Archive for hard times

Still a learner

Gosh, you know, just when I think I have this money thing down-pat, I realise how far I have to go. Well, you know how I formulated a debit acount that we would pay money back to instead of our credit card? Well, this month … when push came to shove … I was so wary of actually taking the money out of this account that suddenly the end of the month arrived and I got charged interest on the credit card purchases! So I’m out $20 and might as well be back in the old days of revolving credit card debt!

Money is such an emotion-laden thing. Why do I have trouble raiding an account to pay for things like our car service, yet I can easily lay down the plastic for the same thing? It’s certainly an anomaly. Needless to say I have transferred the balance from the debit account to pay off $550 worth of purchases on the credit card.

So what happened? Well we got a bunch of bills at once and there wasn’t enough in our billpaying account to cover it all. I kept hoping that over the last few weeks I would just be able to pay the credit card directly from the billpaying account (instead of using the debit account money) but there were too many other bills. Then I just waited too long and the credit card bill hadn’t been paid!

I have to learn that the purpose of this money is to avoid paying interest and if I use it for that, then it has done it’s job. Luckily, as we keep putting $300 a week away for regular bills, eventually I will be able to replenish the debit account and put this whole thing behind us.

I have so much still to learn about myself when it comes to money …

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A fight about money

Oh yuck! What a bad start to a Saturday morning. My husband and I had a fight that started off with some simple words – `it’s ok, you just have to tell me when you’re going to buy stuff like that’. Depending on your perspective, those words could be completely reasonable or the rantings of a tyrant! And they came out of my mouth.

My husband went out and bought some stuff for the car – perfectly reasonable things we need to buy anyway before we take our car out into the middle of nowhere for my university rural elective. However, the total was $95. It’s a hard situation – I know we have to spend the money but I was hoping to drag it out for a while before parting with the cash. As my husband pointed out, it’s only a few weeks till we go.

But this conversation ended up beng a catalyst for a fight. He also said he felt like I made the biggest deal about everything to do with money now, and obviously he couldn’t even go out and buy necessary things without checking with me first.

He was tired and we were both upset. I certainly don’t want to make him feel like he has to check everything with me, but I don’t think he sees how hard I work to balance the books! I pointed this out, and that without planning it would be easy to go out and buy lots of things we `need’ for the trip. This was a bit unfair because he almost never buys unnecessary items.

We resolved it, and I said we should just have a chat about how much he thinks we need to get the car ready for travel. Then, once I know, I can allocate money that way.

I think we are just both sick of living on one income, but I also don’t think my husband has quite figured out how much I have changed when it comes to money. He couldn’t understand why we wouldn’t use some of the $2000 we have saved to buy the things we need for the trip. He said he thought that was the point of saving (ie to avoid using a credit card). I said that if we used that money for something like this, then we would start making almost any scenario into an emergency. He also said he couldn’t understand why I would make saving a priority when we are so close to having a second income, and since we have to go on this trip, which will require cash and the cost of mechanical work on the car. I said if we acted like that money wasn’t there, we would probably find another way to pay for everything (besides credit!). After all, we have before!

It’s ok, we will get through it. He actually is on my side about this – he was just having one of those days when he feels sick of watching every dollar. I know days like that well.

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Holding pattern

There’s very little to report at present – only enough salary coming in to keep us in the black, very little left for saving. I’ve made some progress in terms of taking my lunch to the hospital, but we aren’t exactly feeling flush with cash.

The good part is that I am feeling like I am coping with my studies a lot better. Do I need to just accept that I should stop working until I graduate? If so, I can kiss goodbye my chance of replacing my dodgy car.

I’ll just have to have a think about my priorities.

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And now the bad news

Well, with the good comes the bad. My financial tracking has clearly been down the tube this past month. I just worked out my money in/out for the month, and my net worth has fallen in real dollar terms. Here’s why:

  • I paid the venue deposit on behalf of the graduation committee I’m on, because we hadn’t sorted out the account access yet and the venue had to be paid to hold the date. One month later, we are finally getting account access – and my cheque will be sorted out today. Of course the $550 came out of my e-fund. I won’t make that mistake again. I always knew my money was coming back, because only I had the account statements showing the current balance and I was the oly one with alll the items needed to access the account. But it’s taken a long while to get the signatories changed and has cost me a little bit in interest too. Not good. Worse, it left me without the resources to fix up my other mistakes (see below).
  • We overspent on the party. I’ve alluded to this already, but it was worse than I thought. It was mainly due to miscommunication between my husband and I about how much he was paying for things he’d organised; and because I spent too much on alcohol we didn’t need or use. Drink, anyone? We’ll have a full fridge for a loooong time. But this can be good too, because we have a ready stock if we go to a dinner party, someone comes over unexpectedly, or we need a gift for someone.
  • I haven’t billed the university for more than 24 hours of work I’ve done for them over the past semester! And it’s nearly the end of the financial year. At $30/hour, what’s wrong with me? I have to get a form to someone and then get a password to log on to do it. I think I’ve been more focused on the car debt and not taking care of the bigger financial picture. Consequently, I have about $800 on my credit card that I’m now getting close to having to pay interest on. In my defence, the vast bulk of that is the money for our relative’s recent function. So it was a budgeted expense that was going to be paid by my work at the uni. I’ll rocket that pay claim in today too.

So what am I going to do? Well, I’ve put my usual $500 car payment towards the credit card instead, and when the cheque comes from the grad committee, I’ll put that towards the car loan. I’ll use the money from the uni to pay off the last of the credit card debt, and then worry about whether there’s ANY left for the emergency fund.

I guess this is a lesson to me. Money isn’t money until it is in your pocket. And, DON”T TOUCH YOUR EMERGENCY FUND UNLESS THERE’S AN EMERGENCY (Duh!).

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Stepping back a little

You might have noticed I’ve not been posting as much. As well as the turmoil at home, I have been trying to be a little less `debt-focused’ because I think it was starting to get me down. I stopped having fun, which I think is NOT the idea of debt reduction. It wasn’t so much that I was trying to avoid spending money, just feeling like everything I do is so regimented – work, uni, household … I need to be a bit more spontaneous. And it doesn’t really take money to do that.
When we decided to move out I felt conflicted … being so `full-on’ about paying off debt meant we were in a much better position to move out than we would have been otherwise. Yet, now I was looking at having less available spare cash than ever! And I wouldn’t even be paying off debt with the money! Did this mean having even less fun?
If we do end up staying, I can still pay off big amounts of debt, yet still learn not to structure my WHOLE life around money. If we leave, I have to see going out less as the `price of freedom’. Chances are, we’ll enjoy being home more than ever. It’s all a matter of perspective.
In the meantime, I’ve been making an effort to go walking every day, I’ve also gone out and bought some jeans and shirts, because I was sick of looking like a homeless person when I’m not in my work clothes.
I’ve also planned some nights out eg a comedy act next week for me and my hubby to go and see. This all comes out of planned `fun/miscellaneous’ spending of $150/week. Living here, we can still put $3-400 on debt, and this money also acts as a `catch-all’; if something uinplanned comes up.
Part of the deal here at home under the `trial arrangements’ is a switch-around of bedrooms. Suddenly we all have a bit more privacy, and my mood has lifted a lot – even staying home is a bit more enjoyable now.
I don’t really know what the way forward is – the trial here is running really well.
A commentator suggested I get my EF up to $5000 before continuing the debt pay-off (in case we need to get out fast). That is the logical thing to do, and I will keep extra money aside in the short term instead of putting it on the debt (for the bond, rent in advance, moving costs etc). But if we decide to stay, I know I will move that cash over to the car loan. I just want to get rid of that debt so I can save that $5000 as a next priority.

On another matter, I checked my EF balance yesterday – it is sitting pretty at $1017. For the first time I am realising that receiving interest on money in the bank actually can and does add up over time. I am seeing compounding at work. Eg when I put the $1000 in originally, there was already about $3 in the account. After month 1, I received $4.20, for month 2 I received $4.50 and after month 3 I received $4.80. I know the interest is paltry when compared to what we are charged for our debts, but it is nice to see that balance just sitting there, doing nothing but making me a little money. It makes me think about what could be achieved with a bigger balance and better interest rate!

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Time of upheaval

Well I’ve been quiet for a week … so you know there’s been so much upheaval that it isn’t worth doing updates because everything could change at any moment.

However, I can say that we have been trialling new living arrangements while we wait for the house we like to come available. We’re still saving to move, but we are already over the moon with the effort my FIL has made. I don’t think he’s ever been forced to consider other people’s needs before in this way. But he has made a huge effort to give us some privacy (one of the big problems before) and has been stellar in his attempts to reconcile the situation.

However, there are 4 weeks to go till we can sign on to move into the house, so there is plenty of time for the honeymoon period to wear off.

If things stay like this? …. I’d be more than happy to stay.

I’m not getting my hopes up yet though.

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Ceasefire was short-lived!

Negotiations broke down again a few days ago, so we are definitely leaving. Suddenly now (ie today), my FIL has realised we are REALLY seriously leaving and now he is `distraught’. However, I’ve seen this before and once we settle in again to stay, I suspect things will go back to normal.

I have contacted an agent about a house we like and are waiting to see if we will be accepted as tenants. It’s time to return to the land of the living (though we will also be somewhat less financially free!).

Oh, well. Them’s the breaks!

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