So far my $20 challenge has been going well. If things keep going well I can see myself continuing this until my EF reaches the goal. I'm still planning to go to India in December, so will be taking a 4 week break, but the money for it will come from my travel fund.
Viewing the 'Goals' Category
I have calculated that I am currently spending a total of $210 a week. Multiply by 13 and that is $2,730. So I already have 3 months of stringent living expenses in my EF. I want it up to $10,000 to cover any major house repair expenses or having to fly overseas to sick family members.
I decided to cap my House maintenance fund at $2,800 so was able to transfer $100 to my EF.
Bought a loaf of bread $1.
Today was my day to volunteer at the thrift store. They had some nice bags so I bought a black and white striped one for $2 as my old black one is pretty worn. I also put $1 from my misc envelope into my Trans Siberian money tin. Now I have $12.70. It's such a tiny amount to be saving compared to what I need, but I want to get started now rather than wait until all my other goals are met.
Payday. One seventh through my year challenge. Also DS's birthday. I offered to take him out to lunch but he spent most of the day snoozng. Hard to believe 35 years ago I pushed out a 9 pound pumpkin. The memory of the pain fades; the joy remains.
My goal for this week is to have 7 NSDs. That's right, a complete no spend week. I passed a couple of op shops today: one was advertising a dollar of everything, the other offered 2 tops for $2. I didn't go in. I already have 65 tops - ok, some of them don't fit but I'll lose weight I promise.
I still have lots of oats, rice, canned beans, cabbage and potatoes. Looks like I'll be eating the same thing everyday but that's ok.
Payday. A whole $289.61 into my account. The electrician's bill finally arrived so I paid it right away, $222.63. Still left with well over $2,000 in the House maintenance a/c.
I had almost $500 in my check a/c so transferred $400 to my FFEF. I now have $2.082 in there.
I went to Knit Squad this afternoon and made a gold coin donation. I also put a dollar from my misc money into my Trans Siberian trip money tin. If I put a dollar in there every week I'll get there in a hundred years! But if I don't start saving something I'll never get there.
And I bought another cabbage and 4 cans of beans at a dollar each. It's a good job I like cabbage, and it can be cooked in so many ways.
For the months of July, August and September I am recieving an extra $20.45 a week to cover increased heating costs. I have the heat pump on pretty much permanently in winter, it is bad for me to be cold.
I went to the Caltex gas station today and bought bread and pasta for $8.60. I paid with one of my vouchers and got $1.40 in change. I will buy carrots with some of my cash on Sat, apart from that I don't need anything.
And I found 50 cents on the way home. I now have $5.20 towards travelling the Trans Siberian.
For lunch I made a batter with peaflour and curry powder and added the struggling bean sprouts to make vege pancakes.
Today I found 30 cents. At one stage I was saving all my found money for a trip on the Trans Siberian. I think I'll do that again.
I made some sprout scones from the recipe by Jack Monroe except I used kale. They were good; I'll definitely make more of her recipes.
Tena koutou katoa. I hadn't realised how much time has passed since I last blogged. Some changes: I am now on disability and my 60th birthday is coming up, so it doesn't look as if I'll ever work again. It depresses me, but at least I am getting more money now: $269.15 a week. Ds is currently living with me and gives me some money for his share of the power and internet. So things are manageable, but I still Iike to save money tho reallistically I'm not going to get to FI. In fact I'm looking forward to turning 65 when I will get more money from the govt!
With one thing and another my FFEF has taken a hammering and is now down to $1382.86. I want to work on getting it up to $10,000. And both the kitchen and bathroom need work so have to save more into the House a/c, currently at $2,345. I do have $5,000 in the Travel a/c and was hoping to make another trip to India this year, but we shall see.
To facilitate my savings efforts I have set myself the challenge of spending just $20 a week on food and $20 a week on misc spending for a year. I don't know if it's possible to get that low, but I'm giving it my best shot. Today is my third completed week on this challenge and at the moment I have in my envelopes:
change dish $3.50
I also have $6.53 on my bus card and I started with a fairly full pantry so have plenty of food left. I also hope the lesser amount spent on food will result in weight loss. I've become vegan since last writing so that should help.
I found .20 cents today. Where to put it?
I have several things I am saving for. I am building up my EF. I have automatic payments going into my Travel a/c and House repairs/renovations a/c, as well as Retirement. I want to let a surplus build up in my bill paying a/c, and I am doing the 52 week challenge to save up cash. Anytime I get a bit of extra money I randomly throw it into one place or another. The problem is my efforts are scattered, so it takes me longer to see progress in one place. I have been focusing my efforts lately on the EF, and it is almost done. I think I need to concentrate on one goal at a time, then I will see faster progress. I will leave the automatic payments as they are, get the EF completed, then concentrate on building up cash. Just think, a jar filled with notes and coins!
1. save $5000 in my EF. (already have 2,449)
2. increase savings into Kiwisaver by $10 a week.
modest I know but my income is only $210 per week atm. Hoping my health will improve so i can take on pt work.
I didn't go out today, so a no spend day - just as well, I have only $7.40 in my wallet. I listened to Indian music and sorted out cupboards. I found my old recorder and some music, so spent a while tootling. Next year I am going to be making my own music instead of buying CDs. I also found a textbook on New Testament Greek which i started to study years ago. I'll spend time with that as well and read the Bible in the original.
I am giving myself a little pat on the back for reaching all my 2010 goals before the end of the year. Now I get to set new ones before New Year.
As this blog is supposed to be about my journey to Financial Independence, I opened a new account today and am going to place nz$200 a month into it, just for the purpose of investing. It pays 4% pa which is not brilliant after tax on the interest, but there are not that many safe income type investments around in this country. With all the finance company failures, it's no wonder people prefer to buy real estate. I don't want to be a landlord, so while the cash is building up, I shall research investments.
My other goal is to do some renovations on my home, especially the kitchen. I estimate it will cost me about nz$10,000, and can put about nz$150 a month toward that.
I knew I could I knew I could...
save up nz$5,000 in my travel fund
chuff chuff chuff...
I'm spending next July in Britain
So I have nz$3,600 saved in my travel account and 1,800 in the account I use for repairs, new appliances and anything else connected with the house. And I keep wanting to shift some money across to get the travel a/c up to $5,000, which is what I intend to spend on my trip.
I *must not* do this! Sure as eggs, Murphy will puncture the water heater or something. Besides, there is a $1 withdrawal disincentive on that particular a/c. Patience patience. I will get there by the end of the year.
I have been a black belt tightwad this week - only spending money on groceries and busfare. I saw a couple nice tops I wanted to buy, but desisted and put the money into my travel account. Now I have the return plane fare saved up, everything I can save will be for spending money when I go to Britain next July. So instead of buying anything now I will buy it when I get to London.
This blog may become very boring - how many times can you boast of a NSD before people get fed up.
I've been listeneing to Dave Ramsey online and I like what he has to say about getting focused on one goal at a time. At the moment I'm putting a little bit here and a little bit there for half a dozen things, and I feel like I'm not making any progress. Getting one goal acheived before going on to the next strikes me as a good idea.
So today I took the nz$800 I'd saved in my travel account and added it to my EF, bringing the total to $2500. When that is completed I will increase my contribution to Kiwisaver, and after that focus on the trip saving.
I wonder why it seems so much harder to save money than pay off debt. With the money sitting in the bank, there's always something to spend it on and it grows so slooooowly.
I haven't totalled up the exact amount of dollars and cents, but I'm pretty certain I'm better off than I was 12 months ago. So my New Year resolution is to keep going as I am. By December 31st 2010 I should have:
nz$5,000 in fully funded emergancy fund
be saving 8% of gross income into Kiwisaver for retirement
have saved nz$2,000 for airplane tickets to Britain
pretty grown up for the teenage decade.
I used an online calculator to work out how much I would need to save. At current interest rates, to replace the sickness benefit of $nz190 a week, I would need nz200-300 thousand. That seems so much I got depressed wondering how on earth I could possibly reach that amount.
Then I realised, at the moment I earn $139 a week in the hand, so to get up to $190, I only have to have nz51 a week interest coming in. Much more manageable - smiles again.
The traditional route calls for investing in somewhere like the stock market and letting your gains compound. This does not work for me becuase of the abatement regime. I need to have use of the interest to avoid being squeezed.
So what I am going to do is start paying my savings into an interest bearing investment. As the amount of interest paid to me rises, so the amount I am recieving from the govt will go down. And I can carry on paying a percentage from my jobs into Kiwisaver for retirement. Sorted!
There is a big stink going on at the moment caused by a politician's decision to release the welfare detAils of 2 women who criticised the govt.
I'm not happy at the thought if I decide to go public on an issue my file may wind up on the minister's desk and then splattered all over the media leaving me to be villified by talk back hosts and bloggers. Hey, some people are convinced that everyone who recieves disability is a malingerer.
When someone applies for public assistance to which they are legally entitled, they have to give a great deal of private information - one reason I'd love to get off welfare. Amounts to which people are entitled can easily be worked out if you know their circumstances, but also you have to inform the govt dept about details of child support, p/t jobs, financial assets, etc. Is a welfare recipient entitled to expect those details to be kept confidential? And what about medical conditions of people on disability? Are they to be discussed in the media?
So even though I have a bigger income now, I'm still determined to keep costs down and save as much as possible. Every dollar closer to financial independence makes me less dependent on the govt and the whims of some politicain. It seems a very long way off on what I have now - but I will make it happen, some day.
Wow, it's good to be back among such a friendly supportive crowd. I'm feeling heaps better (have also switched off talk radio with people endlessly moaning about the economy)
I wrote this poem to express my thanks to all the good people who have helped me during the dark days
For by You I can run against a troop, by my God I can leap over a wall - Psalm 18.29
Not so much an army
of sword wielding warriors
as a gang with sticks
whacking down nettles
lopping heads off thistles
and tearing down the ivy
with their bare hands
Then a gentle blanket
was laid down
to guard me from the damp earth
Someone stood atop the wall
and let down a rope
Willing helpers secured it round me
Then pushed and shoved from below
while invisible horde
heaved and hauled from the other side
As I came alive
I started to dig into the gaps
with fingers and toes
then press myself up
with the aid of hands and knees
like crawling up sideways
as enthusiastic supporters cheered me on
And so I gained freedom over the wall.
And I found 50 cents outside the supermarket! It's going into rebuilding my emergency fund, which currently stands at $nz2380. I want to get it up to $5000.
I was out the flat end of town today and happened to pass by an open home, so went in and had a look. It was quite nice and I could afford it if my house sells at it's estimated value, but the agent told me nothing is moving in the housing market at the moment - since the collapse of several finance companies, everyone is waiting to see what happens. Well, they say real estate goes in seven year cycles and the last seven years have been pretty good, so we can expect a downturn. It's got me thinking about how much it's worth spending on doing up my place. I shall probably just repaint the interior walls and put some nice shrubs in the garden - I wouldn't get enough to make it worthwhile renovating the bathroom and kitchen. I'm fortunate because living fairly close to the University there are always buyers looking, so I can move out to the flat area where houses are cheaper. I will miss my lovely view of the harbour, but I won't be sorry not to have to climb up that hill anymore. I'll get the trip to Britain over first, and sell next summer by which time there'll be a clearer picture of what the market is doing.
Wow, it's been 4 months since I last posted. I hadn't forgotten - I had to be hospitalized in July and it's been a slow recovery. I keep reminding myself of all the things I have to be grateful for, like all the wonderful medical care I am getting, paid for under our State system. And having a paid for house in these shaky times. I had to spend $1100 on doing some alterations, but still have over $3000 in bonds to fall back on if needed.
I haven't given up on returning to work eventually but for the moment I'm back on the sickness benefit and have very little spare cash so need to be extra diligent about where my money goes. I'm looking at having to sell this place and moving to an apartment in a couple years. Also since I'm not guaranteed a ripe old age, I'd love to take a trip to Britain next year and see ds and other relatives in England and Ireland. No one can predict what the future holds, but I'll make plans anyway!
Happy to say I am still working on this number one goal of $5000 in emergency fund, despite tinyness of income. I am now at nz$3340. If I can keep it intact until I get a decent earning job I will be very happy. When everything seems to go on bills it's easy to get blue.
For those who are still struggling to pay off debts, I found in my case that it helped to be working on a positive savings goal at the same time. Obviously not have 000s in the bank that could be used to reduce interest paid on loans, but maybe put spare change towards a weekend away or a new car or whatever tickles your fancy. I just got too discouraged thinking everything fun had to be put off till the mortgage was paid. It is important to establish the savings habit immediately, IMHO, or you may wind up like so many people who pay off the credit cards and then run them up again because they haven't learnt good habits. I think David Bach calls this the "bury the past, jump to the future" approach or something like that. Rather than argue over whether every extra dollar should go off the loans or be stashed away, I take a 50/50 approach.
I haven't blogged for a while, i know. It's been a bit of a struggle lately, and I'm rather depressed about having so little money to live on. It's nice catching up with you guys, to know I'm not alone and see everybody working so hard toward their goals.
Today I had a job interview, which i think went well. The interviewer asked me one question - what was the achievement I was proudest of? I suppose I should have said something work related, but the first thing came to me: I'm really proud of the fact tho I had nothing after my relationship breakup, I managed to buy a house for myself and ds - and get it paid off in 15 years.
Well, he WAS impressed. He said, "that's amazing. I'm 55 and I'm scared I won't get my mortgage paid off before retirement." I didn't say I only had a little cottage, and he prob has a huge mansion, but I went home feeling much happier. I remember when I got the final letter from the bank, I threw a mortgage burning party. It felt like a great burden had been lifted off me to be debtfree.
Since then I've been drifting a bit I guess. I was so focused on that goal, i wasn't sure what to do next, and the idea of saving up 00s of 000s for my retiremnt seemed so enormous, it was hard see progress. But now I'm motivated to get started again. When you're a bit down it helps to remember past victories.
My No 1 goal for this year was to save up $5000 in my emergency fund. I am now at $2500. Go me.
Having posted my goals on Forum, I will put them here where I can keep an eye on them.
1. Save up $5000 in Emergency Fund. Currently at $1380. OMG, have to find $60 a week to get there by DEcember next year.
2. Find a permanent job and save 10% of gross for retirement. The govt saving regulations are changing next July, so may only be allowed to save 8%, in which case, the remainder goes into mutual funds.
3. Pay for essential house repairs in cash. Have $450 in the Freedom Fund at the moment and saving $30 a week.
If I meet all these, I will allow myself the reward of a trip to Australia in December. I have somewhere I can stay for free, so only have to come up with airfare. (Starts searching out budget fares)
Having had the lowest income in the country and a load of family requirements AND repairs to be done on the house recently, I've been going backwards - using up savings.
This is what I have left
Bill paying a/c 417.79 (electric bill of $nz134 to come out)
House 286.13 (this is the one I use for anything to do with the house - repairs, replacing appliances, linen etc) It is kind of a Freedom Fund for dealing with unexpected expenses)
Hmm, not terribly healthy looking, but at least I'm not in debt. I've got to tighten my belt and do some money building exercises. My goals are:
1. Get the House a/c up to $1000 by the end of the year. If I get this job permanently I'll build it up even more. I'd like to pay for all the repairs in cash and avoid taking out a home equity loan.
2. Hang on to the $1000 in Bonds as a Baby Emergency Fund, eg if I have to do any more travel because of sickness in the family, and then get it up to a full 3 months worth of expenses. $5000 would make me feel comfortable.
3. Start paying into my retirement savings again.
At the moment I have $22.90 in my purse, but I won't get paid until Thursday. I feel a challenge coming on ... can I get by paying for just milk and busfares and make it last?
Okay, it looks like I am up for some big expenses in the coming year. I was lucky an old college friend who inspects State rental housing came round and had a look at my place. Here's what he told me:
There is damp coming down from the leaky spouting and it will need mending.
There are not enough vents in the basement and more will have to be put in.
The plaster should be painted with waterproof paint by next winter, and some of the boards need replcing.
The old logburner in the living room needs to be taken out as it doesn't conform to the new regulations.
I have to start getting quotes right away as there is a real shortage of qualified tradesmen locally and it can take months to get a job done.
As to paying for it, I have been told to ring Disability Information Services, as there are grants available to do repair work on health grounds. I have been in contact with the City Council which is running a Healthy Homes initiative, and will put insulation in the houses of people with disabilities. I will probably have to pay a third myself. So the problem is not insurmountable.
And I have applied for a couple of parttime jobs, one in a bookstore and the other at the library. I have customer service and library experience as a volunteer, so I hope that will help me get a foot in the door. The New Zealand academic year finishes in a month, and many students will be heading home, so I stand a good chance of getting temporary work over the holiday period anyway. Many of the employers here don't like to hire students as they have a reputation for being unreliable. So someone is sure to want a, umm, "mature" person.
I went to one of the agencies today, to see if I could get some temping. They were not terribly helpful as they didn't know of too many workplaces that would be modified for a temp. I am really not at all confident, as I did have good admin skills, but feel very rusty. I keep thinking I will only get minimum wage positions. My health is still not 100% so I can't manage the long hours the top positions demand.
On the plus side, I have a lot of volunteer experience with people from all sorts of backgrounds and good communication skills. The broker from Work and Income told me of a scheme called Straight 2 Work, which places people in work situations for short periods so they can gain experience and confidence. It seems to be more geared to school leavers, but I was told I will probably qualify.
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