Thursday, July 26, 2007

Spending Money is SOOOOOO Easy

Ever noticed that? LOL. We sure did on our recent trip away. Usually we try to keep a bit of an eye on our spending, especially when we're away from home. But every now and then we like to have a break from being careful and just go "what the heck" and give very little thought to how much money we're spending. That was the plan with this latest trip. We took some money out in cash (so that we at least had some idea of how quickly we were going through the money) and then proceeded to buy whatever we wanted (mainly in the way of food etc) without too much concern for the cost. I think it was a great way to realise how much of a difference it does make when we're more careful with how much we spend. Our wallets shed money almost as quickly as water runs through a sieve.

It's not easy when you're away from home and faced with the many temptations the city has to offer in comparison to the country. For instance, we don't get fast food here (unless you count the roadhouse) and the array of restaurants, coffee places, donut places (actually we didn't do donut king this time - very unusual for us) and so on are just a feast for sore eyes (and empty wallets and expanding hips lol). Add to that the fact that we're often busy flitting here and there, squeezing in some shopping and visiting rellies etc and who wants to cook at the end of a day like that?

I think this last trip we noticed it even more than usual. The kids are eating more and I guess costs are rising. It didn't help that on our very first day we spent $13 on the ferry for just 1 hot chocolate and 3 packets of chips (ouch) and then almost $40 on a bakery lunch (for 5 pasties/hot dogs, 5 buns and 1 iced coffee!!!). Not sure we'll be in a big hurry to eat at Kadina bakery again no matter how good the food is - bakery meals are usually our cheap meals. Then we spent $70 in an effort to find a meal for tea that had at least a small amount of nutritional value (ie vegies). We set out thinking $400 should get us comfortably through the 5 days away and we blew over $120 of it in the first day!

Not that it matters too much. At the end of each year (well the end of January actually), I usually take whatever money is left in our account (not counting the buffer amount that always sits in there) and divide it up between an extra mortgage payment, some to our emergency fund and some for "blow" money. The idea of the blow money being that we get some kind of reward for being "good" with our spending throughout the year. I started off allocating 60% to the mortgage, 20% to emergency fund and 20% blow money although last year I split it in a way that suited the figures more so the percentages changed a little (we ended up with a little more blow money with a little less to the mortgage and emergency fund). This trip was funded by last years "blow money" allocation and we certainly didn't have any trouble blowing it!!!

I have days where I wonder if being frugal (or attempting to be) is the right way to approach our finances. It does take a bit of time, effort and planning and some days you're left scratching your head wondering if it's all worth it. I try to approach running our household a little like running a business. If you don't have things like goals, plans and budgets it's very easy for a business to go under. These days a lot of Australian households are financially going under (or getting close to the brink - often spending more than they earn and relying on credit cards, christmas bonuses and tax returns to help make ends meet). I guess after stepping off of the frugal bandwagon for a couple of days and realising how easy it was to spend money, I feel a little more confident that the way we're handling our finances is the right way to go.

Some people see frugality as a real drag - a lifestyle of deprivation. I guess I see it more as having some kind of plan for our finances and living a life of contentment and security (knowing there is money to cover our bills). But living a frugal lifestyle doesn't necessarily mean we don't find spending too much money all too easy at times!!!


Lisa said...

Thought I would come and check out your blog too :) Thanks for visting mine. It's funny we are all talking about money on our blogs...does it have any tie into tax time? I agree that we need to treat out home finances like a business. Nice to meet a fellow south aussie too :)

Kez said...

Hey, nice new look! Love the photo - great view!

I cannot believe the amount it costs to get takeaway, and that's just for 3 of us. It amazes me people are able to eat it on a regular basis.

Have I reminded you lately how far you have come with finances? I think you're doing good, girlie!

lightening said...

Lisa - thanks so much for dropping by. :-) I guess blogging about money is a way of helping us move in the opposite direction to mainstream society. I find that a bit of a tussle a lot of the time.

Kez - thanks for noticing my colour changes. I guess cos I'm looking at it all the time I get a bit bored and need a change. :-) We really need to get a handle on our take away spending in general. It is an expensive and often nutritionally devoid way to eat. Thanks for your encouragement now and along the way. :-)