Posts tagged budget

How to go from stingy to stingier

Since we’ve decided to hang the expense and go ahead with the renos* we’ve concluded that we’re going to have to tighten our belts. We’re going to be almost half a million bucks in debt so the budget needs to contract somewhat.

The problem is figuring out how to do it. We’re always seeing those articles about the 10 simple ways to save $5,000 a year, but they’re never any use to us because the expenses they suggest cutting are ones we don’t have anyway.

We don’t have pay TV. We rarely eat out. We don’t buy coffees. We hardly ever use the clothes dryer or the air conditioning. We don’t buy a lot of processed foods.

It’s hard to find things to give up!

Our biggest expenses (after the mortgage, of course) are groceries and running our two cars. I’d love to be able to go back to one car but it would be incredibly inconvenient – all four of us would have to be out the door by 6.55 each weekday morning to drive leigh to school, then the kids and I would have to come back and get hunter ready for preschool, then drop her off (opposite direction) and do the whole thing in reverse in the afternoon.

And I am not sure how much money it would actually save us. We’d spend less on rego and insurance with just one car, but we’d spend way more on fuel because we’d be doing twice as much driving to get leigh to and from school. She takes the little car to school but if we all went we’d have to take the Camry.

Plus, we have visitors pretty often and we use both cars to do things when they’re here because we can’t fit a passenger between the carseats in the Camry.

I do also wish we were a one car family because it seems more environmentally responsible, but in actual fact I think we may be producing less emissions by having leigh take the little car to school (the trip to school and back accounts for most of our driving miles).

Leigh has decided she might walk to and from school once a week but I don’t know how practical that’s going to be. It’s a pretty long hike – an hour or so each way. And she starts classes at 7.30 every day so she’d be getting up very early. I guess we’ll see how it goes though – that would cut our total fuel bill by about 10 per cent, I think.

We are going to try to cut costs on the groceries, too, though there’s not a lot of fat to trim. Leigh’s just bought a yogurt maker and once we recoup the cost of buying it, it should save us about $10 a week – assuming the novelty doesn’t wear off! And, yeah, she stole the fruit that’s going in the first batch (tree was hanging over a fence) so there’s a dollar or two saved!

Leigh’s planning to make quark and various other things from the yogurt experiment too, and figures she can make a cream cheese-like concoction to use instead of ricotta, so that will save us another $10 a week.

And then we have to think about the ethical dilemma of organic versus cheap, free range versus cheap, local versus cheap, etc etc. I’m not sure where we’ll land on that one but with organic produce costing up to four times as much as the non-organic version, it’s hard to justify the organic option.

Apart from that, we are really going to have to cut out the spur of the moment “let’s go to yum cha!” stuff and the “let’s take the kids to the playschool show” stuff.

All up, though, it will probably only mean savings of about $30 a week, which is not exactly going to cover the mortgage – especially with Hugo about to start daycare one day a week (more on that later).


* touch wood. I am still not prepared to call it a done deal!

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