The power of extra mortgage payments

Lots of personal finance bloggers, especially after becoming debt-free, say saving is boring.

I don’t get it.

I love watching my money grow and the numbers tick up. There’s nothing better – except cheesecake, maybe.

I’m a bit of a hoarder in real life, so maybe it’s not surprising that I also like to hoard money (real or otherwise – sometimes I think wistfully of all the Neopoints I had banked back in the day).

I was so resentful of my consumer debt, basically because I didn’t actually get anything out of it. It was all incurred while supporting an unemployed partner – less consumer debt and more keeping up with bills, really.

But now that I have a mortgage, I just might be changing my tune. It’s a different story as I deliberately took on this debt, plus the payoff is so much bigger.

I don’t mind my mortgage as I wouldn’t have a home without it, but I’d like to minimise the massive effect of compounding interest working against me.

The $3,000 in extra lump sum payments I’ve made? Apparently saves over $9,000 in interest over the long run.

I get it now…!

Compromise where you can – and where you can’t, don’t

Compromise where you can - and where you can't, don't

Who would’ve thought that the latest Captain America movie could spawn such wisdom?

To live in this world is to compromise. And to be in a relationship is to compromise.

I kept reaching my limit … or so I thought.

And then I would push through. Just a little longer, I would think. Surely things will change. This can’t continue indefinitely.

For better and for worse, right?

But when something or someone is the sole source of your stress and there is no sign of it changing – it’s time to reevaluate. Be kind to yourself, first and foremost.

You may not know where your true limits lie. I know I didn’t. And that epiphany may wind up coming from elsewhere.

In my case, I was physically falling apart – in rather obvious ways. That’s when I knew I had to draw a line. That was something I could not compromise on.

Listen to your body, because it doesn’t lie.

I may have had to learn the hard way, but now I know where I can and cannot compromise.

Link love (the looking back edition)

I’ve just finished reading How To Be An Adult In Relationships, which a couple of people have recommended.

It was probably the wrong time to pick it up, as in months too late; and to be frank it didn’t meet my personal expectations overall. It got off to a slow start and I almost gave up but I’m glad I didn’t, as it improved from there. If it reinforced one thing for me, it’s how much our parents and childhood shape our ability to relate to others as adults…! There were definitely quite a few parts that spoke deeply to me, and I thought I’d share them here.

  • Are you happy together more than half the time? Would you stay in a relationship with someone you loved if you were unhappy?
  • Here are the words of an adult: “Even though ……… I have to let you go because you do not meet me at my soul/adult level.”
  • We need conflict in order to evolve from romantic projection to mature self-affirmation.
  • Am I in a relationship with someone who presses down on my lively energy like an incubus, an invisible yet nonetheless weighty presence? Why do I allow anyone to limit my energy?
  • Ask for what you want 100 percent of the time. Say yes to yourself twice as often as you say no, but be willing to compromise.
  • Sometimes it is necessary to let my feelings happen without acting on them. Sometimes holding is more important to my growth than releasing. This means surrendering control over my feelings and riding them where they may go or stay.
  • Being compassionate does not mean becoming a caretaker. (And there’s an excellent chart contrasting the two)
  • “How shall I proceed? Do I wait for her to change, or do I find a way to take care of myself and attend to my concerns using my own resources?”

This week’s links

Stop telling me to quit my job!

“One of the many things I was tired of was the constant judgment of women …the constant message that being sexy means being naked.” Preach, Alicia Keys!

On keeping creativity and money separate

Calling out a racist

On balancing saving and life (I can’t handle multiple goals at once either!)

Letting go of stress

All the ways we get ripped off just by living in NZ

Spending no more than $150 on food for five days ‘do-able but pretty miserable’ for family of six (we spend about this much for 2 people for a week and are reasonably frugal -we would struggle to pull this off even if we cut right back!)

Freelancing made easier with FreshBooks

Freelancer Freshbooks review

Confession: I’m terrible at tracking my time.

Most of my freelance work over the past few years has been fee-based or project-based, and when you’re charging based on outputs it’s not as crucial to track every second (plus it’s an incentive to work more efficiently).

But recently I’ve been doing some work on an hourly basis, so I’ve had to up my game on the accountability front.

Now, if you’re a FreshBooks user you’ll already know that its platform incorporates a handy time tracking tool. Or, like me, you might have just started using it and realised how many features it offers to freelancers and business owners.

FreshBooks allows you to log your hours in its system, and then generate an invoice based on what you’ve entered. Magic!

Even if you’re not charging by the hour, creating invoices in FreshBooks is a breeze. Save details to reuse in the future, from client information to project tasks. Add discounts or request a deposit at the click of a button.

Work predominantly online? With FreshBooks you can accept Paypal and Stripe as forms of payment.

And because getting paid on time has got to be one of the biggest hassles of self-employment, your clients are automatically emailed payment reminders if they’re not keeping up. The reporting features in FreshBooks show you which clients are prompt to pay and which are not. If you’re using FreshBooks to manage your expenses too, then you can keep tabs on your profit and loss summary in here.

If you ever need to quote on a project, it’s quick and easy to whip up an estimate in FreshBooks and fire it through for approval.

The interface is super simple – and if you get stuck, there are hints and step guides all the way. So far, I can vouch that it is dummy proof.

You can try it for free for 30 days – grab your free trial of Freshbooks here!

(This post contains affiliate links – if you use my link, I get a referral bonus.) 

How much does it cost to get a dog?

I think it goes without saying that pets are a quality of lifestyle choice. They’re never going to save or make you money. And yet they’re worth it all.

We adopted Leila in the spur of the moment.

The plan was always to get a dog, but actually going to the SPCA one weekend – before the purchase of my house was entirely completed – was done on a whim. We fell in love with her and filled out the paperwork that day.

Once I got the house keys the following week, T set about making sure the yard was ready and the fence hole free, arranged the property inspection and went back to visit her at the SPCA in the interim.

And then, the day we physically moved into this house was the day we picked up Leila and brought her home. It was a manic time and it would have probably been easier to wait a while as per my original plan!

While I haven’t been tracking everything closely, here’s  a rough guide to our dog set up costs.

Dog adoption fee – $265

It cost $265 to adopt our dog from Auckland SPCA. She was an adult dog; puppies cost a little more. She was up to date with her vaccinations and won’t need more for many months.

Collar, leash, bowl, bed, brush – $140

Kind of a rough guess here, but ballpark? We need to replace her collar as it has stretched out over the past few months. She also has her own designated armchair which she sleeps on (a crappy old one that is still usable but not comfortable) and is probably a huge step up from her now-chewed bed.

Kennel – $170

We sprung for a cabana style kennel – it’s lightweight and easily portable and made of similar material to the bed she had at the SPCA. While she spends most of the time indoors when we’re at home, during the work day she’s roaming around outdoors. There are a few trees for shade and our deck is mostly covered but it’s still quite open, and now that winter is here…

Obedience classes – $70

Perhaps not strictly necessary, but probably a good idea. She’s well behaved but far from perfect, and as a first time owner I have lots to learn. Thankfully, she’s not the worst dog in puppy school! And if we put her into agility training later on, she needs to have completed this course first.




 

How much your dog costs to feed is going to vary. Leila eats about 2 cups of dry food a day. We started with a 15kg bag of kibble which was on deep discount – it cost about $30 but is normally closer to $50. I imagine this would have lasted 2 months if this was all she ate, but there’s still a bit left. We mix up her diet a lot, with some raw meat (which she absolutely loves), canned food and dog roll.

Dogs need stuff to occupy them too, and you can spend as much or as little on toys as you want. I’ve made her a few toys out of household odds ends – mainly old clothes and rags, sheets etc, and she’s claimed a small stuffed toy that used to be mine, as well as random balls that we had lying around. We’ve probably spent about $100 (ouch) on toys. There’s a Kong food toy, a Kong tennis ball (because she decimates normal tennis balls), a food puzzle ball toy, a tug rope monkey, a fake chew bone and there was an orange rattle toy that also got destroyed.

Flea treatments can be bought at the supermarket and they do go on sale! I bought a 3-month pack for about $30.

We still need to enrol her with a vet, and do something about her claws and teeth which are probably due for maintenance. Sigh.

 

Financial privileges I have (and haven’t) had

FINANCIAL PRIVILEGES I HAVE HAD

It’s so easy to get caught up in focusing on what we don’t have. (Guilty as charged, on a daily basis!)

For example:

  • I left home young – no cellphone, no computer, no car, just some clothes, books and my guitar – and became financially independent at 17
  • I don’t work in an industry known for being lucrative and my skills skew more creative, less practical
  • I don’t have an equal financial partner; our relationship has spanned multiple bouts of unemployment/underemployment that add up to probably tens of thousands spent supporting us solely on my income

But I’ve also had so many financial privileges in my life. I don’t know where I would be without these things today.

Let’s see:

I grew up in a financially stable home

I never wanted for anything. I have financially savvy parents and money was never a taboo topic. I came away with an understanding of the importance of saving, and I  was encouraged to focus on the future and think about career paths.

I received a full tuition scholarship

My merit scholarship paid for my university fees. Between the student allowance and paid work, I was able to cover my living costs and graduated basically debt-free. Otherwise, 12 cents out of every dollar I earn today would be going toward student loan repayments.

I’ve never been unemployed

Despite entering the workforce during the GFC, I have always been employed. The work I do also aligns well with freelancing/side hustling.

The stockmarket has been kind to me so far

It even helped me with my house deposit. I never intended to use that money for a down payment – it was invested for the long term originally – but it worked out well.

I’ve benefited from family support

This ties back in to my first point, too. My parents looked after me during my separation, offered help with the purchase of my house and were in a position to lend me money towards it so I could buy something decent.

What financial privileges have you had?

*Part of Financially Savvy Saturdays on brokeGIRLrich, Disease Called Debt and Frugal in SA

Link love (powered by fires and rain)

 

  • The other week I went to my first ever No Lights No Lycra session. Basically, you get together in a public hall, turn the lights off and dance to music for an hour. Sounds weird but it’s incredibly fun! Look for the Facebook group if you’re interested.

 

  • I realised I’ve been undersalting food all my life and only now am I really starting to understand what a difference salt makes to a dish (no surprise, I’m a far superior food critic than I am a cook)

 

  • At all of my jobs (minus the first) my boss has either left, or gone on parental leave at some point. I inevitably get asked if I’m going to apply for the position – and in every case I’ve had no interest in doing so. Not quite sure what that says about me and my aspirations.

This week’s links

7 fresh ways to save money with heart

The privilege of chasing your dreams

When your romantic partner isn’t holding up their end of the bargain

A fascinating read on class and politics in the Trump era

Money => security => easier to save money

27 lessons about money

(Mostly) free ways to show love

Life lessons from growing up poor

Good vs bad reasons to quit

10 things to know about work by age 30

Banking happiness for tough times

Finally, I’m way late on the party to this one, but for anyone who feels they’re falling behind:

“Most of our unhappiness stems from the belief that our lives should be different than they are. We believe we have control — and our self-loathing and self-hatred comes from this idea that we should be able to change our circumstances, that we should be richer or hotter or better or happier. While self-responsibility is empowering, it can often lead to this resentment and bitterness that none of us need to be holding within us. “

How to explore the US on a budget

How to travel the USA on a budget

My passport recently expired, and I’ve got no travel plans on the horizon any time soon. Just a long list of DIY house and decor projects to tackle (the closest thing to it will be getting travel photos printed and travel footage organised over the winter)!

I suspect my next trip though – whenever that might be – will be back to the US. There’s more competition on routes now and airfares are dropping, which is exciting. And once we’re actually over there it’s not terribly hard to travel on a budget.

Getting around the US

I’d love to do another road trip. We travelled around almost entirely by car (minus a cheap bus trip from NYC to DC) and it was super comfortable, convenient, and frugal. Petrol is practically free compared to the prices we pay here, and we managed to rent a car for just over $40 a day, including insurance. I recommend starting your search with CarHirePlanet. If I was travelling solo, I’d look at joining a tour group with the likes of Grand American Adventures.

Figuring out where to stay

In some big cities there’s just no getting around it – you will be paying out the nose for a place to lay your head. But between Airbnb and Booking.com (plus many generous blog friends who opened their doors to us) we managed to find accommodation for around $50 a night on average.

We moved around on a loose schedule, usually booking at the last minute (the only place this backfired was Boston, where even cheap motels were over $100). If you’re up for it, consider caravan parks, campgrounds and homestays too.

Seeing the sights

Planning ahead is the key here.

If you’re planning to spend a lot of time in national parks (and there are so many! Some of my favourite spots were definitely National Park material) it might be worthwhile to invest in an unlimited annual pass.

If you’re more of a big city person like me, major centres often have a lot of free attractions; and of the ones that aren’t, many have specific hours or days where you can get in for free. And if you’ve got a lot to pack into a short time span, then the CityPass may be for you – definitely one for travellers with more money than time.

How getting a dog changed my life

Getting a dog changed my life

It’s safe to say that getting a dog was very high on the agenda after buying a house. (A refresher: NZ is heinously pet unfriendly when it comes to renting – “No pets and no smokers” reads basically every rental listing ever.)

I had no idea how to choose a dog, really. I wanted to adopt pretty much every single dog listed for adoption on TradeMe, and once at the SPCA, it was just as tough. Heartbreaking, really (I may have gotten a bit teary.) Especially the older ones.

This little lass was just over a year old and had been awaiting adoption for many months. Her previous family lived in government housing and couldn’t keep her.

She’s super affectionate, very alert and aware. She has to sniff ABSOLUTELY EVERYTHING and find out what you’re up to.

She’s also a bit of a chewer, although hopefully that will fade with age.

She settled in quite quickly, I thought, but a coworker said it would probably take time. And indeed, a couple months in she’s suddenly started to REALLY play with her toys properly – in particular the first two I ever got her – and it warms my heart.

Also, turns out that talking out loud to something that doesn’t talk back isn’t as unnatural as I thought it would be.

Owning a dog has forced/taught me to be:

Tidier

I’ve always struggled with neatness. I have some Type A tendencies that I tap into in order to combat my core messiness and keep on top of life, but organised chaos tends to be how I roll. Now I’m learning to shut doors, put things away, and this dovetails nicely with home ownership as I can now finally store stuff away and know that’s how it’s going to be as long as I want it that way. I’m not much for decor, but practical solutions I can get behind … and home storage is my new addiction. Basket, shelves, hooks, racks … I want them all!

More active

It’s always a struggle, especially in winter. We live near some great parks and tracks, luckily, and often run into other friendly dogs along the way.

Patient

I’m not a naturally patient person. But I know I need to lead calmly by example and focus on positive reinforcement. While she’s quite well behaved there’s room to improve (and I have lots to learn too) and we’re just about to start obedience classes!




She brings me so much joy. I look forward to seeing her at the end of every day, and it makes me want to rush home. Sometimes she’s a pain in the ass; for a couple of dark days early on I was afraid we’d bitten off more than we could chew, that she’d never calm down and be manageable. But I wouldn’t give her up for the world.

Link love (the hustling edition)

NZ Muse link love

In the past I’ve said yes to freelance opportunities that turned out to be huge pains in the ass, more often than not. So I was a bit wary about one that recently crossed my path. But happily – even though it was in an industry I have zero interest in – between their ridiculously lovely and passionate boss, the great brand story, their willingness to pay good rates and just generally being nice to work with, it was surprisingly fun.

Finding satisfaction in work is a multi-headed beast.

This week’s links

What to do with your broke but wonderful boyfriend (such a surprisingly common problem!)

I work hard to meet my needs – and even harder for my wants

The real problem with all those ‘How I got out of tons of debt fast’ articles

The tenets of financial wellbeing

A lovely story of compromise and coming together on money

When to give up and when not to

Finally, there’s lots of good stuff in Sheryl Sandberg’s commencement speech, which I’m just catching up on now. I am glad she acknowledges her immense privilege – it completely aligns with my post earlier this week on the value of financial security when you’re going through hardship. Sucky times suck bad enough without having to stress about money, too.