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Archive for June, 2009

June Totals

June 30th, 2009 at 09:00 pm

Income:
DF: $2888.00
Me: $2326.70
Other: $20.00 (surveys)
Total: $5234.70

Expenses:
Mortgage (Min): $1523.08
Mortgage Extra: $607.00
Groceries: $454.56
Petrol: $146.04
Phone & Internet: $77.39
Car Repairs: $120.10
Mobile Phone: $55.76
House Insurance: $69.39
Life Insurance: $53.67
Property Rate (Adjustment): $65.00
Car Payments: $148.00
Pet Supplies: $22.31
House Maintenance/Repairs: $504.14
Appliances/House Gadgets: $52
DF Fun: $349.99
Me Fun: $218.85
Dining Out: $258.74
Entertainment: $92.00
One Off Purchases: $320 (Engagement Ring Deposit)
Bank Fees: $2.00
Gifts: $67.30

TOTAL: $5186.01

$48.69 remaining

Notes:
Under budget in the grocery category, which is good, by about $7 a week. Next month will be interesting, as I will be counting Jeds food into the grocery budget as well.

I transfered $607 into the mortgage today, we've made over $1200 in extra payments so far. Interest hasn't hit yet, (hits tomorrow) but I am enjoying having our loan balance at under $300k, even if it is just for a day!!! Next month it should be *officially* under 300k though.
Spent a bit on house stuff this month, star pickets and fencing, etc.

DF did well this month with his Fun money - only $7.49 extra per week than his alotted amount. Considering he paid for framing for some posters and the rest was probably beer, he did very well. Smile

My fun money total was $5.30 less per week than I was allowed to spend. I am going to leave this amount in the accounts, but in the future I am thinking of transferring it over to my car loan.

Dining out and entertainment were a little high, but we did not over indulge as such - the largest expense was a really nice restaurant which was kind of obligatory to attend that night as it was DF's sisters last 'childless night out'.

One off purchase was the engagement ring deposit - I thought I would be picking it up and paying the $2k this month, but they rang me and it will not be ready until August now. Which is a bummer - but that gives us another 4 weeks to buffer the cost.

I haven't really started on saving this month - more focused on making some extra payments. We still have approx $8k EF and around $700+ in our bills account.

End of Financial Year!

June 29th, 2009 at 03:50 pm

Like Kitty has posted also, it is the end of the financial year for us ol' aussies.

For most, this means waiting for our employers to give us group certificates, getting ready for tax (though most people leave it until October) and maybe taking advantage of the stocktake sales. Some people might have to do an hour or so of counting stock for their work.

Me, however, and anyone else that does any type of work to do with finances, has a lot on their plate during this time.

This week at work I have to:
Calculate employees total yearly earnings, tax etc and send out individual group certificates.
Total the jobs and income for the year, and for the quarter.
Print a quarterly statement from our financial software, and prepare a backup disc for the year to give to the accountant.
Send the total wages information to the tax office.
Send an estimate of next years wages to Work Cover.
Reconcile Junes Bank statements.
Prepare the last quarters business activity statement.
Make an appointment with the accountant.
Total the last quarters superannuation payments and mail.
Prepare everything for the next financial year (starts tomorrow!).

So, in the next two days I have to do all that, plus my normal workload.

But, I am still young and foolish enough to get excited about the EOFY, because tax refunds and bonza sales. Big Grin I am sure it will wear off in a few years.

My dad once didn't do his taxes for ten years!

What's your top 10 songs?

June 28th, 2009 at 02:46 pm

In Australia there is a radio station, Triple J, which is not a commercial radio station, but is very well known. Every year they release a cd of the Top 100 songs of the year, which is voted for by the public. In 1989 they released an album, Top 100 Songs Of All Time. (Love will Tear Us Apart being the #1 song at that time).

This year they are doing it again, so DF and I voted. The voting closed last night at midnight.

DF voted for a lot of Ween songs Smile, Beethovens Fur Elise, Queens of the Stone Age and The White Stripes.

I voted for:
Eleanor Rigby (The Beatles) Golden Brown (The Stranglers) All Along The Watchtower (Jimi Hendrix) Times Are A Changing (Bob Dylan) Buckingham Green (Ween) Jailhouse Rock (Elvis) Billy Jean (Michael Jackson) Seven Nation Army (The White Stripes) Fur Elise (Beethoven) and O Fortuna (Carl Orff).

Fingers crossed some of them make it into the top 100!

You also have to pick your # 1 song and explain why, and the winner gets an all expenses paid trip to the Reading Festival. So cool! My # 1 song was by Bob Dylan.


Anyway. This doesnt really have anything to do with finances... unless you count MAYBE having a trip to England? Or that we'll be spending $30 on a CD soon...? Big Grin lol.

What are your top 10 songs?

i am SO angry

June 28th, 2009 at 02:11 am

Today my older sister called - she lives in the city so I don't get to see her often. She is going to the UK very soon on a holiday. Because our mum was born in Wales we are able to get an ancestral visa, allowing us to work and live in the UK and EU for 4 years, and then we can apply for residency.
All my sister needs for this is a copy of my mums Birth Certificate, signed by a Justice of the Peace. All easy to do, you would think, on my mums part. Something you think a mother would gladly do for her daughter, right?

Wrong.

At first, she said yes. She even copied the documents and everything.

But all of a sudden, she changed her mind (I did not know this - I thought she had sent them). She sent my sister a text message that said, she had thought about it and decided not to do it for my sister, as my sister is not a seasoned traveler (whatever the F that means). She does not believe that my sister 'deserves' this.

I am SO f&!@#ing angry right now. How is that our mothers decision, how is that her right, to say that her daughter doesnt DESERVE to live in the UK for 4 years???

Of course, that is my mother for you. When you need something from her, she is manipulative and controlling. And she makes such a big deal out of what she is doing for you. I just can't believe hwo much of a control-freak she is being.

Long story short, my sister rang me and told me all that, and that she has told our mum that she no longer wants anything to do with her, atleast for a while. My sister told me she, at this moment, feels she would like to not talk to our mother for at least ten years. Some of you know some of my previous stories about my mother, so you can probably understand that I agree with my sister 100%. It's so hard to explain, but I can't put into words how much of a piece of work my mother is.

Oh, and my younger brother and sister, 14 and 15 years old, who live at home still, are not allowed contact with my older sister now. I find it completely ridiculous. My mother raves on and on about 'segregation of family' and how people 'disrespect her', and yet, she is the one that segregates everyone, and can you really blame any of us for disrespecting her???

*SIGH*

My poor sister, she only has bought her ticket to france and is now saving her spending money. She was relying on this working visa, she will only have $4000 in spending money. Frown

ARGHHH.

How to Make Dog Food

June 26th, 2009 at 06:44 pm

I saved some money yesterday my using my brain. I NEARLY bought a gift pack from the body shop - saves me wrapping it nicely, but I decided at the last minute to just check out their individual pricing - and I realised I nearly paid $8 for wrapping paper!!! What the hell?

For $32.70 I would have gotten 1 body wash, 1 body lotion, a bar of soap and a wash mit. But for $29.70 I got two bars of soap, a body wash, a body lotion and one of those little fancy facewashers, the ones that are packed in a tiny little cylinder and you have to add water, they're called Magic Flannels. So I saved some money and got something extra.

Today am going to be making some meals for Jed. I found out the other day that my friend T also makes dog food for her dogs. Here I was thinking I was the only weird hippy that believed dogs shouldn't be fed out of cans. Who woulda thought???

For anyone that's wondering, this is what I do:

Ingredients:
(as a general rule - dogs should have 40% meat, 30% vegetables and 30% starch)

800g meat (I use whatever is least fatty on special, ie. rump steak, chuck steak, bbq steaks etc - usually around $13 a kilo)
600g finely chopped vegetables (carrots, beans etc)
600g cooked pasta or rice

I sometimes put 1 clove of garlic in the food, but it must be cooked and must be fresh garlic. Garlic helps repel fleas - but spoiled or raw garlic is bad for dogs.

Usually I cook the rice and saute the vegetables and garlic. Once the vegetables are soft, I add the chopped meat and turn off the heat.

If your dog prefers cooked meat you may want to cook it all the way through, but most dogs I have looked after prefer it on the rare side (but completely uncooked meat gives dogs the runs if you give it to them in large quantities without a lot of fibre).

Once the rice or pasta is cooked, add it to the pot with the vegetables and meat and stir through.

Then I put the mix in small containers (usually two serves in one container - but that is for small dogs).

Don't keep the cooked mix in the fridge, unthawed, for more than three days.

I do feed dogs dry food, we buy an organic one made from lamb and rice enriched with vitamins from a guy at the sunday markets.

I have heard you can use oatmeal too, in place of rice or pasta, but I have never tried this - though my parents sometimes feed their dogs porridge in the morning in winter time - same as everyone else in their house! It's cute to see the whole family eating breakfast together, even the dogs, lol.

I have had one person on here, and many in 'real' life, say that making dog food would be too hard and time consuming, but it really is not. Also, I know what my dog is eating, and that it is not some unidentifiable stodge from a can! I feel much better knowing that.

today i spent... $2320.00

June 25th, 2009 at 12:50 am

Yes!

The engagement ring is now IN THE MAKING.

I am able to pick it up on 16/07/09.

Ok, well technically I did not pay the full amount, I paid a deposit of $320, and will pay the rest when I pick it up. Or DF will pay it when he picks it up.

So then we will be able to start telling people, properly. I didn't feel the need to rush really, we will not get married for a good few years yet anyway. I don't mind being 'engaged' for a long period either, it gives you more time to appreciate the work that went into the engagement ring, and to enjoy being engaged as a separate thing from marriage, not distracted from stressful wedding organisation either, instead of just looking at it as a stepping stone to a wedding/wedding band.

So finally, eh!? It has been a few months since DF proposed, in January. About time!

Ways I Cut Costs &... how do YOU cut costs?

June 23rd, 2009 at 07:53 pm

I have always tried to get the best deals for everyday things. A lot of the time getting a good deal means locking into some type of contract. I've never had a problem with this, but at the same time, you have to weigh up whether a better deal will come up halfway through your 'lock in' phase. And then, you must be prepared to pounce once your lock in period expires, to avoid falling into the lazy trap and paying a higher price for an old product.

Over a year ago I locked into a 24 month contract for our internet. At the time, there were 3 of us sharing the cost, so we had a reasonable amount of downloads to go with that. (It was $75 a month for line rental and 5gb of downloads).
The plan expires around January 2010, so while I've still got a while to wait, it's a good opportunity for me to see whats out there. Also, I have to take into consideration that being just myself and DF, we only use about 1-2gb of downloads a month now. After only a little searching, I was able to find a plan for 3gb downloads for $68 a month, including line rental. I could probably go a step further and get the best separate deals on line rental and internet; but usually there's a bundle discount, which would probably cancel out any savings.

We don't 'do' cable television, and probably never will. I just don't see the point, I'm sorry. (And here we only have 7-10 channels, depending on whether you have HD or not - and we don't). So that's a monthly expense saved.

Gas - well, we are probably a while away from getting a refill for those. We have two massive bottles that the previous tenants filled before vacating, and in the near-four months we've been living here, we haven't even used one whole one yet. I have considered when the time comes, ringing different gas companies and seeing what type of deal they can give us if we signed some type of contract with them. My boss told me that his wife signed up with one and they gave them 2 free bottles (they cost $100 each, so that's a good saving!).

Electricity - It's probably the one thing I would be hesitant signing a contract for. Electricity prices are getting higher by the second, and there are so many clauses in their sneaky contracts, so much fine writing to read, and the fact that energy has been privatised recently has lead to a lot of disgruntled people I've spoken to who've been dealing with the new 'energy' salesmen. So, I might leave that one for now, and simply try to save money the old fashioned way: turninng things off at the switch, switching off the lights, making sure we ONLY switch the second fridge on for parties etc.

Bank Fees - something some people don't consider when cutting costs. We are fortunate to be 'good' with our credit cards, and pay off the balance each month. Also, we only have one fee for our banking, which comes yearly. It's hefty, at $395, but with a bit of planning I am hoping to offset it against our credit card rewards and interest earnings/savings. Also, if either of us incur a withdrawl fee for using another banks ATM, there's hell to pay! We keep on each others backs about that.

Heating/Cooling Costs - We don't have any! So that's a plus. However, DF hopes to get an airconditioner next summer. So we have about 6 months to find a good deal, and 6 months to prepare ourselves for the astronomical electricity bill. And 6 months to decide what constitutes an appropriate temperature to turn it on in the first place (to lower the before mentioned electricity bill).

Entertainment - It's one of the few things you can find coupons for in Australia. That, and car tinting! So we always try to use a coupon when bowling, to save ourselves a couple of bucks per game. We are members of a movie club, and try to see movies either on cheap Tuesdays ($9.50 tickets) or the movie of the week ($8.50 tickets). Now and again we will pay full price for a movie, but not very often at all. At $15.20 a pop, we'd be broke in seconds if we paid full price every time we went to the movies!

Groceries - I have to admit I am not as savvy a shopper as some of you are here. We also don't have such a large scale coupon culture here either. But I do try to take advantage of good deals, and shop around. Another confession I have is: I don't mean to, and certainly don't want to come off as a snob, but I turn up my nose at a lot of the junk that DOES sell for incredibly cheap prices at the supermarkets. I just can't fathom paying money, however small the amount is, for something like premade mac and cheese (just an example) and putting it into my body for fuel. I just can't do it. So while I realise those are two big money losses on my account, I do try to make up atleast a small amount of savings by buying extra of an item I normally buy when it is on sale. DF is also getting in on this. He found the coffee we normally buy, an organic rainforest brand that sells normally for $9 for 250g, on special for $5 a pack, so he bought three packs. I found Extra Virgin Olive Oil, normally $9.99 for 1L, on special for $2.99 and bought three bottles.
So we do cut costs sometimes with grocery shopping.


What are some ways that you cut costs on every day items?

Meal Plan

June 23rd, 2009 at 03:48 pm

This is a loose meal plan for the week, starting from tonight. I say 'loose' meal plan, because sometimes, as a lot of you probably experience as well, you just don't feel like eating/cooking what you planned to.

Wednesday: Beef Ragou Pie for DF/ Miso soup for me

Thursday: Feta and Oven Roasted tomato tart.

Friday: Pumpkin stuffed ravioli with a tomato sauce.

Saturday: BBQ at a friends house

Sunday: Rice Pilaf (with lamb for DF)

Monday: Bolognaise for DF/ Vege Pasta for me

Tuesday: Slow Cooker Meal for DF/Mexican Tomato Beans for me with rice.



I found out something the other day: DF doesn't like seafood. He likes fish and bug tails, but nothing else! Seafood is the only meat I will occasionally eat (like, once a month or less), and DF grew up with his dad being very into fishing and seafood. I love prawns and crab meat, and we were watching master chef the other day and I mentioned I might make some kind of grilled prawn dish and DF was like 'YUCK!'. So then I found a recipe in a book for a crab linguine that looked delicious, and he said the same thing. It came as quite a shock to me, I've known him for 9 years!

Anyway. I guess you learn something new every day eh?

meals, ring etc

June 22nd, 2009 at 11:39 pm

I am addicted to Bejewelled Blitz on Facebook. It's getting out of hand - I use it as a treat to myself when I finish a work goal lol. ('reconcile the credit card statement - and then one game' or 'pay the wages - one game') Ah!

Anyway!

I've just turned the Lamb Ragou onto the 'warm' setting on the slow cooker. I took Jed for a walk (he was quite good! excited to go for a walk, but good!). He probably wanted to go for longer (took about 20-25 minutes) but my lazy self, having had no exercise for a couple of weeks, decided that was a big enough walk for today.

It's meant to be winter but I would guess it's about 20 degrees C outside right now. Yesterday it rained all day. Damn Queensland weather! Never know what to expect.

DF's dad and my mum came over to see Jed. They believe he isn't 100% Jack Russell - he may have some kelpie in him. (?) I don't care, I love him anyways! Big Grin DF's dad is still fine with him siring his Jack Russell though. How exciting! Little puppies!!!

They bought him a bone that they got the butcher to cut in half lengthways. It's nearly the size of HIM! I will have to post a photo of it with him next time.

Tomorrow I am going grocery shopping with a friend for the week (I know it's weird). So in a few minutes I am going to pour myself a cup of tea and go over my recipe magazines. I wish I could get my recipe BOOKS unpacked, but in our haste to clean up for the housewarming party, we stacked them against the basement wall, then stacked half our worldy possessions against those to get everything out the way. *Sigh* so I will have to wait a while for those. I have so many beautiful recipe books and I just want to flick through them all...

I spent $5 on breakfast this morning, I bought a spinach & fetta roll and a strawberry crumble scone. Oh so good!!! I have been good with my personal spending, but our dining out total for the month is disastrous! It's so easy to go 'lets get dinner as a treat for ourselves'.
In our defence, a large amount is due to the dinner out at the fancy restaurant with DF's mum, sister and her partner. Their last non-child dinner out for a while, I presume. And what a dinner! Oh, it was so delicious, worth the money, every last cent. ($30 mains, $15 desserts - and reasonably cheap cocktails at only $10). I had a sweet potato gnocchi with mushroom & spinach sauce, DF had lamb with pea puree and roasted pumpkin with a tomato jus. The desserts we shared, crusty canoli with lemon zested cream and berry compote, and a tiramisu with honey fairy floss on top. Makes me want to drive all the way there again tonight for dinner!

Next week I am going to focus on clearing out our freezer. It is in simple terms... a mess. It's chock full of frozen leftovers, bread, ice, scones, meat, tofu etc. For some reason we also have a zillion ice bricks in there.

And I need to make space for Jeds food. (we do not feed dogs 'dog' food from a can or sausage - we feed them a small portion of chopped meat, some veges and rice mixed together, and dry food. The vets are always amazed that we do that, apparently it's rare to make your own dog food??? I have grown up that way, with all pets we have had. And it's so much cheaper too - don't understand why more people don't do it!). It is funny though - the previous carers told us he is fussy with food, so I only made a small portion for him at first. The first meal I gave him, he ate it all, in about 30 seconds!

Anyway, enough dog talk, I am sure you're all sick of it by now.

So, I am thinking I will make the appointment to go and see the jeweller on thursday or friday this week. I bought a jewellery magazine a few weeks ago, and I have marked all the pages that I like different designs. When I went, the lady really did not get what I wanted. She was ever so helpful, but I don't think she realised exactly how simple I want the ring. I said 'a plain band' and she showed me an array of, yes plainER than the previous lot, but not actually PLAIN. Lol. Who knew you could be called fussy for being unfussy?

updates

June 22nd, 2009 at 02:44 pm

Got home from work today and Jed was still in the yard! I stressed out all day thinking he would dig himself out and run away, but he didnt.

My boss, his wife and two kids, an older woman colleague and my friend/colleague came over for tea and coffee this afternoon, and so that my boss's wife and my other work colleague could see the house. (My boss has already seen it, and so had my friend/work colleague - but she was just there for moral support lol)

Spent 50c on a can of coke today at work. Another work colleague *may* have swine flu, but i think it's a long shot - i think she just wants some days off, and some attention (she's THAT type of person).

I have been so busy (doing what, I don't know) that I haven't even noticed I have been doing once-a-week grocery shopping. Usually I have had to run into the store atleast twice during the week to get something I need, but lately, not!

Last night I had a grand plan to make Baked Romani Gnocchi - but it all fell through after everyone left at 5pm and I couldn't find the recipe, so we had toasted sandwhiches for dinner instead, hehe. The bread was fresh baked today, does that count? (Never mind the baked beans I had, or the tinned spaghetti DF had). It's our one plunge into bad food that we have, along with takeaway pizza every couple of weeks. Normally I make everything from scratch out of fresh ingredients - but my guilty pleasure is toasted sandwhiches and baked beans. Combine the two and whala! Terrible eating habits! LOL. DF prefers the spaghetti in the can. We probably use half a can each in a night and then he uses the rest for his breakfasts.

Tonight I am making a Lamb Ragout for DF in the slow cooker. I might make some mexcian beans and have that with rice tonight instead.

I have to buy a small birthday gift for a friends 28th birthday. She is the wife of a guy, B, who worked with DF's friend, R. B got sacked at the start of all the GEC nonsense, but found a job he is much happier with. DF's friends are all a very tightly knit group who have been friends with each other since primary school and high school, but somehow B managed to wrestle his way in this past year and is well liked by everyone, along with his wife M. They are just very friendly and easy to get along with people. (They were the ones that bought us that lovely bottle of wine for our housewarming - I don't even drink red wine and I drank it, it was that nice!)

So you can see my dilemma, I don't know them very well, but seeing as they bought us a gift for our housewarming I feel obliged to get atleast a small present for M's birthday. Our problem is that we haven't spent enough time with her to know what she likes. DF wanted to screenprint something for her - but the problem there is that unless you know a girl fairly well, you can't get a shirt for her (the issue with sizing - what if you get it too big? you'll hurt her feelings. what if you get it too small? you'll also hurt her feelings and she won't ever wear it!). Then we thought about a blank bag that we could screenprint something on, but there's the problem of not knowing her very well - so what if we printed something she didn't like?

So I suggested some body stuff. Girly things like lotion, scrubs, foot soakers etc always go down well don't they? I could get a gift pack from the Body Shop, and it probably wouldn't be any more than $30 and still seem slightly fancy...?

Anyway, I am sure we will figure it out.

DF is going to make a kennel for Jed. We were joking that we could make it weatherboard to match our house, hehe. That would be so cute!

DF bought him some toys yesterday. He seems to favour a bone made out of rawhide (?). He's been chewing on it a lot and it's hardly made a dent, so I am thinking that's a very good buy!

One thing happened yesterday: we were on the balcony and Jed was below it (could see him through the cracks in the deck). DF looked down and goes 'What the HELL!' and said he saw Jed ON the downstairs table. I said it was probably just his eyes, but we went downstairs and there were paw prints on it! Now, not only is it bad for him to be jumping on a table, that is not our main worry (a few taps on the nose and he will realise he is not allowed to do that). No, our main concern is that the table height is the same as the fence DF put up!!! Which basically means at any time if he wanted to, Jed could jump the fence and stroll away. So here we were being worried that he would DIG himself out, and he can just jump it!!! It's not a surprise that a dog can jump, of course, but he is a fairly bulky boy - he does not seem like he could jump very high. The pictures show him to be normal sized, but I think his previous carers had over fed him a lot.

Which leads me to thinking, why hasn't he run off yet? He was alone all day yesterday but didn't leave. So he must like it here. I am thankful he is obedient in that sense, that he stays with you, even when DF was building the fence. I guess it means he has adopted us as his owners now, as we have adopted him as our pet.