Grocery (the Good) – Spent $31.92 this week.
Eating Out (the Bad) – We spent a bit on eating out and getting some soup. We went to a restaurant that is near our place it has been there for years but it is only now that we finally decided to try it out. We had lunch there on Saturday. It’s a nice place and food was really good and prices were very reasonable as well, will definitely be going there again. We also decided to go to the park on Sunday for a picnic lunch; we didn’t bring any food from home we got take away instead. And to top it off DH has not been feeling well so we got some soup. All up the eating out and buying food we spent $73.20.
Free Dinner – Not only did DH got few free lunches last week and the other week, he also got free dinner and drinks on Friday night. His whole team got invited out for dinner to celebrate a job they did two months ago. He and others did had to spend few hours for that weekend two months ago to do some work for it, DH only had to do his part at home, so yeah well deserved for them.
Internet – Few months ago and then another last month we got mails from our (now previous) internet provider letting us know that by early November they will be disconnecting our internet and home phone services unless we switch into their NBN service. NBN is the National Broadband Network, which is essentially fibre optic cable rolled out across the country. Originally it was proposed to roll out fibre right up into each home, but this was later changed to just use whatever connection already exists at the home for the final part. In our case since we had Telstra cable installed in our house by the previous owner, that is what we are getting. This is similar to what is used for cable TV in the US, and in fact can also be used for cable TV here. The NBN is a government owned company which provides the infrastructure, and then you go to a retailer to buy the actual services. That way all retailers use the same infrastructure and have to compete on price, customer service, and quality of service provided (some retailers don’t provide sufficient bandwidth so get major slowdowns during peak periods). The company we signed up for seems to be quite cheap and also doesn’t seem to have the slowdown problems.
When DH signed up, he found a promotional code that got him the first month free, and they double our data allowance for the first 6 months! Also there is no lock-in contract, whereas some of the bigger providers lock you into a 2 year contract. The price will be $65 per month the same as our previous internet cost but since we don’t have to have the home phone anymore it will be saving us $15 per month. It will be less than the unlimited data we have been using for the last year but a lot more than what we used to have prior to that which was 120GB, now it will be 500GB but for the next 6 months it will be 1000GB.
When DH called the previous provider, Optus which we have been with since 2001, they tried to make him pay a $160 early termination fee as they told him he was on a 2 year contract. This was rubbish for 2 reasons: 1. they told him last year when he changed plans that he wouldn’t be put on a contract; 2. they’re the ones telling us we need to change service or we’ll be disconnected. DH spoke to a different person and they have now agreed to not charge the disconnection fee.
Grocery (the Good) – Spent $31.92 this week.
My brother’s girlfriend had a little girl yesterday, I’m an aunty again. We will be visiting them in Tasmania in November.
Onto financial matters –
Groceries – All up it amounted to $72.45 just a tad under budget for the week. $18 of it were on cleaning and laundry products, I tend to only get these once or twice a year.
Free Lunch (Is there such a thing?) – DH has been attending workshop at work and they have been providing lunch. Last week he had 4 of them and he got another 3 and a half days of it this week.
Property Rates – We got a new bill statement for the 2017-18 and it is increasing to $1913.89 – last year it was $1873.70 – we will be paying it monthly ($191.34) for the next 10 months.
Been sick and not been in the mood for cooking this week.
The weather here have been wet, so not much to do but read and watch the Australian stock market go up and down. Here are some of our personal finance highlight for the week.
Groceries – Total spend for the week was $83.91, a little bit over than our weekly budget for this month but will pull it back next weekend.
Water Bill – Great news we got $100 government rebate off our current water bill. I’m not sure what this rebate is about (most likely to do with the desalination plant), anyway whatever it is for I will gladly take it! Normally, this 3rd quarter bill is a lot more than usual because of some annual fees that we have to pay but the government decided to give us a break. So the bill amount was going to be $292.31 but now it is reduced down to $192.31. Unfortunately though this bill came with new rate prices that we will have to pay next bill. It doesn’t look too bad, in line with inflation rate I guess.
Gas Bill – Also got the gas bill due this month and that is for $101.72. I think this might be the first time ever since we stopped using gas for heating that we have a bill that is over $100. I don’t think our actual usage have change it is most likely increases in rate prices.
Health Insurance – We decided to change health insurance to one that is known as “Member’s Own”. On the 1st of April our health insurance went up again and DH and I have been thinking that it is time to evaluate our current health cover. DH have been looking into it for few months now and have finally decided to drop the EXTRAS (i.e. dental, optical and some hospital covers), so for now we will just have the Basic Cover and we will just cash flow the usual dental and optical visits. We weren’t even in the comprehensive cover we were under intermediate. The optical is just mainly for me anyway, last time DH got his eyes check which was earlier this year he still got 20/20 visions apparently plus normal eye checks are covered by Medicare anyway. The only thing we seems to get out of it is free cheap prescription glasses, and the fancier ones we have to pay extra even though we spend so much extra already for the so called “EXTRAS”. Anyway, after some calculations we might be able to save around $500-$700 per year. Our monthly payments will go down to $163.23 from $280.78. Before 1st of April it was $262.75, there was $18 per month increase, which is about $216 for a year enough for one dental check-up and clean visit. So we believe it is worth trying it out at least for the next year or so.
Overall spending for this month was $1,668.72. Four months in a row that we spent less than $2K per month which is great. I think September is going to be expensive though we will have a big water bill, there will be some annual fees attach to the next bill and property rates will again be due. This month we didn’t have any utilities due as well which helped the low spend month. Father’s day and some birthdays are on next month and there are already some invites to go out. Anyway, some individual items below:
Grocery – It was under budget and on the weekend we got some big items like a 20 kilo sack of rice and 1.5 kilo of Milo. We spent a total of $285.30 on grocery, almost $15 under budget.
Birthdays – My mother in-law and my mum’s birthday was on this month so we spent some money on gifts. Also I used up some of my allowance money; I’ve hardly spent any of that money this year. I took my mum and 5 of her friends for lunch on her birthday yesterday. We went for buffet lunch, 5 of them were seniors so we got good discounts for them. It was really good place especially for the price I was very impressed normally I’m not too keen on those type of places but I would definitely go back there again. It was for only $130.30 for 7 people.
Books/Reading – I mentioned in one of my recent post that I don’t think I will be borrowing much books from the library but it seems like I’m actually wrong, I’ve actually borrowed few and some magazines as well.
33 The Back Road - Rachel Abbott (5 Aug)
34 The Adventures of Tom Sawyer - Mark Twain (10 Aug)
35 The Taste of Fear - Jeremy Bates (13 Aug)
36 Six Frames of Thinking about Information - Edward de Bono (14 Aug)
37 Money Master the Game (7 Simple Steps to Financial Freedom) - Tony Robbins (24 Aug)
38 Rich People Problems - Kevin Kwan (26 Aug)
39 Surrender - Helen Hardy (29 Aug)
40 Calico Joe - John Grisham (31 Aug)
Workout – I need to do better than 3 days a week.
DH got notice that he will be getting a pay raise, it is only for 2.5% so just in line with CPI. He has given up getting a pay raise this year so I guess this was unexpected. Not much really but every bit helps.
Grocery - This week we spent $74.02. One more week left for the month and we’ve only spent $185, which left us $115. I have plan to stock up some things this coming weekend.
Fitness Tracker – Someone at DH work gave him 2 brand new fitness trackers. The guy bought that it for himself and his wife but it never showed up so he decided to cancel it and bought it somewhere else and now long after he got his money refunded they showed up in the mail. It seems like everyone at his team already have them except for DH so he offered it to him for a beer or something small of value just to cover the credit card fee that he incured for international purchased. DH was happy to do it. He bought him some chocolates since he loves them, not even $5 worth. And next time they go out for drinks DH will shout him a beer or two.
Our Saturday was filled with shopping which means spending money.
Grocery Shopping – This weekend we spend a total of $48.86 on our weekly food shopping. Spent $9.17 on meat, another whole chicken they are still on sale at Aldi and some pork with bones great for making soup which I kind of have a craving for at the moment. The weather was beautiful on Sunday so we actually barbequed the chicken. I butterfly the chicken and I made some peri-peri sauce to marinate it. It was yum and had enough for Monday lunch and dinner.
Manchester and Clothes Shopping – I wanted to get another quilt cover of our king size donna. For this sort of stuff I go to this store about 15 minutes away from our house. Not many people know or really care to shop at this place so I love shopping here. It is a shop were big shops, like Target and other department stores (Myer, Big W, etc.) dump their old stocks or when factories get too much in stock and the department stores don’t want them then they sale it at this store. A lot of the products are of good quality and heavily discounted. Most people tend to snob this place but I love it.
I got the quilt cover for $39.99, the initial price for it at the original store was $150. It’s good quality and has two patterns/designs that are reversible.
While there we found that they were having sales on suits. They originally have them for sale at $79.99 (at other department stores these would have been sold for around $200+) but had them further discounted down to $49.99. Just could not passed up on those. DH mainly wear suits for work so they get used a lot. We then took it to seamstress to get the pants shorten, and that was $12.
Also got a couple of other clothing items while there, we haven’t bought anything for 3 months. All up we spent $132 at the shop. I budgeted $720 for clothing this year we’ve spent $445 so far.
Lunch out – We had Vietnamese for $26 for couple of dishes. We just wanted try out this new restaurant, it was okay but probably won’t be back.
Wine – Bought some more wine, 13 bottles all up for $89.30 (just under $6.90 a bottle). That should last us for the rest of the year. I think we roughly spend around $150 to $200 a year on alcohol so this is about par to what we always been spending in previous years.
New Library Card – My old library card (in our local library) was issued about 15 years ago and I haven’t used it for probably 7-8 years? So basically the new fancy computer systems they have these days don’t recoginsed it. Last weekend when DH went to the library and shown the librarian his old card they kind of laugh at him because none of them recognised it. The guy that was serving him showed it to the other people there because they were really fascinated by it. Anyway, I don’t know how much I will used the library because I already got so many books to read as it is. I will probably mainly borrow non-fiction books because most of my books are fictions.
*Currently listening to Trouble is a Friend by Lenka, she’s an Australian singer and song writer.
Grocery – We bought mainly staples, fruits and vegetables this weekend. All up it totaled $61.45. We actually end up buying a couple of whole chickens because they were really cheap at Aldi, it was only $3 a kilo, for two chickens we paid $9.76. We also got a big block of cheese (1kg) for $6.
Weekend – We occupied the rest of the weekend mostly reading, listening to music (mainly myself) and podcasts. DH is currently obsessed with podcasts, personal finance in particular. Since we paid off the house and most of our money is now put into investments/savings he has really taken interests. It is more fun than paying off debt. It has now become a new hobby for him, he is reading a lot of personal finance books too. He even went to the library on Sunday afternoon to borrow PF books, it really is amazing.
New Headphone – DH bought a new headphone on ebay for $25.30. His current one is broken from listening to too much podcasts, he is currently using an old crappy one in the main time.
July was a very good low spend month.
Total spending was $1,336.31
Groceries – Total for grocery bill this month was $293.33. We actually came under. DH did great doing the shopping on the weekend. He stuck to the list and came under $40.
We still have some odd items in the freezer that I’m trying to use up before stocking up on meat again. The other night I found a whole fish which we had to go with some leftovers and then last night I cooked a couple of gourmet sausages for dinner. There has been a lot of leftover bread that get shoved in the fridge before they go off, we have accumulated a bit of those, that DH on the weekend used some of them to make bread and butter pudding with frozen blueberries and chopped up dried dates. Another thing we tend to end up collecting in the freezer are odd ends of cheeses, last week I made macaroni and cheese out of those, I think I ended up using 5 different kinds of cheese. DH really liked it and we didn’t die from it so bonus!
So I probably won’t do a big shop for another 2 weeks. We tend to always start the month with big shopping trip but I think we can hold it off this month. We always then end up with a tight budget towards the end of the month; I want to try to delay that this month. Grocery is probably really the only item in the budget that I try to be as strict as possible (I guess entertainment/going out to eat is another category that I make sure to be tight as well) because it has a great possibility of getting out of hand if I don’t watch it closely. Most of the other categories in our budget are mostly just happen automatically these days.
Main reasons for the low spend month:
Property Rates – We pay for property rates (tax) every month for ten months in a year, July and August are the month we don’t have to pay.
No Restaurant – This wasn’t planned at all but I’m glad, BUT we did spend a lot on takeaway food and this has been the trend in the last 3 months. So we need to rein this in from now on.
Household Items – We only spend $80 in under this category this month, the electric blanket, new trolley and some LED light bulbs.
Decluttering – Did very well this month with the help of our annual rubbish collection.
Workout – I have been bad. The cold weather is kicking my butt and I’m struggling, just don’t have much motivation to do anything physical. Also my ankle has been sore last week (this is probably because I haven’t been working out regularly), it’s nothing too dramatic really but it was still bothering me so I had to make sure to give it a rest. I was able to do a couple sessions of Abs workout last week, 30 mins all up, that was it. Today was the first time I was able to do a full workout for over a week.
Reading – One book a week, although that Thomas Jefferson book took me 3 months to read.
28 Sycamore Row - John Grisham (6 Jul)
29 Soulless, The Girl in the Box - Robert J. Crane (11 Jul)
30 Thomas Jefferson, The Art of Power - Jon Meacham (16 Jul)
31 Scaredy Cat - Mark Billingham (22 Jul)
32 Early Retirement Extreme - Jacob Lund Fisker (31 Jul)
That’s it for July 2017.
* Currently listening to Fleet Foxes, new discovery of mine… I know I’m like a decade or so late, I tend to be slow to these kinds of things. I’m trying to experience new things.
* So on that note – Song of the week for me is “Ragged Wood” by Fleet Foxes.
Electric Blanket – We bought an electric blanket. I was on sale at ALDI from $65 down to $45. DH and I never had an electric blanket before but I used to have one when I was younger. We have been using it for few days now and it has been great. We put it on for about half an hour just before going to bed, we turn it off going to sleep.
Grocery – We did very well with our lastest couple of grocery shopping trips, on the weekend for example we achieved to spend under $20. We got $40 left for the last weekend of July to spend. I think that might be enough to buy what we need for the week. The main thing we will need is coffee, milk and eggs. There are still a bit of meat and chicken in the freezer. I actually want to get through those stuff that has been hiding at the bottom/back, some of stuff in their might have been there for months. I just want to used and clear those before restocking again.
Pizza – We have been loving getting Domino’s Pizza lately on Friday nights. We been having them with a bottle of wine while watching Friday night footy or if the game is not that exciting we watch a movie on Netflix. They are only $5 each. We tend to get a couple which each enough for dinner and some leftover for the next day.
Nothing much else is happening here.
Groceries – We will definitely be over our monthly budget this month it will be mainly because this month has 5 Saturdays. I’m trying to see if we can get away with just buying the most minimum items that we need. The basic staples like milk and eggs. We got a couple of dishes in the freezer; bolonese sauce and pulled pork.
Annual rubbish collection – Currently we have our local council annual rubbish collection, this when we can throw out big items like and old fridge or old TVs. We throw out a really old computer monitor, an old trolley and some old broken items that we could fit in the usual weekly rubbish bin that we got.
Batch cooking – We are trying to do more batch cooking in the last couple of months, so far so good. That’s way we got the beef bolonese sauce and the pulled pork.
Netflix – We decided to turn it off for the month of August. I haven’t really been watching as much been busy with reading and listening podcast these days. I’m sure we will put it on again for Sept and Oct and then probably have a break again in Nov when we will most likely be away.
Not much else is really going on here.
Holiday Destination – I was asked about our holiday in my previous blog entry. Our holiday plans have changed a lot since we planned about it last year. We initially thought about going to Mauritius and South Africa and we thought this year might be a good time to do it. Mauritius was our (really mainly mine) honeymoon destination but we couldn’t afford it 10 years or so ago so we kind of made this promise to do it when the house is paid off. Well I guess things you plan to do 10 years ago can change, it kind of doesn’t have that much appeal to me anymore, I mean I would still love to go one day but just not as eager. The problem is twofold; if we go we want to do for at least 3 weeks or more to make it worthwhile but right now DH can only really take off work for a week or so and the other reason is we don’t want to leave our for that long. The last time we went overseas we went for about a month and we really missed her and she really missed us (according to my mom). So anyway we are forgoing Mauritius and South Africa for the moment, maybe in another 10 years.
But we still really wanted to get away this winter, somewhere warm. So we thought about going to maybe New Caledonia or Vanuatu, a lot closer from home so we will not need to spend 18+ hours just travelling to get there. We came up with this idea just before Easter, this destination would have been a lot cheaper than Mauritius and SA and gave us time and money to do the NSW/Sydney holiday during Easter break. But for some reason it has taken us a lot longer to get new passports that we decided to just forgo the idea of going overseas at all this year.
Side note: I don’t know why I’m learning basic Spanish? I just realised I should probably learn basic French since both Mauritius and New Caledonia are French speaking countries. Maybe one day. It will be an incentive to learn French and then visits these countries.
The idea of going somewhere warm was still really appealing to us since we are in the middle of our winter so last month DH actually mentioned that maybe we should just head up north to Cairns for a week in late July to early Aug. We started looking into it until my brother came for a visit two weeks ago.
Back story about my brother since I have not mentioned it here before, he moved to Tasmania last year to be with his girlfriend. They were doing long distant thing for over a year and since it is easier for him to move and she owns a house there and she can’t move because of her work he made the move last years. Not long after, just few months after he moved there they got pregnant and the baby is due mid-September. We planned to visit them and see the new baby early Nov when we have a public holiday in the first Tues of Nov (Melbourne cup day), just for 3 to 4 days. But when my brother came he give me a gift voucher as my belated birthday present, it is for this place called Cradle Mountain about 4 hours away from Hobart where they live. I’ve never been to Tasmania and this place is a must see destination in Tassie. So, now our plans have changed yet again. So now DH is going to take the rest of that week off and it should give us 8-9 days to visit Tassie. I think instead of flying we are going to take our car and take the Spirit of Tasmania boat instead. We are just starting to look into planning it. I’m really looking forward to it but it just means we can’t really get away this winter, oh well another 7 weeks and it will be the start of our spring season.
Security Deposit Box – This was another question I got in my previous blog. We got this box about 2 years ago now. We decided to get one when DH got that job overseas so we didn’t have to take some important stuff with us. Anyway, even though DH had to eventually quit that job we decided to keep the box for now. It’s a small box don’t really remember the exact size of it. The box is kept in a private company instead of in the bank, we could get one from the bank they have a really long waiting list apparently. The ones at the bank would have been cheaper probably 40% less but anyway we got one for now and I don’t know we will always keep it but it’s not really too bad price wise (got to remember this is in Australian dollar, we tend to always pay for more here). Maybe we will try to sign up with the bank again, something we will look into next year.
Gas Bill – got the recent gas bill for $89.03 this is for two months’ worth.
Netflix – Just got noticed from them that the prices will be going up starting early August. The one we get will increase from $11.99 to $13.99 per month.
I have not blog for the last couple of weeks because really I have just been really boring, nothing much has been happening here lately which is good financially. It’s the middle of our winter and I just don’t want to do much, I basically just been hibernating.
Total Spending for the month was $1,959.74
Groceries – for the month was $303.88 just a tad over so that was very successful month even though we had a couple of get together at our place for that month.
Utilities – Only the water bill was due and that was for $211.22.
Dentist – Both DH and I went to the dentist in June and in both occasion it was all covered by our private health insurance.
New Glasses – I also went and got a new pair of glasses. It was also covered by our health insurance. I just the one that have no frills in them because I only really need to get one as a spare and since it’s for free (well kind of, not really free if you consider how much we pay on our private health insurance).
Safety deposit box – We got one for the last couple of years now and the annual fee was due couple of weeks ago and it was for $288.
Dog tablets – got a year worth of tables for the doggie and the was $84.72
Passport Photo – for both of us that was $33.90.
Lunch Date – as a reward for finishing stage 2 of my workout, I went to the city to have a lunch date with DH, we had burgers, chips and beers – lunch special for $15. So $34 all up since we share a cup of coffee afterwards. It was the same day as I had my dentist appointment and when I got the new glasses since they were in the same building.
The rest were spent on the usual items.
Books – It was not a good month for reading actual books. I spend too much time listening to the personal finance podcasts instead and also have been trying to learn basic Spanish.
26 The Art of War - Sun Tzu (1 Jun)
27 Oliver Twist - Charles Dickens (14 Jun)
Total spending was $1,744.98, it’s always very good when it is under 2 grand. Although for the first time this year we went over our grocery budget of $300, end up spending $316.43. It would have been under but we saw chicken breasts on sale and got over 2 kilos of it. Nothing major really happened last month that why spending was relatively low. Everything was fairly normal except for the gifts category because of Mother’s day. Only thing that we got that would be under sundry category would be the garment streamer for $49 our old one died. They are a lot cheaper and better quality these days and cheaper than always get clothes dry cleaned.
Books - Still doing a bit of reading.
22. Glimpse of Death - Leslie Wolfe (7 May)
23. Untouched, The Girl in the Box - Robert J. Crane (15 May)
24. A Time to Kill - John Grisham (29 May)- I thought I've read this before but I don't think I have because I can't remember the story at all. It must be the only early of his books that I've missed.
25. The Richest Man in Babylon - George S. Clason (31 May)- This one was definite a re-read, I try to it once a year.
Also doing really well in all of my goals I have even been waking up around quarter to 7 in the morning although, I probably need to clean my email in box again. I’m very happy with decluttering this month we got rid of a bit of stuff.
Grocery - $106.72
Transportation – Fuel -$40.50 and Train Pass - $137.76
DH had 2 lunches out – Total $35.00
Internet and Home Phone - $80.00
Tolls – Finally got the total amount for the tolls we used last month –$ 42.87
Not much happened this week really. The only thing worth reporting is we took a booth full of stuff to the Salvations Army. It was to get rid of more excess stuff.
Again it has been a quite weekend I guess we are still recovering from our trip.
Grocery - $49.38
Mother’s Day – All up we spend $122.39 on gifts
Lunch Date – We went out for lunch on Saturday for Chinese and coffee and cake afterwards, all up $36.40
Wines – 6 bottles of one of my favourite wines $44.70, bought bulked because normally they cost $10 a bottle.
Only spent money on grocery ($100.65), Gas ($84.74), Health Insurance ($280.78) and other spending were for $59.50 (we got invited to a friend’s place and bought some stuff for it).Grocery was a bit higher but we bought more meat.
Overall spending in April was $4609.95 – big month
Grocery – $239.57 way under budget mainly because we were away for about 40% of the month
Health Insurance – This year our Health Insurance went up from $262.75 to $280.78 per month ($18.03 extra p/m). Hate it but can’t do much about, DH already check other provider this is still the most reasonable for us for now.
Books read this month -
16 The Watson Girl - Leslie Wolfe (8 Apr)
17 A Long Way Home - Saroo Brierley (10 Apr)
18 Dawn Girl - Leslie Wolfe (14 Apr) – I read the second book first for some reason I didn’t know but I think it’s necessary to read the first. I’m currently reading the 3rd, it just came out on kindle 2 weeks ago.
19 Silent Child - Sarah Den (19 Apr)
20 The Broker - John Grisham (23 Apr)
21 Alone, The Girl in the Box - Robert J. Crane (30 Apr)
Workout – it got interrupted because of our holiday but I did a lot of walking and also ran once on the beach which took me 3 days for my legs to recover. I’ve at least started Stage 2 of my workout this week.
We are back from our 11 days holiday to New South Wales (NSW). We decided to drive all day to get there on Good Friday, the trip took over 12 hours we left home at 4am, got stuck a bit in traffic trying to get for one side of Sydney to the other side and then from Sydney all the way the DH’s parents, even with tollways there were still a bit of traffic. We spent Easter weekend at my in-laws, they live about an hour or so north of Sydney. DH’s sister and her husband and toddler daughter also came up from Canberra to spend Easter weekend at there place. On Easter Saturday, we got invited to have lunch at DH’s brother’s place. We gave the kids (4 of them) Easter eggs and cash gifts since we haven’t seen them since Aug last year. So it was part of Christmas gift as well. Also the oldest just turned 21 late last month so we gave him $100. In total, we end up spending $253 on gifts. Easter Sunday, SIL and her husband celebrated their 1st year anniversary they went to the winery for the day while MIL looked after the little girl. We just relax a bit and helped FIL cut a tree down that has been causing issues with their plumbing, he is in mid 70’s and has hurt himself recently so DH did most of the heavy work, while FIL and I just helped cleaned it up. Luckily unlike our palm tree this tree was a lot easier to cut down it only took us less than 2 hours to get the job done. We also did some painting for him, we didn’t finish it but it at least got it started for him.
On Easter Monday we went to Sydney to celebrate my birthday, we spent two days there and stayed overnight at a fancy hotel with a great view of the Sydney Opera House from the bed. We bought a yearly pass to the Taronga Zoo, which we went on both days, it wasn’t too much out of the way to travel. We went there early before we checked in to our hotel and then we stopped there again on the way back to DH’s parents place. The zoo passes we will be able to use in our state zoos too (we got 3 here in Victoria). On the first day at the zoo we saw a baby pygmy hippopotamus (about 2 months old) and on the second day we saw a couple red pandas. And of course we saw other animals but those were my favourites at this zoo. We had a nice dinner at near Sydney Opera House and also has a great view of the Sydney Bridge and then walked back to our hotel to have cocktails at the bar there. All up my birthday celebration costs $664 including parking which was $67 for those 2 days. The zoo annual pass were $192 for both of us.
DH also got me a new kindle which I was not expecting at all since the Sydney trip was supposed to be the birthday present. On this trip I ended up finishing 3 books and have started on a couple. The long drives helped. We drove probably almost 3000 kilometres.
We went back to DH’s parents place for couple of nights and then we went camping father north of there to a place called Nelson’s Bay for couple of nights. $46 per night. This is a beautiful area - our camp site was only about 200 metres walk to the beach. In our camp sites there were a lot of wild rabbits and possums and birds of course. The possums were very friendly that DH actually ended up hand feeding a couple of them bananas. DH’s parents came by to have lunch with at our camp site on the first day, which was great to get them out of the house. On the way back to the in-laws we checked out other scenic sites, at one place we were lucky to see dolphins swimming there at least 20 of them.
We then spend another night at the in-laws and then on the 23rd we left to drive home. We stopped by at a small town called Gundagai, which is just over half way between in-laws place and our home. We camp over night by the river that cost us $25 for the camping site, fairly cheap. And then we got home and picked up our doggy from my mum’s place mid-afternoon on the 24thof Apr.
Overall cost for the Holiday/birthday:
Gas - $236.81
Food and Drinks - $416.19 (Grocery $148.84, Snacks 56.30, Restaurant/Takeaway $169.55 and Alcohol $41.50)
Souvenirs - $10.25 (Just fridge magnets)
Overall Birthday Cost – $664.00
I found that NSW is slightly more expensive that here in Melbourne. Gas for the car was around 10 cents more expensive and food is about the same. Even their zoo pass was more expensive, luckily DH thought about going online and buying it from Melbourne zoo instead, it would have cost us almost $80 more because not only it was dearer they also required and an extra $20 per ticket for first time buyers there.
The only expenses I haven’t accounted for yet are for the tolls we used to get across Sydney. I will be in the next CC bill or I think they might email at the end of the month.
We are away at the moment and I got limited internet connection. I will finalise holiday spending when we get home.
Last weekend we didn't really do much, grocery shopping was under $50 (can't remember exact amount).
Found really cheap work shoes for DH so we could pass up on that, one is for suit and the other boat shoes that he can wear with jeans for Friday casual days. Total $30.
After shopping we splurged and got some Vietnamese, $26.50. I used my allowance money, I hardly use my allowance money these days the only thing I use it for is on books and I haven't spend much.
On Sat 1st of April we went to a winery about 1 ½ hours away. I got a gift voucher for this place last year for my birthday and it was about to expire later this month. We went there with 4 other friends and in the end we only had to spend $10 extra.
Grocery – On Sunday we got groceries, total $80.68
Palm Tree Removal - Also on Sunday afternoon we got a knock on the door, it was a guy asking us if we want to remove our palm tree at the front. This is actually one of things that we have in our ‘to do lists’ for the outside landscaping (or should I say re-landscaping). This palm tree (almost 20 years old) has now grown too big and it is now touching some of the wires above. They were in the area trying to get some business; there were an army of them. To start with we weren’t very sure about it they seemed a bit dodgy but since they won’t really need to go inside the house and I kind of like that DH is home while we are getting it done so we said why not. Plus the price was really good, we thought removing this would have cost around $1,500 to $2,000, we eventually agreed on $800 but in the end we decided to give them $850. This tree was about 7 metres tall and about 1+ metre in diameter so it was hard work and the chainsaws kept getting clogged up which they had to stopped few times to cleaned it. They also grind the stumped and got rid of the rubbish, a truck load of it. I think we got a bargain.
Electric Bill – DH paid electricity bill for the 1st quarter of the year, $26.49.
Car (more car expenses) – Couple of weeks ago when DH took the car for service they end up turning off the radio which needed a code to turn it on again. So on Thursday DH had to take it to the Ford service mechanics to get the code, which cost $40. While there he decided to get the other (spare) key fixed that was not working properly and to also get the ABS looked at. In the end everything costs $370.
Lunch Date – Today we had our first lunch date for the year. This was kind of a reward for finishing Stage 1 of my workout. We went to some fancy restaurant. It was good but I expected more than good for the price so I doubt we will be going there again. Also, I had my first coke this year. I found the duck confit a bit too salty and wanted something to wash it down so I asked DH to get me a glass of coke while I went to the bathroom. I wished I just stuck to water and I wished DH asked how much it was before getting, it didn’t taste like it used to be and the worst part is it cost $6 for the 330ml glass of coke. Oh yeah I forgot, lunch cost $86.
We spent a total of $3,046.63 for the month of March. The biggest expense was the car repair. And utilities this month was higher than average, had to pay for gas and water bill. DH train tickets were $207.76 higher than normal but that’s because in Feb he didn’t spend any. The grocery bill was right on budget $299.72.
And oh… first month of NO MORTGAGE REPAYMENT!!! This reminds me we still haven’t heard from the bank, no paper work. I guess DH will need to ring them up? We really don’t how all this work.
A Tale of Two Cities - Charles Dickens (22 Mar)
Autobiography of Thomas Jefferson - Thomas Jefferson (26 Mar) (Not what I expected, don’t think I really understood most of it but some stuff, the once that made sense to me, was very interesting)
Blindsided - Jay Giles (30 Mar)
Workout – Still at it although some weeks I end up doing only 3 days but then I make up for it the next by doing 5days.
'no buying soft drinks' – Still haven’t had any this year. This rule is supposed to be only not buying it at the supermarket hence I won’t keep any at home, there was supposed to be an exception to this rule like buying it at a restaurant to go with dinner is alright. I haven’t been tempted yet which is good.
Blogging once a week– I'm still going even though I suck at it.
7am wake-up – technically I have been waking up at this time but sometimes I stay in bed to read or look social media for half an hour or so before actually get out of bed. :P
Decluttering – I’ve got rid of about 10 pairs of shoes/slippers, also a couple handbags and a wallet. Been scanning a lot of paper work and have shredded them. Also been keeping up with my email inbox.
Gardening/Landscaping – Still doing it but not enough, once the weather is a bit cooler we should be able to do a bit more work on it.
Car Service/Repairs – Total cost was a whopping $836! We got 2 new tyres for $198, they suggested that the front tyres can last until the next service. They had to replace the front brake pads that cost $203.50, again the rear one can be done next time. They suggested to just re-gas the A/C, because our car is quite old now it would be better to just re-gas it every year or so it would cost a lot more to repair it. The re-gassing was $110. They had to replace 4 wheel nuts for $88. The rest was then for the all other car services that needed to be done.
Grocery – I got DH to do the grocery shopping again and told him we only got $16 left in the budget this month. He went to Aldi and only spent $15.70. With that he got a whole chicken, 3 litre milk, 4 bananas, 1 punnet of strawberries and 1 dozen eggs. We will probably need to get more milk later this week or we could use the long-life milk we have for emergency, we probably will I'm sure the expiry date on it is probably close.
Scanner App – We have started some of our paper work that we wanted to digitalised. We have an old scanner printer but it a pain to use, it take about 2 mins to just scan a page and then you have take out the SD card to save it into the computer. We thought about getting a new one and we almost did but then DH wanted to think about it some more. Last week DH took our old Electric bill and Gas bill to work to get it scanned, they’ve got great industrial scanner at work it only took him minutes to scan 7 years worth of bills. Now that we don’t get paper bills for these 2 we wanted to get the old scan them and throw them out (I actually shredded them and put it in the compost). We still got hundreds of paper work to scan which will not be possible for DH to take to work. He then looked into Scanner Apps, just using his phone camera he tried it a couple different Apps he preferred the second one he found. After using for a while he decided to buy it for $2.60 (was on sale from $5), worth paying to get rid of the watermark of their company logo. Anyway, it is so much more efficient than our old scanner. DH love using it. He was just sitting in front of the TV while watching a cricket game scanning away. This one it saves it automatically into a PDF and then DH can easily just email it to or save it google drive.
Other Spending – Got more soil for the garden, $11.85. Gas for the car was $42. I also gave my mum $300.
Grocery – We spent $61.94 on food this weekend. We only got $16 left in the budget for the rest of the month so we most likely won’t be able to stay on budget this month. We will try not to go over too much. We have been under budget in the last 2 months so there a little bit of a wiggle room, about $20.
House Repair - Fixed our bedroom door that wasn’t closing properly, the hinges was coming loose – easily fixed.
Mum - We went to my mum’s place for lunch on Sunday. She had an eye surgery on Friday for cataract so we thought we visit her to see how she was going. DH was actually the one that picked her up after her surgery. The hospital was near the city so DH drove to work on Friday, parking cost was $16. He left work an hour early to pick her up and the parking at the hospital was $10.20. DH also went to the pharmacy to get her prescription meds which he paid for just under $17.
Shopping – After lunch we left our dog at my mum to go shopping. My mum actually used to own this dog, long story short we feel in-love with her and kind of stole her. Spent an hour shopping for DH’s running shoes ($110), also got myself a wallet (my current one is all scuffed up) it was 40% off for $35, and we got a cup of latte to share for $4.70.
That’s pretty much our spending for the weekend. Tomorrow DH is taking the car for service including getting new tyres and I think maybe also getting the air con looked at. I have a feeling it is going to cost a bit.
Camping – We went camping last weekend, finally! DH was very happy about. The weather was just perfect for camping. We took the dog for the first time camping, she did well but didn’t get much nap so she was very tired when we got home. The cost for the site was $25 and we got food for $22.70, so less than $50 for a weekend away. Pretty good. The area where we went to is known for mineral spring water most people that go here go to mineral spas. And since it is only about an hour away from Melbourne it is very popular place. The camping site actually have a pump set up so people would just go there to get fresh mineral spring water. You have to go on a short hike to get there but it is pretty easy walk and along the way there were wild blackberries everywhere which were very sweet.
Hot air balloon- We got woken up Sunday morning by a hot air balloon being set up only about 100 metres away from our camp. Some people were not happy about it because it was pretty loud but really it was already 7am so it wasn’t really that early. I thought it was really cool seeing it up close and it only lasted about 15 minutes and they were off. But someone woman got very upset about it.
Groceries – Last weekend on the way home we stopped by at Aldi and spent $86.95. This weekend we spent $135.11. A bit more than I was hoping to spend but I found porterhouse steaks at 40% off, so I ended up getting 2 trays for just over $20. Just have to grab them when they are that cheap because they never seemed to be on sale when I actually want to get some. I also bought a 20kilo bag of rice which should last for months.
Fish Tank – The filter in the fish tank died and also it started leaking. DH bought a new filter for $44.82 and he also got a tube of silicone to fix the tank.
Other Expenses – I bought some clothes $33. DH got train ticket and filled up the car. Also the water bill for just under $230.
FEBRUARY NUMBERS –
Mortgage was $918.79.
Other Expenses totalled $1,338.76, I love Feb it’s normally a very low expense month. There was no utilities bill due this month.
Books – Not as many as Jan but I started another 3 books around the same time last month - don’t know why I did that. Also in the last week or so we decided to try out Foxtel (cable), so instead of reading I’ve been catching up on GOT, The Walking Dead, Wentworth and so many other shows that only on Foxtel. We only got the free trial for 2 weeks, ending this Friday so I’m trying to watch it as much as I can humanly do.
Kill Switch - Steven Lee (4 Feb)
The Whisper of Stars -Nick Jones (8 Feb)
The Devil's Secret - T.G. Stevens (10 Feb)
Someone to Love - Jude Deveraux (15 Feb)
Avoidables - Rachel Medhurst (18 Feb)
*Workout 4 times a week – did alright on this. I’ve finished the program that I was following and I’ve now again started it, another 4 months of it.
*Continue the 'no buying soft drinks' rule this year. Still haven’t bought any.
*Get back to blogging, at least once per week. Done
*Re-do landscaping in both front and back yard. Still working on it, this will be a year-long projects.
*Use floss and piksters everyday. Have not failed yet
*Wake-up before 7am. I’m failing at this miserably.
*Continue getting rid of "Stuff". Still doing well I got another big bag of stuff I need to take to goodwill. I’ve also shredded a lot of papers.
*Organise my emails. I still need to do this and worst thing is that in the last few months I’ve been getting a bit of spams.
Ended up to be a quiet weekend. During the week we talked about going camping but we weren’t too sure about the weather. We should have gone the weather was wonderful especially on Sunday. Oh well.
Groceries –On Saturday DH did the shopping alone, since we didn’t need much and also don’t have much left in the grocery budget it was a very short shopping list. DH did really well, I told him that we only got $30 left in the budget and that all we really need are a couple dozen eggs, a loaf of bread, few bananas, a red capsicum and a 2litre milk to top up the milk we already bought on Thursday. The rest of the money, if there are any left, he can get some more fruits and vegetables. He ended up spending $21.90, on top of the items above he also got a punnet of strawberries, a punnet of blackberries, a bag of carrots, Japanese pumpkin and a massive bag of zucchini which he found on sale. DH was very proud of going way under the budget, he took it very serious.
BBQ – On Sunday we took the doggy to the park and also shop to get DH a new exercise band for $28. Seeing that the weather was so nice DH suggested we should have a bbq, I guess if we did went camping we would have had a bbq there. So on our way home we decided to get some meat to bbq. I ended up getting some chicken drumsticks it was on sale for only $3 a kilo even cheaper than the wings that were $4 a kilo, got 6 pieces for $2.80. DH also barbequed some of the vegetables (zucchini, pumpkin and carrots) to go with the chicken, we just put a bit of salt, pepper, rosemary and olive oil.
Groceries - We did our usual Saturday morning shopping for food. Spent $82.33, it would have been about $20 less but I found a Porterhouse steaks that was 50% off (normal price was $32 a kilo) and also got some pork chops that were 20% off (can’t remember the original price). Total for the month so far is $269.42 (budget $300), so just over $30 for the rest of the month. It’s tight but I think we can do it. I’ve done a rough meal plan for this week which should help. Also the pantry is still really full we still got a lot of stuff in there to get through. I think we will just need milk, eggs, fruit and vegetables next shopping trip.
Other Spending – I bought myself a new running shoes, it was on sale for $90. I’m overdue for a new one. DH will also need a new one soon too. His is actually worse than mine but we couldn’t find one that he likes at the shop that we went to and we didn’t have time to shop around.
Cooking – I did a bit of cooking on Sunday. I made spring rolls and meatballs to put in the freezer. Also made butter chicken in the slow cooker, which feed us for 4 meals. And I used up some frozen banana that I had to make a banana cake.
Decluttering – I went through our pots and pans and decided to throw out 2 old pans and 1 wok. I’ve also been going through a box full of papers/notes that I wanted to type out or scan, it will take me a while to get through the box but at least it is good to get it started since I’ve wanted to do this for years now.
Passports – We need to re-new our passports, it expired last year. We are thinking of going overseas this winter so we need to get new ones soon. I don’t know how much they are now these days it has been ten years since we got the last one.
Not much is happening here.
Grocery – Spent just under $100 ($98.26) bought some special stuff for Valentine ’s Day dinner; steaks, fancy cheeses, oysters, and some other yummy stuff that we don’t normally get. We prefer to have nice dinner at home instead of going out to restaurant for Valentine’s Day.
Takeaway – At the market where we did our grocery shopping this weekend we got a couple of dim sims and croissants to take to the nearby park where we walked the dog. There’s a café at the park where we bought a cup of coffee to share to go with the croissants.
Fuel – got some fuel, it was for $55.80.
Other - we got some fabrics to use to cover the couch, $44.00. Also spent some money for the garden just under $40.
Garden – I planted a bird-eye chilli last summer. Got a couple handfuls of chillies last summer, it wasn’t looking good during winter and I thought it was going to die. I trimmed it and hoped for the best and it is doing well again. So far it has produces more than double that we got last summer.
Decluttering – I emptied DH’s clothes drawers. I put all the clothes that I thought don’t belong in the drawers anymore in a laundry basket and then DH went through each one, some he tried on to see if still fits. Most of it got thrown away, about 5 went back into drawers and a few he wanted to keep (souvenirs items) that we put into a plastic container to store away.
Weekend – We did the grocery shopping Saturday morning and spent $75.33, right on our weekly budget. Saturday night we went out for dinner to celebrate paying off the mortgage. We went to a Croatian restaurant it was very yummy but pricey. It cost $106 for 4 entrée size dishes (we wanted to try variety of dishes) and a glass of wine for me and Croatian beer for DH. We used a $50 gift card and I received last year for my birthday (expiring in couple of months so it was good time to use it), so was out of pocket for $56, still a tad costly. Lately I’ve been rather anti going out to restaurants, I mean I still like eating out but I don’t like spending all that money and then sometimes you go out you get disappointed with either the meal or the service and end up feeling that it was such a waste of money. A $100 is more than a week worth of food for us or for that amount of money we could invite a bunch of friends and have a pretty good dinner party. We also spent $6 for 2 hour parking, we should have really parked further for free but they are hard to find. We spent most of our Sunday building a vegetable garden using old bricks from the old brick fence that we used to have. That brick fence collapsed last year when we had a really strong wind, it was already in bad shape to start with.
Mortgage – Our very last interest payment was $14.62. They actually now owe us some money, just under $300 because they just took out the usual monthly payment. I’m sure it will get all sorted out soon. And depending on how much the closing cost is we might still owe them some.
In the last week – I was not feeling too good on Thursday and Friday so I mainly watched the cricket game and Netflix. Saturday we went to the beach an hour away, spending for the day was $54.74 for fuel (first time filling up this year) and $12.50 for lunch, fish and chips. Sunday got some grocery for $16.90.
End of the month numbers - Total expenses was $3,148.99, it was big month mainly because of the annual insurance bills for the home and car. Spent another $6,418 for mortgage repayment, interest for the month was only $32.44. Technically, we are now mortgage free. DH transferred the money to Citibank CC (ready credit), that is where our monthly mortgage payments gets taken out, it will most likely get taken on Friday. Then it will be celebration time. So this month we can start on other financial goals, I cannot wait.
Non-financial goals so far:
*Read 50 books – Books I read this month:
Inferno - Dan Brown (6 Jan) – I started this last month
Between You and Me - Lisa Hall (7 Jan)
Noble Beginnings: A Jack Noble Thriller - L.T. Ryan (11 Jan)
Malevolent - Jana De Leon (16 Jan)
Over You - Christine Kersey (20 Jan)
I Spy, I saw her die - Ian C. P. Irvine (25 Jan)
Taken by Love - Melissa Foster (31 Jan)
*Workout 4 times a year – did well until last week, I only did two last week, I wasn’t feel to good last week the hot weather was getting to me. I’m trying to catch up this week, will try to get back on schedule.
*Continue the 'no buying soft drinks' rule this year. Still doing well on this, luckily DH doesn’t really care for them so it make it a lot easier.
*Get back to blogging, at least once per week. Check
*Re-do landscaping in both front and back yard. Still working on it, this will be a year-long projects.
*Use floss and piksters everyday. Check
*Wake-up before 7am. I have been trying to get up around 5am this week. Still working on this, again I was doing well until last week when I wasn’t feeling too good.
*Continue getting rid of "Stuff". Aim for this year is to get rid of around 10% of our stuff. I got rid of about 15-20% of my clothes in my drawers and just started on DH’s drawers today.
*Organise my emails. I need to get started on this soon
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