Saving money

12 August 2010
Thank you so much for your good wishes for Kerry, Sunny and the baby.  We, and they, appreciate everyone of them. 

It's been a while since I wrote about money and how to hold on to it. The new baby has refocused my mind on this topic because Kerry and Sunny will be saving for their home and Hanno and I will have a few extra expenses because we want to help provide for the baby.  We are on a limited budget, Hanno is on a pension while I still earn a small amount from my writing and the advertising on the blog and forum.  We have no debt, we have money in the bank but we have no superannuation/retirement plan/pension scheme to rely on.  We hope to live at least another 20 or 30 years so what we have right now is it for us, we need to be as frugal as we can be.

Self reliance has helped us get to the place we are right now.  We home produce a lot of our own needs and spend money only on raw materials and what we can't produce ourselves.  This has worked really well for us and it's very revealing how much money can be saved when you change your mindset to "thrifty" and you work for the benefit of your own well being and not to impress the neighbours or work mates.  The key to this isn't about how much money you earn but how much you save.  Imagine two people working the same job with the same amount of children and expenses.  If one worker spends their money buying everything they need, as well as what they want, they'll be existing from week to week, just focusing on the next payday.  If the other worker budgets, spends only on what is necessary, buys second hand when they can, recycles and reuses, knits, sews, mends, cooks and bakes, that worker will have money saved at the end of the pay period. So every week that goes by, the first worker comes out even or behind, the second worker will have something saved most weeks.  And I have to add that the second worker will probably also have the satisfaction of self reliance and the knowledge that their thrifty mindset is working for the family and not against it.

I hope we can all be that second worker.  

If you're both working you will have more expenses but you also have the capacity to save more.  It makes sense to have one person managing the money - that person should be the one who does it best.  Whoever is managing the money should do up a budget, ask their partner to help check out grocery bargains, write up the shopping list and meal plans; but you can both shop together.   If you have children, take turns at the shopping - always with a shopping list - so that you both understand grocery prices and both have a chance to save with your prudent and careful shopping. It is better to shop without young children, you need to be focused. If you are the one who is managing everything, you should be prepared to give a summary of your combined finances every month.  This will not only keep you on track, it will help your partner understand where the money is going and how much is being saved, or paid off the mortgage.  

If your partner is out working and you  are home raising children then it is your partner's job to earn money and your job to save money.  You will manage the money, actively look for ways to save, think carefully about your grocery shopping and look for bargains.  Try to work out a system where your partner looks after the children while you shop.  Your weekly grocery money is important to you, it's a lot of money to spend each week and you need to do it carefully.  After the shopping is done, you'll need to work out a system where you manage your food so that it is eaten as fresh as possible and it is stored in such a way that none of it is wasted.  It is estimated that about thirty percent of food bought for family homes is wasted.  That's like taking your weekly grocery money and throwing thirty percent of it in the rubbish bin!  That won't happen with any of us, we will be careful and will manage our money and our food mindfully.

If you're working for a living, or your partner is, then you are selling your life hours for money.  I calculated a little while ago that each year has only 8736 hours in it, giving us, if we live to be 80 years of age, just under 700000 hours in an entire lifetime.  When you think that you only have 168 hours in a week, and you sleep about 50 of them, then you have to be sure that life hours you sell must give you the best value.  Wasting money or hours cheats you of your life.  Work on a budget that will help you use your money in the best way possible.  And don't be caught up with fashion or the unrealistic expectations of children, family members, neighbours or friends.  Plan your spending with your partner and both work towards the good of the family.

Teach your children well.  Expect them to contribute to the welfare of the family by doing chores, keeping their room tidy and looking after their clothes, books and toys.  You won't teach them anything with over indulgence.  The only thing children learn when you give them more than they need is to how to take.  Have faith in your kids.  They will get more out of helping and knowing they're an important part of a happy family than just about anything else.  And their reward for this participation?  More time with you, of course.  Small children want to have time with their parents - it shows them how much they're valued and builds their self esteem.

I won't go into the ins and outs of budgeting with you now, I have many posts on budgeting and living well on less here.   We are all different, we all have different needs but we all have to conserve our life hours for real living.  Examine your life, think about what you want, talk about that with your partner and together make a plan to work towards it.  I hope that plan is a generous mix of sold work hours and work you do at home producing as much as you can for yourselves.  That is what Hanno and I have done and it has given us a life like no other.  I wish the same for you.