Archive for March, 2009

Back from paradise

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So we survived our houseboat adventure … in fact, I think we flourished as a family! We actually enjoyed each other’s company (most of the time!) and worked together to keep everything running well.  Of course, there is a fair bit to do each time you put down and raise the anchor, so hubby and I had to listen to each other, plus watch our little one. But it was definitely worth it.  Above is a photo of our 3-year-old drinking in the view. I think he had a great time too.

While it’s always lovely to be back, we had a blast on our trip. Cruising around the islands, dining on freshly-caught crab, squid and fish, swimming at the odd well-protected inlet … it was like paradise.

I must admit though that I have `sea legs’ (or is that `land legs’) – I’m still detecting a bit of wave action whenever I stand too still!

I definitely think it’s good we went and did this but my focus has immediately returned to boosting our finances wherever I can.

Two jobs for today:

1) Rework our billpaying account to ensure that enough cash is being held each week to meet our regular bills; also I will investigate whether any of these (pay TV/internet) can be reduced.

2) List my financial goals for 2009 on the sidebar so I can scratch them off once achieved.

We’re aiming to build up a 20% deposit, which will take at least two years (from January ’09) so there’s a lot of work to do and I’d like to cut that period down as much as possible.

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Holiday expenses

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Well, our houseboating trip is on this week and I am excitedly preparing. The vessel we are going on is very similar to the one pictured above, and I can’t wait. But there have been a few expenses in the lead-up:

– 3 beach towels – $40 (sick of trying to wrap our tiny bathroom towels around my waist when in public!)

– Wine/champagne/spirits – $134.50 (we are entertaining some friends for two of the nights onboard)

– Food – about $200 – not so bad when you consider this is essentially our `weekly shop’. It covers each of our meals for 5-6 days, and we would normally spend about this much anyway for a week.

– Stinger suit for our toddler son – $45. Marine stingers (especially irukandji) can be fatal, so an all-in-one suit will keep him safe. This way we can swim in safety (apart from sharks, crocodiles and other nasties that we will obviously need to keep an eye out for).

– Petrol: this is going to cost at least $100 for driving to the town where they let the houseboats, and also to fuel our own boat (which is going to be the runabout). Having our own boat will allow us to fish and crab down the smaller creek systems. Hopefully we will dine well on seafood at least one night this week!

While I concede that all this is expensive (especially on top of the houseboat hire fee of $2300), it is also true that once we are on the houseboat, there are no ongoing outlays like there might be at a resort (you know, drinks, meals, tours), so I think it’s comparable to other holidays. It just seems worse right now because all the expense is upfront! And this is one of my husband’s top 5 all-time dream holidays. It’s a bit of a joint reward for me getting through 8 years of college (at times, it was as hard for him as it was for me).

It’s also true that the upcoming (Australian) stimulus package will pay for the vast majority of our houseboat hire fee. We expect to receive $1900 as two working people, while the total hire fee is $2300. So our holiday is looking like costing us under $800 once all costs are taken into account, and excluding the $200 food bill, since that is part of our regular budget.

Would it have been more responsible to put the stimulus money into savings? Probably. But we elected not to, and I guess at least this way it is being used in the way the money was intended.

We head off in a few days and I’ll check back in when we return!

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Should I lock our money away?

So tomorrow we will be adding another $200 to the emergency fund, to take it to $2000 neat. At the same time, our house deposit account is sitting at $7000 ($7009.23 to be exact!), which together easily represents the most money I’ve ever had in the bank on my life, even accounting for it belonging to two of us.

My financial goals for the year were many, but included saving $35,000 towards a house and $10,000 in an emergency fund. Let’s see how we are going with those aims now that we are two months into the year.

If I work from today’s emergency fund balance of $1800, that represents 18 per cent of my emergency fund goal.

Similarly, $7000 is bang on 20% of our $35,000 house deposit goal.

Clearly we are on track so far in both these savings.

The one issue I have is to figure out if we should move our cash to a term deposit once it reaches $10,000 or so. One issue that a few finance books have alerted me to is that term deposits can sometimes reacha  poorer return than e-savings accounts, simply because they only pay the interest on maturity.

For example if I take $10,000 and put it in a 3-month term deposit at 4.25% payable on maturity, I will get all the interest at the end. But if I leave it in my e-savings account at 3.75%, I’ll get interest added to it at the end of each month, and the new balance will be used to calculate increased interest the next month. Maybe if I can find a markedly better term deposit deal this wouldn’t matter, but until then, I’m not going for it.

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