Tag Archives: spending

What we spent: February 2014

Click here for more info on my monthly spending roundups – your question will probably be answered there.

what we spent feb 2014 nzmuse  

So, some big medical expenses last month!

Financially speaking, it was not the smartest to have my wisdom teeth out right now. But the pain was getting bad, and T being off work meant he could help look after me while I recovered.

Physically speaking, it really wasn’t anywhere near as awful as I’d imagined – details here. And financially, it wasn’t as bad as I’d worried, either – only $1050 for all four out, the rest of it being for the initial checkup, clean and x-rays, plus the meds I had to get afterwards. (White Cross Dental New Lynn, highly recommended!)

I’ve considered applying for health insurance a few times over the years; Southern Cross has a partnership of some sort with many workplaces, including my current and previous employers. But the numbers just don’t make sense. We are pretty healthy - our  issues are generally accidents/emergencies on T’s part (the ER is free; the time off work not so much) and optical for me. Basic health insurance plans in NZ don’t tend to cover optical and dental; those add-ons cost more and aren’t worth it, and none of them ever cover the cost of wisdom teeth extraction.

In other less wise moves, we also went out to a late Valentine’s dinner after the layoff – we’d been putting it off until the week after the day because of work, which turned out to be … interesting timing. But I’m pretty happy with our dining out spending, and totally stoked with our grocery spending (we’ve definitely been spending less since we returned to NZ, thanks to our new eating habits and smaller appetites).

Seeing as T was laid off halfway through the month, his spending is definitely on the high side (that’s more like a full working month allowance…) But there’s no point going on and on about it. It’s always going to be a point of contention, which is the whole reason for a don’t-ask-don’t-tell allowance.

Thinking about the future … I veer between extreme optimism and hopelessness. Right now, it’s definitely skewed towards the latter. I keep thinking we’ll never be able to save for a down payment (previously, there were moments where I was thinking that given the money some of T’s colleagues make in a year, it might actually be within reach in a couple years! So much for that).

I honestly see no way for house prices here to fall unless something is done to stop both investors and nonresidents/citizens buying property, which isn’t going to happen. So I guess we wait until the next recession – and hope we don’t lose our jobs in it.

Drafting up a 2014 budget

nzmuse 2014 budget

At last, it finally feels like we’re back on an even keel! T is bringing in an income and now that the random payroll snafu that resulted in me missing my December paycheque (I got it in January) is sorted, we’re basically all caught up financially.

So, his new job. It involved a big initial outlay; that happens when you go from the kind of jobs where you have a uniform or can wear your normal casual clothes to a white-collar environment – particularly in face-to-face sales. As much as I hate to say it, those shirts and pants and ties and shoes were an investment.

The hours are long, though – 9-10 hour days and only three days off a fortnight. (Whether this is sustainable long-term is another matter – time will tell, I guess.) Now he’s past the training month, it’s entirely commission based, so his income is 100% variable.

The big bonus is the near total elimination of car expenses. Company car, a certain amount of fuel per week, not to mention the savings on insurance, registration and maintenance. I’m super stoked, because car expenses are ALWAYS what kill us.

The most logical way to manage our money seems to be to live off mine (the regular) and save his (the irregular) – even if that makes me feel a little uneasy. There is room to still save a little from my pay, which makes me happier. Here’s my projection for our weekly expenses (yes, we pay rent weekly in NZ, for any newcomers).

  • Rent – $280
  • Groceries – $130
  • Bills – $120 (I put this amount into my ‘bills’ account for power, water, bus fare, insurance, and all those boring things)
  • T’s allowance – $80 (spending money plus lunch money – their $6 subsidised cafeteria meals look amazing and are good value – this is a small luxury of convenience for the both of us)
  • Fun money – $80 (generally consists of us going out to eat, plus room to spend $20-30 on petrol for our own use)

The big hairy goal is saving for a house, but I’ve come to realise we probably first need to save for a second car, because we won’t be able to afford a house in a convenient suburb. Much as I would like to be able to save a 20% down payment, 10% is more realistic, and can be done through a Welcome Home loan.

Finding a house for under $485,000 isn’t easy (but at least they’ve updated their price threshold – they previously classed affordable houses as under something like $300,000, which was so far off the mark it wasn’t even funny). As for the income criteria, unless T turns out to be a total ninja sales star, or some flush-with-funding startup decides they need my wordsmithing skills like I need my weekly fix of Scandal and shower me with buckets of cash, we should be safe. I try not to think about one of my old classmates, an accountant who would’ve started out making roughly the same income as me, but then doubled that in her second job (I bet she’s into the six figures now) and is only going to go up from there. I try not to think about the fact that I will probably never crack $90k in my working life, and focus on the fact that I have the dream job that I actually enjoy going to every day. But why, oh why, couldn’t my talents and interests have had more lucrative leanings? Don’t answer that.

Femme Frugality

Investing in furniture: is an expensive bed worth the money?

sealy posturepedic bed nz

I always thought that buying a house would be my catalyst for buying grownup furnishings. Quality kitchenware, a lounge set that cost more than $10 … and a new bed. (Everything else – the aesthetic stuff – I could take or leave.)

See, our old bed was actually a secondhand bed. I bought it back in 2006, when I thought I would only need it for a few months. The plan was to move into the student dorms when I started uni in 2007, which would be fully furnished. But then I changed my mind, stayed in the suburbs, and kept that old bed. Fast forward to the current day, and I’ve had that bed for seven years … and I’m not sure how old it was before that. (For what it’s worth, it’s a Sealy, which is about as good as it gets brand-wise.)

After six months in a garage, that old bed wasn’t really in the best shape. Rather than waiting until we buy a house, it seemed like a good time to replace it. Plus, my mother had given me $2000 just before we left (ostensibly a wedding present – she told me to spend it on a new bed).

Now, there are plenty of beds going for about $600/700. I’ve even seen bedroom packages for the same price, with dresser included. Heck, I actually saw a queen size bed advertised for the tiny sum of $250. But at some point, frugal becomes cheap (we didn’t go to check out that one as the retailer was really far away and T was skeptical that a $250 bed could possibly be any good).

We ended up buying a new queen size Sealy from Bedstop in Three Kings. The damage: $1000 (ouch) down from an original price of $1700 (yay!).

Personally, I can sleep on anything. I mean, I don’t love sleeping on the gap between two mattresses (which I had to do far too often in Europe, where a double bed is usually code for two singles pushed together), but I cope. I can sleep on couches, floors, hard beds, soft beds, in cars, on trains … you name it.

On the other hand, T likes a firm mattress, and has chronic back pain, though it’s eased a lot since he stopped working hardcore trade jobs. Our nightly ritual usually consists of him muttering about how he can’t find a comfortable position and eventually sinking into a fitful sleep, while I halfheartedly scratch his back for a few minutes before being overtaken by a wave of glorious unconsciousness.

If it wasn’t for him, I would probably have gone way cheaper. WAY cheaper. But his comfort is important, and a bed is not a purchase to be made lightly. Also, our new mattress is so darn cute – though I don’t get the point of putting fun prints on mattresses, since you’re never going to see them! There’s that fleeting moment when you change the sheets, but I’m generally concerned with getting that tedious task over as quickly as possible more than anything else.

What’s the most expensive item of furniture you’ve ever purchased?

Yakezie Carnival: Back on the bandwagon

Confession: I haven’t been closely tracking our spending for, er, a few months now.

Surprise: some of it has been trickling away and I don’t know where all of it’s gone. I do know we’re not saving as much as we need to be.

Without trying to shift the blame too much, I am going to mostly point the finger at the boy. I’m still on my no shopping kick and I literally do not spend money during the week. He tends toward little purchases (even though he has an allowance just for him, sometimes he’s been dipping into the account) and we’ve had some expenses for a friend’s wedding, which thankfully is now over.

And I’ve been slack at keeping on top of things. Why? Just tired of it. Of spending so much time thinking about money. See, I’m bad at this balance thing. Being busy with a ton of other things this summer, this took a backseat. It’s time to get back on the bandwagon.

On that note, here’s this week’s Yakezie carnival with a whole bunch of personal finance posts for your reading pleasure…

Marvin @ Brick By Brick Investing writes Selling Options — How To Start Your Own Casino – A brief description detailing the benefits of selling options.

James Petzke @ This Is Common Cents writes Financial Superpowers: The Automagic Climate Controlled Super Suit – By acclimating to different temperatures, you can save hundreds, maybe thousands of dollars on heating and cooling costs.

Mich @ BeatingTheIndex writes Twin Butte Energy: Setting Up for a Heavy Oil Contrarian Trade? – Twin Butte Energy was one of a few dividend paying stocks able to afford its dividend and remains a free call option on the price of Canadian heavy oil.

Robert @ The College Investor writes Better Know a Millionaire Investor – Chris Huse – To start the series, I’d like to present Chris Huse, who is the co-founder and CEO of Media Strike, which is the largest sports ad network in the United States. He is essentially an online entrepreneur, and has been working in the ad network space for about 10 years. Let’s get to know Chris Huse a little better…

Robert @ My Multiple Incomes writes Onboarding Your First Virtual Assistant – Now that you think you’ve picked out the right candidate, here are the next steps to take to hire and onboard your virtual assistant.

Ted Jenkin @ Your Smart Money Moves writes How To Read Your Investment Statements – You have a college degree from a good four year school. Perhaps you went on to get an MBA from a fantastic post graduate program.

Passive Income Earner @ The Passive Income Earner writes Pay Your Mortgage or Invest It – Do you pay your mortgage down first or do you invest? Which one gets you ahead further?

Mary Rhodes @ Fine Tune Finances writes Are you Saving Money Just to Save? Or are You saving With Purpose? – Human nature dictates much time and money is wasted when we don’t have a goal. This also applies to our financial life, in short your goal your reason for saving, or purpose. If you are saving money just to build up a bank balance you are not likely to be successful at it.

Jason @ Work Save Live writes Best Online Tax Preparation Software – H&R Block, TurboTax, TaxACT, FreeTaxUSA – To take the guesswork out of which online tax software is right for you, we’ve taken a tremendous amount of time to examine the best – and most popular – online tax preparation companies to determine which has the best software for your particular tax situation. See the differences between TurboTax, H&R Block, TaxACT, and FreeTaxUSA.

CAPI @ Creating a Passive Income writes Playing the Inheritance Game for Passive Income – When it comes to inheriting money, there is no other way to do less, or in some cases, more work for what will be considered a passive income. For those who are blessed to be part of a family that has a fortune to pass on, then your entire job in life becomes maintaining your place to inherit the goods.

Mike @ Personal Finance Journey writes Liability in a car accident – Simple easy tips on liability in a car accident to help you minimize your financial loss and keep on the financial journey.

Scott Skyles @ Mortgage1a.com writes Tips-on-improving-your-credit-score-fast - In today’s world, a good credit score is extremely important. Whether you are looking to obtain a mortgage loan or simply apply for apartment tenancy, your credit score is almost always considered, and the decision between granting and denying credit often depends greatly on this number.

A Blinkin @ Funancials writes 99 Problems: Are You a Sort-Of Good Saver? – You may remember me (and other bloggers) mentioning the $999.99 giveaway. Believe it or not, the dollar amount is not completely random. There is a purpose for it.

Paul Vachon @ The Frugal Toad writes Winter Storm Nemo and the Importance of an Emergency Fund – What does the massive Winter Storm Nemo have to do with the need to have an emergency fund? In short, everything. Nemo is symbolic of any un-foreseen event that may disrupt one’s income or cause a financial hardship. From a simple power outage to a long-term illness, being prepared to handle an emergency can mean the difference between peace of mind and having your family’s world turned upside down.

Amanda L Grossman @ Frugal Confessions writes My Frugal Resume: Contributing to Our Household’s Finances in More Ways than Earning – It’s no secret that I enjoy funneling as much of our income as possible into our savings accounts.

Jen @ Master the Art of Saving writes Preparing To Buy A House: The Score – Buying your first home can be an exciting and stressful experience all in one. When we bought our first house, I really didn’t know what to expect. Maybe I should have done a little bit of research ahead of time, but what’s done is done.

Jen @ PF Carny writes Steps to Determine If You Are Ready to Open Your Own Business – If you are working for “the man” at a 9 to 5 job, you may dream of nothing more than venturing out on your own and being your own boss. This is the true American dream, and in this age of the Internet, it has become a reality for many people.

harry campbell @ Your Personal Finance Pro writes My First Default With Lending Club – With today’s pitiful interest rates, it’s hard to sit there and invest your money in CD’s that are returning 1 or 2 percent. So if you’ve been searching for alternative investments you may already know about Lending Club. But if you’re new to the peer to peer lending scene, you can read my first review of Lending Club here.

Crystal @ Budgeting in the Fun Stuff writes Why I Use a Credit Card (And How To Leverage Yours) – If you can’t be disciplined enough to pay off your balance in full every month, then you probably shouldn’t have a credit card. But it works for me.

Daniel @ Sweating the Big Stuff writes What Was Your First Passion Project? – My first passion project was my blog that I worked on for 40 hours a week while bored at my day job. What was yours?

Michelle @ The Shop My Closet Project writes Dear Mr. Postman – For the last few years I’ve noticed that the U.S. Postal Service has been having some difficulties. With the introduction of the internet people have embraced online banking, e-filing, and basically internet everything. We get our bills sent to us through e-billing and it’s a good thing because using less paper is good for our forests.

Wayne @ Young Family Finance writes Money and Relationships: Some Advice to Keep in Mind – Talking about money with your spouse can be difficult, but it doesn’t have to be. There are many successful strategies to broach the topic.

Jennifer Lynn @ Broke-Ass Mommy writes $100 Giveaway!! Finding your loved one the right gift at the right price. – Finding your loved one that right gift at the right price! Perhaps my giveaway can help?

Bryan @ Gajizmo.com writes Best Short Term Investments – Even multi-billion dollar corporations are always trying to maximize the returns of their cash and short term investments, so why shouldn’t you? Here is a comprehensive list of all your short term investment options, from money market market accounts and Treasuries to “I-Bonds” and property tax certificates. Find where you feel comfortable parking your cash for the short-term before you invest it at higher yields.

Tushar @ Earn More and Save writes Getting Engaged? Be Sure that Ring Is Covered – Getting or giving an engagement ring is a special moment. It symbolizes a promise of two people to make a life together.

Suba @ Broke Professionals writes How to Watch Your Expenses Like a Hawk – You’ve heard it before, saving money – like losing weight – is as simple as watching your inputs and outputs.

Jon the Saver @ Free Money Wisdom writes Start a Pension Early to Prepare for Retirement – Start investing now if you want to retire someday. It’s too serious of a subject to ignore for that many years.

JP @ My Family Finances writes Net Worth TV on How All Business Can Leverage the Global Economy – Here at Net Worth TV with Terry Bradshaw we look at and discuss all aspects of business. Today lets look at how you can leverage the global economy.

MMD @ My Money Design writes Believing In Yourself After Finding Out That You Suck – Despite what other people think of you, believing in yourself will have to come from your own hunger and ambition. Only you know what you’re capable of accomplishing.

MMD @ IRA vs 401k Central writes Taking An Early Withdrawal from Roth IRA Contributions – You’ve heard you can take an early withdrawal from Roth IRA contributions after five years, but did you know there are specific rules that come with it?

MMD @ IRA vs 401k Central writes Taking An Early Withdrawal from Roth IRA Contributions – You’ve heard you can take an early withdrawal from Roth IRA contributions after five years, but did you know there are specific rules that come with it?

Evan @ My Journey to Millions writes Seeing Personal Finance Bloggers Just Treading Water Bums Me Out – There is nothing that bums me out then rediscovering or even just watching a personal finance blogger treading water.

Roger the Amateur Financier @ The Amateur Financier writes Money and Child Raising: Preschool, Yay or Nay? – If you’ve been reading the past several weeks of these Monday posts here at The Amateur Financier, you’ve noticed that I’ve been covering some of the choices

SFB @ Simple Finance Blog writes 4 Money Management Tips For College Graduates – You have just graduated from college, and you are about to join the working class. Here are 4 Money Management Tips to set you up on the right path.

Nick @ A Young Pro writes What I Learned From My First Day on the Job – A few lessons that I learned from my first day at my first professional job.

John @ Married (with Debt) writes It’s Time Again – Shopping for Car Insurance – My car insurance premium increases every 6 months even though I’ve never been in an accident, so I shop for new car insurance quotes regularly.

Alice @ Hurricanes, Panties & Dollars writes Shopaholics are like Superheroes – I ended up spending around 9 hours shopping (with an official shopaholic) by my side. When I finally got home, I was freakin’ exhausted; not to mention broke as…

Jason @ Live Real Now writes Making Extra Money: Niche Selection – The “make money” niche is far too broad for anyone to effectively compete. The “make money online” sub-niche is still crazy. When you get to the “make money buying and selling websites” micro-niche, you’re in a territory that leaves room for competition, without costing thousands of dollars to get involved.

Pauline @ Reach Financial Independence writes Big city life, is it worth it? – With an average salary, does it make sense to live in a big city?

Bryan @ BryanMaltier.com writes How I Plan To Generate Passive Income This Year – This article is a guest post from MyMoneyDesign.com and is focused on detailing his plans this year to generate additional passive income. In it, MMD discusses his 4 main opportunities – to continue building up his blog, build a niche site, write an E-Book, and invest in dividend stocks.

Tony @ We Only Do This Once writes We Are All Experts – Many people have spent a ton of life energy in a quest to discover their passion. And for many of them, once they found it, that was enough. Finding the thing that lights them up inside satisfies the quest. But some people want more than that—they want to live their passion.

MR @ Money Reasons writes 2013 Late To The Stock Market Strategy – I’m going to share my Late to the Stock Market Strategy that I’m hoping will make 2013 a block buster year for me!

Matt @ Living in Financial Excellence writes The Wow Factor: Getting the Most Bang for Your Buck – When you think about making a purchase, have you ever thought about rating it on a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 barely moving the needle and 10 being a big, exciting WOW?

Everything Finance @ Everything Finance Blog writes It’s Expensive to Become a Firefighter – The thing that my husband spends money on–and the reason for the biggest re-occurring argument about money that we have– would probably shock most of you: My husband spends a lot of money on food.

Ray @ Squirrelers.com writes Every Hour Counts: Knowing How You Spend Your Time – If the saying is, “Time is Money”, then it makes sense to understand how we are spending our time! This post examines this topic.

TTMK @ Tie the Money Knot writes How Much Do You Really Need in Your Emergency Fund? – Having an emergency fund is an oft-discuss personal finance topic. But while we can agree it’s important to have one, the bigger question is: how much should we keep in such a fund?

DPF @ Digital Personal Finance writes Don’t Pay Cash – Just Charge it on a Credit Card Instead! – While credit cards can be a source of temptation for many, if they’re used with discipline, they can be a great way to pay for everyday expenses. This post explores the benefits of using credit cards.

Steve @ 2012 Taxes writes E-Filing Your Taxes With TurboTax 2013 – We are in the midst of the 2013 tax filing season. Every year since 1993; Americans have increasingly used e-filing software to file their tax returns. TurboTax 2013follow has perfected the process of contemporary electronic tax filing.

PPlan @ Provident Plan writes How to use stoplosses and limits in spread betting – If you’re a novice in spread betting or any other form of trading, one of the biggest anxieties you probably have is losing money.

Hank @ Money Q&A writes Ten Ways To Break Your Texting While Driving Habit – There are ways that you can can work to break your texting while driving habit. As you drive, consider when you become bored behind the wheel and inattentive.

Corey @ Steadfast Finances writes Protecting Your Home Investment – Buying a home is a big step for any family or individual. Not only is it difficult to save up a down payment, but it can also be hard to take care of a house for the first time. Proper maintenance and general upkeep is an important part of home ownership. It takes a lot of work, but it is essential to protect your investment.

Ashley @ Money Talks Coaching writes Video: Reaching Your Goals – Hey there! I have another video for you today. Today I’m reviewing a great tool I’ve been using that will help you reach your goals.

Don @ MoneySmartGuides writes 3 Secrets to Retiring Well – I read an article recently in Money Magazine regarding retirement. The author pointed out three secrets to retire well. They include: Embrace Change: As life happens, sometimes our plans need to change and we have to rethink retirement.

Edgar @ Degrees and Debt writes Side Jobs: Snag A Job Review – Review of website SnagAJob to obtain a side job for diversifying income streams.

TDB @ Tax Deduction Blog writes Before You Say I Do : How will marriage affect your taxes? – Before you get married, you should take the time to learn how marriage will affect your taxes. What is this so-called marriage penalty? Is there really such a thing as a marriage tax?

Miss T. @ Prairie Eco Thrifter writes Guerilla Gardening and Seed Bombing – Participating in guerrilla gardening is civil disobedience without all the “going to jail” parts that so often come when trying to do the right thing for the environment. No one really suffers, the environment comes out ahead, and city lots get a makeover and are filled with beautiful flowers or edible gardens. Sounds pretty civil indeed, if you ask me!

Joe @ Midlife Finance writes Money Secrets – Have a bad money secret in your life? Confessing feels great…but what are you doing to make it better? (Feel free to comment anonymously — we’re all friends here.)

Luke @ Learn Bonds writes The 10 Year Treasury: Where to Next? – Here is my 10 year treasury rate forecast for 2013. A look back at where we have been, the recent rise in the 10 year treasury rate, and where we are headed.

Little House @ Little House in the Valley writes Expanding Your Home’s Footprint Out of Doors – Since I’m maybe 2 years away from purchasing a house of my own, and knowing that it probably won’t be my “dream home” but instead rather on the small-ish side, I’ll have to make the most of every square foot, including the out doors. Using the out doors properly, with the help of a porch, deck, or slab, can expand the interior footprint by quite a lot.

Kyle @ The Penny Hoarder writes 5 Mortgage Saving Ideas – When it comes to cutting your budget, you probably start with incidental expenses like eating out or having digital cable. But it’s also important to pay attention to what kind of money you can save even on the necessities, like your housing payment.

BARBARA FRIEDBERG @ Barbara Friedberg Personal Finance writes HOW TO MEASURE RISK & PROTECT AGAINST IT – Measure investment performance, investment risk, & protect against investment risk.

Corey @ 20s Finances writes Five Ways to Achieve Your Financial Goals – Very rarely do I meet someone who doesn’t care about achieving financial success. Simply put, everyone wants to have more money than they know what to do with. Who doesn’t right? That’s why so many people waste their money on lottery tickets. Yet, as we all know, very few achieve this goal. But, it isn’t for a lack of trying.

Eddie @ Finance Fox writes Why is Printer Ink Expensive? – Why is printer ink expensive? While all other IT manufacturers are fighting for market share, ink jet providers keep ripping the consumers off.

Grayson @ Debt Roundup writes The First Step to Recovery is to Admit You Don’t Have a Budget – When you have any problem, the first step to recovering is to admit the problem. The same goes with money. The first step to getting your finances in order is to admit that you don’t have a budget.

krantcents @ KrantCents writes I Am a PF Coach and I Should Be Fired! – That’s right, I should be fired! Where is Donald Trump when you need him? I think of myself as a personal finance (PF) coach that helps you achieve your goals and I am batting under 500. My percentage stinks and I should be fired.

Tushar @ Start Investing Money writes New Year, New Financial Goals? – We are now a little over a month into the New Year. The festive season may seem long gone, as is the time for setting New Year’s Resolutions. But it doesn’t mean it is too late to make strides in the right direction when it comes to achieving your financial goals.

L Bee @ L Bee and the Money Tree writes House Guest Rules: Who Pays for Dinner? – Then I got to thinking about house guest rules. There are of course the rules nearly everyone follows when guest is in town:

Invest It Wisely @ Invest It Wisely writes Weekend Reading, Winter Edition – The forest is situated south of the Loch Achray Hotel.

NoTrustFund @ Where’s My Trust Fund writes Financial Wisdom From A Nonagenarian – Words of wisdom from a lady who has been around the block a few times.

Tushar @ Finance TUBE writes Our Top 3 Financial Tips for Generation Y – Today I will be talking about Top 3 Financial Tips for Generation Y. Gen Yers are often being perceived as an unmotivated and entitled. It may have something to do with incredible amount of things that they want to have.

Girl Meets Debt @ Girl Meets Debt writes Getting Personal: Dating with Debt – I am getting personal in this post. Dating with debt from the point of view of someone who is in debt.

William @ Quote Me A Price writes Annuities and Structured Settlements: What�s the Difference? – Annuities and structured settlements have many similarities, and you might even make the mistake of thinking they are the same thing. Sure, they both pay regular payments to the people they are owed to over a specified time period, but the way state and federal laws see these two types of payments confirms that they are indeed different things.

Maria @ The Money Principle writes My Father’s only investment – My Dad made only one investment in his life: my education.

Christina @ MLIQ101 writes Compare Types of Term Life Insurance Coverage – Before picking a term life insurance policy, consumers need to figure out exactly what type of coverage they needs. Term life protection comes in the form of no load, decreasing term, guaranteed, level term, return of premium, convertible, and adjustable, among many others. This article details the basic difference between each type of policy to help you compare types of term life coverage.

Carmen @ MBCI101 writes How To Find The Best Car Insurance and Quotes – How can you tell if you’ve got the best car insurance? First, we provide you some background on the factors that affect your premiums, then explain the types of car insurance available and when you should purchase them, after which you get a list of tricks and discounts you should be applying to lower your rates. Getting the lowest car insurance rates with the best coverage isn’t hard, but you should know what to look for.

Jules Wilson @ Fat Guy,Skinny Wallet writes Not Just Another Diet Book: Never Say Diet by Chantel Hobbs – A review of Never Say Diet by Chantel Hobbs.

Jules Wilson @ Faithful With a Few writes Why You and Your Spouse Need a Regular Date Night – Date night for married couples can be pretty elusive at times. However, it can be the key to keeping your marriage fresh, especially if you have children.

Jon @ Novel Investor writes Compare The Best CD Rates – With interest rates at their lowest levels in years, CDs are actually a great alternative to treasury bonds and bond funds.

John S @ Frugal Rules writes Why You Should Say No to Refund Anticipation Loans – Refund Anticipation Loans are marketed as a way to get your tax refund quicker and just in a few days. The main problem is that they’re full of fees as well as the desire to spend the money once received.

Darwin @ Darwin’s Money writes These Mutual Funds Actually Beat The Index. And “The Market” – Mutual funds rarely beat their index, but in this niche, managers returned over 20% in 2012 while besting their index as well – is it worth switching back from ETFs to mutual funds?

Dividend Growth Investor @ Dividend Growth Investor writes The World’s Best Dividend Portfolio – For my retirement strategy I am relying on dividend growth stocks, which will provide dependable income, which increases over time and protects its purchasing power from inflation. I have a quantitative and qualitative process, which allows me to screen the hundreds of dividend growth stocks and narrow the list of candidates to 30 -40 individual companies.

Mr.CBB @ Canadian Budget Binder writes Becoming a Single Homeowner- The Plan – Becoming a single homeowner has been a trend lately with the ladies leading the way. Learn about the unique requirements of how the single person approaches buying a home.

KK @ Student Debt Survivor writes My $30,000 Student Loan Mistake – If you’re human, chances are you’ve made a money mistake at one point or another in your life. Come read about my $30K student loan mistake. It might make you feel better, or worse, or both.

Mike @ Wealthy Turtle writes 5 Ways to Work From Home with Young Children – Working from home can be a challenge when you also have kids running around. These tips will help you balance family and work.

Steve @ Grocery Alerts writes How to save money on beef without using coupons – Saving money on beef doesn’t have to involve sales and coupons all the time. Money shouldn’t be an excuse to stand in the way of a well balanced diet. By implementing some of these tips below you will be on your way to have beef on your plate for less.

Glen Craig @ Free From Broke writes TurboTax Online Tax Software (2012 Return) | Review – TurboTax has become the industry standard for online tax preparation. See what TurboTax offers and which TurboTax Online edition is best for you.

FMF @ Free Money Finance writes Real Estate 101: Summary – Throughout the Real Estate 101 Series my goal has been to introduce prospective and beginning investors to the world of real estate investing. Specifically I have tried to answer some basic questions, dispel some myths and misconceptions, and give actionable advice that can be used to move towards becoming a successful investor. As I finish the series I hope that the information provided here has mostly met that goal.

Jason Hull @ Hull Financial Planning writes Inflation and the Cost of Your Mortgage – Inflation, in general, is not good for consumers. There is one exception to this rule – your mortgage. This article explains why that’s the case.

Jason @ PT Money Personal Finance writes 5 Card Act Loopholes You Need to Know About – The Card Act of 2009 created a bill of rights for credit card holders, but companies found loopholes around it in at least 5 different ways.

Michelle @ Making Sense of Cents writes $2,420 in Extra Income, Life, Wedding Updates – This weekend we did a lot. We looked around on Sunday to try and think of possible areas that we want to buy in, and we found a couple that we like. We pretty much know what kind of house we want (we are pretty open, but love older styled and southern style homes).

Emily @ Evolving Personal Finance writes Is Your Blog on Your Resume? – Is your blog or self-employment venture on your resume? Under what circustances would you include it and how do you think potential employers would respond?

PK @ Don’t Quit Your Day Job… writes Is Dave Ramsey’s Investment Advice Misguided? – Dave Ramsey’s advice to save something towards the future monthly is definitely sound. His predicted returns? Likely not going to happen for the average investor.

Arnel Ariate @ Money Soldiers writes Why is it Essential to Invest in Gold? – Of all the precious metals on earth, gold is the most popular investment. Generally, investors worldwide purchase gold as a hedge or harbor against economic crises including inflation, investment market declines, and the burgeoning national debt. But with various gold price predictions, many neophytes in the investment market are thinking whether investing in gold is still a great idea.

Rich @ Money Wise Pastor writes 15 Best Paying College Majors – On average, college graduates earn more money than those without a degree. But some majors are worth more than others. Today I’ll share the 15 best paying college majors.

The Yakezie Carnival is brought to you to by the network of personal finance bloggers of the Yakezie. You can submit articles at Blogger Carnivals.

Bad money habits: the boyfriend edition

Sometimes T’s costly financial habits get up my nose.

  • Snacks and drinks. He doesn’t like drinking water and most of his money goes on random food purchases and Coke/juice/flavoured milk. I won’t lie, it frustrates me. Technically he has his own allowance, but still, sometimes spends extra out of the account on stuff. That’s when I get annoyed.
  • Tailgating. This can be an expensive habit. New Zealand drivers tend to be heinous tailgaters (2 second rule, guys! 4 seconds on the motorway!) and he is up there with the worst of them. Amazingly, only one of the car accidents he’s been in was caused by following too closely (all of the rest can be chalked up to even worse drivers out there. On Sunday night he had a narrow brush with death – I’m kind of glad he was on his bike, because if he’d been in the car it would probably have been written off and I just can’t deal with something like that right now. OTOH, he’s a bit banged up and since he has yet to seek medical attention, I may be staying home today to deal with that).
  • None of his sunglasses ever lasts longer than a few months – not because they break, but because he loses them. I have no idea how or where. He also used to lose his wallet on a regular basis (which he’s outgrown, touch wood) and every so often wakes me up in the morning with his muttered curses at having misplaced his keys. Worst of all, most of his phones have been replaced due to loss rather than breakage or upgrading. This distinguished history includes losing at least one phone out a car window on the road.

But look, I’d like to think I’m gracious enough to admit to my faults. Here we are, then:

 

  • Imagine this: the pantry is bare or we just don’t feel like eating toast (because that’s all that’s left). I’m more likely to buy food rather than go grocery shopping like I should.
  • I cannot keep track of cash. It’s hopeless.
  • I have a tendency to throw good money after bad. Blown the grocery budget on cheese? Eh, what’s another week over budget? Or another breakfast straight from the bakery?

What are your weaknesses? I want to know…!

Summer, how I adore thee (though not the associated costs)

PSA: I did a spot of blog housekeeping yesterday, which may have caused a bunch of old posts to resurface in your RSS feed. Thanks for your patience!

As a Southern Hemisphere blogger, it’s hard watching basically everyone else bask in the sun through June, July and August and posting up delicious seasonal recipes.

NOW MY TIME HAS COME.

Mwahah. Beach erosion

Yes. Polished toes and regularly shaved pits are back in my life. So are other things … I’ve never done an explicit analysis, but I suspect summer is more expensive than winter. In winter, we hole up at home, put Sky Movies back on our package, cook plenty of root veges and beans and mince, and rarely go out to eat.

Summer means:

Fruit. Scrumptious, juicy melons and berries and grapes. Fruit that is almost all water, and therefore not filling or cost-effective at all, but so good on the palate.

Sunblock. ‘Nuff said. I’ve just discovered that the massive bottle we keep in the glovebox has expired and the one other tube we have (which I’m positive we bought on our trip to Waiheke back in 2010) has no best before date, which is probably a sign I should assume it’s no longer good.

Bug repellent. The critters flock to me like sand to the crevasses between your toes. Also, bug spray for inside the house. Oh, and anti-itch, anti-histamine type creams to dull the fiery itch post-bite.

Burning up the petrol. If there’s one thing I hate, it’s filling up the car. But it’s worth it for a good day trip.

Contacts. I haven’t worn ‘em in a year, but if we’re going to have a proper summer, it’s time they returned. Also, I need a pair for the wedding.

Higher power bills. Weirdly, T used the fan so much last summer that our electricity use actually fell once winter came around. At least we’ll save on oven usage – who wants to slave over a hot oven when it’s 20 degrees or more? Plus, I’ve been in a serious baking rut anyway. Those ingredients add up – chocolate, coconut, flavoured essences etc. I haven’t bought flour or sugar in months. You’ll probably spend more on gas for the BBQ, but if you have a gas heater for winter, it probably evens out.

 Do you tend to spend more in summer or winter? What’s your favourite season?

Work lunches: bring your own, save money

You might have noticed a distinct lack of monthly spending recaps on this ole blog of late. I’ll admit, I’ve been less than upfront about our spending recently.

Things have been out of whack, with our holiday (which I did recap financially in this post) putting money into T’s bike, and as I mentioned yesterday, a month of lost income.

That doesn’t mean I’ve been entirely ignoring our financials. Reviewing the last couple of months made it clear we’d been paying for convenience too often, and that T had been nickel and diming us to death with purchases here and there (aside from his regular fun money, which is $80-100 a week, about half of which goes on lunches, $20 on poker night twice a week, and the rest of random snacks/golf/the rare night out, etc. To a tightwad like me, who hardly spends anything in a normal week, it’s insanely extravagant – but I can also see how fast that can go given how much things actually cost).

We’re trying out a reduced allowance for him, in tandem with him starting to bring his own lunches to work. I used to make his lunches, but eventually I gave up as half the time he didn’t eat them and in all honesty, it’s enough of a grind organising my own. Now it’s all on him.

The first week he managed to forget to bring his lunch one day, and on another I volunteered to make it because he was feeling sick in the evening. My gut feeling is this probably isn’t going to last all that long, and not for 5 days a week, every week. (I usually batch my lunches in two lots, cutting down prep time, but he’s more into sandwiches made daily.) The thing is, this is an area with definite potential for savings, and he really doesn’t make enough to justify buying food every day – I just don’t know if he’s cut out to put in the effort on this count.

How does your household manage work lunches?

How I’m dealing with the rising cost of necessities

You’ve probably felt the pinch of the price of basics going up … and up … and up.

The cost of living can only ever really go one way (and unfortunately cost of living raises don’t always follow).

But I’ll admit that I don’t go too far out of my way, as a rule, to save here and there.

Lately, though, I’ve been rethinking that and upping my efforts a little.

Burning Money is Financial Crime and Waste in ...
(Photo credit: epSos.de)

Saving money on utilities/bills

There’s not a whole lot we can do to conserve water, really, but I’ve become a stickler for turning things off at the wall. Power prices just keep on rising, and there’s no sign of them abating. It looks like this summer prices per kilowatt are going to be close to 30 cents. Ouch. As for internet, we have a pretty good deal. It could be better, in that we could get more for what we currently pay (or even slightly less money) but at the moment I’m not willing to commit to a 12-month contract with a new company.

Saving money on groceries

Somewhere in the past couple of years, we’ve gone from shopping together to me doing most of it. (Part of that is that I’m more confident in driving now, though breaking a wing mirror on a rubbish bin that was on the road rather than the pavement threw me a bit this month.) That means less of T throwing snacks into the trolley (I am bad at saying no) and more of me taking the time to shop for fresh meat and produce at the local Asian supermarket as well. That alone has really helped us keep the grocery bill in check (static, rather than increasing in line with food prices as a whole) because items can sometimes literally be as much as half the price compared to Pak n Save.

Saving money on petrol

We only have one car, and T drives it to work. He also drives around a LOT in his spare time. But he’s been cutting that down lately, with one friend in particular exiting his life, and doing a bit more carpooling/sharing of the driving burden rather than always being the one driving. It helps immensely. Seriously, the difference at the end of one week where T had come home every day straight after work and not left the house was half a tank’s worth.

Are you feeling the pinch of rising costs? What, if anything, are you doing about it?

What we spent: March 2012

** Click here for more info on my monthly spending roundups.**

Gotta admit, March was expensive.

Clothes – New wallet for T; his was literally in tatters.

Dining – About $50 over goal… there was a slightly pricey but excellent yum cha breakfast, food at the Pasifika festival (it’s official; not really my kinda cuisine), the Puhoi tea rooms (woot! Crossed off my life list), birthday dinner for a friend, discovering the awesome Pakistani curry house down the road, and other bits and bobs. Yum.

Entertainment – Went to the Hunger Games! I’m pretty happy with the adaptation. I rooted for Gale in the books (I always seem to go for the underdog; I was a Jacob fan myself) but when it came to the film, became a Peeta convert. (To be fair, Gale got hardly any screentime, but he was just a bit too pretty.)

Fines – the second of those two speeding tickets

Groceries – all good, moving right on…

Health – new running shoes for T. Ouch.

Holidays/events – Taking T’s brother out for his birthday.

Rent – Five weeks in March. Ouch.

T fun – Xbox stuff. A BB gun. Getting his RC car fixed. And other miscellany. Good thing only one of us is a spender.

Vehicle – T hasn’t been taking his bike very often, and there were two days I had to drive out way south for a conference, so I’m happy this wasn’t actually higher.

And an update on our savings goals:

Our road trip fund: $2300 (minus $450 on flights and campervan deposit, paid for)

Wedding: $535

How did your March go?

What we spent: February 2012

** Click here for more info on my monthly spending roundups.**

Some notes:

Dining – Pretty happy with that!

Groceries - Ditto.

Fines – Not pleased, not pleased at all. T managed to get two speeding tickets this month, after a lovely few clean years. Both have been paid, although one will show up in next month’s accounts.

Holidays – Paid $300, finally, for our New Year’s accommodation. About $100 for petrol, toll and food for our weekend up north. And just over $370 on booking flights to the South Island for our planned September road trip. Post on that coming.

Home expenses – A little misleading, because I can’t split transactions here. $50 was for a game for T, the rest on a radio alarm clock (which handily enough also charges our phones). His phone has been crapping out and the alarm not working, and seeing as he needs to be up at 5.30am – not a time one would normally rise othewise – this was needed.

Motorbike – only got topped up once, but we paid for three months worth of registration, which cost an ungodly $109.

Utilities – Higher than usual. Power and phone/internet are bang on, but Sky TV was higher because we put movies back on for a month, T had two lots of cell phone bills and we paid our water bill (only $33 for two months. It’s ridiculously low, I think, because we split the bill evenly with the tenant in the back unit – there’s only one meter – and she’s NEVER home, so we get the best end of the deal).

Vehicle – This has been the worst summer ever. It’s like we missed out on an entire season. I’m over this crappy weather, not least because rain means more driving, less biking for T.

Pretty happy overall – pretty lean, pretty in line with my priorities – speeding fines excepted. How was your month?