I have none …

My first pay of 2014 is on the 7th. Which, you will note, is not until Tuesday. And I want to start my resolution now!

Strike while the iron is hot — fantastic quote – something that I can believe was written with someone like me in mind. My biggest concern with all of my resolutions – and the thing that has prevented me from succeeding in the past [mostly] – is that I lose interest and motivation quite easily. I’m not as concerned about this in 2014 – since I have become rather addicted to personal finance blogs, and every time I read them, or get notifications from them, I think “oh shit – where am I up to?” — so really, I should stop stressing.

… Still not patient though!


However – in other resolution news …

I am currently succeeding with my eating fruit resolution!

  • January 1 – watermelon and raspberries
  • January 2 – banana and apple
  • January 3 – banana and apple
  • January 4 – so far, I’ve had an apple with breakfast

So – at least I’ve been able to start something!


Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes …


Well, I suppose that’s what it is all about …

I mentioned previously that I would expand on what things I’ve calculated for my bills account – so I sat down yesterday to do so, and realised just how much I was spending on my gym membership [yes, yes, I know they are expensive]. So I went down and cancelled it. I also tweaked a few other things before I finished [hence the title of the post!]

Anyway, here is my updated working out:

  • Phone Bill – $63/month
  • Internet Bill – $58/month
  • Electricity – $500/quarter
  • Car Services – $200/quarter
  • Car Registration – $1000/year
  • Work Registration – $320/year
  • Medical – $750/year
  • Vet – $200/year

These combined [$6522] divided by my pay periods in the year [26] – means that I will have to put aside $250 a fortnight. This is down from the original $280 I was putting away when I had my gym membership – so I will have another $30 per fortnight to spend on “entertainment” – so I’m pretty happy with that!

The Internet and the Electricity will be shared with my housemate — however, his job is a little more inconsistent than mine, so I want to make sure that I can cover everything in case he, for whatever reason, isn’t able to do so.

But what about the exercise?! …

Well – since I hadn’t used the gym membership in quite a while [about four/six months] – and since I was given an exercise bike for Christmas – and since one of my New Year Resolutions is to do exercise outside … I think I’ll be fine :]

… and on that note, I should probably get off my ass and do something!


Christmas, Consumerism and Children


I don’t have any children …

But this year, I played host to my young cousins for Christmas.

I’ve read personal finance blogs that mention children and how best to raise them in the spirit of frugality and money awareness [actually, in my favourite blogs, I read all the posts – regardless of whether they apply to me — Roth IRA’s anyone?] – however, I’ve never really thought too much about it. That changed this year, when I witnessed what my youngest cousin was given [he’s two], and what he did.

What he was given …

  • A pop-up book about animals
  • A jigsaw puzzle of transport vehicles
  • A big red fire truck
  • A blue set of clothes [this one was from me]
  • A red set of clothes
  • A black set of clothes
  • A drum kit – which came with a tambourine, a trumpet, and other instruments
  • A car and build-your-own-road kit
  • A green toy tractor
  • A Christmas bauble filled with chocolate
  • A windmill toy
  • A bubble blowing kit
  • A movie-tie-in fork and spoon set
  • Pajamas
  • A keyboard
  • … other things I can’t remember, but I know the total came to seventeen, because I counted!

What he did …

He took hold of that little green tractor and he did not let it go. For the entire rest of the day. He spent the whole day with the tractor – driving it on the table, on the floor, on the cat [who was not impressed], on the dog [who didn’t seem to mind], on the walls, on his grandfather, inside the house and outside the house. What did he do with the rest? He unwrapped them, because that’s what people were doing with their presents, and children are fantastic at copying what other people do. And then he ignored them.


Now, the clothes and the pajamas are most likely going to be useful [my aunt certainly seemed happy about them] – and the book, well, I will never consider encouraging children to read to be a bad thing — but were all of those presents really necessary?

Definitely food for thought when [if] I have my own children!


Cash v Card


How many times have I heard …

That it is easier not to spend money if you carry cash in your wallet?

[who knows? it was a rhetorical question]

I’m sure it works for some people, and judging by the amount of times I’ve read it online lately, it actually probably works for most people. It does not, however, work for me. At all.

My brain works on numbers [mostly] and I can tell you at pretty much any time exactly how much money I have in my bank account [or, you know, all of my bank accounts] — and if I know I have $23.87 in my bank, and I’m about to buy lunch for $11.50 – you can make a pretty safe bet that I’m working all my future planning around the fact that I have $12.37 remaining.

However — if I know I have $23.87 in my account, and I withdraw $20 for lunch — I’m now working on the assumption that I have $3.87 left for the fortnight/week/year/whatever. What happens to the remaining $8.50 in change? I have absolutely no idea. It’s in my wallet. This could mean a number of things – including, but not limited to: spending it on random cheap lollies near counters, spending it on notebooks and other stationary [which, by the way, I never use], chucking it on the table near the door [which generally means it’s up for grabs if my housemate or I want to walk to the shop for some junk food], or – most likely of all – I’ll lend it to someone, forget that I have, and then never get it back.

Are any of these things necessary? Absolutely not. But I’ll do them, probably 90% of the time.

So yes, I know that there are psychological studies that say you are less likely to break a $100 note on an ice-cream worth $2 than you are to break a $5 note on it. But to me, they might as well be the same, because as soon as that money leaves my bank account – it disappears from my mental balance sheet.

Different things work for different people, and that’s just fine with me – I just get super annoyed when people around me make comments like “you mustn’t be doing well with your budget, you pay everything by card!”



Spending Breakdown


So, in the interests of being completely open and honest …

I want to keep myself as accountable as possible with my resolutions, especially the resolution of living on 50% of my income. I’ve actually been thinking of doing this for a while, after seeing it mentioned on more than a few of the personal finance blogs around the traps [not really sure about where that saying comes from, but I like it currently, I seem to be using it a lot!] – I’ve always wanted to be careful with my money, because it has always been a goal of mine to own a house. My biggest problem is that as soon as I save a decent amount of money, I tend to spend it [but that is another story, it’d make this post entirely too long].

So I have a history of periods of being quite frugal and saving a fair bit of money – interspersed with periods of spending money like it was going out of fashion [and that is my mother speaking]. This year will be different, and I have it mapped out completely! There’s nothing like being impatient to get your butt into gear with organising challenges like this – haha.

Anyway, I’ve enjoyed reading about the controversy over whether it is polite or socially acceptable to share information about money and finances — but I very definitely fall into the “I’ll tell you anything you ask, if you have a problem with that, you shouldn’t have asked” school of thought. I would love to know what everyone else has going on as well, but I understand that sometimes other people don’t like to share these things as much as I do. This blog will be my way of keeping track of my spending, and it will be anonymous, so I’m going to let loose and let it all hang out [as it were].

The breakdown …

I get paid $1791.98 a fortnight.

I will immediately [and I will talk more about my views on the automating finances later on I’m sure] transfer $900 to my long-term savings account. “But Agatha,” I hear you say, “fifty percent of 1791.98 is only 895.99!” – and yes, you are perfectly correct and I agree with you, but I’ve decided arbitrarily to round it up to 900, so there.

Alright, so that will leave me with $891.98 to spend on everything I need.

With the bills that I have – I’ve worked out that I need to put aside $280 per fortnight to be able to cover them when they come in. This is a mix of medical bills, electricity, internet, phone, gym, car registration, car services, and vet bills. All paid over a variety of time frames [and no doubt I’ll expound upon these later, as they will need to be reviewed soon enough – changing circumstances and all].

Right – that leaves me with $611.98.

Of course, rent is an important thing to pay for – and that’s $520 a fortnight. Now, because I have a housemate [and I can imagine that there will be many a post about him in the future] I only pay half of this, which is $260 a fortnight.

That means I have $351.98.

Minus the $100 I send to my grandparents every fortnight [this is, and will forever be [well, foreseeable future] non-negotiable] —

— means I have a total of $251.98 per fortnight to spend on petrol, food, and entertainment.

I carpool to work with some of the people I work with [well, duh] so I save some money on petrol that way, and currently it costs me between $60 – $80 a fortnight. Although, this is a complete estimate and could be wildly different, I usually just fill the tank whenever the light comes on and it starts beeping at me, hah.

Food is another thing that is quite wildly variable, but since I have been living with my current housemate, we have been shopping once a week – and the most it has cost is $120 – since I only pay for half of this, it means that I will pay approximately $60 a week.

So – if I average this out to say that I will spend $200 a fortnight on food and petrol – that means I’ll have $51.98 to spend on “entertainment” – which could be more food, buying presents, dinner out, hiring movies, or doing whatever else I feel like.

In conclusion …

I’m excited! I’ll post my progress every fortnight when I get paid [so I can look back on the fortnight that was] – and I’m also thinking that I might post a little something each day to class them as either “spend” or “no spend” – which I have read about in blogs before now and think would be really interesting to monitor.

Wish me luck [again]!


Resolutions 2014


A brief history of resolutions …

Probably not a shocking revelation, but I [like most other people I would imagine] haven’t exactly had the most successful run with resolutions in the past. I’d like to think that I haven’t done too badly, but I tend to fall into the trap of making approximately ALL of the resolutions, and not having the energy and focus to actually achieve them all.

Some of the resolutions I’ve attempted in the past:

  • Write one poem a day for the year – made it to May before I lost inspiration.
  • Stop leaning on things, like door frames and table tops – completely failed after about a week.
  • Don’t eat anything purple for a year – actually did really well, but then I was given a macaroon with a purple center, and didn’t realise until I’d bitten into it.
  • Read one psychological research article a day for a year – successfully completed!
  • Read one book a week for the whole year – I enjoyed this one a lot, but lost track of what I had read and when, so when I looked back to see if I’d done well, I had no idea.
  • Various healthy eating resolutions – I do eat healthier now than I used to, so something must have sunk in, but I never had these ones adequately planned or measured.
  • Save $500 a month for a whole year – successfully completed!

Well, I didn’t fail all of them, but two out of seven [and these are just the ones I can remember] isn’t a particularly good winning streak.

This year will be different …

I am a huge fan of personal finance blogs [you know, if my resolution was to read more of them, I’d totally smash it!] and the many ways I’ve seen the authors following through on their goals, having a space to reflect on them, and generally being able to track them efficiently and effectively. So this year, I’m planning on doing the same thing. To a much, much smaller degree of course – but hey, you have to start somewhere!

So this space will be where I track my progress on my different goals for the year, and hopefully, there will be something a little more positive for me to say about myself come 2015!

But what are these goals? Well, glad you asked — they are as follows:

  • Live on 50% of my income – yeah, figured I should put some of that personal finance learning to good use [more on this in a future post].
  • Eat one piece of fruit a day – this should be pretty easy, variety might be difficult though.
  • Read one book a week [must be fiction!] – I’m looking forward to this one, I have many many books that I haven’t read, and this will help me get through them all.
  • Exercise at least three times a week – I used to go to the gym five to six days a week, but for the past six months I’ve barely done anything.
  • Grow my garden to between 10 – 15 edible plants [growing flowers just does not make sense to me, in a practical sense].
  • And of course – keeping myself accountable with this blog!

Wish me luck!