new year, new budget
This week I’ve immersed myself in the practical so I don’t get too caught up in the emotional. You could file such a decision under “distraction” or “denial” – both are true. For now, being occupied is important and so I’m going with it (and enjoying the productivity!).
A confession: I used to spend every cent that I earned. Saving money wasn’t a priority for me, an abundant wardrobe was. Even when I became a mother I didn’t feel the need to put money away; I spent frivolously and didn’t concern myself with the notion of an emergency fund or “rainy day” account. When I returned to regular freelance work Daniel and I started talking about a nest egg; having a little money put aside for peace of mind. I distinctly remember watching our savings account slowly yet steadily increase. It was a turning point in my relationship with money because I realised that saving gave me a buzz that spending never could. It changed the way I viewed money and significantly altered the way I spend it.
I rework my budget every few months to make sure it’s realistic. Indeed, it’s quite shocking to see how much it can change from one end of the year to the other. Our food bill has steadily increased over the past two years, despite my menu plans and strict spending. I suppose growing children and a dedication to eating organic (where possible) will do that to you. In the past few months our fortnightly electricity bill has decreased by $20 (“turn off the lights” – it really works!), so too has our petrol bill (we ended up buying the economical and reliable Hyundai i30 wagon). However, the next 3 months will be completely different since there’s only three of us and I’m interested to see how frugal* I can be when it comes to the essentials. There will definitely be a decrease in our food bill, I’ll be buying less coffee (but maybe more chocolate?!) and petrol will be minimal (if I go to Sydney I catch the train).
For non-essentials I’ll continue to buy mindfully. These tips work for me:
- When it comes to the children’s clothes I always buy quality over quantity – it works out much cheaper in the long run. When buying pants I make sure they have an adjustable waist and if they get too short in the leg I roll them up (European style). If I see clothes on sale I buy them for the next size up and go through Che and Poet’s wardrobe every few months to see if they fit the bigger sizes. Whilst we have a definite winter here it doesn’t get too bitter so I tend to spend more money of trans-seasonal pieces that can be layered for warmth come the cold.
- If I see something I like for myself I write it in my diary and come back to it a few days later. By doing so I resist the urge to spend frivolously and make a considered purchase instead (or sometimes I realise that I really don’t need it and cross it off the list)
- I go to the library more often…we can’t really fit any more books on the shelves
- I’ve limited a “cake with coffee” purchase to once a week
- If I want something for the kitchen I search the op-shop before buying new (I found a $6 cast iron frying pan a few weeks ago!)
- I don’t buy takeaway. It helps that there are hardly any good restaurants around here!