July 2017 Spending and New Habits

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!

Honestly, every time I sit down to do this I have a surprise. It’s only been four weeks since my last update, but I clearly had no idea how we were tracking. This has been the lowest spend of the year. That’s great, especially because our food spending was yet again over $1,000. All I can attribute this to is not having any of the insurances or car registrations due. We even bought a new freezer, got new brake pads for my car, and had a pretty hefty gifts/donation month.

Daily Spending Rate

Our daily spending rate in July was the lowest it’s been all year, at $121. This again drops our average over the year to $174, nicely under our goal of $194.34. We’re on track to reduce our spending by 10%, only 5 months to go!

Graph of Cumulative 2017 Daily Spending Rate.

Food $1023.11

Frustrated sigh. The second month this year we were over $1,000.

(If you are unable to see the graph, you can view it on Tableau Public.)


We both had a bit of a blowout on Groceries Want this month. I bought a bunch of junk to take to roleplaying for a friend’s birthday. It was too much, especially as someone else bought cake as well. While we all enjoyed it, if I’d have restrained myself a little we might not be over $1,000 on food for the month. As for the rest of the groceries, you can get a feel for what we usually buy in our Epic Food Week post. Once you are finished, pop over to the other three Aussie bloggers who delved into their grocery shopping and cooking habits as well.

Eating Out

We had a lot of running around to do on the last Saturday of July, and Mr. ETT wanted to buy himself some breakfast. Unfortunately, we were too close to our budgeted amount for eating out, especially considering that alcohol was so far over. He decided to abstain. We talked about how we would like to try all the new cafés that keep popping up in our area, but that would mean cutting back on eating out/buying lunches for the rest of the month. We’ll see what happens. This month we went out for lunch at a local pub with some friends, attended a birthday dinner at The Little Snail in Pyrmont. We paid for the birthday dinner last month. We also bought ourselves takeaway for our wedding anniversary. This was expensive, but it did end up feeding us for multiple meals.

Graph of Eating Out Spending based on who spent what.


Another big month, especially considering the only person drinking was Mr. ETT. He bought drinks at the pub, as well as at the dinner. Looking at it one way, he paid more than he needed to at the dinner (because all billing was done at a table level.) In another way, he was able to fund the birthday person for some drinks of their own. Finally, he topped up his home stash by buying some bourbon whiskey. Blurgh!

Gifts and Giving $170.49 Each

We bought a birthday gift for a friend, and sent flowers to friends who had a parent pass away. I will confess to never having been a fan of flowers, but when our family member passed away earlier in the year, I really appreciated them. As in, I can’t express how important it was having those deliveries coming to the house and realising that people love and care for us. Sometimes I’m a slow learner regarding social norms, but I’ve learned now.

The end of the month means Dry July is officially over, and I can have a drink again. We had a few social occasions this month. It would have been nice to have a drink, but that’s all. It wasn’t dreadful. Mr. ETT loved that I automatically became the designated driver! I also bought a Big Issue magazine. If you ever see a vendor, I highly recommend stopping to make a purchase. The magazine is a great read every month, and you’ll help empower someone to take control of their own lives.


I got a pay rise! Thank you to the Union for negotiating this. It is the equivalent of $20/week, or $80/month. Just like last year, we are not succumbing to lifestyle inflation. At first I decided I was going to increase it to $100/month and invest it all. Over 15 years it could compound to $22,000. If we continued spending what we did in 2016, we could both retire 3 months early.

Then I decided to take the opportunity to stretch ourselves a little by doubling it to $200/month. We’ll have to cut down on some budget line items, but this could be worth a total of $45,000. That’s a lot of money. Based on ASFA’s comfortable living standard, we could be buying ourselves 9 months of early retirement, or 18 months of part-time work! All by just increasing our investments by $50/week. I’ll be honest – this is a stretch for us. I don’t know if it’s sustainable but we’ll have a go.

On the back of my pay rise, Council rates have risen by $15 a quarter, or 4.39%. More than inflation. More than my pay rise.

Subaru recalled my 2004 model to fix the airbag. They fixed it for free, but of course the dealership found extra things that needed fixing. Well, yes, they do. But not by the dealership. I booked my car into a local mechanic who said that both “issues” the dealership found are actually non-issues. He also managed to fix a problem that our old mechanic declined to even look at. It cost $221, but I’ve now got new rear brake pads, which I’m happy about.

YNAB records for petrol expenses exactly the same.
Somehow Mr. ETT managed to spend the same amount on petrol down to the cent!


I’ve been looking for a small freezer for nearly a year. We only have a freezer drawer at the bottom of our fridge, and with all of this home cooking I get frustrated that I can’t freeze more. I nearly managed to purchase one second-hand, but someone else pipped at the post. Since then, all the listings are too big, too expensive, or too run down. I then remembered that my Union membership gives me access to the Good Guys Commercial, and sure enough – I could get exactly the same freezer brand new for only $81 more than I was going to pay second-hand. Now I can have organised frozen goods, with enough room to freeze larger batches of meals.

80L Bar Freezer.
It’s kind of Tardis-y, in that it holds more than you’d think.

We renewed our Entertainment Book subscription, and I immediately purchased Woolworths eGift cards at 5% off. Not that I want to spend any more money on alcohol, but we can use them at BWS and Dan Murphy’s as well. Considering this is where Mr. ETT buys most of his alcohol anyway (aside from my Aldi wine), it’s one more way to reduce costs.

Yummy Food

I have generous colleagues. One bought me in a home-baked, healthy muffin that was full of juicy fruits and cinnamon and oats. It tasted absolutely delicious. Another brought me in a pomelo from the tree in her garden. I had never seen or heard of a pomelo. They are like a gigantic grapefruit that has a sweet, tart taste. I found the balance of flavour to be tasty, and I would eat one again.

And A Saga…

A line on our clothesline snapped. We’ve been here nearly 20 years, and the line always just worked. We decided to restring it. No worries (hahahahahaha!)

I’d written a whole spiel on this, but in the interests of brevity:

  1. Bought spare clothesline $26.20
    •  Discovered we need a tensioner key to remove old line.
  2. Bought tensioner key $24.95
    • Discovered we need 7 new tensioners because they have locked due to rust.
  3. Priced 6 pack of tensioners $54.95
    • Discovered special 7th tensioner is no longer for sale in Australia*
  4. Priced new clothesline at $362 for an Aussie made Austral (Hills is no longer made in Australia)
    • Discovered Austral has different locking mechanism to Hills, so won’t fit in current hole.
  5. Hung washing in house.

Unfortunately, we can’t just give up altogether. We are in the middle of considering which way to go – Aussie or Chinese. Aussie means we have to break up and re-concrete a path. Chinese means it will just fit right in the old hole. In theory. Given the discoveries above, this is doubtful to me.

*It’s only for sale in the USA and Canada. The online store in the USA says it won’t sell to Australia. The Canadian store is like a Bunnings, where you can’t buy online. You have to go in store. I did consider calling on one of my blogging friends from the USA (CMO, I’m looking at you!), but in the end decided it was probably time for a whole new clothesline anyway. This new one better last us at least 20 years like the old one, though.

Personal Goals

Remember last month when I said that in July I would meet my goal of losing 10% of my body weight since January 2017? Well. It appears I lied. The last 500g has proven incredibly stubborn, particularly taking into account that I’ve given up alcohol for the month, and have added going to the gym once a week to my weekly walk. At first I considered gimmicks in order to accomplish my goal. Should I do the 2 and 5, where you eat very little for 2 days a week? Should I cut all my dinners in half? Or should I skip dinners altogether?

Then I realised how silly (and not healthy) I was being. Where did my original goal come from? Well, 10% is a nice round number, and would take me back to what I’d weighed for most of my life pre-40. But the number was actually arbitrary. The truth is, I now fall on the lower end of the healthy weight range. My waist measurement is back to well within healthy guidelines. Also importantly, I feel good! I’ve decided that I am happy to maintain my weight where it is, plus or minus half a kg. No gimmicks. Just continue eating and drinking “less”.

I’m also excited, because I can finally, finally buy myself work pants and jeans that actually fit, rather than walking around in baggy-bum balloon pants because I belted them tight to get them to stay up.

I’ll be spending August having a go at all the exercise suggestions readers left for me. By next month I will have some new, measurable goals in place (along with continuing my current, healthier habits.)

Do you have a good feeling for how you’re tracking each month? How often do you analyse your spending?

Affiliate plug!

Someone is trialling YNAB through my affiliate link. I hope you love it as much as I do, but if not, at least you tried and now you know. Thank you!

I use, and totally love, YNAB to track my spends and budget. Mr. ETT doesn’t exactly love it, but he does use it – super important when more than one person spends money. YNAB offers a 34 day free trial period. If you try YNAB and love it as much as I do, then by signing up through this link, both of us will get a free month in our subscriptions!

13 thoughts on “July 2017 Spending and New Habits

  1. Miss Balance says:

    Your cumulative spending is well on track to be under target – great job!
    It is interesting that some goals should be defined by numbers (savings/spending) and some should be based more on qualitative data such as your health. how you feel is much more important that what the scales say. With exercising more and drinking less it is also likely that you’ve lost a little fat but put on some muscle which actually weighs more! As important as it is to set goals, it is also good to be able to look at them and readjust as needed.
    Your clothesline saga sounds like a whole bunch of fun 😉

    • Mrs. ETT says:

      Oh, thanks for the comment regarding muscle and fat. It’s probably too early for that to be happening yet, but as I go into maintenance mode it’s something I should keep in mind. I also hadn’t picked that we’ve only got the one overarching financial goal to reduce our spending. All the others were personal ones for me. Firstly, I was sick of what I was doing. Secondly, you can’t enjoy financial freedom if you aren’t fit and healthy enough to take advantage of the time you are buying! Particularly at my age, things slow down and start to wear out. Humph.

  2. Adventures With Poopsie says:

    Poopsie is going to be so proud when he reads this post. He is really adamant about people not getting their car fixed at the dealership, so he will be so pleased you went elsewhere! He’ll also love the Tardis reference (excuse me while I roll my eyes)

    What a washing line saga! I too like to buy Australian when I can but sometimes, it may not be worth it. That is obviously an individual decision and I hope you’re able to make the best one for you. Keep us updated!

    You go girl! You’ve done amazingly with your health goals. 500g is nothing and you’re right, getting there through a fad is not healthy. Maintaining your equilibrium is more important and it sounds like you’re doing just that! Yay for new, well fitting jeans!

    • Mrs. ETT says:

      Also, this particular dealership… and the costs would have been exorbitant. They said that I had an oil leak and the rear bushes were worn. We hadn’t noticed any oil on the driveway, so we figured it couldn’t be too bad. The mechanic said that there could possibly be a bit of “seepage”, but it was nothing that he would bother with at the moment. We took the car in for a quick inspection so the mechanic could look at the bushes and order them to be fixed later on in the month. When he first looked, he doubtfully told us that they were worn as expected for the age of the car. We then got on to the squeal I’d been experiencing, and left him to fix the brake pads. When we came to pick it up, I again tried to book it in for the bushes, and you could see he was trying to be so polite. Basically he talked us out of it because he said it really didn’t need doing. Now that’s an honest mechanic!

      I went thrift shopping this weekend, and I’m now the new owner of 2 pairs of work pants and a new pair of jeans! Waiting for them to go in the wash this weekend. I can’t wait to wear them and give away my old pants. The circle of thrift shopping life.

  3. Pia says:

    Ah!! I think my first comment disappeared. =( I will try to replicate my comment haha.

    I don’t service my car at the dealership either. The prices they charge are horrendous. They have been recalling some minor part in my car for awhile now but because I need my car every day and they don’t offer complimentary loan cars, I just haven’t been able to actually get it done. It’s so annoying, I wish they did complimentary loan cars because bugger if I’m paying $150 a day.

    Your clothesline saga sounds frustrating for you! I must admit to not using our clothesline much in winter – nobody is home to keep an hour on the weather, and it rains too much!

    Is your food expenditure for 2 people?

    And I love Pomelos! They have special significance in my culture too, with a lot of people using it for celebrations. Yum yum.

    • Mrs. ETT says:

      Argh, I hate it when comments disappear! Sorry, Pia. I’ve learned to always copy my comment before I hit submit. It saves a lot of frustration.

      I totally know what you mean about not having time to take the car in. I’m lucky in that I work a little more each day in order to get one day off a month. It really helps for things like this, or going to the GP etc. $150/day is ridiculous for a loan car! The mechanic I went to just gave us a tiny Hyundai Getz without us even asking for it. We offered to drive home, then Mr. ETT could drive me back and we’d return the loan car, but he said no worries, just keep it. This is someone new to us who came recommended. I think that is now another stroke in his favour.

      We still haven’t solved the clothesline saga. It’s funny how you can live without things if you have to. Of course, our microwave broke today, so there’s something else that now need replacing.

      Yes, our food expenditure is for two people. Mr. ETT buys his lunch and coffee nearly every day. He’s slowly opening up to taking lunch occasionally, but I don’t think he’ll ever want to stop getting coffee.

      The lady who gave me the pomelo is from Vietnam. She told me they are very popular at Chinese New Year.

  4. Erin says:

    Totally agree with your thinking on the double-effect of reducing spending. The more simply I can live, the closer freedom gets, and it doesn’t hurt a bit.

    Gah, our group of friends usually goes overboard on food as well, so I can relate to over-buying (unnecessarily). Nice buy on the small freezer. I wish we had space for one – it would make meal prepping further into the future much easier.

    Oh gosh, the clothesline thing sounds like it was a huge hassle. =( We installed a shower rod above our washer/dryer (in the back room) and I use that to hang clothes if needed. Mostly because our W/D is an all-in-one and it takes forever to dry things!

    Love your thoughts on “I feel good” and that being enough. You’re right – we often get caught up in arbitrary numbers and decide those numbers should determine if we’re successful or not. I really dislike weighing myself for that reason. I’d rather go off of whether or not I’m feeling better (and my goal isn’t really weight loss anyway – I need muscle!). I might start sharing some exercises on my blog, but I’ve found a couple of YouTube channels to be really helpful. Good luck!

    • Mrs. ETT says:

      I’m quite adventurous with food, I’m still surprised that I’ve never come across this fruit before. That’s probably what you get for only ever shopping in Coles and Woolies.

      Mr. ETT isn’t keen on this level of tracking either, but I love it. Whatever works for you (unless you’re Mr. ETT, then you’ll get dragged along kicking and screaming ;-))

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

    July seems like a month of accomplishments for you, congratulations! Great job on completing Dry July. It must have been difficult to do while Mr. ETT was still having drinks. Didn’t you go cold turkey for this too?

    My mouth watered when I saw the pomelo! I can finish 3 of those in one sitting. Haha!

    • Mrs. ETT says:

      You know, J, it wasn’t that bad. There were a couple of times where I thought “I’d like a drink”, but that’s where it ended. I just told myself “too bad”, and moved on. In all honesty, I’ve just put myself on a no drinking at home during the week ban again. I quickly realised that I was drinking just because I could. I wasn’t getting anything out of it. It costs money and adds kilojoules, which I certainly don’t want to do!

      So where can I pick up a pomelo if I’m not scabbing them from a colleagues tree?

  6. Investment Hunting says:

    Love the tableau chart. Quick glance, it looks like food is a big expense for you. Not judging here at all, this is common for many people. I stopped eating out, except for special occasions a few years ago and I was amazed at how much money I saved. Something to consider.

    • Mrs. ETT says:

      Hello, masked man dividend investor! Welcome to the Enough Time Machine. Food is killing me (possibly literally, depending on how much junk I eat). We are averaging $937/month so far this year. I’d love to see it at around $800. Mr. ETT has agreed to take his lunch twice a week, so hopefully we will see a little improvement. We also need to stop spending so much on alcohol. As per my comment below to J, this might be helped because I’ve decided not to drink during the week.

      It’s trying to find the balance. If I were living on my own, I’d probably go too far and try to live off 2-minute noodles. If Mr. ETT lived on his own, he wouldn’t be trying at all. We just have to keep talking to each other and trying to figure out what is most important to us.

      Thanks for taking the time to comment!

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