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Archive for December, 2006

Feeling Better

December 31st, 2006 at 01:11 pm

Thanks to the kind comments in response to my previous post, and - ALSO -

I've been totting up last month's spending.
INCOME nz$1437.49

EXPENSES
Electricity 134.00
Property taxes 90.21
Insurance 48.78
Phone 47.65
Internet and computer 27.95
Grocery 89.20
Entertainment and Dining out 28.20
Clothes 12.76
House and garden maintenance 25.54
Xmas gifts 39.44
Donation 35.70
Medical 29.00
Bus fares 10.00

TOTAL 618.43
Savings 819.06
Whee! I saved over 50% of my income last month. Maybe I don't need to cut back as much as I thought. I also reflect that much of what I used my savings for was family emergency and house repairs - exactly what it was there for. Plus I didn't touch my retirement savings or go into debt. Last year was tough, but I coped, and I think this year will be a lot better.

Anyone want to see one of those reality shows where people from different walks of life swap places? I'm volunteering to trade with a politician or a Treasury economist for a week Wink

Year's End

December 30th, 2006 at 08:30 pm

So the time has come to see how I went in the $20 challenge. i have consolidated my accounts and am ignoring the cents.

Cash 10
Check 120
Bill payer 611
House repairs fund 620
Travel 294
Emergency Fund 1920

Total 3574.
At the beginning of the year I had $3216, so my savings have increased by $358, or $6.88 per week. How unimpressive. However, my house has increased in value, and my retirement savings have also been compounding, so my net worth has increased more than that.

Next year, I shall just count the cash I've actually saved, by putting all my change in a jar. I begin with $3.20 in coins in a Spice Girls container.

More than Money

December 29th, 2006 at 11:12 pm

It has been a sad end to the year. On Thursday I went to the funeral of a very special friend who passed away just before Christmas. D was born brain damaged and much of his life was spent in an institution. The great desire of his life was to be free of the authorities, and in the end he managed this, with his own little house and a gardening job.

His needs were few and simple; he loved to chat with his church friends and take an occasional bus trip. He was cheerful, honest, and he enriched the lives of those he met by his efforts to overcome his challenges. Goodbye D, we'll miss your enjoyment of life - and your never failing readiness to provide chocolates.

The other thing I had to do this week was visit a friend in the psychiatric ward, and I am quite sure that debt played its role in her breakdown. She was a single mom who, after having the courage to leave an abusive relationship, tried to compensate her children by giving them everything. There was nothing she wouldn't do for them, but, in spite of warnings from family and friends, she couldn't see that the lifestyle she was attempting to provide was beyond her means. When I talked to her, she was in complete denial, and her paranoia was an final attempt to avoid reality. I don't know what will happen now; I guess she will go bankrupt and lose everything. But when you get to the very bottom, there is no way to go but up, and I am hoping that now she will be able to cooperate with the help she needs to work her way out of this mess.

Financial Independence

December 26th, 2006 at 11:48 pm

Someone in these blogs linked to violentacres.com and I've just been reading her. Her manner is not calculated to win friends and influence people, but what really resonated with me was her idea of buying freedom by not buying stuff. Not being tied to having to do what the boss says - how wonderful! I know some people think that beneficiaries get money without having to work for it, but being forced to dance to Income Support's tune is no joy either. I don't know any unemployed people who are happy with their situation.

The classic route to Financial Independence - what violentacres did - is to work like crazy for a number of years, climb that career ladder, mazimize your income, and invest that surplus until you have enough to live on. THEN you retire and do all the things you've been putting off because you didn't have time or money. I'm not happy with that. For one thing, my health just won't let me work all that overtime. I was exhausted doing 30 hours a week and had no energy to do anything else. I'd like to start cutting back on work NOW and having time to do the things I enjoy, spend time with friends and family. That work/life balance everyone keeps talking about.

Still, fewer hours means less income, so I'm going to go all Buddhist and start reducing my wants. The less I need to buy, the fewer hours I have to work to bring in the income. After all, there are people in this country who meet all their needs by casual work a few months of the year. I will still be creating a surplus and saving, but it will take me longer to reach the Classic definition of financial independence.

Today I recived my last week's pay along with some holiday pay; total $429.67. I'm putting $200 of this into Bonus Bonds. My emergency fund will stand at $1920.

No more shopping for me

December 25th, 2006 at 10:24 am

It's summer here in New Zealand.Time for picnics on the beach. I have a ton of food in the pantry and frig so will see if I can do without buying any groceries until New Year.

The Christmas shopping madness is over - hey! I had a no-spend day on Dec 25!- and the bargain hunting season now begins. I could go along to the sales and get all the gifts and decorations for next year at reduced prices. But I have decided to join The Compact and buy nothing new for 12 months. My electric jug promptly celebrated this decision by springing a leak, but I can boil water in a pan.

Of course, I will still purchase essentials like socks and underwear when the old ones wear out, but in general, I'm going to try to make everything I have last for a year, or buy 2nd hand. I'm also cutting back on dining out and entertainment, tho this is not usually a big spend area for me. There is an interesting book called Not Buying It by Judith Levine, who restrained from consumer madness for a year. I think she overdid it and got too frustrated, but in general, I will be reducing my shopping to just the essentials of life. I am thinking it would be a good idea to sponsor a child in a Third World country with some of the savings. This will help me keep a perspective.

Merry Christmas to Me

December 23rd, 2006 at 11:57 pm

I gave $5 to the Salvation Army street appeal this morning. I am a firm believer that whatever you give away comes back to you. Sure enough I was walking back home across the Botanic Gardens and I spied a $5 note lying on a bench. No one was around, so I thanked the Universe. That's the quickest return I ever had.

Hard at work

December 20th, 2006 at 09:17 pm

I know some folks have commented in their blogs about getting bills for ridiculous amounts like 15 cents. Well, today I was preparing the invoices for sending out, and I came across a number for very low amounts, even ones for .01 cent, and even for zero, (where nothing was actually sent out, just to let them know it was backordered)

The thing is, when a transaction occurs, the computer automatically spits out the paperwork. So you might have a situation in which you wrote out a check, but accidently transposed the last 2 digits. The computer will record the difference, and send it out on the next bill. It should be checked by the sender, but when you have over 400 invoices to put in envelopes, along with your regular work, there isn't always time to scrutinise every figure. i did cull the silly ones this time.

And hey - who says you can't earn money stuffing envelopes? I got paid nz13 an hour for doing just that this morning.
then the boss decided the place should be put in order for the end of the year, so I was busy dusting shelves. Again, nice money for doing some cleaning.

At the end of the day, the boss had got some fruit cakes in for giving to customers, so he handed each of us one of the leftover ones as a thankyou gift. Yummy!

Good News

December 17th, 2006 at 11:42 pm

The temping agency rang me today. I am finishing this job on Friday, but they want me to go for another pt job starting on Jan 3. So I will have a nice 10 day break over Christmas/New Year, then more money coming in.

Weekend

December 15th, 2006 at 07:24 pm

Boy, working 30 hours a week, especially leading up to holiday season, is really tiring for me. Never mind, got paid $303.03 after tax, of which $80 got paid into my EF and $20 into retirement. Yay for me saving over 25% of wages. Office party was on Friday, so didn't have to cook dinner that night. No gift exchange, instead the bosses donated a bottle of wine and we had a draw for it. I didn't win, but as I can't drink wine with my medication anyway it didn't matter.

Today I am cleaning and doing my laundry. I started to tidy up my closet. Boy, do I have a lot of clothes. I have decided not to buy anything new except socks and underwear in 2007. If I have to buy anything - from the thrift store! - I will throw out some older stuff.

I also tidied up my glory box, where I keep all my craft supplies. I decided I have enough yarn to knit out of my stash all year, and there are some neglected crossstitch projects I can work on to. So instead of going out to the movies or eating out with friends, I will invite them round to my place for a "stitch n bitch".

The other thing I will do next year to save money is work on my garden - planting veggies.

It's Party Season

December 9th, 2006 at 12:37 pm

I went south 200 miles with some friends and met up with some more friends to have a feast and a gift exchange. I took some cream cheese and ginger sandwiches. Ironically we were meeting in a Catholic church hall but it didn't stop us committing the sin of gluttony. Several of us have resolved that we will fast every Friday next year. In my case, I think it will be a good plan to make every Friday a no spend day too, just to overcome lust for all those material goods.

I used to live in this town so went for a stroll round with my friends to see how things have changed. It seems a lot larger and there are a lot of new shops, all the big chains, which they are very proud of as sign of development. I came across one bookstore where they were giving away old posters. I got a couple with pictures of cookbooks on them, to put in my kitchen. Hmm, did I say I was fasting next year? For the moment, however, I will eat drink and be merry.

Coping

December 8th, 2006 at 11:23 am

Happy to say my arm is improving and I have no problems using it, tho it is still rather painful. Medical costs nz25.

Because of my having a day off last week when I have not yet accumulated any sick leave, my paypacket is lower this week, only $142, plus 33 disability. Still, that is enough to put aside for bills, nz20 into retirement, 30 for home repairs and 10 into my Travel-the-trans-Siberian a/c. I had 17.10 in my change jar, which helped with buying groceries, and we had the library booksale this week. I restrained myself and only bought nz5 worth.

Actually, I would be alright even if for some reason i didn't get paid at all. The nice thing about having savings is you're no longer continually counting on the next pay. I still had nz85 in my check a/c from last time, so decided to go the end of year dinner with my Toastmasters Club. Very nice Thai restaurant, nz8 - I passed on the green tea icecream.

The Compact

December 2nd, 2006 at 12:30 pm

I have been learning about this group
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/thecompact/

They have decided not to buy anything new except essentials like underwear for the next 12 months. A very good idea for saving the environment, and also for saving $$$. I support it in principle, but I think I've borrowed my neighbor's pruning saw often enough, so I bought one for $nz19.99 at a closing down sale. Also I did buy a very nice navy 2 piece at the Presbyterian Social Support shop for only $1.

First party of the month, a pot luck. I took along the crackers and dip, but there was so much food I wound up bringing it home again. As I am going to be on my own this Christmas, I have decided to invite all my single friends to my place and bring a dish.