Goals Update – July

Every month, I like to check in with the ‘New years goals‘ I set.

Financial

$20k $26k target by 22 Decah, maybe this will need to be adjusted again with the move.  I’ll leave it for now, and see how things settke
June: $17,938.69
July: $18,035.56 (+$96.87 thanks to moving costs :()

12 in 2 Adventures: failed: not done any adventures, working on the two long term ones, and no adding to savings
June: $898.81
July: $749.93 (how’d that go down?)

Grocery spend

I thought I’d add a quick update, seeing my July challenge was no eating out, I figured my grocery spend would go up.  It hasn’t, it’s about the same.  Although, I probably ate at the bf’s more this month, so that might be why?

Volunteering hours
Tue 2nd: 4.25hrs at the co-op
Sun 7: 1hr at church
Sun 14: 2hrs at church

Health

Cook at home twice a weekdefinitely achieved with my ‘no eating out’ month, but records are patchy!

week 1 –
Leek tart(Mon)
Coop food provided (Tue)
Wedding meal (Sat)
no more records?

week 2 –
no record for the rest of this week, except:
Multi course birthday dinner (Sat)
Chinese roast beef with vegies (Sun)

week 3 –
Another forgetful week!
Dinner @ parents (Sat)
Pizzas (ready made from grocery store) (Sun)

week 4 –
Gnocchi with tomatoes (Mon)
Sweet potato chips (Tue)
Fried Rice (Wed)
Sushi (Thu) <- yes bought out
snacks/leftovers (Fri)
Macaroni & cheese (Sat)
Spaghetti bolognese (Sun)

Week 5
Quesadillas (Mon)
Leftovers from Mon (Tue)
Beef with rice noodles (Wed)

Sugar – so so, not commited like I have been, but not entirely a free for all
It started well, but ended poorly, with lots of cakes at work, including me trying a gluten free sponge recipe, making a GF chocolate cake, using a packet mix for brownies (just to use it up). I also made a vegan cheesecake with dates and a touch of sugar. Then I also ate dessert at the fancy friend’s b’day dinner, and we bought ice creams in the past week. Sigh!

Train for polo – Training to run a half marathon: just platueaing! Something I want to achievely work on once I’m settle in my new home
2nd – couldn’t run 3kms to Co-op, so mainly walked with some jogging stints
9th – home to co-op, 2.93kms with some running
12th – 1.23km walk to the bf’s work
13th – 2.83km jog with hills around the bfs, with running
15th – 4.8km run back from dancing, some walking
22nd – 4.4km est, home to pole dancing, more walking than running
23rd – 4.3km mostly walking to/from hair dresser
29th – 1.53km jog/walk to appt

Cultural

2 films a month: failed (though did see two DVDs)
I can hardly believe I’ve not seen a movie in a cinema in a month – that is SO unlike me. I did mention to the BF that perhaps we could see something last night. I did watch two DVDs recently, one based on the IRA (slow burner, not really recommended). The other one was called The Factory and was better than I expected – it stars John Cusack and Jennifer Carpenter (from Dexter), and follows serial abductions of prostitutes, until John Cusack’s daughter also get abducted. There’s an awesome twist too!

2 books a month: achieved
I read Bottlemania, which you can read the review of here. Other than that, I finished The Heart Broke In by James Meek, and here’s my review (gosh that seems like a long time ago I read that!). Lastly, I’ve started on a book about called Nice Girl by R.j. Chin about Keli Lane. Keli Lane has been convicted of murder of her second child, who disappeared after an informal adoption. This is one of three children she had in secret, the other two being formally adopted. Her fourth child lives with her. This story is compelling to me, because… Keli was my boss at the school she was employed at during the years much of this drama happened! She was an Olympic water polo hopeful, and recruited me as a casual coach at her school. She left suddenly during my time working at the school. Based on the half of the book I’ve read, most people who knew her, myself included, do not believe she killed her baby. I think it’s rotten you can be convicted of murder when there’s no proof of murder. I’m sure there’s crimes committed, but murder is certainly not one of them! Here’s some more background in wikipedia

Social

Call/connect with an out of town friend: achieved
YES! A friend I made in Paris, who at the time lived in Wollongong, has been in Sydney since Feb. So I finally had her around for a cuppa, before moving out of my place. I also spoke to a number of school friends with the bad news of a friend’s death. Lastly, I semi spammed my nearest and dearest (but not local) with the link to my new house, so they could ooo and ahhh… So all round, a great month on social connections.

Career

Certification: minimal progress

Seriously, other than three hours spent at talks for continuing professional development (I need 150 hours).  I booked into a pricey course to get another 16 hours.  I’ve also been meeting with both my mentors, I’ve really not moved forward with this one as much as I could have. I need to set some time to get onto this and get it DONE!

Looking for next roleachieved, will remove from goals list

I’m in the new role, and I’m swamped. Let’s say I was under utilised in the last role, and now I hardly can think straight! But I love being busy, just perhaps not at the same time as moving house!!

July Challenge: No eating out

Although it’s not the true end of the month, I thought I would check in with my experience of my self imposed challenge not to eat out for a month!

1. I was innovative, with packing everything for a two day road trip. So I know I can be ‘frugal’ and skip eating out. (I will summarise grocery costs at the true end of the month, and see if there’s been a noticeable increase, and probably update this post with more info).

2. I did cheat. There were a handful of take away coffees (some even in single use take away cups!). There was one breach in the first weekend, and then two breaches the following two weekends. I also went out with my next door neighbour for Vietnamese. I didn’t want to reject her suggestion (it’s our first ‘date’), and cooking at home wasn’t practical with going to open houses on the same night.  Last night I got sushi from the sushi place outside the grocery store – so it’s sort of out, and sort of not?!

3. My boyfriend was on board (but bored!). He encouraged me to stick at it (like last night! He cooked nachos, but I didn’t want nachos). Though it’s become a common placeto say ‘we’ll do that/go there in August’.  Bring on August and some dates!

4. I did buy some ready made meals from the grocery store, such as garlic bread, soups and (freezer) pizzas. I’d like to move away from processed foods, as I’ve mentioned before, but it’s just too hard sometimes to balance all the things you want to do, with LIFE! So I gave myself leave passes.

5. I’ve certainly spent less money, with every week having some of my weekly allowance still in my wallet. That being said, I’ve spent way more than a usual month as I outlined here, and more recently with the rental bond and that sort of thing.

Overall, it was an interesting challenge.  I proved to myself that I can cook at home, and eat at home, and it’s not all that taxing, though I do occasionally take short cuts with ready made meals.  It is a little more socially challenging to not eat out, and my relationship with my colleague seems less strong after missing our weekly lunch date.  Actually, in light of my role change, a few one on one lunches might have been better to keep the relationship strong, even though I’m ‘jumping ship’.

On the whole, I don’t think I’ll re-do this challenge for the sake of it.  It’s good to know I can tighten the belt, but it’s all been a bit too much of a challenge in these later weeks of the month, with all the moving plans.

 

Women and retirement savings

I recently read an interesting article in the Sydney Morning Herald, about women and superannuation – our state mandated retirement policy. The law states that employers must contribute 9% of their employee’s salary into a superannuation fund, which cannot be touched until retirement. (Simply speaking of course – there are loopholes in every part of that previous sentence, but I’m trying to keep it simple!). With July 2013 clicking over, Australian’s will now get 9.25%, increasing slowly to 12% in 2019.

It’s a great system – but it’s not working in reality. And it’s not working the most for women. Naturally, women take time out of the workforce to have children, and this impacts their retirement balance. Women also live longer, which means they need even more than a man would.  The article outlines the details of the shortcomings most women will face, based on their research.  There is the capacity for individuals to add to their superannuation, up to a point (it’s got some preferential taxation laws, so it was being used by the super rich to save bucket loads of cash). In my first year of working in my career, I overheard older people talking about their super balances, and how much they should co-contribute to have enough in retirement. Of my own volition, I took this eavesdropping to heart, and decided that I wouldn’t miss $50 per week, and I’d add that (pre tax) to my super account.

What I find incredibly interesting in this issue is the discussions I have with people my age: almost everyone is against or ambivalent that someone their age would be doing this! Their feelings are either

  • I need the money more for other things (lifestyle, saving for a house, paying off a mortgage)
  • You never know what might happen to the balance (as it’s in the stock-market)
  • Retirement is so far away – if I have a huge property/shares portfolio, I’ll be fine

Evidently, I don’t buy into any of these arguments.

Reading the article that I linked, heartens me.  It heartens me most when I look at the graphic. (You can be disheartened, so you can be heartened right? Spell check disagrees?!)

source: smh.com.au

source: smh.com.au

I don’t like to be brash, or the tall poppy (something Australian’s avoid). But that decision in 2010 has meant I am ahead of where a 45-49 year old women is!  I’ll admit it’s not all my doing, my employer has been contributing above 9% for as long as I’ve worked here (4.5 years), and has risen to 15% today!  When I asked a colleague who started when I did, therefore had the same salary, his balance was $19k less than mine. Both of us have our entire balance in the high growth option.

It’s nice to feel safe to take some time off to have children! And I can heed the advice, which is ‘a man is not a plan’ (but a man sure is nice…)

I’m glad to see other bloggers at my age and stage are talking about retirement savings… even if my real life friends aren’t!

How do you feel about retirement savings?  Is it too risky to let a fund manage a huge amount of your money on the stock market?  Do you think you can do a better job?  Would you co-contribute?

Random Round Up

TGIF! Wow, for someone who only works every second Friday, my body was shocked and dismayed to have to work this Friday! And usually, on a super tired morning, I’d stop for a mocha on the way to work.  But a mocha has both sugar in it (which I’m trying to trim down on til the end of July) and it’s ‘buying takeway’ which I’m also not doing in July.  Thankfully, there’s a coffee machine at work, and I got a hit the minute I got in!

In today’s random Friday wrap up, I’ll just collect my thoughts, and receipts, and look at how the week, and the month so far have been, in Carla’s of Daily Half Dozen’s relaxed style (I know we share some readers, sadly I won’t be as concise as she is!).

Money

Yikes, what a week! Last week, I got a double pay, thanks to back pay, overtime and on call pay.  So I quickly siphoned that off to my savings goal of $26k by 22 Dec for my mortgage.  I even paid two weeks of my mortgage last week.  It was all going so well…

This week I got paid my new normal weekly pay.  And then I proceeded to spend $1400 on a two day course!  To regular readers, this is part of getting my chartered professional engineer status – I need 150 hours of continuing professional development.  75 of these hours can be ‘anything’ – which cover all the internal courses we do more or less annually.  But the remaining 75 hours are divided into specific ‘skill sets’ and I was woefully under subscribed in ‘area of practice’ courses.  So I found a course in August, but with two days until the ‘early bird’ rate of 10% off ended, I signed up straight away.  In the past, these courses have been paid for by my employer.  Sadly, with the current climate, I am not at all confident I’ll be reimbursed this time.  Nonetheless, I’ve found some paperwork, and commenced my case with my (new) boss.  He’s on board, and willing to watch me fight 🙂

After paying for the course, other enjoyable hits to the budget included

  •  finally fixing the ikea kitchen lights (that’s a post in itself!) for $160.  This will be reimbursed by Ikea
  • I helped crowd fund a great book from a blog I love 52Suburbs – you won’t be disappointed if you like photography and diptychs
  • I got all my nails done in preparation for the wedding, which set me back $85.  You know how I feel about the cost of being vain, so this was a hit!
Right after getting them done

Right after getting them done

  • accommodation for the wedding was $180. Most places in Orange are minimum two night stay, so it severely limits the competition if you’re looking to stay one night.  It was well worth it though!
  • thanks to An Exacting Life, I went and found concert tickets! I’m due to see Rudimental in September (which I initially thought had sold out), and then also bought two tickets at the same venue for theatresports next weekend.  I’m sure I’ll enjoy both, but that was another $140
  • for the first time in months, I had acupuncture AND physio (which I was having weekly for a long while).  Combined, my out of pocket was $90, better than the $120 it could have been
  • I’ve signed up for a 9km bridge run ($57)! I can reimburse myself from the 12 in 2 adventure fund though.  Sadly the 5km color run I was going to do with my family sold out quick sticks, so we’ll volunteer instead, to still be involved.  Whilst on 12 in 2 goals, I’ve also found an accountability partner for running (Pauline for Make Money Your Way) and for the bible reading I have Brian from Done by Forty who I met through comments at Jen’s blog The Happy Homeowner – yay to have encouragement!

That’s about all, til I spoke to the physio about my running and shin pain.  She suggested I needed new running shoes – I’d like to get some for the ~$100 mark, but in Australia, it’s more likely to be ~$200.  I’m almost tempted to take that US trip I’m dreaming of, to save me the $100 dollars.

And I’ve decided I’d like to try skinny jeans after a great wardrobe post by Into Mind, though I did wander around, and now I’ve decided I need to at least TRY skinny jeans whilst I’m this side of retirement… I mean seriously, why have I never owned a pair?  I just think they might be the silhouette update I’ve been looking for. (yes I think of what I’m wearing in terms of the shape, and I’ve been a little less than impressed with a lot of my winter wardrobe of late).  So that’ll likely be another $100.

I’m not game to add this all up – but let’s just saw, I’m sad to see a lot of last week’s gains be lost this week or so.  Hopefully some reimbursements will settle it out, otherwise I’ll just have to be ok with achieving my savings target slower.

Stuff

I’m getting so hung up on ‘stuff’.  The price of stuff vs the quality.  Thinking about the conditions of who made it.  The wage they were paid.  Should everyone earn what an Australian ‘minimum’ wage is?  It’s all getting to me – and came up last night with my parents who’ve just enjoyed 2.5 weeks in Asia, where a watch was $2.90.  How do you work out a fair price?

This thought process was probably kickstarted by a radio segment where I heard the found of Slavery Footprint speak about the way they are trying to change industries (rather than companies) to address slavery.  You can input your ‘stuff’ to work out how many slaves you had.  Best part of the interview was when he mentioned that his people emailed Steve Jobs – to which he off handedly suggested ’email the Queen too’.  His staff explained that Jobs always replied to emails.  And he did! He said ‘thanks for bringing this to my attention, I’ll look into it’.  And since then, Apple’s gone form being a secret company, to disclosing their suppliers and the conditions and what Apple is doing to improve things.  Certainly heartening.

Screen capture from http://slaveryfootprint.org/

Screen capture from http://slaveryfootprint.org/

The radio presenter had 34 slaves.  I got 44.  You should try it – it’s a cute interface if you have 5-10 mins to spare!  You can fine tune every step by pressing the cog on the left (shown above), which I did for food, technology & clothing (using my wizz bang inventory, and it was still hard!) <- actually I went back and tried to fine tuned them all, til they cleared my old clothing tally!

I think that’s all that’s on my mind.  I have the fancy birthday dinner this Saturday (my one eating out exception that I planned at the start of my ‘no eating out’ July Challenge).  It’ll be great – I believe it’s 5 courses of south american food, with the option to match wines (sorry Lucinda, it’s not a dry July for me!).  It’s also another cost, but hey, I knew this one was coming.

Let me know how your slavery footprint goes when you get a chance – I’d love to talk about that more!

Goals Update – June

Financial

$20k $26k target by 22 DecOn target to reach it by 21/11!
May: $16,413.13
Jun: $17,938.69 (+$1525.56)

12 in 2 adventures fund

May: $574.32
June: $898.81

Generosity target
Slower month this month, but annualised, I think I’m still doing fine.  Maybe I’ll report on my hours volunteering?

Health

Cook at home twice a weekEasily met, especially with the BF’s cooking mixed in

week 1 –
Dad’s graduation dinner (Sat)
Ceasear salad at BF’s (Sun)
Red Rooster (Mon)
Spag Bol with zuchini (Tue)
Garlic cheese pizza (Wed)
Chicken Ceaser Salad (Thu)
Satay pork pies, Zucchini slice & Pumpkin Pie (Fri)
Malaysian at Mamak and N2 gelato (Sat) <- my go to for out of town visitors!
Curry and Rice at parents (Sun)

week 2 –
nothing… Ice cream at vivid festival (Mon)
Oven roasted cheery tomato gnocchi (Tue) <- can I just say, I didn’t think something so easy could be so tasty! I even skip on the basil and it’s awesome
Chicken with Bombay potatos (Wed)
Zuchini slice? (Thu)
Pepperoni pizza (Fri)
Mamak again, different location and different people (Sat)
Nachoes by BF at my place (Sun)

week 3 –
Ceaser salad at BF’s (Mon)
Gnochhi with slow roasted tomatos(Tue)
McDonalds (I had a freebie) (Wed)
Gnocchi (from ricotta) (Thu)
Salt and pepper squid at the pub (Fri)
Onion tart (Sat)
Pad Se Ew (sp?) at BF’s (Sun)

week 4 –
Onion tart (Mon)
Onion tart (Tue)
Food at Coop Fundraiser (Wed)
Dominos pizza (Thu)
Nothing (some cake?) (Fri)
Gnocchi with oven dried tomatoes at BF’s (Sat) yes again!
Stew at a friends (Sun)

Sugar: Back on a good thing, but only 1 week this month

After a shock on Monday week ago (seeing my whole reflection in the mirror!), I have decided to cut sugar at least til the end of July.  My loop holes are that if I bake it at home, it’s ok (like a great gluten free pear and walnut bread mmmm).  Natural sugars are ok (milk, fruit).  And I won’t be a Nazi – I did nibble a tiny bit of a snack Mars Bar and the BF ate the rest.  Or the super good organic chocolate at the coop that someone kept offering me – with coconut sugar I think.

Train for polo:

Taking the season off.  I am pleased I got a continuous 4km run in on Wednesday and it felt a-ok.  It was relatively flat, and I only walked about 30m at a time before I started running again, so law of averages says I ran!

Cultural

2 films a month: Happily yes!

Definitely! There was the silly This is the end (which we saw with free tickets… which is the only way I’d ever suggest anyone sees this – unless you are a man who likes toilet humour); we also went and saw The Great Gatsby and The Internship which I enjoyed more than I might have expected.  Technically, World War Z also came in during this month too!

2 books a month: Also a yes!

I read The World Without Us and Perfume, click the links if you missed my reviews

Social

Call/connect with an out of town friend : Achieved, gold star here

A friend from Victoria visited, so she made all the effort 😉 And is now a reader – yay!  And at the beginning of June I went to the Gold Coast and caught up with a school friend.  So two good activities with two out of town friends! Win!

Career

Certification: Bah, not so much progress :s

I’ve got my mentor to read three of the woeful 16, and updated two of them.  The third one, all about ‘evaluation’ – he said what I wrote doesn’t really prove that I have this skill.  He is, of course, right, but I just don’t know how to fix it!  Maybe start again :s

Looking for next role: Moving along nicely

Interestingly, one has found me.  I spoke to my boss a week or two ago, looking for some growth/learning areas he thought might be useful.  At the same time, i told him about my career goal.  A week later he called me into his office and suggested a lateral move, with the view that it will enhance my skills, and may give me some management ‘practice’.  So, I think it’s a no brainer that i take it!

So the month that was June.  All round, pretty good.  On track with savings (and a HUGE backpay/OT/on call pay supplement this week too!).  Killing it on my cultural goals, and ok on the career and social fronts.  Maybe I should add ‘running’ into the health part – and keep myself a little more accountable, as I had a huge hiatus after this post.

The cost of being vain…

I’m not particularly girly… I’m not sure why, but sometimes I think it’s because I’m frugal (with these sorts of costs).  So I thought I’d look into how much it would truly cost to be ‘vain’ (at least in my judgement) for a year here in good old Sydney town.  I’m looking mainly at outsourced services, rather than ‘things’ – though I do put make up in there.

Clothing is a whole other ball game, so I left that out…  But if you want to see how much clothing I have (and you’re not a regular reader!) head to my wardrobe inventory.

Haircuts

Every six weeks at $75 each = $650 

Hair colour

Every six weeks at $140+ = $1,213

Waxing

Sexy eyes thanks to an eye brow wax? source: http://www.urbanescape.net.au/www2/

Sexy eyes thanks to an eye brow wax?
source: http://www.urbanescape.net.au/www2/

Legs every 2 months at $35 x 6 = $210

Private parts every 1.5 months $35 x 8 =$280

I didn’t include eye brows as they are free with the above too.  I could also look into waxing the side of my face, or my arms?

Tanning

What I could look like, but at what cost? source:http://www.urbanescape.net.au/www2/

What I could look like, but at what cost?
source:http://www.urbanescape.net.au/www2/

Weekly, every second week $30 x 26 = $780

(ideally weekly in summer, and for special occasions in winter)

Nail care

Manicures with shellac (year round, fortnightly) $35 x 26 = $910

Pedicures with shellac (six months a year, monthly) $40 x 6 = $240

Cosmetics

This is a total stab in the dark, cause I don’t wear make up daily so have no idea of consumption figures, but based on the make up brands and products I buy (Lancome foundation, perfume, mascara, blush), I’d guesstimate

$200

TOTAL

$4,483 or a mere $86.21 per week. (Almost 6% of my take home pay).

Admittedly, all of the above are ‘salon’ prices, and I’m well aware a lot if not all of this can be done at home.  Maybe someone can do a mirror post, and show just how much money could be saved.  Rest assured, I’m not spending anywhere near the above amount at the moment!

What do you think is a reasonable about of money to spend on your appearance?

June challenge: track eating out costs

I’ve mentioned more than once (here and here), that I’m sure my eating out costs are higher than my monthly grocery spend.  It’s the only way I can explain how I spend so little on groceries and I haven’t starved 😉  Actually regular readers would know, every month I set a goal to cook at home two nights a week.  I usually meet this (and I don’t count the ‘cooking at the bf’s’ in that either!)

Whilst thinking of a challenge I considered ‘no eating out’ in June.  It was doomed from the start, with a night away at the Gold Coast.  So I decided I would track it first, and then next month, work on a ‘no eating out’ challenge.

Now I want one! I love a great pepperoni pizza! source:kingstonhouseofpizza.com

Now I want one! I love a great pepperoni pizza!
source:kingstonhouseofpizza.com

So, to start with, this is normal programming, complete with a mini break in there.  We seem to have one mini break out of town every month at the moment – between weddings, work and ‘why not’s.  Let’s hope this week is an outlier in the month (though if every week truly is like this, imagine how much I’ll have saved at the end of July’s challenge?).

Here’s the ‘rules’

  1. I track the total meal and drinks cost (coffees, cocktails etc).  This includes whomever I eat with, usually the bf
  2. I proportion what amount of that is mine (not exactly, but just a rough 50/50 or 30/70).  This is helpful when I eat in a big group (ie with my family) and whilst I don’t/didn’t pay, work out what it might have cost me in real terms.
  3. The BF is aware of the tracking, but neither of us are changing our behaviour just yet.  Basically, business as usual

Week 1 – hold onto your hat’s frugalistas…

9.3% of my (weekly) take home salary covered my own meals out, so far.  Actually, that’s ignoring my family night out, where dad paid.  If I’d paid my way, I’d have spent 12.7%  And if I paid for everything we eaten out as a couple, it’d have been 13.8%.  Oh and don’t you worry about fairness, there’s been hotel costs & cabs in this same week and I’ve paid nothing for those.

Now, let’s hope for a calmer few weeks, and a nicer end of month check in…

For a random aside, as I can’t contain my jubilation!

My current career inspiration source:http://www.generalhonore.com/index.html

My current career inspiration
source:http://www.generalhonore.com/index.html

Career Goals Update

I’ve now met with my internal mentor (got tongues waging in my office, seeing me meeting one on one with a big cheese!).  He was a dynamo and I’m sure it’s going to be a great match.  As a result of both mentors, I’ve had a flurry of activity, including applying for RedR to be on their disaster register. Lucky I got on this promptly, as applications close tomorrow!  Next step will be a phone interview – so close those fingers everyone!  I also asked my manager to review my skills and help me identify some learning opportunities for me, to make the most of my current role whilst we ride out the storm of no jobs and uncertainty in our company.  And I’ve sent three of my less than ideal career episode reports to my external mentor.  Hopefully our next meeting will bring some insights on how I can strengthen those.  I’m walking with a spring in my step, and radiating sunshine with all these little steps toward the career I want!

Thanks readers, you’re really helping me keep accountable and make sure I achieve my goals.