK RECORD, DON’T TRUST YOURSELF: I have heard people say, I can’t carry cash because I just spend it. In my experience it is a lot harder to part with cash knowing that you only have $30 in your wallet than it is to hand over your credit card and convince yourself that this is a justifiable one off purchase that you will definitely pay off at the end of the month. BE REAL – carry cash and be creative about not using it.

6.BE HONEST WITH YOURSELF: We get into trouble with money because we are lying to ourselves. We won’t accept the cold hard truth that we cannot live our current lifestyle on our current income. It’s as simple as that. If we were HONEST we would think differently about how we spend.

7. RECOGNISE THAT RECREATIONAL BUYING GIVES A SHORT TERM BUZZ: - Sure, it’s exciting when you bring something home from the shops but the buzz wears off, sometimes too quickly and you have to buy something else to get that sense of excitement. – If it were any other substance you were abusing it would be called a drug addiction !

8. START IMAGINING A BETTER WORLD Day dream about what your life would be like if you were debt free. Would it mean that you could take holidays, real, soul renewing holidays. Would it mean that one of the parents could ‘come home’. Would it mean that both parents could work part time. Would it mean that you could stop working to pay for debt and start working in an area that you are passionate about that may mean a lesser salary. Would it mean that you could leave work all together and work for yourself, create your own income or do volunteer work ?

9. WHAT ARE YOU WILLING TO TRADE YOUR TIME FOR: If you are working to create income, then everything you buy you have worked for. If your hourly rate is $30 then to buy a $60 pair of jeans you have to work two hours. You may be quite willing to do that. Ask yourself, however, whether you are willing to pay for other things – Are you prepared to work 20 hours per year to pay for cleaning products that you simply pour down the toilet or the sink ? If not, use vinegar and bi-carb. Are you willing to work 26 hours a year to pay for a subscription TV service that you miss most of the time anyway. If not, borrow DVDs from your local library. What about working 40 hours just to pay for the finance charges on your credit card which are in addition to working to pay for the things that you purchased that created the finance and interest charges. Maybe the answer to some of these questions might be ‘yes’ but it’s worth asking the question.

10. PLUG THE HOLES AUDIT: Go through all your bank statements, receipts, bills etc and see where your money goes. Don’t dismiss any small amounts. If you seriously want to make some changes then plug the holes in your ship. The small holes draining away your potential savings could sink your ship. Look at every option and try to work about how to save $5 here and there. You might find cheaper house insurance that cuts $10 a month off your bill, what about grocery savings by menu planning and shopping with a list, what about using cash only when you’re out. How about driving less or changing brands of deodorant, bread or internet provider. There are THOUSANDS of hints and tips waiting for you out there when you are ready to make the change.

THE RESULTS: Having your family budget under control means that you have freedom. You can sleep at night without financial stress. You can spend freely, knowing that you have amounts in spending categories already there in your money tin when needed. If the kids have an excursion, need new shoes, are going to a birthday party or are playing sport, you can be confident that there is money to cover it. You know that planning your meals and squeezing your grocery budget is worth it for the end of year holiday that you have each year. When you have the money aspect of your life under control it frees you up to think about chasing your joy and living a more sustainable, family centered life.


Making Money - The Entrepenuer in Me.

There is always a lot of talk about saving money. However, even after you have squeezed every last cent out of the budget there are things that have to be paid for - rates, electricity, petrol (!!)

As most of my readers know, I work completely in cash. Each week I withdraw the exact amount I need in the correct denominations. I put it away into categories for times when I need it. Whether the kids need new clothes or we are going on holidays or hiring a DVD - we always have the money there for it. If we don't have the money we don't do it! It is truly wonderful to know that it is only April and your 'Christmas' bag has lots of $20 notes in it already. It brings peace.

My question today, however, is what do you do currently or have you done in the past to bring money into your home. I don't mean your day job if you have one, I mean those extra entrepreneurial things that we often think up. I will start......

1. Tutoring kids
2. Teaching piano
3. Restoring photographs
4. babysitting
5. Teaching Scrapbooking
6. Writing people's life stories.
7. Selling on Ebay
8. Garage sales
9. Selling at 2nd hand stores
10. Markets

I love how in days gone by people made their own money. Lots of people worked for themselves. Small towns and villages had the local butcher baker and candlestick maker. Today we tend to think that we either have a job or we don't. Or that if we're only making a few dollars then it's not 'worth it'.

When you generate your own money - even if it's only $20, you have the satisfaction of knowing that therein lies a few cartons of milk, some fruit and veg and eggs!

So...... the question is over to you: How have you generated income yourself, or what would you love to do if you knew you couldn't fail or you had all the time you needed ?
Post your reply in the comments section or send me an email and I will put together a list for everyone to enjoy. If you would like to tag some friends to participate simply paste the link to this post into their comments section and ask them to post here.

To get started I am tagging:



Never under estimate that one man's trash is another man's treasure.

Because of all the rain, I started having another clean out and listed some items on Ebay. I listed the DVD of "All The Rivers Run" an ABC series.

I listed it for $11 thinking that was a reasonable price for the whole series. It currently sits at $81 dollars!!!!! Holy Dooley !!! That is absolutely incredible.

Is there something that someone isn't telling me ? Why is it such an incredible price ?


Fuel Prices Starting to Heat Up..... $190 later.

I have posted before about my interest in Peak Oil and how it will impact fuel prices and the flow on effect for basically every product on the planet.

Yesterday I really FELT it!

When I was driving the 7.5 km to work I noticed that the fuel price at the United fuel station was $136.7 ( for the green fuel that I use) while across the road at the Coles Service Station it was $1.47. I suddenly remembered hearing on the ABC news the night before that fuel prices were meant to go to $1.50 for Easter and that fuel had hit a $108 US a barrel. I also remembered that this particular fuel station was often the last one to put up their prices.

I did a quick U -Turn and filled the car up, at the same time calling and texting everyone I thought would be interested to fill up before the price hike. I note that earlier in the week the price had already jumped 9 cents a litre.

So... I filled up my car ($70 gulp~!!) and hubbie filled up his ( $120 ~gulp gulp!!!). Sure enough, on the way home I noticed that it was $1.47. That is a TWENTY CENT LEAP IN SEVEN DAYS !!!!

At present, I budget $30 for my car and $20 for hubbies car a week ( just dropped hubbie's from $30) I can tell you that $20 at this rate is just JZZZZZTTTTTTT click ! ( meaning it takes NO time at all before you hit 20 bucks !

So..... what to do. I could walk or ride to work... but it's always about time. Hubbie walked to town today to pick up his new pushbike because he had ridden the other one into the ground, literally, the axel broke beyond repair and he already rebuilt it once. It took him one hour and 10 minutes. I just don't have that at the start and end of each day. In a couple of weeks it will be dark when I walk home and there are sections that are just road, with no houses and no street lights. I live in a little town, outside a bigger regional centre. He rode the bike home which took about 20 minutes ( he is much fitter than I am. It would probably take me 45mins)

I could ride my bike, something I would really aspire to do. Logistically this is messy. I am a professional. I wear suits. Can I scrunch the suit into a backpack ? Can I shower at work ? Can I cart make - up? Can I do my hair at work ? I know, I know. Dump the societal expectations and not wear make up and don't do your hair. Unfortunately, the clothes maketh the man in my game, or should I say, the suit, hair and make up maketh the woman in a man's world ! LOL

Hmmmmm...... thoughts anyone ? ?


The Stockpile

After a successful shopping trip on Monday the stockpile is up and running again. If you haven't heard of this concept before, my aim is to have enough 'stores' built up in my cupboard that I only purchase things when they are on special.

I have been doing this for so long now that I have a sense of the rotation of the specials, that is, that Vegemite may come on sale every five weeks and during that time my family will use 3 jars so when it comes on special I will buy 4 jars to cover it.

If you're just starting out, take a percentage of your grocery money and use it to build up your stockpile. Each week you can devote more money to the specials and then you are left with a base line of weekly things that need to be purchased. If there are no specials to be purchased in a particular week the money just goes in the jar for next week.

I have found that I save so much money shopping this way and can 'eat out of my cupboard or freezer' any time I need to which is great in emergencies or when you want to save all your grocery money one week or if you are so busy you can't go and do a 'proper shop'. It prevents you from doing 4 runs to the grocery store a week to get ' just a couple of things' which over the week adds up to more than your usual budgeted amount.


Monday Monday ....

Today I am off to do the shopping. Not just any shopping, but my 'extreme shopping'. Frequent readers will know that I take my grocery shopping pretty seriously! LOL

The good thing about shopping today is that I won't have the children with me, so there's a dramatic saving straight away ! I will also go to ALDI which is about 40 minutes away. I go with a friend and we share the petrol cost. It's also a nice day out to go to a place that has shops that we don't normally see.

I am looking forward to getting my menu planning sorted out, my budget money up to date and re-stocking my stockpile. We let it run down over the summer because we were going to be away so much and I wasn't working, so we used up much of our stores.
I am almost finished updating the sections in my planner For those of you that asked about it, I will update you on the inside workings of it once I have completed it.


Savings or " Not Spendings"

We hear all the time about how much money we can save. We see it in shops - save $15, save 30% or we read about people cutting $25 a week off their groceries.

But are these really savings ? and if they are where does the money go ? I am quickly realising that most so called ' savings' should really be called ' not spending', in that unless you were actually intending to spend, for example, $100 on an item and you only had to spend $80 and invested the $20 - then that is a true 'saving'.

Lets look at it this way.

When doing our budgets we go through and 'reduce' our outgoings - $5 a month here, $2 a month there etc etc. - adding up to $400 saving a month and a whopping $5000 saving a year. But do we actually invest that saving and earn interest off it and add to it and make it grow ? Or is it simply money that we could have spent but didn't!

I am going to make sure that I 'scoop off' all the little 'savings' I find. For example, when I budget $150 for the weekly groceries but only spend $125 I will put some aside for weeks when I need to spend more to stock up and I will scoop off some and put in my 'never to be touched' savings account. I think in this category a 50/50 split with the leftovers will be good.

Are you frugal, do you work hard to save money .... do you channel that money into savings or into debt reduction ? Post your ideas here.


$21 challenge

I am currently preparing to do the $21 challenge at Simple Savings ( see my link at the right hand side).

 The reason that I am preparing this is that I have to really think about how I will tackle it.

The idea is to be able to feed your family for a week for $21. You don't have to do this all the time, but doing it from time to time means that once a month or so you have a considerable chunk of your budget not spent.

You are allowed to use things from the pantry that you already have, so the $21 doesn't have to buy every little ingredient.

Is anyone keen to have a go or at least swap some recipe ideas ? There are two adults and two children aged 6 and 9 in my family.

STOP THINK DO - Part Three

Develop a Plan and Organise a System For Paying Your Bills

If you have bills arriving in the mail that you didn't know were coming or you suddenly can't afford to pay for something else because you have to pay this bill, you are allowing your bills to control YOU, instead of you controlling them.

To prevent this, you must have a plan and you must work your plan into a system.
Firstly, list your big expenses throughout the year. These may include electricity, water, school fees, registrations, insurances etc. If you are unsure when these bills fall, then mark them on a summary sheet which is divided into 12 boxes, one for each month, as they come in through the year. Knowing what is on your horizon will enable you to plan for the larger expenses rather than dreading them when the bill arrives in the mail.

To control the bills I have a system whereby I tally up every bill that I expect to come in throughout the year.

 I look back through old calendars and bank statements to get an accurate list. I then add the total of all the bills for the year. After I get up off the floor and recover from the shock I divide this amount by 52 or 26 if you work on a fortnightly budget and then know that this is the amount that I have to put aside.

My version of "put aside" is to transfer it into an account that is only for bills. I don't touch this money, except for bills. Depending on how much control you need over your finances, you may choose to have a plastic bag for each bill, whereby you put $20 a week into the electricity bill bag etc. Some people choose to do a bpay electronic transfer to each company so by the time the bill comes in, the amount is in credit or close to zero.

The choice is yours.

The only rule is that it has to be "a system" that is, something that is not too complicated and works for you. If you are the type of person that simply can't have cash on hand because you are impulsive then don't choose the method where you hang onto the cash. You would be better of paying each company a small amount each fortnight.

When a bill comes in I write the due date on the calendar and the amount. I then have an "unpaid bills" clip that stand on my desk. One of my jobs on Mondays is to look at my budget and pay any bills. I pay the ones that are due in the upcoming week. I also write a list of bills that I have paid so I can see at a glance how much variance in, for example, mobile bills over the past few months.

As you know from my previous posts we work on a cash only basis for our day to day expenses and for our savings. See my previous post for how I actually do this.

To take away financial stress you have to be in control. Otherwise your money management is like a giant wave that keeps knocking you down every time you try to stand up. Removing financial stress will allow you to concentrate on more important things, like building quality family relationships and having a more peaceful, simplified family life.

Let me know how you are going via email or comments. If you have any helpful hints on how you reduce financial stress in your family, please let us all know.




We have embarked on a journey to take control and create a better and simpler life for ourselves and our families. Before we get into the nitty gritty we are doing some preliminary steps which are financial. Money is not the most important thing in our lives, but it plays a big role in our stress levels and can even cause relationship breakdown. We will therefore attempt to remove that stress by managing what we have and this will enable us to focus on things that truly matter.

So, in your notebook make a 'starting point' page.
1. Head it with today's date.
2. List ALL the money you have – every bank account, every wallet, every purse, every money box. Don’t list what you owe here, there will be a separate table for that.
3. Now list all the money you owe. This includes mortgages, credit cards, personal loans, loans to friends or family, lay-bys etc
4. Now, make a summary :

TOTAL WE HAVE: ___________________________

TOTAL WE OWE:_____________________________

Now that you have faced your financial truth you can start taking some steps to improve your situation. It is also helpful to mark a date on your calendar for 3 months down the track to do this again and look at how you have improved. If you want to keep a tighter reign on things you might re-do this sheet monthly. If you are really taking this seriously, you may even graph your progress so that what you have is in one colour and you can see that line going up, and what you owe is in another colour and you can see that line going down.

Don't be too frightened by the results. It is important to know where you are so that you can map out where you are heading. Burying your head in the sand will only make your situation worse. Take control !

Don't forget to give me some feedback. Email me with your results or let me know how it feels to face the truth!


Stock Up

Today I went to ALDI ( about a 40 minute drive from home) and did my stock up with a friend of mine who is also looking at saving money through smart buying.

Sometimes it is good to pair up because you can go halves in larger quantities so that you get the bulk discount without the storage problems, or having the product go off before you use it all.

So far we have shared rice and peeled garlic cloves ( we got a big bag when we were at the Sydney markets together). Soon we plan on sharing potatoes and a large quantity of meat.

It's nice to have like minded friends. I had to laugh tonight because I got a text message from her which said " cat food a hit", meaning that her previously fussy cat had taken to the cheaper ALDI cat food. It's great having someone who enjoys extreme shopping as much as I do !


Extreme Shopping

You've heard of extreme sports, well I am into Extreme Shopping. Now don't misunderstand me, I don't spend hours clothes shopping and wandering the malls. In fact I hate that sort of shopping. I am into extreme shopping for things I have to buy - and let me tell you I LOVE it!

It started quite a few years ago when I was expecting number one son. I spent a lot of time obsessing over our budget working out how I could afford to not go back to work once the baby was born. I soon worked out that saving 20 cents here or there could really make a difference and I have been totally obsessed with the concept ever since.

Now I am sure many of you are thinking that you can't be bothered shopping around, or that the extra time involved is not worth it, but take a look at this little equation.

Lemonade: I usually buy two bottles for a week. It comes on sale and I can save $1.25. Multiply this by two and then by 52 weeks for the year and the saving is $130. Not much you reckon ? Do this across your grocery list and you 'make' enough savings to take your family to a resort for 10 days every Christmas. (well that's what I choose to do - you may choose something else like pay your credit card off or use it for birthdays etc )

So.... the question remains. Is it worth the time and hassle ? Only you can answer that question. The actual question is.... how much time are you willing to invest to have a holiday/ pay off credit card etc ? ... one hour..... three hours ......5 hours......

Here's how I do it.

Firstly I went to the supermarket I usually frequent. As I did my normal round I took a calculator and worked out the best buy by using the unit price method. I divide the price grams/ litres etc and multiply by a common unit to get the price into a usable quantity. Clear as Mud ? Let's do an example. In the supermarket you see two bags of sugar.

The first is 2kg for 2.49 and the second is 3kg for 3.79. Here are the steps

2.49 divide by 2 = 1.245 per kg
3.79 divide by 3 = 1.263 per kg

so the 2kg is the better buy. Don't be fooled though, the answer is not always the biggest quantity and this example doesn't really show a clear saving.

Here's another: Toothpaste 110g for 1.29 or 175g for 1.89

1.29 divide by 110 X 1000 = 11.72 per kg
1.89 divide by 175g x 1000 = 10.80 per kg

I convert the smaller numbers to kilos or litres to make it easier.

It tool me about an extra 40 minutes to do the shopping that day and I recorded the prices in my price book. The next week I shopped at the other supermarket and did the same. Then when I came home I compared it with a docket I had from a trip to ALDI.

I then made a master list of what to buy from which shop. All up I think it would have taken me about 3 hours to do the whole thing over a number of days. Now when it comes to shopping day I don't run around to every shop and waste my time. Because I used the stockpiling principle, that is I buy enough of something when it is on sale to not buy it again until it comes on sale again , that I simply buy what I need depending on which shop I go to.

The extreme shopping starts (oh I crack myself up - this is so sad ! ) when I see catalogues and can do a quick calculation as to whether or not the shampoo is a good buy and how much I will save.

Every time I laugh at myself and think I have REALLY become obsessive compulsive about my grocery shopping I just think of that holiday.

We have been going there for 9 years now. Who'd a thought it ! Most people can't be bothered. But I'm sure if you stood on the street corner and handed out $2000 they'd jump at the opportunity.

Well, people, your opportunity is already under your nose. You just have to ask yourself whether you are willing to invest the time. After all, in this world we either spend money or we spend time.

Are you an extreme shopper ? I'd love to hear your story !

April Theme: Re-organise and Transition

In the Southern Hemisphere, April is in Autumn.  The days here are still warmish, but there is a sneaking whisper in the wind. That whisper ...