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Tightening the belt


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#26 Wahwah

Posted 07 August 2019 - 09:18 AM

Change your member name...Prada11 to Kmart11. It’s the new you.  


We had a high household income before I decided that life would be better for all of us if I worked less and spent more time with the kids.

We chose not to enrol the kids in private school as originally intended. We spent the first 5 years on one income focused on paying down the mortgage. Not working in corporate land also meant less money spent on clothes, lunches, transport, coffee etc.  Not to mention childcare and nannies. So your net loss isn’t as big as the direct loss of income.

Maybe look at a bit of consulting work a day or two a week when you are ready. Keep engaged with your business network and it might lead to manageable sized projects in the future. And you keep your hand in So that if you choose to return to our career you have some recent experience.

#27 prada11

Posted 07 August 2019 - 10:18 AM

View PostVVV, on 06 August 2019 - 10:23 PM, said:

What are your mortgage payments as a percentage of income?

About 40% of my husband's income.

View PostWahwah, on 07 August 2019 - 09:18 AM, said:

Change your member name...Prada11 to Kmart11. It’s the new you.  


We had a high household income before I decided that life would be better for all of us if I worked less and spent more time with the kids.

We chose not to enrol the kids in private school as originally intended. We spent the first 5 years on one income focused on paying down the mortgage. Not working in corporate land also meant less money spent on clothes, lunches, transport, coffee etc.  Not to mention childcare and nannies. So your net loss isn’t as big as the direct loss of income.

Maybe look at a bit of consulting work a day or two a week when you are ready. Keep engaged with your business network and it might lead to manageable sized projects in the future. And you keep your hand in So that if you choose to return to our career you have some recent experience.

I love it :-)

#28 prada11

Posted 07 August 2019 - 10:19 AM

View PostOllie83, on 06 August 2019 - 10:28 PM, said:

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.

Growing our own vegetables sounds like a great idea.

#29 prada11

Posted 07 August 2019 - 10:25 AM

View PostHands Up, on 07 August 2019 - 07:55 AM, said:

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.

Oh my Gosh, that's us. We were spending around $20K and we need to bring it down to about 9-10k. I am saving around $4500 a month on daycare and nanny fees now, so just need to find a way to save another $5000 a month

#30 Dadto2

Posted 07 August 2019 - 10:35 AM

View Postprada11, on 07 August 2019 - 10:25 AM, said:

Oh my Gosh, that's us. We were spending around $20K and we need to bring it down to about 9-10k. I am saving around $4500 a month on daycare and nanny fees now, so just need to find a way to save another $5000 a month

You'll probably need to change your username too!

#31 ~LemonMyrtle~

Posted 07 August 2019 - 10:46 AM

$5000 a month??, that’s a lot. I’m trying to think how we would reduce our spending that much, not including childcare or mortgage.  I don’t think I could do it, there is not a lot left that we spend money on, that isn’t basics like bills and food, and we are high income earners too. We spend a lot on crap and luxuries, but not $5000 worth. Most our money goes on mortgage and the nanny pretty much.  This is going to be harder for you than I first thought.

You need to get serious, and write down everything you currently spend money on. Get your bank statements for the last 3-6 months. Get an excel spreadsheet and categorise every, single, line on that statement and see where the money is going.

You’re going to have to make hard decisions I’m now thinking. I’m thinking things like health insurance, any and all kids paid activities including extra curriculars, a second car, any personal recurring memberships, gym, Netflix, etc, all will have to go. Then you will also have to cut all eating out, including coffees and cakes and lunches. You may have to dial back your insurances, reduce your house and car insurances to the bare minimum.

Will you become eligible for any government allowances? Look into that too. Because you will probably need a bit of extra income.

#32 JRA

Posted 07 August 2019 - 10:46 AM

I think the eating / snacking / drinking out is a huge habit that is not a good thing to pass on to children (speaking from experience).

As others have said, carry water, carry snacks, etc. I see families who now have 16-18 yo kids, and the kids just know that they don't buy food after the game or whatever, there are snacks in the families bag. Others (mine included) just assume they will buy something at the canteen.  (I am not sure what age it changed with us and DS to get to this, but I am not happy)

These snacks out with kids add up badly, and are completely unnecessary, same for coffees etc

Good luck, and good on you making choices such as these

#33 rainne

Posted 07 August 2019 - 10:52 AM

You're talking about budgeting going forward, but I think you need to do a retrospective budget. Get your bank statements for the past year (ideally, since some expenses are annual, but if you can't stand that idea, at least six months) and see where you were spending. You'll be able to see how much of your $20K is non-essentials pretty quickly. Some of it will depend on ongoing commitments; i.e., if you have car leases that you need to pay off. The more of those, the harder it will be.

The good news is that your kids are at a very cheap age. And of course, plenty of families cover the needs of a family of 4 for less than the reduced amount you're talking about. But it does depend how many commitments you're locked into at the moment.

#34 rainne

Posted 07 August 2019 - 10:55 AM

View Postnom_de_plume, on 07 August 2019 - 08:26 AM, said:

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.

If it's not too much of a hijack, what does your weekly meal plan look like on a typical week? We cook everything from scratch as well, buy from Aldi/local butcher/fruit and veg store, meal plan, drink water or homemade kombucha not cordial or soft drink...and we're coming in at double your total at around $250/week for four people! I'm so keen to hear how you do it.

#35 born.a.girl

Posted 07 August 2019 - 11:21 AM

When I did a budget I had three main columns before looking at each more carefully.


One was non-negotiables, which may include your council rates and the like.

Things like water, gas, electricity, most would go in the not negotiables, but a portion would go in 'optional', depending on whether it looked possible to reduce it.

Optional column also included things like birthday gifts, and they added up to a surprising amount, given we're both from decent sized families. We started looking out beforehand for gifts for people, rather than dashing out at the last minute and often ending spending more than was necessary - i.e. more than the person would expect us to spend.  There were so many kids at that stage (about 20 nieces and nephews) that I just bought things when I saw them.

Completely optional were things like clothes for us for a year.  I did cave in and buy him 3 x t-shirts when they were 3 for $20 one time, with most things still made in AUstralia, they were much the same price as many things are now.  Offspring was excluded from that.

#36 Literary Lemur

Posted 07 August 2019 - 11:29 AM

What you are spending is well in excess of what many earn so there must be lots you can reduce. Have your written down what you spend on each item and asked how necessary it is? Imagine sharing that list on EB (you don't have to of course!) What items would EB say you pay for what?? "

#37 cstar

Posted 07 August 2019 - 11:42 AM

View PostJRA, on 07 August 2019 - 10:46 AM, said:

I think the eating / snacking / drinking out is a huge habit that is not a good thing to pass on to children (speaking from experience).

As others have said, carry water, carry snacks, etc. I see families who now have 16-18 yo kids, and the kids just know that they don't buy food after the game or whatever, there are snacks in the families bag. Others (mine included) just assume they will buy something at the canteen.  (I am not sure what age it changed with us and DS to get to this, but I am not happy)

These snacks out with kids add up badly, and are completely unnecessary, same for coffees etc

Good luck, and good on you making choices such as these

Yep, I know of a few families whose kids (and they) spend ridiculous amounts on food and drinks at cafes, sporting events etc.  It's just a given that they will order lots of stuff, and the amount of times half of it is still sitting there untouched is crazy.  We always take our own water bottles, food etc wherever possible, eat out very rarely as the cost is outrageous for a family of 5.

#38 JomoMum

Posted 07 August 2019 - 11:45 AM

View Postrainne, on 07 August 2019 - 10:52 AM, said:

You're talking about budgeting going forward, but I think you need to do a retrospective budget. Get your bank statements for the past year (ideally, since some expenses are annual, but if you can't stand that idea, at least six months) and see where you were spending. You'll be able to see how much of your $20K is non-essentials pretty quickly. Some of it will depend on ongoing commitments; i.e., if you have car leases that you need to pay off. The more of those, the harder it will

We did a retrospective on our spending too. Downloaded our accounts into excel spreadsheets and sorted according to merchant. Woolworths, petrol, everything.
The big thing was food. Meals out, takeaway, work lunches during the week.

I resigned from my job 12 months ago after being on extended medical leave. This all happened 6 weeks after we moved into our newly built home (mortgage nearly doubled) and I went from working full time to not at all.

Things we’ve done in this time are
No holidays unless we stay with family for free for a few days
Ditched the Foxtel
Ditched the fortnightly cleaner
Daycare fees stopped end of last year
Our son started FYOS at private school but has since moved to public
Stopped buying clothes/shoes we didn’t NEED. We have the basics
Replaced our main car to one that uses 40% less fuel and costs 50% less to insure
Stopped eating out as much. We go out for a meal as a family max twice a month to our local tavern where kids eat free.

Doing a spread sheet not only help to see what you’ve been spending, but what you need to budget for, and what can be dropped. I had been under budgeting for medical expenses and sport for DS, but had been over budgeting for our house utilities.

A mortgage of 40% of your DH’s income is unsustainable IMO. We’re at 28% and really feel the struggle. We’ve considered selling and moving, but are going to wait 6 months to see if we can get ahead in that time.

#39 molinero

Posted 07 August 2019 - 11:47 AM

OP, you have mentioned that you are open to "downgrading" your house in order to get a cheaper mortgage. Just be aware that the banks are really analysing the spending habits of borrowers at the moment.

So if you have a lot of direct debits, monthly subscriptions, etc. and are spending a lot on other discretionary items, that is going to make it really hard (if not impossible) to get pre-approved finance to go house hunting. Especially given you have one income and another dependent (as the banks put it) on the way.

You will need a few months to get your other finances in order before this is even an option, if you do want to consider that pathway.

As per what other PP's have said, you really need to comb through transaction histories, and especially credit card transaction histories. This can be confronting and scary, but it needs to be done. First course of action should be to cancel any discretionary direct debit or subscription which comes out of a credit card account, assuming that you have credit cards.

#40 MincePieMasterchef

Posted 07 August 2019 - 12:33 PM

I hope you feel better soon OP.

Something that helps me a lot in saving both money and time is having a big freezer. So I buy in bulk when things are on special and I do big cookups which cover us several meals and freeze the rest.

Another thing that's saved us a bit is handing on clothes and baby items to friends and other friends have handed on stuff to us. Gumtree & FB have some good things if you are careful.

I like some of the products from Aldi but I personally don't think they are much cheaper as the package size is often smaller, just something to be wary of.

#41 PrincessPeach

Posted 07 August 2019 - 01:08 PM

View PostWannabeMasterchef, on 07 August 2019 - 12:33 PM, said:


I like some of the products from Aldi but I personally don't think they are much cheaper as the package size is often smaller, just something to be wary of.

I find this as well. use your catelogues & look at the unit pricing on the items, aldi doesnt always work out much cheaper than items on sale at colesworths. Also our local IGA often has meat sales which are insane - this week they are doing rump steak for $13 a kg.

#42 BECZ

Posted 07 August 2019 - 01:54 PM

With a family of 6 (2 adults, 4 kids 7-12 yrs) we save by buying specials in bulk.  We like particular brands and stock up when they are on special.  Lots of things are on special every 4-6 weeks (some much closer), so don’t need huge amounts, just enough to get through a month or so.  This obviously only works for things with either a decent shelf life or can be frozen.  

We buy most of the kids clothing from Myer or online surf shops.  I find the quality is better, but we rarely buy anything that isn’t on promotion.  We regularly get 50% off at Myer and the online surf shops.  

View PostWannabeMasterchef, on 07 August 2019 - 12:33 PM, said:



I personally don't think they are much cheaper as the package size is often smaller, just something to be wary of.

I don’t think they are much cheaper either.  Even when Choice does comparisons there’s rarely more than a couple of dollars difference.
Plus when so many things go on special for half price at Coles or Woolies, they end up cheaper.

We also get some great specials from IGA and also check out if you have any meat processing places that are open to the public.  We have a few to choose from around here and they are great value.  Sometimes you have to buy in bulk, but I don’t mind when you get things like chicken tenderloins (which are quite versatile) for $5.99 a kg. Sometimes even cheaper at other times of the year, this is just a current special that I used as an example.

You will get there OP.  It’s probably easier for us as we’ve only ever lived off one low income and our mortgage is about 75% of DF’s income (could be less, but we pay extra), but we do get Family Assistance too.  We do manage to save as well.  Not every month, but we have decent savings.

#43 Dianalynch

Posted 07 August 2019 - 04:06 PM

We went to one income too, halved our income. We downsized, massive saving.

I don’t notice any difference in how we live now, we don’t feel shortchanged

What I do notice is not having to spend on work clothes, work coffee and lunch, less takeaway as there’s more time to prepare food and meal plan, more time to hunt for bargains on shoes and clothes, more time to shop the specials for food, need to buy fewer sets of school uniforms as there’s time for mid week washing...it’s easy to fritter away large amounts of cash on these things...

Now that I’m consulting again some of the food costs have gone up...

#44 WaitForMe

Posted 07 August 2019 - 10:44 PM

View Postprada11, on 07 August 2019 - 10:25 AM, said:

Oh my Gosh, that's us. We were spending around $20K and we need to bring it down to about 9-10k. I am saving around $4500 a month on daycare and nanny fees now, so just need to find a way to save another $5000 a month

We halved our salary too, and it is bloody hard to do without dropping some big expenses like mortgages and private school fees.

Some other things you can do:
Drop PHI to lowest level, no extras
No cleaner
Online grocery shop with a hard max spend per week (will save you more than Aldi)
One car
Phone plans, I'm on $20/m and never go over
Reduce internet service - slower, less data
Pay TV/Music - how many services do you have?
No travel, at least not without saving first
Gym memberships

Your DH needs to be onboard with this too:
Lunches from home
No expensive city car parking, PT is fine
Even better if he will ride to work

#45 scooty

Posted 08 August 2019 - 07:53 AM

Other things we do are preparing for the future.

Kids birthdays and Christmas is all about one major item they need for the coming years. Some years its been a desk, others a computer, one year a tv. Although these seem large, its something we save up for and know in advance they will need going into their teenage years (DS's are 10 and 7). We are trying to spread the cost now, so we can set their environment right as they get older. I know this isn't for everyone, but it means that we have to not do it all in a couple of years, when they begin to want those items. Its been great for the oldest especially as he now is beginning to use a computer for school homework and is very comfortable. I love the piece of mind that comes with having that done.

We dont do holidays. Its just not something we can afford. We have decided on our priorities and me only working 2 days a week, is very important to our family life. Something had to give and holidays is one of those things. Hopefully as the kids get older, we can do that, but its not something they have really talked about missing out on in these younger years. We just have different holiday activities and visiting friends and family we don't see during school term is the main one.

Although I could afford brand new school uniforms, I try and buy as much second hand as possible. They only wear it for a short time before growing out of it. I search gumtree and facebook marketplace for any upcoming sizes and grab what I need at a super cheap price. I find as my oldest is getting bigger, it is getting harder to find items now, but I've saved so much money this way. I do buy brand new track pants and shorts, as they get holes in the knees and you cant really buy a lot of these second hand. You can then sell these items once your done with them. Uniforms can be so cheap this way. People also give me their hand me downs now too, as they know I'm not too fussy.

#46 Hands Up

Posted 08 August 2019 - 07:57 AM

View Postprada11, on 07 August 2019 - 10:25 AM, said:



Oh my Gosh, that's us. We were spending around $20K and we need to bring it down to about 9-10k. I am saving around $4500 a month on daycare and nanny fees now, so just need to find a way to save another $5000 a month

Yep so we saved $1500 a month on our mortgage, $4500 a month on daycare, the grocery bill didn’t go down BUT I estimate we saved close to $1,000 a month by always taking lunch to work now etc. We went down to one car, we shopped around for the best deals for insurance and we are much more mindful with our socialising (we have friends with expensive tastes so we opt out of dinners that we know will end up costing hundreds). No more dropping $70 on breakfast at the local cafe before soccer every Saturday and as per a PP above it’s been good for the kids not to get a store bought snack every time we go out. I didn’t have expensive clothes but DH has had to really rein it in ha ha.

#47 Literary Lemur

Posted 08 August 2019 - 08:15 AM

View PostWaitForMe, on 07 August 2019 - 10:44 PM, said:


Online grocery shop with a hard max spend per week (will save you more than Aldi)


YES. I find online shopping means I don't impulse buy so much. I think in terms of saving money cutting down on meat, cleaning products (make your own with bicarb, vinegar etc), drinks (we mostly only buy milk).

I also buy inline with specials. If the item is non perishable I pretty much only buy it when its on special so might buy double my normal amount. I'm a lazy saver.

#48 raechel82

Posted 08 August 2019 - 08:25 AM

You need to go through every thing you regularly spend money on, get rid of what bills you can and find better deals for others. Strip life back, there is so many free activities.  

I wouldn’t rush into selling your house, remember there are buying and selling costs etc, For me location and lifestyle are number one.  Give yourself some time to adjust and see where you are at.  Many people pay 40% on housing the percentage only matters if the other 60% isn’t enough.

#49 Contrebasse

Posted 08 August 2019 - 08:40 AM

Mortgage will be a tricky one - there are huge costs to buying and selling.

If you plan to go back to work part time in a year (which I would absolutely do, Being a long term sahp is not for everyone!), then I would do a careful budget to see if you can ‘break even’ for that time, including covering the mortgage.

If you really want to stay home indefinitely then I would bite the bullet and move now.

#50 Beancat

Posted 08 August 2019 - 09:30 AM

An easy win is to look back through your past expenditure and get rid of
  • any subscriptions you barely use or are not value for money, ie gyms, newspapers, music, pay TV
  • insurance where you are over insured
  • discretionary expenditure on takeout food
  • kids extra curricular activities that they are not really interested in
  • birthday presents for friends etc
  • review all of  your utilities





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