Taking control of our own budget so THAT budget won't matter so much.

Posted May 15th, 2014 by Mimi

We were already on a tight budget here as our business is seasonal and things are very quiet around this time of year. So for us, nothing has changed really. We're just getting on with making ends meet like we always do.

But I had a think overnight and these are the sorts of things that we've done to eliminate (yes, eliminate) our need for government assistance.

It's also a case of feeling like you're in control of things, rather than taking the view that things are happening to you that are beyond your control. That in itself is a really valuable mind set.

1. Make a serious effort to cut costs wherever possible. We've made a number of cost cutting measures ourselves in the last two years. We've downgraded lots of DD's activities or found replacement activities that are free or almost free. We've replaced our cars with more economical versions. We've tried going vegan, but found it too difficult with DD and her dietary needs, both allergy wise and energy wise. We continue to eat a diet high in vegetables. legumes and fruit though, adding protein in the form of meat, fish, chicken and eggs, which I have a slim budget for and for which I shop carefully.

2. Plan for your needs later in life. We are Baby Boomers and have plans in place for our retirement that do not include a pension. We've made investments over the last twenty years to alleviate that need and although the GFC has mucked with that a fair bit, we still think we will be okay if we continue to live carefully.

3. Eliminate expensive entertainment options. Our entertainment needs are simple. We stay home and watch movies, DH has his music, I have all my creative things and we spend time with friends or family mainly eating at home. We don't have and have never had Foxtel. We love theatre, but even then, we are now choosing to support local theatre over the big productions and attend local dance school concerts in preference to attending the professional ballet. This means we see really awesome shows for around $30 each instead of $150 each. We're just as happy and find the shows equally entertaining.

4. Treat your role as the homemaker seriously. As the homemaker, I try to save us money by conserving fuel, making our clothes or buying second hand, and feeding us economically. I make our own soap, laundry detergent and dog food. Treats revolve around special snacks or meals that I cook, and not around going out for meals or buying takeaway. I don't have expensive habits or hobbies and our only extravagance is that occasional concert or trip to the theatre.

My biggest recent extravagance was buying an $89 robot vacuum cleaner. I figured I'd see whether we liked it before we lashed out on the expensive version. Well, so far, so good. It's doing a great job and the time it's saved me means I can focus on baking, sewing PJs and casual clothes for DD and volunteering at the school. Our philosophy is that if we're not contributing in school fees, then the least we can do is contribute time.

For me, the choice to be a Homemaker means that I treat my role as seriously as I would a job outside the home. Whether anyone else sees it that way is irrelevant. I go to bed early and I rise early, get as much housework done as I can, plan my grocery shopping or bill paying or other errands around dropping or collecting DD from school to conserve fuel, and leave the house. I do what I have to do as quickly and as efficiently as possible and return home.

I then unpack the groceries ensuring that they are stored for the greatest longevity and freshness possible. I always bake and cook as I unpack, and try to get at least two meals into the fridge immediately. Today between 9:30 and 10:30, I put on a piece of corned meat, made pumpkin, potato and sweet potato soup, roasted some pumpkin pieces for risotto, and made GF red velvet cupcakes. I also soaked rice vermicelli for DDs rice paper rolls for lunch tomorrow and partially froze, then sliced one piece of marked down steak into paper thin slivers for ricepaper rolls and stir fry.

I sat down for the first time, at 10:45, having risen at 6am, for a well earned cuppa. Nothing I'm doing is difficult, but I do have to stay focused, resist the temptation to sit at the computer, go to small stand alone shopping centres where nothing is interesting enough to distract me, and say no to invitations to coffee or lunch. I prefer to eat at home anyway and will often suggest that as an alternative but for most of my friends, the lure of Westfield is too great. That's okay. I'm happy to be different, and if I had a job outside of the home, I wouldn't just be trotting off for a jaunt to the shopping centre for coffee whenever I felt like it. I'd be working. So work in the home must take priority as well.

5. Plan ahead for everything. Plan ahead for next seasons clothing needs, for birthdays, for Christmas, for Easter, for holidays for staycations, where you stay at home and entertain yourself and the family with planned activities instead of going away. Planning ahead means you can put what little money you have, into snapping up bargains or buying fabric from the remnants bin, or buying a sewing machine or overlocker or a robot vacuum cleaner, or setting it aside for something worthwhile, rather than frittering it away on random purchases that do little to enhance your life in the longer term. And don't just look ahead one year. Try to see 5, 10, 20 years ahead. This helps keep things in perspective. That pair of shoes, or jeans or bag or coffee will mean nothing in 5 years. That money on your mortgage or into superannuation or just into the bank for a rainy day, could have the power to have a significant impact on your life.

Well that's where I am with my thinking for now. I'm always a fix-it kinda person. I can't sit around for too long complaining. I'm always trying to think 'what can be done to make this situation better', and then I do it.

Let's all just get on with what needs to be done. It's what our Mums and Dads did, it's what their Mums and Dads did, it's just what has to happen.

We're Simple Savers. We can do it.

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