new financial year, new budget!

Oh wow, it’s been so long since I’ve been on here! I’ve had a few people ask when my next post was coming and I have been really wanting to do one for so long!! However as some of you may know, I have taken myself back to uni this year to study a postgraduate course in Emergency nursing. I am officially half way through and although I am enjoying my new adventures at work, it is pretty hard work and time consuming! I am working 4 days a week with full time study piled on top, so my free time has been very little in recent months. In saying that, I’m officially on my mid semester break and loving being able to lounge around at home, watch Netflix, do some craft and not feel guilty that I should be studying!! It’s amazing and I have seriously taken that for granted the past few years. Apart from enjoying free time the past few weeks, as it has switched over the new financial year, I have a brand new budget in full swing. So I thought I would share some of my budget with you all!

If there is one thing I got from my mum, it’s the love of budgeting, saving money and finding a bargain. Peter and I saved pretty hardcore when we were saving to build our house. We were lucky and had the ability to live with my parents without paying rent/board after school so we were able to save maximally. This lead us to building, buying and owning our own home at the age of 21 (with a mortgage of course).

This past financial year, I haven’t stuck to the budget as tight as previous years. We have bought new fun things like cameras and a new computer, we went on an a holiday and did some work around the house. This lead to us not saving as much as we probably could have. This financial year I want to focus less on material things. I want to live simply and cheaply. My ultimate financial goal this year is to continue paying off the mortgage as normal, plus saving 12 months worth of our minimum mortgage payments. This is around $26,000. CHALLENGE ACCEPTED!! Below and in future posts, I’ll be writing about our budget, how/where we save money, our grocery shopping, what we do for entertainment cheaply, our bills and … well, everything else in between!

When it comes to money, we both have regular pay checks and earn about the same as each other. With our fortnightly wage, our budget is based around breaking it down into mandatory expenses, such as mortgage, savings, bills, food and petrol. Then into extras like everyday spending money for things such as going to the movies, buying clothes etc. I just want to add, this is just what we like to do. I hold no judgement to what other people do with their own money. I just love to read and gain tips from other thrifty people or people trying to save money so I hope you who are reading may get some inspiration or tips from me writing this.

Paying off our mortgage is high on our priority list, in fact it is at the top of our list. I am certainly not a financial advisor by any means but I really believe paying off a mortgage is the best investment you can make. Our plan is to have our mortgage paid off in half the term amount (15 years rather than 30 years). The only way to achieve this is by paying extra money off every fortnight. We have done this since the start and will continue to do so until our mortgage is no more! The amount of interest you save by paying extra money off your mortgage is phenomenal. At the end of the day, the interest can either be in the banks pocket or your own and that is my inspiration to knock over our mortgage as fast as possible. I’ll just add here that we don’t have any other debts to pay. No car loans, no afterpay, no credit cards.

After the mortgage, we put money into a high interest savings account. Remembering that we are aiming to save at least 12 months worth of minimum mortgage repayments, I have calculated this exactly and are putting the allocated amount into this account each fortnight. We are now saving significantly more than we have since moving into our home and it’s actually really fun and satisfying.

The next mandatory expense in bills. For this, I calculated the entire amount that we spent on bills last financial year. This includes house rates, electricity, gas, water, internet, phone, car and home insurance, car registration, nursing registration (yes I have to pay to do my job every year), my union fees, Netflix, Foxtel, ambulance cover and Peter’s subscription to Lightroom. I added it all up and divided it by 26 fortnights. I then put that calculated amount into a bills account each fortnight so when bills come in, the money is always there. This year I have decided to add an extra $50 a fortnight to cover things like car servicing, dentist and doctors appointment that we might run in to. I totally acknowledge that some of these bills (mainly Netflix and Foxtel lol) are definitely not essential but we enjoy them and aren’t quite ready to cut that expense out just yet.

Next is petrol. We both work about a 30 minute car drive away from home. This makes petrol a mandatory expense. Petrol prices of late have a real kick to the budget. Regardless, we allocate money each fortnight specifically to petrol so we can get to work to earn money haha.

Last mandatory expense is food. Our grocery bill is definitely something I will be able to save money on this year. A few ways we already save money on groceries compared to others is where we shop. We have always shopped at Aldi which is without a doubt cheaper than any other of the major supermarkets. Secondly, we don’t eat meat. We both haven’t eaten meat for many years for ethical reasons (we just love animals!!) but not buying meat also saves you money (it is just soooooo expensive!!). We did our grocery shop a few days ago and already saved $50 compared to what we spent each fortnight last financial year. I did this simply by planning our fortnightly meals, shopping to a list and not making any impulse buys.

Another account I keep is money for gifts, both for birthdays and christmas. It’s not a huge amount of money each fortnight ($50) but it is handy to have when birthdays come around and spending money is a little tight.

The last area is everyday spending money. This is allocated to both of us to do what we like with. I usually spend my money on things such as op shopping and going to the movies. Peter spends his money on things like saving for new camera gear. We are both pretty simple and don’t spend a great deal on clothes etc but I’ll do some posts in the future about what I have bought with my fortnightly budget to give you more of an idea! Anything left over from our allocated money will go into an extra account, we like to call our ‘slush’. We aren’t sure what exactly we will spend this money on yet… maybe save for a holiday or a new car???

An easy thing we have already saved money on this financial year is culling the gym membership. We were paying it monthly but not using it nearly enough to be getting our moneys worth. Cancelling it has saved us a whopping $1500 a year which will go nicely into our savings.

OK so I feel like I’ve written enough to make up for the past new months where I haven’t posted anything, so this is where I leave you for now. I would love to know any tips you have about saving money, paying off mortgages, living simply and cheaply! Or if you have any questions about the way our budget works, just let me know! I hope to continue writing posts throughout my next semester of uni about our budget, my op shopping, other adventures we have and anything else in between. I will hope my next post will also have some more photos!! For now, thanks for reading and sorry its been so long.

my garden

Oh my gosh, it’s been way to long since I’ve posted. I don’t really have an excuse except for the normal – work, Netflix, sleeping, housework etc. I’ve been thinking about this post for ages now and it feels so good to be finally doing it and I’m really excited to show everyone my garden. Spending time in my garden is something I’ve really found relaxing and therapeutic. Until recently, gardening never really took my interest but once I started, I just wanted to plant more! I just love that feeling of watching the plants grow and that feeling of accomplishment when I see the first flower bloom or the first tomato ripening. I’ve been learning as I go so if there are any green thumb’s reading, I would love to hear any tips you have!

This gorgeous sunflower is my favourite plant I have. Unfortunately this photo was taken a few weeks ago and it no longer has any flowers and is looking pretty sad. My understanding (remembering I don’t know a lot) is that the sunflower is very much a summer plant and with the weather we have had the past few days, I’m sad to think I probably won’t see it again until next summer. Oh well, I really loved and appreciated it while it was on show.

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One thing I really love about being outdoors is the wildlife. Since we moved in to our home over two years ago, Peter has really bonded with the magpies in our area. I vividly remember last spring, walking into the lounge room to find four magpies standing on my rug and a very pleased looking Peter. There have also been many times I’ve looked outside to see Peter standing on the lawn surround by thirty-five or more magpies. For Christmas Peter got a birdbath and we bought a bird feeder which has seen an array of different birds coming into our backyard which has been exciting for us. Below is some of the beautiful maggies that visit us.

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This is our fig tree. We planted this mid December and it has been doing really well. I give it a really good drink 2-3 times a week and it has taken off. Below is the first ripe fig it has produced. It was delicious! Sweet but earthy and I was so proud to share it with Peter and my mum. I felt like a proud parent. The tree has at least four more fig’s growing and it keeps getting bigger everyday.

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This grape vine has been growing for around three months and is really taking off. We have two planted and plan to grow them up, around and over the pergola which will eventually be shade for us. I really think it will look fantastic once it keeps growing!

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The second fruit tree we have is this lime tree. Peter got this as a present for Christmas and in the past two weeks it has started producing flowers which are slowly but surely turning into tiny little limes. So cute! The leaves smell so fresh but do have some yellowing to them as you can see below. Does anyone know what this means? I appreciate any tips you have!

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And just a couple of hanging pots and potted colourful plants.

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And finally our veggies! I just love watching the veggies growing. We have two different types of chilli’s, two capsicum plants, cucumbers, tomatoes and an eggplant. The chilli’s are ripening well as you can see and today while I was taking some photos I realised that the eggplant has a tiny purple flower! How exciting. The tomato plant is one we have had for a while and has produced so many tomatoes. However all the tomatoes were getting too heavy for the branches, which have almost all snapped off now. The tomatoes are ripening on the bench but plant itself is looking very sad. I will prune it right back and hopefully be able to save it.

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I have so many more ideas for our garden. I want to add at least three more fruit trees, so tell me your favourites! I’m not sure what else to add, so I need suggestions! We also plan to build bigger and better veggies boxes so we can grow heaps more veggies. Peter is currently building some retaining walls and an in-ground fire pit. I’m putting up fairy lights and want to add some more hanging pots too. Gosh, I really love being in the garden. Speaking of it, I better go water my plants!

 

annual leave antics

As much as I like to think I’ve made the most of my three weeks annual leave, I really haven’t. When I say it like that, it sounds like a bad thing, but it really isn’t. After the cruise, most of my days have consisted of sleep ins, cups of tea, adding small bits to my blanket and cross stitch, a few op shop visits, visiting mum and dad, and Peter’s family too. I’ve done a bit of Christmas shopping and have been doing some gardening and starting to decorate our outdoor area. It really has been so enjoyable. I also went to see Lorde with my brother. It was so much fun. We drove half way to Melbourne and caught the train into the city and walked down to Sidney Myer Music Bowl. The weather was stormy and the sky was purple but we didn’t get one drop of rain. We had a great view of the stage and sang and danced all night. She is a brilliant performer and I would definitely recommend her for next time she tours Australia. We thought that nothing could ruin our night, but oh how we were wrong. Twenty minutes into our drive home, the car started shuddering and engine light came on…. the car was breaking down!! As independent, resourceful and smart adults, we did the only thing we could think of….. ring Mum and Dad! Thankfully they, along with the RACV came and saved the day and we were eventually on our way home two hours later.

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The next exciting thing I did on my annual leave was our Harry Potter marathon! My sister and I have been in love with the Harry Potter series for years and years. My mum however had never seen past the second or third movie. We have nagged and nagged for so long for her to watch them with us and she finally agreed!!! We had to make it special so I set up my second lounge room with spare beds, candles, lanterns and fairy lights. We made a menu of food for two days, Mum and Blue brought overnight bags (and more food) and it was on! We worked out it was just under twenty hours to watch the eight movies, plus including time to sleep, eat and toilet breaks, it was going to be a big two days! We weren’t off to a good start when Mum started falling asleep about forty-five minutes into the first movie, so she was moved onto the naughty chair that you can see below. But surely enough, hour after hour, we kept ticking off each movie and all of a sudden we were onto the last! Overall, it was a long but awesome two days. We were truely exhausted at the end, but it was a marathon after all! I’ll have to admit, even I don’t feel like watching Harry Potter for a while!

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I’m now sitting in bed finishing this post and it’s only an hour and a half before I have to leave for my first shift back at work. Oh dear. Annual leave really never goes for long enough. But I suppose if we never went to work, we would never really appreciate the feeling of days off or annual leave and it really is one of the best feelings in the world.

girls trip

It’s safe to say that I love annual leave! (I mean who doesn’t!) and what better way to start three weeks annual leave than setting off on a cruise!! This cruise had been planned for months and months and it was after several weeks of nagging from my elderly Grandma. So here we were, several months later, my Mum, Sister, Grandma and myself ready to take on the high seas (bass strait), we were off to Tasmania!!

I had been on a cruise once before with Peter after I graduated Uni and really enjoyed it so I was excited for this one. After some seriously busy months at work, I was ready to unwind and relax….. and that’s exactly what we did. Our cruise was five nights long which was the perfect amount of time to take my Grandma. She needs to use a walker, if not a wheelchair to get around so everything had to be taken slow. But slow was exactly what we needed. Our days consisted of, waking up, buffet breakfast, then out to the back of the ship to the lounge chairs in the shade to read/cross stitch/crochet/nap. Then onto lunch which was always delicious. After lunch, Gran often needed a rest in bed, so us three girls would be off to the sauna and steam/meditation/herbal rooms which was probably the best time of the day. We would then make our way back to the lounge chairs and order a drink (I tried the full menu of Mock-tails). It was then time for dinner, which we ate at the restaurant every night. With bellies full of food we made our way back to our cabin to rest then us crazy girls would be well and truly asleep by eight o’clock each night. I read two books, both of which I really enjoyed. The first was Nevermoor: The Trials of Morrigan Crow by Jessica Townsend and second was Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs. Both I couldn’t seem to put down, gosh I love finding a good book! (If you have any recommendations for a good book, let me know!)  I also added a few more letters to my cross stitch as you can (sort of) see in one of the photos below.

On day three and five we did get off the ship and do some exploring. First stop was Hobart. Here we wandered around the city centre and had a milkshake. We stopped at an op shop (how could I resist) and then to the museum. On day five we stopped in a cute little town called Bernie, where we did much the same. Walked around, looked in shops. But around two hours was enough for us before we were back on the ship to our lounge chairs. Everything about the cruise was fantastic but the best part is just being with my family (no matter where we are) just laughing, always teasing each other and having fun. They are the best memories.

After five nights, we were ready to come home. My Mum has always said ‘it’s nice to go away but nicer to come home’. It so true, we are all home bodies at heart. I came home to some beautiful flowers from Peter, my new cross stitch having arrived in the mail!! and our outdoor area having finally been paved! (all of which I will show in future posts). I just remember feeling so content right then and there at home with Peter, what a beautiful feeling to hold on to.

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night away.

Going back a few months now to my birthday, my sister and best friend bought me tickets for all three of us to go see Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone Live in Concert. Best present ever. For those of you who don’t know, I love Harry Potter. I’ve read the books and seen the movies more times than I can count. We were all so excited about it and decided to make a night of it and booked a hotel room to stay over the night. Fast forward two months and it was here!

We headed down early yesterday morning and got home early this afternoon. I had such a fantastic time. Yesterday we ate vietnamese food for lunch, went shopping, walked around the city, walking slow and talking fast. We went to the night noodle market for dinner and ate delicious samosa, gyoza, rice and salad (yum!) and then walked along the river during dusk to the concert. The concert was phenomenal. The Melbourne Symphony Orchestra were incredible. We bought scarves in our house colours (Gryffindor for me of course) and sat back and listened and watched in awe. We ate doughnuts and slurpies on the way back to the hotel and slept like babies. This morning we ate bagels for breakfast and walked around the city (and shopped) a bit more. I loved everything about it. The company, the food, the show, the hotel and even the weather! Thank-you thank-you thank-you for a great night.

I am now sitting at home, listening to the rain, lying in a freshly made bed and relaxing. Peter is editing photos on his computer and I think we will make homemade pizzas for tea. I have one more shift at work tomorrow morning and then I have three weeks off! How exciting. I hope you all have a beautiful weekend.

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sleepovers and sunshine

Yesterday morning Peter flew up to Sydney to attend a photography seminar so last night after work I had a sleep over at Mum and Dad’s house. I felt like I was a little kid again. I slept in Mum’s bed with her and this morning she made me vegemite toast, orange juice and tea. She bought it to me in bed on a breakfast tray. It was so sweet. I loved it. The weather is beautiful today, sun shining but not too hot so this morning I went to the local church fete.  I had $5 in my purse and ending up buying three gorgeous vintage plates and a cute old fashioned painting. I am day two of six in a row of work this afternoon but looking forward to three weeks of annual leave coming up. Enjoy the rest of the weekend everyone!

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Also here are my  family’s two beautiful dogs. Frank is the Jack Russell and Wally the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel for you all to enjoy!

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