Be smart about borrowing

This month would have been the month I paid my car off. (If I hadn’t dug into my savings and cleared the loan last year, that is.)

If there’s one thing I learned from my experience, it’s the importance of shopping around. Consider a few things: interest rate, fees, and repayment flexibility (in other words, can you make extra payments, or pay off your loan early, and are there penalties?).

Hopefully I won’t need to borrow for a vehicle again, but if I do I’d look into:

Car loans

Secured loans always have lower interest rates, but there are a few more hoops to jump through. For example, I would have had to go back and forth with my bank to ensure they approved of the vehicle and were happy to lend on that specific one. You will probably also need full car insurance, and to let the insurer know the car is financed. Banks and credit unions all offer secured car loans, as do other finance companies.

Personal loans

Higher interest rates, but less hassle. It would eliminate the step of clearing the car with the lender, as the loan wouldn’t be secured against it. As with car loans, banks, credit unions and other finance companies offer unsecured personal loans – you might find with some lenders like Secure Trust Bank that rates vary depending on the amount of the loan.

P2P lending

There’s a growing number of P2P lending platforms on the market – there are already a handful here! P2P loans can be for a huge number of things, but cars are a common one. Rates vary though and generally you need to start an application to find out what you would get.

5 ways I’m accidentally frugal

5 ways I save money by accident

I have a penchant for good food and travel, but by happy accident, there are lots of ways in which I manage to save money with zero effort.

I don’t really drink … anything

Alcohol, coffee and soft drinks don’t really agree with my digestive system. I don’t know how much NOT buying any of these on the regular saves me but I bet it’s a reasonable amount. Plus I’m a lightweight so if I do drink one is always enough.

I’m unfashionable

I have no sense of fashion nor interest in it. Every so often I go through a spurt of wanting to be stylish and plan to start accessorising and planning outfits more carefully – which never lasts very long before I revert to my lazy ways. There’s no point trying to fight my inner nature.

I’m kind of antisocial

I have friends, I swear, but I’m hardly swamped with invitations out every week. (Years ago I figured I needed to start making new adult friends and swore to start going to Meetups: then I realised I find it hard enough to keep up with my small circle and if I can’t even maintain my current friendships I shouldn’t add anymore.) My social calendar is sparse and I like it that way. More time to cuddle up with the dog and a book at my cosy place.

I love carbs

Seriously, I could basically live off potatoes, pasta, bread and rice.

I hate driving. And parking

Having a car is a necessity here but it’s also expensive! There’s no reason for us to have two vehicles and being a one car household definitely saves money. It’s occasionally inconvenient but those instances are rare.




*Part of Financially Savvy Saturdays on brokeGIRLrich, A Disease Called Debt and Femme Frugality*

How To Worry Less About Money: 3 things I took away

The most refreshing thing about How to Worry Less About Money is the author’s unflinching observation of how money affects relationships. In this book, John Armstrong relates this back to his own marriage.

“My own experience is that money worries can cause terrible conflicts in relationships. I fear I have damaged Helen’s life by not making more money. And there are stylistic clashes: I like being lavish; she’s much more restrained. For instance, I like the idea of going to fancy restaurants; she prefers the modest family-run place round the corner, or chicken soup at home. (And this is all the harder to deal with because our earnings point in the opposite directions to these personal tastes).”
Well, I’m the Helen in my life, and I can vouch for the fact that I have felt resentful many a time. I wish that weren’t true, but I am human, and perhaps not always a very good one. This is us, down to a T, especially the incongruence between tastes and earnings.  I would be curious to hear Helen’s viewpoint.

Money and marriage

Armstrong points out that in the world of Jane Austen, having enough money is taken very seriously (and rightly so!) as a necessary condition of happy marriage. Money reduces the fragility of a relationship, and makes people more relaxed. Money buys luxury, privacy and  stimulation. Money is for some people an aphrodisiac.

All of these things resonate so hard (perhaps not exactly the last one, but financial stress is a huge turn off and therefore lack of money is definitely a turn off).

Alas, there are no true solutions offered up, despite the practical promise offered in the title. This is a philosophical read about how we think about money, relate to it, the space it occupies in our minds and lives.

It’s a book about money worries, as opposed to money troubles.

Money troubles vs money worries

Money troubles, Armstrong contends, are urgent. They call for direct action and can only be resolved in one of two ways: either you gain access to more money or you go without something else.

Money worries, conversely, are about imagination and motions, not just what is happening now. Money worries often say more about the worrier than the world. They’re about what’s going on in your head not just in your bank account.

The meaning of money

When you strip money right back to the fundamentals, it is just a resource – a means of exchange.

“In other words money is an instrument … Ultimately the task in life is to translate efforts and activities that are inherently worthwhile into possessions and experiences that are themselves of lasting and true value.

“That is the ideal money cycle. Our relationship with money becomes unhealthy when we remove it from this cycle. That happens when we stop seeing money as potential possessions and experiences – but rather see possessions and experiences as potential money.”

We’re all bombarded these days with the reminder to DO WHAT YOU LOVE. Armstrong acknowledges that we need to make enough money to meet our needs and we also need to do things that help us make sense of who we are and contribute to collective good.

You can escape by not caring about meaning. And you can escape by not caring about having much money.  But a lot of people care about both.”

* * *

If you know roughly what to expect going in, this is a great read. I related to so much of it, I was constantly nodding along and found myself bookmarking what seemed like every other page.

If you’ve read it, what did you think?

Share the Wealth Sunday

Link love (the winter edition)

Link love NZ MuseI’ve been reading a lot lately. Books about money, even! While it’s wildly idealistic and rather fluffy in parts, there were 5 particular passages in The Soul of Money that stood out to me.

  • “I have seen the powerful grip that money has on our lives, the wounds and hardship that it can impose on us, and the immense healing power of even the smallest amount of money when we used it to express our humanity – our highest ideals and our most soulful commitments and values.”

 

  • “We all have an identifiable, though largely unconscious and unexamined, relationship with money that shapes our experience of life and our deepest feelings about ourselves and others. Whether you count your change in dollars, yen, rupees, or drachmas, money is one of the central, linchpin issues in all our lives. It is in mine, and it is a central issue for everyone I’ve ever met, no matter how much or how little money they have.”

 

  • “We are born into a culture defined by money, and our initial relationship with money is the product of that culture, whether it is one based primarily in poverty, in a country like Mozambique or Bangladesh, or a culture of affluence and wealth in a country like the US or Japan. From our earliest experiences, we learn money’s place and power in our families, our communities and in our own lives.”

 

  • “No matter where we are in the political, economic, or financial resource spectrum, the myths and mindset of scarcity create an underlying fear that we, and the people we love or care about, won’t have enough of what’s needed to have a satisfying, happy, productive, or even survivable life.”

 

  • “No matter how much or how little money you have flowing through your life, when you direct that flow with soulful purpose, you feel wealthy. You feel vibrant and alive when you use your money in a way that represents you, not just as a response to the market economy, but also as an expression of who you are.”

This week’s links

Why a paid off house is so important (hell yes to every point)

The importance of a ‘don’t be boring’ budget (hell yes to this too)

Things to move towards, and away from

Chatting about self employment

How to squeeze more out of your limited holiday time

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