We did a bit of house stuff on the weekend, and I think we both kind of felt a bit accomplished afterwards .
I cleaned the walls and the roof (on the inside), did a major tidy up, about a million loads of washing (it had been raining the past few weeks) and DF mowed the lawns, did some weeding and mulching and put on another home brew.
Some major stuff happening at work. Can't be bothered writing about it now, might save it for a separate entry. But it's nothing bad, atleast not for me. Maybe for my boss
Got our electricity bill ($224 - for three months) and both our car registrations ($655 each for a year), all in one week. I'm so glad I put money aside each week for bills. I don't think I could live like some people do, not knowing when bills are coming and freaking out about big ones that come in the mail. Atleast with my method, the money is ALWAYS there.
Next week is my Aldi Shop Week. I think I kind of need a bit of stuff too! I'm getting used to it now, planning roughly a months worth of meals.
We could kind of cut down a bit I think - but I don't often plan meals based on cost - it's more on variety. We don't eat super expensive meals and nothing is pre-made, everything is from scratch. So when I plan meals, I base it sort of around having several 'lighter' meals like salad & grilled tofu, with a couple of indulgent and tasty 'pretend it has no calories' meals like a pasta dish or a cheesy toasted panini, and then one or two medium meals like soup or stirfry or vegetable curries.
I realised I really don't know where to start when it comes to cutting down the prices of our meals. Or rather, I'm not sure I really WANT to. Overall our grocery bill isn't that ghastly, but I'm sure many here could beat it easily. We enjoy food and I like to cook, what can I say?
We have a friends 30th Birthday party to go to on Saturday. He has made the theme as 'facepaint'.
DF and I are thinking of doing our faces like sugar skulls (like Sylvia Ji's artwork, if any of you have ever seen it...) it might work well...?
Archive for April, 2010
We did a bit of house stuff on the weekend, and I think we both kind of felt a bit accomplished afterwards .
I'm still keeping track of our daily expenses. It's almost like second nature to me now. DF is getting quite good at it too
The past few months have been difficult, what with DF's work slowing down. Seeing as DF is meant to earn nearly TWICE what I do, you can imagine I stress out a little, when his earnings start to drop to the $200-$300 a week mark. Having a buffer in our account has made things definately more easier to cope with, but even with that, when it starts to get a little low I do find I panic a little.
The silver lining to this situation was that because I've kept track daily, I have been able to say to DF 'We're spending too much'. Although some things can't be helped, I noticed DF really tightened his belt too. And because we've now been dealing with this for about five months, it's almost like it's always been like this. We're still doing things, and there are definately things we could cut even more, so it doesn't feel as though we're deprived. But we seem to be managing pretty well.
This month has been the first month in a while where there is a reasonable amount left over at the end of the month ($1400+). It's going to top up our EF, and pay back DF's mum for money she loaned us when buying last year.
But still, it feels odd to me to have a good amount to allocate to extra savings, EF, household items in need of replacement, even some extra fun money etc. Even though mid-way through last year, this was a regular occurrence. I guess this is where we have to take stock and realise that the hard times are only easy to get through if you prepare for them, when things are NOT so tough!
On Wednesday I was talking with our tattooist, L, and he told me a story that I immediately thought 'I HAVE to share this'.
Some background information: L is mid thirties, not particularly rough looking but does have two arms covered in tattoos. He's smart and has a bunch of degrees, but likes the job he has now over anything he's done before. He also probably likes the money the job provides, as he can easily take in $4k a week or more, working less than 30 hours...
So he was telling me how he was looking at buying a new LCD tv, and after looking at a few places, went into a well known, high end department store and found they had a good range and prices. Asked a sales clerk for some information on energy ratings and HD, to which the sales clerk goes 'Oh, yeah. I'll see.' Walks over to the desk, chats for about five minutes to another sales clerk, stops to ask another couple if they were right, to which they reply 'We're just looking' comes over with a sheet of paper and hands it to L saying 'Here', and then walks off, thinking L was a timewaster. (And this is a store that's meant to pride itself on customer service). The sales guy walks right over to the couple who are clearly just looking around and asks them again if they need help, which they don't. L had $2k in his pocket in cash and was going to buy a TV right then, but he walked out instead.
I experienced the same thing in a furniture shop yesterday, where I found a book case for $400 that was something we would have bought if it weren't for the customer service. And I can say with 99% certainty that the customer service would have been different if I were wearing work clothes, or other clothes that covered my legs . (I'm not being paranoid, after a certain amount of time you learn to accurately guage a persons level of acceptance...)
In both cases, these shops lost a sale because they made an assumption based on someone's appearance.
It doesn't offend me, it's kind of like water off a ducks back, but I do find it a bit narrow minded, and atleast in some cases a little amusing.
(I also have to point out here, that tattoos are actually quite expensive, so I don't see how someone could think that people with a lot could be poor. Atleast where we live anyway, those with ink are those who earn a fair bit of money. I'm not saying everyone is like that, but it's certainly the case of the majority, atleast here...)
Which leads me to thinking: how many of you have been dismissed because you don't look like the 'type' to have money or the 'type' to buy something from a particular store? We all know, atleast here, that frugal people tend to be judged a lot and it wouldn't surprise me how many memorable stories are out there... What's your best one?
It's a public holiday on Monday (Anzac Day is tomorrow, Sunday, and public holiday for it is on Monday).
I don't have a lot of plans, I would like to leave it fairly low key. We are catching up with friends tomorrow afternoon, and I have to buy some fresh fruit and vegetables. Other than that, I just want to have the house tidy tomorrow so that I don't have to do anything on Monday. Monday, I plan to take the doggies for a walk in the morning, do an hour of yoga, an hour or so of work to catchup from last week, and then have coffee with a friend at lunch time.
My busy week is almost over. I survived the awards night, it was terribly boring and I hope I never have to go again. To be fair, I got a free meal and drinks out of it, and some entertainment.
It was a Shangri La themed event. It seemed I was the only person who had seen lion dances before, everyone was like 'What IS this?' and to the martial arts displays, my friends says 'WHAT are they doing? Aren't they meant to be fighting?' And I had to explain that they do presentations in dance form - to which everyone looked at me like I was an alien because I knew this information. 'What?' I said 'I used to DO this stuff...'
(I honestly didn't think I was that culturally aware - I have NEVER been overseas, but when you put me in a room of 100 or so bakers, apparently I'm the one to know, lol)
Yesterday I worked for three hours and then had an appt to go to in the afternoon. Today I am working from 9.45-6pm, and tomorrow I work early morning then have to go home and have a quick shower before meeting DF's sister. Then on Saturday I am working. Somewhere in between I need to do a small amount of grocery shopping...
Atleast I get Monday off!
A little confused now about work. At the awards night my work colleague mentioned that her and our boss were talking, and my boss mentioned to her 'We have to get Whitestripes fast tracked apprenticeship going'.
I'm so annoyed and exhausted about this now. This is what it has been like:
About 9 months ago: 'Yes Yes, of course, I'll talk to the trainer.'
About six months ago: 'I haven't talked to the trainer but I will next time I see him.'
A couple of months ago: 'Well, everything has changed from how it used to be done, and now it's reduced pay and 18 months long, but don't worry about it, you're good and you'll be able to get a job anywhere'
and now THIS?!
Now I feel like even though I've made the decision to go to university, I HAVE to do this apprenticeship because I've asked for it twice.
Is it bad that I hope he'll forget about it again, until June or July, when I can say 'Oh, it's too late, I've applied to go to uni...' ???
I worked yesterday and only spent $3.05 on a drink. Today I dropped DF off at a friends to do some motorcycle lessons, and went shopping.
Isn't it funny sometimes when you set an amount to spend, and then can't even find anything you want?
A few items of clothing are in need of replacement, so I said to myself, 'Ok, I will look for a few tshirts, a denim skirt, a cardigan, some boots...'
Wouldn't you know it, all I could find was a cardigan! *sigh*
Fruit & Vegetables: $26.85
Magnetic Knife Strip: $29.95
Ice Tea: $4.00
Dish Drainer: $7.05
I am going to be working on setting up a new savings/expenses plan. Obviously in reality nothing will really change, but on PAPER it will be worked out differently. This will probably be my next post.
On Wednesday DF's sister and I are going 'underwear shopping'. She lives in a rural area so if she ever does any shopping of any sort, it's basically a 'day trip' to a town near us. She mentioned she needed new stuff and so did I. We organised it about four weeks ago but it kept getting re-scheduled. So this Wednesday it is *actually* happening. I only need a couple of things so I am setting myself a $100 budget.
DF and I noticed lately our doggies are getting a little chubby! At first we thought it was the new food (still a bit iffy on the amount to give them, it just doesn't seem like enough compared with the old stuff...!) but then realised it's because they're putting on their winter insulation so cute. They are little roly-polies. (Ok, so you can't really notice it that much, it's just that we see them every day so we do notice it when they aren't as lean as usual.) But it is just so cute.
In an earlier blog entry I posted that I would only have one day off this week. Well, I am home sick today. Be careful what you wish for! Technically, I am not sick. I just have terrible stomach cramps. Most of the female bloggers on here know what I'm on about. *sigh*
So I thought it would be a good idea to post an update of sorts.
Work is still pissing me off. My boss came in for an hour or two yesterday. There's not much product, but hey! What can I do about it? I'm not working a minute extra when the problem could be easily fixed.
I got to thinking yesterday about how this might be approaching the end of my working there. I'm not going to leave any time soon, of course, but you know when you get the feeling that you've been at one place for long enough? So this University thing could be coming at a good time. I'll continue working as long as I possibly can there, and I don't think I'm in any danger of being sacked, but with Uni, my job will just feel like a source of money now, and not a responsibility or a future. You know what I'm saying?
But then again my feelings about work could change. I sense that it might not just be work that I'm annoyed at. I think I'm going through a phase of being annoyed at everything right now. My best friend and I had a... thing. I wouldn't call it an argument, but I was SO angry at her.
Basically I don't want to post the details because it involves her obsessive compulsive disorder, but she told me something I told her I didn't want to know. Then I got pissed off at her because I didn't want to know, and because of what she told me, and because she told me even though I told her I didn't want to know. Confused yet? And then she couldn't understand why I was angry, because she thought it (what it was she told me) was a fantastic idea. When in fact I felt like I was going to throw up. But I couldn't tell her that because I've always encouraged her to talk about things. So I guess I just shot myself in the foot. But I *did* tell her I didn't want to know, just this one particular time. Why is that so hard to understand?
Anyway, so none of that actually makes any sense. But the point of the story is that even though we decided to pretend our argument never happened, I'm finding it hard to be around her without getting annoyed at her. It's just that her frustrating behaviour with money (which I've blogged about in the past)transcends into all aspects of her life. She just goes 'This is a great idea!' and goes ahead and does something without thinking at all about the cons, and even when you (or a group of friends) gather around and try to explain them, she just shakes her head and says 'Don't be silly, this will be fabulous'. It's just who she is. I just find it hard to take sometimes.
In other news, the family business is plodding along splendidly. That has to count for something right? They have work in front, and seem to be just making their bills each week. It has surely taken at least a little stress off my mind. Funny how things have a habit of balancing out, even if it is ever so precariously.
We have loads of basil growing. I think I'm going to attempt my own pesto some time this week.
It's raining today, ever so fitting for a day off when you don't feel like doing anything
But I am going to attempt some things. On the weekend we had a big day of cleaning. I cleaned out all the cupboards in the kitchen, we cleaned the front deck and the back verandah, DF put down another home brew, and I cleaned the bathroom and mopped the floors. I think today I might tidy our office, sort through my clothes (again - but this time I am going to be RUTHLESS!) and sort through some music. Also, put dinner on in the slowcooker and make a shopping list for tomorrows grocery shopping.
A friend of ours who lives in LA called yesterday. He and his soon-to-be wife are coming to stay with us in November! DF has not seen him for two years, and I have not seen him for probably 5 years. Woah, time flies! Makes me think about the future, when (hopefully) we have the funds to be able to take a holiday and fly over and visit them one day too.
We have started to trial our doggies with a new brand of dogfood (dry food - we don't feed them tinned food).
Previously we were using a couple of different types of mid-range dryfood, like Pal, Pedigree etc. About $7.50-$8 for a 3kg bag. It lasts about 8 or 9 days between the two of them.
Having spoken to the vet about which is the best to feed them health-wise, he said basically with dry food, you get what you pay for, and he explained that with premium brands generally you don't feed them as much as you do the mid to low priced range.
So at the moment I'm trying out a brand called Optimum - $11.55 for 2kg. I measured out the correct amount to feed them - and it was literally HALF what I had to feed them with the other brands.
I felt like I wasn't giving them enough over the past few days with it, as they really seem to like it and eat it as soon as I give it to them, unlike the other stuff which they pick at through the day.
So today I gave them some more after they'd eaten the first amount, but they didn't touch their seconds I guess this means they're getting enough.
(BTW: I can buy it in larger bags which means it's slightly cheaper, I just wanted to try it out first.)
What do you feed your dogs and why? The reason I ask why, is because for our own groceries I would never sacrifice my health to save money at the checkout, so I don't see how it can be ok for me to do that with our dogs either. So to a certain extent, money doesn't come into play when it concerns our dogs food. I'm obviously not going to feed them Wagyu Beef and Caviar, but I'm not going to feed them something full of preservatives, sodium and pigfat either.
A collegue is sick (in hospital, she has been there for nearly three weeks now - absyss on her spine?) so I have had to cover some of her shifts. Another is also on holidays, so I think over the next week or so it's going to be interesting regarding shifts etc.
I had to work yesterday (Saturday). I also had to work a Saturday two weeks ago, for the same reason. Which I don't really mind, because it makes up for the two days I lost over the Easter period.
What really annoys me sometimes at work is that my boss and his wife tinker so much with the roster so as to not let anyone work overtime (overtime is actually 30 hours a week for us, because we're all casual-based. why casual? oh, so that my boss doesn't have to pay for holidays and sick leave, that's why. casual rates are more than permanent, but still, it'd be nice to have a paid holiday like everyone else.). I understand it's a family business, bla bla bla, but even in times like this, where we are down 2 staff members, they still stretch everything out just so they don't have to shell out an extra $100 or so (even though they are actually *saving* money because one person is on holidays, and I am doing their job - so really they are paying one less wage when someone goes on holidays.) It is like they look at this as an opportunity to save money or something. When really it just stresses everyone out and customers get annoyed because there's hardly any product.
So over the course of the next two weeks I am working as a 'shop girl' instead of my usual baking/cake decorating duties. Which is fine, because to me that's like being on holiday, only I get paid
But the most annoying thing is that then there is no stock to actually sell, because my boss only seems to do a little bit of extra work and finds the time to go fishing and sometimes only comes into work for an hour or two. So by the time the other woman gets back from holidays, I will have to work twice as hard to get stock up so there is actually stuff available to buy.
Or even better, sometimes my boss expects me to serve customers, AND make product. Sometimes I can do it, but I don't see how it's fair that I have to do two jobs, when the normal shopgirls sit around and flick through magazines, and I don't get paid any different.
It just pisses me off is all. Just because someone goes on holiday doesn't mean everything should stop. So what if you have to pay someone a couple of hours of overtime? Atleast the shop will run smoothly. Or am I just being a big crybaby about it?
I just recieved a call from a guy with a very thick Indian accent on our land phone (I should note here that we've given our number out to three family members and the local pizza place - simply because we use our mobiles and we're hardly ever home during the day).
First off he asked if he was speaking to me (and said my full name). Then he said that my computer has been sending out error signals. He listed all the Windows OS (vista, xp, 98 etc) and asked me to confirm that I had one of those. I said 'uhhhh... yeaaah?' because I still had no idea what he was going on about.
He rambled on some other stuff about PC companies that I couldn't understand because of his accent.
He then told me that I needed to go to my computer and he would tell me over the phone how to find these hidden errors in my operating system and then he would tell me what to delete and change so that my computer would be fixed and would not send out error signals. He then asked me if I still lived at (street number, street name, suburb, postcode, state). O_o This is where I got a little wary, because when I bought my computer 3 years ago, it was shipped to my work address. The only reason I initially thought it was Dell was because I've recieved calls from them in the past and they do outsource their telecommunications sector to India.
I said that my landline is not anywhere near my computer, and that I could not be on the landline and the computer at the same time because there are no power plugs near our phone, and no telephone plugs near my computer (old house, old wiring layout - simply impossible. also, I wanted time to check this out and think about it, not just change stuff on my computer because some guy on the phone told me to)
He asked if I had another number he could call on, and I said yes, a mobile, and he said no, he could not call me on a mobile. Then I said well, can you send me an email telling me how to fix it, as I do stuff all the time on computers (note: not on my own, I haven't had to yet!) to do with programming & the registries so I don't think I'd find it that hard.
He said no, it's difficult, and he had to tell me how to do it as I was doing it.
And this went back and forth for ages because I don't think he believed me about not being able to be on a landline and my computer at the same time. So I started to get annoyed, because first of all, I don't really understand how he got our home phone number in the first place, and my home address, and secondly, buddy, if I tell you it's not possible, it's because it's not possible!
So I finally said 'look, I'm really sorry, I need you to understand that I'm not really comfortable with someone calling me and telling me to go to my computer and delete and play around with programming and registry information, because you haven't told me your name, you won't call me on my mobile phone, and you won't send me an email or even give me a website.'
(The reason I found the 'not calling on mobiles' fishy was because I don't know any companies that won't call you on your mobile - it's the only number I give out.)
So then he said 'ok, I will send you an e-mail.'
He did not ask for my email address (so I assume he has that? as well as copies of my childhood photo albums and my mothers birth certificate???), instead he said 'ok. goodbye.'
Is this totally weird? Or am I over-reacting?
Gosh, don't I feel bad right now?
For the first time in my life I have had to enlist the help of a collection company at work.
As a small business we don't usually have trouble with people not paying their bills. But we have had one couple who have not paid a portion of their job that we completed last year. Yes, last year.
They got a payout from an insurance company (thereby - the insurance company gives them money, and they give us the money). DF had started doing the job and informed them of some unsafe and hazardous areas on their house, and told them he could do the work if they required it. They called the insurance company, and told us that the insurance company had cleared it, gave their clients a claim # and DF was able to proceed.
Once the entire job was finished, they paid for the initial job - but not the extras. First they said the insurance company hadn't paid them. Then they said we had to get the insurance company to pay us directly. Which is stupid, because that particular insurance company doesn't do that. So we called the insurance company and they said that the claim had not been cleared. Ummm?
Anyway. Regardless of who has to pay, it's ridiculous that it's gone on this long. The customers now screen our calls! All this over $451 - when the main job was over $6000, all covered by insurance, and they have on-going renovations happening at their house.
Anyway. I feel bad about calling a collection agency, but they are not behaving like adults about the situation at all. *sigh* If they were having money problems and actually talked about it with us, we might be able to work something out. But instead they just don't answer their phone and ignore our invoices.
That is why I will always operate on a COD basis with any business I have in the future that I'm personally responsible for.
I think itís time to re-evaluate the amount I put away for bills each week. As time passes, companies like to up their prices, sneaky sneaky! Also, I have other things that Iíd like to put into this category, like pet expenses. Technically itís all money, and itís all coming out of our account, but Iíd feel better knowing that say, flea treatments and heartworm tablets are allocated to the Bills Expenses each month. Then I know itís there, and it doesnít eat into our other funds. Ya know what Iím sayin?
So, currently I put aside $180 a week for bills. This covers, on my guesstimations:
House & Contents Insurance:
$69.56 (monthly) $834.72
$53.67 (monthly) $644.04
Phone & Internet:
$79.00 (monthly) $948.00
$55.00 (monthly) $660.00
$240.00 (3-monthly) $960.00
$100.00 (per bottle - approx 6 monthly) $200.00
$1058.00 (2 cars, yearly) $1058.00
(1 car, yearly) $478.00
(yearly approx) $1000.00
$395.00 (yearly package fee)
Total Estimate for Yearly Bills: $9 139.76
Here are the actual figures for last year:
(NB: the brackets show how much less or more we spent based on the initial budget)
House & Contents Insurance: $763.46 ($71.26 less)
Life Insurance: $684.01 ($39.97 more)
Phone & Internet: $1131.83($183.83 more)
Mobile Phone: $645.17 ($14.83 less)
Electricity: $886.43 ($73.57 less)
Car Rego: $1058.00 (on budget)
Car Insurance: $383.90 ($94.10 less)
$70.00 ($8.00 more)
Car Repairs: $2063.92 ($1063.92 more**)
Property Rates: $2240.21 ($340.21 more)
Bank Fees: $409.05 ($14.05 more)
Actual Total for Yearly Bills:
$10 335.98 ($1196.22 more)
* The tenants who lived in our house before us filled the gas bottle up before they left (part of their tenant agreement) and we hadnít used it all up by the time the stove/oven broke. J
** Some of the car repair expenditure went to fixing up DFís project car, which I forgot to itemise L So this could mislead the figures a bit. However, with hindsight itís probably a good idea to put some money in the bills budget for that anyway, seeing as eventually it will become his daily drive.
Does anyone have any other things they put into the Bills category that I am not currently putting in there?
(Note: I do not have: heating or cooling expenses, parking expenses, gym membership, water expenses, cable television, magazine subscriptions.)
(rant ahead - however, it is financially related)
People frustrate me. Especially my mother. Which I'm sure most of you are already aware of. And I'm sure a portion of you are probably frustrated with your own parents too.
As I previously mentioned, my mother and stepfather decided to separate, and my mother moved out with my little brother and sister. They are still friends. I think when my brother and sister are older and have moved out, my mother and stepfather will get back together. We'll see. DF and I had lunch with him last week, and he seems a lot happier and less stressed. I don't think it's anyones fault, but I know that my stepdad had already raised his children and they had left the nest, then when he was finally getting excited about having 'me-time', along comes my mother with a 4, 5 & 12 year old...
Coupled with the fact that my stepfather, FINALLY, after 11 years, decided he'd had enough of my mothers drinking. The ultimatum was: stop drinking, or it's over.
Along with guidance of a friend who, shall we put it lightly, likes a drink and a joint, doesn't work, relies on government handouts and is always short of money and up to the neck in drama, my mother apparently chose the drink.
So my mother seemed to think this was an amazing opportunity, and that she would be free to do whatever she wanted, have more money (she believed she didn't get paid enough from the family business), and that my brother and sister would behave better (my stepdad was very strict - whereas most of the time my mother is too tanked to know what we were all up to).
So within the first two weeks of living in her new place, she has first called me two days after payday to get me to do an advance on the next weeks pay, and realised that whatever she earns from her work will be deducted from her government payments. My little sister was apparently caught shoplifting with friends. My brother talked my mum into getting some superfast internet plan 'for homework' and my mother called me for another advance so that my brother could buy some clothes for a job interview. She gave him $90 which he spent on a pair of pants, a shirt and lunch with his friends. He was meant to buy shoes but he didn't 'have enough' - even though both me, DF and my stepdad all told my mother to take him to the second hand clothing store and buy him a nice shirt from there, for about $5. She said No, he needed 'good quality' clothes. Even when DF argued with her that he buys Ralph Lauren, Jag, Blaq etc shirts from the second hand stores, she still said No.
And this morning again she was complaining to me about the fact that after rent she will only have XX amout of dollars.
Finally I snapped and said 'Look, mum. After DF and I pay all our bills and mortgage, buy food for the dogs and pay for their flea and worming treatments, buy groceries, pay insurance, buy petrol etc etc, we don't have much left over either. No one does, don't you get it? You're not the only one that's skint. But you walk around blind to the money you spend, you won't even sit down and work out a spending plan, or record what you spend each day. So stop whining at me.'
I'm just so sick of hearing about how 'bad' her situation is. She has money to pay bills and rent and buy food, so she's a lot better off than some other people. She's in this situation because she put herself there, even though she blames everyone else. Argh!