Category Archives: Budget

Christmas shopping

Love the article titled Real men don’t do early Christmas shopping. Not entirely true and I bet there are a few women who leave everything until Christmas Eve.

But I’m one of those strange creatures who can get the shopping done by November. Partly that’s because I see things in the mid-year sales and pick them up then, partly it’s because I see things in the Avon catalogue that are just perfect (and the roll-on soaps in Christmas packaging for children are perfect stocking stuffers and non-lolly presents for DD’s little mates at preschool), and I loathe shopping in the December rush.

Having said that, I can’t say that the shops in Civic appeared particularly stuffed full when I ventured in last week. I still had to buy a gift card and some books. No huge queues at checkouts (maybe that will be on Christmas Eve), items being discounted further, and accompanying tinny muzak that hurt my ears.

I was determined to avoid buying more plastic to bring into the house. I think I managed to do that! Yay! I might buy some tinsel after Christmas for next year, though given the beating that was handed out to the Christmas decorations while they were in the shed (think cat pee on the box for starters), I’m re-thinking that idea.

Here’s some of Lisa Wilkinson’s smart ideas to help blokes with last-minute shopping from the article I mentioned above. Way to go, Lisa!

Things you shouldn’t buy
1 Lingerie that is a size or more too big. No prizes for guessing why
2 A vacuum cleaner. No prizes on this one either
3 A slab of beer (because we’re wise to you….we know that’s not for us)
4 Any product that contains any combination of the words “anti” and “cellulite” in the title

If in doubt, buy good champagne or Chanel No. 5, I reckon.


Posted by on December 23, 2010 in Budget


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No, or not much, spending

I should re-do my tags. It is more honest to say it’s Not Much Spending September. 🙂

Yesterday I had to fork out $28 for a prescription and also spent $7 at the supermarket. Definitely not a NO spend.

I found a card from a local supermarket that apologises for the mess involved in renovations and offers 5% off a bill total of more than $30. Considering that I have to buy toilet paper at some point (and honestly, I’m fussy to the point of neurotic about the type of TP we have and what the plumbing will cope with), I will now start a shopping list of what are supermarket only goods.

One friend suggested that I buy some things in bulk from wholesale places. The plan had more merits when there were 3 of us in this house. I can see the sense in buying a box of paper towels (still go through these steadily), but we simply don’t go through much soap, for example, or butter or cheese. Our grocery bills have decreased a fair bit since DH died.

I am leery of buying too much of perishable stuff that will go off. We have a small freezer in the refrigerator so that limits how much I will make in pre-prepared meals. I suppose we could buy a small freezer, but it would have to pay its way to make it worth (a) the initial outlay and (b) the ongoing electricity costs. Hmmm …

To do:
1. Find out if it’s worth getting paper towels in bulk. No sense in getting scrappy stuff that falls to pieces. And how much is ‘bulk’? 48 rolls? Where would I store them?
2. Find out the electricity costs of running a small freezer.

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Posted by on September 2, 2010 in Budget, Food


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Buy Nothing September

Since it’s 1st September, I should write a bit about my plan for September.

Inspired by Shipmates, I’m joining in Buy Nothing September. Doing it with others gives me a bit of support, a bit of accountability, and some good ideas as well.

I had a look at my bank balance this morning. Gasp! Things have been vile since DH died – huge drop in income, even allowing for his small pension. Time to pull my head out of the clouds about how I spend my cash each week.

I should add that I’m apparently pound-wise and penny-foolish. Obviously the latter translated into pound-foolish later on when I think about the money that I’ve wasted on cups of coffee or muffins or lunch or dinner or silly wee things at the supermarket.

I suspect part of the reason why my everyday account looks so beaten is because I tend to put any lump sums into my mortgage offset account to cut down on interest payments. That certainly is a good thing and as far as I can, I’ll try to continue that.

As part of my No Spend September, I have to budget for bills and ongoing payments. That means two fortnightly mortgage payments. There’s also the trash collection service bill to pay which is $125. Particularly high this month because I had two CRT monitors collected and the ACT charges like a wounded bull for recycling monitors and TVs. Part of me applauds the ‘green’ policy behind that. The penny-pinching part of me is having a bloody good whinge about having to pay to get rid of DH’s excess, old monitors as part of my ongoing decluttering project. Apparently there will be some free national e-waste scheme started sometime in 2011 (hey, that means 2012 in Australian terms) but I’m not willing to store more stuff in the shed for that long as a hiding place for spiders, cockroaches and wriggly things.

My tasks for today and tomorrow are to do a more accurate stocktake of the pantry and the refrigerator. I have chicken to make into a big dish of chicken risotto tonight (may have to extend the arborio rice with some long grain rice but that’s my fault for not doing a proper shelf check at home before going out to the supermarket).

The other thing that occurs to me is how much I do love my snacks. I really do. So at work I have some of those sachets for DIY cappuccinos, just add boiling water. Looking at the pantry properly has reminded me that I bought way too much self-raising flour in April. I have recipe books, I have baking trays and I have eggs from my friend’s hens. I can make biscuits. Maybe even raspberry jam biscuits.


Posted by on September 1, 2010 in Budget, decluttering project


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Cat update and budgeting

The Ancient Kitty is getting better. His eye ulcer has reduced in size. I am still putting drops of serum in his eyes, though finding it hard to do four times a day. Bearing in mind that I have to go to work to earn money to pay veterinarian bills, I’m not sure how the vet thinks I’m going to take time off to drive home to medicate a cat. He also has antibiotic eye cream which he similarly loathes. That cat can put a lot of distaste into a glare. This morning he headed off at a run rather than submit to eye medication. Not bad for a 17-year-old cat with poor muscle tone in his hind legs.

He also hates the Cone of Shame which he is expected to wear. The vet told me optimistically that by raising the cat’s dishes, perhaps on a brick, the Ancient Kitty will be able to eat and drink easily. Um, not in this universe. I saw it. I mean, we’re talking about a cat that stands in his water dish while eating from a food dish next to it. He isn’t as sharp as he used to be, though of course the instinct to run from medication is still strong.

I am amazed at the amount that cat has cost me this year. I nearly fainted at the most recent bill. We’ve cut back on groceries, but surely there are other things left to cut back. It’s not like we have lots of drycleaning, or that I go to the hairdresser or beautician frequently, I don’t drink much if anything at all. So off go the remaining luxuries and maybe some of the necessities

It looks like the only way I’m going to pick up is by:

  • cutting back further on babysitting (cheapest is $15 an hour so it’s no more than once every 6 to 8 weeks anyway),
  • car trips (petrol is still expensive but the bus system takes at minimum 2.25 hours return each day, more if I have to get DD from preschool first – I’ll have to cut back on trips to town)
  • the occasional cup of coffee from a cafe
  • using up everything in the freezer over the next couple of weeks and only purchasing fresh fruit and vegetables, milk and bread
  • using only the pantry supplies that I already have
  • finding additional work.

The last point is something I’ve really been thinking about. Not sure what I’m going to do or how I will achieve it. I think I’ll have to give more music lessons from my home at this rate because otherwise it will involve (a) babysitting and (b) petrol costs.

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Posted by on August 25, 2010 in Budget, cats


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I tell you, one of the most horrifying things you can do is write down where every scrap of money goes in a fortnight. Did you hear that thump? That was me hitting the floor in a faint after realising how much crap I spend my money on.

I keep all my receipts and write down the little things of life (like $3 for a Diet Coke or $3.80 for a large latte). Oy, that was an eye-opener. Yes, I could very well make my own coffee at work, and I certainly do at home or on the weekend.

The things I have to work out is: what are my *essential* luxuries, and what can I do without?

Under the heading of essential luxuries (go on, laugh at me, it’s a stupid term to use but the best I can come up with) are:

  • Waxing. Seriously, I can’t work out how to wax my underarms myself without causing extreme pain, I’m allergic to those magic hair-dissolving mousses, and the hair grows back like crazy after using a razor. Other parts can go without a wax.
  • Eyebrow dyeing. I am a klutz. Easier in terms of pain, shrieking and eye solution to get an expert to do this for me.
  • Hair colouring. I have a weird amount of grey mixed with brown-red hair that hasn’t been its original shade for umpteen years. I’ve tried to get a professional look myself. It used to work fine before I got more than 50% grey coverage at the front, and now, oy, the mess, the horrible colour, and the waste of home-colouring kits.
  • A latte now and then. Yes, I can make a coffee in a bodum or maybe instant coffee. But when it comes to the ability to perk myself up in a simple, and relatively non-fattening way, a latte is worth every bit of the $3.80 for a large cup.

So there you go.  I suppose in a way it’s a sort of cost benefit analysis. I’m not sure how to put a dollar value on intangibles like frustration over not getting the hair colour that I really want, but I can work out a cost of time cleaning up the mess of hair dye from the bathroom sink and towels and (most likely) my clothes.

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Posted by on November 11, 2009 in Budget


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