Expense Review – May 2021

My My how time flies…….. May has been an uneventful month for us. We finally booked the flights for our family holiday this year (fingers crossed the borders stay open). We also plodded along with our renovations, which continue to take a large amount of our money (and our time). To view all previous expense review tagged posts click here.

Top 5 Expenses

These charts are from my Income and Expense Tracker click on the image for the link.

There have been some changes to the Top 5 Categories from this month to last month.

Our Top 5 Expenses were are no real surprise for us, and are made up of the following items.

  1. Renovations (Increased $2,862.62 from last month) = $4,816.25

Notes: This month we completed our the tiling of our downstairs area, and we think it looks amazing. In addition to the tiling costs, we had to redo all the skirting boards, doors, touch up the paint and refurnish all of the downstairs. We are turning our downstairs into a self contained AirBnB so hopefully we can start recoup some of this back in income (which we will document in our monthly side hustle income posts link here). We are aiming to have the renovations finished by the end of Spring 2021, but we are struggling to find bathroom contractors so this date may change. So unless we manage to lock down a contractor soon I expect June to be a lot cheaper than May.

  1. Holidays (Increased $1,412.34 from last month) = $1987.75

Notes: We finally booked our fully flexible refundable flights to the Gold Coast. It’s funny pre Covid I would never have purchased fully flexible flights due to the cost, but these days its just part of the process. Until we fly in July I’ll be crossing my fingers and toes that we remain Covid-19 free, and the borders remain open. This category should reduce in June and then go up again in July once we have to start paying for accommodation / park tickets / car hire and miscellaneous costs.

  1. Food and Alcohol (Increased by $457.39 this month compared to last month) = $1006.84

Notes: I’ll be honest I was a little surprised by this as I expected this to be a lot less. In May we gave up alcohol for the month, and so I was hoping to see a little bit in the way of savings from this (sadly not). On the plus side our town got a new Aldi which means that we will save about 45 minutes (and petrol) each week as we don’t need to commute to the next town over anymore.

I analysed the increased costs a little on this category and it seems it was the mid week shops for things we forgot that seemed to do most of the damage. To try and get our spending back on track in June we are going to try and better estimate our food needs to avoid those expensive mid week shops.

  1. Mortgage (Decreased $249.00 this month) = $994.40

Notes: May was a normal month for our mortgage, and this amount was just our regular minimum repayments. We have opted not to pay extra to our mortgage at this stage, and focus on investing and renovations (personal preference). Mortgage is variable, and payments depend on the number of weeks in each month. May was a four week payment month for us.

  1. Utilities (Decreased $127.72 this month) = $772.24

Notes: May was a good month for utilities with no real surprises to share. This category includes our Electricity, Gas, Water, Rates, Internet and Phones. We review these expenses yearly (or more often if we see a better deal). If you want to save money on your electricity feel free to read up on our tips here in our article – 5 simple ways to save money on your electricity bills.

Year to Date Comparison

These charts are from my Income and Expense Tracker click on the image for the link.

With the renovation and holiday expenses our expenses completely blew out in May. We spent $12,204.15 in May which is an increase of $3,698.16 on last month (and about 5k more than our normal expected spend). This month we spent $393.68 per day which is over $100 more per day than April and $200 per day more than March (ouch…..).

Other Expense Commentary

These charts are from my Income and Expense Tracker click on the image for the link.

Restaurants, Eating Out and Activities

May was a another great month for staying in, and as a result this category was in line with our goal for this category. That said we still enjoyed ourselves:

  • I went out for drinks with co-workers
  • Had dinner and dessert with one of my closest friends
  • We did a Tree Climbing activity as a family (which was the highlight of the month)

The total for the month on this category was $243.26 compared with $193.65 last month.

New Expenses (This Year)

No new expense categories were added this month.

Changes we’ve made this month (May)

Nil significant changes made in May to our spending except for the increases in holiday and renovation expenses that seems a little never ending at the moment.

Changes to expect next month (June)

Next month we expect the following changes.

I’m hopeful my wage reconsideration request will be approved in June, which will result in approximately $1000 in back pay. We also have my youngest son’s birthday in late June so there will be an increase in expenses in the present category. We are not having a party and instead we are doing something small as a family. I’m hoping to keep expenses under $200 (we’ll see).

Notes: I track my Income and Expenses via my tracker available on my Etsy Store Link Here .

Income and Expense Tracker with Automated Dashboard Single | Etsy

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Side Hustle Income – May 2021

Following our side hustle series detailing the side hustles we participate in we have decided to track and detail the income we generate from them each month. This is the second post of many and you can find them all here.

Year to Date – Month by Month Comparison

These charts are from my Income and Expense Tracker click on the image for the link.

May 2021 – Side Income Breakdown

These charts are from my Income and Expense Tracker click on the image for the link.

Total Side Hustle Income – May 2021 = $574.62

Our side hustles for 2021 are broken down into categories.

Please note that the numbers below and above don’t include tax so these are less spectacular when you take this into consideration (these are pre-tax figures).

Gardening = $504.35

Hubby works between 4-8 hours a week doing gardening. He works full time at the moment so his gardening is completed on a Saturday, which isn’t my favourite as it means less family time. That said I’m thankful for the extra income as it’s helping us reduce how much we dip into our savings for our renovations. Our gardening income was down this month due to one of hubby’s customers going on leave, and another switching from weekly to fortnightly visits. At this stage we are not looking to take on more customers so this amount might be the new norm. If you want to find out more on doing Gardening as a side hustle I cover it in this blog post here.

Airtasker = $0.00

Another month of zero tasks in Airtasker. I did have a good look, and almost put in an offer or two but I’m still struggling with just the day to day full time work week to be honest. It’s really hard to hustle when you’re just exhausted from the daily grind (So don’t give yourself a hard time if this is you as well, and make sure to take time out when you need it). If you want to find out more on doing Airtasker as a side hustle I cover it in this blog post here.

Etsy = $25.27

My goal for May was to create some new products, and I didn’t achieve my goal at all. I’m not going to beat myself up about it, but I will try and set some time for it in June. If you would like 10% off any of my Etsy items click here.

Other (including Market Research) = $45.00

After zero market research in April I managed to pick up one 45 minute task on Askable worth $45 ($1 a minute which isn’t bad). I applied for quite a few so for those who keep getting screened out don’t lose hope (Getting screened out happens to the best of us). You will find links to all of the Market Research companies I’m signed up for here.

Notes: I track my Income and Expenses via my tracker available on my Etsy Store Link Here .

Income and Expense Tracker with Automated Dashboard Single | Etsy

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Net Worth Update – May 2021

Goodbye May and welcome to the last month of the financial year (for us Australians) !!! As you know we like to be open and honest with our journey to financial independence so we share our monthly net worth. If you would like to see all net worth posts use this link here.

I’m not sure about you, but May was a pretty uneventful month for us. I would go so far as to call it boring from a financial point of view. May felt like we were just rinsing and repeating April. We automated our investing in April (Feel free to read more about how we automated our investing here), and so we just kind of sat back and let everything do it’s thing according to our investment strategy (You can read all about our investment strategy here).

I’ve tracked our net worth for the last 2 years and enjoy seeing it grow over time. I strongly believe that tracking can assist you on staying the course, because lets face it this getting wealthy business takes time (and it’s easy to feel like you’re not making progress and lose interest).

Being a bit of a spreadsheet nerd I track our net worth in a custom made spreadsheet which is available here for $5.50.

I also track it on a day to day basis on a free IOS app called ‘My Net Worth’ so I can see how I’m going over the month, and then I enter the details from the app into my spreadsheet.

Net worth – $945,323 (up $10,014)

Net Worth Calculator available here
Net Worth Calculator available here

Assets – $1,298,073 (up $9,708)

Another good month here. Our asset increase was made up from our retirement funds (called superannuation here in Australia), and our brokerage.

So what did we do right?

We consistently invested thanks to Pearler’s auto investment feature and invested $4000 this month (If you would like to read more the Pearler Investment Platform use the link here). Our retirement funds also continued to grow thanks to our generous employment benefits (My husband receives 17.5% employer superannuation contributions, and I have deferred tax benefits for any super contributions that are made to my account).

So what did we change?

Changes this month included consolidating my superannuation from my 3 month contract role in the first quarter of 2021. We also made the decision this month to sell out our Spaceship (made a loss), and transfer it to crypto (so we’ll see how that goes….). Please note that Crypto makes up less than 0.1% of our net worth.

What assets do we include?

Often I see a lot of chatter around what should be counted towards your net worth. I don’t believe there are any hard or fast rules, and as you know I’m a huge believer in the saying ‘You do you and I will do me – its a no judgement zone here‘.

For us we like to keep things simple and don’t count our depreciating assets like cars and the boat (otherwise we’d be constantly changing the prices every month).

I also count our primary place of residence towards our net worth as we intend on selling it as part of our financial independence plan.

Additionally we count our retirement accounts (called superannuation in Australia), taxable share/brokerage accounts, and our crypto (yep I know super controversial to add this one in but what the hell).

Liabilities – $353,056 (down $306)

As you can see our home loan decreased this month after we withdrew for renovations last month. We didn’t pay any extra above the minimum as we are still spending any spare dollars over our investing on renovations. I don’t see the situation changing soon, and we actually will likely need to dip into this again in the coming months.

What liabilities do we include?

For liabilities we keep things simple and include anything and anyone we owe money to.

How do you calculate net worth?

If you don’t want to download the free IOS app or use a spreadsheet you can calculate this manually.

  1. Writing down all of your assets and liabilities separately.
  2. Then add up all of your assets together to get a figure (write this down).
  3. Then add up all of your liabilities together to get a figure (write this down).
  4. Then take the sum of your assets and deduct the sum of your liabilities.
  5. This is your net worth.

Net Worth = (Sum of your Assets) – (Sum of your Liabilities)

Happy Calculating !!!!! If you don’t want to do the calculations yourself the Net worth Tracker I use is available in my Etsy shop for $5.50 (click on the image below for the link).

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Side Hustle Income – April 2021

Following our side hustle series detailing the side hustles we participate in we have decided to track and detail the income we generate each month. This is the second post of many and you can find them all here.

First off sorry this post is a little overdue I got a little side tracked in last month (and it slipped my mind).

Year to Date – Month by Month Comparison

These charts are from my Income and Expense Tracker click on the image for the link.

April 2021 – Side Income Breakdown

These charts are from my Income and Expense Tracker click on the image for the link.

Total Side Hustle Income – April 2021 = $773.58

Our side hustles for 2021 are broken down into 5 categories currently.

Please note that the numbers below and above don’t include tax so these are less spectacular when you take this into consideration (these are pre-tax figures).

Gardening = $676.38

We forecast that our income from Gardening in April would be less with Easter. So I was pleasantly surprised that we ended up increasing this slightly. My husband usually works 4-8 hours per week on his gardening side hustle. If you want to find out more on doing Gardening as a side hustle I cover it in this blog post here.

eBay = $0.00

As mentioned in my last post I’m no longer selling on eBay so this is the last month I will report here.

Airtasker = $0.00

I didn’t complete any tasks on Airtasker in April. I just didn’t feel like it to be honest, but I still watch for tasks and hope to be back on it shortly. If you want to find out more on doing Airtasker as a side hustle I cover it in this blog post here.

Etsy = $72.00

It was a quiet month on Etsy. I’ve stopped running ads so this may have contributed. I also haven’t added any new products and this always seems to help. I’m still grateful for what I did earn in April as I didn’t spend anytime on this side hustle this month. I’ve got a few ideas in the pipeline in the next few months so lets see how it goes next month. If you would like 10% off any of my Etsy items click here.

Other (including Market Research) = $25.20

This consisted 100% of bottle deposits which you can read more about here. In April I applied for lots of market research gigs, however was unlucky and didn’t get picked. I think its important for me to mention that I don’t always get picked, and likely spent an hour in April filling in surveys that didn’t amount to any money. You win some you lose some. You will find links to all of the Market Research companies I’m signed up for here.

Notes: I track my Income and Expenses via my tracker available on my Etsy Store Link Here .

Income and Expense Tracker with Automated Dashboard Single | Etsy

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Our Investing Strategy

Today it’s time to pop it all on the table and share with you our current investing strategy. I use the word ‘current’ because we review our plan every 6 months so it could change in the future.

How much do we invest?

We have a recurrent auto transfer of $1000 a week from our regular bank account to our online investment broker Pearler (this transfer was set up within Pearler). Our weekly investment equates to 52k per year.

Every spare cent saved over our weekly $1000 of investing (and our regular expenses) goes towards living our best lives now before we retire early (e.g. Holiday’s, Boating and Renovating).

How often do we invest?

We have the auto investment function set up in Pearler which automatically invests our funds in our selected Exchange Traded Funds (ETF’s) once we have $4000 in our account (every 4 weeks).

With the auto investing feature from Pearler we have taken a very hands off approach to investing, and it’s been a great way for us to overcome ‘analysis paralysis’ (or overthinking investing)

How much do we pay for brokerage?

We pay $9.50 per investment (every 4 weeks).

If you would like to learn more about Pearler, and try it out for yourself use this link here to get your first trade free.

What do we invest in?

We like to keep our portfolio very simple. We want to invest in a diverse range of assets to spread our risk, but I don’t want to have to rebalance our portfolio regularly. As a result we we selected our ETF’s with this in mind.

Our portfolio is made up of two ETF’s, and we aim for a % split of the two in the following way

  • VDHG – 60% (Vanguard Diversified High Growth)
  • DHHF – 40% (BetaShares Diversified All Growth)

Both of these ETF’s are high growth and pre diversified with a variety of different assets underneath them (including Australian Shares, International Shares, US Shares, Bonds, and Emerging Markets to name a few).

DHHF is a very new ETF which was created in December 2020. It’s very similar to VDHG, and many may question my desire to hold both. Personally this decision was made due to wanting to reduce the % of bonds that I hold (and that I started investing in VDHG first).

How do we keep track of our investments?

We use Sharesight to keep track of our investments, and it’s linked to our Pearler account for easy tracking (new ETF purchases are automatically added to my Sharesight account). Sharesight also has an app on your phone which makes it really easy to track your portfolio.

As we have less than 11 holdings we are eligible for a free account. If you would like to read more information about Sharesight use the link here.

What do we do with our dividends?

We have decided that for us the best option is to be enrolled in our Dividend Reinvestment Plan offered within our ETF’s. This means all of our dividends are automatically reinvested and used to purchase more ETF’s.

If you would like to learn more about Dividend Reinvestment Plans use the link here.

If you would like to know how to turn on / or off your Dividend Reinvestment Plan read more here.

An Overview of Our Investing Strategy in 2021

Other Questions?

If you have any other questions feel free to contact me either here by commenting or via social media.

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Disclaimer: This blog is for education and entertainment purposes. It is not intended as a substitute for professional financial, tax or legal advice. Any information is general in nature and is relevant to my situation. It does not take into account your objectives, financial situation or needs. Because of that, you should consider if the information is appropriate to you and your needs, before acting on any of the information. While I do my best to provide accurate information, I accept no responsibility for any inaccuracies that may be communicated.

Full List of Pearler Brokerage Free ETF’s

Last month I posted my review on Pearler an online share investment platform (to view the review in full click here). I’ve recently been advised that a link that was posted within it requires you to sign up to Pearler to view so I’m sharing for you here (so you can view without signing up for an account).

One of the big positives of Pearler that I wrote about was the ability to buy a selection of Exchange Traded Funds (ETFs) without brokerage costs. Pearler have 44 brokerage free ETF’s listed on their site at the time of this post and are brokerage free provided you don’t sell any of them within a year. If you do have to sell you will be subject to brokerage costs.

The full list of the 44 ETF’s (free from brokerage costs) from Pearler at 17th May 2021 are as follows (listed from Most Popular to Least Popular on the site):

ETF TickerETF NameInvestment Company that manages the ETF
QUALMSCI Global Quality (ex-AUS)VanEck
ACDCGlobal Battery Tech & Lithium CompaniesETF Securities
ROBOGlobal Robotics & AutomationETF Securities
ESGIMSCI Global SustainableVanEck
ESPOMVIS Global Video Gaming and eSports ETFVanEck
MVWAussie Large-Caps (equal weight)VanEck
CLNES&P Global Clean Energy ETFVanEck
IMPQBetter Future FundeInvest
FANGNYSE FANG+ CompaniesETF Securities
GOLDPhysical GoldETF Securities
CURES&P US BiotechETF Securities
TECHMorningstar Global Tech Wide MoatETF Securities
ZTAUS&P Aussie 300 DividendsETF Securities
QHALMSCI Global Quality (ex-AUS hedged)VanEck
EMKTMSCI Emerging Markets SharesVanEck
MOATMorningstar US Wide MoatVanEck
GRNVMSCI Aussie SustainableVanEck
CETFFTSE China Top 50VanEck
EIGAAussie DividendseInvest
CNEWChina Growth CompaniesVanEck
MVBAussie Large-Cap BanksVanEck
REITFTSE Global Property (ex-AUS hedged)VanEck
GDXGlobal Gold MinersVanEck
GOATMorningstar World ex AUS ‘Wide Moat’VanEck
NDIAIndia Nifty 50 Large CapsETF Securities
ZYUSS&P 500 US Dividends & Low VolatilityETF Securities
ETPMPMPhysical Precious Metal BasketETF Securities
MVES&P Aussie 50 Mid CapsVanEck
ETPMPDPhysical PalladiumETF Securities
LMASNasdaq 100 Long Hedge FundETF Securities
QSMLMSCI World Small Cap Quality 150 (ex Aus)VanEck
DVDYMorningstar AUS Dividend Yield Focus ETFVanEck
ESTXEurope 50 Large CapsETF Securities
MVAAussie Large Cap PropertyVanEck
MVRAussie Large Cap ResourcesVanEck
MVSAussie Small Cap DividendsVanEck
VLUEMSCI International Value 250 (ex AUS)VanEck
ETPMAGPhysical SilverETF Securities
HLTHMarketGrader Developed Markets (ex-AUS) Health Care ETFVanEck
IFRAFTSE Global Infrastructure (50/50 hedged)VanEck
SNASNasdaq 100 Short Hedge FundETF Securities
EBNDJ P Morgan Emerging Markets Bonds (50/50 hedged)VanEck
ETPMPTPhysical PlatinumETF Securities
SUBDAussie Subordinated BondsVanEck

As you can see I’ve listed the ETF ticker, ETF name and the company that offer the ETF’s. You can use these details to then search online and complete your own research before deciding whether or not to invest.

If you do choose to invest feel free to use my referral code here to get your first trade free (regardless of what you invest in) which is worth $9.50.

Please note: This is just a list of ETF’s that are available brokerage free on Pearler, and it is not a recommendation of what you should invest in. Please ensure you always do your own research before investing.

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Photo by Burak K on Pexels.com

Up Bank Review: So what’s up with Up bank?

I’ve been meaning to try Up bank for quite some time. If you google reviews for Up Bank you can quickly see that it’s a really polarising bank. People either really love or really don’t love it, and so I decided to try it for myself (and my teenage son).

First off lets cover the history of Up Bank, how your money is secured and more importantly is your money safe?

Brief History of Up Bank

Up Bank entered the banking scene in 2018, and is an Australian mobile only bank (so there are no ATM’s, and no branches). Up has partnered with Bendigo Bank and Adelaide Bank, and so all the products that are released by Up are issued/backed by these banks.

Is my money secure and safe?

All Up products are issued by Bendigo Bank and Adelaide Bank and are covered under the Financial Claims Scheme (FCS), which covers deposits of up to $250,000 per person.

The history of Bendigo Bank and Adelaide Bank’s start over 160 years ago so there is some reassurance from the fact that a mobile only bank Up has partnered up with such established banks.

In addition Up banking uses security technology, including smartphone biometrics and advanced cryptography to keep your money secure (this level of security technology is similar to other transaction and savings accounts).

You can read more about security here.

Now that we have covered off on the history and security of Up Bank it’s time to talk about the features, and why Up Bank may or may not be the right bank for you.

What features does it offer?

The most important feature of Up Banking is that there are no account keeping fees.

Additional features include

  • Savings Features include:
    • Instantly create additional ‘Savers’ which are similar to having additional savings accounts. This allows you to track your savings into these separate savings goal (which you can name whatever you would like).
    • Automate your savings to be transferred to your ‘savers’ according to how you want.
    • Split your pay function which allows you to split your pay by % and send it to your ‘savers’.
    • Set goals for your savings so you can see your progress.
    • Round up function which rounds up your purchases to the nearest dollar and deposits the extra into your savings (they also have a handy pull down function in the app which rounds your account on demand and pops it in your savers).
    • A competitive interest rate on savings up to 1 million dollars provided you make 5 transactions in a month (Current rate is 0.7% at time of publishing make sure you check this before you sign up).
  • Budgeting Features including:
    • Automatic Spending Categorisation
    • Weekly reports and insights into your spending habits
    • Bill prediction (which is helpful for those subscriptions)
    • Helpful labelling of transactions so you actually can understand who the transaction was from (I found this really helpful because sometimes it can be really hard to decipher a transaction to confirm if its fraudulent or you simply forgot you spent the money).
    • Notifications for every transaction (really helpful as I utilised this card to assist my son in learning how to use a debit account).
    • Set trackers on budget categories and set a target amount for them.
  • Overseas Banking Features including:
    • Pay no fees on overseas purchases (including no currency conversion fees)
    • Lock your card in a few taps within the app (no phone call required)
    • Cheaper international transfers (thanks to a partnership with Wise)
  • Other Features:
    • ATM access is free for Up users at most ATM’s including Bendigo Bank, Adelaide Bank, Commonwealth Bank, NAB, and Westpac.
    • Apple, Samsung and Google Pay enabled.
    • Compatible with Siri voice commands.
    • Easy to download statements which you can then utilise for Tax or providing for loan applications.
    • The ‘Tree of Up’ – this allows you to see what functionality is planned or in development for the future. You can view the tree here.
    • Free swag when you join (eg stickers and a tracker to encourage you to start saving).
The cute swag from Up Bank when you join. I really liked the Save $1000 in a Year tracker.

Why won’t you like it?

  • If you like to connect your banking and share data to other apps such as WeMoney you will find that you may not be able to. That said Up Bank are working on this as we speak, and you can see their development tree via the link here.
  • It’s a mobile / digital bank and therefore if you like to talk to someone face to face or go into a branch this isn’t the bank for you (You access your account via the app. Support is available via the chat function (preferred), email and there is a phone number you can call.
  • If you require a joint account there are no joint accounts at this stage (but this is planned in the future).
  • The app can be a little busy to the eye and difficult to navigate at first.

My Experience with Up Banking

How did I use Up Banking account during this time?

To make the trial a little more interesting I actually had my 13 year old son test the card, and app on his phone (with me supervising and testing the features from the app on my phone). I set up the account with the aim that the features of Up would assist me in monitoring and supporting my son use his first debit card (and associated banking app). We previously looked at Spriggy, but I wasn’t happy to pay the yearly fees.

I applied for the Up card in my name, and he uses it (you have to be 16 years and older to apply for an Up Banking Account). I have the responsibility of the account, but all the money in the account is his. I deposit his pocket money and bus fare into his Up account each week.

My son has used the card over the last two months to pay for his bus fare as needed, and any small incidentals he wishes to purchase (eg from the Canteen or whilst we are out shopping). He has also used the account to make use of the round up function, add a saver, and set up pay splits to start him saving 20% of his income (pocket money).

Setting up the account

I set up my Up Banking account by downloading the app (via the app store), and providing my drivers license. The set up process for me took approximately 5 minutes and was completely painless thanks to the ID process. I have seen some reviews stating that this process can be difficult, but I didn’t have these issues.

What platform did I use to access Up banking?

My son has an android phone and I have an iPhone. We tested the application on both platforms and there was no discernible differences between the two that we noticed.

How long did we trial Up Banking?

We trialled Up Bank for just over 2 months.

Are you going to continue to use Up Banking?

Yes !!!! My son loves Up and I love it too. It’s been a great platform for him to learn on, and I love that I can assist him whilst he gets his banking training wheels.

I’m actually looking forward to him turning 16 now so I can move him over to his own account, and I can reclaim mine. I really loved all the features they offer, and didn’t miss the features that it’s missing. I’ve even managed to get my husband on board, and he’s been happily using Up for the last few weeks.

Where can I sign up and do you have any referral codes?

You can sign up via this link here and we both will get $5. Its a great way to try out a bank, and referrals like this help me run my site (so thank you).

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Expense Review – April 2021

Goodbye April and Hello May. April has been a crazy month with renovations, Easter and our annual camping trip. There are a few changes to our ‘Top 5 Expenses’, but no real surprises. To view all previous expense review tagged posts click here.

Top 5 Expenses

These charts are from my Income and Expense Tracker click on the image for the link.

There have been some changes to the Top 5 Categories from this month to last month.

Our Top 5 Expenses were are no real surprise for us, and are made up of the following items.

  1. Renovations (Increased $1953.63 from last month) = $1953.63

Notes: As mentioned last month we have recommenced major renovations to our home. We took a short break from renovations in 2020 to build our investment account to 100k (if you would like to read more about that use the link here). Now that we have hit our 100k investment goal we have stepped off the gas a little, and we are spending any spare cash over our weekly regular investment amount on renovations. This month we spent money on new tiles and dumping costs associated with removing the old carpet and floor boards. We purchased our tiles online from National Tiles, and have been really happy with the pricing, free delivery, and the refund policy.

  1. School Expenses, Extra Curricular and Pocket Money (Increased $537 this month) = $774.00

Notes: Last month this item was our number three top expense, and thanks to a very expensive camp we had to pay for in April it’s moved to second place. Our boys both participate in Scouts and its been really rewarding for the boys, but it hasn’t been a very budget conscious decision. That said I have zero regrets about my boys participating, and thankfully we have the ability to support them in what they love doing. I’m hopeful next month will be a little less expensive. Both boys go to public school and we pay our fees fortnightly until they are paid off completely (there is no benefit to us paying in a lump sum). We pay our eldest son pocket money ($1 for how many years old he is). Our youngest doesn’t get pocket money until he is at High School.

  1. Mortgage (Increased $248.60 this month) = $1243.00

Notes: Thanks to an expensive month for renovations and kids expenses our mortgage dropped from its number one spot to number three this month. Mortgage is variable, and payments depend on the number of weeks in each month. April was a five week payment month for us hence the additional cost.

  1. Utilities (Increased $139.35 this month) = $899.96

Notes: Another expensive month for utilities thanks to our water bill being slightly more than budgeted for thanks to our summer usage (we own a swimming pool, and have a large garden with automated watering). Despite the increase I was still happy with this bill as it was less than this time last year (woohoo). This category includes our Electricity, Gas, Water, Rates, Internet and Phones. We review these expenses yearly (or more often if we see a better deal). If you want to save money on your electricity feel free to read up on our tips here in our article – 5 simple ways to save money on your electricity bills.

  1. Health and Medical Items (Increased by $78.02 this month compared to last month) = $656.62

Notes: Increased this month as April was a three fortnight month for our health insurance. Our health insurance also went up in price at the start of April which did sting a little. That said we make use of our insurance and it pays out over 10k a year for us thanks to my husbands condition, dental items, and my optometry. This amount includes all medicine, pharmacy items, private health insurance, doctors/specialists visits, and any pathology/radiology.

Year to Date Comparison

These charts are from my Income and Expense Tracker click on the image for the link.

With the additional renovation and school expenses we are trending upwards this month. We spent $8505.99 in April which is an increase of $2666.61. This month we spent $283.53 per day which is almost $100 more per day than March (ouch…..).

Other Expense Commentary

These charts are from my Income and Expense Tracker click on the image for the link.

Food and Alcohol

April was an awesome month for our food bill thanks to doing a pantry challenge, and a freezer of free meats thanks to my mother in law. We spent $549.45 which averages out to $18.32 per day. It was so low that it dropped out of our top 5 expenses this month, however I’m sure it will return in May.

Restaurants, Eating Out and Activities

April was a great month for staying in, and as a result this category was less than usual. The total for the month was $193.65 compared with $387.22 last month.

Holiday’s

In April we went on our annual camping trip with our good friends. It was so nice to get away and go interstate for the first time in 18 months. In total we spent $575.41 and this included petrol, food we purchased whilst away, a hat my son forgot, and a trip to an expensive winery (We previously paid for the campsite in February at a cost of $222. So the holiday was very budget friendly).

New Expenses (This Year)

We had 1 new expense categories added in April:

  • Renovations = Our Biggest Expense in April.

Changes we’ve made this month

My work location has changed and I’m now taking public transport every day. This means that I’m saving money on petrol costs, and my husband has switched to taking my car to work (again to save more petrol). I’m hopeful we may see some changes to this next month.

Changes to expect next month

Next month we expect the following changes.

Renovations: We expect our renovation expenses to increase in April, and this will continue as we finish off the renovations downstairs. The benefit of renovating is that hopefully in Spring we will be able to list our downstairs area on AirBnB (and use this to offset some of the renovating costs for upstairs which still need to be done).

Notes: I track my Income and Expenses via my tracker available on my Etsy Store Link Here . My Income and Expense Tracker has recently been modified so if you have previously purchased it and would like the new version get in touch and I will send it to you free of charge with proof of purchase.

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Should I pay off debt first or focus on building an Emergency Fund?

This post is a part of a new tagged series of posts that give my perspective on a number of common budget, debt or finances questions. I find these questions in several ways including Reddit and Facebook Groups.

Today I’m tackling a common question I see from people at the start of their debt free and financial independence journey’s.

Focus on first getting a starter Emergency Fund

A fully funded Emergency Funds generally should cover 3-6 months worth of expenses, however this may be different for each individual. Regardless of the amount a fully funded Emergency Fund typically represents a substantial amount of money for someone to come up with, and it will take significant time to complete. If the person saving for the Emergency Fund has consumer debt they will likely be incurring interest during this time. Its for this reason why building a starter Emergency Fund first, and then prioritising consumer debt payment sooner over a fully funded emergency fund may be a better option.

How much should my Starter Emergency Fund be?

There are a number of different school’s of thought on how much your starter emergency fund should be. For example:

  • The Barefoot Investor recommends that your starter Emergency Fund should contain a minimum of $2000 before tackling debt.
  • Dave Ramsey recommends a starter Emergency Fund of $1000 as part of his baby step method before tackling deb.

What amount you choose to go with for your starter Emergency Fund is ultimately up to you as this will be different for everyone.

Prioritise getting your Starter Emergency Fund fully funded

Once you’ve settled on your starter emergency fund amount its time to pay minimums on all your debt payments temporarily. That way you can prioritise all additional funds to your starter emergency fund, and knock it off as quickly as possible. If you are going to struggle to get your starter Emergency Fund completed in less than a month think about some ways you could speed up the process. This could be selling items you no longer need or use, side hustling, or some other creative way to raise the funds.

Prioritising consumer debt

Once you’ve got your starter Emergency Fund in place its time to prioritise your consumer debt (excluding mortgage debt). By consumer debt I mean debt such as credit card, student loans, car loans, and short term loans (like payday loans).

There are two approaches to prioritising debt:

Debt Snowball: You list and prioritise paying off your debts from lowest balance to highest balance, and you focus on paying off the smallest one first (regardless of the interest rate). On this method you only pay minimum repayments on your other debts, and put all additional funds to the smallest debt. Once the smallest debt is paid off you then focus on the next smallest debt, and so on and so forth until all your debts are paid off.

Debt Avalanche: You list and prioritise your debts by highest interest rate to lowest interest rate, and focus on paying the debt with the highest interest rate off first. With this method you only pay minimums on the lower interest debts, and put all additional funds to the debt with the highest interest rate. Once the debt with the highest interest rate is paid off you then focus on the debt with the next highest interest rate, and so on and so forth until all your debts are paid off.

Which option is best?

The simple answer is the one that works for you, and you may start a method and switch to the other during your debt payoff. As long as the method works for you who really cares which one is best.

That said the Debt Snowball method has the greatest chance of success from a psychology stand point, and the Debt Avalanche method will result in less interest being paid overall.

It may be worth using a calculator to enter in your debts and compare your options against the methods. I have created one for this purpose (link here) or you could create your own.

Track your progress

Regardless of where you are with in reaching your financial goals whether that be paying down debt, saving or investing I recommend tracking your progress. All debt free journey’s feel slow at times so tracking your progress via a visual chart can really keep you inspired to keep going (its a marathon not a sprint remember).

You can find visual charts easily available online and there are a tonne of free ones click here for a link to my favourite ones from Debt Free Charts.

I also have a free investing printable available here or a free savings printable here.

If you’ve got a question you would like me to cover feel free to complete my contact form. If you would like to have articles like this delivered to your inbox subscribe below.

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Starting your journey to Financial Independence in your 30’s, 40’s, 50’s and beyond – Late FIRE

This post is for those who are worried they may have left it to late to start a journey of Financial Independence. My hope is that it will inspire you to start your journey if you haven’t started, or help you stay on your journey if you’ve already started.

  1. Follow those who have walked or are walking the same path as you

I’m not sure about you but I get a lot of reassurance and inspiration from those who are treading or have treaded the same or similar path as me.

I can’t help but feel a little disheartened when I can’t apply the same methods that others are using to reach FIRE for example:

  • Don’t buy a house to live in,
  • Avoid owning a car,
  • Live at home with your parents,
  • Keep your grocery bill under $50,
  • Start investing at 18,
  • etc…….

I’m sure that I’m not alone and you may have personal circumstances that preclude you from applying certain financial independence advice as well. This can often feel like a barrier, or a blocker in your FIRE journey and with every additional blocker you can start to feel a little less confident in achieving your goals.

This is where it becomes so important to find narratives that are similar to your own. This will help you to stop seeing your own personal circumstances as insurmountable blockers to FIRE, and reassure you that you can overcome them and reach FIRE.

I’ve listed a few of my favourite inspirational Late FIRE blogs below:

Project Palm Tree – Shaun is an Australian who officially declared that he was starting his Late FIRE journey at age 52. He is aiming to retire at 60, and shares his experiences on his blog.

Burning Desire For FIRE – Frogdancer Jones is an single Australian mother to 4 now grown men who retired at 57 (without a 6 figure income). I have followed her journey for many years initially on a site called Simple Savers. If you want to be inspired read this.

Late Starter FI – A blog about starting your FIRE journey in your late 40’s. Late Starter FI isn’t retired yet so this is a great blog to follow for the honest up’s and down’s of being on a FIRE journey.

Started at 50Becky and her husband Stephen from Colorado started their FIRE journey at 50 and retired early at 63. I loved their story and we both share similar retirement hobbies.

  1. Stop the comparison

Comparison is the thief of joy.

My situation is different to your situation and vice versa so if you do struggle with comparison try to work on your mindset by focussing on what you can do and implement rather than anything you can’t implement (shut out that noise).

If you want to read more on how your mindset can affect your finances click here.

  1. Stop wishing away the past and live a life of no regrets

Constant feelings of regret from mistakes you have made, and opportunities you didn’t take will eat you up inside if you don’t let them go.

I started my journey towards FIRE at 32. Prior to the age of 32 we made a tonne of ‘financial mistakes’ including misusing credit cards, buying brand new cars with loans, didn’t invest, and we even pulled out our superannuation (retirement) to buy a swimming pool (these are just a few of our mistakes).

In order to move past these mistakes and work towards FIRE it was necessary for us to acknowledge our bad decisions, learn from them, let go of the regret and forgive ourselves. If you don’t forgive yourself and learn from it then its difficult to grow from it.

Ask yourself. Is there anything you regret, and are you still holding onto it?

  1. Focus on your strengths

As you get older you start to gather more life experience, information and knowledge. You can turn these life experiences, information and knowledge into strengths which someone just starting their FIRE journey at 18 or in their 20’s won’t have.

For example:

Starting your FIRE journey a little later means you are more likely to have an established career that can assist you to get to your FIRE goals.

or

You may have previously travelled the world in your 20’s so you don’t mind skipping a few holidays and putting the money you would’ve spent to your FIRE fund.

or

You had your kids early and your children might be adults when you FIRE so you won’t have to factor in the costs associated with raising children in your FIRE number.

or

You’ve had a bad experience with consumer debt, and dug yourself out of debt. You will never let yourself get back there again.

These are all examples only, and may not apply to your situation. That said I’m sure you can think of your own lived experiences, and I encourage you to write them down and think of them as strengths you will use to succeed on your FIRE journey.

FIRE is a marathon not a sprint

Lastly for the overwhelming majority of people who achieve FIRE it takes a long time, and it won’t happen overnight. It’s easy to feel like everyone’s reaching FIRE so quickly when you don’t reflect on your own journey.

Make sure to celebrate each mini milestone, give yourself a break when you need it, readjust with your learnings, and then get back on that bike.

Ask yourself. When was the last time you celebrated how far you’ve come?

Lastly I don’t know who needs to hear this but you’ve got this (and if you ever need to someone to reach out to on this journey feel free to hit me up).

I’m keen to read about any other awesome Late FIRE blogs that you may have come across (or that you may blog on). Feel free to add them to the comments below.

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