No Spend January?


Over a number of years I have heard of many people choosing to do ‘no-spend’ days, weeks, months or even a year. It seems that there are as many different ‘rules’ as there are people undertaking this idea but the general premise is to not buy excess food and try to use what you have on hand but most importantly to eschew discretionary spending.

I have never consciously tried to not spend for a specified period of time but since we are halfway through January I thought it might be timely to review what I have spent this month. It is a relatively easy process as we track everything we spend.

We track our regular, fixed expenses on one spreadsheet. This allows us to see what subscriptions, insurances etc are due each month and we make sure there is money set aside for those.

The other spreadsheet is a month by month record of our variable spending. Some of this is discretionary such as eating out, books or clothing purchases but others are what I regard as essential. This category includes things like groceries and fuel.

This January certainly does not look like ‘no spend’ as our expenditure for the first 16 days of the month has been a little over $2000. So, let’s examine where the money has gone.

  1. Our fixed expenses for all of January are $627.
  2. We had planned and budgeted for an interstate holiday for 2.5 weeks which concluded when we arrived home on 6th January. Costs for the January portion of the holiday were $503.
  3. In the 10 days since we arrived home we have spent $912.
  • $195 – Groceries
  • $148 – Fuel
  • $285 – Pet expenses
  • $100 – Health expenses
  • $134 – Home maintenance expenses
  • $50 – Entertainment expenses

Yes, the entertainment expenses are definitely discretionary and if I was strictly following a ‘no-spend’ regime that would have been foregone. Other than that and the holiday spending at the beginning of the month, everything else was necessary.

On balance, I think that our method of accurately tracking and recording our spending works well for us. I don’t feel any real need to try to artificially reduce our spending by pushing spending from one month into the following month.

Do you do ‘no-spend’ months? What are your ‘rules’? Do you feel that it makes a difference to your overall spending?

I look forward to hearing your thoughts and comments.

Making Ends Meet – Expenses


We all have different expenses and priorities but I will try to cover them all using some broad categories.  Not all categories apply to everyone and please add any of your own.  Please feel free to let me know what I have omitted.

The necessities are really shelter, nourishment and clothing.  There are lots of other things that we see as essential in Western cultures but if we strip it all back these are the bare necessities so we will start with them first.

Mortgage repayments or rent

Other ‘essentials’

Debt repayments
Transport costs – car and/or public transport
Utilities – water, electricity, gas
Communications – telephone, internet
Heating, cooling
Education costs
Health – including health insurance
Other insurances – house, car, life

The first thing you need to do is to know how much you are spending in each of these categories at the moment.  Some, like rent or mortgage payments will be easy as it is a set amount.  Decide on a timeframe such as weekly, fortnightly or monthly and then work out how much you are spending in each category for the specific timeframe.  I would recommend weekly or fortnightly, however, monthly is an option if you are paid or receive benefits as your major income source on a monthly basis.

Money problems

Now, you need to add up what you are spending on the essentials and what income you have.  Is you income enough to cover your essentials?  If not, you will need to work out how you can cover the shortfall.  Increase income? Reduce costs?  Even if you have calculated that you have enough income to cover the essentials, now is not the time to be feeling smug.  Remember, there is no allowance here for gifts, treats, outings, birthdays, Christmas, haircuts, coffee, snacks or eating out.  If you think this sounds extreme, it is, but it can be done.

No spend
Read this link from Frugal Queen’s blog.  I began reading this blog about 3 years ago and it is absolutely inspirational.  Froogs pulls no punches about what has to be done to improve your financial situation but she leads by example and we would all do well to follow her lead.  Once you have read the previous link, I would strongly suggest that you take the time and read the blog from the very beginning.  You will not do it all in one sitting but you will start to see that by taking some fairly drastic action you will see the light at the end of the tunnel.  Some things will be relevant and others will not but the message is clear – take responsibility for your own financial position and do something about it now!  Cut your spending to the bone.  There is no use mincing around the edges and wailing that you can’t do it.  You can and you must.

Tomorrow I will cover what I refer to as ‘Emergency Action’.  These are things that you can do right here and now that will make an immediate difference.  You will not necessarily be able to continue such drastic measures long-term but it will help to kickstart your journey to balance the budget.

Making Ends Meet


The Duke and I have begun planning and booking for an overseas trip in August 2014.  It has been a considered financial decision for which we have budgeted.  This is in addition to our day-to-day household budget, debt repayments (mortgage and personal loan) and savings (superannuation).

On the face of it, everything looks pretty rosy financially at the moment which is in stark contrast to some other stages of our lives.  But everything could change in a blink if one or both of us were to be made redundant from our jobs.  We do not really expect that to happen but nothing is 100% certain.  We just have to make the best of what we have at the moment.

making ends meet

As I mentioned earlier, there have been times when making ends meet has seemed almost impossible.  Unfortunately, there are many people in this situation.  I read their stories every day in newspapers, online and in magazines. I see it being played out in cities and small communities all over the world.  Sometimes it can be a problem of long-standing (spanning generations) or may be a small blip on the radar due to a temporary change in circumstance.

Whatever the reason, there is a problem when expenses exceed income.

I deliberately left that line by itself because that is the crux of the matter.  Read it again.  When expenses exceed income.  It does not matter what way you dress it up, if you spend more than you earn you will have a problem.  One day the credit card  will reach its limit, you will not be able to get more credit and the house of cards will come tumbling down.

Enough of  the problem.  We are looking for solutions.  There is no magic bullet and this is going to be hard work.  I plan to write a series of posts over the coming days to focus on each of the following points in more detail.  If you have personal experience, suggestions or comments please leave them here or you can email me directly at the email address in the ‘About Me’ tab at the top of the page.

1  Be honest

2  Create a list of expenses

3  Sort essentials from non-essentials

4  Make a plan

5  Accommodation

6  Food

7  Utilities

There will be other topics and the structure may change as the comments unfold.  However, the purpose of this will remain.  It is designed to share collective wisdom from all sources in order to help and support each other.

I look forward to hearing your stories and tips, no matter how small or insignificant they may seem.  What are the little things you do every day that save you money?  Remember, this may make the difference to someone else’s  life.

Until tomorrow.

Cost of Country Living


This morning I went to Maleny.  I had several things to do and they all cost money.  I began to think about this and realised that we would have none of these expenses if we lived in the city.  Mind you there would be other costs, and wild horses would not drag me back to suburbia.

I picked up our 4 new point of lay pullets, otherwise known as the new chickens.  Here they are.

2011-12-12 01Then I paid for the repairs to the ride-on mower.

2011-12-12 02The Duke had managed to break a link in the steering when he last used it.  We have sloping land which is scattered with volcanic rocks (boulders, actually) which are mostly submerged and other obstacles such as large tree roots.  We need this mower as there is a lot of grass to keep mowed.  Here is part of the backyard.

2011-12-12 03I took Psycho Dog to the vet as I had found another 2 paralysis ticks on him this morning.  He had one a couple of months ago which made him quite sick but luckily this time he is not too bad.  It will still cost me quite a bit for the antidote.

I have bought a new tick collar (due for one) today, also.

My final purchase for the day will be online.  I am going to buy a set of dog clippers so that I can keep his coat really short as that is the only feasible way to be able to find the ticks. The cost of the set of clippers is less than one dose of tick antidote so a cost-effective purchase.  Previously, a friend would clip him about every 4-5 months but because of the extreme tick season this year he needs clipping about every 3 weeks.  She is no longer doing it so I have decided to do the clipping myself.  He is a border collie with a thick, double-coat which makes it almost impossible to locate the ticks.  We live in a tick-prone area but the ticks are particularly bad this year.  Perhaps it is because of the wet summer we had last year?

This is what Psycho Dog looks like when he is clipped.  I think he is quite handsome.

2011-12-12 04