• Happy new year! 2013, I’ve got big plans for you

    So, 2013!

    Last year we had a somewhat extravagant break. After Christmas in Auckland, we drove straight down to the Coromandel, where some of T’s friends hired out a huge house and we camped out in a spare room. We had tickets to Coro Gold, one of the big NYE music festivals but the weather was literally a massive damper on things. It rained the entire time (my shoes still bear muddy traces from the concert). During the days, I read a lot, powering through all the books I had brought down with me, and even through a terrible Clive Cussler novel I found in one of the rooms at the house.

    There was no swimming done, T injured his arm in the mosh pit and even our stop at Hot Water Beach on the way back was a disappointment – it was a grey day and there were huge crowds, everyone digging in with their feet and wearing out the hot water before the tide came in.

    This year, we stayed close to home. NYE saw us drive out to Karekare, where I got my first taste of the waterfall and swimming holes tucked away in the bush (there’s a series of them; we climbed up to the top, which is the cleanest) and then a jaunt over to Piha for my first ocean swim of the summer. It was all the better for the fact that we had a visitor, and showing a newbie some of the best off the beaten track places around, watching their awe, is unbeatable.

    karekare waterfall west auckland

    karekare waterfall in west auckland bush

    karekare waterfall in west auckland bush

    karekare water hole swimming

    karekare water hole swimming west auckland

    Then it was over to a friend’s house for a dip in the pool and BBQ. Aside from the $30 we spent on food, it was about as free as NYE can get. Toward the end of the night, T and I had a bit of a snooze inside while everyone else played Circle of Death; we got up in time for the changeover, everyone took part in a rendition of Auld Lang Syne, and I was in bed by 1am. Start as you mean to go on – balancing fun and responsibility is going to be a big one for this year, I think. Nailing down concrete goals may be a struggle, but I have a clear idea of a few key things I want to pull off.

    How did you celebrate? Hope you saw in 2013 with loved ones! Here’s to a good one.

    PSA: To ring in the new year, I’ll be doing a bit of cleaning house around the blog this week. RSS subscribers will probably see a flood of old posts popping up in the feed as I make some tweaks, but don’t be alarmed. I’ll keep it all to one day for minimal disruption.

  • Then and now: frugality through the years

    My last post saw me reflect on the life lessons I’d learned since graduation.

    Today, I’m turning the lens on my spending habits. Am I still super frugal? Has lifestyle creep stealthily draped its cloak around my shoulders?

    Well, yes, in a few ways.

    We pay more in rent, which was a deliberate choice I’m happy with.

    In 2007, my first year of university, we were paying $260 a week for a one-bedroom apartment. We actually paid less – $195 – for the next couple of years in a shared house. I think our next place was about the same, or slightly more, and then we moved to a studio for $250 after I graduated. It wasn’t till more than a year later that we moved to our current house.

    We now have Sky TV. 

    At our first shared flat, the flatmate from hell had Sky in his room and the boys would all crowd in to watch wrestling on Sunday nights. At the second, the executive decision was made to get Sky for the house. And from then on, there was no turning back. We moved out on our own, and now we foot the entire bill ourselves. Plus all our other essential utility bills have increased. Yay, inflation.

    While our food budget has remained the same (woot!), occasionally we splurge a little on a fancier place to eat out, or on more gourmet ingredients (meats, cheeses, etc).

    Weekly supermarket trips used to be a thing we did together. Now that I’m a more confident parker, and have actually learned to kind of like the process of picking out the best, freshest produce and finding bargains among the specials, I’ve taken over grocery shopping alone for the most part. It helps that now we’re only a couple of minutes away from both Pak n Save as well as an awesome Asian shop – T is a bit wary of the Asian place, but I have no qualms, so I head there almost every week and save buttloads on fresh food in the process. Our eating out budget is also the same.

    I still don’t pay for books (that’s what the library is for!) and I don’t pay for music.

    Given that I almost always have access to wi-fi, streaming songs is where it’s at these days.

    I spend less on beauty care.

    I used to obsess about my skin, and while skincare and makeup was never a huge part of my budget, I did make sure to pay for quality stuff. Nowadays I can get freebies in my line of work or through mystery shopping – but I don’t need them. I hardly ever wear foundation, I wash my face with water only (which wouldn’t work if you wear makeup, or have a different skin type – I tried the water only method when I was younger, oilier and pimplier, and it was a flop) and generally operate on the ‘less is more’ mantra. I put as little on my face as possible, and my uber-sensitive skin is all the better for it.

    I still buy clothes secondhand or on sale.

    And this year I haven’t bought any, except for two pairs of flats when my old shoes fell apart. Frugal living FTW.

    I’m happy to live a reasonably ascetic daily life, in order to direct my money toward travelling and seeing new places.

    Have your spending habits changed over the past few years?