A Frugal Mindset – 2

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Today I will address the second point in the article which you can read in full here.

2. Frugal people know where their money goes, down to the penny. If you get to the end of the month and wonder where your money went, you are not tracking it as well as you could. While it may seem like a hassle to keep track of where your money is going frugal people know that this information is vital to keeping money in your pocket and from being frittered away on things that aren’t important, in the grand scheme of things.

To keep track frugal people use the dreaded “B” word — Budget. A frugal person’s budget has two parts — it has a plan for how they’ll spend their money for the time period of the budget (see mindset #1 above), but it also has another part, to track what actually happened to the money. They want to know, were they able to follow their plan?

Question to ask yourself: How well am I following the plans I’ve made for my money?

We all know life happens, and sometimes we can’t follow our plans completely, but when you know what the plan is, and make mindful corrections and deviations when life throws you a curveball, you’ll be much better off.

For many years I kept a fairly close eye on our spending but did not track every cent.  It was always a bit of a revelation at tax time to see what our net income was, deduct the total we had paid on the mortgage and shake our heads as to where the rest of the money had gone.  It is a sobering thought.

However, over the past 18 months we have kept track of everything we have spent in a spreadsheet which we complete every couple of days.  I am not sure that it has changed our spending greatly but we do know exactly where it has gone.  It will be interesting to compare things like groceries year on year.  Because I have it set up in categories we can easily identify costs that will disappear when we retire – transport is the big one as we spend several thousand dollars each year in train fares to get to work.

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I would definitely recommend tracking your spending to really understand where the money goes.

Tomorrow we will delve into the little purchases that can sabotage your savings.

Hand in Hand

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I went shopping today and as always it went hand in hand with planning our menu for the next week.  Doing this saves money and reduces waste.

First, the menu:

Sunday – Pizza
Monday – Tumeric chicken, brown rice with carrots and peas
Tuesday – Baked potatoes with refried beans and salad
Wednesday – Celery soup
Thursday – Hamburgers and salad
Friday – Spicy mexican quinoa
Saturday – Salmon with sweet potato chips and balsamic roasted tomatoes

The fruit bowls are empty.

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I emptied out the drawer of the crisper and cleaned it out.  This is what we have left from last week.

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The beetroot are from the garden and store well for an extended period of time in the crisper. I finished the last of the cucumber at lunchtime.

Today I bought bananas, apples, mushrooms, cucumbers and capsicum.  That is all I need for the rest of the week as we also have about half a lettuce in a container, millions of cherry tomatoes growing in the garden, potato and sweet potato in the cellar and frozen peas.  There are also packs of sliced and diced onion in the freezer.

I had a few things on my list to get at Aldi but that was in the opposite direction to which we were headed today so I have decided to leave that until the middle of the week.

I have spent less than $15 on fruit and vegetables for the week.

Tracking 2015 – December

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Here is my final post about tracking our spending for 2015.

Budgeting

January – $5,144.53
February – $1,783.49
March – $4,350.56
April – $2,385.31
May – $5,961.54
June – $2,939.07
July – $3,537.09
August – $3,601.19
September – $9,406.95
October – $7,490.03
November – $15,707.97
December – $4,821.34

December was a more reasonable figure with no huge items like the previous few months.  There was a bit of additional spending with the silly season taking its toll.

On my spreadsheet I have the spending divided into various categories.

The category with the highest spend was the all-encompassing ‘House and Garden’.  This was mainly due to the installation of additional solar panels and a hybrid battery system.  Nevertheless, after putting that cost aside, it is evident that we do spend quite a bit in this category.  However, many of these expenses are one-off things which we will not have to purchase again for many years – if at all.

‘Holidays’ was also quite high as we paid for and took a holiday to Singapore, paid for flights, long-distance train fares and some accommodation for our USA/Canada trip in July 2016 and made several domestic trips for family reasons.

‘Transport’ was our next highest cost and this is our train fares for a fairly long commute.  There is not a lot we can do to change this until we retire.

We spent an average of $93/week on groceries which includes food, cleaning items and toiletries.  I am going to try to reduce this a bit this year.  Growing more of our own food should make a difference.

Entertainment and dining out also made up a substantial chunk of our spending with an average of just over $60/week.  This includes meals, films, theatre and shows.  I plan to reduce the spur of the moment eating out and hopefully reign in the spending in this category.

I have not detailed every category but the other 2 where we averaged greater than $50/week were clothing (combined for GMan and I) and petrol/maintenance for our 2 cars.  I expect that the clothing spend will be somewhat less this year but the car costs will be about the same.

Tracking our spending has been an eye-opening exercise which I will continue in 2016.  I will not be posting monthly tallies but I will do a review at the end of 2016 and compare it to 2015.

Tracking 2015 – November

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November blew the averages completely out of the water!

BudgetingJanuary – $5,144.53
February – $1,783.49
March – $4,350.56
April – $2,385.31
May – $5,961.54
June – $2,939.07
July – $3,537.09
August – $3,601.19
September – $9,406.95
October – $7,490.03
November – $15,707.97

This was a huge month in terms of spending but one that we knew was coming up.  I mentioned in September that we had paid $3,050 for a deposit on a hybrid battery system for our solar panels.  The system was installed a couple of weeks ago and we paid the balance of just over $12,000.  This outlay will reap benefits in increased refunds for the power which we feed back to the grid.  Our monitoring system is showing a significant change already.  Our meter was read a couple of days ago so the next 3 months will tell the story.

Food accounted for just over $600 this month as I stocked up on bulk dry goods which I tend to buy every few months.  We bought travel insurance for our 2016 trip as well as attending a family funeral interstate.

The year is coming to a close and at the end of next month I will collate the figures for all of the categories and then add in the fixed spending such as mortgage, insurances, rates and so on to discover how much we actually spent in a full year.

There have certainly been some revelations during this year of tracking our spending.  I will not be documenting our spending in detail on the blog during 2016 but I am inspired to continue the process for our own interest.  It will be good to compare year on year, too.

Do you track your spending?

 

 

Tracking 2015 – October

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Is there such a thing as a normal month?  Every month we seem to have expenses that are not repeated in any other month.  I guess that is why I chose the exercise of tracking our spending over a 12 month period.  Hopefully, I can gain some general idea when it is averaged over the whole year.

BudgetingJanuary – $5,144.53
February – $1,783.49
March – $4,350.56
April – $2,385.31
May – $5,961.54
June – $2,939.07
July – $3,537.09
August – $3,601.19
September – $9,406.95
October – $7,490.03

More than half of our spending ($4,300 in fact) for October was on upfront payments related to our overseas trip in 2016.  We have paid for over a week of accommodation as well as train and ferry fares.

On the home front, food accounted for $273, I bought 2 pairs of summer sandals which set me back $330 while the somewhat broad category of ‘House and Garden’ continues to be a bottomless pit when it comes to spending.  Does anyone else find that this is the case?

This has certainly been an eye-opening exercise and when the full year is complete I will add in the regular costs such as insurances, rates and so on to get an overall figure for our spending for the year.  I have a feeling that it will be fairly scary.

Tracking 2015 – September

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Hold onto your hats!  Money has been literally flying out the door this month!

Budgeting

This is a good example of why we save.

January – $5,144.53
February – $1,783.49
March – $4,350.56
April – $2,385.31
May – $5,961.54
June – $2,939.07
July – $3,537.09
August – $3,601.19
September – $9,406.95

It was certainly no surprise to see that we had parted with almost $10,000.00 of our hard-earned cash in September.

As I mentioned last month, we headed to Singapore for a week and while we had already paid for our airfares and accommodation earlier in the year all of our other spending is included in a lump sum of $1,644.37 for the week.  This comprised of spending on transport, sightseeing, admission costs, groceries, alcohol and eating out as well as a dress for myself and a birthday gift.  We decided not to try to separate it into categories as it was all spent while we were on holidays.  If you are interested you can see the full breakdown of the holiday spending here.

There were 2 other major expenses in September.

The first was $3,050 for a deposit on a hybrid battery system for our solar panels.  There will be significant additional expense for this project sometime in the next month or so.  This is a substantial upfront cost but we believe that it will be a worthwhile long-term investment that will save us even more money and allow a degree of independence from the power grid.  The detail will be forthcoming in a future blog post.

The second large outlay of money was in the holiday category as we have booked our return airfares to Chicago for next year.  I have been watching the release of airfares for 2016 and the pricing and decided that the time was right to secure fares available for the dates and times that we wanted to travel.  Once again, there will be more details about that on my holiday blog.  I hope to get a post written today.

However, on the spending upside, we only spent $55.89 on food for the entire month.  Apart from a modest amount of fruit and vegetables as well as milk and cheese, we simply ate what we had available from the refrigerator, freezer, pantry and garden.  I did not necessarily set out to minimise our spending on food and it was really more about not having the time or inclination to shop as well as being away for a week.  It is good to know that we have plenty to sustain us if the need arises.

Tracking 2015 – August

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Another month has flown by and time to review what we spent.

BudgetingJanuary – $5,144.53
February – $1,783.49
March – $4,350.56
April – $2,385.31
May – $5,961.54
June – $2,939.07
July – $3,537.09
August – $3,601.19

I was a little surprised at how much we spent this month but when I examined the categories it was interesting to note that ‘House & Garden’ which is often a substantial amount was only $24.50 in August.  However, we made up for it in other ways – routine service for the car, major dental work for GMan, new sandals for Gman, a couple of items of clothing for me and a bulk purchase of dog food.  We also had visitors and so naturally we spent more on entertaining and also petrol but I would not have it any other way.

The average monthly discretionary spending for the first 8 months of the year is $3712.

September will be an interesting month for spending as we are heading to Singapore for a week during the month.  Airfares, accommodation and travel insurance have all been accounted for earlier in the year so our spending will be limited to transport, food, admission costs and anything that we buy while we are there.  More on that at the end of the month.