Home Tags Posts tagged with "Budgeting"
Tag

Budgeting

Budget Meals - Veggie Super Food Bowl

Our second winter family meal on a budget is from the lovely  Hope from Nanny Shecando!  Hope is a professional Nanny who looks after four children, so she really knows how to put a family meal together.  Over to you Hope!

Hi, Hope here from Nanny SheCanDo. When Shelley put forth this big week of recipe ideas, I was dead keen but also stuck for inspiration. What should I share? Something I usually cook for my nanny kids? In that case, you could expect plain pasta and cheese. I don’t know about you, but that’s just a bit boring! Something from the parents’ dinners, and it’d be “throw anything you can find onto a pizza base and call it dinner.” And if the boyfriend had a say, it’d be a mushroom risotto in the thermomix. But the lovely Sheridan Anne has already taken care of an Italian risotto this week.

So instead I’ve whipped up my quick and easy Veggie Super Food Bowl. This is one of my mid-week “throw together” meals. They’re meals I turn to when I’m not in the mood to spend any longer than absolutely necessary in the kitchen. Considering that I often find myself making three different meals of an evening at work before coming home to see to my own dinner, an easy and nutritious meal is usually the best I can do. The Jamie Oliver banquets wait until the weekend!

Plus, given that I often find myself snacking on peanut butter sandwich crusts at work instead of stopping to make a decent lunch, the Veggie Super Food Bowl is a great way to maximise the nutrient goodness at dinnertime. I most often use Freekah or Quinoa, however brown rice, normal white rice and couscous also work well.

Note: I do add grilled chicken to the Veggie Super Food Bowl if I’m cooking for the kids at work (not that they do more than screw their noses up at it) and when at home with the boyfriend.

Serves: 4 people

Preparation Time: 15 minutes

Cooking Time: 25 minutes

Budget Meals - Veggie Super Food Bowl

Budget Meals – Veggie Super Food Bowl

Ingredients:

  • 500g chicken breast
  • 2 cups Freekah, pre-rinsed
  • 900ml water
  • olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  • Italian herbs
  • 400g of veggies of your choice, cut into small bite sized pieces

^I use beans, cherry tomatoes, snow peas, zucchini and eggplant

  • 1 bunch of kale, leaves shredded off the stem

^you could also use baby spinach, silverbeet, rocket, or English spinach

  • 1 can of chick peas (you could also use lentils, butter beans or black beans)
  • 2 tblsp of a flavoured dip or pesto of your choice (e.g. sun-dried tomato, basil pesto, roast capsicum etc.)
  • 2 tblsp soft goats cheese (you could also use ricotta cheese or feta cheese)

Method:

  1. Cut and prepare your chosen veggies and set aside ready to go.
  2. Cook your freekah (or grain of your choice). I normally make mine in the thermomix by placing the freekah in the basket with 900ml of water and cook on varoma, speed 4 for 25 minutes. However a regular pot on the stove works just as well!
  3. Whilst the freekah is cooking, heat a large heavy bottomed fry pan with a drizzle of oil and cook your chicken. Given that the chicken will be sliced into thin strips to go into the veggie bowl, I usually slice the chicken breast in half lengthways to ensure it cooks both evenly and quickly. Season with Italian herbs and salt and pepper if desired.
  4. Once the chicken is lightly browned on both sides, toss in the beans and any other “heavier” vegetables that will take longer to cook and sauté for 3-4 minutes.
  5. Add your lighter vegetables such as snow peas, zucchini and cherry tomatoes and toss quickly on high heat.
  6. Using tongs, remove the sliced chicken breasts from the pan and leave to rest of a separate chopping board for a few minutes. Then slice into thin strips and set aside in a large bowl. Add the dip and goats cheese to the chicken and stir to coat through.
  7. Brings the remaining veggies in the pan down to a low heat and toss through the kale and chickpeas to combine. Cook until the kale just starts to wilt down and then add the veggies to the chicken mix.
  8. By this time your freekah should be cooked through. Drain and mix into the bowl with the chicken and veggies.
  9. Taste and season accordingly and serve with fresh crusty bread for an added hearty winter warmer.

 

Veggie Super Food Bowl

Ready to eat!

 

This Veggie Super Food Bowl is a great mid-week meal that’s quick and healthy and won’t break the bank. Alternate the ingredients to suit whatever you’ve got leftover in the fridge and enjoy this “winter warming recipe that will keep both your belly and your budget smiling!”

To check out Hope’s amazing website click here or her second budget recipe Italian Chicken here.

To see our other amazing winter family meals on a budget:

Click here to see our Roasted sausages and vegetables with Bel from Mums Take Five

Click here to see our Chicken Noodle Soup with Jodie from Fresh Home Cook

Click here to see our Chicken Pot Pie with Sheridan from Sheridan Anne

Click here to see our Pumpkin Soup with me!!!

If you liked this post you might also like:

How To Pay Off Your Mortgage Faster

5 Financial Things You Need To Know Now You Are A Parent

Is Costco Membership Worth It?

10 Easy Ways To Save Money

28/07/2014 13 comments
0 Facebook Twitter Google + Pinterest
Roasted Sausages and Vegetables

 Our first winter family meal on a budget is from the brilliant Bel from Mums Take Five and it is a great one!  I can’t wait to try it!  Over to you Bel!

A cheap and cheerful meal only works for me if it is cheap, cheerful, uses whatever we already have and takes no time to prepare. This dish does exactly that. Perfect for a mid week meal when my time is better spent on homework  or fun with my children.

There really isn’t a recipe as such just a preparation guide the rest is up to you.

You’ll need

  • A large oven roasting tray
  • Sausages. I’ve used a variety of types of sausages, I have even mixed it up and tried a couple a types at once.
  • Vegetables. Any vegetables you have that can be roasted. Potatoes, sweet potatoes, carrots, pumpkins, onions, mushrooms, tomatoes, beetroot, cauliflower, zucchini, capsicums.  Anything you like.  This is a great way to get rid everything you have sitting around.
  • Seasoning and Oil. I tend to use Rosemary as it grows in my garden, crushed garlic and some oil drizzled on top.  You can use whatever seasoning you prefer. You can use just salt and pepper if you wish but you will need a little oil so the Vegetables don’t dry out.  Depending on your sausages most of them ooze oils whilst they cook.
Sausages and Vegetables

Delicious and easy!

Method

  1. Preheat your oven to 200 degrees Celsius
  2. Really simply, just chop up all your vegetables to similar sized pieces then toss in a little oil and your seasoning.
  3. Tip out into your roasting pan and then add in your sausages. I like to lay mine on top and then toss them through with the vegetables halfway through the cooking.
  4. Cook for approximately one hour. Until everything is cooked through.
  5. Then it is just a matter of plating it up.  Too easy.
Vegetables and Sausages

All ready to feed a hungry family!

Thank you Shelley for having us over on Money Mummy, Lovely to visit you again xx Bel

To check out Bel’s second winter family meal on a budget, Beef Stroganoff please click here or visit her amazing website here.

To see our other amazing winter family meals on a budget:

Click here to see our Veggie Super Food Bowl with  Hope from Nanny Shecando

Click here to see our Chicken Noodle Soup with Jodie from Fresh Home Cook

Click here to see our Chicken Pot Pie with Sheridan from Sheridan Anne

Click here to see our Pumpkin Soup with me!!!

If you liked this post you might also like:

How Much Can You Save By Shopping At Aldi?

How To Make A Household Budget

5 Websites That Will Help You Make Or Save Money

How I Saved On My Electricity Bill

 

 

 

27/07/2014 10 comments
0 Facebook Twitter Google + Pinterest
Winter Family Meals on budget

As most people know, I am no Martha Stewart, not in the kitchen and particularly not the insider trading bit!!!  So this week on Money Mummy, I have decided to do something a little different and have challenged four of my most favourite bloggers to join me and come up with two winter recipes each that will fill your family’s belly but won’t break the bank.

So ‘Ta Da’ welcome to “Winter warming recipes that will keep both your belly and budget smiling”

So let me introduce the fab five:

  • The wonderful and very talented Bel from Mums Take Five
  • Our resident Nanny expert – the amazing Hope from Nanny Shecando
  • The scrapbooker extraordinaire – the lovely Sheridan from Sheridan Anne
  • The foodie genius – Jodie from the Fresh Home Cook
  • Me, Shelley from Money Mummy and the one recipe I know how to make 🙂  Out to prove that anyone, yes ANYONE, can cook!

Rest assured, that not only will your bank account love these winter recipes, your kids are certain to love them too!  Between the 5 of us we have 13 children, so these are all recipes have been well and truly tried and tested on the kids and are guaranteed to be a crowd pleaser!!!

Ok so here are our amazing winter family meals on a budget so far:

Click here to see our Roasted sausages and vegetables with Bel from Mums Take Five

Click here to see our Veggie Super Food Bowl with  Hope from Nanny Shecando

Click here to see our Chicken Noodle Soup with Jodie from Fresh Home Cook

Click here to see our Chicken Pot Pie with Sheridan from Sheridan Anne

Click here to see our Pumpkin Soup with me!!!

If you liked this post you might also like:

How To Make A Household Budget

5 Websites That Will Help You Make Or Save Money

How I Saved On My Electricity Bill

How Much Can You Save By Shopping At Aldi?

27/07/2014 31 comments
0 Facebook Twitter Google + Pinterest
Save Health Insurance

Last week I spent some time trying to figure out whether we had the best deal on our private health insurance.  You see, we have been with the same insurer for 10 or so years and they have been great, but recently I have begun to wonder whether our health insurance might be a place where we could save some cash.  The truth is this process wasn’t easy.  In fact I can safely say that a couple of hours in and the whole ‘health insurance’ scene was doing my head in!!!  However, in amongst the talk of excesses, hospital choices, government rebates, blah blah  I did figure out quite a few things.  So here they are to help you make your health insurance journey far more pleasant than mine J

(1)   Figure Out What Cover You Have Now And How Much You Pay For It

This is the best place to start, you can’t compare something unless you know what you have already.  So I looked at what type of hospital cover we have, noting what was covered and what is not.  I looked closely at our extras cover and what was included.  Then I found out how much our excess was.  This is how much we would have to pay if we had a hospital stay.  Once you have had a hospital stay and paid the excess you don’t have to pay it for subsequent visits in that calendar year (for my health company).   The last thing you need to know is how much you are paying, and whether that includes the government rebate.  (To figure out whether you qualify for the rebate and how you can have it paid click here).

(2)   Figure Out What Features Are Important To You

On the hospital cover ask yourself a stack of questions about what you need.  For example are you thinking of having a child/more children/IVF?  What family history do you have that might need to be covered for?  Do you need extras?  In our case when we decided our family was done we downgraded from what I call ‘baby coverage’ and this saved us a stack of dosh.  If you only take one thing from this post make sure you check your level of cover is appropriate, as it can give you big savings.  In term of extras the most important features I decided for us were optical and dental.  Yes, both the hubby and I are ‘four eyes’ and let’s just say the hubster spends a fair bit of time at the dentist.  The rest we use marginally so if one has better physio than another I decided that it shouldn’t really sway me.  Choosing two services to focus on really helped as it narrowed my focus down.

(3)   How Much Excess Can You Afford To Pay

The way it works is the higher your excess the lower the cost of health insurance.  However, having a high excess is useless if you can’t afford to pay it when you need to access the services.  So choose an excess that is manageable for you.  We went for a high excess as we have the cash in an emergency fund to pay for it if we needed it.

(4)   Find Out If You Have A Loading Under Life Time Health Cover

If you take out hospital cover as part of your health insurance after your 30th birthday you will you will pay a 2% loading on top of your premium for every year you are aged over 30.  The loading lasts for 10 years.  My husband didn’t start cover until he was 32 so he has a 4% loading until he is 42.  To find out more about the loading click here.

(5)   Start Comparing Health Insurance Policies

Ok, this is the tricky bit as it is hard to know what is out there.  Remember to keep the focus on the features that are most important to you.  I started by using a government site (click here) and seeing what policies they suggested.  Next I used a commercial comparison site.  These are good for finding out what is out there, but a word of warning be prepared to be harassed!!  I put in my details and an hour later they were calling.  When I ignored it they called again and again.  When I finally spoke to the guy he was helpful but I did feel pressured to make a decision so I cracked out the old “I will have to talk to my husband” so I could have time to think.  At the end of the daykeep in mind that they are trying to sell you something, so don’t be rushed into a decision.  Also each comparison site does not have access to every health fund so it might not necessarily give you the best deal.  That said, my guy was really helpful and even told me that my current provider gave me the best optical extras.  So comparison sites can certainly be helpful and definitely helped me on my journey to figure this out.

So what happened in the end?  After much contemplation and hair pulling-out we have decided to stick to our current health fund.  However, if you ever choose to change it is pretty easy and you don’t have to re-serve waiting periods as long as you are moving to the same level of cover or lower.  So it is always worth checking if you can get a better deal!  🙂

If you liked this post you might also like:

Home & Contents Insurance: How Do You Know If You Have Enough?

How To Pay Off Your Mortgage Faster

5 Websites That Will Help You Make Or Save Money

Does Shopping At Aldi Save You Money?

How To Create A Budget

 

Disclaimer:

The information contained in this post is general in nature and does not constitute financial advice.  Please see your financial advisor for advice specific to your individual circumstances.

 

24/07/2014 18 comments
0 Facebook Twitter Google + Pinterest
websites that make or save you money

The best ways to save or make extra money are the easy ones.  So here are 5 of my favourite websites that I have used to save and/or make me a little extra money.

(1) The Centrelink Payment Finder

Dealing with Centrelink is hard and quite often it is really difficult and time consuming to figure out what you are entitled to.  The Centrelink Payment Finder makes it really simple and quickly allows you to figure out what you could receive.  It is one of my absolute faves and has alerted me to potential payments that I had no idea I could receive.  Click here to check it out.

(2) Unclaimed Money

I love to do an Unclaimed Money search.  It takes all of 20 seconds and is completely free.  Potentially it could find you any lost bank accounts, shares or life insurance policies that you might have forgotten about.  I always just search on my last name to make the search as broad as possible.  Don’t forget to search your partner’s name and any relatives to see if they have anything owing to them.  Doing the search is quick, easy and potentially could find you an extra bit of spending money :-).  Click here to do your own unclaimed money search.

(3) Energy Made Easy

This is a government site that helps you to find the best electricity deal for you.  When my electricity bill was hurtling out of control this is where I went to find a better deal for my family.  Click here to read post about how much I saved by changing electricity providers and here to visit the Energy Made Easy site.

(4) ATO’s SuperSeeker 

Apparently for every worker employed in Australia there are 3 superannuation accounts.  That means there are stacks of us out there with multiple superannuation accounts.  The main problem with this is that it is costing us all a fortune in fees.  The best way to stop wasting money on fees is to consolidate you superannuation into one account.  Most people think you have to fill in a tonne of forms to do this but you don’t, you can simply use the Taxation Departments SuperSeeker site.  The site also helps you to find your lost superannuation, so you can make sure you keep what is rightfully yours for your retirement.  The process is surprisingly easy.  In fact so easy even my husband could do it.  Read about how he found and consolidated his superannuation using SuperSeeker here and click here to access the SuperSeeker website.

(5) Money Smart’s Budget Planner

Many websites would have you believe that you need to pay to have a good household budget planner to help you to save money.  That is certainly not true.  I used the free budget planner from the MoneySmart website and it worked a treat for me.  Click here to read how I used it to make a budget for my family and click here to download your own free budget planner from MoneySmart.  It is easy to use and will help you on your way to saving more money.

If you liked this post you might also like:

How Much Can You Save By Shopping At Aldi

How To Save Money On Your Health Insurance

10 Easy Ways To Save Money

How To Pay Off Your Mortgage Faster

Disclaimer:

The information contained in this post is general in nature and does not constitute financial advice.  Please see your financial advisor for advice specific to your individual circumstances.

 

25/06/2014 45 comments
0 Facebook Twitter Google + Pinterest
Aldi

When you speak to people about Aldi there are pretty much two camps.  There are those that love shopping at Aldi and those that don’t.   The truth be told I am in neither camp.  We live a five minute walk from a large name supermarket so that tends to be where we shop, more out of convenience and a bit of exercise, than anything else.   However, after hearing stories from my friends about how much they think they save from shopping at Aldi, combined with figuring out how much we spend on groceries every month(click here to find out more), I decided to see for myself how much we could save by shopping at Aldi.

In putting the Aldi’s to the test,  I chose 18 items at Aldi that would appear reasonably regularly on our shopping list and compared the prices to my local big name supermarket.  The list is spread across a range of areas including fresh produce, meat, personal goods and packaged foods and drink.  I tried to compare similar sized packages and looked at the cost per unit.

The result was a 28% saving by shopping Aldi rather than my local supermarket!!! (Click here to see the full spreadsheet with the list and my calculations).   Interestingly there were only 3 items out of 18 where Aldi was more expensive than my local supermarket.  That was in minced meat, tissues and milk.  So regardless, wherever you shop, it always pays to know your prices!  However, that said, across pretty much all the other areas there were reasonably decent savings to be made.

Of course, this comparison is not completely fair as the brands I am comparing are not exactly the same and so there may be quality or taste differences between the products which have not been captured in this pure price comparison.  Also, I only looked at a random selection of items, not every single one that I would normally buy.  So, it always pays to do your own homework and see if Aldi works for you.

Aldi deliver on their cheaper prices by having a reduced product range.  This means that many of my friends do two shops , to fill in any brands or products that might be missing from their initial Aldi shop.  This does add a bit to the inconvenience to the whole shopping experience.  However, I guess though  at the end of the day, 28% is a pretty reasonable price difference, so I might be rolling down to our local Aldi a lot more often!!!

How do you find shopping at Aldi?

p.s  This is not a sponsored post – just something I did because I wanted to know and I thought you might be interested too 🙂

If you liked this post you might also like:

Home & Contents Insurance: How Do You Know If You Have Enough?

5 Websites That Will Help You Save or Make Money

Is Costco Membership Worth It?

How To Pay Off Your Mortgage Faster

How Much Your Credit Card Is Really Costing You

30/04/2014 25 comments
0 Facebook Twitter Google + Pinterest
Save For Child's Education

Education is expensive.  Even if you have no intention of sending your child to a private school, the costs associated with your local public school soon add up.  There are books, shoes, uniforms, excursions and after school activities.  The costs seem endless.   This is not even to start thinking about costs of higher education should they choose to go on to university or TAFE and you want to help them out.  So how do you afford to pay for it all?

The keys to success to save for your child’s education is to start as early as you can and save regularly.  Time and having a regular savings plan help to harness the most powerful wealth building tool ever: compound interest.  Compound interest is when you earn interest on top of your interest.  When you save or invest your money earns interest, so you then earn interest on your original investment amount and also on the interest you have already earned.  This makes your money work for you and helps to turn a little bit of money into a lot over time.

Next you need to set your goal.  Figure out how much you would like to save and how much time you have to do it in.  From there you break it down into a much smaller weekly, fortnightly or monthly savings goal.  So maybe your savings goal is $10 per week, so you have $1040 dollars to deal with extra expenses when you child goes to school in 2016.  Breaking a large goal into a small regular goal makes turns something large and daunting into something far more manageable.

To supercharge your savings think about adding any windfalls you might receive to your education fund, for example tax refunds.  Or you could look into charitable schemes such as Saver Plus, which matches your savings for your or your child’s education.  You need a healthcare card and a regular income.  Click here to find out if you meet the criteria.

It also pays to be aware of whose name you put the investment in.  Prohibitive tax rates can apply to investments in your child’s name in certain circumstances, so it pays to think about it.  Click here to find out more.

Once you have saved the money, there is no ‘one size fits all’ answer to how you invest it.  The answer is different for each individual family but here are some of the options:

(1)    Pay down your home loan and redraw

Using this strategy you make extra repayments on your mortgage or offset account then withdraw the money when it is time to pay for the costs.  Most people on variable mortgage rates are paying about 5.5% per year, so the money put into the mortgage is earning a effective tax free return of 5.5%, without taking any risk. The key with this one is it takes discipline as the money saved is part of a broader pool, so you have to make sure you don’t spend it on anything else.   To read more about this strategy please click here.

(2)    Invest in cash

This strategy doesn’t always give you the highest return but it relatively risk free.  Find an online fee free account with a high interest rate and direct debit in your regular savings amount.  Have the direct debit come straight out of your pay so you ‘pay yourself first’ and watch the savings build.  If you are anything like me, make sure the account has limited access so that temptation is minimized J  Watch out for ‘bonus rates’, where an account has a high rate of interest for 3 or 6 months then reverts to a low rate.  There is nothing wrong with taking advantage of these rates and then moving if there is a better offer.  Also watch out for term deposits that are paying good rates if you are happy to lock away your savings for a while.  The problem with this strategy right now is that interest rates are low, so returns are not very good, and with inflation starting to rise your return after accounting for inflation (rising prices)  is not very good.  Click here to get some extra tips on how to get the best savings account.

(3)    Invest in higher risk assets such as property or shares.

The advantage of investing your child’s education savings in these types of investments is that they generally have higher returns over time than just investing in cash.  The disadvantage of investing in these types of investments is that they are higher risk.  This means the return you might get in any one year might vary dramatically, from big gains to big losses, but over time you should make more money than cash.  I will be writing a post with more detail on the pros and cons of on investing in shares in the coming weeks.

(4)     Investment bonds

An investment bond is a tax structure through which investments are held.  They can be started with as little as $1000 and allow you to invest small amounts regularly into Australian and International shares.  They have several tax advantages, only 30% tax is paid on earnings (useful if you are in the highest tax paying bracket) and the capital gains are tax free if they are held for longer than 10 years and the proceeds are used for educational purposes.  They are offered by life insurers and friendly societies, and investors can choose from a range of underlying investment options ie. mixes of cash, bonds, shares etc.

(5)    Education funds

Education funds are special funds to help you save for your kid’s education.  There are some tax benefits around this type of investment but there are also plenty of rules, so be wary and make sure you read all the fine print.  For example what happens to your investment should your child choose not to go to university?  Or your circumstances change?  Also, quite often fees on this type of investment are quite high, so make sure you compare it to all your other options and be very clear on all the fine print so you don’t get caught out.

Educating your child is a big responsibility.  The two keys to success are to start early and save regularly.  There are many different options for investing the money.  Which is right for you depends on many factors so make sure you get proper financial advice and read all the fine print before you decide.

If you liked this you might also like:

How To Create A Budget

5 Financial Tips You Need To Know Now You’re A Parent

How To Pay Off Your Mortgage Faster

3 Things You Need To Know When Saving And Investing For Your Child

How I Saved On My Electricity Bill

Disclaimer:

The information contained in this post is general in nature and does not constitute financial advice.  Please see your financial advisor for advice specific to your individual circumstances.

 

30/01/2014 21 comments
0 Facebook Twitter Google + Pinterest
Save for Christmas

I know what you are thinking!  Hasn’t Christmas been and gone?  Yes, but I have decided that if the stores can start stocking Easter eggs and hot cross buns in January!  I can talk about saving for Christmas 2014.  Besides, the best time to start saving for it is now!

So, to get ready for Christmas 2014, the first thing you need to do is to set your goal.  You need to know how much money you would like to have saved by a set date in 2014 when you would like to hit the shops.

Next you need a plan.  As the saying goes, “a goal without a plan is just a wish”, so break your goal down into a weekly, fornightly or monthly savings amount.  So if your savings goal is $300 for Christmas by the 3rd of December 2014.  This calculates to 48 weeks from the 1st of January or $6.25 per week.  $6.25 per week is not much, hey?  So you give up a couple of coffees a week?  Just doing that one small thing can result in $300 for Christmas!

Next you need to figure out where to put your savings.  This is where it is different for everyone but here are my top 5 suggestions for how to save, not just for Christmas but for any goal.

(1)    Find an online fee free account with a high interest rate and direct debit in your regular savings amount.

Have the direct debit come straight out of your pay so you ‘pay yourself first’ and watch the savings build.  If you are anything like me, make sure the account has limited access so that temptation is minimized J  Watch out for bonus rates, where an account has a high rate of interest for 3 or 6 months then reverts to a low rate.  There is nothing wrong with taking advantage of these rates, then moving if there is a better offer.  (Click here to see extra tips on how to make your savings work harder).  This method should give you the highest pot of cash at the end of the period as you compound your savings using the best interest possible.

(2)    Put your regular savings amount in a jar.

It is certainly fee free and you can even stick Christmas pictures on it to remind you of your goal.  However, you do not get any benefit from earning any interest.

(3)    Regularly purchase gift vouchers.

If having money around the house is too tempting, why not try regularly buying gift vouchers from your favourite stores.  For example, if every two weeks you buy a Woolworths or Coles gift voucher you will have $520 in vouchers by the end of the year.  Make sure you stash them somewhere difficult to get to and watch expiry dates.  Most vouchers have a one year expiry but it pays to check.

(4)    Start a Christmas Club account.

Many of the big banks don’t offer these types of accounts any more but many credit unions and building societies do.  They allow you to squirrel away your regular savings amount, with access to the funds often not allowed until November, which helps to keep your savings goals on track.  Interest rates on the accounts are small but many the accounts are fee free.

(5)    Leave the money in your mortgage offset account.

The advantage of this is that the money will be earning the equivalent of 5% tax free (see my post on how offset accounts work here for a full explanation).  The key here is to keep a diary of the money set aside and the trick is to not give into the temptation to spend it.

Saving for Christmas is not difficult.  The keys are to start early, save regularly and to make sure you do not touch your savings during the year.  These easy steps will help you sail through to a stress free Christmas 2014!

If you liked this you might also like:

How I raised An Extra $910 To Pay For Christmas

How I Saved Big On My Electricity Bill

How To Create A Budget

5 Financial Tips You Need To Know Now You’re  A Parent

How To Pay Off Your Mortgage Faster

Disclaimer:

The information contained in this post is general in nature and does not constitute financial advice.  Please see your financial advisor for advice specific to your individual circumstances.

21/01/2014 3 comments
0 Facebook Twitter Google + Pinterest
Household budget

It is the start of the year and so it is time for those darn New Years resolutions.  Exercise more?  Drink less?  Lose weight?   All noble options but none of these are it for me this year.  (Mind you, I could probably do with all three!!!)   However, this year my New Year’s resolution is to develop a budget for the Money household.  What?!!?  I hear you gasp, surely with a name like ‘Money Mummy’ budgeting is second nature?  Well, actually no.  It is not to say I haven’t thought about it, but this year is the time to actually do it.  So this is how I have gone about making my family budget from scratch……

The first step to developing your budget is to figure out what you spend.   There are lots of ways of doing this from writing it all down, to using an app on your phone or keeping all your receipts in a plastic bag.  In our case most of our transactions are done on card (either credit or debit), so I simply downloaded 3 months of transactions from internet banking into Excel and put each month on a separate sheet.  I then used Excel’s ‘sort’ function to put similar transactions from each month together and added them up.

Next I went to the MoneySmart website and downloaded the Excel version of their budget planner (see it here).  MoneySmart is run by the government.  The budget planner is very comprehensive and the best part is it is free!!!  This planner allows you to figure out exactly what you earn then gives you all the main categories you need to sort out your spending.   From there I just filled in how much we earned and how much we spent in every category that was relevant to us, using the data downloaded from internet banking.  For variable expenses (those that change from month to month), such as the supermarket shopping, I looked at how much was spent on each of the 3 months, then took an average.   For expenses that occur once a year, I simply put the annual figure into the planner and it calculated the monthly amount.  Really simple.

Once all the numbers were in, we discovered that we were spending more than we were earning!  Ouch!  Not by a huge amount but it is still not where we want to be.  So the hubby and I sat down and discussed what changes we thought we needed to make to get us back on track.  You can’t argue with the numbers so having them in front of us was a great tool to open up honest, frank and factual discussions on money.

We decided to choose four areas to focus on which we think will make the greatest impact to our financial position.  These were:

  1. Cash:  through the budgeting process we figured out we were spending a lot of cash, which is difficult to track.  Instead of tracking that spend, we decided to give ourselves a limited weekly cash budget, substantially less than we are currently spending and see how that works.
  2. We spend far too much on takeaway and eating out.  We have decided to limit ourselves to one takeaway meal per week and one meal outside the home on weekends.  This hopefully will do our bank balance and our waistlines some good!
  3. We are going to review our grocery spend and look for ways to reduce our expenditure.  Ideas on how we will do this will be outlined in a future post.
  4. We are spending a lot on utilities, particularly electricity.  I went some way to rectifying this when I changed provider late last year (read about it here) but now we are all going to focus on usage.

Creating a budget was a far easier process that I ever expected.  Though, I will admit at times it was quite confronting, especially when I figured out how much we were spending on eating out!!!  However, knowledge is power and I feel it is better to actually know where our money is going.   An additional benefit is that having the numbers in front of us meant Mr Money and I had a great platform on which to base our money discussion and make joint decisions about our money issues.  This process has certainly put us on the same page money-wise and has given us the facts about what we actually spend.

Now we know where we are at and what we want to do about it, it is time to follow through with action.  A budget is not a static thing to be left in the corner.  Every month I will be checking our spending and seeing how we are going and talking it through with Mr Money.  I expect given we have just started there will be a fair degree of ‘tweaking’ involved in the coming months, but I will keep you all informed on how we go.

If you liked this post you might also like:

How I saved On My Electricity Bill

How To Pay Off Your Mortgage Faster

Is Costco Membership Worth It

10 Easy Ways To Save Money

Disclaimer:

The information contained in this post is general in nature and does not constitute financial advice.  Please see your financial advisor for advice specific to your individual circumstances.

 

15/01/2014 33 comments
0 Facebook Twitter Google + Pinterest
Hamper King

Ok I will admit it!  I am a little bit obsessed!  But after being horrified that Chrisco charges 28% more than Woolworths for the same hamper of goods (click here to see the post) I wondered whether Hamper King would be better value.  So I decided to do the numbers on Hamper King and find out.

I chose the ‘Traditional Feast’ Hamper with Hamper King (click here to see what it includes), which was the closest comparable I could find to the hamper I used for Chrisco.  The ‘Traditional Feast’ hamper is valued by Hamper King at $348 or $7.57 per week.  The methodology I used was exactly the same too.  I found out from the Hamper King website what was included in the hamper then simply went on to the Woolworths internet shopping site (which could have just as easily been the Coles site) and found out the value of each product in the hamper.  If I could not find an exact match for the product I chose another brand with the same size or for some things I found the same brand but a different size (these are all annotated in my spreadsheet, us finance geeks love a good spreadsheet!)

So what did I find out?  I was blown away to find out that Hamper King actually is worse value than Chrisco on the hamper that I looked at!!!!!  The hamper I examined at had products in it to the value of $204 according to Woolworths compared to the $348 that Hamper King were charging.  A whopping 41% difference!  Horrifying!!!  Yes I know their prices include delivery but Hamper King would be getting the goods for the hamper at wholesale rates so I cannot see how such a difference can be justified.  Not to mention they are earning interest on the money they collect from you during the year before they pay the suppliers at Christmas!

I also have no doubt that you could easily do better than the hamper cost I came up with by using sales and buying from a combination of Coles, Woolworths and Aldi.

A further look around their website shows more price differences.  Hamper King sells regular vouchers to places like Flight Centre or Target or Kmart with a 10% mark up.  So for a voucher worth $100, you pay $110 or a voucher worth $500 you pay $550.  These vouchers can be brought for their exact worth directly from the store or for example a Flight Centre voucher can be brought on the internet for it’s face value plus $7.95 for postage.   So a $500 voucher would cost you $507.95 rather than $550 through Hamper King.

Easy Save Holidays is affiliated with Hamper King

It really does pay to do your numbers on these sorts of hampers and it is so quickly and easily done using the internet shopping sites of the likes of Woolworths and Coles.  I would urge anyone considering getting one of these hampers to check the value first and then to have a look at other ways to save the money for themselves.  From the hampers that I have looked at it certainly seems you will get far more bang for your Christmas buck doing it yourself.

If you would like to check out my spreadsheet with the calculations please click here.

If you liked this post you might also like:

Chrisco Hampers: Are They Good Value?

10 Easy Ways To Save Money

How To Pay Off Your Mortgage Faster

15/12/2013 15 comments
0 Facebook Twitter Google + Pinterest