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Tightening the belt

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#1 prada11

Posted 06 August 2019 - 09:00 PM

So here I am, 18 weeks pregnant, nauseous all day long , with a 6 year old and a 4 year old, trying to make some decisions.
I have always been a career woman, but climbing the ladder meant having stressful jobs that kept me away from home for too long.

I worked all hours at my executive job last year. Left home at 7 am when kids were just waking up, came home at 8 pm when they were asleep. Hubby worked full time too. Paid for a nanny, daycare, activities, extended family helped, hubby did the lion's share of childcare, but despite my long hours and stressful job, the weekends were spent doing what every mummy does, and I collapsed in bed every night exhausted, woke up to an alarm clock every morning exhausted, spent monday-friday exhausted and stressed and guilty. "Were they being looked after by the grandparents, the nanny, the husband as well as I would look after them?" My mind screamed.  I cried in the shower every morning!
Then it happened, my body refused to cooperate anymore, I came down with an infection that meant I couldn't leave bed for 4 days, during which, delirious with a fever, I decided that I had to take a temporary but long break from my career. I resigned.

We are now down to one modest income, still living the life that 2 incomes can afford, paying a huge mortgage and private school fees. So what do I do?

Tighten the belt!

1. For the first time in my life, I am going to have a budget. Write down every cent we make and every little expenditure we make. If I have to account for the third latte bought at Gloria Jeans, then I probably won't end up buying it.

2. Hunt the deal sites, There is no reason to continue to pay retail. I have been looking around and most good restaurants have deals. So do day spas, electronics, travel etc. I have spent a long time looking at these sites. Never paying retail again!   . I can't believe I can stay at a Bali villa for 5 nights for less than $500, when I had been paying 5 times as much.   

3. Entering competitions. Back of almost every packet I buy, there is a competition to win something. You have to be in it to win it.

4. Look for fun but free activities for kids. There are so many websites that broadcast free kids activities such as Ellaslist, I have just bookmarked them.

5. Sell everything I don't use or need. Gumtree or ebay will be getting a good workout from me.

6. Only shop at Aldi for food and Kmart for everything else. Is it really possible to do a weekly shop for the whole family for less than $120. Yes it is and it's good quality too at Aldi. Goodbye fruitologist (is that even a thing?), organic supermarkets and Myer.

Looking for more ideas, hit me with it lovely parents.

Edited by JustBeige, 08 August 2019 - 05:32 AM.
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#2 jayskette

Posted 06 August 2019 - 09:14 PM

ditch the private school. move to a cheaper area.

#3 Freddie'sMum

Posted 06 August 2019 - 09:29 PM

Sell your house.
Buy a less expensive house, hopefully this will reduce your mortgage payments.

Take your 6 year old and 4 year old out of private school now.  Private school fees increase substantially each school year.

Have a very boring and safe pregnancy and enjoy your new baby when he/she is born.

#4 tenar

Posted 06 August 2019 - 09:34 PM

I suspect you need to do some careful sums, OP.  “One modest income” doesn’t generally support private school fees and a huge mortgage (and often not even one of those alone).

You might have some hard decisions to make in the near future.  I personally would not be considering day spas, good restaurants and holidays in Bali as things to expect to be able to afford.

Good luck with it and with your pregnancy.

#5 prada11

Posted 06 August 2019 - 09:42 PM

Yes no more private schools, that changed last year when I resigned. Oldest child is now in a public school and the younger boy will be joining his sister as well.

View Postjayskette, on 06 August 2019 - 09:14 PM, said:

ditch the private school. move to a cheaper area.

What are some good but cheap areas in Sydney, with good public schools?

#6 PrincessPeach

Posted 06 August 2019 - 09:53 PM

Ditch the takeaway coffee & invest in a coffee machine & keep cups.

Yes it takes more time, but my coffee addicted best friend worked out they saved obscene amounts per year, because not only were they not spending $30 a weekday on coffee (3 cups each a day) they were also not spending additional money at cafes on the weekend for snacks & stuff for their kids.

#7 Chamomile

Posted 06 August 2019 - 10:09 PM

Always drink water at cafes/ restaurants. It’s the healthiest drink anyway.

#8 prada11

Posted 06 August 2019 - 10:11 PM

View PostPrincessPeach, on 06 August 2019 - 09:53 PM, said:

Ditch the takeaway coffee & invest in a coffee machine & keep cups.

Yes it takes more time, but my coffee addicted best friend worked out they saved obscene amounts per year, because not only were they not spending $30 a weekday on coffee (3 cups each a day) they were also not spending additional money at cafes on the weekend for snacks & stuff for their kids.

It's crazy how it all adds up!

#9 VVV

Posted 06 August 2019 - 10:23 PM

What are your mortgage payments as a percentage of income?

#10 Ollie83

Posted 06 August 2019 - 10:28 PM

I find a heap of awesome deals on clothing from eBay, heeeeaaappps of labels and brand names for what’d you’d pay at Kmart if you’re prepared to wade through it all.

Are chickens and a vegetable patch an option? Community gardens maybe?

Barefoot Investors book is meant to be fabulous, I really need to get it too. Shop with cash, budget and designate x amount to a slush fund a week so you feel you’re deprived and if you want a treat you can get it providing cash is there.


Posted 06 August 2019 - 10:56 PM

Yep, second PP, save private education for high school only if no decent public high schools in reach.

Ditch the takeaway coffees.

Shop with cash, see where your money is going!

#12 Fossy

Posted 06 August 2019 - 11:34 PM

I don’t think you can pay a huge mortgage and private school fees on a modest income.  Maybe search through these pages and see what people live off and you might gain some insights.  

Go through your bank statements, write down all your outgoings for 3 months so you get a true indication of your financial status.

Cut out extras ie foxtel, subscriptions, gym membership.

Call up all of your current providers and get better deals including bank, insurances, phone, internet.

Get rid of any credit cards.
Shop in cash and stick to your budget
Meal plan and cook from scratch.
Ditch take away and coffees.
Cut any extra curriculars your kids do, you can do most things for free rather than pay someone else to teach them, especially such young kids.

Slow your life down and expenses will decrease.
Invite friends over instead of going out for dinner -
Saves on restaurants and babysitters. Stream a movie rather than going to the movies.

You’ll be surprised how much you can save just by being aware of wanting to save.

Good luck!

#13 Quay11

Posted 07 August 2019 - 12:09 AM

I've recently taken a step out of a leadership role and gone part time. First tip is to take care of yourself and get as much sleep as you can now and find something you enjoy just for the heck of it.

What are your priorities as a family? Big house? Certain suburbs? Certain schools? Travel? Fashion? Cars? Boats? Hobbies?

My sibling lives in an area of high mortgages, private schools and BMW SUVS. The "keeping up with the Jones's" is so real. We had the option to upgrade to a BMW a family member was upgrading and turned it down even though it was easily affordable for us. It's just not us and I love our little manual Japanese hatchback. I also love our nerdy suburb. The kids' friends parents all work for CSIRO or universities or have just finished PhDs etc.  Very interesting people to talk to. My girlfriend lives in a very wealthy suburb and beats her head against a wall when she's on a play date with some of her kids' friends parents.

Private schools - I'm with everyone above. Have you checked out the local public primary school? Ours is great :)

Big mortgage? We had decent sized one and were able to lower the repayments by consolidating our savings in the offset into the loan by refinancing. It reduced our savings but decreased our ongoing expenses so that a drop of income is sustainable over the long term.

Barefoot investor is great for some basic principles and guidance.

Also check out the local Facebook Buy Nothing group.

But mainly work out what your priorities are. There's a lot you can do to tighten the belt but if it doesn't align with your longterm goals and priorities and family values you'll get in debt/stressed trying to afford too much/feel like you're missing out on whatever the "Jones'" are up to this week :)

#14 gracie1978

Posted 07 August 2019 - 06:12 AM

No advice I'm in the same boat.  Also is great but I'm too sick with morning sickness to deal with it.
Our income has dropped significantly and I can't spend without thinking anymore.

If I go back to a stressful high paid job, hire a nanny, I'll be lucky to come out if it with $500 a week after tax and expenses.
At what point am I better off staying home and working part time at Bunnings in the weekends?

#15 born.a.girl

Posted 07 August 2019 - 06:34 AM

Actually, I'd say the opposite of some here, but it depends what you're like with a credit card.  For some, they spend more.  I'm more likely to think about what I'm spending with a credit card than cash.

I'd get a no fee credit card, always pay off within the interest free period, keeping the payment amount in the mortgage account for over a month in the process.

If you put absolutely everything on credit that you can, it can save you money.  Not much these days with rock bottom interest rates, but still, better than nothing.

It also gives you a great track record of where your money's going.

#16 Literary Lemur

Posted 07 August 2019 - 07:00 AM

Set up an offset account against your loan and pay salary into there to save interest payments.

Get rid of credit cards and replace with a  credit debit card.

Check out local Facebook groups for free or cheap items. We have one where people give stuff away (myself included)

Go through all your monthly payments and ensure you are on the best deal - home loan interest rates, insurance, utilities.

#17 Ivy Ivy

Posted 07 August 2019 - 07:29 AM

If you are going to go part time or not work in paid work at all, can your husband change jobs into a more lucrative one?  Given you may now be at home for the bulk of the childcare he has been doing, he will now have more ability to work longer hours, chase promotions etc if he wants to.

Also - almost everything we do regularly with the kids is free or cheap.  Family bike rides, maybe the kids on scooters, trips to the beach, big reciprocated playdates over holidays, bushwalks, many many park visits.   We walk to the local open tennis and netball courts to play those games, while my youngest scoots around being the ball boy.

I haven't paid for a movie ticket for years.  I've the mindset that overseas hols are a big treat not an every year expense.  My kids LIVE in Target clothes, as do I outside work clothes.  (And I earn a bomb.). I just decide what I want to spend on and only really spend on that.

Realistically if I wanted to cut spending the massive mortgage repayments would be the most practical to cut. All the other expenses are minor in comparison for me.  It may be the same for you.

#18 MarciaB

Posted 07 August 2019 - 07:33 AM

Spend some time calling around to check on things like Mortgage interest rates:Electricity/Water/Insurance to make sure you are getting the best deal on these things that you can.

Also look at your mobile phone contracts etc - when I switched everyone over to prepaid and just paid for phones as we needed it saved a lot each month.

#19 scooty

Posted 07 August 2019 - 07:43 AM

Kids entertainment gets more expensive as they get older. But I have been able to take my boys to the movies very cheaply, especially on school holidays by going to the early morning session at Village. Mine are now 7 and 10, so growing out of the kids movies, depending what is on.

We go to the KIDZ FLIX session, which is only $5 a ticket. usually on at 10am/11am session a day only. Only one movie a week (sometimes none) and if you buy online, you can get a large drink and  large popcorn (heaps of food!!) for only $10.

Its a super cheap way to take the kids to the movies. I've even done it for a birthday party for one when he turned 6. Was great with a  few friends from school.


I cant really afford the movies any other way (or not go very often) at regular prices.

#20 Hands Up

Posted 07 August 2019 - 07:55 AM

DH is going part time and we will have to be careful. Our kids live in Kmart and target anyway and neither Dah or I buy much but our big expenses are coffee (easy to reduce), groceries (we will go back to Aldi) and insurance (which we are shopping around for). We have already downsized so that our mortgage is manageable and have found a cheaper daycare that you pack lunch for etc. We were spending $19k a month at one stage ($6.8k of that was daycare and nanny) and have reduced it to $9k.

#21 -Emissary-

Posted 07 August 2019 - 08:00 AM

Here’s a few things I do:
1) stalk ozbargain.com.au for great deals
2) renegotiate mortgage interest rates with my bank on an annual basis. I managed to get a further 0.1% discount on one of the loans just by calling and asking for a review
3) always carry a water bottle.
4) only buy clothes and shoes when there’s a sales on. Though my DH would argue I have enough clothes and shoes and don’t need anymore.

Our biggest expenditure is eating out which we will have to cut it down when I’m on mat leave.

Edited by -Emissary-, 07 August 2019 - 08:01 AM.

#22 ~LemonMyrtle~

Posted 07 August 2019 - 08:09 AM

Shopping online and at Aldi unfortunately doesn’t save an incomes worth of money.  Bigger changes need to be made.

You dropped private school, so that’s great, huge savings there.  Childcare won’t be an issue as you are home, more huge savings.

Next I would look at every utility bills and make changes there. Get cheap pre paid phones if you’re not on a plan, get the best utility rates, reduce your usage as much as you can.
Cars are expensive. Dropping to one car can save you heaps if your husband takes a train to work anyway.

Then I’d look at lifestyle factors. Don’t eat out, get cheap take away like fish and chips or Pizza. Husband to take lunch and coffee to work. Cool cheap cuts of meat, lots of chicken and mince and cheap fish like Ling and tin tuna. Don’t buy expensive gifts and cut back who you buy for and what occasions are worthy of a gift. Politely decline expensive events or weddings if required. Use your clothes until they die. Shop at Kmart, a lot. Etc.

You can probably do it considering you don’t have some big expenses now like school fees and child care. Good luck!

And remember, no shame in changing your mind. Once you recover, and feel up to it, you can still go get another job, a part time job, a full time job with less hours, anything like that. Just don’t ramp up the expenses again though.

#23 nom_de_plume

Posted 07 August 2019 - 08:26 AM

We live a frugal/minimalist lifestyle. Here’s some things we do:

Groceries we buy at Aldi, a wholesaler or the market. The market doubles as a bit of an experience. We spend less than $120 per week for a family of 5 and that includes a bottle or two of wine.

Both DP and I work, and we take our lunches to work, but allow one day per week in the budget to buy coffee/lunch. We have a coffee machine at home. Gloria Jeans coffee is not worth paying for (tastes burnt and they often scald the milk)!

We meal plan dinners. Get the kids involved. We got everyone to write down 6 dinners they liked and put it in a jar. Each week we do a ‘lucky dip’ and that’s the meal plan.

I don’t buy Kmart clothes unless the kids need a costume. I find them poor quality. I prefer to buy secondhand brand name clothes online or from op shops, and staples from places like H&M, Target and Cotton On as I find they last much better. End of season sales are also great for a bargain or buying from overseas websites e.g. Carters, Oshkosh, Old Navy, Gap, Next. If you have friends or family with older kids they are usually happy to pass clothes on, and likewise you can hand them down to any younger kids.

I do the same for my clothes - op shops, factory outlets, end of season sales (minimum 40% off or I won’t buy). Good quality, brand names only. No one would ever guess unless they asked. Always search for extra discount codes online before you buy. You can either Google them or there are browser plug ins you can install that check for you.

I buy most school uniform items (it’s public school though) that don’t need a logo from Target using Flybuys points. Jumpers, polos and dresses I buy from the secondhand uniform shop. Some schools will let you buy iron on logos for a few dollars as well. Shoes we buy online from Catch of the Day or from factory outlets.

For family outings we generally pack a picnic lunch and go for a drive somewhere outdoors or to the beach in summer. We will usually buy a coffee or ice cream as a treat. Bike rides, the local park, local Councils have festivals or markets that have lots of free or low cost activities, as do the local library or shopping mall. Art galleries and museums are often free for young kids, and have free admission days/times for adults. If everyone’s home, we alternate a family movie night or board games night on the Fri/Sat. The kids pick a movie on Netflix or a board/card game, we make junk food (pizza, popcorn, nibbles), DP and I have a glass of wine.

You don’t need loads of cleaning products. We only buy bleach, disinfectant, dishwashing liquid and glass cleaner. We clean everything with these products. We buy laundry powder in bulk from Costco, Big W or the hardware store. A 10-15kg bucket lasts ages.

#24 123Tree

Posted 07 August 2019 - 09:01 AM

Plan meals carefully. The biggest expense is when food is wasted in my opinion.

I have a few friends that have older kids than mine so every now and then I get a big bag of hand me down clothes. This saves heaps. Once people know that you are ok with excepting second hand stuff you will be surprised what you are offered.

Libraries are great for free activities.

Public school gets another vote too.

Also I think looking at what you spend on and making tough decisions. Pick one thing that you love and then stop the expensive things that you do out of habit. If for example you can’t live without a cleaner ditch eating out.

#25 newmumandexcited

Posted 07 August 2019 - 09:15 AM

I buy branded clothes a lot from op shops - mostly surf brands like quicksilver. I spent heaps in Cotton On about six months ago and found them very poor quality and they got holes within two months - clothes across sizes for all three of my kids. The surf stuff is much better.

Edited by newmumandexcited, 07 August 2019 - 09:15 AM.

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