Thursday, November 1, 2012

My plans and goals for November

I'm going to relax a little on the debt front in November, pumping my all into the car took it's toll on us as a family, so I'll sit back and keep it simple this month.

I have a small financial goal


I have a couple of personal goals.

Financial Goal:
To pay off and finalise all the Christmas layby's.
To reintroduce sanity/spending money for hubby and I.

To re-jig the budget and allocate the extra money (what was the car payment) accordingly. We'll continue to live a thrifty lifestyle, but more relaxed then before.

Personal Goals:
To lose the 3kg that somehow attached itself to me (surely it wasn't all that yummy comfort food over winter...was it??)
To get back into my routine of early bed and wake up times (that went out the window with school holidays).

I've really got to cut down on the hot chips...or better yet stop eating them altogether.
A maximum of one can of coke a day (already doing)
Drink plenty of water (already doing)
I'll snack on fruit and have simple salad and cold meat sandwhiches for lunch and light meals for dinner. Breaky will be something healthy or a yummy smoothie. I did the above earlier in the year and I had great results.

 With going to bed earlier, I've just gotta be strict on myself, but it's a bit hard when I've got so many cool blogs to read :)

That's it! I'm keeping it simple this month.

What are your goals for November?

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Finally the car is ours :)

As the title says, the car is all ours. We paid off our car in full this morning :)

We bought our car on 22nd October 2010 for $26064.48

One year later on the 22nd October 2011, the balance was $19058.49

Another year later on the 31st October 2012, the balance is $0!!!

It is such a great feeling to have paid the car off and have such a big debt out of the way. We also paid a credit card off in full this month too, so that's two debts down in October.

In September we paid off our computer, so in the past 2 months we have knocked out 3 debts and boy it feels good!

Thursday, October 25, 2012

How we cope as a single income family Pt 2 - Budget and dollar stretching

In part two of the How we cope as a single income family series, I'd like to share the way we budget and the things we do, and don't do to stretch that dollar further.

This is how I do our budget in order:

1.Fixed payments
Any and all fixed payments, such as mortgage, rent, loans etc, is allocated first as this is most important.

2. Bill money
We add all our bills up for the year and divide by 52 (or 26 if you get paid fortnightly, 12 if you get paid monthly etc). We put that figure away each pay into a separate bills acct. This includes everything from phone bills - car registration.

3.Leftover money
Any and all leftover money is allocated between groceries, petrol, play/sanity money etc. We learn to be creative and live off what we have left over.

We find doing the budget this way means we never struggle to find bill money as it's always there, the mortgage is always paid as it's first on the list, and we don't spend ridiculous amounts on groceries and take away because the money just isn't there.

We find free or cheap entertainment for the family. It's amazing just how excited the kids get when we take them to the park and bring along a footy to kick around.

We're fortunate enough to live in a street with lots of kids around my kids ages, so they spend most of their afternoon playing with friends.

Things we do and don't do to save money
Live within your means
Allocate every single dollar - Rent/mortgage/board, bills, loans, credit cards, groceries, savings, play/pocket/sanity money or allowance.

Shop at Aldi
Cook from scratch - a great way to include the kids.
Get out of the habit of shopping because it's 'shopping day'. Look through your pantry, fridge and freezer and use what you've got on hand. Get creative.
Substitute ingredients.
Cook meals your family enjoy and will eat.
Water, cordial and milk are the main drinks - we don't give the kids juice cause Mr 2.5 gets a very upset tummy from drinking it, and to avoid any tantrums we don't let any of the kids have it.
Look around for good deals - We do most of our shop at Aldi, but our local green grocer is better priced with everything we buy except for grapes which are cheaper elsewhere.
I don't buy meat over $10/kg
I get the bulk buy rump steak and use for all stews, stirfries, pies etc, so no expensive diced beef
I use basic ingredients for seasoning's - good old salt and pepper, season all, garlic and paprika. I have more in there which I bought a while back but hardly use. I find I use it just to get rid of it, so that was a total waste of money.

Shopping - Clothing, Christmas/Birthdays, household
I buy on sale/clearance
We buy second hand
We happily accept second hand clothing off friends and family (we received a bag of stuff today, including a gorgeous faux leather jacket and some Ben 10 and Toy story clothes still in excellent condition)
We buy good quality furniture and appliances - We've bought cheap and found they didn't last long. We wasted money replacing with more cheap items. We're better off buying something built to last even if it means paying more (not always the case though).
I put a limit on birthday/christmas pressies
I buy things on clearance throughout the year and keep a gift box to store until needed. This way we've always got gifts on hand, so no last minute dash to the shops.
I take advantage of the layby service
I take advantage of the July toy sales
We don't buy pressies for everyone
We hold regular garage sales.

I use both cloth and disposable nappies.
Aldi nappies are great, even for night use.
Even before I switched to Aldi full time, I'd use cheaper brand nappies for day time, unless huggies was on a really good special, in that case I'd stock up.
I breastfed for 8.5 months with our 4th (not always possible, I couldn't do it for long with the other 3, my first lasted 5 days).
I reuse what we've got.
We didn't get the lastest and greatest. I did however waste a bucket load on the baby manchester coz it was just sooo cute :)

I walk as much as possible.
Hubby has a little run around for work which costs about $15 a week on fuel, where as his old car cost $50+ a week on fuel.
I only fill the family car up once a month - I have to make it last
I combine errands

I do the hair cuts
We don't smoke, and drink only occassionally
We have play money each which is used for whatever we want. If we want something big which is a personal want we have to save for it out of our own money

Energy Consumption
We run the dishwasher after 10pm - cheaper rates
I charge my phone when I use the laptop - saves power.
We have solar water and solar power.
We reuse boiled water from eggs/veggies on the garden
The kids are still young enough to bath together
I shower after 10pm
I chuck all washing in together, unless there is enough 'whites' or 'darks' etc to make a load. I know some people will not do this, but it works for us, I've never had a problem with colours running, coz I always hand wash brand new items first.
We barely watch TV, mainly coz we're too busy, but we don't want the kids being addicted to technology and not have an imagination (this was an issue, but since cutting back on screen time they have great imaginations).
We turn off lights, TV's etc when not in use.

I hope this can be useful to someone, as doing these little things has helped us greatly.
If you'd like to know more, feel free to comment or drop me a line on facebook. I'll do my best to get back to you as soon as possible :)

I am in no way a professional in this area, just a SAHM trying to stretch her hubby's hard earned cash as far as it will go :)

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

How we cope as a single income family - Pt 1 - Our story

Please Note: I'll do this over a series of posts as I feel there is a need for a bit of background info, to help explain our situation.


I've been approached by a fair few people now, about how we cope financially on one income, pay off our debts and still live a fun life.

It's simple. I'd rather keep our hard earned dollars in our own pockets than in someone else's.


I grew up in a single income family of 6 in Sydney. Dad worked hard. He did the day shift when we were little, getting up at about 3am and not coming home til about 7:30pm, in which we were already in bed. So we never saw him. In the end, I would get up as soon as I heard him getting ready for work, just so I could spend a few minutes a day with him. As we got older, he switched to night shift. He slept all day and worked all night. Again, we hardly saw him.

My parent's had the usual debts - a mortgage, car loan, credit cards... putting 4 kids through school.. etc

We never went without, in fact when I look back we did quite well. Sure we didn't have everything brand name, but mum made sure she'd get a couple of brand name items for us so we weren't left out.

I did however, feel deprived of time with dad and as a family unit. It was mostly us kids and Mum.

Before I became a SAHM, I was working pretty much full time. Picking up as many (extra) shifts as I could and doing as much over time as I could. To me (and my husband who was also working as much as he could), we thought we were doing the right thing for our family in order to get ahead. But we weren't. We didn't have the right mindset. We were on an excellent combined income, so therefore we had a hideous spending habit, and an even more hideous (growing) debt.

When I was just 21 years old, and 32 weeks pregnant with our 2nd, we bought a fixer upper and within a year we had bought a bigger car, installed a new kitchen, bathroom, driveway, ripped up the carpets and stained the floorboards, installed ceiling fans in every room, ran power to the garage, got built ins, cladded the house, ripped out and replaced all the old windows and external doors, ripped out a wall and replaced with a sliding door, got a new lounge, bed and mattress, flat screen TV, installed another aircon unit... that's not including all the little improvements like painting etc... So in one year we WASTED over $90000 on the house. Did it improve the value of our home? Yep. Did we miss out on most of our 2nd child's first year? Yep! Am I happy with that?? Definitely not!! Did it stop there? Sadly no. We went on to waste over $4300 on a 7 pc dining set, coffee table and TV unit... why? Cause I fell in love with it. Do I regret buying it? No. Do I regret spending that much? Yes!! I can't believe we spent that much!

So why did we spend that much? Because we lived above and beyond our means.We thought we earned enough to support the lifestyle we wanted. We were young, dumb and had too much disposable income which should've been put on the mortgage. But we didn't and now we are paying for it. Literally!

Have we always been this way?

No! When I was 15, I really wanted my own computer in my room so I could surf the net and chat to friends without having to limit time due to siblings wanting to use the computer too. When I got my first job, I sat down with my payslip and a computer catalogue and worked out how much I'd have to work to be able to save up for a computer. I didn't end up getting the computer because I was given an old one :D.. I have no idea what I ended up spending my money on... probably clothes and bags...

As soon as I was 18 and employed, my boyfriend (now hubby) and I moved into a unit (literally across the street from my parents lol). I was always jotting down our incomings and outgoings and working extra debt payments into our "expenses" (I had no idea at this point that I was budgeting lol). We were never late with rent or bills, refused to get credit cards, saved up for things we wanted (except for a medical debt and a computer my husband bought -  he leased that). We furnished our little patch of heaven with pre loved goods from family, garage sales, ebay, second hand stores. We stayed there for about 6 months and then rented a cute little 3 bedder which we were going to buy but the owners wife was too greedy (the owner himself was willing to accept our offer). We had over $10000 saved and were still enjoying our credit card free life. It started going down hill from there. We sold our cars (cash not credit), bought shiny new ones (credit), bought a house and blew most of our savings.

A credit card came with the home loan even though we told the bank we didn't want one. I was going to cut it up, but mum told me to keep it 'for emergencies'. I understand what mum was saying, but I should've gone with my gut and cut it up. We had some money saved, enough to cover an emergency, but I still kept it... and unfortunately the spending started. Hence the debt.

We went from no credit cards to two of those interest free things and one mutual credit card.

I believe you have to have the right mindset to use your money wisely.

It's easy for anyone to say they want to save money and/or get out of debt, but without an action plan they won't get very far.

First, you need to work out what it is you want - save $5000 emergency fund? Save for a house deposit? Pay off debt?

Then work our exactly how much you owe, to who, and when it needs to be paid by.

If you have debt collectors chasing you for money, don't ignore letters/phone calls etc, let them know your situation, they are there to help. If you can afford to do so, give them a call and offer to pay 40% of the total amount owing up front and could they waive the rest of the debt.
We contacted a creditor and politely asked the above, they told us to send it in writing, we did and sure enough our offer was accepted. We saved ourselves $510 :)

Work out a payment plan to get those debts paid down/off.

There are many methods out there to pay down debt, such as Dave Ramsey's Debt Snowball method, which is to pay off the smallest debt while maintaining minimum payments on everything else and build momentum to pay off each consecutive debt. Hence the snowball. I like his method. It's been working well for us.

Put the payment plan into place and see those debts disappear. It's so invigorating :)

Where are we now?

We upgraded our car in Oct 2010, but this time it was a need as we have 4 kids (well we had 3 kids at that point but I knew we would have the 4th soon :)). We've paid off all store credit cards (interest free), so we finally own all our contents (yippee :)). Hubby bought his little run around with cash, and we've almost paif off the family car. We paid credit for our flights to QLD, but I'm not too fussed over that, because spending a few dollars in interest vs what could possibly be a financial ruin if we move interstate and end up hating it, is definitely well worth it.

Are we happy with our situation?
Yes we are. We wished we hadn't spent so much on the house, and waste so much money over the years, but we're happy. We love our house. We love the fact we can comfortably afford to have a parent home and  still pay off debts.

We now have the right mindset to dig ourselves out of the hole, and get back in control of our finances. We can now recognise needs vs wants and enjoy life the way we want, not the way society says we should.

I enjoy living a thrifty lifestyle, and learning all the different ways to stretch the dollar that much further, or better yet, not parting with it at all. To some people, this may seem "tight". Yes I suppose it may be, with today's world of spending being the norm, but I really don't care what the "norm" is and what isn't, what I'm concerned about is my family and OUR financial situation.

Some older posts that may be of interest:
3 year plan
What do I want out of life?
Debt slashing

In my next post, I'll share how we do our budget, and what we do to stretch our hard earned dollar that little bit further.

Linking up with the lovely Jess @ Dairy of a SAHM for IBOT :)

What are your financial goals?

Monday, September 24, 2012

Frittata Recipe

Frittata Recipe

6 med potatoes
2 carrots grated
1 med onion chopped
3 rashers of bacon
2 cups baby spinach
8 eggs
1/2 cup thickened cream (I ran out of cream so I made a simple white sauce with milk, butter and plain flour)
1 cup grated cheese
1/4 cup parmesan or enough to sprinkle over the top

Preheat oven to 200 degrees Celsius or 180 fan forced
Grease oven proof dish
Slice potatoes thinly and parboil 
Dice onion and bacon, heat oil in a non stick frying pan over medium heat and cook for about 3-4 mins or until onion is tender. Add carrots and spinach and cook until spinach is just wilted.
Place some of the potatoes in oven proof dish and add a layer of the onion mix, add more potatoes and onion mix. Repeat until finished.
Mix eggs and cream (or white sauce) in a bowl and gently pour over potatoes and onion mix. Sprinkle the cheese on top and bake for 35 mins or until the egg mixture is cooked and top golden.

This recipe fed 2 adults and 4 kids dinner plus lunch the next day, but if a smaller amount is required the measurements can be tweaked :)

Friday, September 7, 2012

Spring Cleaning - Decluttering

In my last post which you can read here, I mentioned that I wouldn't do any decluttering during my spring cleaning, as I knew I wouldn't finish what I set out to do...

Well I couldn't do it... I ended up decluttering :)

I got rid of (or put things aside for garage sale and returning to rightful owner) 50 items yesterday.

Rubbish and Recycling
  • 1 x (empty) box from Missy's room
  • 1 x lolly bag from Missy's room
  • 1 x lonely Dora domino from Missy's room (the rest were lost long ago)
  • 2 x catalogues from kitchen
  • 2 x wrapping paper from main bedroom
  • 1 x lolly box
  • 1 x bear shaped eraser (It's been around since I was a kid)

  • 1 x toy turtle with hammer
  • 3 x handheld games
  • 1 x jumper
  • 1 x jacket
  • 3 shirts
  • 5 x singlets (day wear)
  • 1 x baby jacket
  • 1 x toy dog carrier
  • 1 x purple toy
  • 1 x tiger toy
  • 1 x toy guitar
  • 1 x kids toy cup (again the rest were lost long ago)
Garage Sale

  • 1 x 2 pc PJ set
  • 3 x sz 0 tops
  • 2 x glass serving trays
  • 1 x glass bowl
  • 2 x glass candle holders
  • 2 x small glass jugs
  • 1 x glass measuring cup
  • 1 x glass thing.. I have no idea what it is
  • 3 x nappy covers
  • 2 x 2pk newborn nappies
  • 2 x reusable nappies to cousin

I was going to donate it all, but seeing as though my mum is having a garage sale in a few weeks, and I need to raise funds for our possible move, I thought I may as well try and sell some things.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Spring Cleaning - Zones

With spring finally arriving, it's time I started thinking about spring cleaning. Even with only one parent working outside the home, we've been struggling to keep up with the everyday basics, due to our busy lives. The house is starting to look a little neglected, and it's time to do something about it.

I've split my home into 4 zones, and I'll be working in one zone a week during September.

They are as follows:

Zone 1: Hallway (entryway) and  Lounge room
Zone 2: Kitchen and Laundry
Zone 3: Bedrooms 1 and 2
Zone 4: Bedroom 3 and Bathroom

  • Each zone will get a thorough clean and tidy, Which includes:

    General - All Rooms
    Dusting (inc. walls, fans, picture frames etc)
    Vacuuming (inc. behind/under furniture)
    Washing down of all hard surfaces (inc. walls, doors, windows etc)
    Clean switchplates and door knobs
    Clean Blinds

    General - All rooms
    Clean air con filter
    Wash bedding, inc. pillows and blankets.
    Air out Mattress
    Dust and wipe over lamp shade
    Deodorise carpet

    General - All rooms
    Scrub/steam clean grout
    Touch up grout
    Reseal grout
    Scrub taps
    Remove seat and scrub seat bolts
    Scrub bath
    Scrub toilet
    Scrub shower
    Mop floor

    General - All rooms
    Clean oven
    Clean microwave
    Clean out fridge and freezer
    Clean underneath fridge
    Vacuum and clean fridge coils
    Descale kettle
    Clean dishwasher
    Mop floor

    General - All rooms
    Clean air con filter
    Vac lounge
    Spot clean lounge
    Wash cushions and throws
    Mop floor

    General - All rooms
    Clean washing machine
    Clean Dryer
    Shine sink
    Mop floor
  • I haven't included jobs such as cleaning vanities, kitchen cupboards etc, as this is part of our weekly cleaning. 
  • I won't, or I should say I'll try not to declutter at this point, unless I finish that weeks zone early, otherwise I know I'll get distracted and end up not finishing what I set out to do.
  • I'll work little and often, instead of trying to do everything in one go and end up overwhelmed, frustrated and stressed and most probably give up. 
  • The zone cleaning needs to fit around our routine/schedule instead of us fitting around it. I still have appts to attend, make sure everyone is clothed, fed, clean, happy and well rested, aswell as keep up with my daily must do's. So there's a good chance I won't get it all done this month, but as long as I do what I can, I'm ok with that.
  • Most importantly I must remember to keep positive, smile, crank up the stereo and enjoy myself, after all a happy wife is a happy life :)
This was meant to be ready and posted by Saturday 1st Sept, but thanks to our crazy life its a few days late, so seeing as though it's Tuesday...

...I'm linking up with the lovely Jess at Diary of a SAHM for IBOT :)