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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
- Bought spare clothesline $26.20
- Discovered we need a tensioner key to remove old line.
- Bought tensioner key $24.95
- Discovered we need 7 new tensioners because they have locked due to rust.
- Priced 6 pack of tensioners $54.95
- Discovered special 7th tensioner is no longer for sale in Australia*
- 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.
- 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.
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?
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!