How to save money while stuck at home
April was the first full month of self-isolation & quarantine for us. I'd say one of our biggest challenges was balancing full time work and full time homeschool. We have been fortunate enough to split the days we spend at home during the week. I'll work from home Tuesday & Wednesday while schooling the kids and Allanah will work from home the other 3 days. It can be a bit of a juggling act some days, but overall we've got a pretty good routine set up now.
Throughout the month we were really able to cut back on expenses such as daycare, fuel and eating out at restaurants. However this was offset by some present buying that we had forgot to budget for. Hey, we're not perfect. But it's ok, we were able to stick to our overall budget even with the expense of some gifts, thanks to the reduction in other areas.
A few of the items we hadn't budgeted for:
New bikes for the kids. This was part of their birthday present allotment that we hadn't purchased due to it being winter when their birthdays actually occurred. With warmer weather becoming more common it was time to buy the bikes. They looked like clowns trying to ride their old bikes and had definitely outgrown them, so it was a worthwhile purchase in our eyes.
Father-in-law's birthday. We didn't go overboard by any means, but we did buy a good quality RM Williams shirt which sets you back around $90 when you include shipping. It's probably his new favorite shirt.
Mother's Day gift. I'll be honest here, Allanah actually purchased this as a gift from us (her husband and 2 kids) to herself for Mother's Day coming up in May. I shan't be judged. It was what she wanted. Perfume by Chanel doesn't come cheap, but it does make her smell like her best friend back in Australia so she is one happy camper.
The kids we super-chuffed with their sick new wheels. We had to purchase them through the online portal of our local retailer as we weren't allowed to physically enter the store, so as soon as they were available for pick-up we headed into town and collected them. We found a nice quiet area to test them out and were disappointed to find that we had purchased a size that was too small for our son. He was no longer chuffed.
Returns were not allowed and we had to wait until May to exchange the bike. For the next 3 weeks it had to sit in the shed and not be touched. Talk about a teaser!
Our daughter on the other hand had selected a Frozen themed bike (of course) with shiny streamers on the side and a new helmet with a tiara on it. Talk about a princess. She's been riding every day since.
Now, back to our savings update.
Savings update - 8% gain in April
Another solid month and 8% closer to our 2020 goal. We're still trending nicely above our target, which is nice. We aren't aware of any large expenses coming up so we should be able to keep this up for the foreseeable future.
Oh, and another massive milestone was achieved in April. Drum roll please... We've saved 6 months of living expenses! Woo hoo! Our original target was June so we smashed that by 2 months. What's next on our plan? We'll cover that in one of our next posts and break down the plan in plenty of detail. Hopefully that will give you a better picture of our roadmap.
For now, we wanted to share a few tips we've found effective to cut back expenses in times when the economy is struggling, and just in general.
5 money savings tips while you're stuck at home:
Raid the freezer and the pantry before going shopping. You'll be amazed how many meals you can whip up with the random foods in the back of the freezer or pantry. Remember that old bag of peas and that random half an onion? Throw those together with a bit of rice and scrambled egg, top with soy sauce and BOOM! Cheap mans fried rice. That's just one example. There's apps that you literally punch in what you have and it will spit out a recipe for you. You're welcome.
Call all of your subscription companies and ask for a discount. Do you have multiple subscriptions like Netflix, Hulu, Crave and Disney+? Surely you don't need them all. Ring up and cancel the ones you don't use, and ask for a discount on those you use. Sometimes if you threaten to cancel they'll offer you a great deal, but don't be rude about it, they're human too. Also, trawl through your bank statements to see if you're still paying for a service you're not using and if you find one, cancel it straight away.
Contact your bank/credit card company and ask for fees to be waived. Most times if you call your credit card company or your bank and let them know you'd appreciate if they waived a certain fee, they usually comply. Obviously you can't do this multiple times a year, but if you have a good script written down and talk calmly you'll be surprised how accommodating they'll be.
Compare service providers to find a better deal. There are loads of comparison websites out their for pretty much everything. One that you Aussies will find useful is finder.com.au. You can those types of websites for credit cards, health insurance, car loans, and more. Shop around and find the best deal for your situation.
Clear our your clutter and sell it on Marketplace. I bet there's a tonne of crap around your house that you either don't use or that could be upcycled and sold on place like Facebook Marketplace, Gumtree, Craigslist or anywhere else. Now is a good time to declutter and make some extra cash at the same time. Get to it!
Now that we're up to date with our "Life Update" types of posts, we'll likely give a life update once or twice a month. So to keep delivering solid content for you guys we are going to start putting out other articles like money tips, basic investing, using credit cards, etc., so let us know what you want to hear more about and we'll make it happen.
Don't forget to follow us on Instagram as we post there pretty much daily with some handy hints, tips, and much more.
Blake & Allanah - FIRE with a family