Setting up a pantry

How do you begin if you have no idea especially in the cooking, shopping and eating area?

You hear about having a well stocked pantry. What does that mean and how do you achieve that? Why should you have one, especially if you are on a low income or budget.

You do not need to have a beautiful expensive ‘pantry’, hidden behind doors with a sink and whatever. My pantry is just in my kitchen and really it is usually having more on hand, so one in use and one if I run out! For example, I make my own bread often. So I will buy a 5kg/11lbs bag of plain flour I have food grade storage for it. I take about 2kg/4.4lbs and put it in the canister. When I am putting the next 2kgs into the canister I will put flour on my shopping list. As I have to budget for the larger bag, I will see how much plain flour costs and I may only buy a 2kg bag that week.


Having a pantry allows you more freedom with the food you cook. Cooking from scratch is perhaps the biggest and yet for many the hardest place to begin their budgeting and saving money. With fresh vegetables and meat you can make delicious meals, and you can make snacks such as sweet and savoury, biscuits, cakes, pancakes and even pasta if you wanted too.

A pantry is their not for the end of the world I am not talking about a preppers hoard for anything that may come. I guess if you live in China at the moment and were a prepper you would be managing relatively well in the current situation with the virus.

I am really talking about how you can have supplies that you use and LIKE on hand to make things easier for you to be more likely to cook a meal than spend money getting a take -a-way, or home delivery. All which convienient are expensive in either cost or lack of real nutrition. The cheaper meals such as McDonalds KFC Hungry Jacks, and all similar are generally high in sugar and fat. Or have been processed so the actual nurtitional value apart from maybe fibre is neglible.

So where to begin
I have basics in my pantry, and even though there is only me, I buy the best price, generally larger quantities, but not always. The supermarkets are getting savvy to budget shoppers, and now it seems you do have to check the price of each against the other. Looking at the price per gram or 100gms rather than the ticketed price. You have to be prepared to spend some time, in not only preparing a list of what you need in your shopping but also the cost. Otherwise you may be paying to much.

Best Before and Use by dates, now these for someone older are really only a guide to how long things last. It is up to you how and what you do in regard to them. My own life experiences and life before these ‘helpful’ dates is I am prepared to use some items beyond the stamped dates on them. I am not suggesting you do this.


My Pantry.
I have flour, just plain (all purpose) as I purchase baking powder to convert it to Self-raising. This means that I can purchase a larger quantity of plain flour (all purpose).
So plain flour and baking powder are on my pantry list.
I also have rye flour and whole wheat as I make my own bread and like rye bread.

Cornflour/Cornstarch (often in Australia this is made from wheat). So I have to check that it is real corn flour from corn.
Rolled oat, great for breakfast porridge, you can use them in biscuits and slices, and to crumb chicken and other meat. They can be ground to make gluten free flour.

Sugar, I have raw and brown. I usually have white icing sugar, (confectioners sugar)
Bicarb soda (baking soda)
Dried beans and lentils, great to whip up a dahl or a curry to extend a stew reduce meat intake
Rice I have white and brown. which ever you like what ever sort jasmine long grain short grain.
popping corn

I also have powdered milk (for those times I run out of fresh milk or the power is off and I dont want to be opening the fridge up)
I also keep semolina I make a sweet pudding if I am craving something sweet
polenta I use it instead of bread crumbs for meat and fish
I have almond meal use it in cooking, and added to porridge or yougurt
peanuts, I make my own peanut butter but also have them as a snack
almonds
brazil nuts
Currants
sultanas
Home made dried apricots and apples
coffee,
tea
coconut desicated
cocoa powder
stock powder for soup base,

Oils and Sauces
olive oil
rice bran oil
soy sauce
Worcester
sesame oil
mayonnaise
honey
mustard
vinegar cider, white, and balsamic
Home made sweet plum chili sauce

Herbs and Spices
smoked paprika
sweet paprika
thyme,
oregano,
chili
tumeric
coriander,
cumin,
pepper
salt
nutmeg
cinnamon
powdered ginger
Vanilla essence

Tinned Goods
tomatoes
coconut milk
beans
chick peas
baked beans
sardines
tuna
tomato puree

Jars
home made jams
peanut butter home made
vegiemite
anchovies,
pickles,
relish green tomato home made

I also have frozen vegetables
butter in the freezer which I buy on sale
meat also when it is on sale I buy extra and freeze it.
I also buy 1kg block of cheese when it is on sale and cut it up and freeze it.

I grow garlic, so have fresh garlic most of the year along with herbs that I grow.
I also grow vegetables, parsley, bay leave, onions, chives, spring onions, corriandor (so I have seeds to grind for cooking), garlic chives, fruit, and hazlenuts.

This is my basic pantry. I do not have biscuits or chocolates in it as I can’t I eat them in one go. sigh
It is a lot of food. You will notice I do not have tins of soup. I prefer to make my own and freeze it.
I also make my own bread mostly so very rarely have bread in the freezer.
It seems like a huge amount to have to get together. The reality is you begin simply. Buy one or two extra items if they are on sale and/or you can afford it.
Over time you will find you have things to assist in flavouring and preparing delicious home cooked meals. It helps with making simple food taste extra tasty.

Do not buy something because it sounds interesting or just because it is on sale. Only buy things you know you will use. It is not uncommon for people to get caught out buying something because it was on special or sounded interesting.

Herbs and spices can be a big on here. Buy only what you know you will use, and these sorts of things are best bought in smaller quantities.

Herbs and spices keep best in a air tight jars. Don’t be caught out paying the hefty extra price you might for a jar of herbs or spices. Wash up the jars from other items you buy and the lids, store your herbs in them. Or if you must buy the jar, do it only once then buy the bags and refill the jar. Dried herbs and spices are best kept out of direct sunlight.

My pantry has helped numerous times when I have had unexpected bills, or been ill and not able to go shopping.
Here in Tasmania most of our supplies are shipped over from the Australian mainland. We are supposed to have about three days worth of food available in supermarkets if for some reason shipping stopped. Which did occur quite a few years ago in the dockers strike. Another good reason to have a good pantry.

I am also a great believer that cooking extra and freezing it is always a good idea.

I am happy to answer or discuss the idea of having a pantry.
My pantry is maintained by ensuring I know how much of everything I have on hand, and adding it to the shopping list of things I need to buy. For me it is as simple as a list on the fridge. I use a wipe off marker and write how many or much I have and generally when I need to buy another one.

It is YOUR pantry no one else’s so you only have to please yourself and your family.

I am so thankful for my ability to have a pantry, and grateful for how it has helped me over time.

blessings to you all
Tazzie



Frugal tips to keep cool

It is the end of January and I have just looked at my out door thermometer which is on the eastern-south side of my home, under cover of my porch and has green deciduous plants covering it. The temperature was reading 38dC in the shade 100dF. It is 1.30pm eastern standard daylight saving time, for us it is horrendously hot here in Tasmania.

I watered my Rhubarb this morning and had removed big leaves and steams off three days ago, fingers crossed it picks up.

I

My frugal way to keep cool in my home with only a fan no air conditioning is to close all the windows, to draw all curtains before the sun hits any of them. Even though my curtains are cover my windows and are insulated rubber backed ones, the sunshine is still hot in my home.

So I was in my car one day and realised that the windscreen cover I put on my windscreen internally was excellent at reducing the heat inside my car.

I purchased a whole heap of windscreen foiled type sun shades. With some gaffa tape I stick the sunshades on my windows behind the curtains.

It works a treat for me and the dogs we are all cool. If the evening is cooler than the inside house temperature, which it usually is here I will open the house up once the sea breeze comes in and the temperature has become pleasant enough to open doors and windows to get the cooler air into the house.

One of my neighbours asked me if I was cooking up meth. I laughed and said no, it is my way to keep my home cool on hot days.

I bought the windscreen sun shades from BIG W three years ago, and they were only cheap about $5 each at the end or close to the end of summer. There were bigger ones and better quality but they were much more expensive, and these do the job I need well.

I am very very happy with this method of helping to keep my home cool.

When I worked nights and slept during the day. In summer I would freeze large plastic storage containers full of water with a lid so a two litre container. I would than get it as I went up to bed and set up my fan so that the breeze skimmed over the container. I got to sleep with a cool breeze, and if I woke up and was hot I would grab another one replace it and get more sleep.

I also will have a few freezer blocks and use them on my person as you would a heat block, but to cool down. I have also sat with my feet in water with a freezer block in the water. Sigh bliss.

Your wrists are one of your areas on your body that if you cool will help cool you down, I will have a ice pack and place it in a towel and put my wrists on it, and behind my neck.

keeping hydrated and reducing sugar intake is great sugar will make you hotter

If you do not have air conditioning it really does help. For hardly a lot of money and both of these frugal tips will last you for many years.

Nutritionist Kerry Torrens advises Ice-cold lollies, slushies and ice cream might seem like natural choices when you want to cool off, but they may actually do more harm than good. “Cold food and drinks might give you an initial cooling effect but it’s short-lived,” says Kerry. “That’s because consuming food leads to an increase in temperature as the process of digestion is heat-generating. This combined with the rapid cooling initiated by cold food and drinks means your body over-compensates by increasing your core temperature. So you may actually end up feeling hotter than you did to start with!” That sorbet doesn’t sound so appetising after all…

Drinking something hot on a sunny day might feel like the least appealing thing to do, but warm drinks can actually help regulate your body temperature. Kerry says: “Hot drinks make your core temperature rise and that makes your body want to cool down so you sweat more to lose heat through your skin.” ‘Thermogenic’ foods like spices and chilli also increase body temperature as they kick-start our metabolism. This promotes sweating, which has a cooling effect.

Makes sense when you think about India and the Carribean, Mexico, Chile and Thailand, Malyasia, other countries with hot temperatures and a diet with spicy and hot food.


I will have cold water in the fridge and flavoured cold teas, some I have made much better and cooling with no sugar added to keep you cool and hydrated.


I give my dogs a yogurt ice block I make for them just using greek yogurt no flavouring or sugar. I dont give them too them until they have begun to melt as it may be too cold for them straight from the freezer. They love these and my cool carrots, I place carrots in the fridge and they munch away on them they seem to really love carrots and chilled on a hot day, brilliant. I dont let them outside and we do our exercise in the cool if possible as I am aware of how hot the ground, tar and cement paths can be on their paws.

keep cool

blessings Tazzie

Frugal shopping?

You may have seen the following photograph and true story doing the rounds of social media very recently. I do not see it as a frugal shopping education yet some people are sharing it as such.

The Launceston woman said they tried to purchase the most value for money “basic” food items and the most popular cigarette brand.

“They were surprised at the amount of food you can buy for the same monetary value,” the grandmother wrote.

She bought a popular brand of cigarettes, which cost $56.95 for a packet of 40.

She then posted an image and receipt of all the food they managed to buy for almost the same amount, including breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks.

Ms Kerrison and her grandkids purchased a variety of food items for $56.85 – from a few packs of Woolworths beef sausages to Zafarelli pasta, fruit, milk, cereal, cheese and other snacks.

She bought a popular brand of cigarettes, which cost $56.95, to teach her grandkids about what you can buy in food with the same amount of money. Picture: Facebook/ JudyKerrison
She bought a popular brand of cigarettes, which cost $56.95, to teach her grandkids about what you can buy in food with the same amount of money. Picture: Facebook/ JudyKerrison

“Must say, I hope this exercise has made them aware of life’s choices … and not to take up this habit,” the grandmother wrote.

Her post has gone viral with almost 10,000 comments and more than 16,000 shares.

The visual illustration of the cost of smoking left many people stunned, with Facebook users describing her challenge as “quite incredible”.

“Sometimes folk really need to visualise something and you did this beautifully, I hope all the friends and relatives will be inspired to give up when they see this. Again, thank you!” one person wrote on her post.

“Well done for putting this really great demonstration of what a choice can do,” one person wrote.

The grocery bill. Picture: Facebook/ JudyKerrison
The grocery bill. Picture: Facebook/ JudyKerrison

“20 smokes a day at $25, basically go to Italy twice a year,” another observed.

“Well done! Awesome experiment … what a valuable lesson,” another person added while tagging their friend.

“That’s right, I agree, I gave up smoking 8yrs ago now n there’s no excuse, it can be done, thankyou for sharing this!” said a third person.

Many reiterated that Ms Kerrison’s challenge was a “great way to make a point that involves them (the grandchildren) and they physically see the difference”.

“A lesson they will never forget. Well done,” one said.

http://www.northernstar.com.au/news/startling-truth-about-grocery-bill/3931607/

I am not a smoker. I do not know how any one on a low income can afford to smoke and buy food. Especially if like me he or she is on Newstart. Yet people do. I would love to know how. I certainly couldn’t and I own my house and have no debt.

You need to know that Australia has the most expensive cigarettes in the world. You also need to know we have very strict laws about where you can and can not smoke. You can not smoke in or around any where that serves food, you can not smoke in your car if you have children in the car. There are specific areas of some venues and restaurants that you can smoke in. It varies from state to state. You should look up the rules if you are traveling to Australia.

blessings Tazzie.

How to pay of your mortgage

I wrote this in response to someone asking me how did we pay off our mortgage?

This is all based on two adults only. NO kids involved I can not base anything on how expensive it can be with children. The mortgage was paid off before I had my breakdown I was still working and my partner died. I worked for a few years after his death. This is why I encourage everyone to become as financially stable as possible.
If we had not paid off our home, I believe I would not have been able to manage the mortgage payments on my own.

My first point is always get rid of all debts before the mortgage. Mortgages at present are low, credit cards with fees and higher interest rates, get rid of them. YOU CAN live without a credit card. Personal loans, car, student loans may all incur higher interest than your mortgage. Get rid of them. Here in Australia I believe most credit cards have an annual fee. So your are paying to have that convenience on top of any interest.

Interest rates will go up I promise you.

Disclaimer Compared to those living on Newstart (benefit I receive ) or low incomes, who are renting, and living in the cities, which are so expensive to rent in or purchase a home. I do not know how anyone can survive even with the rent assistance, my hat is off to all who are in that situation. The costs involved with looking for work, adds to the difficulty of living off this payment. As to paying off a mortgage I bow down before you in awe!

My CPTSD makes me unemployable so I don’t have to do all involved in looking for work. I also know how fortunate I am that my country provides money for those of us who find ourselves out of a job, for what ever reason.

I have all I need and more, I do not have any wants, that makes me rich. Money does not make you rich. It might make you RICH as in oh look at my Corvette and my six bedroom six bathroom house I live in on my own kind of thing, If that is the RICH you are aiming for go for it.

I live in a state that has some of the cleanest air in the world. I have clean water to drink, I can access medical services for no charge, as I have a concession card, so my GP bulk bills me. Public Hospitals are free, but waiting times can be huge. I have wonderful neighbours and a exceptional community in the valley I live in which was demonstrated this time last year when we had bush fires and smoke from before Christmas to late May. This makes me rich!(not the fires and smoke the community)

I have superannuation that will not be accessible for 13 years. Only other assets apart from my home are my two dogs. Who are priceless.

I do not look at life in such ways. Our mortgage was joint effort and no I received no financial remuneration from any where when my partner died. All money went to his daughters. As it should. Our home was a place that his children had never lived in. I am not a financial person, in fact I find all the talk of how much money you need for this and that is ridiculous. As here they talk of how much you need to retire and it is so out there for me. I am supposed to have $3million to retire on. No wonder people are so scared.

Now again, I don’t live in a city like Sydney,Melbourne or even Hobart,where houses and units cost so much. Where many retirees enjoy eating out, the theatre, golf, traveling overseas, around Australia. Some will have several cars, may be a boat, a holiday house. Some will still be paying of their homes and some will be renting. Some will be doing fine and others not so. Maybe if you want to continue with the lifestyle you had you might need that sort of money. I have never seen and probably never will see that sort of money personally in my lifetime.

I could get all worked up and think lots of negative thoughts and worry myself so that anxiety and panic attacks increased and out bursts of anger because I felt no control over it all. Concerned about not having the $3million dollars I need to retire on .

Instead I take a leaf, no many leaves out of my partners life. He was older than I am. He had no debts, he had some savings not a huge amount by what you should have standards, he helped his daughters out with the deposit for their first homes. He was content.

We traveled to NZ for 6 weeks in a campervan. Most of the time it was wonderful..a couple in a tiny vechicle no escape..we were a normal couple!

Apart from beds, (mattress is over 18 years old and still going strong. Fridge 13 years old, microwave 16 years old, freezer 13 years old washing machine over 30 years old, oh and two beautiful Huon pine small coffee table he made me, all the other furniture is second hand. Our TV is smaller than most peoples computer screen. I don’t have air conditioning and survived fine today 40dC/104dF with just a fan.

I have no stocks no bonds, no gold no money hidden anywhere.

My assets are way below the cap for Newstart. Sorry not going into my Net worth but it just the value of my home and superannuation and that is just under $100,000.

I am not qualified to advise anybody on what where how they invest. So cant help you there. I have always looked at if you cant afford to loose it don’t invest.

For me the way to pay off your mortgage faster is to realise that it is compound interest you generally are paying. So if you say as we do here have mortgages that you pay only interest off to begin with and you just pay that amount you it will take the full 30 years. That is what banks and other lenders hope for.

Now this is just very rough values done on a mortgage calculator, online.

Again I am not a financial advisor or in any way an expert.

These figures are based on Australian AUD and interest rates. They are only a demonstration. Say you had a mortgage amount of$360,000 3 bedroom home in Hobart State Capital and an annual interest rate of 4.5%. fixed loan On going Monthly repayments $1824.00 every month for 30 years

  • Total Interest and fees Payable $296,691.00

Now if you paid just an extra $50 a month of your mortgage would be paid out in 28 years and 5months $278,023.00 in interest and fees payable.

If you paid an extra $100 a month$261,734 interest and fees you would pay out your loan in 27 years.

It doesn’t seem much but every little bit extra you can pay off your mortgage reduces time and interest taken. If you pay your loan fortnightly you save even more. If you can pay your mortgage weekly and add an extra $20 to the payment.

If you could pay $2000 a month your mortgage would be paid in 25years and interest would be $240,553 ($56,000 saving on interest and fees)

Extreme example if you could afford a repayment of $1924 a week you would pay your mortgage in 4 years and interest and fees would be $32,902

Paying your mortgage weekly as we did saved even more not that we were paying the full amount but we would put something even if it was $10 on the mortgage every week on top of the due payments. We were paying 8.5%averaged out and we paid it out in 10 years. I was working so it was a lot easier.

Most people (not all) can give up things. Do you really need to have the painted nails manicure and pedicure every week? Or is it a want? Some people do need it than don’t give this up.

People managed to go to work and not get a coffee on the way to work every morning a couple of decades ago. It can be done. Drink water instead of sodas. Bring it from home don’t buy water in plastic bottles. These are all the things I am sure you have heard, and read.

I stopped buying two take away coffees a day, $7 a day $35 a week, $1820 a year saved. OK I had to drink instant but it was what I was drinking at home back then and it was provided free at work. If you add that $140 to your monthly mortgage repayment. wow. Such a little thing, but it will reduce the time and money you pay to the bank. Most importantly I survived doing it. It was worth doing all we could to be debt free. I kept looking at all the ways to knock off some money here some there.

Every time we did, into the money box(jar) the money we saved went and once a month on the fortnight between the mortgage payment I would take what ever we had in the jar to the bank. By taking it in on the fortnight opposite the regular monthly payment was taken out, the time, and interest grew shorter and less. We also paid extra regular weekly payment of about 25 a week I think it may have been more. So add that to the extra $10 a week payment, another payment of varied amounts, plus our monthly required payment. It all adds up and reduces the capital owed plus the interest.

We both put any loose change in it at night. We don’t have any tolls or paid parking where I live. I took a book to read and sat outside on breaks or in the staff room ate my bought from home meal. I stopped going to shops and malls, and wondering aimlessly about to fill in time.

I assessed what clothes and shoes I had and just wore them, I had a pair of 3 pair of dress shoes, walking boots, and joggers a pair of sandles and thongs. (flip flops) I wore a uniform to work that was paid for by work. That was helpful.

But when I did work in offices and training, I basically had a very simple wardrobe that I just lived in. Two pair of shoes that were comfortable for standing in to train people. Ive never followed fashion and own very little jewellery of any value. Again you may love jewellery than this might not be something that you want to stop buying.

I had a couple of handbags. Good quality but not labels that went with my ‘uniform’ I created. I stopped buying books and magazines and went to the library. We still would go out for meals and to the movies, theatre occasionally (two three times a year)

My partner loved the symphony so for combine Christmas Birthday gift, I bought him (and I ) season tickets for the Symphony. We did not need lots of gifts, and both our birthdays are January If we did go out for a meal for a birthday celebration it would be lunch, because we would go to Hobart to pick up things we needed and go to a really nice restaurant or cafe, and have lunch food was great but much cheaper than dinner. It was not that we were cheap. It was just we wanted to get out of the city and get home again. We loved being in our home. Together.

The other thing I have heard people talking about is what to do with any extra payments ie tax return, bonus! Put it if you can on your debts first! Having a holiday I promise you will be great but than you will come home and have more money on your credit card, and increased stress because you spent more than you intended. Put a bit aside for a treat.

Do you need or want a brand new car? They depreciate so fast . If you bought a brand new car in Australia, and drove it around the block tried to sell it You would only get about 2/3s of what you just paid for it. (a bit extreme but not far off)I have always bought second hand cars. I don’t need all the computerised things. I do like automatic windows I admit handy with dogs. But if you look at a brand new car for lets say $30,000 and within a very short time it will be worth lets say $22,000 why not just buy a vehicle for $22,000 these days it may still be under some warranty, any problems should be ironed out, and as long as it hasn’t been driven around Australia (or the states) deal. then put the $8,000 on the mortgage as one lump payment. Or pay off debts.

Now for those renting and trying to save for a mortgage, this might be hard. But do two people a couple really need a two bedroom unit? In Australia a second bedroom adds approx $120-200 a week to the rent. if you are paying $200 a week extra for a second bedroom you are wasting $9600 dollars a year, in a few years that would give you a great deposit!. Yes you might be able to get someone into help pay the rent but watch Judge Judy and you might reconsider..

You might read this and go well they must have been miserable but no. There are lots of things you can attend for free. I love reading and used to buy book and magazines. I joined our wonderful Tasmanian Library LINC and they had free internet access. Air conditioned in summer heated in winter. Go in read free newspapers magazines and the cost of heating air conditioning is the State Governments. Great free school holiday programes and free early childhood story times. I love it we also have in our small town a free library on the edge of a park. People leave books and others can take them. I have read some relatively new releases from it. Also have free internet access very helpful if you are not a big user, saves money on having a internet service at home.

Pay as you go phone. Don’t keep updating your tech items. Save the money your phone and apps will still work, as will your laptop.

Parks, your own garden, make your home somewhere you love and you might find like I have I don’t miss doing so much. Gym fees, instead go for walks garden, stack four tonne of wood. Dance. do steps by going up and down stairs, get together with friends at each others places take plates to share, babysit for each other, have clothe swaps with friends You all bring things you don’t wear need like whatever and someone else might love it. Sell stuff on ebay or gum tree you no longer need or put it on for free it will go. rather than throw it away.

Have a good pantry and learn how to cook from scratch, you will save a fortune, Its work but hey its exercise for free shopping in the supermarket or farmers market. It is more work. I understand but its fulfilling and you will have be reducing debts and getting that mortgage paid off. Plenty of free info on the internet.

If you loose friends because you are doing this I question the friendship. Stop subscribing to things that cost you money. Look at the fees and charges your bank charges you. You may see ways of saving there. When you are paying for things with cash ask if there is a discount I saved $60 on my fridge because I paid cash. Buy seconds in white goods. They are new they will still have a warranty, and if you have a problem as I did once they gave me a new stove, to replace the second (which was a second because it had a dent in it) as it was cheaper than fixing the one I had and the warranty began again. Do you pay to have direct debits done? Save the money and do it yourself.

My mechanic lets me pay off service costs because I do it fast reliably and in cash. The tyre company let me have a deal on four new tyres and I paid them off because I paid cash. Again quickly reliably. Worst thing that can Happen is a no. If that happened we tightened our belts even more. Within a month we could usually pay it.yes we might only pay the two mortgage payments or one that month, but we would still put what ever we could in on top after the bill was paid in full.

When my partner became ill with terminal cancer I stopped work to care for him, after he died, I returned to work for four years, I worked casually and only two nights a week. I was working when I had my breakdown. I have not worked for four years three of which I have been on Newstart Benefits. The first twelve months I had to live on my savings as I had too much money to get benefits. $12,000.AUD. New Start is$15,000approx a year so if you are ever applying for Newstart take any savings out of the bank before you apply.

If I had not owned my home and was debt free you can imagine what might have happened. I never ever thought I would be on unable to work again, and I never ever thought I would not be making a good living. I can not imagine where or how I would be living now after three years on Newstart. I certainly would have no dogs, no garden, I would probably be in a house sharing with other people I do not know. I know it is hard to think like this when You are young, and even if you are older. If you can do it get rid of your debts, regardless, cut up your credit card.

blessings Tazzie

Thankfulness.

Being on a low income means I plan for the future (12months any way) in most ways. About this time of year I begin to think of my wood supply for winter. I have been fortunate with having a fantastic wood supplier. It is an interesting phenomenon where I live you can have one a great supplier one year and then the next they have vanished. So to have the same one for quite a few years, is wonderful. The added bonus is that he no longer takes anyone else on preferring to maintain his long term customers.

I rang him on Sunday it was all good. So I began to think how to budget for it. 4 tonne at $120a tonne. A great price same as last year, and $30 a tonne cheaper than other suppliers. So I am assuming most will have raised their prices this year. I was thrilled.

It is a lot of wood and I need to move it and stack it..

Monday morning I woke up and was in the loo, not yet dressed, I heard a vehicle slowly approaching my driveway. I looked out the window and saw a ute loaded with wood. It was reversing down my driveway. I quickly finished threw some clothes on and raced down stairs. Grab my car keys and outside. I moved my car to enable the ute to go where I wanted the wood dropped. My brain working overtime, as I had zilch dollars to pay.


The guys reversed in and dropped the first of two loads. I went up to my wood man, explained the situation. He said it is all cool mate. I know where you live. You just have to love living in a small country area, where trust is still there. Of course my thing is not having debts so my benefit is due this week I will put as much as I can towards this bill.

Last year the wood was not delivered for two months, I had time to save. For me the fact is I have enough wood now for the winter. The bonus will be my heating bill will be paid in full before the end of February. It is a good feeling. I also have kindling on hand with my trees that drop branches and leaves. I have also been using the toilet paper rolls with the wrapping (paper ) that comes with them as an insert these will also be fire starters. I also go collecting pine cones. Brilliant fire starters.

Added to this I was thinking about buying a new pair of winter shoes/boots. Something feminine as I do tend to live in my walking boots during winter. I have an old pair and a newer pair so at least I have a change if one pair gets wet. I was sitting at a cafe having coffee with a friend and a lady I have met came up to me and said I have been trying to find a home for these would you like them. She gave me a pair of boots, Black with a rose pattern on them. I said oh thank you yes. Her only request was if they did not fit me to pass them on to someone else. I assured her I would.

My friend looked at them after I had shared my story of wanting some new feminine shoe/boots for winter and advised me not to get disappointed, but they did not look as if they would be wide enough for my foot. I felt they would…well I hoped I really hoped.

I put them in my bag and kind of forgot about them. I guess in a way I did not want to find out they were too small. So today I have tried them on.

New winter boots.

They fit. They are a bit long, and I have fat ankles but they fit my wide foot. I am so delighted. They are probably not what I may have picked for myself. Yet at the same time they were free, go with most of my colours and as I have said in other posts I am not a fashion follower. Perfect shoes for going into town or our in during winter.

It is warm today not super hot but muggy. We are supposed to have rain by this afternoon and cooler conditions for a few days. Nice. I picked some more sweet peas, and I do like sweet peas perfume and in my upstairs loo it is the only air freshner I use the sweet smell of flower or herbs. I am not any good with chemical smells. They also look lovely. A lovely greeting first thing in the morning.

100% natural air freshner.

hmm maybe I should try and clean the upstairs windows at some point. Cobwebs everywhere. It is a problem of a rough sawn timber building and I don’t mind them. Helps keep insects down.

Oh the blow flies and house flies have been bad this morning. I was reading that flies are not keen on peppermint oil. I have some really good quality peppermint oil and rubbed a drop on my fan. It worked all the flies have left or hidden. Away from the smell. Simple pleasant. I have my windows and doors open as I have also read that it is not a oil that dogs are good with. My dogs can come and go as they please. There is plenty of fresh air.

I end this post with so many things that have made me thankful. I am thankful for:-

kindness of people, community, support, my dogs, fresh clean air, flowers, simple pleasures, plenty of wood for winter, cobwebs, new shoes, my garden, my home, my life, waking up each morning, enough money to live on, food, clean water, the fact I have water, my car.

blessings Tazzie.

The credit card trap

The clock strikes midnight and there is the end to Christmas 2019! Instantly every media area is full of Summer Sales, End of the Year Sales, the news is filled with that retail is concerned about the pre Christmas sales and not enough spending before so their hope is money will be spent at the sales. Credit card debt and personal debt in Australia is increasing rapidly. Yet when I go to second hand shops and tip shops I see so many incredible items with no wear some with tags still on, in great condition. I recently picked up a bed side light for $10. I needed one, but could not afford to buy any new that I had seen. This was a solid metal durable movable one. I had seen similar new for over $80.

I think I have mentioned previously I do not own a credit card. I learnt the hard way how credit cards can cause financial problems. I had one as I was looking at buying a house. I had previously had a personal loan for a car, and I assumed this would be enough to provide proof of my history for paying back the loan. I was knocked back for a mortgage as there was not a recent credit history!

I struggled to comprehend how this could be since I had no debts. Seemed the banks did not like that.


It was suggested I get a credit card, to establish a credit history. Sigh. So I did. I requested the lowest amount as my limit. $1000 AUD. Well the out come was I kind of got carried away with what I could now buy! I spent more money than I earned and before I knew it my balance was $1000. I paid it off $200 a month as I was paid monthly at that time.

Then Christmas was coming and I wanted to give friends and family great gifts. The balance on my credit card was about $500 at this point so I contacted the bank and requested an increase in the value of my line of credit. They put it up to $5000 it went to my head. Christmas coming and friends saying lets go for a holiday to Queensland. I was in spending heaven.

I listened to things my family and friends said they would like for Christmas and went and bought the dearest thing they mentioned. I want to make them so happy. I said yes to the trip and paid airfare accommodation on the credit card. I felt so excited. It was going to be a brilliant Christmas! I also had the trip to look forward to in mid January. I had no savings, and was just paying the minimum monthly payment on my card. I worked and bought take away food and coffees everyday. I also went out a lot socially dancing and eating out with friends. I was living the life.

Christmas came and my extravagant gifts were appreciated. I felt so good. I was now looking forward to our holiday.

On arriving home, I was so happy. I had had a lovely Christmas. One of my friends rang a night or two later and said lets go grab a meal. I said OK. Nice meal and we laughed and enjoyed being together. The bill came and I put my credit card on the table to pay my share and my friend put cash. The waiter took it away but a short time later came back and said I am sorry but your card has been declined. I was mortified. I walked over to use my debit card. Insufficient funds. Oh my there must be some mistake. My friend fortunately had enough cash to cover my share and I said I would pay her back as soon as possible. Which I did.

I paid a bit of the card to get it back under its limit but in not too long it was up again and I struggled to pay anything than the minimum payment off, I ended up paying a few dollars more to bring it back under the limit. I was still spending on it though.

I went to pay my electricity bill a couple of months later and my credit card was declined again. Not only that they informed me it had to be cut up! I was so embarrassed. As this was a final demand or my power would be cut off if the bill was not paid by that date.

On the way home I checked my bank balance $3.60 woah! (I would not be paid for two more weeks). That was all the money I had in the world! I was over $5000 in debt and my power was going to be cut off. I had some groceries and a bit of a pantry even back then. However if my power went off my fridge would not work nor my fully electric oven or the microwave or washing machine in my rental flat. I was very fortunate at this point in one way that my rent for the month was taken out the day my monthly pay went into my bank account.

I was going to be two weeks before I had any more money. The power went off on Friday afternoon, and I went all weekend with no power. I was so up set and shocked at my situation. I was going to a family dinner on the Saturday night, and realised I was going to have to tell them my situation.

I did and it was bad, I was so upset at myself and embarrassed, and neither parent would lend me any money as they thought is would be better that I really learn the lesson of living on what you earn! I was devastated as I really believed they would rescue me. I left early returning to my dark flat and cried angry tears at them for not helping me.

I ate some really weird food over the next two weeks. I had no social life, as I could not bring a plate, or go out to eat. Or even a coffee. It was work, home hand wash some clothes, work out what I could eat. Let me tell you cereal with water is not very nice. But it filled a empty stomach. I ate cold baked beans, and spaghetti no bread. I ate cold tinned soup mixed with water cold. I was incredibly fortunate I was renting a unit water still operated even with out my power.

When I finally got paid I had to pay a re connection fee and the bill.

The good news with this experience was I have never had a credit card again! I live quite OK with out. I only live on what I have and budgeting and shopping lists and my pantry have been the difference. I pay my bills when they come in. I don’t wait until the due date, as If I have some money in my account after my costs I pay some of it off the bill and when my next payment comes in I pay the rest. I will even pay extra on them.

Why on earth would anyone do that? It gives me some wiggle room. Now I am on a very low income I have to be very aware of when my big bills are due. My home and content insurance and my rates. I am very fortunate that my council has quarterly payments, as this year for the first time I am paying the quarterly but even then I pay more if I have it.

When my insurance is due, I usually do a few weeks of spending very little if I have not been able to budget enough fortnightly to save for it.

The most interesting thing is I don’t really recall the holiday I took, or what I purchased, the place I ate out or clothes I bought. I had fun and the friends I was so generous with are not in my life anymore. The regret I have is how much I spent and that I thought I could buy friendship. I regret extending the credit card beyond my financial income and needs. I still would have been able to go away on the holiday.

Did the credit card help me get a mortgage it must have because when I re applied for a mortgage I got it. What having a credit card did for me was to put me in a situation I never wanted to be in again.

I was really hurt and angry when no one in my family would rescue me. As it is this episode of tough love was the best thing they could have done for me in the long term. It changed my mentality.

I may live on a tight budget and am frugal. I still can afford to meet up for a coffee at a cafe (as I don’t let anyone into my home that is another post). I look at what I have. I am not against anybody going to the sales if they need something.

The things I am really thankful for are that I own my home out right, that I have no debt. If I was not in this situation when I had my breakdown and was so ill mentally I have no idea what would have happened to me. Even being in this situation I did have thoughts of suicide. I can not imagine what might have been if I in such a secure environment had these thoughts, how much harder it would be if I was paying a mortgage, or renting. I would have lost my home, not been able to afford to rent. I may be homeless living in my car not working. I know this is a situation for many people. I know I am so rich and fortunate. I have a good roof over my head. I have clean water to drink, I am content.

I don’t have children. So again this does make it easier in so many ways for me. I still believe that if you have a mortgage you need to be paying this off first and foremost. If you become ill or loose your job, how will you pay for it? Perhaps you have income insurance, great ..

I have spoken to a someone I know recently as we were talking about finances and she asked me how I could live with out a credit card. I said pretty easily really. Firstly even if you do pay you full amount off every month you still have to pay an annual fee for the privileged of having a credit card. She is also paying a mortgage. We chatted about how much a month she spends on her credit card it was a lot to me. She is on a good income. I asked her did she need what she spent on her credit card, or was it she wanted the things. She looked at me. I looked at her and said that is how I began to realise how to pay off my debts.

If you need something that is fine. If you want it, why do you want it. Look at how much you could save if you added that to your credit card debts/mortgage. (This is another post in the near future)
I said to her CUT UP YOUR CREDIT CARD! You can learn to live without it. Using cash brings you back in touch with the value of money. You take it out of your bank account…you have to hand the money to pay for the things you need or want. You begin to see where YOUR money is really going.

I am fortunate as on a benefit I have a bank account that I do not have any charges on. (Thank You Bendigo Bank, I get nothing for saying this). I pay cash for nearly everything.

Perhaps it is living in a rural town community, that makes a difference. If I don’t quite have the money to pay for the groceries on the day, and I hardly ever do this, but my local independent grocery store will let me pay it when I can, usually for me it is the next day. I also use local tyre company and they will let me pay off tyres (set of 4) I am also able to get an interest free loan up to $1000 through a government scheme. So there is a support there if I needed it. I have filled up my car and gone to pay, and not realised that my automatic payment for my internet was taken out leaving me less money(i know my dates now) and fortunately the guys at the petrol station no me, and I could pay them next week. I do not make a habit of not having enough money. I now check my balances and make sure that I have enough petrol to get me to my next payment date. though life can cause things to happen where petrol is required to be used that I have not budgeted for.

I do not have savings per say because extra money is usually earmarked for a bill in the future.

Perhaps the most important thing for me with my Complex PTSD is that I keep my stress as far as possible to a minimum. Being debt free has helped immensely with that. Learning to be content being at home has also been a saving bonus and a joyful thing. Part of my managing the many issues that my illness can cause me is minimising things that I may get anxious about. Distressed about, so knowing where my money has to go is the first step in my planning for the next 12 months. Anything that I can put in place to help me manage helps me to live in more contentment. Not having debts. Huge HUGE

Tazzie

Living on a tiny budget.

In response to someone asking how I budget /manage on Newstart (government benefit for unemployed adults here in Australia.) here goes.

I own my home out right, I have no debts. For these things I am eternally grateful. Especially when you wake up crying and cant stop, go to your doctors, and never return to work. A breakdown, no savings, no income, a diagnosis of Complex PTSD relief it explained so much for me.

For five years I have been on Newstart and have not had any debts. I save when I can. I live within my means, and I don’t have a single credit card and have not for over 16 years. I have never missed it. I find it liberating. I generally shop with cash. Because you are far more conscientious when you are shopping with cash.

I don’t pay water as I have water tanks and I don’t pay sewerage as I am on septic. I have wood heating, gas for cooking and hot water. My water pump fridge and freezers use most of my power. I also have an electric blanket for winter to take the chill of the sheets. I sleep with my bedroom window open all year.

My annual budget simple.

I receive $574 a fortnight for Newstart $14,924AUD A Year. All dollars in Australian dollars.
I work out all the actual annual costs I know I MUST meet.

Rates $ 706 concession taken off This is the first year I have had to pay quarterly rates but our council does not charge extra to do this.

Electricity $ 530 concession taken off

wood $ 720 6 ton

Gas $ 449 45kg LPG bottles.

Gas fee $ 80

Insurance $ 776 House/contents $440,000 $52,000

Dogs food $1430

Petrol $1430

NBN $ 828 Internet

Netflix $ 60TOTAL

$7459 divided by 26 weeks to show how much my definite costs will be out of my Newstart payment$286.88 a fortnight.

I have to ensure I have just for these costs. So $574 -286.88 = $305 a fortnight left.Now I have to think about tyres, and services so lets say 1200 a year 333.04 divided by 26 =12.80 a week

$292.20 a fortnight left.

Oh I have to get my paddock cut $40 a time, this year 3 times $120 =$2.50Dog registration $70 for two dogs, $2.70Basic shopping fortnight, 4 litres of tasmanian milk $4.30 for 2litres, 1dz free range eggs $6-8 depending on size sometimes I can only get large ones. Bread if I buy it and I usually do in summer $3.95 a week $14.25 basics a week.these last three items paddock, registration and basics for food add up to $19 a week $38 a fortnight

$254 a fortnight left.

RACT road side assist Tasmania $198 a year. I have to have ultimate, as any where i go basically is more than 32km from my place in the country and when your car is 15+ years old good thing to have. $7.61 a fortnight

$243 a fortnight left.

Medication $6.50 month

$239.50 a fortnight left.

Groceries varies, between 30-60 a week, depending. Every so often so lets say $45.00 a week

$ 149.50 a fortnight left.

This is as simple as I can make it. I am happy to go into anything further. I realise that I am very very fortunate to have that amount left. If I saved it and I do save money I would have $3,874 in savings in a year.

This year I have had to buy a New water tank, $1400 and three months ago my SUV 12 years old engine ceased, $6000 for a new engine could not afford to get it fixed, I had put four new tyres on the SUV I kid you not three weeks before it died cost $1000 I advertised the car $500 advertised the tyres for $700 NoT one nibble! new vehicle for me $1000 One of my dogs ate something that made her very ill $700 later. this year too. $4100 unexpected costs. over the last 12 months.$157 per fortnight over the year cost.

-$7.50 a fortnight over spend. Yes the final figure is minus $7.50 a fortnight. Lucky I had some savings in the bank.

Right now I have no savings, The new year begins and I am cutting back on groceries using my car, not going out, so that I can begin to save again.

This is how I do it. All my needs are met and I can think of nothing I want for myself or my home! I am on the whole content. I do eat out occasionally it keeps me in touch with people. Anyone with Complex PTSD, Depression, anxiety knows that if we close ourselves off we can go down hill. I believe that you have to live with in your means. That the only thing you should ever go in debt for is a house. I do understand that owning my home out right and having no debt makes a huge difference. I also do not have to look for work as part of my unemployment management, as my mental illness makes it impossible for me to work or volunteer. I have tried volunteering I had to leave suddenly. You have to be reliable and for me I can not guarantee that I can. I have also tried to study I was doing free online course through uni. One unit. I was getting good grades, but all of a sudden it all just became to much for me. The paper work and reading overwhelmed me. So I can not work and I am going through the process of applying for Disability support pension. an arduous task there are 61 pages of form and my mental health makes it impossible for me to deal with it. Thankful to have a lovely community social worker helping me. Humbling experience for someone with two degrees.

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