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Revisiting our Spending Plan

August 24th, 2010 at 07:46 pm

I call it a spending plan because we're not really ones for 'keeping to a budget' like some. I admire those who do it (including the whole thing of not buying XXXX for two days because it will put this weeks budget out, etc etc) but it really doesn't suit us. But, we do have a 'spending plan' which I try my best to keep track of. Up until recently I tracked every cent, but the past two months I have laxed. I was thinking our spending plan is probably outdated a bit, and I think a re-doing of the plan and our weekly expenses was in order. Having an up-to-date plan might spur on my interest in keeping track again. Well, fingers crossed anyway.

So, this is what I have come up with:

Mortgage Payments: $480
Extra Mortgage Payments: $20
Savings: $180
Bills: $200
Groceries: $150
Misc: $100
Fun: $80
Petrol: $70
Personal Loan: $37
Total: $1317.00

This accounts for an average income per week on the lower side with a bit of a surplus after the above expenses. More often than not, our weekly income is higher, but I'm keeping it lower so we don't get our heads stuck in the clouds.

Now, for some explanations. Looking at the expenses, I'm sure you're probably wondering 'where's this expense?' 'Where's that?' etc. I have put everything into very general categories this time. For example:

Bills include the following: Mobile Phone, Internet, House & Contents Insurance, Car Insurance, Life Insurance, Car Registration, Car Repairs, RACQ Membership, Gas, Property Rates, Water, Electricity and Pet Expenses.

Misc covers a variety of expenses that don't occur regularly, such as health & grooming, gifts, bank fees, charity donations, clothing, stationery, electronics and house purchases etc.

I have upped our grocery limit to $150, from $120. Generally it is ~$130, so any surplus we have will flow through to other areas. I just don't want to feel bad or stressed out by constantly going over the 'grocery limit' each week. While to some people's standards our grocery expenditure is outrageous, I don't really care. We cook from scratch, use wholegrain products, buy organic and locally grown produce, and use cleaning & body products that don't hurt the planet or our health and wellbeing. And we're alright with that. It's taken me a while to realise that this is something I truly don't mind spending money on. If I can find the items I normally use, cheaper, then ok. If not, oh well. Life goes on.

Personal Loan: is actually going to be paid off shortly, I just keep forgetting to transfer the remaining money. So this $37 a week expense won't be up there for much longer. We will probably add this amount to our EF savings, and have in mind that we will probably look at buying a new (to us) car in the near future.

Savings: Our total amount per week in savings is actually divided into four categories:
- EF (Goal 1: $5000, Goal 2: $7500, Goal 3: $10000)
- Baby (Goal: $30 000)
- House Renovations
- Short-term
The total amount saved per week goes into ONE account, which I keep track of on a spreadsheet. (It is actually our mortgage account, to reduce interest. No, we don't get charged for withdrawals or deposits).

Most of the savings are self explanatory, except Short-term. Basically Short-term covers all sorts of higher priced entertainment and consumer-ey expenses like seeing a band, gallery exhibitions, ink, higher-priced book purchases, art purchases, electronics, screenprinting supplies, furniture etc.

Fun has been reduced by $60 (Used to be $60 for me, $80 for DF.) Now that we are earning roughly the same amount, I figured now was the best time to reduce it to LESS than 10% of our take home and equal it out. DF's weekly spending has reduced anyway, since he is home-brewing. Basically our fun money covers any frivolous purchases we don't feel like explaining Big Grin or the odd take-out or movie night.

Petrol is generally less than $70 a week, but better to plan for more than less right?

Mortgage Payments & Extra Payments: Technically, our normal mortgage payment pays off extra AS WELL. But I figured it is better to schedule an extra $20 to go in as well. Can't hurt.

The one thing I have not put in there is university costs, because I have no idea what they are. But, our EF should take care of this if our 'Misc' doesn't as I don't think it will really be all that much to get started.

So, that's it. Feeling very motivated with our new spending plan and can't wait to talk it over with DF and get it into action. What does everyone think?

decorating ideas

July 20th, 2010 at 08:52 pm

I haven't been recording our daily expenditure lately, so I don't really have an accurate reading of how we've been doing this month. I'm really annoyed at myself. I guess we will just call July a relaxed month, and go back to it full swing when August starts. I still haven't gotten around to putting an expense tally on our fridge, which I think will help.

And there are things I want to buy, for our house. Thankfully not expensive things. Well, maybe added up, but in small bite sized chunks it won't be. Every time I go to another couple's house I get inspired by their decorating or storage ideas. Not in a 'let's go and spend hundreds of dollars so that we can copy them' way, but in a way that gets me thinking about what we could do with those niggling annoying things that... annoy me. Just storage, mainly. And decorating. And nifty things. All that jazz.

For instance, we have the same curtains that the previous owner had. Most are fine, but the kitchen, bathroom and toilet ones annoy me because they're lace, and don't really seem to serve a purpose. And the one that is at the door leading from the dining room to our deck, is floral. I feel like I live in an old lady's house. Not that there's anything wrong with that... except that we aren't old ladies, and it's really not our style.

So I've gotten DF's approval to search for, and eventually purchase, curtains for this area in sort of a baroque-print-style. Can't wait. I think I know the perfect store too, and they're quite affordable.

The lace curtains, well, we'll see for now. I might try and find something that slightly matches the dining curtains. Or I think DF has some black fabric dye - has anyone ever dyed lace? Is it tricky to do???

Other things I want to achieve:

Bathroom Storage. DF's aunt and uncle had this nifty little cupboard in their bathroom, that was about 6 inches wide, but about 5 feet tall (did you see how I used non-metric measurements? huh? huh? Big Grin). It would be the *perfect* thing for our bathroom, because it's very small, and we don't have much space. Because at the moment all of our toiletry items are shoved into three drawers and a small cupboard under the bathroom sink, and it's really an absolute mess. DF hasn't quite warmed to this idea yet, but that's because he only has a razor, a hairbrush and some nail clippers. Everything else, he thinks it's fine to 'borrow' off me, and therefore my overstocked drawer of lotions and hair products and accessories and moisturisers is my problem...

A cake stand. Or rather, a cupcake stand. Okay, so it's technically not a neccesity by any means. But I've been meaning to get one, because we have a few parties every year and usually have some type of cupcake or cake, because I made them one year and now everyone expects me to make them every time we have a party, because apparently they're 'amazing'. LOL. So, I've seen an idea in a magazine, where someone made a cupcake stand out of old china plates superglued together in a three tiered tower (with obviously something in between to separate them - I was thinking of using teacups to keep with the theme of tea and cake). So I was going to attempt to make this, and use plates and cups from op shops. The whole thing will probably cost me around $5. Might post a picture if I'm happy with the results.

A bag holder. You know those 'sleeve' type things that you stuff your plastic bags in? Well we need one of those. I was thinking of making one, so then I could get the type of material I want, and it wouldn't cost a lot either because I'd need less than a meter. Except I'd have to hand sew it, because we don't have a sewing machine.

While we're on that topic, I'd love to get a sewing machine. I might put that on my wishlist. I haven't used one since year 8 (10 years ago) though, so it's basics for me! Pillow covers and mending things I think, for me. LOL.

Office Tidy-Up. There are a few things I think would make our lives a lot easier in terms of home office organisation. I use the term 'home office' loosely, because it is used for a variety of things:
- working from home (me)
- screenprinting design & research (primarily DF, some me)
- art research & creation
- computer games (DF) and computer use (both)
- craft, card decorating etc (me)
- filing

So you see, there's a lot that goes on in this small space, and it can get messy pretty quickly. So I've come to the decision that it needs to be organised, fast. The decision was made on the weekend after frustration boiled over, in the form of DF not being able to find an acetate cut out and turning it pretty much upside down. That's when we said Hmmmm. Time to fix this.

So it's going to be a pretty involved process, but I have started with the filing portion. DF has a lot of crap to sort out, but I think once he sees what I am doing, he will get motivated. He's like that Big Grin. But my plan is to aquire a whole lot of slightly ab-normal storage facilities to keep stuff in. For example: cool mugs for pens, 70's tupperware containers for papers & craft items, funky jars etc etc. That kind of thing.

Any other suggestions re: storage? What cool ideas have you come up with?

Also, I've been nagging DF to make me some extra shelving for the kitchen. We have space for it, it's just a matter of getting the timber, painting it and putting it there. I want a couple put up, and I think this will definately help with making things look more organised. Of course, once that is achieved, I'll then want some nice spice jars Big Grin Though I already know the style I like: there is a certain brand that sell artichoke hearts in small jars for $1.99 and I LOVE the shape of the jar, it's sort of short, squarish rounded with a wide-ish lid... So, it's just a matter of cooking lots of things with artichoke hearts Big Grin

savings

June 15th, 2010 at 08:15 pm

The pizzas we made yesterday were delicious! So, just a note for anyone that has leftover pita breads, or some in the freezer: you can make pizzas out of them. (I was going to make the base from scratch, but decided to use the pitas because I wouldn't use them for anything else).

DF got his iPhone a few days ago. Only a month or so to go until I can get mine. AND I will be able to get the one DF has, on a lesser per month plan. (actually the same plan I have now) YAY.

DF is getting paid for some weekend work he has been doing this month which is exciting. It will be around $1000.00. The money will just be absorbed into our EF because of the new stove we bought. It would have gone towards a new TV and a punching bag - but I think we have to accept that those things will have to wait a little longer than we initially thought.

I'm thinking more seriously about moving our superannuation over to our bank. It has much less fees than the fund we're currently with. I think it will cost around $160 in total fees a year each. Not bad.

Plus we will be able to see at a glance exactly how much superannuation we have, instead of guessing (our current fund doesn't seem to send letters that regularly...not really impressed)

And we can get our life insurance taken out of that fund. I might do some more research into what the coverage is though. No point in having insurance if it's not going to cover you when you need it.

My goal for the rest of the month is to set up a savings plan for our house renovations goals. Also I'd like to set up a car fund too, and a few other small funds for various short term things. DF's going to have to sit down with me and listen! LOL.

stupid neighbours = surveyor

June 13th, 2010 at 04:31 pm

I think Banjo is turning into an escape artist. We have had him on the deck since his recent runnings-away, this morning I got up to find him on the ROOF of his kennel, which I had pushed against a piece of ply (about 1.5m high) to block the opening to the stairs (which are a full 1 storey high - jed is petrified of jumping over anything to get to the stairs, obviously Banjo does not share this fear). The dog is crazy!

Sigh.

I guess this means we are going to have to put a rush on building a fence around the property. The 1.5m chicken wire was fine for Jed, but he is a 'boundary' dog, where clearly Banjo is not.

I think we have enough to build it now, but I would like to have a buffer. I don't like to clean out our house renovations fund in one go, it makes me feel a bit uneasy. Plus I have no idea how much it will actually cost, seeing as we'll only be buying the materials - DF will build it. But probably the biggest cost will be a surveyer - we already know that one of our neighbours takes issue with our boundary line. Or rather... takes issue with the previous owners boundary line.

Funny. It seems that none of our neighbours liked the previous owner, even though he did not live there, he only rented the house out. They talk badly of him chopping down the trees on our land - even though the only trees he cut down were Camphor Laurel trees, which are a BIG pest and dangerous for our environment. They spread their roots under the ground and send suckers out, take over everywhere, and strangle the life out of anything else, and also create a 'blanket' over the ground, blocking out the sunlight so that nothing can grow, and their leaves fall and poison the ground. However, apparently according to the neighbours, as long as it's big and green, it deserves to be there. (DF and I don't share this sentiment).

Anyway, to get back to my story: our neighbours (who are actually our next door neighbours' neighbours - our neighbours land ends in a triangle at the bottom, and the neighbours' neighbours joins with ours for about a metre at the bottom - I KNOW! STUPID!) believe that when the previous owner of our house cut a pathway down the side of our property to the park, he cut into some of their land. According to the plans we have, which our solicitors aquired from our council office, he DID NOT. But they think he did. DF has already had a discussion with these people, and he left because they were not listening to him. He didn't make a big deal out of it, he just said 'I have to go now.' Then came back and bitched about it to me lol Big Grin

Anyway. I believe that the previous owner of our house is right, and correctly cut the land on our property. Why? Because he has been a builder his entire adult life. He is one of the most well known builders in our area, and he does the entire project from start to finish, has been doing this for nearly 40 years - so, somewhere along the line, I think he *may* have figured out how to read plans and borderlines. Call me crazy!

Anyway. So because of our neighbours' neighbours pig-headedness, we have to hire a surveyor to peg out our property, so that they can *SEE* this for themselves. I have no idea how much a surveyor costs, but I think it's around the $1000 mark. *sigh* AND I have to make sure I'm actually there when they are, to take photos of the pegs, incase the neighbours MOVE them (people are known for doing stupid things like this). HA!

Anyway. So I'm estimating that the materials for the fence will be around $2000, and the surveyor will be around $1000. But I really have no idea at all. AND it's a public holiday so I can't even call people to find out today. It's really annoying me.


GAH.




gas fitter, work, op shopping.

June 10th, 2010 at 12:54 am

The gas fitter is coming tomorrow! I'm super excited to have an oven and a stove again. I imagine the thrill will last a little while, and then I'll get sick of cooking. But I'm going to take advantage of it anyway, haha.

So, because our house is old, and our kitchen is old, and our gas pipes are old, we have to get a new dual regulator put in, because apparently the single ones are not allowed anymore.

In the end, it is going to cost ~$250 to install our stove. Grr. Anyway. I guess it's better than our house burning down and being up s*** creek with no insurance (insurance will only cover it if you have a gas compliance certificate... which is basically what you get for the $250 ... sigh). :S

Hmmm. What other news. I had an afternoon of cleaning today, took the doggies for a run at the park down the bottom of our property and did some washing. I'm now going to hang some more out and watch Grand Designs Big Grin LOVE that show.

Tonight we're having omellettes for dinner, tomorrow... vegetarian lasagna! Yummo.

DF has the day off tomorrow for a booking, but will be home in time for the gas fitter, and I am working tomorrow and Saturday. I get Monday off because it's a public holiday, and Friday too! On friday, I'm meeting up with DF's sister and we're going op-shopping in her town. I'm only expecting to spend around $50, I don't have anything I'm looking for in particular, except maybe another teapot...

thinking of going prepaid for broadband... monthly bill cost analysis

May 17th, 2010 at 09:31 pm

For awhile now I have been researching internet plans & costs.

I want to reduce our monthly living expenses, and seeing as we are pretty no-frills anyway, it's quite difficult. We don't have cable television, subscriptions of any kind, or memberships to anything either.

Basically we have car costs, insurances, electricity, gas, groceries, petrol, mortgage, a personal loan, internet & phone, mobile phone, pet costs & property rates.

Other things like health costs, fun & entertainment & house repairs are variable and sometimes non existent, or can be cut back at any sign of trouble.

Those are our expenses in a nutshell.

Petrol expenses can't be helped that much, short of using one trip for multiple purposes and driving like a granny.

Personal Loan is nearly paid off, we're not worrying about it too much as it's less than $1k now and I'd rather have that money available to us at this time. If our account experiences a nice surge upwards, I'll transfer the money straight away. In the meantime, security means more than $37 a week payment that will soon be gone anyway.

Property rates are fixed, nothing we can do to change what they are.

Mobile phone, I'm on a plan that suits my usage, and will be until November. DF will shortly be ending his work plan (in september) and starting up a personal mobile plan, so that will actually be an INCREASE in monthly expenditure for us, but it is the right thing to do by his dads business. I will just have to see how DF's usage goes and fingers crossed he can go down a value level on his plan, bringing it from $80 a month to $50, like mine is. I'm hoping by September/November, iPhones will be available as a free upgrade and we'll both get one Big Grin It would be at no extra cost, so I don't see why not. Currently the cheapest model is $6 a month + plan costs. Giving it until September I am pretty sure they will be $0.

Pet costs... We get a discount at the vet because we have 2 dogs - and soon their registration will go from $112 each a year to just $10 a year when we get them desexed & micro chipped. An initial cost of ~$500 will pay for itself in a few short years, and probably solve a few other problems (like weeing everywhere!) along the way. Their food, I will not skimp on. Simple as that.

Foodwise, I've blogged about how I've saved money by doing a monthly shop at Aldi. So while I've only been doing that for a few months, my guesstimate is that it's a monthly saving of between $20-$40.

Electricity bill has been decresed over the past six months by always switching the power points off at the walls, and the lights. We don't have aircon or heaters and we don't use a clothes dryer. Monthly saving is around $10, I *think*, but of course it is hard to tell, especially when we are billed every three months, and have only been living in this house for a little over 12 months.

Our gas bill is non-existent (as in - gas for cooking via stove/oven) because the stove and oven still aren't fixed, and we haven't used all the gas since the previous owner filled the bottles before we bought the place. So that's a plus, I guess. Smile

I'm looking at decreasing our monthly life insurance cost by rolling our superannuation over to our main bank, and having our life insurance billed from our superannuation account. If we choose to, we can make additional deposits into our superannuation account and recieve 150% of that amount from the government as well (it's a government superannuation building incentive).

Our house and contents insurance actually went down I think, because we renewed our policy. (It was automatic, so technically didn't do anything at all...)

The bill that has been on my hit list for some time now is internet and home phone. We don't use our home phone, and the only reason we have it is so that we can have an internet connection. So we're wasting around $45 simply because there's no other way to get around it. Recently there's been a few releases of different ways to access the internet from home, regularly (mobile usb stick broadband, naked dsl etc, that kind of thing).
I'm looking into Pre Paid USB sticks because I think it might be a good idea cost-wise and will probably save us money. I'm just worried I guess, because we've had the same plan for over two years now and never had a problem, you know when you're about to take a leap into something new, it's kind of scary? Ok, so technically we're not doing anything life-changing... it's just an internet plan... Big Grin

So what I'm looking at is:

For a start-up pack, we pay ~$140 and get the usb stick and 5gb.
The 5gb expires in 6 months.
On average, we use around 1.5gb-2gb a month. So that would be 9-12gb usage in 6 months. So far so good, we'll either use up the 5gb each before the 6 months is up, OR just come close.

So far, that's $280 for 6 months of internet access.

If we were to STAY with our current plan, we would be spending ~$462 (current plan costs ~$77 a month for 5gb per month of usage - which we never come close to anyway. So far, that's an approx saving of $180. But the initial outlay is a straight up $280. Hmmmm.

Initially my list of pros and cons included running out at a time when we couldnt recharge (seeing as we mainly use the net at night anyway) but you can now do it all online, so that doesn't even present an issue anymore.

The recharge costs are:
575MB 15 days exp $15
750MB 15 days exp $20
1.15GB 30 days exp $30
2.3GB 30 days exp $40
3.45GB 30 days exp $50
4.6GB 60 days exp $70
6.9GB 60 days exp $100


If we were to both get the 1.15gb each month we would still be saving money, and we could play it smart and share a USB to stretch out recharging, overlapping at 2 week intervals instead of recharging at the same time. But I think most months we would only need a 750mb recharge each. Which would be a saving each month of $37.

Anyway. So the cost issue is worked out, I just need to work out the technical side of things, like if we can actually use it, what the coverage is, speed etc. Hmmm. Well, atleast it's a viable option *so far*.



a thinking post

April 12th, 2010 at 05:38 pm

In an earlier blog entry I posted that I would only have one day off this week. Well, I am home sick today. Frown 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? Big Grin 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.

*sigh*

In other news, the family business is plodding along splendidly. That has to count for something right? Big Grin 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 Big Grin

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.


breakdown of property rates

February 16th, 2010 at 07:14 pm

Paid our 6-monthly property rates today. We got a $61.50 discount for paying it before the 19th.

Would you like to know what we get for our property rates? (I mean other than being safe in the knowledge that our council members just approved themselves a 3.2% payrise...)

Water Consumption Charge: $59.40
Water Base Charge: $105.50
Sewerage Base Charge: $258.00
Waste Bin: $93.50
Environmental Levy: $30.00
Public Transport Levy: $10.00
State Fire Levy: $75.60
General Property Rate: $521.50

Total: $1153.50
Less Discount: -$61.50
Total: $1092.00


Oh! The joys of being a homeowner!

grrrr. already overspent this month.

January 27th, 2010 at 11:55 am

Due to various factors, we've spent more than we earned this month. The two biggest factors in overspending are:

- Our income was decreased, as DF has only been working one or two days a week, therefore only bringing in around $200-$400 a week. Frown

- Instead of working, he has decided to be useful around the house and started on a couple of our renovation plans. While that's GREAT, it meant we took money out of our buffer to pay for materials. *sigh*

It's kind of like a catch 22: he's not working, so it's the best time to do these things, but it's actually the worst time to do these things BECAUSE he's not working (and so it's eating up our funds!) Big Grin

-----

He has nearly finished downstairs. I want to post pictures, but I am waiting until the weatherboards have been painted. At the moment they look horrible, as we re-used them from DF's dads house and they only have an undercoat of paint on them - looks somewhat like we took them off an abandoned house - dirty and a bit gross... Big Grin But still, the house looks very different. So, picture soon, I promise!

woah! renovations!

December 24th, 2009 at 12:48 am

So last week DF and his dad and my little brother started to build in our downstairs area (it's a carport under our house, we are making it so it is an enclosed double garage.)

And today when I got home DF had decided to knock out the wall that separates the hallway and dining room from the lounge room. (Don't worry - the previous builder put in a counterbeam so it is not load bearing).

It took him a couple of hours but it's all done now, and wow! Definately makes a difference. Our house looks totally different inside, it will take some getting used to.

In other news, my cars brake lights won't turn off, even when the car is off and the keys aren't in the ignition. DF had to take the fuse out. WHY does this have to happen on CHRISTMAS EVE!? What the hell! Argh.

I have no idea what we are going to do; tomorrow is christmas and I have lots of driving to do. So I am going to look like an idiot driver that drives with their foot on the brake at all times. I hope I can get my mechanic to look at it on Tuesday, if DF and his BIL can't figure it out on the weekend. Grr. Talk about inconvenient.