Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Frugality: Victory and defeat

I started a blog at in June 2006, but wasn't dedicated enough to post to it regularly. I've decided to absorb the posts from this into my current blog instead, and send frugallady out into Blogger world to be recycled.

Right, on the frugal front, all is going fairly well. However I am currently failing miserably on the lady side of things, as anyone who has read my an9ie blog can see. It seems that I am fairly good at being a lady as long as I don't run into morons. Obviously, more application to the goal I have set for myself, and the cultivation of a thicker skin is required.

Savings: getting free parking, walking into work and saving $6.10 a day

This is usually one of the few mutable items in my budget. However, for the past two weeks I've had a bad cold, which led to acute sinusitis that had to be treated by antibiotics. The sinusitis then led to a bad case of sinus toothache in my upper jaw. Bear with me, kids, grandma is going somewhere with this story.

Sinus toothaches are not nice. Basically, because the roots of some of your upper back molars and premolars extend into your maxillary sinuses, a bad case of sinusitis causes pain to these nerves upon sudden or hard movement.

I ended up having to wear trainers in the office because shoes without shock absorption made my teeth go "Hello! Hello! Ow! Hello! Ow!" with each step.

Anyway, now all that is behind me and I can park at the station and walk to work again. It's about a 15 minute walk each way, but not unpleasant in this fine winter weather. Even more enjoyable is the knowledge that I'm saving $61 per fortnightly pay!

Savings: but only for this week - using frequent flyer points for petrol vouchers

Points really aren't what they used to be. With FlyBuys you need at least 10,000 points to get anything, and even then it's silly things like Paris Hilton's Eau de Toilette. And really, unless Paris Hilton's EDT is what wolfsbane is to wolves, then I don't think it's a very good buy.

Qantas have altered their points system so you need about 30,000 for a $150 flight. It's all getting very, very silly and I've decided I can't be bothered with either FlyBuys or Qantas any more.

What I am using are my Commonwealth Award points. As soon as they hit 3900, I exchange them for a $25 Caltex Fuel voucher. Because I put everything on my credit card, every few months I manage to save some money on petrol. Yay!

Note: With Commonwealth Awards, it's 3900 points for a $25 voucher, but 4000 points for $20 cash back. They really don't think very much of our intellect, do they?

Spending: the car needs new struts ($700) at its 100,000km service ($1000)

I do understand why the budgeting/frugal sites all recommend that you ditch the car if you want to do some serious saving. In October, I'll be due for a service, and have to replace those leaky struts that I put off from the last service.

Out comes the budget spreadsheet again. This time, for each pay until October, I'm going to try and put away at least an extra $150 to help pay for the impending service bill. This will be on top of the $100 I'm saving for holidays/travel, and the $100 I put into my mortgage and can't take out again FOREVER. This means cutting back where I can in mutable expenses, like parking, as I mentioned above, bringing in lunch to work instead of buying it etc.

Savings obstacles: turning immutable expenses into mutable ones

One area that I would like to be able to control, and cannot, is that of food/grocery shopping. I live in a share house with four other people, and currently this means rent is fairly reasonable, but I resent having to fork out $40 a week on groceries that I wouldn't normally buy if I were just cooking for myself.

When I have lived by myself, I have, out of sheer laziness, managed to subsist on a single head of cabbage and some tofu for a week. I tend to prefer a South East Asian diet, which I find more palatable and contains fewer processed (and hence more expensive) foods. I also don't eat a lot of meat when I cook for myself. In addition, my weekly visit to Mum's seems to garner enough food for at least four meals (and don't give me that look, it's forced upon me and if I didn't take it I'd be hurting her feelings).

I also stay at the FG's house four nights a week, so I'm not home a lot of the time to consume what I've paid for.

However, with 5 people sharing groceries, it would be too complicated to do my own food shopping and store it. (I have raised the idea but it was not met with delight.) At least soy milk and the breakfast cereal I prefer is on the shopping list now, so I do consume some of what I pay for.