Managing your financial life

19 February 2018

February, week 3 in The Simple Home

The Gender Pay Gap
Throughout the developed world, there is a significant difference between what men and women earn. In Australia the gap is currently around 17 per cent. All through their working lives, women usually earn less than men even when doing the same type of work; they move in and out of employment during the years they have babies and often work part-time when they do return to work. As such, a woman’s overall lifetime income is much lower than a man’s. As well as being unfair, this means that women’s superannuation is much lower than their male counterparts, putting them in a precarious situation as they age. I wish I had a solution to this problem. I wish we had politicians who were strong enough to stand up and work towards a solution. I don’t have the answers, but I do have some suggestions. 

The list below is mainly targeted at women who have chosen to be at home to raise children or those who leave the workforce when a baby is born.  It could also cover men who choose the same path.  The main point of this list is to protect people who are working within a relationship for the mutual benefit of the couple and their children, who do not get paid.

  • Retain and develop your skills by working whenever you can. If you keep up with the changes in your field, you’ll be able to get back to employment or your career when you’re able to or you need to.
  • If you are married or in a de facto relationship, it’s wise to have a joint account with your partner. If you do want ‘your own money’, have a separate account that only you can access.
  • Have or share control of the budgeting so you get a full picture of your finances. List your assets, know what you spend on groceries and monthly bills, know how much you owe on your mortgage as well as how much you’re paying in interest.
  • You should both have life insurance, with each other as the beneficiary, so that in the unfortunate situation of one of you dying early, the surviving partner and the children will have some funds to carry on. 
  • Make sure your name is alongside your partner’s on the deed to any property you buy and that you’re officially the co-owner of your car. Have your own credit card. It will help you build a credit history. Always pay it off on time and don’t get caught up with buying just because you can.
None of this will completely protect you from the financial problems that might occur if your partner dies or you separate, but it will help you get on your feet again because you won’t have to start learning everything from scratch.

MANAGING YOUR FINANCIAL LIFE

If you’ve never felt the need to make up a budget before, or think it’s too difficult, I hope to change your mind. Being honest and sensible about your own economic situation and thinking about your values and what you dream for your future is important. If you combine that with your own customised financial plan you’ll have the best way to live your dreams. 


You must fully understand your own financial situation. You should know how much money is coming in, how much you owe, how much you spend, and on what. I hope you get to the point where you pay your bills every week and still have money left over to save or put aside for something you really want. Because this way of life is not about being miserly; it’s the first step towards living well and controlling your finances instead of them controlling you.

Track your spending 
Tracking your spending is recording everything you spend money on, from the mortgage payments right down to a cup of tea at the cafe. You must know what you spend in order to make up a realistic budget, but a good side benefit is that you’ll also know just how much you’re spending on things you don’t need. It can be a confronting exercise, especially if you’re doing it with a partner in order to create a combined budget, but I encourage you to be truthful, no matter what your truth is. You also have to be thoughtful and kind because if one or both of you have been overspending, blaming each other does no one any good. Start your budgeting in a positive frame of mind and agree there will be no blame. This is a new beginning.

Three ways to track your spending: 
  1. Use an app - these are very easy to use and take just a few seconds to add each amount.  I use this free one supplied by the Australian Government, but there are a few to choose from here.
  2. Keep a small notebook and pen with you and whenever you spend, write it down. 
  3. Collect every receipt and when you come home, add them up and record the totals in a spreadsheet or book. Remember to include online purchases and bills, which might not give you a paper receipt. 
Once you’ve tracked your spending for a month, you’ll be able to identify two important things: 
  1. What you spend money on. 
  2. What your non-essential spending is. 

Non-essential spending is the money that you don’t have to spend, but do. It’s the dollars you spend on magazines, coffee, movies, chocolate, iTunes, shoes, clothes, accessories, taxis, fast food, convenience food, soft drinks or bottles of water. If you can identify the money you spend on those non-essential things and add up what you spend in a month or a year, I'm sure you'll be surprised (or shocked). 

Cut back non-essential spending 
Changing your spending behaviour is rarely about the big things. The big-ticket items stand out and we notice them. They make us stop and question whether we can afford to buy them. The small things like coffees and magazines are such a part of modern life, we take them for granted. We buy them without thinking and it’s only when we add up the cost over a month or a year that we realise just how much we’re spending on throw-away products that don’t give us value for money. Those throw-away products are robbing us of our potential to be debt-free. If you can harness that money and put it towards debt repayment, or even to buy the groceries you need this month, then it's a step in the right direction. 

Let’s make one exception to this. The road to being debt-free is long and we all need to enjoy life as we work towards our goals. If there is something special you enjoy or something that means a lot to you, keep doing it, mindfully. Occasional date nights with your partner is an investment in your relationship. Coffee with a friend that you don’t see very often helps maintain that friendship. It’s wise to keep those rituals going and in doing so, you feel like you’re looking after yourself.  But don't hijack your own attempts to be debt-free by thinking you can continue to buy everything you want.  There is a choice to be made here - you're either debt-free and living with the memory of all those coffees, cafe lunches, new shoes, books and handbags or you're living with increasing debt.

Once you’ve decided where you can cut back, then you go to the next step: working out a budget

Creating a budget 
When I came to this point many years ago I was in a bit of a panic about it. I thought a budget would restrict me. It soon became obvious that instead of restricting me, my budget showed me in the most realistic way, how much cash I had, what I needed to pay and how much was left over for spending or saving. That budget was like a map that showed me a way forward. No more not knowing if I had enough money but spending it anyway. It was all written down in black and white. 

Here are the steps to take when creating a budget: 
  1. Decide what time period your budget will cover – a week, fortnight or month. Matching your budget period to your pay period will make things easier, so if you get paid monthly, do a monthly budget. 
  2. Write a list of all the spending categories: mortgage/rent, electricity, gas, food, fuel, entertainment, insurance and so on. 
  3. Estimate how much you spend on each category, using past bills and the information you gathered when tracking your spending. If you don’t have past bills, make an estimate. Your first year’s budget isn’t always accurate but it can all be adjusted as you go through the year. 
  4. Add it all up, and see whether it is more or less than your income for the same period. 
  5. Work out if there are any expenses you could do better with – your phone plans, internet and car/health/home insurance, for example – and if there are any expenses you can cut out completely, such as a second car, Netflix or pay TV. 
Your budget will be your personal spending map from now on. Refer to it often and make sure it’s accurate and that you’re sticking to it. Update it whenever there is a change to your income (for example pay rises, parental leave, job loss, retirement) or expenditure (changing mobile phone plans, interest rate adjustments, new loans), or every few years.

Building an emergency fund 
Unfortunately for all of us, even when we decide to follow a more frugal path, unexpected expenses still crop up. I remember when we first became much more prudent with our spending, an emergency trip to the vet with both our dogs ended up costing us $800. Your car might need new tyres, the fridge might break down or you might have to cover the cost of travel and accommodation if a relative becomes ill. It could be anything. Having a stash of money put aside for these emergencies will ensure you don’t end up putting the cost onto your credit card. You don’t want those added debt repayments when you’re trying to create new habits. 

Even though saving for an emergency fund might seem like an added burden, when it’s established it will provide a feeling of comfort and security. And remember – when you use some or all of your emergency fund, you’ll have to rebuild it.


To get it started you’ll need to decide how much you’re going to save. It could be $1000 or $5000; it might be enough to cover your living expenses for a certain period of time, maybe three months. I can’t tell you how much you need – it’s your decision and you need to be comfortable with what you decide. 

Open a bank account specifically for the emergency fund, then decide how much you’ll add each week or month and how you’ll come up with that money. If you get any birthday money or windfalls, put that money into your emergency fund until it’s at your desired level. If you don’t have any extra cash, can you find it by giving something up? 

When you have the money saved, don’t be tempted to spend it. It’s your safety net. It’s there to help you through the sudden and unexpected things that life sometimes throws your way. 

Saving 
After you’ve built an emergency fund and that safety net is ready to support you with unexpected expenses, it’s a good time to think about saving.


If you are disciplined in your saving and sensible in the goals you set, you will be able to achieve these goals without increasing your debt. For example, you’ll be able to pay for a modest family holiday upfront instead of putting a more lavish one on a credit card and then taking months to pay it off. Or if you know you’ll need to upgrade your car in a year or so, work out how much you can save in that time and make your decision about what to buy according to your budget, rather than buying whichever car you like the look of and then carrying the resulting debt burden for years. 

Paying off the mortgage (or any large loan) 
There is one simple exercise that I hope will convince you about the merits of paying off your mortgage early. Enter your loan amount and interest rate into an online mortgage calculator, then play around with the loan length and see how much interest you will save by paying it off more quickly. You can also change monthly payments to fortnightly. Now add an extra payment every three months, or an extra hundred dollars to each payment, and note the huge reduction in the amount you have to pay back. I think you'll be surprised at the amount you'll save by adding extra payments or increasing your payments by $50 to $80 a month. If you can’t commit to increased payments, try to put any spare money – a tax rebate, for instance, or a payment for extra work you took on – towards the mortgage. Every bit helps. 

Imagine being mortgage-free and living in your own home when the children are ready to go to work or university, when many of your friends and neighbours still have many years of payments ahead of them. I know people tend to have much bigger loans now, but Hanno and I paid off our twenty-five-year home loan in eight years. It was tough at times, but worth all of it when we came to that final payment. If you knuckle down and pay it off faster, you’ll give yourself options. If you’re not tied to a mortgage you won’t be tied to a job either.

75 comments

  1. Hi Rhonda,

    I completely agree about the importance of an emergency fund. Just last week my wife and I were on the way to an appointment 3 hours away. Just before we got to Bellingen the brakes stared making a worrying noise. We pulled into the mechanics and were told we needed new front brakes - immediately! The car was up to date with servicing so this was indeed a surprise. Luckily for us, we have emergency funds and were not at all stressed about needing the new brakes, in fact we were grateful that we'd discovered there was a problem before an accident occurred.

    Madeleine.x

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  2. Good advice. Even if it seems impossible to save anything, just start by putting your change in a jar and see how fast you have a little extra to put in the savings or for the next holiday season when you will need some extra cash. "Save your pennies and watch your dollars grow". Small starts help to build a foundation for your goals. Good luck.

    Barbara - WY USA

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  3. Dear Rhonda, I'm glad your first eye op went well. I hope your next one goes well too and that you have a speedy recovery. On the topic of financial management, I don't have any sound advice to add unfortunately. I'm ashamed to admit that we have really lost our way with this over the last few years since changes in our family. I used to have a budget and be much more on top of things. I feel overwhelmed with where to start and very nervous that our financial situation is even worse than I imagine it is when more closely inspected. Logically, I know worrying about it and continuing as we have been is not going to solve anything, so I'll just have to bite the bullet and start over.... one small step at a time. Thanks as always for your kind, gentle and sensible advice Rhonda. Kelly

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    1. There is no need for shame, Kelly. It's fixable and it just needs your time and focus. We all go off track, just turn yourself around and start making a few small steps. First you should work out what your financial situation is. Start tracking your money, check your bank accounts and statements. Work our what your debt is and when your accounts are due. When you have that information, write up a new budget. I think you'll be a different woman when that's finished. We're here if you need to ask any question but please try to start on this today or tomorrow so it can be dealt with this week. xx

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    2. Hi Kelly,

      I think everyone goes off track from time to time - don't beat yourself up about it :-) We had a very disrupted year here last year (house fire and rebuild, death in the family etc) and our grocery budget crept up and up due to lack of planning. Sadly, due to said lack of planning food waste also went up - not a good situation!

      I didn't realise how much we were spending until I started tracking every food spend - farmer's market, supermarket, organic food shop, health food shop, and I was really surprised and the figures. The good thing is I am now getting it back under control, and have also enlisted the family's help to do so (eg make do with what we have instead of running to the shops every time someone wants something)

      Like Rhonda says, start today and that way you can get some sense of control and know you are moving in the right direction again.

      Best wishes,

      Madeleine.x

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  4. Hi Rhonda,

    Great advice but I do disagree with your advice on getting a credit card. Not having a credit card doesn't negatively affect your credit rating. Having a strong savings history is much more important when applying for a home loan than having a credit card (even one that is paid off every month).

    Also, I am a big fan of the Barefoot Investor. I also do not agree with everything he says, but his approach is common sense, good old fashioned advice.

    Regards,
    Sarah

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    1. I disagree on the credit card because it is how we keep a current credit history since we are completely debt free. Since we are retired we do not have savings going into our 401K anymore either. We use a credit card as you would a debit card. Every expenditure is charged to a 2% cash back card and then recorded in our check book as if it were a debit card expenditure. That in turn is recorded in our budget ledger every Friday. Everything we have charged is already subtracted from the checking account and budget so when the bill comes we just go through it to be sure that we did not miss recording something and then write the check and send it off. The 2% cash back is just an added bonus. Last year we replaced our refrigerator with the rewards and this year it paid for a vacation. These days there are some things that you do have to have a credit card for regardless of whether you want one or not.

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  5. Great advice as always Rhonda. I think tracking spending is such a great thing to do - even if you have a handle on finances it is so important to know where our money goes. I found it so interesting to pull out essential spending and see our 'minimum' amount of money needed. It's so easy to think that we need x amount to live but it can be surprising how little we can live off if needed (especially if we can get our mortgage out of the way sooner). Of course, as you rightly mention, no one wants to live off just essentials for their whole life but if circumstances required it it's good to know where you stand. In the area of non-essential spending the thing that really helped for me is getting clear on my values and prioritising my spending there. For me that meant doing away with clothes shopping but spending on setting up a garden and skipping weekly brunch but opting for a monthly meal out with my husband. Value-based spending is so much more purposeful and I think aligns with the ethos of a simple life. I find it easier to say 'no' to spending on things when I check in with my values and find that they don't really align.
    Your advice on paying off your mortgage is so valuable. It's so encouraging to see that monthly interest rate drop down as you pay extra bits off consistently. Simple living has made it possible for us to continue to pay extra off the mortgage even while I'm staying at home with our daughters. Sometimes this means ruthless prioritisation of our spending but we keep our eye on the end goal and keep our values at front of mind.
    Best of luck to those working on this area of their lives. Even if you are starting from an uncomfortable point I hope you have the courage to dig in and follow Rhonda's sage advice.
    Regards,
    Laura

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  6. Wonderful advice Rhonda. I wish what I know now would have been put into practice when I was younger. We are working to pay our emergency fund back after having to use it for vet bills last month. 2 pets had to be taken in a week apart. Our fund is based on the price of a new refrigerator and washer and dryer. All three are 15-20 years old but all work great for now. It’s a good feeling knowing the money will be there when needed. 2 years ago when my stove went out we didn’t have an emergency fund. It took us 8 months to save up the money to buy a new stove. Family and friends thought we were crazy doing without a stove. They kept saying to go charge one. I bought an electric skillet at the goodwill, used my crockpot, toaster oven and microwave to cook our meals. It taught me a good lesson to make due with what I had and work hard for a goal. When the new stove was delivered it was nice knowing I had saved hard to pay cash for it.

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  7. Great advice Rhonda.
    When I started living on my own as a student , the first thing I did was to track all my expenses. I used a small note book. I didn't have an emergency fund specifically, but saved as much as I could.

    I still track my expenses and now I'm more organized in my finances. I firmly believe in 'paying myself first', so a portion of my pay check goes to savings and retirement contributions before I spend money on anything else. I have an emergency fund, and also save monthly for taxes, insurance, home repairs etc. Most online banks allow you to have sub accounts, so I have several accounts for these annual and semi-annual expenses.

    I have used mortgage calculators to see how much I can save by paying just a bit more every month. It's really eye opening.


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  8. Hi Rhonda,

    Thank you for writing such a wonderful blog. I feel as though you write each one, specifically for me!
    We have just had our first baby in Dec and I am currently on maternity leave. Prior to taking leave I have been contributing extra to my super to top it up. I am also discussing with my husband, the possibility of him contributing to my super when my paid leave finishes. Friends have done this and that way the stay at home parent won't loose out come time to retire.
    I hope you weathered the recent storm ok. I saw on another site some terrible tree damage up your way.

    Love Eden xx

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  9. I have just moved to a joint account and its really hard to manage but the benefits once its balanced will be really good. I have to disagree with the creditcard though. Any bank that says you have to be in debt to get a loan is not worth your time. A good bank will look at your savings, not your debt.

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    1. It's not necessarily the debt they look at, Jacinta, it's your history of paying off debt.

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  10. I have been tracking my and then our spending for more than fourty years now, from a student to two incomes, one income with a stay-at-home wife and two children, and now two pensions, one of them very small because of the stay-at-home. I can really read the story of my life in these books. It is also interesting to see how the spending categories have changed over the years, eg from no TV and telephone to mobile phone, internet and satellite TV.
    But I had never heard of having a budget until a few years ago. We just did it right by chance by paying all monthly bills by automatic deduction, and saving up for the bigger spendings front up like we had learnt it from our parents. And now I enjoy making a budget and seeing that it really works.
    Hilde from Germany

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  11. In Australia there is a specific mechanism for the main income earner to pay into their spouses/partners Superannuation account. This is not widely known or talked about but it certain is there. If the stay-at-home person in the partnership is not earning or has low earnings then there is usually good tax incentives for doing this too. The ASIC site deals with these ways to share / split superannuation. I'm not sure if this is possible in other countries but it is worth investigating.

    Investments outside of superannuation are also worth holding solely in the lower income earners name too for tax purposes.

    If the man is the main income earner, then he should actively be doing this through his pay office - it is not difficult and it is a small action of respect to his partner on a lower or zero income.

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    1. Thanks so much for the information Mr Home Maker. I enjoy reading the financial advice on your blog occasionally but perhaps I should read more often, as I was totally unaware of this. Thanks again, I’ll be looking up the details tomorrow.

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  12. Thank you for this post Rhonda. I am also glad to hear your eye op was succesfull and wish you all the best for the other one.
    In our house I am the one who is in charge of the money, my husband is not very interested. And to be honest, he is a spender, I am a saver, we never really got into trouble, but were close to it (living paycheck to paycheck). Looking back I regret a number of choices especially not starting to pay off our mortgage sooner. We had a mortgage on which you only paid interest, but nothing was being paid off. And we didn't realise the consequenses until last year (we have been living in our house for 20 years). It was due to thinking it was too difficult to understand and thus didn't want to think about the matter,but now I wish we had consulted the financial specialist years earlier. We will have paid our house off in the next 9 years and hope to teach this lesson to our children so that they don't have to make the same mistake. In your book you also advice a specialist and I would recommend it now to everybody. The investment is a sound one to make.
    I still have some other area's to improve on. I know how to track our spending, I make excellent budgets, but I have trouble sticking to them from time to time. Mostly to wanting to give my family what they want or ask. That could be as small as a certain fooditem, but also a certain pair of extra shoes.
    We do have our emergencyfund in check. We have 5000 Euro's in there to cover the costs of plaintickets in case something happens to my husband's family who all live in the US while we live in Europe. That's a very reasuring thought I must say. I would advice anyone to start an emergencyfund!
    Thanks for all your inspiration Rhonda, and my next goal is to be stricter on the non essential spending and sticking to the budget I have set!

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  13. Thanks Rhonda. We should all be concerned about the gender pay gap! Thankfully there are lots of places where we can get information and inspiration (without spending lots of money to get that information!), including blogs like yours, books from the library etc. On that note, I just listened to a new podcast put out by the ABC called The Pineapple Project, encouraging women in particular to get smarter about money. The first episode looked at the psychology of money. Thanks for writing about this important and often ignored subject. Cheers, Sally at One Family, One Planet blog https://onefamilyoneplanetblog.wordpress.com

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  14. I wish I had an emergency fund... I changed jobs and cities recently and have found that I don't really like my new job (stupidly I applied and accepted the position site unseen) but I'm now stuck as I don't have the funds to resign and move back to Brisbane and start looking for another new job. If I had an emergency fund of three months wages it might have been possible. I've started to take steps to save so that when the time is right I will be able to make the decision to change jobs and have the funds to be able to do so.
    Thanks, Anne

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  15. Thirty years ago when my husband first suggested that we should start a budget, like you Rhonda, I got the jitters thinking that I "wouldn't have enough money". Not that I needed money for anything specific, more that I didn't want to lose control of the money. I worked in a bank and handled all of our financial details/grocery shopping etc. and stupidly thought that a budget would leave me short of cash.

    Nothing could be further from the truth. It took a year to accumulate the full amount due for yearly bills like rates and insurances, but after that we started noticing that every so often there would be extra money in one category or another, due mainly to that fact that there are thirteen months of four weeks in a year. We used these extras in other areas as needed or just left them in the bills account to grow.

    We have a special account at the bank for our bills and keep a detailed record in a large book at home. This is updated each pay day with both of us being involved. It is very interesting looking back over the thirty years of budgets. Next year we will need a new budget when my husband retires.

    Another way I save money is the $1 for week one, $2 for week 2 etc for the 52 weeks of the year. At the end of this time $1378 is saved. I've done this for several years usually with a purpose in mind. Last year it was for a new chainsaw for my husband. This year it will just be added to our savings and I shall start again. Thanks to you Rhonda, for this great idea.

    I can't imagine life without budgeting now. It takes all the worry and fear out of bills arriving in the mail. I know it can be difficult to start a budget AND stick to it in your younger years when money is in short supply, but it gets easier as time goes by.

    God bless
    Lyn in Northern New South Wales.

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  16. Great advice Rhonda. Tracking money spent and living within your means makes life all the more enjoyable. Saving for things you want is an important part of that. My friends and l go out for afternoon tea twice a year. I worked out how much they both cost and now put $3.20 away weekly and that covers both. It's less than a takeaway coffee and l can enjoy the day so much better knowing that l have the cash to cover it. I find it's the little savings l make each week make all the difference:)

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  17. Thanks Rhonda. I used your advice on financial
    planning a year or so ago. We now overpay our mortgage monthly, and are building an emergency fund. Both things make me feel less worried re potential things happening in the future. I also have recently started tracking spending and established a rough budget. I’m the breadwinner for our young family, but would love to drop my hours a bit to enable some to hang out with my kids more and to enable my partner to return to work a bit - for his sanity’s sake, it don’t make financial sense as I have far more earning power. Tracking and budgeting has helped me see that working less is possible, if we’re careful!

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  18. Another interesting post thank you Rhonda. When we had a mortgage, we managed to cut many years off it by continuing to make the same repayment when interest rates dropped. Having automatic repayments set up to go into the mortgage means you set and forget, and since you've already budgeted for that amount you don't even miss it. It doesn't seem like much but over time makes a real difference.
    Love your books by the way:) Margaret

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  19. Hi Rhonda,

    My husband and I have always had a budget - not to say we are always perfect with it, but we are consistent the majority of the time. I like using a 'zero sum' system, whereby every dollar of our income has a purpose. I figure out how much I need to put aside for every expense each week - even small things like renewal of a certificate for work which must be done on an annual basis, we put aside less than $2 each week but by the time it comes around the money is there waiting.

    Budgeting to me means freedom. It means that I can be a stay at home mum to my son, and that we don't have to panic when bills come in. It means stability. It means that by saving small bits now when my son is a baby, his school fees will already be there once he is old enough to need it.

    We do not have a lavish income by any means - we live off my husband's modest wage and make financial decisions based on our priorities. We live close to his work so that we can make do with one car. We go out for coffee on occasion but never to eat. Yet we do not feel deprived at all! We have hobbies we enjoy, we eat good home cooked meals every day, and I am so grateful to be able to stay home with my son and any future children we have.

    One savings tip that works well for us is to decide in advance what to do with any money we receive aside from our regular wage. We use a matrix which divides it up based on percentage e.g. 10% to emergency account, 10% holiday fund etc. This works well as we never get tempted to spend windfalls!

    Thank you for creating this space for people to share ideas.

    Jess

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  20. I have just turned 50 and due to circumstances have to start again financially. Luckily I had some savings behind me but still I will end up with a mortgage of about $200 000. Some simple changes I have made are I cancelled my direct debits for bills as I was in so much credit on most of my bills 3 months on I still have not paid one single bill yet. When the bills do come in and require payment I have the money put aside to pay them and what is left over will be used to build my emergency fund up to $5000. I now stop and think if I really need to buy something and every spare cent is paid of my mortgage. I had set a goal of ten years but I think 8 maybe possible . I presently work 6 days a fortnight but due to people retiring I will have the chance to work 9 days a fortnight in the near future. I will pay the mortgage off before I retire and have a few years of working with no mortgage payments. I have done many other things to improve my finances - which I learnt from Scott Papes latest book.

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  21. Hi Rhonda, this is a thought provoking post that has inspired me to forward it to my grown kids, they are in varying stages of getting their budgets together and could do with a little focus on the subject, it is always nice when they can see other examples, to validate what Mum is saying. I let my credit card run away on me and have just recently cut it into little pieces, and paid off a huge amount in just one month by putting every bit of spare cash onto it, resulting in the monthly interest going down I am very happy about that. Hope others are as inspired to improve their situation too, thanks Rhonda. from Judi 1944

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  22. February's topic is very appropriate for me right now. When I began reading the chapter I was very excited to start tracking my grocery spending and see how I can save by menu planning, cooking from scratch and buying less processed food. My original saving goal then was to save for a newer car. A week into February and one of my cats has been diagnosed with lymphoma. Luckily there are treatment options but I am now in survival mode. Even with insurance it will cost me £1000's. Time to tighten my budget even further and have 'no-spend' year. My cats are my children so there is no question of where my priorities lie. So thank you Rhonda for discussing this topic at the right time for me, it is helping me take a deep breath and try and stay calm. I am lucky to only have a mortgage as debt as I love being frugal but, living on one income is tough. I am looking at an option of a second job too. My focus will be to survive as best I can month by month financially and to try really hard not worry.

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  23. My budgeting is a bit haphazard, but a tip from a 'courtesy auntie' really has helped me. Take out your housekeeping money in cash, when it is gone, it is gone, eat from the pantry. Do allow yourself some spending money and keep it in a separate purse.And, make every pay, be it from a wage, or a pension, last an extra day, and in 7 pays you will save a whole pays wages to bank, pay down the mortgage or put into a special purpose fund. Has helped me for over 50 years.

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  24. Thanks so much Rhonda for taking us through your wonderful book week by week. I read your comment this week that you were disappointed at how little comments you were getting and it spurred me to make one. I read your blog every week but rarely comment and wanted you to know the community who reads here is so grateful for your wisdom and guidance. So, we are a single income family at the moment, i am home with our kids while we have been living overseas for the past 4 years. We have a big mortgage on our home in Sydney as well as expenses here. Like so many others I have always budgeted, and stuck as close to it as i can. There have times when things have been very tight like when were were saving for the deposit on our first home and other times (before kids!) when we had a bit more. What has always helped us has been saving each month for bills, whether they be a yearly car rego bill or a monthly electricity bill. I have always taken full advantage of ING's online savings accounts which lets you have many accounts linked to your main one for free. It has allowed me to have automatic savings sent each month to a christmas or holiday account, savings for my girls and emergency savings account. My husband thought i was crazy at first but he now see's the method in my madness as our savings are divided up and separated from our everyday money. We make sure we pay any credit cards off each month, we pay all our bills on these to take advantage of the points system ours has. This allows us to get a little gift at the end of the year either for ourselves or to give to family at Christmas. I cook everything from scratch and try to keep in budget with food. I am so lucky here are we live in a house with a cellar, not the norm in australia, and it allows me to easily stock pile essentials when i see them on special. The one shade of grey for us has been we have stayed as expats longer than we expected and thus i have no super for the past 4 years. We are just starting to look at how we can add to my account back home from here to top it up as i'm acutely aware of what Rhonda mentioned above about the superannuation disparity between men and women at retirement. What has been the most wonderful thing about moving away from our sydney life for a while is the realisation that we were on the mouse wheel headed in a direction that we hadn't even thought about clearly, it's just what people 'do' where i grew up. Good job good house, mortage to the eyeballs. We have had the gift of a different city and culture to help us reflect on what we want in the next 20 years of our lives ( we are both around 40) and we have realised it's not paying off a mortage for the next 20 years at the cost of all other things in life...

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    1. Thank you for your interesting comment. :- ) We love ING too and have our account structured in a similar way to yours.

      I grew up in Sydney, a very different place to what it is now, and left to travel around Australia in the 70s. After meeting Hanno in Mount Isa and then spending two years in Germany, we returned but I couldn't stay in Sydney,so we settled in Queensland. It's heartening to read that you're using your skills to live simply. No doubt, you gained a new perspective when you lived away for those years. Good luck with all you're doing and keep on keeping on.

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  25. Hello Rhonda ~

    This year I've decided to track every single purchase in a notebook. Last week I was sure I was doing really well, but was still pretty shocked by the total. Some of it was Valentine's related, but I realize we could have had a lovely dinner at home for much less. Next year for sure :) You are so right, putting expenses down in black and white was eye-opening and I think will really help with impulse purchases that seem like nothing at the time, but really add up. Thank you for all of your advice, it's so appreciated!

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  26. Dear Rhonda, thank you for addressing the gender gap. It really annoys me that the gender gap exists. I think that it is very important that when you decide to stay home, you consider all aspects of it. Just like you work out how much money you actually spend on working (smart dress clothes, commute, lunch, child care etc), one should work out how much you loose in the long run on pension, no raise, gap in your resume etc. In my case, the second salary really pays off financially.
    We do work towards living on one wage. We are not there yet, at least not comfortably. When pressed, I think we could live on one income. In the mean time, we live slightly more comfortably and try to alternate between paying extra on the mortgage and fixing up our home. It is a busy season (both working with small kids) and sometimes it is really worth it to purchase extra (family) time and orde the groceries via internet and have someone clean our home. It does not make us mindless consumers, simple living is in my opinion striking a balance between the things we find important.
    Hannah

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  27. Great post as usual. The only things that we did differently were:

    disability insurance is as important as life insurance especially if there is only one person bringing in an income. Many people have disability and short and long term health coverage through work but many do not. As with most insurances it is less expensive if you start young but it is still not cheap. And even if you are a stay at home parent a disability or serious health issue can cause enormous problems - if you are in hospital or away for treatment for an extended period of time all the work you did looking after the kids and house will have to be done by someone and unless you have close family or friends it can be really stressful. Many mortgages also have life and disability/medical insurance that you can purchase which at least means that is covered.

    we have both an emergency and a planned spending budget. New tires, vet bills and servicing your appliances etc are not really emergencies. You can expect to have to replace and repair many house and vehicle things sooner or later. Our emergency fund includes 6 months to a year of funds to pay all expenses in case of job loss or interruption or medical problems (we have used it all up twice now and had to rebuild but if we had not had it....) as well as a fund for travel and funds for surprise emergencies.

    Very happy that your eye surgery went well Rhonda. We have been through several eye surgeries with my husband and Mom and it is not easy.

    SunnyMidnight

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    1. Thanks for your comment, Sunnymidnight. It's lovely seeing you here again. I hope you're well. I send warm wishes to your and your husband. xx

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  28. I want to thank-you as well for taking us through your book this year. I, too, read often but don't comment very often.
    This post is very timely for me as well. Just this week I started tracking my expenditures in a small notebook. I needed to managing my money more closely due to a larger then expected car repair bill come in. I have money in my emergency fund to cover the repair bill, thankfully.
    When I was working, I was able to set up my automatic retirement savings as a percentage of income. I was so thankful that I chose this option. It meant that any wage increase automatically meant an increase in savings.

    One thing that I do with my notebook is enter any purchase I make regardless of how I make payment. So, when I use my credit card, I immediately record it in the notebook and deduct the amount from my budget. Using my notebook this way helps keep my credit card spending in check.
    Cheers, SJ in Vancouver BC Canada

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  29. I agree it is so important for the stay at home partner or lower income earner to be protected and fully involved in financial decisions. I was fortunate to be able to stay at home for nine years to raise our daughters and then returned to work in the public sector in the UK. My husband and I decided that while I wasn't paying into my pension we would put the maximum amount we could possibly manage each month into his private pension which would be for both of us. In the UK if one partner dies the full private pension passes to the other partner if they have elected for this to happen. I returned to work part time and resumed paying into my public sector pension. We scrimped in those early days to put money in my husbands (our) pension and I cooked vats of vegetable soup, jacket potatoes, rice pudding slowly cooked in the range cooker and mince 101 ways. My husband didn't buy any new clothes for himself for years but looking back we were so happy to be at home with our daughters. Now we are nearing retirement we are so thankful for our forthcoming pensions. The one piece of financial advice I would give to youngsters is to start your pension as soon as you possibly can - in your twenties you think pensions are a bore but they become fascinating as you get older and approach retirement! Start now!

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  30. I have been tracking my spending as, due to reduced hours at work, I need to be a bit more careful of what I spend, it is certainly an eye opening experience. I'm trying to plan meals & while I'm not that good at it, I think that is where I really need to focus. Thanks Rhonda & other contributors for your advice.

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  31. Hi Rhonda, Like others, I enjoy reading your blog regularly but had not posted comments. This year will be different! I agree that an emergency cash stash is essential. When I had recent unplanned urgent surgery, it gave me such peace of mind to know I could pay medical bills and expenses and could live from my savings in my emergency account for several months. That peace of mind was priceless. Renae from Gold Coast

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  32. I love these posts you're doing. I got out of debt by reading your blog, using Dave Ramsey's baby steps, and listening to Suze Orman. The thing that has really helped me has been the emergency fund. My goal now is to save up one year of living expenses. This will be a rebuild. So far I have four thousand. When I had my hips replaced, I was so glad that I hadn't touched the money from windfalls, tax returns, and gifts. You just never know when illness or an accident may hit. I do pretty well staying on a low budget. I enjoy being at home in my tiny Cottage, knitting. Many people give me their unwanted yarn, and if I do buy yarn, I get it on sale. It really helps to have cheap hobbies. I love to ride my bike, hike, read library books, write, and do yoga in the living room. Cooking and baking are also fun entertainment, and they save money. I do splurge now and then, but on things that are carefully planned. It's exciting to look forward to a reunion, or visit with family and friends. These are all paid for with cash.

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  33. I understand the "equal pay for equal work" argument, but I read recently that men used to be paid more then women to allow for that fact most men supported a family. Times have changed however, and the pendulum has well and truly swung the other way. Now, single-income families are penalised. Eg, a single-income family on $120000, pays $10000 more tax a year than a double income family each earning $60000. Plus, those families also benefit from heavily subsidised child-care. Income splitting would help single-income families are lot, and give families genuine choice as to whether a mother stays home or not.

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    1. In Germany there is income splitting and we have profited from this since our first son was born. But now all parties except one want to get rid of it because it "encourages mothers to stay at home" instead of having a two income family.
      Hilde in Germany

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  34. Once again very good advice Rhonda. I had some money invested in a term deposit and last year my tax man told me to put it into my mortgage saver account. Wow that has made such a difference. The interest that I earned on it before used to just increase my taxes. Now it reduces the amount of interest that I pay on my mortgage. I think you have talked about mortgage saver accounts before, it gives you the freedom to pay off more whenever you get a windfall. Counting down the days now until that mortgage is paid off!

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  35. I'm enjoying reading people's stories. This is our first retirement year. We are now living on savings and our super annuation begins in September.
    T the end of each month we will review our budget and our recorded expenses to keep on track. At the start of each month we work together on the months projected expenses and record that in a separate small notebook. We then transfer the said amount to our checking to cover these. If some is left over in the month we don't need to transfer the full amount.
    Our personal spending money stays ours and we can build on our portion by saving surplus if we wish to buy something more expensive than our allotted amount.
    So far it is working and it's nice to be a team.

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  36. I meant to compliment Laura Jean on her term 'value based spending. I'm going to adopt that!

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  37. Great advice! Wish we had had it many years ago. We are in a unique situation in that my husband suffered a stroke last June. We had no Medical or Durable Power of Attorney. Fortunately, he could understand everything said to him so I had those done. Everything is in both our names, including utility bills, etc. I have been overwhelmed because he handled all the bills prior to his stroke. I didn't even know how to make the mortgage payment! He did have all passwords written down (so important!) so I muddled my way through. Now that we are on a fixed income due to permanent disability, I am trying to budget but must admit to being overwhelmed with that as well. With the monies he received from his employee-owned stock (they terminated him within 3 months of his stroke), I have been paying down our debts so that only 2 credit cards and a small student loan are left as well as our mortgage. Praying for wisdom in it all as we still have a 13 and 19yo at home.

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  38. We have always kept our spending within a set amount but it wasn't until about 2 years ago that I decided to track everything for 6 months. During that time I tracked not just groceries in general but in certain areas like how much we spend on meat, dairy, canned goods, birthday cakes, rice etc everthing. I did this in every area it was a bit exhausting but I learned a lot. It became very obvious where exactly I could make changes. For example we have a larger family so cakes were a rather large sum. Right off I decided that birthday, anniversary, and other celebration cakes (except wedding cakes) would be homemade. I also realized that some cheaper items were being replaced at an incredibly fast rate so in those areas we invested more at the start and have saved. Time consuming as it is I really recommend intense tracking for a period of several months.
    For my cash bills I use the envelope system. Hubs and I have savings and we have a family change jar to use for "funsies".
    Since I don't work outside the home, I am listed with Hubs on everything. He very much believes in me and supports the work I do as a wife and mom. People often ask him how we live so well since we are "working class" he always says "because of my wife".
    Several years ago we began giving our children money to budget for their personal expenses like clothing, personal hygiene items etc. We did this a little at a time as they matured into being able to behave responsibly. When they realized that anything leftover was for their amusements they became frugal teens! They stock up on things they use and wait for clearance sells.
    I love being frugal and living well.
    Ginger in Arkansas

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  39. I have enjoyed reading this post, its logical and uses common sense. I do things a little differently in that we have one main account and into that goes the mortgage payment and all our bills ie utilities, rates, insurance, home security, etc etc everything that contributes to the cost of running a home. I pre-pay everything in advance based on quarterly payments. So when the bills arrive they are either in credit or are a very small amount. We both have a certain amount allocated direct from our pay to this account so neither of us touch that money. Over the years it has accumulated a nice emergency fund on its own.

    I find that works for us better than setting a formal budget as hubby gets the jitters when I say the "B" word, so I set this up and it works brilliantly.

    We also have a set amount that we shop with each week and also have allocated personal 'play' money to spend on anything we want. It's not much, just $50 a fortnight but it gives us each an opportunity to reward ourselves for working so hard to make a solid life for us all, which is something we both need. Life's been a bit mean this past couple of years so the small treats keep us focused on being happy.

    Marisa



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  40. Great advice! I was well on the way to being debt-free when the perfect house finally opened up for us. I thought if it wasn't meant to be, the offer on the house would fall through. Instead, it flew through with flying colors. The credit cards were not paid in full and now we will be struggling for years to live comfortably again. We owned a house for years, sold it two years ago and moved into a retirement apartment. Living there was pure hell. We were 20 years younger than the other residents who constantly broke the rules (for example, smoking in our non-smoking building, parking in an area not assigned to them, having screaming grandchildren over consistently, etc.). The apartments also had windows only on one wall. We live in heavy snow country and it was dark all the time. I honestly could not have lived there another day. We moved in over Christmas to our new place. So now we are house poor but I don't have stress from the neighbors - just the bills. My husband and I live on Social Security only. I am on disability due to cancer (having worked for 40 years). My husband will have knee replacement surgery in May. He is 66; I will be 63 tomorrow. My hope by writing this is that young people will prepare better than we obviously have. We both have insurance but neither can go into the work force at this time. Due to my cancer and my husband's diabetes (under control), no one will insure us. If one of us were to die, the other will lose the house. I budget everything down to the last penny, cook at home, have no extra frills and pray a lot! Please young people, take the time to budget, live by Rhonda's excellent advice and don't get stuck in our situation when you become a senior. Be prepared and plan for the future!!

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    1. I hope you have a very happy birthday, Cate. It must be very difficult for you both living on such a limited budget, but try not to let it get you down, worrying is not good for your health,try to focus on whats good in your life!

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  41. Ah, I noticed it is Feb 20th in Australia already. Today is my birthday, not tomorrow as I listed in my post. One thing I wanted to add to my post for the younger people - we have NO savings and live paycheck-to-paycheck. I cannot begin to tell you how stressful that is. Our car needs new tires NOW and we will have to save for months to get new ones. At the end of our bill paying and groceries (which I have cut down to the barest necessities), we have around $179 a month left for gas, any medical bills, prescriptions, etc. This month our license for the car is due and it's $82, a medical bill is due at $20 and I have bronchitis which will require a prescription of $7. This will leave us with $70. That will have to last us for another month. This is not a fun way to live.

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    1. Thank you, Karen Burnside. I did not mean to sound "down." I appreciate every day I am given and actually love life. I appreciate your concern.

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  42. So interesting to read all the comments and your wise post Rhonda. We have been living on one income on and off since the birth of our daughter 10 years ago. Partly due to illness and in the last few years by choice. It feel that I am ready to go back to part time work in the near future. While we have been living frugally but comfortably on one wage, I feel it's important we start making some more headway on our mortgage and to start boosting our super.
    At the end of last year, we added $100 a month to our mortgage payment and it's amazing what a difference it will make on the life on the loan. I've really started meal planning this year and it's making a big difference. Less stress around meal times, the fridge is well organised and everything gets used. I'm consciously trying to only go to the supermarket once/twice a week and make do with what we have until it's time to shop again. I'm also thinking about starting to track all our spending as many readers have said that really helps. There are always more things you can and little things can make a big difference. You often don't even miss the spending. For example I make all our sweet treats for afternoon tea and if we ever go out for coffee, we never want to buy something sweet as it never compares in taste or quality. Even my daughter notices. Thanks everyone for the interesting tips.

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  43. We're a one income family now, expecting our first baby after struggling with fertility issues caused by endometriosis. When I was working, most of the money I earned was for savings and the fertility treatment. Thankfully the treatment worked but I had to give up my job in order to look after my pregnancy. I'm happy to say I've been budgeting so we can stretch our money to cover the health insurance and other associated costs with the pregnancy. We've been very lucky to get hand-me-downs for the baby, which is great help. I'm so grateful people are so generous and we can help the environment by stopping stuff from going to landfill :)

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  44. Thank you for these Monday posts Rhonda, I have enjoyed buying your book and reading along with them. I have been reading your blog and putting your advice to practical use for years now, but have found that the structure of these Monday posts have reinvigorated my efforts.

    I got quite sick halfway through university and was pensioned of in my early 20's, just as all my peers where embarking on careers and buying houses. It has been a steep learning curve living on a pension from such a young age, but I am grateful for the support of my community and all I have learned along the way. One of the biggest hurdles for me was to start saving for a home deposit on such a low income, its a lofty dream with housing prices as they are right now, but from little things big things grow and I'm prepared to give it a shot.

    Rent and bills takes 65% of my income, how ever simple living has enabled me to put what is left to good use. The remaining money gets split 60/40 between allowance and savings. At the end of the month any surplus gets rolled over into my saving account as well. Being in control of my finances gives me great piece of mind. I know budgeting can be scary to some, but I am finding it really fun.

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    1. I agree with you, the structure of these Monday posts have reinvigorated my efforts too. Kate

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  45. Thanks so much for this post. My husband and I are both "retired" though I still work a part-time job and he still does some in his business. Being frugal has become a way of life for us. We don't have a formal budget, but we rarely spend outside of what we bring in. Our home is paid for as are our vehicles. We cook at home, rarely going out except on special occasions. I have kept a record of everything that comes in and everything that goes out for several years now. Like someone else said, when the money is gone, it is gone and no more spending that month. I consciously think about what I am spending my money on when I go shopping for groceries. I ask myself if I need to buy it ready made or can I cook it just as well myself. The same is true of clothing that I need - can I make it just as nicely myself (which I usually can). I have let the bit about have a savings account for emergencies fall by the wayside and will get back on that as soon as I possibly can. One never knows when an emergency will come up.

    Again, I thank you for all the good advice and to all of the commenters who also had some good advice. I love following your blog and consider it time well spend.

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  46. Big cyber hugs to you and Hanno as well! I read your blog nearly every day but have not posted a lot lately. Will post more.

    The gender pay gap is something that I have been steaming about for over 40 years since my first job after college. After about 6 months I found out that a male doing the same work as I was doing was getting 25% more pay. No wonder the company did not want us to discuss our wages. I went to the personnel manager and asked why. His answer was that a man had a family to support so needed more income. Really? The man who told me what his wage was lived at home with his Mom, paid no rent or utilities or groceries and was not married - also had no student loans. I on the other hand was single living in my own apartment paying all my living expenses with student loans to pay. The PM told me there was nothing to do as this was not a reason for me to earn as much as him. I told him that I would be looking for work elsewhere. He must have complained about me to my boss as the next day he confronted me and told me that I should not have gone to the PM but come to him. He gave me a raise immediately to more than what the man in my complaint was making.

    At every job I have worked I have had to fight for pay equality even when my work performance evaluations were excellent. There is no excuse to pay less for equal work based on gender. Unfortunately the young women of today do not see how important it is to continue this fight. Many countries are rolling back the huge and very hard won wins of the 1960s,70s and 80s.

    Since so many women work to help support their families it has always puzzled me that the men do not realize that inequal pay for their wives, partners, daughters means that they lose out as well when it comes to income.

    SunnyMidnight

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  47. Like others, I wish that we had been more focused on paying off debt when we were younger. Hindsight is always a wonderful thing! Having said that, our only debt is our mortgage and we are now seeing our repayments eat much more into the principal of that loan. Our goal is to ensure that we don't need to add to our mortgage for anything, no borrowing against the equity in our home which I think can be a real temptation. It was great to read everyone's comments and suggestions too. Meg:)

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  48. So many wonderful comments and ideas. Thank you all. I have started tracking my expenses again and will get the budget adjusted again too. Meal planning and seeing where my money is going each week seem to be the winners for me at the moment.
    We used to put money aside separately for emergencies and it came in very useful when we needed to buy another car! I still put money aside but now I put it directly into our mortgage as it reduces the amount of interest we pay and there are no fees for redrawing. It makes it real emergency money now because I hate taking money out of the mortgage!

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  49. It is very sad that we now think of the time a woman takes to raise a family as lost financial opportunity instead of a life opportunity. When my husband was earning our sole income we always thought of it as family income. As I was at home and more in control of my time I managed it all. His super was our super. Now we are retired oddly the super is in my name and again it is our money. Sometimes it is not the amount of money you have but how you spend it. I know there are times when it all seems to go down the bottomless throats of our children but that is not the whole of life. You can make bigger efforts as the children grow older. My mother used to complain about the small amount of housekeeping money Dad gave her. When I analysed this much later I realised he was actually quite generous and thank goodness he was in control of the household income disbursement. I mean does any child actually need 23 dresses? One woman I know never married and ended up owning several houses and some shops. She was a shop assistant to start with. So look at what you have and make some hard decisions about what is need and what is want or greed.
    Sorry to sound so grumpy but I have passed my exams and am now an official member of the Grumpy Old women's Association.
    Have a good day, All

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    1. Thank you for the smile this morning, Jill. You are so absolutely right, why a lost financial opportunity instead of a life opportunity to take care of our home and raise our children? You managed the house and money and I applaud you for it; I wish that I had started out like that. I love the fact that you mentioned thinking about what is need and what is want or greed. A majority of people need to dig deep inside on this one. People who have always lived that way are the lucky ones.

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  50. A change of perspective and attitude really helped me feel more positive about having a budget--I wish I could remember where I first read the sentiment on-line, but I can't. At any rate, whoever it was said, "Don't look at budgeting, frugality, and paying down debt as things that limit what you want--you're doing this so that, in the end, you'll have the life you really want, and the money to do the things that are important to you." It totally changed the way I looked at having a budget!

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    1. Excellent advice, Kristin and good for you! Until "we" change how we think, this good advice is like water off a duck's back. I know I read a lot about budgets over the years, but until it "took", I really didn't understand it. Thank goodness I do now! Way ahead in life now, but wish that I had started earlier. Thanks!

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  51. One of the good things about mainly working in Government Jobs (airforce, a certain Australian bank etc) is that there was a set pay rate and gender had very little bearing. In private enterprise it was a different matter. However I was of the female generation that loudly started to discuss the pay inequality and I remember seeing change happening.
    It is a difficult thing for women who take time out to mother the offspring of a couple. Financial reward is not the only thing lacking - career aspirations, promotions, progression, qualifications etc also can fall by the way side. I have no idea how to make it so that a woman taking time out for a family can "catch up" once she returns to the paid work force. Claire in Melbourne

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  52. An important and timely post given that, in Australia, the fastest rising group of homeless people is older women.

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  53. A useful blog as always Rhonda, thank you.

    Penny P may need to check her UK pension information. Only a percentage of a private pension goes to the named survivor. None of the state pension goes to the spouse.
    With the woman's state pension now withheld for six years to age 66, I will be in straightened circumstances financially if my old DH dies during that six year gap.

    I am looking after his diet, health and wellbeing and he now takes his senior multivitamins and daily walk.

    Nelliegrace

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  54. Such a wonderful post Rhonda. As women we need to look after ourselves financially and I like the fact Veronica raised the homelessness of the older women becoming an issue in Australia. This reinforces the importance to build a safety net if you can and don't leave it until the middle to later years as I have discovered unexpected health problems can arise forcing one out of the workforce way before retirement years.

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  55. I have never found, in Australia, a pay difference in the same job due to gender but certainly gender can lead to greater opportunities opening for some.
    On a lighter note, a few years ago, I won a free financial assessment. I gathered all the required information for myself and husband, filled in questionnaires and presented ourselves for the results. The planner happily informed my husband that based on the info, he had $300 000 more than required to met his required standard of living in retirement. I sadly was told I was $250 000 short of my expectations and would need to save aggressively over the next several years. The reason,electing to be a full time carer for husband and children before returning to work later in life. It was his attitude which was strange- divorce would easily equal the money issue. Hopefully attitudes have changed and I'm glad we didn't pay for that advice. We are now retired and still together spending and spending husband's money! Erin

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  56. Thank you for such good advice, Rhonda.

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  57. Good advice Rhonda
    I have talked my cousin into following this series of posts. We both had a similar upbringing and in the 70'2 it was the time between women staying at home and beginning to become more interdependent. There was a move away from the old ways of managing a home but no guide to the new lifestyle we were experiencing.
    Your books and these posts are giving us the tools we lacked and the joy of being able to finally have a guide to make our life more meaningful and fun.
    Thank you for sharing this philosophy in such a practical way.
    To date I have halved my last grocery shop, both quantity and cost.
    I have tried more simple cooking and found it absolutely delicious.
    I set up a budget and now have a clear vision with more confidence about what is ahead. [love the setting up of the emergency fund, cleaned all the draws and jars of coins and found my first $50 deposit:)]
    Regards
    Bernie

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  58. There are so many great tips here! Being debt free is such a great feeling, it's just very freeing!! My husband and I are blessed to be debt free now after saving, cutting our spending, living in a small home we built ourselves and driving used cars that we could pay cash for. There are so many ways to cut money from our budgets, IF we are willing to give up some luxuries. When we were really trying to save money and pay off our debt, we didn't go to the movies, rarely went out to eat, didn't take many vacations, used cloth diapers, use cloth napkins, etc.
    Thanks for the reminder about tracking my spending, I need to get back in that habit.

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  59. I really enjoyed this post Rhonda. I'm 36 and have had a budget since I was 18 and engaged and living with my partner (now husband ) . I add up every bill, mortgage, power, phone , insurances etc etc and divide into what I need to pay fortnightly and add an extra 10% as a buffer. Every fortnight I pay the entire amount straight out of my pay ( I'm currently the main breadwinner ). Whatever we have left is left for groceries and spending. Hubby's pay ( when his work is stable ) goes into our savings account. Last year both my daughters needed surgery privately costing us $6000 and luckily we had that there . At the moment we have under $1000 savings due to hubby not having a lot of work but we manage by budgeting carefully . We can't always add to savings when he's not working much but when he is we do.
    Thankfully our careful budget has meant we have never missed a bill payment ever and on low weeks we use stockpiles and home cooked meals we've frozen.
    You're blog has been a huge inspiration to me since 2007 and I have learnt so much more from reading this blog. And I rarely comment but always check in here as it keeps me on track and reassures me my simple living journey is exactly how I want to continue living even if others think I'm crazy ...

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  60. Every Monday we write down the expenses of last week in our budget-sheet. This way we keep on track with our expenses. Some bank accounts have the ability to set saving-goals, this way it is easy to budget your savings!

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  61. The small grocer where my husband worked went out of business in October last year. We had been talking about being more intentional with our spending and developing a budget for a while...that job change was certainly the kick in the pants we needed to get started in earnest. Now that we have a budget it is such a relief to me. I'd expected the opposite, but it is so liberating and hopeful! And now this post comes along and I feel so good about where we're at--the path we're on. Thanks for sharing your inspiring words on the matter, too.

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  62. Such great advice Rhonda. Thank you for sharing your wisdom. I’m not one for saying much online. I love reading your blog, it’s very encouraging and helps me. I am using your ideas to help budget at . It really is liberating to budget, it gives peace of mind. I haven’t always looked at it this way. Do now though!

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