June 2010 archive
Confession time: We bought breakfast on Saturday. Not to splurge, but because there was literally no breakfasty food in the house. (There wasn’t a hell of a lot of any other kind of food in the pantry, either.)
This hasn’t happened too much lately, but it definitely happens more than it should. Groceries aren’t cheap, and our budget allows us to shop for a week at a time and no more.
We don’t have the cupboard space or money to stockpile items, but I’m starting to think it might be worth cutting back on a week of saving to stock up on a few things like canned veges, sauces, oil, and pasta. Bread could be frozen (eliminating the no-breakfast dilemma, assuming we keep our spreads stocked up as well), and so could milk (although T would no doubt still tear through it, eliminating the purpose entirely). He tends to use things up if they’re there, so that’s something we’d have to watch, too – building up a pantry is great, but not if it only results in swelling the weekly spend.
What other non-perishables – that don’t take up too much room – do you keep on hand?
Financial Samurai presents his case for why the West Coast kicks the East Coast’s butt. Seriously entertaining (not to mention convincing) and makes me very glad to be over my starry-eyed New York phase! I still want to visit the Big Apple, but I am just as eager to visit California (home to lovelies like Revanche, Well Heeled and many more).
Me in Millions welcomes summer. What I wouldn’t give for sun, sea and sandals right now. I detest extreme heat – would never live in the tropics – but I’m not a fan of winter at all.
Jamie reflects (hilariously) on the things she doesn’t understand. To that list, I will add cars, currency and foreign exchange, and the Middle East. Seriously, I’ve been trying to educate myself on this ever since Gaza hit the news post-flotilla incident, but it’s effing hard when everyone has such strong opinions one way or another.
Fabulously Broke points out a nifty little Google Chrome dictionary addon. That is SERIOUSLY cool and almost makes me want to convert!
Melissa pays homage to the kiwifruit (or as northern hemisphere dwellers simply say, “kiwi”) and sneaks in a sly diss of the papaya, which I consider one of the tastiest things nature ever came up with. Oh yeah, and this is a kiwifruit spoon.
Continuing on in the food vein, Pear waxes lyrical about salads – like me, raw veggies just weren’t on the menu in her household. Sadly, all my favourite salads are the kinds with less vegetable and more dressing (or potato).
Finally, Katie’s sage take on moving up the career ladder: sometimes you just gotta wait your turn. That rung very true for me. And on that topic, from time to time I find myself managing other staff. It’s bizarre, and I’m thankful I don’t have to do too much of it – I’m not sure how good I am at it. I’m always polite and try to be encouraging as much as possible, but I am not cut out to supervise!
I thought I had it all worked out. I had a fortnight with no overtime worked, and I was going to budget that amount if it was the last thing I ever did.
And then this last pay cycle (including a few hours OT) ended up leaving me with less than in the previous fortnight. WTF?
After much back and forth scrutiny – bearing in mind this was well after midnight, and in fact past 1am to be precise DAMN YOU ALL WHITES! – I think I pinned it down to a tax hike. Why taxes might have increased, I don’t know. I vaguely recall reading about ACC levies increasing, but aren’t they always?
So I’m going to go with the assumption that I’ll be worse off than initially expected, and round down to $1600 to be conservative.
Bills / Irregulars $110
Remaining $60 – fun money, gas, and anything else that crops up
Bills / Irregulars $110
Remaining $60 – fun money, gas, and anything else that crops up
Once a month I tack on $50 for our cellphones – so that’s every other “Week 2″.
All up, that leaves me alternately at least $450 or $500 to save per fortnight. Ah, simplicity.
So with careful shopping and budgeting, I think we can swing this. Like I say, I want to be saving more (I’l stop short of saying should) but this is how it is, for now. T doesn’t want to go back on unemployment, and I’d rather he didn’t too.
Tags: budgeting, money
You know what’s really fun? Quizzes. Especially ones that you score well on.
According to this financial fitness test, I’m in solid territory with a result of 86.
Admittedly, I lied about having health insurance – I don’t live in the US, so that’s a moot point. That’s what I pay taxes for. Er, and although my retirement contributions do come out automatically, I transfer the rest of savings every paycheck. That being said, I’ve never forgotten to pay myself first since I started my full time job!
One thing that I couldn’t fudge was the fact that I don’t have a will. To be honest, I’ve mentally pushed it into the “one day” basket, along with “buy a house” and “have children”. I don’t have a lot to my name, and I don’t have any dependents. I guess what few assets I do have, I should create an allocation plan for – any tips for doing it on the cheap and preferably free?
There are so many things that hit you when you realise that it’s time to start acting like a grownup, at least some of the time. And surprise, surprise, they mostly revolve around money . Saving. Investing. Paying off debt. Down payments, holidays, travel, weddings, grad school, and the list goes on. Money may not buy happiness, but not having it is a sure track to misery
The thing to remember is that it’s not a race. I have a partner to support. Some of us have huge student loans. Others help to support their families. Others live at home and have virtually no expenses thanks to generous parents. Nobody’s situation is exactly the same, and no advice is right for absolutely everyone.
Sure, it’s hard not to get jealous when friends take off on spur-of-the-moment road trips during semester break, and I’m stuck working throughout. Or when others embark on their OE, certain to come back with all kinds of exciting tales. But when it comes down to it, we buy each other drinks when we’re broke. We pick each other up when someone needs a ride and we splurge on each other’s birthdays (I’m pretty sure I’m indebted to my best friends to the tune of hundreds after they sent me to a spa last year). But you know what? It all evens out in the end.
This post is part of the 20SB “Friends and Money” blog carnival.
Tags: life, money
- Apparently we can expect our bills and utilities to increase pretty dramatically with the ETS coming into force. NOT happy! I’ll be keeping a close eye on this and reporting on how much this ends up affecting us. So far, my electricity provider advises that prices will increase by 0.77 cents per kilowatt hour. For an average residential customer using 8000 kilowatt hours of electricity per year this would mean an increase of $5.20 (including GST and after a 10% prompt payment discount).
- I’m not sure why I only recently started hearing about this, but payroll giving is officially in force. Basically, you can donate straight from your paycheck and get the tax credit there and then. So if you donate $3, you get a credit of $1 (33 per cent). The charity gets the full amount, but it only costs you $2. My accountant mother thinks this is a huge pain in the ass for payroll, but from my POV, this is awesome! The only thing is, I don’t have a cause close to my heart; I like to give to a range of charities.
- I’ve finally put a buffer in our checking account – $100 seemed a nice round number. My graduate overdraft won’t last forever, and I need to pretend it doesn’t exist and stop using it as a fallback.
- I am seriously considering paying off the Visa and having T just pay me back when he can. It’ll save me a lot of peace of mind, and to the tune of $20 in interest. Now, following the PF rule that you shouldn’t lend what you can’t give – in the worst case scenario, yes, I would be able to forfeit $1300.
- According to Sorted, I should be saving nearly $200 a month for retirement. I’m clocking in at around $185 (plus a 50% employer match). The calculation was based on my current income, though, which is IMO inflated due to the shifts I work.
Late last year NZ introduced credit scoring for the first time. Before that, credit reports merely consisted of basic information about a person, along with listing credit enquiries and any defaults. Pretty boring stuff.
Like a total geek, I was itching to find out what mine was. And I have to admit, I was a little disappointed.
First, let me point you to the totally unhelpful Veda page, which attempts to explain the scoring system. (This is more or less what the informational brochure enclosed with our reports contained). The diagram almost implies that 600 is an average kind of score, although I’m not sure if that’s the message they meant to convey.
One thing to note on the report is the factors which affect scores.
- Individual credit shopping pattern
- Age of credit file
- Demographic stability
See that last one? Yeah, that one that has absolutely nothing to do with ME. I can understand lumping all drivers under the age of 21 into one group for insurance purposes, but for credit reporting?
Anyway. I am slightly annoyed that I come in at just under 600 (588 to be precise). I can only assume (aside from being classed in a young, risky age group) this is due to the short length of my credit history, and perhaps the number of credit inquiries? I have nine all up: two from my internet providers, one work related one, one from another bank and the rest are all from my bank. Obviously they’ve been checking up on me without my knowledge.
I wonder if my available credit and use of overdraft also contribute to the score. It’s not very clear to me exactly what gets reported. I know that prior to the introduction of the score, hardly anything at all was reported unless you went into default on an account. You guys in the US have all kinds of crazy criteria for this with your available credit ratio at any given time, but I highly doubt we’ve advanced to that stage yet. According to this article, credit agencies can only collect information on credit defaults, judgements and bankruptcies – data considered to give only a “negative” picture of someone’s credit history.
As for T, his file is six months older than mine, he has slightly fewer enquiries and his one small default brings him in at 485 – just in the yellow zone, as opposed to the green.
1000 seems so far away. But realistically, I have no need for credit, and I believe a perfect score is unnecessary. I think scoring is a positive move; I guess I’m just peeved that I barely made it into the green zone on the spectrum, especially after seeing a commenter on Lady in the Red had a 900 plus!
I really appreciated all your thoughts on this post. Resentment and imbalance is never good in a relationship – it’s downright toxic – and it was seriously cathartic just to purge the thoughts swirling around in my head.
One great idea raised was to simplify our expenses. I think I’ve got that pretty much down to a T. Each paycheck is split into rent, bills, groceries, and the rest (if any) divided up for fun, gas, cell phone and if needed, clothes and personal care kind of stuff. (Proper budget post coming up…well, ‘proper’ as by my definitions).
Another asked what T does during the day, apart from comb job postings? Sleep. Sometimes cook. Go to the park to shoot hoops. Sometimes visit his sister/family (she’s a SAHM). Sometimes hang out with friends (after they finish work, or during the day – some are still students, or if it’s bad weather, because some of them work outdoors). Oh yeah, and it also affords him plenty of time to be sucked into various family crises on any given day – enough said.
He’s also spent a fair amount of time on car-related crap – namely calling around, driving all over the city, finding parts and getting it up to scratch for our recent warrant, plus dealing with the recent accident and following up on that. Happily, our car is finally back to normal and hopefully we can keep it that way!
Now, other income streams: One thing he’s mentioned before is getting equipment and making things like go-karts, but aside from the initial outlay, we have no garage or workshop, and that stuff has got to be done inside. And personally, I am sceptical about the market for that, although he insists there is demand. Another thing he mentioned was possibly setting up as a service to help people procure parts for their cars (ever tried it? It’s a bitch). He took part in two market research sessions last month, but I think they’re drying up a bit now. So that was helpful too.
I’ve been trying to communicate more with him on the matter, which seems to be really helping (surprise, surprise). He feels bad about ‘living off’ me and occasionally has really down days. Either way, as one reader said, I need to deal or not deal. In my mind, I’ve set a deadline of the end of the year. Something has to change, in a significant way. And on a smaller scale, something’s also gotta change in the next couple of months. Many of you mentioned possible PT work – I totally agree. And I have been keeping half an eye on those kinds of jobs, although to be honest, his work skills pretty much only lend themselves to full time work. He’s only been looking at FT work – aiming high? – but even PT money would help (and keep him occupied…and would be a boon if he ends up going back to study and needs a casual gig)
As to courses, he’s already taken a foundation course so he can get university entry – that covered a lot of subjects, mainly in the arts faculty. (It didn’t set off any lightbulbs for him, but it was definitely worth it.) There’s no point rushing into any course this semester – so I’ve told him he’s got six months till the end of year, by which he’d need to settle on possible degree pathways and figure out the application requirements.
Getting trade certified – like an apprenticeship – requires an employer to take you on. That’s something he was on track to begin before layoffs at the end of 2008. Might it be worth him taking a welding course? That gets him a ‘ticket’, which is a certification that lasts a certain amount of time, and might open up more jobs for him. Still, a lot of those will be only fixed term but it’s something to consider.
We’ll keep trying to think of other ways he might be able to bring in some cash and see how it goes, really. One thing we both had our hopes pinned on (although we’d never admit it) was a possible apprenticeship opportunity. I think that fell flat this week, spurring him on to start talking about enlisting with the police. Next thing I know, he’s filled out the forms, got in touch with one of our friends who’s a fully fledged officer, and talking to another friend who, it turns out, wants to become a cop too.
Tags: career, life, relationships
I work for The Man. It suits me just fine. I like the people I work with, the job I do, having sick leave, the occasional eats and drinks on the company tab.
My question is: How do you feel about doing overtime?
Most of my colleagues with the same job title are salaried. They all put in overtime (unpaid) and very few of them ever complain. For me – an hourly employee – I find it tough to imagine doing that without getting pretty resentful, pretty quickly.
When I work overtime, you bet it goes on my timesheet. I come from a line of low-paid jobs where if you stayed 10 minutes past the end of your shift, you noted it down. You’d be stupid not to! The one and only desk job I had previously – as an admin assistant – was the same; I enjoyed the job, but it paid barely above minimum, and I was always encouraged to note down every time that I stayed late.
Lately, though – since the raise and promotion – I’ve been feeling a bit reluctant to record extra hours worked. I guess this is because I get paid handsomely for doing the weekend shifts already, and don’t feel like I quite deserve it. Especially considering that the weekends are the quietest days, and I’m often scrounging to keep myself occupied at certain times.
Do you find yourself putting in lots of unpaid hours? Do you prefer being salaried or hourly? Or have you ever felt like you had to work extra to prove you were worth your salary?
Tags: career, work
Oh, how I miss summer. And conversely, how glad I am we don’t get snow in Auckland. I must admit I was a little disappointed when confronted with the reality of wet, white mush on Ruapehu for the first time in ’07. I had pictured snow fights, snow men and all sorts of wintry hijinks! But it wasn’t to be. But realistically, I hate the cold. And I sure don’t want to be trekking home through snow, buying gumboots, snow tyres and chains, let alone salting the car.
Anyway, FB’s lovely post on attaining summer-worthy feet was great escapist reading, not to mention practical!
Meanwhile, Investing Newbie discussed drawing up a time budget – or in other words, a fancy schmancy pants way of saying to-do list on crack. While I don’t do too well with excessive organisation, I could see how this would work wonders for some.
MPP blogged about the expense of trying new recipes and branching out in terms of ingredients. Girl, I feel the pain. BF is a total foodie, but alas, we’re forced to substitute cottage cheese for feta, and the like. Prosciutto? Prawns? Furgeddabout it. What works for us is trying one new kind of dish a week, and aiming to build the rest of the week’s menu around similar ingredients – that way you aren’t wasting anything.
Having just bought her own place, Amanda writes about the struggle to furnish her small apartment. It’s true – the good ol’ quarter acre dream is still alive, and as she says, she’s willing to pay for quality but cheap furniture is all that’s available in the sizes she needs. What’s a girl to do? (We live in a shoebox, but we’re renting and couldn’t care less at this stage in life about our furniture. Even our cutlery is mismatched and all our furnishings have been hand-me-downs, free or close to it.)
SP bucked the trend by having a dance-free wedding reception. You know what, that sounds freaking awesome! I actually don’t enjoy dancing and can’t think of anything worse than having all eyes on me trying not to trip over my own feet. And while we’re on the topic, I wouldn’t be averse to having a dry reception either. My parents are teetotallers, while T’s family would drink the bar empty. And what with the whole Asian flush thing, I won’t be having alcohol on the day – at the least, it would ruin the photos, if not the entire experience.
Finally, Katie – who always seems to crawl right into my head with these kinds of posts – wrote about being that girl. Who always has a stain on her jeans or a stray lock of hair. “There’s always one little detail I’ve missed – one wrinkle left unironed, one little tiny pebble left unturned.” I envy those people who float through life, polished to perfection; but sometime in the last three years I just got too damn busy to care anymore. Finally, I’m at the stage where I can accept myself the way I am.
Tags: blogging, internet
One of my most lucrative mystery shopping companies recently made some changes to the way certain surveys were done. Result: an easy stream of income – up to $80-100 a month for little effort – is no longer worth it to me.
So I’m focusing more on the well-paying individual surveys, which do require more work and time, but at least they’re interesting. I’m also starting to reap the rewards from online surveys; I’ve cashed in well over $100 that I can remember off the top of my head in the last nine months. There were movie passes, Rebel Sport vouchers (we bought a pricey basketball, among other things), a Warehouse voucher, free Vodafone topups, and donations to charity.
Granted, that’s the culmination of a couple of years of survey-taking. But I’m happy with what I’ve got out of it. I’m young; I have much more time than money, and the hourly rate I can command isn’t really all that high. I’m really not sure about Donna Freedman’s assertion that you can make “anywhere from $50 to $250 a month for “work” that can be done while you watch your kids play in the yard”, but perhaps we get a lot fewer paid surveys down this way.
You do have to put a bit of effort in, though. Most importantly, keep your profile up-to-date – living situation, education and work, shopping habits. The more accurate information they have about you, the more likely you are to get surveys.
Donna suggests starting a dedicated e-mail address just for surveys – that’s not a bad idea, IF, and only if, you’re going to check it regularly (ie, every day). Surveys, when they come around, usually fill up quickly and you can’t afford to waste any time getting in. I’ve been doing SO many since starting FT work and being at a computer all day!
But hey, if certain sites aren’t paying off, just don’t bother. Even if the cashout threshold is low, if you’re struggling to get past, say the $2 mark, it’s not worth the time.