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.
Viewing the 'Goals' Category
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.
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.
My doctor has okayed me for parttime work!! I lolloped down to Work and Income pronto and took a gander at the jobs notice board. There is a nice little job as receptionist which I think would suit me fine. But I had to make an appointment with a work broker who specialises in placing people with disabilities, so will be busy touching up my CV tomorrow. Also have to ring previous employers to update my references. Happy happy me.
Time to inspect the damage caused by ds flitting the nest. Apart from the money I spent on him, this month's expenses came to $NZ646.61 Not bad, could be lower in theory, but since I live on a low income anyway, and have to watch pennies all the time, I tend to rationalise my treats.
Property taxes 87.40
Eating out 18.75
However, I am above budget for the first 6 months of the year. To keep within budget I have NZ4,672 to spend for the rest of the year, or 778 per month. I want to see how much of that I can save into my battered Emergency account, so have decided:
Sign up to Stashalong for 6 months and not purchase any more yarn or materials.
Don't buy any more outer clothing.
Restrict use of ATM to one cash withdrawal per week, and pay for all purchases in cash. Once cash is gone, that's it for week.
Eat out only once per month.
Only one trip out of town per month.
Restrict long distance calls to family to once a week.
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.
Confession time. Ever since I was a little girl I've had this dream. Ta da.
I want to travel the Trans Siberian railway.
And for the past 12 months I've been putting money aside for it (how many bank accounts does she have? I hear you cry) I put all the coins I find and all my loose change into it. We have $1 and $2 coins in New Zeland so it adds up. This month I put in $20 for a total of $597.
Moscow Here I Come - in , umm, about 2012.
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