Enjoying the Little  Things in Life

 Early yesterday morning, I was sitting on the verandah of my house. There had been a little shower of rain just before. I was enjoying my morning coffee, catching up on the day’s events via my newsfeed,I glanced up & there was these pair just chilling out too.
Life doesn’t get much better  
 
So I got to thinking about the new year which is only days away.  

In the past 5 years I have been working towards transforming my life, relationships, finances, health & happiness.

So these are my goals & aspirations for 2016 – I’ll keep you updated in future blog posts as to how it’s going. 

  • I have set up a bullet journal for this year. I can’t tell you how much I love it. I’m excited to share my version in detail in a separate post.
  • We have just downloaded the trial version of YNAB (You Need A Budget) to further & fine-tune our finances. We are both totally committed to being debt free in 6 years.
  • We are feeling excited as we have set up a share portfolio and the goal is to add to that this year. Not sure of how much or how often yet however hoping to invest around $5000 in 2016. 
  • Last but not least, I have applied for a new job which has better hours – 8-430 weekdays with every weekend off & one accrued day off per month! Sweet! It’s a significantly higher wage so that’s a bonus too. Interview is on Thursday 7/1 so wish me luck. 

Anyway 

HAPPY NEW YEAR

I’ll talk to you soon

Loraine 
 

 

 

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Simple Tips  to Save Money 


In my last post, I talked about setting budgets & paying down debt. The more extra money you can come up with, the quicker those debts go down.

Today I’m going to talk about how to squeeze a few extra dollars out of your pay.

So now, get those pens out and list all your budget categories. This is the list we came up with.

  1. Mortgages
  2. Insurances
  3. Utilities
  4. Car Expenses inc Fuel, Registration & Repairs/Maintenance
  5. Groceries
  6. Spending Money
  7. General  i.e. chemist, doctors, vet
  8. Phone & Internet
  9. Debt Repayments (credit cards, personal loans, leases)
  10. Health Insurances
  11. Savings
  12. Cable Television Subscription

It’s harder to save money on  set payments like mortgages, insurances & utilities.

It’s discretionary spending where you can make a big difference.

The underlined categories were the areas of overspending that we identified. Your list may be different, but the same principles apply.

Groceries

We use the envelope system for groceries. $200 cash per week goes in there every Monday morning. If we run out before the end of the week, tough luck, we have to make do. This was one area where we were wasting loads of money.

Since we started using cash, we often have some money left over so that goes into a separate envelope for a night out or a weekend away as a reward for being frugal.

Spending Money

$100 cash each goes into our wallets every Monday for incidental expenses. We use this for minor purchases like the newspaper, a coffee or a drink with friends, a chocolate bar, small gifts etc. it’s amazing how often we have money left at the end of the week, because we have found, because it’s cash, we are more inclined to save it, not spend it.

General Expenditure

For this category, we opened a joint account with 200 per fortnight going in automatically. It comes with two Visa Debit cards and this account is used for clothing, chemist, doctor, hair appointments & minor vet bills.

For larger expenses they go in to a category of their own & are budgeted for. Once those high interest credit cards are paid off, the money that was going to pay them will be added to the existing $400 per month in the joint account & these will be our new “credit cards”

Cable Television Subscrition

We were paying $122 per month for pay TV, and we hardly watched it. So I cut if off, split it into two $60 payments added to the home loan. I did it the same day so we not only didn’t miss the Pay TV, but we didn’t miss that money either. I was already paying extra on the loan and together with this extra payment, I will have saved 25000 in interest by the end of the loan.

I can’t believe how much money we used to waste. This is a simple budgeting system but it has changed our lives

Thanks

Loraine & Pete

Up to our ears in debt! Now what? 

It’s so easy to rack up debt! Especially if you just keep spending, never really looking at the truth of the situation.

Banks automatically increase the limits on your credit card so you must be able to afford it.

Need a little personal loan? No problem.
Want that holiday? Just stick it on the credit card and pay it off. ‘It’s worth it, I deserve it’

Now there is plenty of blogs out there that probably cover what I’m about to talk about today, so this is really about sharing our personal journey. I hope if you have stumbled across this tale, you get some inspiration & motivation to  change your situation. That’s what happened for us & I’d like to give back by sharing.

Now I’m going to share some details about our debt story but I’d appreciate it if you kept it between us. 😬

We both have a good job & a side business each. One of the businesses wasn’t doing so well, there had been some large out of pocket expenses & that ended up causing a cash flow problem. So to cut a long story short, we found ourselves with about $75000 worth of credit card debt & personal loans.

We are both in our early 50s so this was not good. It got so bad that we were unable to pay our bills because all of our money was going to debt. Oops, there was rock bottom! We both knew, something had to change!

I am a big fan of Pinterest & Blogs  on every subject! So I started researching & pinning everything I could find on getting out of debt. There is so much information out there. I kept coming across a guy called Dave Ramsey. Now I’m an Australian, so I’d never heard of him. I read about him, listened to his YouTube series & got inspired! Real inspired!

Press on the link. Dave Ramsey

We decided we had nothing to lose so here goes! I’m going to list the steps we took, with a few links to tools we found.

Step 1.

We sat down with a stiff drink & a big piece of paper & wrote down every debt, the interest rate & the minimum monthly payment. It’s important to list absolutely everything you owe. For us that was two maxed out credit cards, 3 personal loans, numerous outstanding bills, and the two home loans.

Step 2. 

Next list all your income.

Step 3.

I entered all this information into a Snowball Debt Reduction Calculator I downloaded. Its not mine, But it’s out there for anyone who wants to use it & I don’t think they will mind if I promote it.

It’s a excel file, it’s free and very easy to use. It’s based on Dave Ramsey’s debt reduction principles and  has very clear instructions on how to use it. I LOVE it!!

Click on the link Snowball Debt Reduction Calculator


This gives you a map of how you can pay down your debt, the time line & is fully customisable to suit your situation.

Step 4 

Setting a budget!

We found a budget tool which I shall share the link for. I customised it to suit us, and you of course would do the same. This is a zero balance budget, so every dollar gets a job, be it debt repayments, living expenses or savings. For now we have set our selves a goal, to be debt free in 7 years so every extra cent we can save is being paid off the credit cards. They have the highest interest so they go first.

In about the 3rd week of the month, eg December 2015, I select SAVE AS, and resave it as January 2016. This gives you a new copy to start planning for the next month. Monthly payments will remain in place, but this is when you can budget for any one off expenses, such as gifts, bills that aren’t paid monthly etc. Make sure you update your income with any extra cash like overtime, or if example if you sold something for cash.

Cash Flow Budget
 
Tips 

  • JUST KEEP GOING! This process is going to take a couple of months to get running smoothly, so don’t be too hard on yourself if things arent going perfectly.
  • Make sure you put some money in the budget for FUN! This is a long term ongoing commitment so you still need that, otherwise it’s going to be difficult to remain committed.
  • Do set up cash envelopes. We found this to be the most helpful part of the process. Our envelopes are Groceries & Spending Money as these were our problem categories. Also it’s harder somehow to part with cash. You do not have the same connection with cards.
  • Look for ways to make extra money & pay it straight off the debt you are attacking. That way it won’t get frittered away.

One of the unexpected bonuses of being on this journey, is how much happier we both are. We have a plan, we are sticking to it, every month those debts are going DOWN & life is good.
Until next time

Happy Budgeting

Loraine & Pete


Budget Tight? Try This Tip


A few months back, Pete & I decided, enough is enough, it’s time to get our finances in order!!

I’d been reading quite a bit about getting out of debt, and I’m sure most people would be familiar with Dave Ramsey. If not, do yourself a favour & click on the link.

So we decided to give it a go. We had a couple of maxed out credit cards, 3 personal loans & 2 house mortgages. Honestly we were just floating along with no plan at all, having a good time.


Firstly we both sat down with a big piece of paper & listed every bill, loan & expense we currently had. That’s probably the scariest part, because we were worried about what that final number might be.

Second step was to list all our income & devise a budget. I jumped online and found a free spreadsheet. Now it’s not mine but I’m sure the guy who  created it won’t mind if I share the link. The link takes you to his website. It’s an excel spreadsheet and super easy to use. It’s important that if you are in a relationship, that this is a joint venture, all things discussed & agreed upon.

Cash Flow Budget
Then I started looking through money saving ideas online & on Pinterest. I found this little post about menu planning. I don’t have the link unfortunately but I grabbed onto one really cool concept. How much food sits around in our pantry, fridge & freezer not getting used?

So I decided to go through the pantry & work out what the value was.

I won’t bore you with the details but the total I came up with was $950.00!!

And I didn’t even add up the value of the fridge or freezer.

All that money sitting there not being used & even being wasted, because once things go out of date, I’d discard it of course.

So I set myself a challenge. Every second week we vowd to only eat food we already had. Only items we bought were milk, fresh fruit/vegetables & bread. I had to get a bit creative with recipes but it’s a huge success. It’s been 6 weeks now & the pantry, fridge & freezer has never looked better. Slowly but surely all those shelves are emptying out & looking tidy.

Best of all I have saved $540 on groceries in that time.

Each Monday morning, Pete & I put $200 cash  into our groceries envelope. That has to cover everything – meat, fresh fruit & vegetables, dairy, juice or soft drinks, confectionary or snacks, cleaning products, toiletries & any grocery items for the week. If that runs out, too bad, we make do with what we already have at home.

We do a menu plan for the week, keeping what groceries we already have in mind, shop together from a list & stick to it.

The left over money from the previous week ( there usually is some ) goes into our holiday fund envelope and we plan to treat ourselves to a weekend away every now and then.

The great thing about that is unlike previously, we will be taking our break knowing we have saved the cash & we can afford it. No more credit card bills.

We have a little ‘budget meeting’ ( usually over a cold beer) at least once a week to touch base about where we are at, and any unexpected changes to the budget that have to be worked in.


The future feels bright & all things going well, we will completely debt free in 6 years! I wish we had done this sooner, but better late than not at all.

Happy planning

Loraine

A Food Lovers Tips for Weight Loss ( How I lost 13kg without dieting) 

  
Morning, 

Let me first say, I’m not an expert in relationships, fitness, nutrition or finances. These blogs reflect my own life experiences, my successes & challenges.  I hope you find it helpful.

6 years ago, I lost a marriage & gained 15kg (33lbs) in the space of one year. I tried shake diets,  protein diets, diet pills and every other fad I could find. NONE of it worked. I felt as though I was trying SO HARD, but those kgs would not shift. I just couldn’t understand it.

I blamed stress, menopause, my ‘slow metabolism’ and obesity runs in my family, so that MUST be the reason. 

Eventually I joined a fitness group & started to work out 2-3 times a week & introduced walking as much as possible in my daily life. 

I felt fitter as time went by, and I stopped gaining weight, but to my surprise those kgs stayed put! What was I missing? I felt so frustrated. 

I sat down and thought about it. 

What were my challenges? 

How could I turn them into strengths? 

Food

  • Challenge – I hate dieting and I never stick to it anyway
  • Strength – I love food, I love preparing it, cooking it, sharing it & of course eating it. (Which is good because it gives control over what goes in your mouth. )

 Personal Appearance

  • Challenge – I was unhappy with my appearance & had stopped dressing nicely because I was ‘saving money’ by waiting until I’d lost the weight. 
  • Strength – I love fashion, I owned a cupboard full of gorgeous clothes that I never wore because nothing fitted or looked good. I also had a good friend who told me straight, that I wasn’t looking my best any more (clothing wise, she loves me no matter what) 

Organisation 

  • Challenge – I had no organisation or plan. 
  • Strength – I have a smart phone with access to all kinds of apps to help me plan. 

So now how to use that to my advantage.

Personal appearance was first on my list of things to change.  

I set aside some money in the budget to update my wardrobe with a few really great outfits in the correct size. And I looked better &  started feeling motivated to make some changes almost straight away. I don’t know why I waited so long. 

  
When I did get to my goal, I picked out my favourite dresses & got them altered to fit. 

Organisation was next. 

I downloaded  My Fitness Pal onto my smartphone & tracked every thing I ate & drank for 2 weeks. 

Once I had a good look at where my calories were going, I was able to see where I could make some adjustments.

 For example, I drank loads of coffees made on milk, everyday. When I added up the calories, I was shocked to realise that I was easily adding 400 calories to my daily intake. 

I cut that back to one really fabulous skim milk cappuccino in the morning for 100 calories & replaced the others with English breakfast tea served black, & water. That’s 300 saved right there. Too easy. 

Bread was another danger category for me. I was having toast for breakfast, a sandwich for lunch & maybe a slice mid afternoon if I was peckish. That’s not unhealthy but by the time you add butter & a spread or filling, it adds up. So I swapped to a bowl of cereal for breakfast, a sandwich or a salad for lunch & a piece of fruit & some almonds mid afternoon.  That was another 200-300 calories saved. 

Always love a sit down & a chat over a cold drink with the hubby a couple of afternoons a week. I changed from pear cider to a low carb beer & saved the most insane amount of calories. My cider was 275cals per bottle versus 80cals for the beer. I like both so it wasn’t a sacrifice. 

Your list will be different but the same thing applies! 

  

Last on my list was FOOD

As I said I love to cook. I jumped on Pinterest & looked at menu planning, budgeting, freezer meals etc. Here are the steps I took.

  • Purchased a diary & wrote in it every day. Schedules for fitness, menu plans, recipe ideas to try, motivational quotes or inspirations. 
  • Menu plan for the week with a shopping list. Include foods you love. I started a Facebook page called Fifty Shades of Food to share my favourites with my friends & anyone else who was interested. 

Fifty Shades of Food

  • Used My Fitness Pal to work out the calorie content of my favourite recipes & took note of how many serves in each. This is important as one of the problems for weight gain is portion size. This took some time & effort but is worth it for the results.

  

  • Using a menu plan ensures you have sufficient food in the fridge/pantry including snacks for the week. 
  • Cook two or three different meals, divide them into the correct number of serves, name & date the containers & freeze. This stops you grabbing that Chinese takeaway or pizza because you’ve come home tired & can’t be bothered. 
  • Pack lunches to take to work. I’m in love with jar salads.  Look it up on Pinterest. It’s just as easy to make 5 as it is to make one. 

  

  • If you are meeting for coffee with the girls or going out for a meal with your hubby, consider buying one serve of what ever you are having & sharing it between you. I promise you, it’s enough. And because nothing is off limits any more, the urge to overeat slowly disappears for the most part. 

Slowly over time, to my delight, my weight started to go down. Best of all I wasn’t on a diet, there were no more forbidden foods & I couldn’t believe it. 

I’ve lost 13kg & have maintaining that for 3 & 1/2 years quite easily. I f I have a week away where we are eating & drinking more than usual, we just cut back a bit & eat really healthily for a couple of weeks  when we get home. 

I hope if you are reading this, you find at least one or two tips that helps you achieve your goals. It worked & is still working for me. 

Thanks 

Loraine 

The Expanding Waistline (and what to do about it. )

At the age of  49, I was slim & trim. Sure I’d had a couple of bouts of weight gain through out my life, but I’d always managed to get it sorted quite easily. 

Then…. Bam! I left my husband of 29 years, ( I won’t go into all that again, it’s covered in my other posts) had a hysterectomy & ended up with some depression.

  
My weight ballooned by 15kg (33lbs) in about a year and At the time I just couldn’t seem to stop it happening. 

In hind sight, I can see why it happened. And that’s the key to losing it. 

  1. Lifestyle change
  • Eating & drinking out
  • Working longer hours
  • Trips away
  • Loss of usual exercise routine 

     2.  Major Surgery/Menopause

     3.  Depression

All these factors would be enough to derail most people from their health & fitness goals! I couldn’t see that at the time though, and just quietly blamed myself for being weak. Sound familiar anyone?

So enough about me! What to do about it? 

Today I’m just going to focus on adding exercise into your lifestyle. 

 I will address the other issues in another post. 

The key is  to not go on some crazy diet, & purchase an expensive gym membership. I just looked for something affordable (I was on a budget as are most of us) that I’d stick at. 

  1. Get an Exercise Routine happening! 
  • Find a fitness class in your area that offers pay as you go options. The one I go to costs 12.50 a class with no membership fees. Find an instructor who is motivates & encourages you. 
  • Walk & talk with a friend – De-stress & excercise at the same time
  • Leave the car at home and walk where possible. 
  • Do you love sport? If you play tennis, volleyball or what ever takes your fancy, join a team. It will be fun, you will make some friends & you’ll gain the benefit of excercise while you’re at it. 
  • Drag out that push bike! Find a like minded friend to ride with or ride  to work.
  • Take the dog for a walk, they will benefit as well as you.

Little by little you can change your lifestyle to a more active one without really trying. Even if the only thing you do is introduce some regular extra activity into your lifestyle, the benefits are huge. 

  • Regular exercise has a positive effect on the mood. When you feel better, you do better. 
  • Stronger bones 
  • Reduces your risk of lifestyle related conditions such as diabetes & heart disease
  • Helps with weight control. This was a key point for me, because with out some regular activity, my weight just stubbornly stayed put. 

But you already know all this stuff! It’s putting it into practice that is a challenge! So here’s what actually worked for me! 

The big game changer was joining the fitness group. I’ve been going now for 3 years, I aim for 2-3 classes a week. It includes a mix of  weights,  core, cardio & flexibility. Building muscle/core means less fussing about calories as you burn more just going about your day. Cardio & flexibility is key as well, especially as we get older. 

Rope your hubby/partner/friend in. I did. My man & I walk the dog together, or walk down to the local hotel or restaurant, football etc if we want a night out, then walk home after. It’s surprising how much we both enjoy it & its just normal to us now. 

Lastly, make a decision to be fitter, healthier & therefore happier. There is plenty of times that I’m tempted to cancel that class or walk, but I don’t let my self do that anymore. The rewards are greater than the effort so I just do it now. I’m always glad I did. 

  
Until next time

Have a great day

Loraine 

    Life after a relationship or marriage breakdown – Are you ready to move on? 

    This blog is directed at the ladies out there ( given that I am one & wouldn’t say I totally understand the male perspective on this subject)  but is not limited to only them. Men! Feel free to read on. I am not a professional in the field, so these are based on my own life experiences! Also for the purposes of this blog, I’m going to use the words him/man/he but this is not meant to exclude same sex couples. )

    For those of you that have not read my other posts, I’m a 54 year old woman who, 6 years ago, left my marriage of 29 years. We had 3 grown children, all who had left home.

      Hi everyone,

    So the divorce is final, settlement is all done, and life seems to be moving along much more smoothly! Now what?

    Maybe there’s a new man hanging around. Or not.

    But whoa up a bit ladies! Don’t jump right in too quickly. That amazing new man may be the best thing that ever happened to you, but remember ……. It’s all too easy to become overly wrapped up in this new experience. Because it makes you feel alive again, much better about yourself, and who wouldn’t want plenty of that.

    Except…. No man can be your everything! Not even close.


    So you may have guessed by now I’m speaking from experience. Yep, made plenty of mistakes. I look back & wonder, who was that person.

    • Slept with a friend & then turned into a crazy stalker to the point where he no longer is in touch with me.
    • Almost got into an affair with a married man. Luckily I found out before anything too serious happened.
    • Flirted like crazy with any guy who paid attention to me! Ok.. This one wasn’t so bad & I had a ton of fun.

    Then met a really genuine kind man who treated me like a queen & still does. Sounds like a happy ending right? Well it is.. NOW!

    But it was a roller coaster. I had to learn how to not be that hurt person, that wounded soul, how to trust, how to be confident in his regard, how not to be paranoid or obsessive! That’s where the hard work started.

    I was a DIY project in progress, & I read, and learned about healthy relationships, thought about what was important to me, what my needs were and how to express them honestly.

    One of the best books I read is a book by Bevely Engel.

    Loving Him without Losing You : How to Stop Disappearing and Start Being Yourself.

    Kindle Version www.amazon.com.au/Loving-Him-Without-Losing-You-ebook/dp/B000YIXQKO

    My suggestions for all you lovely ladies out there for moving on if you do meet that special someone are as follows.

    • First & foremost – remember you are fabulous, just the way you are. You don’t have to be perfect and you don’t need to measure up to other people’s opinions of who you should be!! Believe it!! And the rest will be easier.
    • No matter who comes along, always remember your friends! You know, those amazing people who stood by you & let you lean on them while you pulled your life back together. Yep, those ones! A quality man will support that 100%.
    • Try not place too much emphasis on whether this new friendship is even going turn into anything more. Concentrate on getting to know someone & just have some fun! Take the pressure off & relax! Get on with building a life for yourself that is rewarding, satisfying & happy.
    • Consider this, what do you need from any relationship, romantic or otherwise! Probably things like friendship,respect,  support, fun, companionship, security, honesty and so on, depending on the person. Write them down. Pick your most important needs, the things that you can’t be happy without. Look at them & don’t settle for less! (Don’t make that list so long that no one could ever measure up. I know what us ladies are like 😃 )
    • Now read that list again, and think about the needs of your new love interest. If you want a great partner, then be one.

    When I left my marriage, I honestly did no see myself as wanting to have a long term relationship ever again. And that was totally fine with me. So I don’t want anyone to think this is all about how to find a man. It isn’t. This is about just maybe saving yourself a bit of heartache, becoming strong again & being the person you always knew you could be.

    Until next time

    Loraine