forced frugality

I’ve been working as a freelance writer and photographer for over ten years now and I’ve never been without work.

For the past six years I’ve been lucky enough to have regular work with a publishing company who paid my invoice every single fortnight without fail. For a freelancer, this is an ideal scenario. Ideal with a tendency to create a sense of complacency, of course.

A week after we returned from Bali I had a call from my boss with news I’d been expecting for a while: print is dying and there’s not much work from here on in.

It didn’t come as a complete surprise but the reality of the situation had me immediately rethinking everything; grocery lists, direct debits for bills and unnecessary purchases. I’ve been forced to put some really strict measures in place to ensure the rent and the bills are paid each week, hence I’m doing things I’ve been meaning to do for a while now; consistently meal plan, grocery shop to a list, resist any flippant purchases and embrace a new way of thinking about work, money and savings.

How does it make me feel? I’m not worried (that’s new) and in a way, I’m grateful for the push to make changes I’ve been intending to make for a good while. But still, there is an element of security that has been lost and, if anything, I’m determined to establish it once again and keep it, for good.

But perhaps what has been the most potent realisation is this; I have everything I need. If I can buy food every week, pay the rent and keep the bills in check, we’re all good.

Last week I opened my new diary (always an inspiring place to start) and wrote down some new daily intentions to keep myself and the budget in check:

  • meal plan each and ever week : the beauty of doing so is that the kids stop asking about what we’re having for dinner (refer to the list on the fridge!) and I’m not caught in a pickle about what to cook.
  • shop to the list : I’ve always been a flippant grocery shopper but I’ve learned that when I don’t stick to the list I so, so easily overspend. Again, the added benefit of sticking to the list and meal planning is that no food goes to waste and I don’t have to make extra (usually expensive) trips to the shops.
  • re-read this book : because it’s full of good, simple, no-frills financial advice and it’s applicable to anyone regardless of your income, marital status or age.
  • sell outgrown, unwanted clothes : an instagram sale is coming to your feed soon!
  • follow up on health, house and car insurance : I managed to cut $25 off my monthly direct debits).
  • call the electricity company : I’ve been with them for over ten years and they now give me a 26% discount on the total cost of my quarterly bill if I pay before the due date.

Of course, I’m also seeking work left, right and centre and grateful for my established connections and platforms.

How are you going with budget/money plans for the new year?

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Showing 12 comments
  • Marnie

    Thank you so much Jodi for mentioning the Barefoot Investor in one of your IG posts, I’ve ordered his book and signed up to his newsletter and I’m excited about 2017 being the year we sort out our finances. I bought his very first book so many years ago and try not to think how well off we would be now if we had followed his advice way back then before children and when we were living off two full time wages! Oh well, onwards and upwards! Good luck this year, love and blessings to you and your family xx

  • Reannon

    You know me, I love a bit of frugality & meal planning is my thing! In 2015, when my husband stopped FIFO work, we lost half our income. It was a MAJOR adjustment! 2016 saw me tighten things even more- goodbye pay tv & some changes to insurances, i reworked our mortgage & health cover & have every bill direct debited weekly, fortnightly or monthly the day our pay hits our account. I also set up a Christmas/holiday fund & an emergency savings account. They are paid into every pay day & were lifesavers come December!

    • Jodi

      I’ve been scrolling through your instagram feed and I’m all inspired by your Monday cook-ups…that definitely has to happen here, especially in regards to muesli and cakes etc x

      • Reannon

        Monday cook ups are a life saver!! One epic kitchen day makes the rest of the week a whole lot easier. Glad my feed is helpful to someone other than me xx

  • Lucinda

    Some great thoughts here Jodi. I love your honesty!
    I downloaded Scott’s book last night after seeing your IG post about it and already hubby and I are relishing it (I’ve made him read along too!). We’re both really looking forward to making some big (and for the better) financial changes in 2017. As I said to hubby – we’re not groundhogs but we’re not quite alpacas yet either!! 🙂

  • Annie

    I love the start of a new year; so many aspirations for the year ahead. I have spent the last day of my holiday setting my goals for the year and the first category was financial. I think I am in for a scorched earth year if I am to attain my financial goals this year! That’s ok though, I have learned there is much joy in good friends and food, in contribution and small pleasures. I am delighted that you are not worried, Jodi, that you have learned to trust. And so you should for you are both wise and talented. Happy New Year.

  • Kerri

    Reading your post at a good time as I’m not in paid work this year as baby number 3 needs me more. I have been talking about meal planning for many years this is the year to actually do it as I know that’s where a lot of money can be saved. We eat mostly healthy and I only stop the “outskirts” of the supermarket avoiding as much processed food as possible.
    A second goal is to not always buy new try and source second hand. Look forward to reading your blog for more tips.

  • Amy@MoreTimeThanMoney

    I don’t wish financial peril on anyone, but a bit of a shock can be a real blessing. Much as you’ve found. The bar for enough creeps up overtime, with every pay increase or rise in income. We can end up in a kind of affluence trap. That sense of enough is so wonderful!
    Go the meal planning. I came to it out of necessity when we were in dire straits financially, but as you note, the benefits go way beyond that and that’s why I keep it up. For anyone looking for inspiration, this is my approach

  • Monica

    I needed this right now. Hubby was injured at work and hasn’t been able to work for months now & has just had surgery to hopefully fix the injury. Fortunately he I’d being paid through workers compensation but at about $1000 a month less than usual & he’ll be off work for several more months before we know if he’ll ever be able to return to work at full capacity ever again. We were already on a low income as I’m only working one day a week so I can be at home with our daughter. We really need to tighten our budget. I’ve quit my op shopping habit & traded it in for going for walks! That alone will make a big difference. I changed my health insurance & saved $70 a month & ended up with better cover & negotiated a 15% pay on time discount for our electricity.

  • Rae

    I’m sorry for your change in circumstances. I hope new opportunities present themselves soon. Frugality is my favourite subjects! This past year I’ve been very much inspired by Rhonda at DTE and a Instagram called @large_family _finance – what she does on the budgets she sets is quite something.
    This year I have adopted a month at a time meal plan. I always planned weekly but – Wow – it’s been amazing! It’s been a game changer- for the first time in years our shop for our family of 5 has been under $200 (we live regional foodie area, only eat at home (for budgets sake)and shop at a local (only 1 in town) IGA so usually exxy$$). It takes a hour or two of proper planning and It’s not for everyone but with 3 kids under 6 and a shift working husband it’s been downright amazing!! I can’t believe the money we’ve been saving (and my limited time and energy is able to be directed elsewhere – yay!)
    On a slightly different topic – I came here to say re; Percy and his truck on Insta – Harvey Norman BiG buys has the largest size metal Tonka trucks for $67 – they retail at our local toy store got $119 so a big saving. Santa bought my 3 one each for Xmas and came well under budget ;). They have the smaller lighter versions too. Kind wishes.

    • Jodi

      Thank you so much for such an informative comment! I love Rhonda (re-reading The Simple Home at the moment) and now I’m very intrigued by your monthly meal plan! I’ll let you know how I go x

  • Bee | Better than busy

    It’s amazing the costs that you can shave off when you have to. We went through a similar thing – we saved a couple thousand a year by changing all of our insurances and getting rid of some assets that were just costing us money and not getting used.
    It’s scary when it happens, but it gives you the chance to be grateful for having been able to be free with money in the past.

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