• What the future may hold…

    With one month left before going back to uni, I’m hoping everything works out in terms of BF’s employment. IE, it continues, with minimal drama. I’m not liking him contracting, at least not this way. He’s at the mercy of someone who’s rather finicky and high maintenance at times, and hard to deal with. He’s also meant to be paying tax on his behalf, so I’m going to keep track of his hours to make sure he actually is deducting tax.

    I really would prefer if he was back at the old company, although we have no idea what’s going on and even how many people are still there. I wonder if his health insurance still covers him? The company seem to be still paying his premiums, so…

    In the meantime it’s paying down debt and socking some away in the EF.
    He really needs around 6000 as an EF for three months (well probably less as in such an event things like savings, fun, etc would be cut down). It’s such a large sum, and we’ve got a loooong way to go! I’m continuing to look after it all. He still has such a long way to go – although he is learning, and trying. Last week he didn’t have enough for gas as he wanted to enter a draw to win a 200k hotrod in the mall. I was pretty mad at him for that, but he felt extremely down about it for days and wanted to try again this week without messing it up. Managing cash is hard, but for some it’s even harder to manage plastic, and it’s proved to be so for him.

    I just don’t feel comfortable with this lack of security! I want things to be stable, and as much as that’s unlikely in this climate, I don’t care. It’s going to be a long, busy, stressful year for me, and worrying about paying the rent and bills is not something I wanna add to that load.

    Still, what can I do, apart from wait and see, and cross my fingers?

  • I was at the ATM this morning, and was pleasantly surprised to retrieve my receipt and see 3.5k as my available balance.

    I didn’t really know how that could be – I run my budget down to zero (I like the zero based budget, there is a place for everything) and it’s the end of the weekend (by Monday everything is basically accounted for). And I certainly wasn’t expecting any sort of windfall – $400 at the most, maybe, and if that ever comes to me it would be in a cheque (I sent out my invoice again, but doubt I’ll ever see the money – chalk it down to experience and never work for that person again).

    Anyway, eventually another receipt emerged from the slot – available balance 106. Yeah, that was me, sadly.

    And we came in on budget – even without taking into account the $30 phone topup which I hadn’t anticipated, because our groceries only came to 97 instead of our usual 120 – loving Countdown at the moment and all their reductions.

    I’ve been really paranoid lately about going to ATMs, what with hearing about all these ‘plastic sleeve’ scams recently. I pause before sticking my card in and stare at the green sleeve to make sure everything looks kosher. Is it any wonder I don’t trust the deposit machine? I just am not going to insert cash into a hole in the wall, I’m going to hand it over to a real, live person.

    Thankfully I only have to use ATMs once a week at the most. We have technology for a reason, and for me at least cash is a thing of the past. It’s way too easy for me to lose track of (or lose completely), easy to steal, and bulky. I get rewards off my Visa. And when you pay by card there’s a record, a paper trail should you need to verify something.

  • Sticker shock

    I have to admit, I really hate receiving mail.

    It rarely, if ever, brings good news.

    Some are perfectly innocuous and harmless, if a little annoying. Letters from my MP, trying to reach out to his ethnic electorate. Offers from DTR, hoping to suck me into an HP.

    Bank statements, insurance invoices, and other money-demanding correspondence. BF was foolish enough to take some people somewhere last year – IN THEIR POS CAR, driving four people because ALL OF THEM HAD LOST THEIR LICENCES.

    They got pulled over, he got the fine for carrying passengers, and for one of their car lights being broken.

    It would have been nice if they paid for both tickets, seeing as he was doing them a favour. Not that they are. In fact, it’s doubtful they’ll even pay for the fine for the broken light.

    Yesterday he was done for driving around another friend who has no licence.

    He has three months till getting his full, so I have begged him to please NOT drive anyone else around. Just because almost all his friends are dumbasses who’ve lost their licences, is no reason for him to lose his too (not to mention the heinous fines).

    ANYWAY. Yesterday I got my fees invoice. Uni fees this year are over $5100!!! First year, around 3900. Last year, $4200. So this is almost a grand more….
    All of my papers have outrageously high fees – I’m not really sure why. Instead of being under $600 each, some are $700 and $800. Hopefully my scholarship will cover it all – they should. Speaking of which, I must ring them and see what to do next.

    I’ll probably have to pay almost a grand out of pocket, for other costs and materials and the student association fees.

    Plus I plan to get contents insurance, and get a laptop and camera. I’ll be getting some money from mystery shopping, overtime and my first story assignment at work – which I haven’t even touched on yet! And if I ever get paid my $400 from December’s articles, that will cover the techy stuff.

    I’m glad this is my last year of studying. I can’t imagine how fast fees are going to increase from here on now.

  • Awash in cash….sort of

    OMG!

    Feels good…da da da da ba da da

    cash

    We have money. For the first time in MONTHS. BF got paid early, and given his contracting rate, it’s the equivalent of a full week’s work for like three days’ worth.

    Honestly, I couldn’t get around it all and had to slowly break it down in my budget program. Esp. as I was dealing with a mix of cash and money in the bank. Oh, and flatmate paid up a big chunk of bills, so that helps. We have a horrendous power bill due soon… $60per person, so I socked away extra this week for bills.

    Normally I budget everything down to zero, but not this week. Even after some extravagance, and no doubt extra spending on crap, there should still be some left and I’ll decide what to apply it to later.

    What we did: paid up a lump sum to the Visa, which had been ignored during the Drought of Unemployment; a lump sum to car loan (more than one week’s regular payment!); put some towards the student loan (which is all due in full next week I think, shudder…don’t think we are fully caught up); towards car expenses fund and towards savings (also greatly neglected during our dry spell). Felt great, I tell you. We really want to attack his debt and get that done and dusted, but given the economy and his job situation savings is equally important. Probably should be first priority, but the debt is just nagging away too much.

    I even had money left over to save for me.

    The boy, bless his generous soul, bought a bunch of bourbies for the flat. He was going to pay for it all out of his money, but we arranged so only half of it came directly out of his pocket.

    Of course, it’s easy to get carried away – we drifted into talking about taking a holiday sometime, probably one of the Pacific Islands, maybe early next year. The big Europe expedition can come later. Of course, we don’t even know how long this job will last, there isn’t really any official paperwork and I’m dearly hoping they’re paying taxes as they should be. And who knows where I’ll be or what I’ll be doing post grad. I’ll be happy just to continue doing what I’m doing, and bank some money, take a well deserved break for the first real time in three years.

    Friends complain that four weeks a year isn’t enough! Jeepers, that’s a whole month out of 12. That’s heaps! Of course I’ve worked full time every summer since high school, without a break, so my perspective’s different. Honestly, four weeks sounds like heavenly eternity to me.

  • ReStart

    People have been complaining that the ReStart package leaves out those with “money in the bank” or “significant redundancy payments”. Excuse me, but since when is 25k an “insignificant amount”? Even after taxes, that is not chump change. I would not be turning up my nose at something like that. I believe the savings cut off was around $16k. Which I think is fair enough. I know that’s not a huge amount, but if you have 16k you can live off some of that for a little while. I know it will hurt, but that’s what you save your EF for, after all. (Bear in mind this is coming from a student with barely a quarter of that to her name)

    If you are important/wellpaid enough to end up with 25k or more in redundancy payouts, that’s not something to take lightly. Many of us wouldn’t get anything, or very little, so be grateful for what you have! Let’s say you end up with $17k after taxes. That’s enough for a couple of months. I tend not to look at the very top of my bank statement, the line that shows the total amount IN for the month and the total amount OUT. It shocks me to see that 6-8k passes through our account each month! Bear in mind that we pay the total rent for our house, $405, and so we get the rent from our two flatmates in every week. But it’s still so much more than I imagined, and so little of it stays in our account.

    Nonetheless, we have certainly cut back since the whole situation with BF’s employment, and $17k would have kept us going for awhile!

  • Budget

    I didn’t get paid for my days off over Xmas. I guess you really do have to fill out the forms and all and apply, even if it shows up on the roster as LEAVE!

    But it’s okay, I worked two public holidays, and (I think) got double time), so I didn’t lose out too much, despite the three days less.

    This week’s budget (well, discretionary budget, post rent, bills and other payments)

    120 – groceries

    35 – gas

    50 – BF lunches, he’s working in Avondale and company has NO kitchen facilities

    30 – our misc. fun/entertainment/eating out money

    10ish – paintbrush to finish our front door

  • Windfall!

    BF called his company yesterday and got them to agree to pay his remaining annual leave out as well as four stat days (seeing as all the stats fell on weekdays in Dec, which are his normal working days). I’m surprised he didn’t have any grief about it; the new boss has been a wanker to him. I reckon two days’ worth of stats will carry us through two weeks until he starts getting paid (should be starting some work on Monday) the rest will go towards debt, and his holiday pay will be saved for, well, a HOLIDAY at some point. We deserve one 😛 I guess you could say the last couple of months have been his longest holiday ever, but to be fair sitting at home isn’t quite the same thing.

    It’s still a little strange having everything so up in the air..I don’t like it! It’s a weird feeling, not knowing for sure if you’ll be working or not. Obviously the last few weeks were different – we KNEW there was no way BF would have work, but it was okay, we budgeted and got through. He did have a week’s work in December so that helped us for a couple of weeks, and I did a ton of mystery shopping which brought in over $100.

    In the meantime, assuming everything goes okay, I’m keen to do something fun before heading back to uni. Originally we planned maybe taking a road trip one weekend – either up north or the Coromandel (haven’t really been to either, and want to!) but think we’ll leave it till the end of the year. And the less wear and tear on the poor car, the better. I’m really hoping the last year has taught BF to choose his next one wisely. It won’t be paid for for another couple years, so fingers crossed it lasts till then, and hopefully longer!

  • Car woes

    dcd8_12_gxuu

    Sometimes it all seems too overwhelming. Like we’ll never be debt free. Not having an EF in place (well there is, but it’s minuscule and only to be tapped in the most dire circumstances) means everytime the car needs something money must be borrowed.

    It’s kind of stupid how we combine our expenses. Both our individual incomings and outgoings during the year are vastly different but we share one account. I try to keep it as fair as I can, his money going to his expenses and mine to mine. I guess it works, sort of…

    I could pay for all of his car repair debt now (loan excepted), but there’s got to be limits. That’s too large a chunk of my savings. I didn’t want to bail him out this time, but everything needed paying so fast there wasn’t too much choice. So it’s on the Visa sitting pretty.

    Blardy cars.

    I don’t think anyone really gets how hard it can be. If you have nothing to fall back on, have a car (presumably a cheap one) and don’t live at home, you’re almost certain to fall into debt for any myriad of reasons.

    But looking to the future 🙂 Given we’re almost surviving on one income now, there’s no reason we can’t once I graduate. There’d be less debt to service and I’d be making a full time wage. I’m positive we could live off close to one paycheck (wouldn’t be that hard) and sock the rest away into savings. Then we’d be able to travel pretty soon!

    But I don’t like to make plans too far in advance. Unhatched eggs and all that.

  • Eating Healthy

    I’ve come to realise that it’s really hard to eat well on a budget. I mentioned this a while ago, that I’ve stopped going to Revive because as healthful and tasty as it is, it just doesn’t do the job in terms of filling me up. I’m small, I hover at around 50kgs. But I eat A LOT. I really need food to function; when I’m hungry I feel faint and sick and take it out on everyone around me. So it’s in my best interests to stay fed and full. I don’t know why I get so hungry…it’s not like I even work out or do much physical labour (apart from all that bloody house cleaning), nor is my job super stressful or mentally taxing. I guess I just have a high metabolism.

    We don’t tend to eat much in the way of fruit / veg. I don’t actually like many fruits, something I need to work on. I like berries and melons, bananas, mandarins and sometimes apples. I don’t like tropical fruits, which I’m hoping to change! I’ll eat fruit salad occasionally. And we don’t eat many vegetables, because like I said, they are expensive and don’t fill you up. Sure a cucumber can be a dollar in summer, and goes nicely in salads but how far does it go? Capsicums are one of our favourites but they can hit $3 a piece. I used to buy bagged salad greens for sandwiches but found they got soggy within a couple of days. (With our new fridge, maybe it’s safe to start getting them again.)

    We need to learn how to cook vegetables again. Now it’s summer we can probably let that slide and just collect a ton of salad recipes, but with vegetables it’s really important to plan meals. I know jack about cooking vegetables, apart from dumping them in a stirfry, or roasting them or making potato salad. Oh and my fave, fried cabbage and onions. But that’s pretty limited, and often we just don’t know what to do with greens so we leave them be. And all too often we buy them meaning well, but find them wilted and rotten in the fridge at the end of the week.

    This week we did a pretty comprehensive plan which, amazingly, contained some vegetable components! Last night we had a yoghurt, tomato, cucumber and red onion salad. We’ve been getting sick of eating the same old food every week, so we tried to mix it up this week. Our plan looked pretty gourmet compared to what we’ve been eating. Unfortunately, although our taste buds benefited, our wallets didn’t. Each meal contained more than two or three ingredients, so it cost a lot more when we went to the supermarket. Our first meal included meat and a salad – so once we included all the different veges, there were six or seven separate things to buy! All those little things added up (even natural yoghurt!). But I’m happy with that, in moderation…dinners are much more fun, and if we can add a few greens in there a few times a week, all the better.

    If no one still believes that it’s PRICEY to eat healthy, check out http://www.nytimes.com/2008/11/04/health/nutrition/04well.html and http://onedollardietproject.wordpress.com; I followed it for awhile and it’s really eyeopening.

  • Nearly paid off!

    I cannot wait to have my bed paid off! For someone who seems to be financially sussed, more or less, this was my worst decision ever. It’s on an outrageous interest rate, and they keep sending me ‘offers’ in the mail (which funnily enough have increased exponentially in the leadup to Christmas…suspect??!) It’s a total waste. They are colour printed cards, wrapped in plastic….much like the insane packaging on PR products sent in at work, I can’t stand to think much is wasted for the sake of marketing.

    I should probably ring and opt out, but it’s too much trouble…only a couple of months to go, and come to think of it I haven’t had anything from them for a few weeks. No mailers telling me I’m preapproved for a laptop for 4 years at 20 a week.What a privilege! The boy spotted one of them once, a flash phone caught his eye and so did the $20 a month payment. I had to admit it was a pretty good price, too, which I didn’t like to admit. Until we saw it wasn’t actually a monthly payment…it was weekly. Ouch.