April 2017 Spending and New Habits Update

After our expensive year in 2016, we set ourselves a goal to reduce our spending by 10% in 2017. We want to do this because it has a double effect. Firstly, it frees up more money to invest for our future. Secondly, if we can live on less, then it brings that future much closer. In 2016, we spent $80,000. To generate that using passive income and the 4% rule, we would need $2,000,000 invested!

When I set the goal to spend less, it excluded a planned trip to Japan. Well, Japan turned into New Zealand, so I did not include a couple of weeks spending in the calculation this month. Oh, and don’t worry, there’ll definitely be upcoming posts about the trip!


Daily Spending Rate

Our daily spending rate in April was $134.90, which brings our yearly average back down to $177.70, well within our goal of $194.34. As we have no more “get out of gaol free” cards, we’ll have to work hard to ensure we maintain this for the rest of the year.

This month, for items such as food and petrol, I calculated the daily spending rate over the 14 days we were at home. Bills and the like were calculated over the full month, as usual.

Food $434.87

I’m not breaking it down for this short month (and to be honest, my head is full of holiday, I can’t remember the particulars of our spending at the beginning of the month!)

Gifts and Giving $117.95 Each

This was a birthday, and some small Mother’s Day gifts from New Zealand. It was also a thank you to the family member that drove us to the airport and picked us up again, which was over 2 hours each way. If you’ve ever driven to Sydney Airport, you’ll know what a total nightmare this is, so they really were a champion! This month’s charity was yet another of Mr. ETT’s (has he somehow marked his screwed up pieces of paper so he can tell which he is drawing out)?! Anyway, the charity is Careflight, and I bought another 2 Big Issue magazines.


Big costs this month were registration and insurance for Mr. ETT’s motorbike.

On the savings front, we recently had a win when my workplace decided to participate in Fitness Passport. This program subsidises gym membership, and gives us access to over 400 gyms. We were lucky that the gym Mr. ETT is a member of was included. Prior to April, we were paying $110/month for membership, just for Mr. ETT. With Fitness Passport, we are paying $79.80/month for the both of us! I gave up my gym membership in 2015, knowing I wouldn’t get value from it, so haven’t been since. Now I know I have access included, I may well pop in on the odd occasion. There is also a gym at work here that participates, so I am considering investigating the odd lunchtime visit for a quick treadmill run or some type of strengthening exercises.

Finally, another win is that my old Nokia was given a reprieve! I thought the 2G would be turned off in April, but it turns out that as I am on the Optus network, they only shut down Western Australia and the Northern Territory then. For the rest of the states in Australia, it won’t be turned off until 1st August this year. Keep on keeping on, my old phone.

Personal Goals

While I fall within the healthy body weight range, I actually weigh about 10% more than is normal for me, and I’m very unfit. Much like lifestyle inflation can negatively impact your financial future, succumbing to the dreaded middle-aged spread can impact your future health. At the end of last year, through some introspection, I identified that I ate too much. I ate because I was bored, stressed, or when something in the fridge or cupboard caught my eye. I couldn’t remember feeling hungry – I was constantly eating before my body had the chance to fully digest and process my last meal. I decided to try to implement some small changes to habit:

Go for a walk before work one day a week. Result Pass

I kept this up while we were away with a couple of early morning walks/jogs at Lake Taupo and in Wellington. I loved being out early exploring a new place on foot, and I realised that I have begun to enjoy walking for exercise! Both times I looked at the map the night before and planned where I would go; both times I ended up somewhere entirely different, probably from the first turn I made. I am directionally challenged. We did a lot of walking during the holiday as well, and I can tell what a difference these morning walks have made. I am definitely more aerobically fit than Mr. ETT, whereas he is stronger. We each need to work on improving our weaknesses.

A view of Taupo from one side of the lake.
Imagine these views on your daily walk…

Eat less.

I’m not scoring myself for this month, because of the holiday. It is very difficult to eat less when you are eating out each day. Restaurants don’t know the meaning of a reasonable amount of food (for me). I didn’t eat more than 2 meals a day. Some days I only ate one, with some nuts and dates for snacks. Despite this, I still managed to put on 2 kilos! (There may have been increased alcohol consumption and the odd sweet/dessert that also contributed).

Lewis Road Creamery Choc Orange Milk on a table.
Lewis Road Creamery Orange Chocolate Milk – this seriously tastes like pure liquid Jaffa.

Luckily, I remained below my all-important kg decade, so it isn’t too demoralising. I’ll just work my way back to good habits and it will come off again.

One positive is that Mr. ETT and I realised that we miss our simple home cooking. That may not seem like a big deal to you, but we did our best to avoid cooking for years. We ate takeaway, Lean Cuisines or Lite n’ Easy. For years! We appear to have morphed into home cooks, and we enjoy it that way.

The Way My Brain Works

Finally, I’ll leave you with a conversation I found myself having at the beginning of the month. I was struggling to maintain my good habits, and turned to Twitter for a period to report in on a daily basis. This is why…

Impulse Brain (IB) vs. Sensible Brain (SB)

IB: I want chips. Let’s get chips.

SB: No. Do your work.

IB: But I really, really want chips. Here, I’ll activate our salivary glands to show you how much we want them.

SB: No! You know we are eating less. We’re doing really well. Don’t spoil it.

IB: Humph. Fine.

3 minutes later…


SB: Dammit, I’m trying to work. No. N.O.

IB: But it’s time for a break anyway, and you could just go out and get some.

SB: But then I’d have to record it in the budget. I don’t want to spend the money, and I don’t want to eat too much. You know we aren’t actually hungry.

IB: Whiny – Mr. ETT spends tonnes more than you in the eating out category. What’s a couple of dollars?

SB: Wavers…

IB: Holds breath…

SB: No. it doesn’t matter. I’m in charge here. No.

IB: Chips. Chips. Chips. Chips. Chips. Chips.

SB: Argh! Here. Eat a pear.

IB: Fine, I’ll eat it, but it’s not chips. You suck. I’ll keep interrupting you for the next hour or so while you work.

SB: Sigh.

Sensible Brain accepts that next hour won’t be as productive as it should be, but stands strong.

Later that night…


10 thoughts on “April 2017 Spending and New Habits Update

  1. chiefmomofficer says:

    That’s an amazing view for your daily walk! We don’t have anything like that here where I live. You’d just be surrounded by trees. What’s Jaffa – is that like the Jaffa cakes I saw on the Great British Bake Off? I’ve never seen them over here, but they were a chocolate/orange combination.

    • Mrs. ETT says:

      Wikipedia describes them best – “Jaffas is an Australian registered trademark for a small round sweet consisting of a soft chocolate centre with a hard covering of orange flavoured, red coloured confectionery. The name derives from the Jaffa orange.” They are delicious and very more-ish. They also have a reputation for being rolled down the aisles in movie theatres!

  2. Martin - Get FIRE'd asap says:

    Being a kiwi boy myself, I love hearing stories from visitors to our small but perfectly formed land. I always appreciate it more now when I go back there. I’m looking forward to your trip report and make sure you don’t miss anything out. I just wish more Aussies would visit NZ since its so accessible and so different to Oz. The ones who do always gush about how great their trip was when they find out I’m from there.

    • Mrs. ETT says:

      That’s funny, because once I started talking to people at work about going to NZ, I could barely find anyone who hadn’t been! And of the small amount that hadn’t, they all expressed a wish to go.

      Maybe your wish is coming true, because one of our B&B hosts mentioned they were getting a lot more Aussies through.

      And to any Aussies reading – go! It’s so beautiful that words can’t do it justice. You really have to experience it for yourself.

  3. J @ Hey, It's Just Money! says:

    My comments kept getting rejected when I post them from my macbook 🙁 maybe I’ll be 3rd time lucky:

    I lost the comment I wrote 🙁 Anyways, yay to SB’s victory! I’m so proud of you! 9/10 times, I will/can never say no to chips. I also like them with a doll up of sour cream. I know it’s bad, but it’s so good! That’s a good gym deal, I only know because we were gym-shopping a couple of weeks ago and the rates are crazy, especially if there are two of you signing up. We did end up finding a gym with a 2-for-1 membership and no contract, but tbh, if we didn’t find it, I wouldn’t have signed up. Congrats on a great (and fun) month!

    • Mrs. ETT says:

      I’m so sorry, J. Honestly, comments drive me crazy – both people trying to comment on my blog, and me commenting on others. I’ve not successfully left a single comment on the FIRE by Thirty-Five blog yet (If you’re reading LadyFIRE, I’m sorry, I do try!) I’ve got a Mac too, hmmmm. I had one comments plugin running on this blog, but people had trouble with it, so I moved back. Also, my blog seems to have a particular issue with Martin at Get FIRE’d ASAP. His always get held for moderation.

      Yes, we were really lucky with the gym membership. Now I just have to get my butt into gear and take advantage of it… glad you two decided to join as well. You’ll have to post about how you are going!

    • Mrs. ETT says:

      Thanks WFT – what a compliment to remind you of the Awkward Yeti. I love those comics, probably because they are just so relatable.

      I’m actually cranky that they are forcing me to throw away a perfectly serviceable piece of hardware. What a waste. I’ll give it up for recycling, but I’m sure some pieces will still end up in landfill.

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