19 May 2008

Budget - good news

Hanno and I spent two hours on our budget yesterday. We checked old bills and we had our little (solar) calculator running hot. We put 2 and 2 together, checked our answers, then checked again. We are spending LESS than we used to. Call off the hounds, our financial throats haven't been cut, we are doing fine. I'm sorry to alarm everyone.

Let me explain.

Our petrol costs have risen, our food and grocery costs have risen, but almost everything else hasn't, in fact, many of our costs have fallen because we're wiser and more frugal than we used to be.

Our new budget is listed below. The way we organise our money is that we have a certain number of costs that we keep in the back. They are in the first section below. Our other costs are paid in cash, so that money is withdrawn every month and put into my trusty zip lock bags. Each section has its own bag, for instance, we have a bag containing $125 marked 'Aldi', a bag containing $125 marked 'IGA', a bag containing $30 marked 'Chemist' etc. During the month, money is taken from these bags when we do our shopping.

(Per month)
Each bill is paid by direct debit when it comes in or kept in the bank until we need it

House and water rates 95.00
Insurance - house, car, health 225.00
Phone - Landline & Mobile 40.00
Internet 40.00
Electricity 53.00
Gas 15.00
Rego, tyres and maintenance 84.00
Vitamins 80.00
Clothes and shoes 20.00
Optical 25.00
TOTAL 677.00

Money withdrawn from bank and put in ziplocks

Aldi 125.00
IGA and markets 125.00
Chook and Dogs Foods 50.00
Bulk food/ flour 40.00
TOTAL 340.00

Petrol 150.00
TOTAL 150.00

Dental 20.00
Medical 25.00
Chemist 30.00
TOTAL 75.00

Garden Supplies 30.00
Pocket Money - HH & RH 80.00
Postage 15.00
TOTAL 125.00

TOTAL MONTHLY SPENDING $1367.00 or $342 a week or $49 a day

In our old budget we were paying more for various services so that is were our current savings are. Here is the old budget, this is the first part of the budget that we keep in the bank:

House and water Rates 156.00
Insurance - house, health, car 295.00
Phone - Landline & Mobile 95.00
Internet 40.00
Electricity 67.00
Gas 25.00
Rego, Tyres and maintenance 87.00

TOTAL = $765.00

As you can see, we've added $125 to that section and we're still $88 under our previous budget. We are also saving $100 a month on this budget.

We've decided to keep our food budget the same and try to stay within in for the time being. We'll review it again in six months time.

There is a lot to be said for small steps each day. They really do add up. All those small savings in electricity when we turn off lights and appliances at the wall - that's where some of these savings have been made. More savings were made by baking a few things at the same time, by cutting back on water, and being mindful of our phone usage - using emails more and the phone less. All small, almost insignificant savings, but when added up, have made the difference for us between make and break.

So yes, our fuel and food prices have risen but we can cover those rises with savings from other areas. I have to tell you, it was a surprise to both of us how much we'd cut back. The proof for us was in all those bills we looked at from the past year - they were all less than the previous years, even though the costs of utilities is rising as well. We are not living a lesser life because of those cut backs. We don't feel deprived. Quite the contrary, we feel enriched, satisfied and confident, knowing we can change for the better and stay within the meagre boundaries we imposed on ourselves.

I will go ahead with the Etsy shop and the extra writing and see if we can make a bit of money for our holiday and maybe some to be put aside for a new computer that we'll probably need in the next year or two.

To answer a couple of questions raised earlier:
  • The trip to where I work is up a steep mountain road, a motorised bike would not be an option.

  • I belong to no church but I like the idea of tithing. As someone else suggested, I give to my community with the work I do at the Centre.

  • RachaelC, the hen and chicks are from Brazil. They were a gift.

Again I want to thank everyone for the thoughtful comments on our situation. We really have built a great little community here.



  1. Hi Rhonda
    Well done. Its a nice surprise to find you are already ahead of yourself. I agree, if everyone did a little voluntary work the world would be a better place. I shall have to find out more about Etsy. Hope you are still going to be running workshops at your house. Sounds a brilliant way to spread the word in a practical way.
    Love from

  2. Whew Rhonda.........

    I wish we were in the same position, no matter how hard we try these things come up and bite us on the bum!!!!!

    We do get an annual rise in pensions, but the costs go up too, as I said earlier the only thing I can give up is the car......and right now I am clinging on to that for dear life.

    We turn off lights etc to save power, our heating costs are fixed as we have the district heating system, we cannot save there....but it does mean that we can have the heat on if we need it and we have the use of the laundry, washer and dryers......we have a water meter, our last bill was £46 for 6 months against £150 if we did not have the meter. They are not compulsary as yet here in the UK although all new houses have them fitted as standard.

    Good luck to you, I am glad things are not as bad as you first thought........

  3. Your budget is very much like ours -- except we have a hefty mortgage payment. Well, it isn't as bad as most everyone we know but it is quite a lot when you consider how much money we actually have coming in.

    We figure that house-poor isn't nearly so bad as junk-poor. If that makes any sense!


  4. This is good news for you Rhonda, what a welcome surprise...and just shows how being mindful with the little things all adds up to make a big difference. Re tithing - as I understand it the tithe has to be in money, it is not the same if one gives one's time and skills. I don't for a moment mean that giving your time and volunteering doesn't have a value, quite the opposite, it's just not 'valid' from a tithing perspective. Hope that makes sense. I have known people who tithe - they give 10 per cent of their income to someone who has truly inspired and helped them...so this is not necessarily giving to charitable causes, though it could be.....and even when they've only had pence in the bank, they've still tithed...and always always money has come back to them when needed. Maybe there are other versions of tithing I don't know about? Anyway, best wishes, and have a wonderful week. Diana x

  5. Your last post about finances had me really worried and am still worried. It really made me think 'really think ' about our future, how we save for it, how we manage for it. It is O.K. us growing a few vegetables and being frugal but to make ends meet in this Peak Oil Crisis. It makes the 60's look great, did the Baby boomers really have it all, use it all ???

    I worry about how my children will cope as I am sure all parents do.

    Rhonda, I would buy your soap, to support 'you'. I cannot buy the ingredients here so I cannot make my own but is it 'green' shipping it all the way from Australia to Switzerland ? One thing you have is time, time to make things which full time workers don't so I would think along those lines. Supply and demand and all that.

    Greeting, Karen.

  6. Well done Rhonda. What a pleasant surprise that must have been. Just goes to show how rewarding diligence is.

  7. Oh I am so pleased you have worked it out. I knew if anyone could do it it would be you and Hanno.

    Have a happy day.


  8. glad to hear everything worked out well :)

  9. Great to hear that you have things sorted, its good to see how all those small things add up to make a big difference :)

  10. I would drop the vitamins - the manufacturers are marketing them to us and in the west we are extremely well nourished. If you are unsure whether your diet is adequate eat a serving of Total cereal every day. The richest source of some vitamins is middle class pee !

  11. Hi Rhonda Jean :) What a wonderful discovery! I am so proud for you and Hanno, and I thank you again and again for the encouragement your sharing provides. Love, Q

  12. Congratulations!!! I'm so happy for you. It is good to know that the small things add up! Cherrie

  13. If you like taking vitamins maybe you could look into USANA a direct marketing company who sells vitamins.

    I have a friend who does this & their profit pays for their vitamins they personally take.

    Personally I'm not into direct marketing or vitamins but thought it could be an avenue that interests you - and if you can get your vitamins cost down it will help the budget.
    Leanne NZ

  14. That's wonderful news! Much like finding an extra $50 in a pair of jeans you haven't had on for over a year! hahahaha I still can't wait for the Etsy shop.
    You are definitely as wise I thought you to be. :-)
    BTW, I had to chuckle out loud at razor family farms comment about "house-poor" being better "junk-poor"! lol How very true.:-)
    Congrats from the U.S.,

  15. Rhonda,

    It is so wonderful that you keep everything tracked with your budget. You always amaze me!

    I was wondering with your grocery budget do you buy the same things each week? Do you have a master menu that you pick from each week? We always spend too much at the grocery I suppose that is our weakness. We get out once a week to get everything we need.(that keeps us from making several trips which is too expensive)I am going to try your envelope system:)So you spend 250.00 a week or was that a month?

    Thank you again!!!


    P.s. I think am also going to try to put a few things on Esty:)

  16. YAY - glad it has worked out better than you thought and maybe you have a few ideas for the future if ever needed.

    Great news!!!

  17. Rhonda, I was away for a week and missed you very much! I am having fun catching up on all these posts at once, and not having to live in suspense as to whether or not you are going to "make it!" Well done.

  18. I'm so glad things are looking up. But I have to agree with anonymous...when reading your budget I wondered why two people who are eating in SUCH a healthy manner, with whole foods and lots of grains, need vitamins? Eighty dollars is a lot of money. If I'm being too nosy I apologize. But that would sure free up a huge chunk of your budget.

  19. That's great news! What a relief.

    I, also, would love to purchase Rhonda made products! :)

  20. Great news!
    But i still think you can write a bestseller book with all your ideas which you write down on your blog.
    You have really low costs. But i can see a difference in taxes between Australia and Holland. For example the petrol is expensive for our car, but we also have to pay 85 euro's tax a month for only having a car.
    And on our bill for gas and electricity we pay tax for the environment and tax overall the bill.
    I'm also perhaps a bit nosy about the vitamins. I agree with people here who say, you perhaps don't need so much vitamins. If you want i can give you some advice about it. I have a food-education.

    (this is my email: Annikka66@gmail.com)

  21. Glad things are better than you first thought!
    I am looking at our outgoings and trying to prune some more as food, fuel and petrol costs have risen so dramatically recently. We are paying £1.19 per litre for diesel for the car now and butter has gone up from 56p to 87p. I have really valued all the advice you give and the encouragement too, thanks.

  22. Oh Rhonda, that is just wonderful! You both must feel so proud and relieved that it turns out you're doing better than you thought.
    I'm also impressed with your budget and how it's set up. Looks good! Although we live within our means, we don't really have a clear budget like you have. The only thing we have is a 60 euro limit for the supermarket every week (for 4 people), but it's more of a guideline really, in reality we don't manage that every week.
    I agree with Annikka, owning a car here in the NL is very expensive, not just the gas. I think it costs us in total about 150 euros a month (I'm sorry, I don't know how many AUS $ that is) that's write-off (is that even a word? I mean devaluation by using and aging) for the car, gas, insurance and parking.

    Christine from the NL

  23. Now that's good news! (&very inspiring!)

  24. good for you! throughout these several last posts I've been thinking a lot about you and how frugal you live and how at peace you are with possible changes-again, an inspiration. with me at home doing the mom thing, we are essentially on one fixed income too so you are a model for me to do those little things that add up! i just wish i had your dignity :)

  25. Yay! You are an inspiration Rhonda.

  26. Great to see the figures working out for you and Hanno. Best wishes with your plans for making money doing things you love. xx

  27. Hi Rhonda

    I missed your first two posts, being away from the computer, so you had made your happy discovery by the time I caught up. One way I keep track of my finances is by using an old Microsoft Money program - I think it came with one of the computers years ago - and also a personal spreadsheet I have made on Excel. A works spreadsheet would probably suffice. The equations in the spreadsheet are very basic but it means that if there is a sudden increase in the cost of one or more important expenses I can see straight away whether/where I can make adjustments to compensate. Last year's present buying got rather out of hand, for example. The Money program keeps track of everything to the last penny and I pay all the bills I can by Direct Debit. Sometimes in the UK it is cheaper to pay that way. With petrol now almost £5 a gallon (10.22 AU$), using the car is rationed and I really appreciate the privilege. Our food tastes better because I no longer buy ready made. Though we have less consumer goods, what we do have mean so much more.

  28. Thank you Rhonda for reminding us that each small step can make a difference in being debt free and happier for it.


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