I wanted to detail my budget here (at the beginning of my blogging and living simply journey) and the recent changes I have made to net me that $600 a fortnight.
I will list my fortnightly (because that's how often I get paid from my job) budget items and then detail the changes that I have made:
- Salary - $1361
- can't do much about changing that at the moment, although I am only on a contract until November so I am starting to get motivated to try to secure a job well in advance hopefully at around the same salary so that I have no/very little down time between jobs. But I will have a few weeks worth of annual leave that will be paid out to me at the end of my contract, so that's a bit of a back up but I would rather save that than spend it.
- Rental income - $647
- I was involved in an accident when I was young and received a payout for my injuries. I very sensibly (for a 21 year old!) used that money as a big chunk of a deposit for a house. This place is my investment property though, because it works out cheaper for me to rent a unit with my partner paying half the rent closer to the city than living in my 3 bedroom house that would take me over an hour to get to work.
- Rent - $270
- As you've seen in a previous post I live with my fiance in a small 2 bedroom apartment with no yard and only a few balconies. We pay below the average for rentals in our area (the owner lives overseas so I don't think he realises he could be charging more, but great for us!) and it suits us at the moment. However I am yearning for some yard to garden in. I grew up in the country so was used to living with plenty of land surrounding the house. We are currently on the look out for house rentals in our area for not much more than what we're paying, just not happening at the moment.
- Mortgage - $615
- This is for the above mentioned investment property. I still have a bit to pay of this house before it's officially mine.
- House & Contents Insurance - $30
- This covers my house insurance for my investment property and contents insurance at the rental. This is one of the budget items that I have recently decreased. I re-evaluated the amounts I had my house and contents insured for and then shopped around for better priced insurance. I'm paying almost half of what I was paying! And that's just from making a few phone calls, easy money!
- Car Insurance - $18
- I have a small Holden Barina that I use only once or twice on the weekends as I catch public transport to work. I have started using one of those insurance companies that give you cheaper premiums if you don't drive your car much. I have thought about selling my car but that would leave us with no car and with both sets of parents living over an hour drive away it's something I've decided that we need to hold on to, plus fortnightly grocery shopping would be hell if we had to carry it all on the bus!
- Car registration - $13*
- One of those necessary evils that I would be able to do without if I sold my car. Unfortunately this is a non-negotiable.
- Health Insurance - $17
- I only have singles extra's cover as I (am supposed to) wear prescription glasses and I still have back pain from the accident I mentioned above when I was young, so I do get a bit of use out of the health insurance. However I was speaking to my sister, who's a dental assistant, and she said that some of her patients put the money they would have otherwise spent on health insurance into a seperate account for any health related expenses. That way you get full use out of all of the money rather than paying premiums that you may not use. I thought this was a pretty good idea but would build up that fund first before cancelling the health insurance. In Australia we have a national health system called Medicare, which is funded by our taxes and ensures free public hospital care and reduced GP fees, so I don't need any general health insurance. In Queensland, our ambulance cover is also provided for by the government and paid for in our utilities.
- Internet - $5
- That is ridiculously low isn't it! I am on a 'cap' plan where I pay $19.95/month for a 2GB download limit on my wireless broadband. I split this expense with my partner. I have just reduced this from a 5GB plan because we were never using over 1.5GB.
- Mobile Phone - $25
- Because I don't need a landline phone I solely use my mobile phone for all calls and sms. The 'cap' plan I am on allows me to spend $500 worth a month and only pay $49.95 a month. I have only gone over the $500 limit when I went overseas and didn't realise I was paying for receiving calls and text messages!
- Rates - $84*
- Rates are property taxes that are paid to our local governments and include water expenses. I only pay rates on my house that I own as the owner of our rental propoerty pays the rates for our unit. It is a little risky being responsible for the water charges of my tenants but there is a clause in their contract that if they use over the 'average' amount for our local area they pay the excess charges. They're great tenants though and have never gone over the average.
- Electricity - $20*
- This is another expense that we have just recently shopped around for a better deal. We will save approximately $150 a year with this new supplier plus my partner has a permanent disability meaning we get an extra $215 off our electricity a year. We have also started being very vigilant about our electricity use at home. I have actually printed and laminated signs that I have stuck next to every electrical outlet in the house that has a reminder to turn the light or appliance off after use! We have also vowed not to use any electric blankets or heaters this winter. We're half way through winter and so far so good! So hopefully our usage will drop next quarter resulting in further cost savings.
- Car Breakdown Service - $3*
- I am a little ditzy at times and quite often lock my keys in the car or run the battery dead by leaving my lights on, so I definitely get my moneys worth when this organisation comes and saves me when I'm stranded for free because of my membership.
- Fuel - $30*
- Because I only use my car once or twice a weekend and occasionally a visit to the parents I do not use much fuel and get by on 1 tank a month, which costs around $60 a month.
- Groceries - $50*
- My partner and I have shopping down to a fine art. As an example last Friday we did our whole shopping in about 25 minutes, that's going to 2 different stores also! We very rarely spend over the $100 ($50 each). I think this is partly due to being vegetarian so we don't buy any meat and my partner is lactose intolerant so we don't buy cheese (we still get milk though). Eventually we'd like to investigate Community Shared Agriculture (CSA's) where you buy in a co-op direct from the local farmers.
- Public transport - $60*
- Our public transport fees have just gone up, however I love my 40minute walk through our nearby bushland reserve to the train station and not sitting in traffic on the way to and from work. It is much more relaxing and I de-stress from work before I get home so I can be fully present with my partner with the little time we have in the evenings together. After my contract finishes in October with my current employer I will look at finding a job within the surrounding suburbs to save on that public transport expense.
- Spending money - $100*
- $100 a fortnight for spending money is quite a lot! But since starting this path to living simply I have been using that money up buying some necessary items, such as plants, potting mix, remnant fabric, knitting and crocheting equipment, etc.
See I wasn't lying. My budget says that I can save $600 a fortnight, let's just see if i can actually STICK to the budget and save $7200 by the end of December. I also have a little left over from all that, about $60 a fortnight if you did the sums, so I will start putting that and anything else I don't use up towards an emergency fund.
You may notice I don't have any credit card or personal loan repayments in there. That's because I have just finished paying them both of last fortnight!! I was so thrilled and of course, did a little dance! I plan on not using my credit card unless I buy something online or there is a real emergency (as I don't have an emergency fund just yet).
Also you will see the little * next to some items. I withdraw this money from my bank account and keep the money for grocery, public transport, fuel and spending money in my purse so that I do not need to use my debit card. The other items with * next to them are expenses that are only paid every few months or maybe even once a year, so instead of letting them accumulate in my bank account (where I have been known to spend it because it 'look's like I still have money in my account at the end of the fortnight), I use something I learnt from Rhonda's down to earth blog and use the envelope system and let them accumulate in little envelopes away from my everyday access.
Well that is my VERY detailed budget. I hope that you are able to get something out of all my rambling. Let me know your little tips for saving money also, I'd love to hear them!