April 1st debt update: $967.35 (-2582.52)

I’m pretty pleased with that result, though I didn’t make quite the strides I’d hoped for with my Uberfrugal March, as I paid for some insurance this month instead of next month, and some transactions didn’t make it through before the end of month due to Easter. I had projected that it would be closer to $300. But, it’s still OK. I got paid on the 4th of April, and as I have a projected savings of $1475.35 for this fortnight, I’m comfortable with paying off the debt. I didn’t quite manage it on the 6th of April as hoped, as two (!!) of my housemates didn’t pay their rent on time (most frustrating, it hardly every happens), and I was waiting to see what was going on there. Also, it seemed silly to transfer the money on the Friday only to have it sit in limbo all weekend. I’ve sent through some today (Monday the 9th), and then probably send through the rest tomorrow. And then, I’ll be debt free, at least by Dave Ramsey scream standards.

It does feel like a bit of a non event actually. It doesn’t help that I’m sick with a particularly snotty cold, and nothing really feels real. It feels like all that I’ll notice is my bank balance going down, and my interest payments on my terrifying mortgages going up again. I’m dreading having that (relatively) low amount in my savings account, and I’m desperate to start building it back up again. I still haven’t decided exactly how much I want as an emergency fund, but I’ll start with building it to 3 months expenses, and see how that feels.

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Focused, but only on this.

I’m pleased to announce that I saved $300 more than I expected this fortnight! I’m pretty pleased with that. I got my food and hobbies down, and didn’t spend much of my misc budget. I also earned about double what I normally do from my side hustles. I’m on track to have enough to pay down my debt fully on the 6th of April, as hoped. However, my emergency fund will dip slightly below $10k for about a week, when my mortgages are paid on the 12th. This stresses me a bit, but realistically, I’ll get paid again on the 18th, and then it will be back to normal. Symbolically, I really do want to pay it off by the anniversary.

In order to help commit to this plan, I’m going to transfer all my projected savings to my savings account as soon as I get paid (and get all the rent money from my housemates). I don’t normally, I’ve been holding back $500 until the end of the pay period just in case, but for the next month I want to stretch myself a little, and see if having less in my transaction account makes me more careful with it.

However, Uberfrugalling is very absorbing. That Dave Ramsey is right, it’s hard to focus on more than one thing at once. I’m meant to be trying to lose weight so that I don’t lose my dietbet, but it’s not looking good. I’ve got to lose 7kg in 2 months. Doable, but requires focus! I should be focusing on my career, because that is my best way to increase my income, not dinking about doing odd jobs. I want to finish decluttering my space. I want to get better at looking after our garden. I have a long list of things to do for the volunteer group I’m a part of. But instead I’m reading Dave Ramsey forums and obsessing over my bank balance.

As I was writing this, Frugalwoods posted about how she is getting more done now that her time is more constrained. And I’ve definitely noticed that in many of my friends who have had kids. I want to be better at using my time, but I’ve never been very good at it. I do know that I’m better when I write things down, so I’m going back to basics. I’ve printed out my outlook calendar, and I’m going to try to plan things out before I do them. I’ve got a lot I want to achieve this weekend, and hopefully, writing things down will help.

Recipe of the Week: Porridge (soak then nuke method)

Is this even a recipe? Probably not. But I’m eating a lot of porridge in uberfrugal march, because it’s crazy cheap, and I wanted to tell you about a technique I’ve been using to cook porridge and pasta and work without hogging the microwave for 10 minutes.

It’s hard to be more than about 50m from a kettle or source of boiling water in suburban Australia (tea is a priority), and I’ve found that it makes cooking porridge super easy:

Soak the rolled oats in at least 1 cup of the boiling water for about half an hour. I prep this at home in a jar or container with a good lid, then drive to work with it. Transfer to a microwave proof bowl and stir in the rest of the boiling water. Microwave for about 1.5 minutes, or until it starts to expand up like a volcano. Pour on milk, add sugar or (sweetened) stewed fruit. Jam is good too, at a pinch, though it can make the milk curdle sometimes.

  • 1/2 cup rolled oats ($0.07)
  • 1 1/2 cups boiling water
  • 2 tsp brown sugar, or 1 heaped tbsp stewed fruit or jam. (Neg)
  • Dash milk ($0.03)
  • Grand total: $0.10/serve (208kcal)

Yup, 10c/serve. Ain’t no beating that for a filling breakfast. Especially if you use the work milk, and some ancient jam you got as a present 3 years ago.

 

Here’s the stovetop method. But you have to stir, and clean a porridge saucepan, ugh.

I’ve done the same to cook pasta at work. Cover with boiling water, soak in for about half an hour, drain, add new boiling water, nuke for about 2 minutes. Super easy and effective.

Uberfrugal March

April 6th 2017 is the date that I borrowed a large amount of money from family in order to get a mortgage. The whole thing was a bit of a mess, as the banks were in the process of changing lending rules for investment properties, and I got caught in the middle of it, and suddenly was required to have a much larger deposit (40%). At the time, I told them I’d probably pay it back in 4 years or so. But buckling down and really tightening my budget, I’m almost there, and it’s only been 11 months.

Unfortunately, I’ve got an $800 car registration and CTP bill this month, so my projected budget is telling me that I’m going to be about $1k short of having enough to send through the final payment (inc interest). But I’ve decided to really buckle down this month and see if I can’t get close.

Engage Uberfrugal mode!

  • I’ve got a few gift cards floating around (from survey sites, gifts etc) that I can cash in for groceries, gifts and phone credit.
  • I’m going to buy the bare minimum of groceries for the month. I’ve got a lot of food in the freezer, so I should be able to keep my shopping lists short.
  • I’m going to dial down the socialising. I’ve been invited to go away for a weekend in a couple of weeks, but I think I’m going to pass. There’s just too much likelihood that I’d feel obliged to spend money. I’m also pretty pooped from my two weekends away in a row, and visitors last weekend. I’m going to stay home and start knitting a jumper instead (‘Tis the season! The days are getting shorter and daylight savings will end soon).
  • I’m going to try to sell some stuff again. I got on a bit of a roll in August, and then suddenly, had no sales. So I stopped trying. I’m going to drag out all the stuff I don’t want, and get it gone. I probably need to realise that it’s not worth what I think it’s worth. Sigh.
  • I’m going to try to do more driving for Ubereats, and try and increase my earnings from $200 to $300 per fortnight. It’ll mean driving at least three nights per week, but it’s only for four weeks, so it’s worth a shot.

So far I’ve done OK, but I forgot that the giftcards from survey sites take ages to get processed, and so I’ve had to buy a few things in cash that I could have used giftcards for instead. Hopefully I’ll be able to find a way to use them later in the month.

New plan for a new year

Along with budgeting every fortnight, I’m trying out a new fortnightly meal planning system. I’m being less specific with my meal plans, only planning enough breakfasts, lunches, dinners and snacks without being specific about which day I’ll eat it. I’m also planning 2 weeks ahead, and doing the bulk of the shopping in one trip just after payday, with a small top up shop later. It’s working reasonable well, though I am finding planning two weeks more complicated. I’m hoping I’ll get better at it, and get better at having relatively little food left at the end of the fortnight.

For example, this fortnight I planned:

Dinner: Chickpea and pumpkin curry 4
18 serves (some leftovers for lunch) Pizza 3
Pasta 3
Soba noodles, carrot and zucchini 2
Poached fish 2
Beans and Sausages 4
Lunch Black bean and sweet potato salad 3
11 serves Tandoori chicken 1
Dhal 2
Pastizzi 3
Asian Eggplant 2
Breakfast Yoghurt and rhubarb pots 4
12 serves Smoothies 5
Eggs and asparagus 3
Snacks Bananas 4
12 serves Hummus and carrots 4
Miso Soup 4

I’ve stuck fairly closely to these meal options, and it is great to have so many alternatives available! I do have to be a bit more careful about wastage, and making sure I’ve got food set aside for lunches and busy evenings.

This is what my grocery lists looked like (I’ve been shopping twice so far):

  • Kidney Beans
  • Frozen berries
  • Yoghurt
  • Frozen spinach
  • Tea
  • Coffee (both ran out this week, crisis!)
  • Milk
  • Red lentils
  • Basa fish fillets, frozen.
  • Zucchini
  • Mushrooms
  • Broccoli
  • Sweet potato
  • Bananas
  • Eggplant

I already had the rest in my pantry/freezer. I spent $56.13 on this fortnight’s meal plan, and should have plenty of food left to roll into next fortnight.

On the non-shopping weekend, I’m trying to get to the bottom of my washing basket. I’m enjoying breaking these tasks into slightly larger tasks, and doing them less often.

 

 

 

 

March 1st debt status: $3549.87 (-$2464.41)

Getting there, but reviewing this coming month, I’m not sure I’m going to make my aim of paying the debt off by April 6th (1 year anniversary of the debt). My car registration and CTP (compulsory car insurance) is due this month, which is $800. I’ve also been offered a secondhand iPhone 6 from a friend, which I’m going to buy off him for $150. It’s worth it, because my iPhone 5 is slowly coming to the end of it’s natural life, and I really would fine it tricky to manage my life without a smart phone. Doable, but tricky.

But it’s worth a try to hit the goal, it really doesn’t feel as close as it is. I’m going to do more driving for Uber Eats, dig out all my gift vouchers from surveys etc to pay for groceries, and sell some stuff that’s been lying around ready to go for months. My sister also thinks I could sell some of my sewing online, though I’m not sure this is true. I’ve got a fair amount of lovely fabric lying around though, so I might give it a shot. I could also choose to let my emergency fund drop below it’s current nominal amount, but that’s super scary to me. I’ll probably just wait until the end of April when the money from my rentals comes in, and pay it off then.

Recipe of the Week: Fish Poached in Spiced Coconut Milk with Zucchini

OMG this is soooo good. And the fish can be cooked from frozen. So convenient, so tasty. I’ll probably half the recipe to make only two serves next time, as there is a lot of poaching liquid leftover that I don’t want to waste. But, oh no, that means I’ll have to make fish again! I got the recipe from here, but did a terrible job of following it! I think it’s pretty flexible though. I probably wouldn’t pay for the lemongrass if I didn’t have some in the garden already.

  • 1 can coconut milk ($0.95)
  • 2 stalks lemongrass (free from garden)
  • 1 tbsp (jar) garlic ($0.30)
  • 1 tbsp (jar) ginger ($0.60)
  • 1 tsp turmeric ($0.10)
  • 1/2 tsp paprika ($0.05)
  • 1/2 red onion ($0.15)
  • 1 tsp brown sugar (Negligible)
  • 2 tbsp fish sauce ($0.30)
  • 1 lemon, juice ($0.30)
  • 500g frozen basa fillets ($3)
  • 4 zucchinis ($1.20)
  • Grand total: $6.95/4 serves, $1.74/serve (164kcal)

Ah man, that’s a shame. Those aromatics really add up. Anyway, here’s the method anyway, because it is super tasty, healthy and fast:

Blend the garlic, ginger, finely chopping lemongrass and coursely chopped onion with some of the coconut milk until smooth. Blend or whisk in the rest of the coconut milk and the sugar, fish sauce and lemon juice.

Heat the poaching liquid in a pot or pan (large enough to take the fish in a single layer) until simmering. Add the frozen fish and zucchini (chopped in coins). Put on lid and simmer for around 10 minutes until cooked, turning the fish over about half way through.

Next time, I’m adding chili.