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Archive for April, 2006

End of April

April 30th, 2006 at 05:05 pm

Hmm, something has gone amiss with my tracking. According to the added totals in my littel pocket book notepad:
Income 925.25
Expenses 624.67
Savings 300.58

But when I checked the difference between last month's bank balances and this, I came up with an increase of $346.05. Oh, well it's more money for me.

The banks have sent me statements of interest earned during the year. $70.27 for the main account, and $19.34 for the smaller one. Alas, I have to pay interest at 19.5 cents in the dollar. Don't you think if the govt was really serious about wanting us to save for our retirement, they'd make all savings tax free?

Cheap eats

April 26th, 2006 at 02:02 pm

It has been raining steadily and there is flooding in some parts of the area. I decided not to go get groceries, but see if I could feed myself from what I had for a few days.

So tonight I cooked up this recipe:
Cook last of macaroni in package for a few minutes. Drain, reserving cup of cooking water.
Fry half an onion until golden, stir in 1 teaspoon curry powder. Toss in
Half a small rutabaga, chopped and
1 cup cooked red kidney beans, thawed from freezer.
Add the reserved pasta water, cover and simmer until tender. stir in the macaroni and heat through.

Grandma, who learned to cook in the Depression, would have been proud of me.

BTW, a lot of people never think of cooking rutabagas (we call them swedes here) but they are very cheap and nutritious. Use them often in soups and stews.

Buying with Pleasure

April 23rd, 2006 at 04:53 pm

i decided not to buy the bangle. I figured I can only spend each dollar once, and when I haven't got so many, I need to get the maximum bang for a buck.

I can spend a dollar 3 ways.
I can buy something beautiful because I want it and get a good feeling.
I can buy something useful and meet a need.
If I'm really smart I can buy something that will increase my net worth and bring me the most benefit in the long run.
So I decided instead to stock up on energy saving light bulbs which are on special this week.

Generally, people seem to get most pleasure when they think they have free choice over wehther to buy something. They don't think of taking pleasure in bills they're obliged to pay. When I was in India things were extremely cheap for Westerners and I bought a lot of stuff. I wound up paying excess baggage and when I got back home I gave most of it away. (Come to think of it, my main reason for buying was to show off to my friends). But when i got back home, things I really appreciated were things like reliable electricity and hot water, safe roads, relatively noncorrupt officials, free hospital care and education for all. I don't mind paying things like phone bills and taxes now, because I appreciate the service I get for them. (Tho natch, I don't pay any more than I have to.)

I want

April 22nd, 2006 at 02:04 pm

Oh I've got the wants real bad. I volunteer one morning a week in this nonprofit store, and they've got a new range of abalone jewellry in. My absolute favorite color is turquiose/aqaumarine, and this bangle has been enhanced with dyes so the bluey green really comes out. It is just lovely, and only $10.75.

Reasons for not buying:
I have veganish tendencies and don't want to wear animal shell.
I already have several lovely bangels
I already have several turquoise blouses, vests, etc in my wardrobe.
I could use the money to get to another goal sooner.
I need to build up my emergency fund.
It's not on my planned buying list.
I can buy it later if I really want it.
I don't need it.

Reasons for buying.
Other people will admire it.
I have a credit card.

So I asked the manger if I could put it aside until my next volunteer morning. She was agreeable, and now I have a week to think it over and decide where in my budget I will draw allocated money from if I still want it next week.

A cooling off period is a great idea. I should use it more often when I get the impulse to buy - I'm just not sure it would work when I get the munchies ("Can I put this hamburger aside for a week please?")

Wish list

April 21st, 2006 at 06:43 pm

I have been living in the same house for the last 16 years, with a child, a dog and a cat, so much of my furniture is definitely the worse for wear. I also spent most of my spare money paying down my mortgage as quickly as possible, so I promised myself when I was debtfree I would replace it with decent stuff.

So I drew up this list of what I wanted and stuck it on the frig, and as suitable bargains come along I replace my old stuff. Last month it was the frig itself; this month I found a good condition innerspring mattress for $45. BIL knew I was looking for a computer desk, so when a business he knew went into liquidation, he bought this great desk for $40. Friend also knew I wanted a new garbage can, and bought me one as a present. The old one was still serviceable, but so grungy it drepressed me to look at it. Seems funny to be happy about a new garbage can, but I'm happy with mine.

I know some people claim to be above material possessions, and don't care what their stuff looks like, but if I'm going to have to live with my possessions, I'd like them to give me pleasure to look at as well as when I'm using them. I read somewhere a quote about artists: they are people who are able to make the useful beautiful. I am being a creative artist in gradually transforming my home into a thing of beauty on a budget.

Wasting money

April 19th, 2006 at 01:32 pm

Memo to self: check dates library books are due and get them back on time. $2.40 in fines and it wasn't all that great a book. Grr.

Happy Easter

April 18th, 2006 at 11:56 pm

i spent 4 days in Christchurch over the long weekend, staying at a retreat in an 1854 homestead. I spent $90, plus $10 for transport, for time spent meditating and yummy vegetarian food. Well worth it.

Then i went to my sister's, to try and settle what should be done about dad. She showed me a resthome which she thought would be suitable. It was nice, but dad has indicated he would like to stay in his home town. It would certainly be a lot more convenient for us to visit if he was in Christchurch, and I think there would be more interesting things for him to see and do. He admits it is depressing to see his old friends drop off one by one. OTOH, as the accountant says dad has plenty of money for his care, maybe we could keep his old home and use it as a holiday house when we visit. There is no hurry to make a decision, as there is still several operations on his leg to go, and in the meantime he is enjoying all the attention in hospital, but I would like him to be settled before winter sets in.(June in the Southern Hemisphere) Also, my sister is heading overseas in June, and I don't fancy being left to fight with my brother. Once a decision has been made, the Social workers will resist any change, as they hold it bad care to move old people from one place to another.

It is very emotionally draining. I have spent a lot of time sleeping and my diet is completely shot. I have put on 5 lb. I have told my son that he won't have to worry about making decisions for me. When I turn 70 I shall simply get myself into a home and then I shall laze about and eat all the food provided, without caring about living forever.

$5 a week

April 12th, 2006 at 02:16 pm

Long before David Bach wrote The Automatic Millionaire, i figured out i needed to make my savings automatic. From my bill paying account, $20 comes out every week into an investment account (used to be retirement, but I can't do that any more), and $25 a month goes into an emergency fund.

But now, I have an extra $5.31 a week, courtesy of the govt's cost of living increase. Well, I know power and property taxes keep going up, so i guess it will get eaten eventually, but in the meantime what to do?

I've wanted to try tai chi for a while, another trip to India would be fantastic,and and and...if I'm not to wind up with a heap of great memories, but suffering in my old age, I'd better make arrangements to put this money somewhere not-get-at-able now. Then I can have the money and use the interest for neat stuff. Guess I'm better beef up the emergency fund a bit faster. Should be able to increase it to $50 a month.

Micromanaging

April 11th, 2006 at 02:08 pm

I read in some financial book that the less money poeple have, the more they micromamnge it. Well, I guess my income isn't very big to a financial adviser (the books I read seem toss off figures like $60,000 a year which leave me feeling very small). However, it's accounting for every dollar that got me to my current situation.

I make use off the pay splitting my bank offers. $105 goes every week to a bill paying account. Things like insurance, utilities, are paid automatically out of that account. I never touch it, never worry about paying regular bills. Over time, with the small safety margin I build in, it has got an extra month's worth of expenses in it.

I also have $30 a week going to a "Freedom Fund". This is used for any expenses related to the house, like repairs or buying new appliances. This is the one I need to concentrate on rebuilding, as it took a hammering last month.

The third account is my travel savings account which I use for holidays and trips. It gets $10 a week. At the moment it has $440 in it. I'm trying to get that up too as I want to go to Australia at the end of the year.

That leaves me with $28.29 for variable expenses. I'm happy to say that the annual cost of living increase has just come thru and I'm now getting $53.68 to micromanage. So I have $84.21 in my check account and I'm dividing it as follows:

Medical costs 25.00
Clothes $10 (need new shoes soon)
Toastmasters $20 (saving for 6 month fees)
Personal $5 (haircuts, gifts etc)
Yoga classes $11
Tickets for ballet with friend $10

My son pays me $50 cash each week for rent which I use for groceries and walking around money. I try to save as much of this as possible for my "Travel the Trans Siberian" stash.

Works for me.

Net Worth

April 7th, 2006 at 02:30 pm

Today I got my end of month bank statements, so I decided to make a statement of net worth. I made up a little Excel sheet and listed everthing.

Result
House $130,000
Retirement savings $15,000
All other savings $4,666

Liabilities None

I wanted to see how much of an emergency nest egg I could count on, so I divided the $4,666 by my weekly benefit payment (173.29) and found out it would last over 26 weeks. I am thrilled. Of course some of the current savings is slated for spending on house repairs, holidays, etc, but I would postpone those if I were to suddenly lose my income. My goal is to beef up the amount specifically earmarked for emergencies: I want to have $5,000 in an online account. I also want $5,000 in my "freedom fund" for house repairs etc.

Freebie Bonanza

April 6th, 2006 at 10:34 pm

Today I was in town changing my library books. When I walked past one coffee shop, I was given a coupon for a free cappucino. Then I walked past one of the opportunity shops I don't usually go to because it's more expensive than the others. Well! they had closed for the day because it was the end of the season and they were getting new stock in. And get this: they'd put all the remaining unsold stock out in boxes with a sign saying FREE HELP YOURSELF. So I got some things in my size: a navy skirt and 2 cream blouses which will do for work if I get this job, a pair of grey trousers and a casual sweatshirt. They still had the price tags on them and I would have had to pay $30 otherwise.

Then as I was walking home I found a dollar by the parking meter. It went into my change jar, in which I now have $8.40 (I bank it in my "Travel the Trans Siberian" account every time I get to $10)

To top it off my neighbour came over and asked me to feed her cat for the weekend as she was going away. She had some food in the fridge which she said wouldn't last till Monday, so told me to help myself to the milk and vegies.

If only every day could be like this!

Satisfying Shopping

April 5th, 2006 at 03:42 pm

Today i went shopping at the supermarket. I carefully checked the pantry and fridge before I went to see what I had, then I drew up a week's worth of nutritious menus. I wanted to keep below $30 so I put down the cheapest veges, and used lots of beans.

When I got to the store, I took my time to check all the prices and adjusted my list to take advantage of manager's specials. I made a couple changes to my menu. I deliberately went midweek early in the morning as I knew the store would not be crowded. When i got to the checkout I remebered the coupon in my wallet because I wasn't feeling hassled. Result: a week's healthy eating at $15.90.
And I avoided all the cookies and tempting treats.

I am feeling very pleased with myself. It's great how paying attention and getting value for money makes the difference between a satisfying purchase and just frittering money away (and feeling dissatisfied afterward). I think I could go the rest of the week without needing to spend any more money.

Losing track

April 1st, 2006 at 06:25 pm

With everything so up in the air last month I didn't keep track of all my expenses. I was also doing a fair bit of comfort spending at the little coffee-and-muffin shop near the hospital. As near as I can calculate I have spent $55 there, and a total of over $1500 this month. But I did buy a new fridge/freezer, do some necessary repairs round home, pay Toastmaster fees and make a $90 donation to charity. So I guess that's okay, it's just that my savings account is now down to $214 so I need to rebuild it. I also have $2020 in Bonus Bonds which I can borrow against if need be.

On the job front, I have been told about a part-time position at the local library which I have a fairly good chance of getting. I am allowed to earn up to $80 a week before my benefit starts getting cut, but I think I would work at the library for free!! There are also positions at the Art Gallery and Museum of a few hours per week. I have been told I can get help with transport costs as well, tho as they are all not too far from home, I will probably walk.

Because all my work clothes are rather old, I went shopping in the consignment shops this week and found a nice turquoise suit for $15. The only drawback is I will be required to spend money on pantyhose, and I need some new shoes.