The Truth About My Finances

I need to get real about my finances. For the last 6 months I’ve been pretending that things are going to plan but they’re not. I’m living pay check to pay check again which I hate. This isn’t as dire as it sounds. I do have savings and am paying off everything I need to but I can’t work out why I feel I need so many things. I’ve been actively working at minimising yet I go out and buy new things I don’t need. I buy clothes when I’m doing Project 333 and have donated half my wardrobe. I get caught up in things I do need – yesterday I bought a new planner for next year. It cost me $89. Did I need to spend that much? No because a $10 planner would be sufficient.

Why do I do this to myself?

Mindset.

My mindset is not right for what I want to be achieving. For one, I’m influenced by social media. I’m 100% aware that social media is not real life. But I follow a lot of coaches and health/well-being people on Instagram and they’re just so damn productive with their planners, mugs, notebooks and pens and I think “damn, if I have those things I’ll be productive too!” I know it’s a lie. And I know that it won’t help but for some reason I don’t stop myself.

Another reason is that I don’t have a lot of spending money once I’ve taken care of bills, savings and other essentials. Once I go over I think “well fuck it, I may as well blow it.” A solution could be more breathing room. I’m going to spend a bit of time working out what I’m spending again following my money method that I outlined here.

We’ve gone through some big changes this year and financially we’ve spent a lot. We’re still in the process of renovating, I had expensive surgery and booked holidays that we’ve paid for up-front. Whilst we haven’t been frivolous with our money, we haven’t exactly been careful either.

I think there’s a fine line when it comes to spending and saving. I want to be careful with my spending but still feel free to make choices without having that anxiety-inducing moment.

Back to the planner I bought yesterday. Whilst it’s certainly a lot of money, I worked out it ends up being approximately $1.70 per week. But I anguished over this choice for weeks and I don’t want that. I want to feel confident in the choices I’m making. I want to intrinsically know that it’s ok to spend money on things that are useful and important, especially when I can afford to and it’s not impacting anything else. But that is where the problem lies. It is impacting other things so until I get that sorted I’ll feel either anxious or ambivalent about every purchase I make.

So, my aim for the rest of this year is to get my finances sorted so I can start 2018 fresh.

August Intentional Spending – Wrap Up

When I started writing this post, I thought I had massively overspent in August but looking at the numbers, my budgeted expenses weren’t too far off. I did overspend a lot on extra things but again, it wasn’t too bad considering some of it were bills that I didn’t know were due.

Here’s how I went for August.

  • Train ticket for surgeon appointment number 1 – $6.00
    Train ticket was exactly $6.00
  • Train ticket for surgeon appointment number 2 – $6.00
    Again, exactly $6.00
  • Rates Payment – $1432.00
    Paid off the rates in total which was $1432.00
  • Body Corporate bill – $350.00 (I’m not sure if this is actually coming but I haven’t paid one in a while so I’m anticipating it’s arrival)
    It arrived and it is due in October. I still paid it off this month because there is just no point waiting until next month – $345.75
  • Father’s Day gift – $50.00
    We got my dad a really nice bottle of whiskey which was $100 so my portion was $50.00
  • Nephew’s birthday present – $50.00
    I bought him another book which was $18.00
  • Beautiful You course repayment – $396.00
    Payment was exactly $396.00
  • Dinner out as a last hurrah – $150.00
    Dinner ended up being $220.00 between 4 of us. I ended up paying the whole bill with the other couple sending their half to my fiance. I let him keep it seeing as normally our friends send me their share when my fiance pays.

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
  • iPod – $219 (new item)

Again, I didn’t purchase anything off my additional purchases list but I did purchase a whole bunch of other stuff. I was very bored whilst at home and my recovery was so much better than I anticipated so buying things was a bit of a distraction. Here is how I overspent this month.

  • Credit Card Annual Fee – $100.00
    I didn’t even know I had an annual fee on my card so I’ve recorded it for next year
  • ASOS – $124.00
    I bought a few dresses on ASOS because I want to start wearing them more. They’re pretty plain but they do the job. I am returning one so I’ll get that money back shortly
  • Diffusers – $29.90
    My fiance and I decided that we wanted a couple more diffusers for our house. We have one in the laundry and one in the bathroom upstairs so we decided to add one in the lounge room and one in the kitchen
  • Zoo Trip – $72.00
    I wanted to go to the Zoo during my recovery period as I haven’t been in a couple of years so we went a couple of weeks ago
  • Vistaprint – $32.93
    My fiance and I realised that our wedding is now 12 months away and we hadn’t yet ordered any save the date cards so we ordered some to send out
  • Accor Discount Accommodation – $149.00
    I was given a discount for some accommodation to use at an Accor hotel so I took the opportunity and purchased it. This is good as we are planning to go to QLD in November so we’ll be able to use these two nights whilst we are there
  • Haircut – $25.00
    I was so overdue for a haircut. It’s been literally 2 years since my last haircut and it was so manky with it’s split ends
  • St Vinnies – $27.00
    I went op shopping as I was really bored at home and bought 3 tops, 2 books and 2 dvds. Overall I was really happy with my haul
  • RACV Roadside Assist fee – $99.75
    My bill came this month for my roadside assist. I haven’t used it in 8 years but I’m sure the second I don’t have it I will need it
  • Catch up lunch with friends – $70.00
    I paid for myself and for my fiance. For a meal that was just pancakes and a milkshake on my end, it was a really expensive lunch. Note to self – when splitting bills, order the same amount of food as everyone else!
  • iHerb order – $52.55
    I’ve decided I want to make my own hair care so I needed to buy a bunch of oils and ingredients in order to do it. I’ll be doing a post soon on how it all goes

I was able to claim back a fair bit of money from my surgery. I got back about $1300 from Medicare and another $400 from my private health insurance. I’m still waiting for my claim for the anesthetist to be processed so I can get some money back on that and then also claim it on my health insurance. With this money I actually made a voluntary repayment on my HECS debt but as would have it with government websites, I’m still waiting to see if it actually worked. I also did my tax refund which I was notified that I would be getting back shortly so that’s good news.

You’ll notice that I don’t include many items that other people would. I don’t include my phone bill, netflix payments, monthly donations, groceries or petrol expenses. This is because the bills and donations don’t vary from month to month and the groceries and petrol are things I don’t really have a budget for – if I need them I get them so I figured it’d be difficult to stick to a budgeted cost when I don’t actually have a budget for those things. I’m also going to stop including the Beautiful You course repayments because they will remain the same for the next 10 months.

Again, I know it looks like a lot of money and it is but as I’ve said previously, I still put away a portion of my pay to save for future bills and so if I can pay the whole lot out of my monthly pay without transferring the savings over, it means I’m actually saving a lot more than I planned. So I’m actually really quite happy with the amount I’ve spent.

Budget Spend – $2440.00
Actual Spend – $2526.30
Extra Spend – $729.58

 

 

Intentional Spending – August

August should, in theory be a quiet month. My jaw surgery is tomorrow (eek!) and I will be staying at my parents for a couple of weeks. I think most of my expenses this month will be train tickets to get to the surgeon for check ups.

August Spending

  • Train ticket for surgeon appointment number 1 – $6.00
  • Train ticket for surgeon appointment number 2 – $6.00
  • Rates Payment – $1432.00
  • Body Corporate bill – $350.00 (I’m not sure if this is actually coming but I haven’t paid one in a while so I’m anticipating it’s arrival)
  • Father’s Day gift – $50.00
  • Nephew’s birthday present – $50.00
  • Beautiful You course repayment – $396.00
  • Dinner out as a last hurrah – $150.00

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
  • iPod – $219 (new item)
  • Doorbell – purchased last month by fiance

I haven’t added anything new to the additional purchases list. I think I will probably get the iPod this month but I’ll see how I feel in terms of getting out of the house and driving. Although I don’t have it as part of my intentional spending list, I think my grocery bill will decrease significantly as I’ll be buying mostly fruit and veggies to blend into smoothies.

Budget Spend – $2440.00
Additional Spend – $469.00

Intentional Spending – July Wrap Up

Wow, I did really bad at calculating all my expenses this month. I’m so over and I knew it around the 20th July which was 6 days after pay day.

Here’s how I fared in July’s Intentional Spending.

  • Lunch at the Sofitel for a friend’s birthday – $110.00
    Lunch ended up being $116.00. And delicious.
  • Xrays etc for surgery – $850.00
    Xrays and moulds were taken – $850.00
  • Dinner with friends – $100.00
    My fiance paid for this dinner.
  • Train/Uber for Barossa Dirt – $30.00
    We used the train both ways – $6.00
  • Drinks for when my best friend is back in town from overseas – $50.00
    Drinks turned into lunch first so I paid for that – $62.10
  • Train/Uber for fiance’s mid year social for work – $50.00
    Got the train to and from the event – $6.00

Here’s how I overspent

  • Dinner after Barossa Dirt – $82.00
  • Forgot about my water bill – $232.00
  • Going away drinks for a colleague. Not once, but twice. And I paid for the first rounds. I have to stop doing that because I’m always driving so never get shouted drinks – $42.00
  • Forgot about the coaching course I signed up for. Whilst I had the deposit money saved, I forgot about the monthly payments – $396.00
  • Impromptu dinner out with girlfriends. One decided on a last minute visit from Perth so of course that meant dinner and drinks – $25.00
  • New headlights as both my mine blew within a couple weeks of each other – $19.00
  • New Pj’s – $24.00
  • Internet Extender (so the wifi actually reaches my old bedroom whilst I’m staying at my parents place – $49.95
  • New jacket – $39.00
  • Online Diploma (I like studying for fun) – $49.00

I spent an extra $957.95.  Whilst it is a lot, I’ve included the water bill in there. Part of my savings strategy is to put away money for these types of bills but if I can, I like to just pay them out of my everyday account because then the money I’ve put in the savings can be moved to an actual savings account. The course is something I’m going to have to be really mindful of because it is almost $400.00 extra a month that I knew about but didn’t really realise it if you get me. I know I can do it – it may mean tweaking how much I’m putting away for stuff for a few months.

I also bought an item that wasn’t on my list nor was it on my clothing list but an item I realised I wanted whilst reading Natalie’s Intentional Spending post and that is a leather jacket.  Initially I wanted a real leather jacket and was happy to spend up to $300.00 but wasn’t happy with anything I’d found. I was in Target one day wandering and found a faux leather jacket that I quite liked. It had silver hardware which was good as I don’t like the gold and whilst it had zip details it didn’t go overboard. Plus it was on sale for $39.00 so I decided to buy it. I’m really happy with the purchase because it was pretty much exactly how I envisioned what I wanted except it’s not actual leather.

I didn’t purchase anything under the Additional Purchases however my fiance did end up buying a doorbell. I’m fairly sure it’s haunted as it makes a weird barking/electronic noise in the middle of the night but it’s a doorbell that I did not have to pay for so it’s now crossed off the list.

Budget Spend- $1130.00
Actual Spend- $1040.10
Extra Spend – $957.95

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!

I Don’t Like Budgets

I don’t like budgets.

There. I said it.

I really don’t like budgets. I’ve found they just never work for me. It was really hard trying to budget when I was working casually and my income changed from week to week but even with the stability of a constant wage that rarely changes, I still found budgets difficult.

I could never work out how much to allocate to certain areas. For me, expenses like water bills, rates, mortgage repayments etc were easy to budget because like my wage, they rarely changed. But things like my car expenses were very hard to budget. Some weeks I’d do 150 km of driving so my petrol costs would be relatively small, but other times I’d drive over 600 km so my petrol costs quadrupled. Unfortunately petrol is a necessity for me – I couldn’t just call up work and say “sorry, can’t purchase more petrol this week, not coming into work today.” If only!

These types of issues are what has prompted me to not budget, but to keep track of my spending.

Every expense I note down in a spreadsheet. It all gets divided into categories such as groceries, eating out, petrol, medical, bills, alcohol, clothing and misc. The reason I do this is so I can see what I’m spending each month and on what. The spreadsheet also has formulas in it so I can put in my monthly wage and it will subtract all my spending so I can see whether I’m living within my means or whether I’m supplementing my income with credit which I then have to pay off using the following months pay.

Personally for me I find this method much better. Its clear to me where my money is going but it’s not so limiting that if I have a slightly larger water bill that I end up struggling.

It also gives me a good idea of my spending habits in the months I don’t have any major bills and this pattern is what prompted me to save proactively for bills. Now as part of my monthly savings I put away money for future bills. I was able to do this by printing out all my bank statements for a year roughly adding up how much each bill cost for the year and work out how much to allocate to save each month. For example my water bills come quarterly and are usually about $300 each. My 4 water bills come to about $1200 for the year so I added $200 just to be safe to make it $1400 and then divided by 12 and that total is $116.67. So every month I put away approximately $115 just for the future water bill. And I do this with every bill so approximately 1/6 of my wage is put away to use on bills.

expense tracking
Some of my statements – the different colours represent different types of payments

The thing I really love about doing this is that the money grows in the savings account so when a bill comes, I rarely want to use the money that’s saved. Instead I tend to look at my spreadsheet and work out where I could possibly save that money. It may be something as small as not eating out twice in that month and only buying one bottle of wine that week instead of two.

Doing things this way has really made me appreciate the value of money especially when you sacrifice a relatively small amount in order to be able to do something else. In the end I saved an additional $1200 last year just on my water bill by using this method and my partner and I were able to use that money to go away for a much needed break.

Ultimately the road to making smarter financial decisions comes down to what works for you. It’s important to be aware of your limitations when it comes to money and finding a solution that maximises your strengths and minimises your weaknesses.

Do you like budgets or do you have another way of keeping onto of your finances?