Tuesday, 21 April 2015

Swimming in jelly

I've decided trying to get ahead financially is rather like swimming in jelly.  A lot of the time you can't see what the hell you're doing and you can't move as fast as you like.  Not that I've ever actually swum in jelly but that's what I imagine it to be like and it's certainly how my financial progress feels at the moment.  Since I last wrote I have spent $190 on new brake pads ($60 more than the original quote because of course my little sewing machine wouldn't fit the three lots of generic pads the poor mechanic tried and would only deem to accept the more expensive bona fide Mazda ones ordered in especially) and $160 on a poxy citronella anti-barking collar which doesn't work.  Well, it does work; just not on Liam's pigheadedly stubborn and owner obsessed fox terrier.  A brief spray of lemony perfume in the snout is but a mere trifle in the importance of barking!  *Sigh*, well at least I tried...

And on the whole, things were looking marvellously positive last week!  I paid off three debts I'd been battling for months and will knock another one on the head next week, woohoo!  I was feeling pretty darn fabulous.  These debts have been annoying me for so long and I was so happy to get them out of the way because now I was going to be able to concentrate on some SERIOUS DEBT BUSTING.  You know, not the little bits and pieces and local stuff but the major league stuff like paying off my car and Ali's braces so that I could ascend a couple of rungs up the glorious debt ladder towards the stage where I only had my house left to pay for.  It was all rather exciting!

Until I checked the mail not even an hour later and found not one but TWO invoices from ACC wanting me to cough up over $600 in levies.  Of course I can totally understand why it would cost so much. Being a writer and sitting at a computer all day in my own home is extremely hazardous.  One of my hands could fall off or anything.  Before you ask, yes I did query it - three times in fact - but unfortunately am well and truly stuck with this one.  And, seeing as I don't happen to have a spare $600 sitting around I've had to sign up to pay it off over the next 10 months.  Bugger.  I tell you what, I am SO SICK of paying things off!  I dream of getting to the stage one day when I can just pay for things upfront.  Hand over the cash in cool nonchalance and forget about it without feeling as though something's gripping my heart.  I will get there and when I do I'll probably drive everyone completely mental with my Tigger-bouncing happiness.  If I can still bounce by then, at this stage I'm predicting around 85?  JK as my kids would say - Just Kidding.  I hope...

But there's that jelly swimming thing again - I can't see quite where I'm going right now!  I've recently changed mobile providers and power companies supposedly in the name of saving money but Lordy I don't know if I'm coming or going at the moment with all these flipping invoices!  I've got new ones, old ones, bits of old ones, start up costs, final reading costs, even a GloBug thingy and all I know is that they ALL want money!  I honestly can't work out who wants what and where its going to end. I hope they know what they're doing because I sure as hell don't!  I'm a great believer in that sometimes you do have to spend a little money upfront in order to save big money long term but at the moment I'm honestly wondering if this has been worth it. Time will tell I guess - according to GloBug I'm all set to save between $400 and $500 a year on power with them going by my current usage so the proof will be in the pudding. But as for the mobile savings and also the landline/Internet savings I signed up to Woosh for a couple of months ago?  So far it doesn't look any different to me! But we'll see, maybe I'm just feeling a bit on the sceptical side right now.

And I'm not too scared to say I'm rubbish at budgeting either. OK not rubbish, but I'm still to find a system which works for me.  I don't know about you but I find automatic payments and direct debits are not very helpful when it comes to budgeting.  It's all a bit 'out of sight, out of mind', and I'm not sure what to do to get them IN my mind.  In an ideal world I would like to budget the old fashioned way, you know, cash only, an envelope system, that sort of thing, so you know exactly what you have, exactly what you need and people can't take it without you physically handing it over to them. Unfortunately at this stage I never have any cash available because it's all allocated before I even get it!

So I'm asking you, lovely reader to share with me what budgeting system works for you.  I'm willing to try pretty much anything; it can be as old fashioned or as high-tech as you like, as long as it doesn't cost moonbeams but I don't want to keep swimming in jelly!  Somebody throw me a lifebelt!


  1. Just this year I have changed the way I budget, I wrote down all of the pay days for the year (fortnightly pays), and took off all of the fixed fortnightly payments from each pay packet. This included mortgage payments, insurance, rates etc. I also have payments that come out of the first of each month, so subtracted them from the relevant pay packet. I then went and checked out things like when my car rego and warrant are due and put those on my 'calendar', with an estimate of what the warrant/service is likely to cost. I have done the same with other less common payments like school donations, winter sports costs etc. I have set up my own Christmas account that I make a regular payment into as well. From this I can see what points in the year are going to be tight in advance, even if there are no surprises in that fortnight/month. It also means I can see which pay packets might be able to be used to pay off debt or maybe buy something for the house that has been put off. I've only done this since the beginning of the year but I am preferring it to what I previously did which was splitting everything up evenly across the whole year (in theory). I prefer to know that for a few pays in a row things will be tight, but after that period there might be some reprieve!

  2. We work out the total we pay per year for bills and when they all come through, and divide by pay weeks. Each pay we put the amount in the separate bills acc. Of course some bills all come through at once, sometimes I 'borrow' fr our bills acc, but overall it works. We don't overspend and have the money to pay the bills. Your case is different to mine, as we are all in different circumstances. For you I think I'd recommend any amount going to a bills acc and only used for bills. Even if its 50 a pay or less. Something.

  3. The current system I use works for me. I downloaded an excel spreadsheet found by searching in MS Excel for a personal (home) budget type template. My template is a 'monthl'y one with various breakdowns of income and expense categories. There are weekly budget templates available too. The various columns automatically total as you add amounts in each column and row. I budget forward one year. Some templates even feature a graph for each expense so you can see trends. There is a 'net' balance column so you see your projected monthly balances. I supplement the excel template with my ASB day to day account using the 'My money' feature to track expenses to each category. I try to keep my excel sheet expense categories the same as the My Money ASB expense categories. I have also opened up additional savings accounts for things like savings, holidays, education etc. which pay me interest. My day to day account does not pay interest.
    If you need more information, please comment.