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Revisiting our Spending Plan

August 25th, 2010 at 02:46 am

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 I was thinking our spending plan is probably outdated a bit, and I think a re-doing of the plan and our weekly expenses was in order.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?

interest rates up

June 9th, 2010 at 12:59 am

I got a letter in the mail from our bank yesterday. The Reserve Bank raised interest rates about a month ago, and now our bank is passing that on to us. Mind you, our payments do not go up until September.

Our new variable rate is 6.91% - and we get a package discount which takes it down to 6.80%.

Our fixed rate is 7.64%.

We have a split loan, part is variable and part is fixed, and the variable portion payments will go up ~$14 a week.

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

May 18th, 2010 at 04:31 am

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*.



still keeping track

April 28th, 2010 at 02:39 am

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 Smile

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. Frown 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!

rates up! mortgage payment up!

January 21st, 2010 at 07:27 pm

The variable portion of our mortgage has had the rate (finally) adjusted. Rates rose about two months ago, and the bank has finally made our payments more. I like that they take their sweet time doing it!

Old weekly payment: $159.23
New Weekly Payment: $176.77

Our fixed portion remains the same at $259.23 per week.

Our variable interest rate has gone from 5.21% to 5.91%