Intentional Spending

I feel like I’ve been spending so much money lately that I thought it was time to reign that back in. I want to be more purposeful with my spending, to anticipate and plan my purchases instead of reacting to wants and things on sale. This has partly been inspired by my road to minimalism. I’m also going to start keeping track of my purchases again because I find it interesting to see exactly what my ‘I don’t know where all my money has gone’ money is being spent on.

So these are my intentional purchases for this month.

  • 2 birthday presents – $20 for the first and $50 for the second as it’s a 30th.
  • Dinner and drinks out for the first mentioned birthday – $100
  • Half of my eye brow appointment that I already have booked in – $320
  • An outdoor dog bed as the bed now is riddled with bugs and has been destroyed – up to $100
  • Dinner, drinks and parking before a concert – $100
  • Nibbles and food for my birthday – up to $200

I’ve also added a list of additional purchases. They’re purchases that don’t need to be made in a certain month – they’re more for when I’m looking for something but can’t really find exactly what I’m after so I want to keep an eye out for them.

This is my list of additional purchases.

  • Black loafers/shoes for work – up to $150
  • A new water bottle that tallies how many bottles have been drunk, is BPA free and made of glass – $50
  • Single serve bowls that can be microwaved x 4 – up to $50

All those purchases add up to pretty much all my spending money for the month so I’ll need to re-jig groceries as my fiance and I tend to eat expensive even at home. Or, he can pay for it all which to me is a much better system. It’ll also mean no impromptu dinners out, unless fiance is paying and no ‘just cuz’ purchases. To tell the truth even my ‘just cuz’ purchases get forgotten about. I have magazines that I’ve purchased every month this year that I still haven’t read. I have new books that I haven’t even started, I have new nail polishes even though I don’t really paint my nails anymore so it seems that I’m just spending money for the sake of it rather than because I really needed it or thought deeply about it.

I’m hoping that this will help me really think about what I’m purchasing and why I’m purchasing something. Do I really need it or do I simply want it?

My Proudest Financial Moment

One of my proudest moments of my financial history was the day that my partner and I, at 26, bought a house.

At times it was incredibly tough – we both worked casually so our incomes varied each week and we were both studying at university. But there were things that made it easier- living at home and not paying board as neither set of parents would accept any money from us.

Some would attribute our ability to save $30,000 in 10 months only to the fact that we lived at home and truthfully a large part of our savings plan was that.  So whilst that made it financially easier, it didn’t mean it was socially and emotionally easy.

Saving itself wasn’t difficult but making that choice to not do something so you could save extra money was. I can’t tell you how many after work drinks, birthdays, dinners out and just general catch ups I missed out on because I made the choice to save that money instead of spending it. My partner and I rarely went out during this time, opting instead to cook and do a movie night. I felt socially isolated as none of my friends had similar financial goals but looking back I’m so glad I made those choices – I don’t remember what I did last week so I imagine what happened on those nights out would be long gone from my memory.

I won’t say living at home didn’t have its perks – my grandmother lived with my family for the year before I moved out so there was always food cooking, the house work was split pretty evenly between myself and my parents yet I still had a place to call my own when I needed it. But I did miss out on experiences relating to living on your own or even learning to navigate housemates.

There are also a number of connotations that come with living at home that you need to put up with – that you’re lazy, you sponge off your parents, you have no independence etc and hey, I’m sure for some people it’s true. For me, I didn’t feel this way. I knew I pulled my weight around the house, I contributed to expenses where I could without my mama yelling at me and I was able to do as I pleased, quite frankly I was probably a lot more independent than some people who lived on their own but it was difficult reconciling what I felt about myself and what I felt others felt about me.

I hated that friends would go on about how lucky we both were to still be living at home because we had no responsibilities. I hated that they would guilt trip me when the majority had the opportunity to live at home too. But they chose to move out early and rent. It would frustrate me to no end when these same people would bemoan that they’d never be able to afford a house deposit but chose to rent in a very expensive suburb in a house much too large for what they require. If they really wanted to, they could have moved and easily saved themselves at least $600 a month so all I can think is that at that point in their lives, a deposit was a “future me” goal and something to complain about and not a priority.

But each to their own. I used to feel a slight twinge of shame about how I didn’t struggle to come up with a deposit and truthfully sometimes I still do feel a bit guilty about it but now I mostly own it. My partner and I made the choice that was right for us in order to reach a long term goal. In the end we were able to achieve it quickly and relatively easily by being ok not having the same things as those around us.

My fiance and I have separate finances. We’ve been together since we were 16 and bought and moved into our first home at 26 – it just made sense to keep doing what we were doing. Our mortgage is the only joint account we have which we both contribute to but we don’t have anything else together.

When it comes up in conversation people are always so surprised, as if having separate accounts means we’re less serious about our relationship than others are. It’s something we briefly discussed and we both decided that we like having our own independent accounts.

I think it creates an environment where neither of us feels that we have to explain or justify a purchase that we simply want. It ensures trust and it promotes responsibility in our lives.

When others ask me if I care what my partner spends his money on, I usually don’t. And the reason I don’t is because it’s not my concern. As long as he (and I) are paying off our mortgage and bills and contributing to savings, I don’t care what he does with his extra money. Because it’s just that – his. Just like my left over money is mine. This doesn’t mean that we won’t help the other out if necessary but it does mean that if he wants to spend $400 on a new gaming console he can, just like I’m free to spend $300 on books if that’s what I want to do.

We also don’t necessarily share what we spend our money on. If I purchase a big ticket item, I don’t feel the need to say “hey, buddy, I spent $1200 on an online course today.’ If it comes up in conversation I’ll mention it but I don’t feel the need to disclose it. And neither does he. There’s also no hiding purchases in the boot of the car. There’s no pretending that this top is old when it’s obviously brand new. There’s no justifying a $200 lunch out.  If we want to share we share, if we don’t, we won’t. We figure if the other was interested they’ll ask about it.

Doing it this way also ensures that we are both able to manage finances. It means that if something were to happen to one of us, the other would still be able to manage daily tasks, like paying bills. It surprises me how many people in my life have one partner do everything and the other has no idea about any of it. This scares me so much and is part of the reason I like having my own finances. It scares me that people leave themselves vulnerable to a situation that could be prevented.

Finances are a tricky thing to navigate though and there is no one step fits all. Whether you keep your finances separate or together is your choice. My only advise is that you are at least aware of how you do look financially and have an understanding of your daily expenses.

Whats your view on sharing finances?

How Outsourcing Can Improve Your Happiness

When I worked as a casual my pay was determined by the monetary value placed on my time. I earned a certain amount per hour and that was used to figure out whether it was worth the business keeping me on a shift or sending me home early.

I’ve started thinking about how much I value my time and what sort of price I could put on it. Could I outsource certain tasks to save myself some time? Most definitely. Would I? Absolutely. But right now I wouldn’t, mostly because it’s not a luxury I have yet.

There are so many people out there who really hate certain tasks and just don’t want to do them. Maybe they’re time consuming, difficult, laborious or just not interested but I think it’s worthwhile seeing if it’s in your means to outsource if it means you’ll be happier for it.

I mean if my partner decided he no longer wanted to mow the lawns, then I’d be hiring someone to do it because it is a task that I am just not interested in doing. Sure it might set me back anywhere between $50 -$100 but that’s 2 hours of my time that I wouldn’t be doing something I hated and could instead do something I enjoy, like napping.

Its an interesting thought especially as I really do want to save as much as possible but there are just some things not worth putting yourself through. The reality is, using money this way can buy you happiness and I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that.

Do you outsource tasks you don’t like doing? If not, would you if you could?

 

How I Save Money By Spending A Little Bit More

I used to do a weekly shop and found that I was throwing out most of the food I’d purchased. Why? Well, between the two family meals my partner and I have at our respective parents places, plus those leftovers and random brunches and dinners out, we don’t actually need that much between us. But occasionally we have those weeks where we barely leave the house, eat everything, run out and then have to bulk up and waste that.

So my strategy to combat waste has been to only pick up what I need for that night and occasionally adding in items for a meal the next night. This means only buying 2 bananas instead of a bunch, buying 1 bunch of asparagus or broccoli instead of a few to last the week. It also means re-evaluating whether I really need the 4 avocados for $10 if they are already on their way to ripening because I’ll just end up throwing it out anyway. So whilst that seems like a good deal, if I’m not going to eat 3 of them then I’m paying $10 for 1 avocado.

I admit, this can be hard. I personally hate having to go shopping every afternoon after work. Some days I just want to go straight home, sit on the couch and eat cereal for dinner. But I’m lucky that I can go at lunch times and keep my food in the fridge throughout the day (Side Tip – if you’re forgetful, keep your car keys in the bag in the fridge so you can’t leave without your groceries). This serves me well as where I work, there is a culture to eat at your desk and work through lunch so this gives me an opportunity to leave the office.

I’ve realized that this method has actually saved me money despite not buying up big. I’ve found that sometimes it’s better to spend a tiny bit more knowing you will actually eat everything you’ve purchased rather than buying a lot, saving and then throwing most of it away.

Do you do a weekly shop or a little every couple of days?

Wedding Budget Tips That Are Actually Helpful

Personal finance became an interest of mine in throughout 2016. I’ve always been ok with money but it never worried me to spend without thinking. Now that I have more responsibilities in my life, it’s become apparent that there’s so much more for me to learn.

At the moment I’m juggling a mortgage, car expenses and bills. I’ve just finished paying my braces off so am now saving for jaw surgery and for home renovations.

I’m also saving for a wedding.

I’m no stranger to wedding blogs. I’ve read a lot of articles about DIY and saving money when it comes to weddings but none of them seem to resonate with me.

My biggest issue is that the tips always seem to be really generic and focus on changing what you may want completely.  I get so frustrated by the ‘Have a cocktail reception instead of a sit down dinner’ or ‘Buy a second hand or off the rack dress’ or ‘Hire an up and coming/student photographer for 2 hours’ because it’s not always practical advice.

Whilst they are worth considering, what happens if you do actually want a 3 course sit down dinner? What if you don’t want a second hand dress or want to design your own? What do you do if you want an established photographer for 12 hours because you want to capture every moment of your day?

These tips are in line with those articles you read where couples have amazing looking weddings for $3000.

Except the reason it’s $3000 is because the groom’s mother is a caterer, his step father owns a picturesque winery, the brides aunt is a dress maker, the maid of honours’ cousin is a florist and a family friend is a photographer and their services are gifts to the bride and groom. These articles don’t really provide you with any real help on how to save money on a wedding except to know people. Whilst I think it’s great to utilise what you can, not everyone has family and friends who have the skills or resources to help when trying to keep costs down. And perhaps not everyone wants to ask favours of their family and friends.

But in saying all that, here are some tips that I think are actually helpful

  • If you are not attached to a date, consider an off-peak month. Many venues have cheaper rates and also a lower minimum as they just want to have their venue filled. You may also be able to negotiate some freebies or upgrades. This is also something to consider if you have a dream venue in mind but not enough people to reach their minimum requirements.
  • Look into different days. Saturdays are the most sought after so venues can charge a significant amount more. I chose a Friday as it ends up being $120 pp rather than $170 pp as it would have been on a Saturday.
  • Book early – the venues that I looked at tended to have prices for each year. We locked in a venue for 2018 and because we booked so early, we locked in the 2016 price.
  • Consider all options if you’re unsure of what you want. Look into a sit down dinner, a cocktail reception and a high tea. You can also look into a courthouse wedding with a lunch, brunch or bbq afterwards. There are so many options now that accommodate all budgets.
  • Do what you want and not what you’re supposed to do. My sister and husband didn’t have a cake at their wedding and guess what? Not a single guest noticed.
  • Weigh up your options between a venue that’s all inclusive and one where you have to organise the lot and compare whether there’s a saving to be made. Also consider the work you will need to do on your part and whether you want to accommodate that.
  • Packages vs bar tab. You know your guests best. If they’re big drinkers a package may be a cheaper option for you. If they’re not, it may be worth getting a bar tab. There’s also options like a cash bar, BYO or a dry wedding.
  • Think of the season. If your heart isn’t set on something really specific, seasonal foods and flowers may be a cheaper option than trying to get something out of season.
  • Be true to yourself. Don’t think you are going to DIY everything if you hate crafty things. I love to think that I’ll DIY but I’m lazy and don’t want to stress about it so I picked a venue that does everything for me.
  • If you want an established photographer that’s too expensive, look at the packages available and see if you can get one tailor made for what you want. Many photographers will happily work with you to see if they can accommodate your budget.
  • Think about your bridal party and what you want to pay for. It could be everything or it could be nothing or it could be bits and pieces. But decide early on what you want to do to make it easier on your budget and for your bridal party as well.
  • Ask questions. I asked a million questions before deciding on my venue because I wanted to know exactly what I could and couldn’t do. The worst the venue could say to something that I knew wasn’t included was no.
  • Look at non-wedding specific vendors. I looked into cars and was appalled at how expensive wedding cars were. I then looked at chauffeurs and they were about 1/3 of the cost.
  • If booking with a venue, ask if they have any deals with hotels nearby. My venue has 3 hotels they have a partnership with so myself with my fiance and my guests can have discounted rates should we choose to stay at a hotel.

These are just some things to consider when planning your wedding. I’m sure there are a lot more but these are the ones that I personally found the most helpful when trying to work out a budget.

I’d love to hear any other tips you have!

The Bitter-Sweetness Of Paying Off Debt

I’ve been looking over my finances and have decided to start paying off my HELP debt. A HELP debt for those of you playing at home is a student loan that is given to you by the government so you can attend university. In Australia you pay it back when you start earning a certain amount – at the moment the threshold is around $54,000. When I finished studying in 2012 my debt was at around $32,000 – this covered a bachelor degree, a graduate certificate and 2 subjects from another post graduate course I withdrew from. It also included all the interest I’d accumulate whilst studying.

I don’t earn enough to make mandatory payments but I can make voluntary repayments if I want and I’ve decided I’m going to. I finished paying my braces off last month so I have an extra $250 in each pay that needs to be allocated somewhere else. I already make extra repayments into the mortgage, my car is paid off and we re-financed in order to do our renovations (yay) which will be starting in April (hopefully). I did think about saving it for a vacay but we can usually find other ways to pay for holidays.

Due to interest my loan as of today is almost $41,000 which is a really scary thought. That’s a lot of money!

I worked out that if I pay $250 a month I’ll have the loan paid off in about 13.5 years. Unfortunately that doesn’t take into account the interest I’ll earn whilst I’m paying it off so looks like I’ll easily be 43+ by the time I finish making repayments. I’m sure once the wedding is over next year I can put more money into paying it off. But I think $3,000 per year is a good start anyway.

I’m also looking into growing my emergency fund. Right now it’s sitting at about $1,000 which covers one minor emergency but not really anything else. My partner and I do have about $30,000 that we can redraw from the mortgage if necessary but I’d like to keep that money in there if I can.

I really do wish I had started thinking about finances earlier. It kills me to think how much I could have saved whilst I was working and living at home with very minor expenses. It absolutely kills me! But its never too late to really start thinking about finances.

What is your focus when it comes to money?