I’ve been thinking about minimum living costs lately. As in, that threshold below which it’s very hard to cut costs any further. (If I made $60k a year, I could easily save half of that; if I made $40k, I’d be lucky to save 10 percent, because beyond a certain point, it’s impossible to escape the realities of rent, transport costs, food and the other necessities.) For us, a realistic threshold is $2500 – but that number is about to go up.
That’s right. Rent is going up! Boo. It’s increasing from $250 to $280 a week, to be precise. (Gosh, we’ve been here 18 months already!) That means $560 a fortnight, and with my income slightly down, we really should tighten the belt.
Our power bill is also way up, and that’s because our usage is up compared to the same months last year. It’s certainly not due to heating because this winter has been one of the mildest in a long time. I’m guessing it’s down to a) gadgets being plugged in all the time – MySky, computer, etc and b) cooking and baking more, including use of the oven and crockpot. I can’t, or won’t, do much about the latter, but I’m definitely cracking down on turning switches off at the wall. That includes our outdoor sensor light, even though it’s nice to get home and not have to fiddle with the lock in the pitch dark; T puts it on when he leaves at 5am and I turn it off when I leave after 8am.
Our phone bill is down, thanks to a new internet package. On the other hand, while my cellphone is now paid for by work, T’s smartphone plan costs more than his prepaid one, so it probably evens out.
Could we give up Sky TV? I guess we could, at least once our 12-month contract is up. T loves it almost as much as he loves me, though, and it’s also relatively cheap entertainment. I can’t tell you how much we used to waste on late DVD fees (and no, we don’t have Netflix or the like here). In dire straits, I’d cut this without a thought, but we aren’t there yet.
And we can get stricter about our eating out and grocery budgets; while I still budget weekly, looking at our monthly spending is a better way to gauge how we’re doing, and my online banking makes that really easy to do. And I might reinstate weekly grocery recaps to help keep us under budget. (I’ll try to make them somewhat interesting…maybe menu plans to accompany them? I don’t know if I can manage to photograph our haul all beautifully stacked like some of you do, though; once we bring the bags in from the car, it’s a matter of getting the unpleasant task of stowing it all away done as quickly as possible.)
I also think it’s time to repeat November’s challenge, although I’ll have to set aside travel expenses in August because we’re off to Wellington for a weekend.
What’s your living threshold number, or when was your last rent hike?