Sunday Dinner – a budget friendly option

The budget-friendly option

 

 

There’s no denying it – the cost of feeding a family can be expensive.

It all comes down to personal choices of what we buy and how much we eat.

The largest cost for most meals is the protein content. And it doesn’t seem to  matter whether we choose meat or fish; the price can be quite expensive.

For many Anglo-Australians, the Sunday Roast is still a favourite. However, I’m  finding that the cost for a leg of lamb, or a beef or pork roast is  slowly becoming prohibitive.

 One tip I learned long ago, was to buy only the roasts that have no bone. The  boned portion of the joint is quite heavy and I don’t need to pay for something  that we can’t eat. Of course, my dog loves it but that still makes for far-too-expensive dog food.

A discussion with family and friends brought an interesting point to light – they all love the roasted vegetables more than the meat component. They told me that most meats taste the same once they have gravy on them. And for many people gravy is just an important part of the traditional Sunday Roast as the vegetables.

So, I changed my ideas about Sunday Roasts and started using the humble meat-loaf. It’s inexpensive and nobody seems to have noticed much difference. Well, nobody has complained.

We can still have the meals we love; it’s just a matter of adapting to a more budget-friendly option.

Would your family notice if you switched to meat-loaf?

 

(c) Carmel McCartin –  Budget Bitch

And don’t forget – (The views expressed in this blog are the personal opinions of the author. Don’t rely on them to make financial decisions; you have to make up your own mind. If you don’t like the content – then either stop reading or send me an email)

Don’t buy things ‘just in case’

 

Another excerpt from the book – “Money Tips from the Budget Bitch” 

 

Don’t buy things “just in case”.

I know so many people who do this. They buy extra food, extra soap, extra detergent, and extra pantyhose. The list is endless and they always tell me that they “bought it just in case”.

So, I ask – Just in case what? Is there going to be another world war that we haven’t heard about? Is rationing about to be re-introduced? Are all the supermarkets going to close down? Or is it just in case we have an empty cupboard that we don’t know what to put in it?

Look in your cupboard… does “just in case” mean that you have almost a case full of that item?

 

Hint: Do have some emergency supplies of the essentials.

Make sure that ‘emergency’ doesn’t mean ‘over-abundance’

 

 

(c) Carmel McCartin –  Budget Bitch

And don’t forget – (The views expressed in this blog are the personal opinions of the author. Don’t rely on them to make financial decisions; you have to make up your own mind. If you don’t like the content – then either stop reading or send me an email)

Saving money AND the planet

Isn’t it amazing how much everybody and everything is focused on sustainability these days? And that’s a good thing too – but it’s not new!

To all those people who believe that they have discovered sustainability and saving the planet (amongst other sorts of savings), then I have to say – you’re not the first!

Your grandparents and / or great grandparents have always been way ahead of you. It’s just that nobody stopped to listen to them.

You see, the older generation who has sometimes been called Gen G (generation grandparents) understands saving and sustainability much more than Gen X and Gen Y ever will. For these people who lived through or were born immediately after an economic depression, sustainability and savings are almost second nature.

Drive through any suburb after dark and I’ll bet you can pick the houses that belong to Generation G because they’re the ones that don’t have all the lights blazing in every room. They’ve always turned off lights in rooms that aren’t being used.

Ask your grandparents how often they use their electric blankets and they’ll laugh at you. For them, there’s nothing wrong with a good old ‘hottie’ (hot water bottle) and a couple of extra blankets on those cold and frosty nights.

While the young people of today look for central heating, their grandparents block off areas of their house and only heat one room at a time (the one they’re using), thus making huge savings in greenhouse emissions and the money in their wallets.

Have a peek over the back fence and you’ll possibly see a well-tended vegetable garden. These people have known the value of having home-grown food long before it became fashionable to ‘eat local’.

And speaking of food – grandmas’ and grandpas know how to cook and they do it regularly. They’re also well known for baking biscuits, cakes and other goodies which help to make them sustainable by contributing to their savings. You won’t find them buying their lunch or paying $7 for a slice of cake every day.

Suggest to your grandparents that re-using water is a good idea and you’ll find that they can tell you ways that you’ve never heard of. They’ve probably always re-cycled the washing machine water and the ‘bucket in the shower’ certainly isn’t a new idea. How else do they manage to have such wonderful gardens?

Clothes may have become cheaper and socks cheap enough to almost be disposable but Generation G has spent many hours sewing and repairing their old ones. A young person of today would have no idea what ‘darning’ entails, if they’ve even heard the word. They probably spend hundreds of dollars replacing instead of repairing.

So for those people who think that the whole savings thing is brand new – think again. These very senior citizens have always known it – but they call it “common-sense”.

As these people turn 80, 90, 100 and more – ask yourself how they managed to live that long? Is there a secret? Maybe not. And let’s face it – if they lived their lives the way some of us do – they wouldn’t be the age they are now.

Surely we understand that Generation G have a wealth of practices that can make not only ourselves but our planet sustainable for many centuries to come?

We might not always have agreed with what they’ve told us in the past and we’ve probably fobbed them off as being ‘old fuddy duddies’. But if we want to learn some valuable lessons for our future then we only have to start listening to them.

 

(c) Carmel McCartin –  Budget Bitch

And don’t forget – (The views expressed in this blog are the personal opinions of the author. Don’t rely on them to make financial decisions; you have to make up your own mind. If you don’t like the content – then either stop reading or send me an email)

Piggy banks aren’t just for kids

Piggy banks aren't just for kids

 

With a reduction in interest rates and the lowering fuel prices, lots of people are telling me that they’re saving money.

That’s not necessarily correct.  Unless you’re putting the difference between the old price and the new price into a savings account, you’re just not spending as much as you did before. It’s not saving.

The extra money in your wallet is a good thing. It can give you a chance to catch up on some extra payments for your debt ie: your mortgage, credit card or personal loan.

It can also take the pressure off for a little while. I also hear lots of people saying that they’re struggling to make ends meet. I can understand that.  There is so much pressure these days to keep up with our peers when it comes to cars, clothes, houses and holidays. Is it any wonder that our bank balances groan from time to time?

Despite what we read in the media, I’m yet to see significant numbers of people who have some money in their savings account.

Actually, I don’t see too many people who even have a savings account; despite earning good incomes.

The simplest way to save is to start a piggy bank or a coin jar. Put all your loose coins in there and soon they’ll mount up. It’s an easy habit to begin and a piggy bank is not just for kids.

If you’d like to learn how to save a little more, give me a call. I’m sure that I can not only give you a piggy bank to get started, but can help arrange your budget to allow for an increase in your savings ability.

 

 

© Carmel McCartin – Budget Bitch

And don’t forget – (The views expressed in this blog are the personal opinions of the author. Don’t rely on them to make financial decisions; you have to make up your own mind. If you don’t like the content – then either stop reading or send me an email)

7 basic budget tips that you’ve probably forgotten

As we know, a budget is a basic financial plan. It calculates your income and expenses and allows you to plan how your money will be spent. Of course, it will be different for every individual – that’s because we’re all different as are our needs and wants.

If you have enough income to cover all your needs as well as your wants – your budget will be vastly different to most peoples. Unfortunately for most of us – our personal store of money is not a bottomless pit. There’s always a limit to what we can spend. Once we have that planned, then we can enjoy our life without worrying too much about our financial future.

A budget doesn’t mean that you can’t do the things you want or have the things that you like. Making your money stretch is not as daunting as it seems. Sometimes we can do with a little help – so here are 7 of my basic budget tips

  1. Don’t spend more than you earn – this is simply the most basic tip, yet most people tend to forget it!
  2. Less = more …The easiest and simplest way to save money is to use less – of everything. This could mean things like – put less food on your plate; put a little less washing powder into the wash; put less into your shopping basket; drive less and walk more.
  3. Choose one day a week as a “no buy day”, when you leave your money and credit/debit cards at home. This could make you tremble! But you only have to do it once, to discover how easy it is.
  4. Use debit cards or cash. Paying by cash will make you think twice about breaking a $50 note.
  5. Get an empty jar for loose coins. Every time you get home put any coins you may have in your pocket or purse into the jar. It won’t make you a millionaire but it all adds up over time.
  6. Keep your insurance policies up to date and relevant. Check them each year at renewal time, to make sure they’re still affordable and offering value for money.
  7. Shop around to see if perhaps you aren’t overpaying for your banking–there’s a lot of variations in fee structures from bank to bank.

I’m sure you can think of many ways to make your money go further – it’s not as difficult as you think and having a simple budget will put your finances back on top.

(c)

 Carmel McCartin – Budget Bitch

And don’t forget – (The views expressed in this blog are the personal opinions of the author. Don’t rely on them to make financial decisions; you have to make up your own mind. If you don’t like the content – then either stop reading or send me an email)

How to control your spending

Don’t carry plastic cards when you can pay just as easily with cash.

It’s so easy to carry only a plastic card in your wallet these days. No longer do you have to worry about not having enough money in your pocket. Using a plastic card means you won’t need to be embarrassed by discovering that you’re short of cash when you get to the checkout.

But it’s very hard to keep track of how much you are spending with a plastic card. Unless you write down every cent immediately, by the end of the day you will no idea of exactly how much you have spent.

If you plan each shopping trip and take enough cash to cover the purchases, you will be in a much better position at the end of the day.

Try this for one week … calculate how much you will need for food and fuel, then have that cash in your wallet. Use the cash and only that cash! Have a look at your bank balance afterwards.

Be prepared to be surprised.

 

 

Carmel McCartin – Budget Bitch

And don’t forget – (The views expressed in this blog are the personal opinions of the author. Don’t rely on them to make financial decisions, you have to make up your own mind. If you don’t like the content – then either stop reading or send me an email)

When was your last financial check-up?

You’ve all heard about the need for routine check-ups. If it’s not your doctor telling you, then it’s your friends and family.

But how often have you thought about having a review of your personal finances?

While you possibly think you don’t need one – ask yourself these questions and you might just find that the time has come for a financial check-up.

• Do you have financial goals? (are they in writing? do they include deadlines?)

• Is your debt under control? Do you pay off your credit cards each month?

• Have you started a savings account? Do you understand what this is?

• Have you started a retirement fund yet? If you have, will your current rate of savings give you enough money to meet your future retirement needs?

• Do you need to start a savings program to meet the cost requirements of your children’s education? If you have, will your current savings rate be enough – taking into account inflation and rising tuition costs?

• Do you have a budget? If you do, when was the last time you had it reviewed? If you don’t, then do you intend to allow your finances to drift aimlessly?

• When do you intend to get your money working as hard as you do?

If you are not satisfied with your answers to any of these questions, then you’d better contact us today!

Together, we can get your finances back into tip-top condition, with a healthier bank balance.

 

Carmel McCartin – Budget Bitch

And don’t forget – (The views expressed in this blog are the personal opinions of the author. Don’t rely on them to make financial decisions, you have to make up your own mind. If you don’t like the content – then either stop reading or send me an email)

It’s all about choices

Whether we realise it or not, our whole life is about choices – do I or don’t I?; will I or won’t I?

As adults we get to make choices every day, starting from the time we awake. The first choice is about happiness – will I be happy today or will I be unhappy? The very next choice is about whether to get out of bed or not.

When it comes to spending money – you have a choice as to where and how much you spend. Of course, there are some obvious necessities that require your money such as rent and utilities. But even then you have a choice. You can decide where to live and who will be the supplier of your utilities.

Spending money on personal activities can certainly be very pleasurable. Not only can you choose what to do, where to eat or where to go but also with whom you share that time.

Having a budget is also about choices. Whether you use one or not is your decision, just as sticking to the plan is a matter for you to decide.  As part of your budget plan, you get to choose where to spend your discretionary income (that is, if you have some left over after taxes and personal necessities).

People who say they don’t want to be restricted in their self-gratification spending will always object to a budget plan. However, they are correct when they say that “it’s their money and they can do what they want with it.”

That’s their choice.

But if you choose to spend all your money and then later feel regret for decisions that you’ve made, then you have only one choice to make –

  1. accept the responsibility for your mistake and start again; or
  2. blame it on somebody else and bellyache about it forever.

Whatever you decide, you always have a choice.

 

 

 

(c)  Carmel McCartin – Budget Bitch

And don’t forget – (The views expressed in this blog are the personal opinions of the author. Don’t rely on them to make financial decisions, you have to make up your own mind. If you don’t like the content – then either stop reading or send me an email)

Getting started in 2015

Help your budget in 2015

 

 

As we know, a budget is a basic financial plan. It calculates your income and expenses and allows you to plan how your money will be spent. Of course, it will be different for every individual – that’s because we’re all different as are our needs and wants.

If you have enough income to cover all your needs as well as your wants – your budget will be vastly different to most peoples. Unfortunately for most of us – our personal store of money is not a bottomless pit. There’s always a limit to what we can spend. Once we have that planned, then we can enjoy our life without worrying too much about our financial future.

A budget doesn’t mean that you can’t do the things you want or have the things that you like. Making your money stretch is not as daunting as it seems. Sometimes we can do with a little help – so here are 7  tips to get you started in 2015 …

 

 

(c)  Carmel McCartin – Budget Bitch

And don’t forget – (The views expressed in this blog are the personal opinions of the author. Don’t rely on them to make financial decisions, you have to make up your own mind. If you don’t like the content – then either stop reading or send me an email)

 

The Budget Bitch bag of Christmas Cheer

Imagine this scenario – it’s December and you’re away from home, staying in a hotel in Adelaide. Your brother (who lives there) calls, and invites you to join his family for their Christmas celebration. All their family will be together this weekend, so they’re celebrating early. Being part of their family, they’d love you to come. Its 24 hours away.

My brother has five kids who are all grown and have partners; there are some grand-kids plus other ‘family’ members. The total is 20, and there will be an exchange of gifts at some point during the day.

Now this is not part of my Christmas plans and I am totally unprepared to partake in the gift giving ritual. If there had been more time, I would have been able to put some extra money aside throughout the year. I would also have had time to organise something special for each of them.

So here I am, 24 hours to prepare and not only is there a shortage of funds but I am also lacking inspiration in the gift buying department. Let’s face it – even 20 tins of cheap biscuits is going to cost at least $100.

And then (at 2 am) it hit me! The answer came from my subconscious while I slept. I knew exactly what to do.

I couldn’t hit the shopping centre till lunch hour. Into Rundle Mall, and I quickly found a large ‘discount’ shop. So far so good!

Grabbing a shopping basket, I began the next part of my mission – to buy 20 gifts at a cost no more than $2 each. Nothing should be too obviously gender-specific; but to liven the party I chose some purely male and female gifts. (men’s razors, girly soaps; that sort of thing)

I helped myself to the pile of free store catalogues to use as wrapping paper, (they’re colourful and end up in the same place as gift wrap) then spent $2 for a large ‘Christmas’ bag to carry everything. Back at the hotel I borrowed scissors and sticky-tape from the reception desk and soon everything was wrapped.

Family gatherings are great fun and this was no exception. The joy of spending time with people I love, but am separated from by time and distance, was immeasurable. Just to be with them was my own personal Christmas treat.

And then it was “time for the gifts”. My brother took me aside, quietly apologised for the short notice and explained that nobody would be upset that I had nothing for them all. Just being together would be enough.

He was right – it was, but I was ready to surprise them. When all the presents had been opened there remained, under the tree, a large bag that nobody had seen before.

With a flourish I announced that it was time for “Aunty Carmel’s Bag of Christmas Cheer”. Everybody would get a ‘lucky-dip’ and if they didn’t like their gift – too bad. They could always exchange with somebody else later.

What a hoot! We played a trivia game with a dip in the bag being the prize; everybody was a winner. An hour later – we’re still laughing and swapping gifts. Even Grandma got into the spirit, swapping screwdrivers for incense sticks.

It was the best $42 I’ve ever spent and it’s a new tradition; with family members competing to prove that they ‘need’ to be the Christmas Cheer Bag person.

You know – sometimes I think we’ve forgotten that Christmas memories are about people and events – the size and cost of the gifts are insignificant.

 

 

(c)

Carmel McCartin – Budget Bitch

And don’t forget – (The views expressed in this blog are the personal opinions of the author. Don’t rely on them to make financial decisions, you have to make up your own mind. If you don’t like the content – then either stop reading or send me an email)

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