Category Archives: Cutting Back

Hello, budget. Revisit. Rework. Recalculate. Recognise. Real Eyes. Realise. Real Lies.


Nothing like a little bit of alliteration to start off a post. ūüôā

Note the last 3 come from some pic I saw on the net, which you may think has nothing to do with a budget post, but in fact it kinda does.

I haven’t really done any meaningful work on my budget in quite a while. And this blog started as a Personal Finance blog. *shame*

So revisiting¬† my budget was a bit of an eye-opener. I realised that I had made a few optimistic assumptions ( or what you would call “lies”) on a few key budgetary figures, but to balance that out, I also made a few rather pessimistic calculations. So I recalculated and reworked a few items, adjusted for interest rates, and BAM!

I got this.

See that massive dip 2 paychecks ago? That was cause I didn’t factor in interest and a few charges I had sneakily placed on a couple of the cards. So rather than being well and above clearing my debt by 50% by now as I had predicted, I’m still a tad below, currently having paid off 51.14% of my available debt.

At my current rate of payments, factoring a rough estimate of $3500 worth of interest that will be applied to my current debts, I will be done at the end of March 2013.

Now for the good news.

I started doing calculations of what life what will be like afterdebt (dear god! FREEEEEEEDDDDDDDDOOOMMMMMM!!!!!).

Even with an increase of my grocery budget and increasing the money I set aside for bills, I am still using only 45% of my salary on what us Personal Finance bloggers call “needs”. Well, technically 41% since I included in my “after-debt” budget $80 for “incidentals” and we all know what that means… damn straight. Hookers. I mean coffee! Coffee! ūüėõ

Still, that leaves me with $1,100 to play with.

If I keep up the budget I’ve drawn up after debt, which honestly is not at all restrictive (I have almost $400 to do with as I please! [and yes that includes the $80 for hookers. Damnit I mean coffee! Why do I keep doing that?] compared to the measly $110 I have to contend with now), AND if I maintain my current salary, AND if I don’t stupidly fall in love with a girl and waste all my money again AND nothing else terrible happens to me, then the following is a pretty reasonable scenario.

So the time line goes like this :

28 March 2013 (hopefully) – Out of Debt

18 July 2013 – Trading Account hits $1,500. Start online trading. Reduce contributions to 3 x brokerage fee.

15 August 2013 – Have 3 months worth of expenses saved in an Emergency Fund. Reduce contributions to 5% of salary.

26 September 2013 – Savings (not part of Emergency Fund) hit the $5,000 mark. Time to do research on purchasing a car.

19 December 2013 – Savings hit the $10,000 mark – purchase car (or motorbike)

2014 – open up a FHSA (First Home Savers Account) and restart Savings Account after car purchase.

2017 – Emergency Fund now holds 6 months worth of expenses.

2029 – FHSA account hits legislated cap for contributions With interest, FHSA account now holds in excess of $160,000.

And this combined with savings, superannuation and a slow and steady build up of investments, should provide me with enough money to live on for the rest of my life.

That is unless the universe wants to kick me in the balls and make the Zombie Apocalypse happen.

Which it will.

Then I’ll just settling for eating your brains.

Braaaaaaiiiinnnnnnnnsssssss.

 

Hello shopping impulse. Must. Not. Give. In.


Okay, now that I’m down to 3 credit cards (which to any normal person I’m sure would be a cause for financial panic) and the plan to pay the rest of my debt off is progressing nicely. I’m finding myself, shall we say, tempted, to go out a splurge a little bit.

Okay maybe tempted is not the right word. It doesn’t really convey the feeling properly.

To properly elucidate what I’m actually going through we’re going to have to go up metaphor alley. Say shopping equates to sex. “Tempted” to me, suggests a slight feeling of arousal, maybe a slight flush to the cheeks. Some uncomfortable and awkward adjustments may be required in the underwear area. But nothing that anyone with even a modicum of self-restraint couldn’t handle.

What I’m feeling now is downright lust. The hot, panting, wanton, sweating, desperate need to spend a lot of money.

I’m barely holding on.

The new iPad is coming out here in Australia on the 18th of March. $899 (for the 64GB with WiFi and 4G)

The new Mass Effect game is out in stores today. $100

I need bookshelves: $50 – $200.

I want a small 2 seater couch: $200 – $600

I want a couple of desks: $200 – $600

An awesome slim fitted navy blue suit is on display at the suit place. $699

I still need a replacement for both my dead desktop and my aging laptop: a total of $4,000 for both.

It’s getting into the colder months here, I need a new blanket (doona, comforter whatever you call it): $50 – $250

I want a car. At least $4,000, but for the car I want $60,000 (loan of course).

This is not a request for help. This is a statement of what I am about to do.

Don’t worry, I won’t go completely nuts. I won’t get every single one of those things, but after 15 months of scrimping and tightening my belt, I feel that I need to go crazy.

I’m definitely getting the blanket, cause damn it’s getting cold.

I’m definitely getting the game, cause screw it, I have no life. ūüėõ

As for everything else… *sigh* they’re going to have to wait…

Maybe…

*grin*

Hello Goals For a Fortnight Thursday… or I have a warped need for imaginary achievements.


So every Thursday I’m going to come up with a mini-challenge for myself*. It could have something to do with finance, fitness, work, blogging or…hmmm, wait… those four things are the full extent of my life.

Hold on while I emo up a bit about that fact…

Sad Cat is Sad...

Moving on…

These mini goals will be tracked for the next two weeks and I will report on the success (or failure) of each task the next Thursday entry comes along, and also a new challenge for the next fortnight.

Now seeing that I have about as much motivation as a drunk turtle with a weight issue, depression and who is also dead, from the copious amounts of food and alcohol consumed during the festive season, I am having difficulty coming up with a task that has at least a modicum of challenge, enough so that I won’t be pelted with metaphorical tomatoes (yes YOU, I’m talking about you… put the tomato down!) by you people who’s very existence is an express violation of the commandments of laziness (two jobs, school, a social life AND blogging??? Where do you fit the napping?! WHERE I SAY!!!?!!?!?). But also not so much so that I will give up after a couple of days.

Then I realised, that a small financial goal, won’t require any sort of strenuous movement from this bloated carcass I call a body, nor will it require any massive amounts of brain activity.

So, without further ado… for the very first Goals For A Fortnight Thursday, I Captain Sweatpants task myself to have at least $237 in my savings fund by the 19th of January. Why the odd number you ask? Well I already have $162 in that particular account as of today, come next payday (which by the oddest coincidence falls the day this task is due)¬†I’ll be depositing another $65 into that account, which would bring the total to $227. Which means I need only add an extra $10 to get to my magic number.

“Now, Mr Sweatpants, $10? That’s a tad lame is it not?” I hear you say. But the issue here is that particular account is doesn’t normally get any additional funds. I deposit $65 every pay cycle, and that’s it. More often that not I actually take money out of it for “emergencies” (desperate need for a coffee is an emergency right?). And also my budget is so tight that I only have about $60 left for 2 weeks, for outside spending. So I have to ensure for the next two weeks, I don’t withdraw ANY funds from that account and also manage to live off $50 spending money for two weeks, and deposit the difference into that account.

Will I succeed? Or will failure welcome me into its soft, rounded,  inviting, vanilla scented bosom?

Even though I want to succeed... failure looks just so damn inviting!

Game on!

*Note: If anyone out there can think of a challenge they would like me to do (which doesn’t involve me having to do much… :P) I am open to suggestions which may or may not be ignored.

Hello. Help. Oh god will someone please help!


First few paragraphs are said in Rod Serling’s voice from the¬†Twilight Zone… (click on the video below for a refresher, or you have no idea what I’m talking about)

Picture if you will a man. A man in a suit. A man looking really great in that suit. It’s three-piece and grey, with a crisp white shirt and a black tie. His shoes are also pretty awesome. Then you have his… wait I got sidetracked there…

*ahem*

Picture if you will a man. We’ve already established his awesomeness in suits, so we’ll skip that bit. He is an ordinary man, going about his ordinary life. But chance dictates otherwise. In this story he will be thrust into a different world. A world unlike our own. A world where the purchase of a $500 game console seems like a brilliant idea. Thus we enter… THE DEEPER IN DEBT ZONE…¬†(doodedodo¬†doodeedodo¬†doodedoodoo¬†– thats my rendition of the Twilight Zone theme, I know. So awesome.)

Okay back to the normal everyday Cap’n voice… Think Steve Urkel¬†but with the ability to say “arvo” (that’s¬†Oz slang for “afternoon” by the by… and if you’re really curious you pronounce it “AH-vo”).

I have succumb to temptation. Well not really. But I am very, very, very close to it. I have metaphorically dipped my finger on the icing of the cake, had a taste, found out that I liked it, and my face is now inches away from the sugary creamy buttocks of the aforementioned baked good.  And, a small amount of drool, inching its way cautiously towards the cake, aching for that first forbidden touch, completes the image.

After 4 years of resisting the urge to buy an X-Box and 3 years of resisting to buy a Playstation 3, I am on the brink of purchasing one or the other. Literally on the brink.

I blame the new room mate for this, as he has a PS3. And thus I have come to know what I’ve been missing all these years…

I have justified the spenditure¬†in my budget (since I will be getting $720 back from my security deposit of my other apartment once the lease ends in January). I have shopped around for the best deal. (Target is selling them for $50 less than anywhere else). I have the website up and my credit card details on it, all I have to do is hit “Submit” and I will be $300 more in debt (but 1 Ps3 richer!).

I am also using the justification that buying a PS3 will actually save me money in the long run. Bear with me on this. Since I will be soooo deeply immersed in the fantabulousness of games that are out there, I will not be inclined to go out on pub-crawls or bar-hops (I initially had that as bra-hops* which curiously does apply, but would be in the way of TMI, so I deleted it) that is the main form of social bonding for any single male. And since I will be about as social as a troll living under a bridge, I will not be dating, nor will I have any prospects for dating, which everyone will agree is an expensive process, for both sexes.

See. It makes some sense.

So why haven’t I pressed that sublime looking “Submit” button? Even as I type this in another tab, I can hear its sublime siren call singing to me through the pixels of my computer screen. Aching for the touch of my cursor, wantonly thrusting itself out of the screen into my face.

So, why haven’t I pressed it??!?!!?

It is because of you people. ¬†I know you’re there, judging me. Threatening me with disembowelment if I stray too far from the rigid structure of my budget. Discussing and planning covert missions to kidnap me and torture me in ways unimaginable if I go down this road. (I’m looking at you! You know who you are!)

So yes, fear of pain and death are the main reasons as to why I haven’t done this. I can all too easily picture you people sharpening you implements of sadisticness as you read this. A plague on both your houses!

But the other reason is that stupid little voice in my head, that is of course soooo much more sensible than I am, and is telling me to consider all the pro’s and con’s first before¬†doing anything rash, then wait another week on top of that.¬†God, I wanna kick his ass.

It’s the little voice that tells me to look both ways before crossing the street.

The little voice that tells me it would be a bad idea to stick metal cutlery into electrical sockets.

The little voice that tells me that one more shot of Jaegermeister¬†hasn’t made me any more attractive.

The little voice that tells me to not sleep with the hot girl from accounts.

That stupid little voice.

*gets cotton tip and starts poking it in his ear*

HA! How do you like them apples?!?

Again in the Rod Sterling Voice

So here we come to the end of our story. Picture a man poking himself in the ear with a cotton bud as he mutters to himself. Picture a man in fear for his life. Picture a man who is one step away from sweet oblivion, where this one choice could lead to either happiness or despair. Picture this man straddling the boundaries of reality, of right and wrong. Picture this man one small step away from the… DEEPER IN DEBT ZONE! (doodedodo¬†doodeedodo¬†doodedoodoo)

*Edit: I do not mean I hop into bra’s myself per se. I know most of you got what I meant when I said that, but I know one person will start picturing me wearing bra’s. I want to make it clear that is not what I meant. So don’t try and picture it. I don’t want anyone going blind.

Hello silly season, or how I plan for my budget to survive over Christmas.


That time of year is upon us once again, Christmas. The bane of all budgeteers. But I have come up with the “Scrooge McDuck” method to save me from the horrors of budget blowout this Christmas season.

For those of you who aren’t cool like me, “Scrooge McDuck” although in a few other Disney flicks, really only came to my attention in the television show “Ducktales” (oh-woo-woo!) that was popular back in the early 90’s. He was the richest duck in the world, and was as good at saving money (i.e. being a cheap skate) as he was in making it. But he had a good heart, and had a soft spot for his grand-nephews.

OMG... I LOVED this show!

So here are the rules for the Scrooge McDuck method of trying to curb your Christmas spending.

1. Only buy presents for the kids.

Presents?!!?!? GIMME GIMME GIMME GIMME GIMME!

Lets face it, Christmas is FOR children. Well the gift bit of it anyways. When was the last time you were so excited to open your Christmas presents that you thought you would, pee your pants, throw up, pass out and dance a merry jig all at the same time? For me it was about the time I started getting *shudder* clothes instead of toys for presents. And yes, NOW I know it’s the thought that counts, but when you’re between 5-12 years old all you really care about is that you get your *insert toy of the year here* with dual action *insert prominent feature of toy here*.

Note: This only works if you are single! Brothers, sisters, parents, cousins will all understand that you’re trying to eliminate debt so the lack of presents from you to them will be forgiven. And maybe your partner will also forgive you for not getting them a present, but for the sake of relationship harmony, just get them something anyway. Seriously, do it. No matter what they say. you don’t even have to give it them in front of everyone else. Give it to them the day before or day after. Just get them something. Trust me on that. That’s doubly true if you’re a guy.

2. Know the kids you are buying presents for.

Yes they will love you, but it will cost you.

Sure you could always buy every single one of them a Playstation 3 and that would make you Uncle (or Aunt) of the year, but that would defeat the purpose of saving money. For example one niece is into the whole “princess” thing. But she is now 7. So along with birthdays and Christmas, over the past few years she has accumulated EVERY single piece of princess themed toys that has ever been created. EVER. I’m not even kidding. The girl has every Barbie that has come out since she was born. So what do I get her? Yet another Barbie (or Barbie wannabe) doll to be lost amongst all the others? No. I’ve gotten her a little tiara. And none of that plastic stuff either. It’s some sort of metal, and heavy like an actual crown should be. Cost? $20 bucks from a little store near where I live. So know your audience, if you know what they like, you can escape the expensive generic (but ¬†you know will be absolutely loved) gaming console.

3. Babies don’t care what you get them, as long as they can put it in their mouth at some point, or throw it at their fathers crotch.

Put the rattle down and back away slooooowly.

Seriously they don’t. So put that silver rattle from Tiffany’s down. They don’t give a toss, and will most likely never be allowed to play with it anyways. Remember you’re buying presents for the kids, not an heirloom for the parents to hand down. You can get them brightly coloured socks (clean socks of course!) tied to a ball if you’re really skint. But all they want is that they can grab it in their tiny little hands, has some sort of texture, kinda soft, makes noise, and if possible used as a projectile to the head of one of their numerous contemporaries.

So there you go, 3 simple rules and your budget may survive Christmas after all.

Hello cigarettes, you cost me a LOT of money over the years.


Okay, I said I was quitting last week, but stress took over, and needed a cigarette. But I will quit soon! Now that I’ve got more monkeys to help me, there will be less need for me to stress. Good timing too cause I’ve been so under the pump lately¬†I’ve started getting bald patches on, wait for it… MY FACE! That’s right, I¬†have a full head of hair, but last week when I was so busy I didn’t shave, I found I have a couple of bald spots¬†on my chin and cheek. BALD SPOTS! ON MY FACE! WTF!

But yes I will quit very shortly, I promise! Pinky swear even!

Thinking about it though, I have spent a fortune on cigarettes over the 10 years I’ve been a smoker. I’ve never been a heavy smoker, two packs a week at the most (compared to a pack a day smokers). With the exception of when I’m out and drinking and I can go through 3 packs easily. But I don’t go out so much anymore, so I’ve cut it back down.

The problem is, here in good ol’ ‘stralia, cigarettes are pretty expensive. About $15 for a 20-pack and $20 for a 25-pack (I’m rounding up, but essentially thats what I budget for). Now if I guesstimate the number of packs I smoke a week, including my binge smoking nights, and my non-binge weeks I would probably say about¬†4 packs a week (I went out a lot back in my 20’s, it’s only since I hit the big 3-0 that I’ve managed to cut that part of my life out, if I maintained the same level of going out that number would probably be around 6 packs a week). So thats $80 a week.

A quick calculation…

$80 x 52 weeks x 10 years = $41,600.

Excuse my language… but holy fuck balls!

Forty one thousand and¬†six hundred dollars! That is insane! That’s¬†a 10% deposit for a 3 bedroom ¬†house in the suburbs. Or a 1 bedroom apartment in the city. Or a shiny new Civic Type-R WITH all the added extras. That blew my mind.

Then I started thinking about all the other substances (yes I had a bad boy stage, and yes, completely over it) I consumed over the years. And how much THEY cost me.

Illicit substances back in the good ol’ late 90’s and early 00’s. Say 3 years worth of substance abuse. At¬†$100 a weekend for various¬†substances.

$100 x 52 x 3 = $15,600.

Excuse my language again… but¬†you’ve gotta be shitting me!

So this is where my money went over the years. And here I was racking my brains trying to figure out why I have absolutely no assetts¬†of value to show for the decade and a half I’ve been working. It’s all tar build up in my lungs and burned out synapses in my brain. Which I’m telling you aren’t really good investments. I can just imagine going up to my bank manager to ask for a home loan.

Bank Manager: So, you’ve listed here you have $57,200 worth of assets accumulated over the years.

Me: Yup, I’ve got ten years worth of tar build up from smoking in my lungs, and I’m pretty sure I’ve damaged my brain through substance abuse after 3 years of partying and drug abuse. What you’re looking at now is 50 grand worth of living baby!

Bank Manager: Hold on while I call security to beat you down.

So is there anything you do/own (or did/owned) that could be considered a luxury (or a very bad judgement call) that if you calculate how much you paid for these things over the years you come up with a ridiculously large amount of money?

And please don’t count books.

We need books to live. ūüėõ

Hello fat, you’re losing.


Along with getting out of debt and going for a career change, I am also trying to lose some weight. If anyone remembers (but why would you?)¬† the first tag line for this blog was “Okay… I’m not THAT fat”. And I’m not. I’ve just developed a beer belly/gut over the past few years since my metabolism decided to break-up with me when I was 25 or so. But everything else was pretty okay. (Alright for a while there I had some man-boobs, they weren’t massive but they¬†definitely had a¬†boobyish¬†quality rather than a pectoral quality… but shhhhhhhhhh)

The gut was the main concern. And I’m not just talking a little pooch, it got MASSIVE at one stage. I went from a¬†size 28 mens waist (which is the smallest waist size you can get in mens size in Australia) to a¬†very snug size 36.¬†I remember,¬†when my sister was pregnant with her first kid, my gut could compete with her pregnant belly for size. For years I’ve been trying to get¬†my stomach back to acceptable levels.

And so, I am glad to announce, that after¬†7¬†months and 1 week of training 5 days a week (4 days of cardio/strength workouts, 1 day of running). I am proud to say that I am back to pooch level, rather than gut level. I’m nowhere near my goal yet, but I could probably nail the firefighter course right now and only die of a heart attack AFTER I had completed all the challenges on the course, not before as what would have been the likelihood if I had attempted to do this at the beginning of this year.

And working out, its addictive.

I find that I look forward to my workout days to see just how much I can push myself this time around. When I started I was struggling to bench press 30kgs¬†(65is¬†lbs), now I can do about 60kg¬†(130ish¬†lbs… but as an aside…¬†seriously¬†Northern Americans, how in the world do you live with the empirical system??).¬†Fifteen more kilos and I can bench press my weight! Which was pretty much the goal.

Running¬†outside is another thing I’ve found to be mildly addictive. Again starting out I could barely do a kilometre, which was basically the run from my apartment to the starting point of the running track. I would be drenched in sweat and panting like a honey badger in heat.¬†Now I can comfortably do 8km (a round trip around the lake and back to my place) and will slowly work my way up to 16km (2 laps around the¬†lake).

But wait. I haven’t told you the best thing yet.

I’m doing ALL this working out for free! And since I’m working out about 4 hours a night. I’m usually too knackered to spend money! Hurrah!

Well okay technically its not¬†free. There is a pretty well equipped gym in my apartment complex, its not¬†big, but it has enough cardio machines and free weights to keep me happy. And I don’t know about anyone else, but I’ve seen some pretty crappy gyms attached to apartment complexes over the years. I remember one that was just a room with one lonely exercise¬†bike and a couple of barbels that were too light to be of any use. So I guess I’m paying for the gym through my rent, but technically its still free. Right? Right? Just let this one go okay?

And running? Well I have an ancient pair of joggers that are currently doing the work (they are in desperate¬†need of replacement but I think they can hold out for a couple more months) so I really haven’t paid anything for this one. So this is free! Ha! And plus what other people don’t seem to get is that it is actually relaxing to let your body do all the work and let your mind wander to the nether regions of your mind, find old memories, dust them off and reminisce. Or you could be in a creative mood, and you could spend the time running coming up with brilliant schemes to take over the world. (Mine is to make an app that will control people’s¬†minds through their phone. Muahahahahaha.¬†Don’t steal it!) Or you could just plug-in¬†some headphones, strap on an iPod and just zen out.

I’d say in another couple of months I’d be at my goal.

So… does anyone know if its possible to strikethrough a word in the title of your blog?¬†Since in a few months I may be able to take “Fat” off the list above. ¬†Html doesn’t seem to work. I’ve googled it and someone said that it was possible, another said that it wasn’t
I may have to change my title name, but I don’t really want to because,

a) I’m too lazy to think up of something

b) “In-debt, short with bad teeth” just doesn’t look right

and

c) I’m lazy¬†

Any ideas?