Maths Nerd applied to Euro trip 2019 – the cost of my month travelling Europe

I could do endless posts on photos of my month in Europe. But instead, I want to publish my costs. We all have our things… when I’m feeling uncertain or bored; or when I’m looking for a fun project, I often come back to the barre spreadsheet (I’m only a ballet dancer in my head).

All mine in Santorini

So since the start of 2018, I’ve been tracking daily expenses in a ASIC app. It was likely a strategy to get more comfortable with contracting, potentially changing jobs and salary etc etc. So when I was in Europe in May this year, I continued the habit but in a spreadsheet to manage different currencies.

Cute huts that slept two for my overnight tour to Plitvice Lakes National Park

Let me lay it out – who knows, someone might find it helpful?

Total nights away: 31 (hyperlinks to where I stayed, I don’t earn anything for the recommendations)

LocationTypeNightsCost per nightTotal cost
Santorini, GreeceVilla4252.5 Euro1010 Euro
Budapest, HungaryHostel (3) & AirBnB4AU$ 46.74AU$186.96
Naples, ItalyAirBnB6AU$82.5AU$495
Dubrovnik, CroatiaHostel125.20 Euro 25.20 Euro
Makarska, CroatiaAirBnB149 Euro49 Euro
Split, CroatiaHostel2100 HRK200 HRK
transit nights2
Windsor, EnglandBrother’s400
Llundudno, WalesHotel – 2 rooms2169.42 GBP 338.85 GBP
Heidelberg, GermanyFriend’s200
Paris, FranceAirBnB3AU$138.25AU$414.76
TOTALAU$3244.99
AVG of paid nights AU$153 AVG of allAU$111.9
Budapest hostel – my original bed. I opted for a change – upper bunk with a curtain and storage box at the foot of the bed. Perhaps a mistake, given I got bed bugs

As you can see I move around the types of accommodation, both for an budget perspective but also a socialisation side. I am so pleased I went extra luxe in Santorini – not that I know what cheap options existed! I ended up arriving at 4am off a long ferry trip, and left at 6am on another morning. So it was nice to have somewhere entirely to myself – not worry about waking anyone. I had breakfast delivered three mornings, so tasty and healthy. I only moved locations in Budapest due to bed bug bites – so I found an AirBnB near the airport as I had an early flight.

Back to privacy in my AirBnB in Naples with ensuite bathroom.

My accommodation costs are on par with my transport costs, which included a flight from Sydney to Athens via Singapore, and departing from Paris. One leg of the four was on Scoot which is a budget carrier.

WhatHowCost (AUD)
Sydney to Athens/
Paris to Sydney
Flight$1374.25
Athens to SantoriniFerry$62.67
Santorini to BudapestFlight$192.84
Budapest to NaplesFlight$212
Naples to BariCoach$18
Bari to DubrovnikFerry$269
Dubrovnik to MakarskaCoach$22.37
Busabout overnight tourCoach$289
Split to Frankfurt flight cancelledFlight$217.23
Split to Luton*Flight$156.19
Heathrow to Frankfurt*Flight$321.99
Frankfurt to HeathrowFlight$178.30
London to ParisTrain$155.22
TOTAL$3,469.06
No wonder I paid SO MUCH, my overnight ferry room was four berths!!

I passed customs and immigration for my Split to Frankfurt flight, and THEN it was cancelled. I wasn’t keen to wait endlessly in a long line for alternative arrangements, so booked a flight to London, knowing I could crash with my brother. It did then cost a considerable amount more to resume the planned itinerary from Frankfurt. I had a friend who I love dearly who lives in Heidelberg, near Frankfurt. And she’s on maternity leave, whereas my brother and his GF were at work. It also costs a LOT to fly out of Heathrow; but it’s the closest airport to my brother. I do expect to get the costs of the cancelled flight reimbursed, and given accommodation was free in both locations, I’m not too fussed.

Hostel in Dubrovnik – only one in a HUGE four bedded dorm in a tiny hostel.

What did I spend eating and taking tours and local transport?

CountryTotal spent AU$NightsAverage cost per day
Greece$430.874$107.70
Hungary$395.834$79.17
Italy$819.166$136.50
Croatia$600.435*$120
England/Wales$504.326$84.05
Germany??2??
France$330.943$110.31
DAILY AVERAGE$ 102.23 TOTAL$ 3,169.21

*technically 6, one night was on a ferry between Italy and Croatia

In England, I ate from my brother’s pantry and occasionally paid for meals for the three of us. We took turns. In Germany, I am spoilt rotten by my friend, and we largely eat at home for two out of three meals. I did buy two pair of shoes, and paid for some incidentals when my friend was distracted by her darling daughter! But my tracking lapsed!

A legit single room in Wales
My brother and his GF got a double room, and this was their view. I was on the other side of the building – the wind turbines were AMAZING

So the total costs:

Accomodation + Transport + Spending =

3,244.99 + 3,469.06 + 3,169.21 = $9,883.26

Undoubtedly, I could have eaten less (my waist band tells me that!). Places like Wales and Greece, I certainly could have stayed in cheaper places. And I flew a lot of places, whereas with a better coordinated itinerary, I might have used less fuel intense travel options. I did find much of my scattered travelling came about as the planned routes or flights weren’t running as it wasn’t yet ‘high season’ of summer. Live and learn.

Ah Parisian roof tops, be still my heart

Interestingly, I don’t set budgets for holidays, but just try to do things as I usually would – the occasional splurge but usually toe a restrained line. I did noticed in late 2018, my annual budget had a $6,000 line item for travel :/ And that would include interstate travel for weddings or other family events. So yeah, I was a little off the mark there!!

Do you budget for holidays? How do you work out how much to set as a limit – is it based on your savings, or on what others advise a destination costs?

Dave Ramsey made me wanna

So, for reasons I can no longer recall, I started to follow David Ramsey for Australians on Facebook.  I have a history of reading personal finance blogs, and whilst they often drive me insane (the content is very repetitive, and they all want to monetise… And a little ranty). This is how I’ve come to know the bible belt financial gospel guru.  Aside from books, he also has a podcast.  I do not listen to it.

I know the basics – there’s baby steps, and they are pretty darn simple and logical to me, a daugher of a banker

  1. Save a $1000 emergency fund
  2. Pay off consumer debts, start with the smallest debt and work through them.  AKA Debt snowball
  3. Save for (three to) six months of expenses
  4. Pay into your retirement fund at 15% of income
  5. Save for your children’s education
  6. PAY OFF YOUR MORTGAGE
  7. Spend/donate etc

That’s from memory… If I got it wrong, I’m not too fussed.  My post is about what reading all these posts have made me wonder…

How long would it take me to pay off my mortgage?

I kept turning the idea over in my head, and couldn’t work it out.  So I broke it down.

First I’d get my offset account to “fully paid up”.  For long term readers, you might recall that I go to this point with a previous lender.  I am onto my third lender – each time the fixed term component ‘matures’ I review the market and go for the lowest interest rate.  Cause..  loyalty gets you no where.  So I started with

  • ANZ (2 years, all fixed), then went to started in Dec 2011
  • Bankwest (3 years, 20% variable with offset, 80% fixed), and now I’m with
  • ING (2 years, 40% variable, 60% fixed) started in Jan 2017

When I looked at my regular ‘inputs’ to my offset account, I could work out roughly what goes in monthly, less what goes out monthly (namely, moving money out of offset to the two mortgage components), and a quarterly strata bill.  I did a calculation and found out I could do it 10 months.  Which was pretty darn close.  And then… I received an inheritance, quite unexpectedly (and I never count those sorts of things). And now I’m close to 6 months. (And I don’t plan to put all the inheritance onto the mortgage, I plan to purchase two ‘big ticket’ items which I see as heirlooms  – one is a gorgeous desk and the other is getting a ring made.  Cause… a paid of mortgage is great, but the two items will hold memories, and were things I was saving for before this unexpected windfall).  Let’s call that out – it would be January 2018! Wow.  By my birthday!

My place is NOT this pretty

And then, I looked what would happen if the same monthly amount *could* go onto the fixed mortgage month on month, knowing it can’t due to stupid rules.  That’s not the point – the point was to motivate myself with the timeline of when I could have it ALL paid off – and the answer was, that amount would take 2 years and seven months.   I was gobsmacked it was such a small duration of time.  You ‘buy’ 25 and 30 year mortgages!  And I’m talking about August 2020.

Of course, I don’t have a step 5 to fund of Dave Ramsey’s plan.  (And I’m at 12.5% +$50p/w on my retirement). And I’m at prime child rearing age, so I’d happily have this plan hijacked by having kids.  But each month I’m not pregnant (ha! I’m single!) is a month I could shoehorn some money into that mortgage and get closer to that end goal of NO MORTGAGE!

I dream of a garden like this (via)

Oh, and 2020 is a much mentioned year where I work.  Because politician Fred Nile got it written into law that if our company was sold (aka long term leased) there could be NO job reductions until 2020.  Well… provided there wasn’t an agreed forced redundancy policy introduced – and you can be sure our strong union will die fighting a forced redundancy policy.  But there’s this concept of job guarantees (when we have 3,570 employees, and Treasury did also say that could be certain types of contractors) until 2020.  And… well… No one knows where we are at relative to that magic 3,570.  To me, it doesn’t matter.  Working hard is what matters.  Take it a day at a time.  That being said, so many people say ‘well we won’t have jobs in 2020’.  I cannot think that far in front of me, there’s enough going on RIGHT NOW.  But, that some mythical 2020 is when I could have a mortgage paid off.  Imagine… I could be someone who takes in rent from my tenants (ha) and due to the rent differential, could live on the spoils.  Ha! It’s not a plan I conceive actually happening, but it’s fun to imagine!

Now every time the doom and gloom mongers say ‘2020’ I will think about having no mortgage.  What fun!

Feel free to check in, in a few months.  Who knows, I might get seduced by international travel, and adjust this back a month or two… Let’s see.

Post Euro trip expenses

For my recent trip, I had a spreadsheet running in advance of departure, and it had pre trip expenditure.  As my trip unfolded, I was curious to see how my spending went, and so added things to the spreadsheet.

Glacial lagoon

I prepaid all my tours in Iceland, with Extreme Iceland, which was

The above cost just shy of 90,000ISK which converted to about $1,100 AUD.  I would say it was money incredibly well spent, if not a little pricey when I was paying.  For every tour, I had door to door transfers/collections in great vehicles with wifi. I really couldn’t have asked for much more.  Meals weren’t included, but many stops were provided and advice (ie buy now, pricier or less choice later).  When I combine the Iceland activities to the other holiday activities, such as the tulip gardens entry fee as well as the entry to Oradour-sur-Glane,  activities end up being 17% of the money spent.

Little twingo – my first car hiring experience solo

Travel costs include the flights to Europe, which were the cheapest I have ever seen them at $1,300 return.  They was Sydney > Doha > Amsterdam then Paris > Doha > Sydney in May.  As I mentioned in another post, I took the opportunity to upgrade the Doha > Sydney leg, and even still, the total flight cost was below what I have come to expect for this journey.  When I include the costs of two days of car hire, tolls and petrol, as well as a few ICE/TGV trains in Germany and France, my total for travel comes in at 50% of my costs.

Chic Icelandic hostel

Accommodation varied between countries

  • Netherlands: AirBnB  ~$75 per night
  • Iceland: Hostels ~$70 per night
  • Germany: AirBnB ~$70 per night
  • France: chain budget hotels & private room in hostel ~$85/$55

Without this blog, I’d not have noticed that I cam in around $70-75 AUD most nights.  I can say that my AirBnB experiences were all great! The locations were wonderful, the hosts helpful and in most cases, breakfast happened to be covered, which I LOVE!  The last night in Paris was in a hostel that I knew well and was well located for an early departure.  I’m sad I missed their breakfast, as it’s worth every cent.  Accommodation came in at 15% of my spend.

Then one has two cheeses with two meats in a square pizza

All that’s left is cash purchases and meals, and for what I can itemise and best guess, feeding myself was 13% of costs.  That leaves only about 5% either unaccounted for or not in these broad categories.

I didn’t set a budget for this holiday, so I can’t comment on how my spend compared to that!  What I can say is that I think I am content with what I spent, for what I saw and experienced.  What I’ve really noticed is the shift away from ‘shopping’ styled holidays, where I replenish my wardrobe with stores that aren’t in Australia, to a greater focus on seeing the things I’ve longed to see.  This also helps with luggage and transit 🙂

A new car…

I’ve never owned a car outright, as long time readers might recall from this post. That’s all about to change!

I have decided at the ripe old age of 31, that it’s time to buy my very own car.  It due to some frustrations by the limitations of work’s car – I can only drive it to and from work, and for work.  So it limited the flexibility to do things ‘on the way home’.  And playing and training for water polo is a little tricky! I used to have a team mate live locally, but no longer.  So car pooling is out.

I started with a budget, of course.  Then I knew I wanted some convenient features – being reversing sensors and steerin gcontrols for the radio, and hopefully Bluetooth connectivity for mobile phone calls.  OH, and I realised I forgot to say – I was only going to buy a used car.

Initially I thought about a hatchback.  They are very adaptable to large bootloads of Ikea furniture – I know from all my years sharing a Hyundai Accent.  Dad and I went to, coincidently a home I’d inspected when it was for sale, to inspect a BMW 118i.  It was priced high for what it offered in terms of kms and age.  I offered a fair price, but the sellers were successful in getting their asking price.  I can’t fault them on that!

via
via

However, after looking at the profile of many of the possible hatchback options, I didn’t like the profile.  I didn’t love the car I inspected.  I just felt… ho hum.  It’s pathetic, but then, there’s so much choice in the car market, I figured I would be better to buy something I loved!  I’d always liked the rear profile of an Audi A4.

So this past weekend, I planned to inspect a few A4s, and encouraged by my parents, I put in an offer.  There was some back and forth, but I’ve now put down a holding deposit on a silvery blue 2009 Audi A4, which is coincidentally diesel.  The car I drive currently, the Hyundai i30, is a diesel, and I have no issues or concerns with it.  I have paid a holding deposit, and the coming weekend will be an independent inspection.  Part of me is steeling myself for ‘bad’ news, given the car is 110,000km under it’s belt.  But better to know what I’m putting my money into, now and into the future.

via
via

I’ll be the first to admit – I’m mildly terrified.  It’s a HUGE lump sum payment.  It’s like buying property.  It’s ultimately easier to damage badly, at least I think so! Although, I keep recalling, it’s JUST a car – I can just as easily sell it if it doesn’t work how I’d hoped.  And if I realise I went too big, or it’s too hard to park, or uses too much petrol, I’ll at least have tried and failed at the car I’ve long admired.  You can only learn through failure.  I much prefer that idea to the idea of always wishing I’d got what I ‘really wanted’

It’s hard to imagine the flexibility and freedom a car will provide me.  At any time, I can go anywhere.  In any weather.  I look forward to having the open road, and suburbs, and choices open in front of me!

2014 goals review

Reviewing my 2014 goals:

Fun – 12 in 2 list

For 2014, I’ll do the following (some of which I did earmark to do in 2013, but it didn’t happen):

  1. Silent retreat -didn’t happen, but I did research options to do something in San Fran whilst on Holidays
  2. Sydney Harbour Bridge Climb I got a voucher as a birthday gift in January 2014!!!
  3. Go jet skiing (done over the Christmas holidays, thanks to the BF!)
  4. Learn to surf: 2015 thanks to a generous gift from my BF!
  5. Dinner at Aria: planned for early February
  6. Read the new testament bible Done in September
  7. Run a half marathon
  8. Plan and prepay my funeral – cough cough, not so fun, didn’t happen, but the cash is there?
  9. Zorbing (a weekend away at the Gold Coast)  The place went out of business…

The other 3?  Well my friend stopped living in NZ, so that was scraped.  One was a dinner at a fancy restaurant, which I did for my birthday in 2013. The third was a knife skills course which I did in 2013

Health – monthly challenges

These were a wash! I started out strong, but then it all went bust!

Jan: Stair challenge start, progress, end

Feb: Drink 3L water per day: start

Mar: Squats and abandoned 🙁
Apr: Push up challenge – increase the number everyday fail
May: Morning stretching/yoga fail – though some attempts made
Jun: Planking challenge fail
Jul: Mental health: daily act of kindness fail
Aug: Mental health: daily gratitude journal fail – though attempts made
Sept: 1 internet free day per week fail
Oct: Ocsober fail
Nov: Coffee free challenge fail
Dec: +1 walking fail

Interestingly, I did have a week or two when I woke to do yoga before work? So that was something.  But generally my coffee intake increased.

Financial goals

I prefer my fingernails bare, but this is amazing, and just like Aussie money source: http://www.morenailpolish.com/2013/01/aussie-nails-show-me-money.html
I prefer my fingernails bare, but this is amazing, and just like Aussie money
source: http://www.morenailpolish.com/2013/01/aussie-nails-show-me-money.html

This is one category I always kick a** at!  So, for 2014, I will:

1. Save $20,000 in my mortgage offset account (in addition to the starting balance) as of mid Septmber, met this, and by the end of the year exceeded it by $8k!

2. Save $200 a week in for holidays yep, it’s all automated, but now bundled into goal 1 so it’s all in one place

3. Save $10 $20 a week for my ‘one day’ dream of a first class holiday to Paris and NYC (First class flights and accommodation).  I plan to spend 20 years saving slowly for this one. $20 per week, cause why not!

4. Save $100 a week for ‘charity’ which I will also withdraw from when I do support fundraising etc. automated too my friend! But kept separate from the pot in goal 1. $20 automatically goes to Church, from this $100.

 

Social

Plan a dinner party or similar once a quarter. Passed

1. Started with a pizza night for water polo girls in Jan 🙂 Easy and fun.

2. Excess cheese? Informal wine and cheese Sunday arvo.

3. Another polo dinner of Nachoes.  

4. Halloween party hosted at a friends home but catered by both of us.

Inspiration for the zen I'll try to create source: www.sheknows.com
Inspiration for the zen I’ll try to create
source: www.sheknows.com

Email my brother at least weekly whilst he’s in South America (until Sept 2014) so so – not 100% success rate on the stated frequency, but we stayed in contact.

Career

Ekk, seeing I didn’t submit my 16 x 700 words long episode reports in 2013, this goal will role over.

I will also start to think more (again) about the next step in my career. Whilst I wasn’t thinking about it, someone was, and I’ve been acting in a promotion of a role for a few months.  And I’ll apply for the position when it’s advertised

Keeping it Creative

I’ve realised that I like to create things, like my gingerbread house, or the candy cane wreath.  I really enjoy mending clothes, or sewing.  I even made a map of the world with stamps!  So I’m going to try and do more of these sorts of things.  One crafty thing per month.  Pinterest and blogs will guide me, I hope.

I’ve covered my router with a hard cover book; made earphone holders out of old plastic cards; cross stitched a baby’s blanket.  Then for Christmas, I made another gingerbread house (and a trifle, but that’s less crafty!).  I also made bunting and decorated jars for my upcoming 30th and did another baby’s blanket!

Overall, I think I did well on most of my goals.  I really let myself down in the health department, despite doing a three month healthy eating and exercising plan which I paid for.  I lost and gained roughly the same amount of weight, which puts me back where I was.  Again, I’m trying to be healthier since Christmas day, and have cut out almost all sugar.  That being said, I’ve still had juice and soft drink and the occasional taste of sweet things.  But I have tried to eat less than I was in the later months of 2014.

How’d you go with your 2014 goals? Feel free to link to your posts!

The scurge of cheap stuff

In the last little while, there’s been a lot of advertising for Kmart and BigW (both the same sorts of stores, essentially lower priced department stores).  One of KMart’s slogans is ‘We make low prices irresistible’ – and on the surface, most people think that sounds great.  Who wouldn’t want to ‘get more for less’ or ‘make your dollar go further’.

And I do have a set of measuring cups ($2) and a double adapter ($3) and a powerboard ($15) from Kmart.  (Can you tell I’ve been doing my house inventory?)  It’s hard to buy a double adapter elsewhere, cause $3 is small change.

Recently, the cost has been weighing on my mind. How can something be THAT cheap?  How is it being made, to make it that cheap?  Will buying something more expensive be getting better quality, or just the same thing, produced in the same way, but overpriced .

Less than 6 months old, and close to non functional
Less than 6 months old, and close to non functional

It’s all very well to speak about buying ‘quality’  What is quality in a double adapter or a power board?  They are all plastics and electronics.  How do I know one is of a better quality than others? Am I buying a name brand, more than ethical production or safe production, or longevity?  And with electrical items, I’m not confident that ‘second hand’ is better.  I’m not even sure many thrift shops would be interested (or willing) to sell these items for fear of the repercussions should they not be electrically safe.  Or, I could ask for these items on freecycle – but the time waiting for a reply, and picking them up – is that worth it, when for $3, I could just have the double adapter NOW.

With measuring cups, sure I can buy metal ones (remember the Bradley Cooper lookalike?) I drafted this post long before I went to Vietnam, and bought metal cup measures, still made in China, that still get spots of rust after a run in the dishwasher.

I have been enjoying browsing and buying at op shops (known as thrift shops elsewhere), but I also get annoyed when they have signs of wear – something fraying a little, a stain I didn’t notice.  It’s almost like there’s no perfect option (even new items can end up shop soiled!)

It’s incredibly difficult to work out value, from price, and the ethics of production.  How do you reconcile these dramas?

End of Financial year

In Australia, our financial year ends on June 30.  As such, today marked the start of a new spreadsheet of my annual earnings.

For all the years I was a student (six) and the first two of full time employment, I used to work casual jobs.  Even when I started as an engineer, I continued to do one night a week of note taking at university for payment, and scribed for exams.  In actual fact, I was alarmed to move to one sole source of income!

Thankfully, I work in an industry where overtime is generally paid for, and on great terms.  Work that doesn’t come right after your normal hours is a minimum four hour payment at between 1.5 to 2 times you normal wage.

In the first 4 years of my career, overtime was widely used, and I benefited greatly.  In the past year, it’s been less plentiful.  In the past six months, I’ve been acting in roles where overtime is no longer part of the payment structure, however, I’m on a higher wage than my formal classification, so in my mind, I’m still ahead.

Being the end of financial year, I reviewed my earnings, and my ‘additional’ earnings, here’s how things look:

Gross salary to extra earnings
Gross salary to extra earnings

Now if only I had a wonderful little graph to show where all the benefits of the extra spoils went!  Undoubtedly, a lot went into savings, mainly onto my mortgage offset account.  And naturally, some would have funded my very imminent trip to Japan 😀

This is better than last year, where I earnt an extra 7.8% of my salary, and 4.7% the year before.

Overall though, I’m incredibly lucky to have such a great and well re-numerated job, that still allows me to give back my time and energy to other causes (church, co op, SES and other ad hoc things like the Salvation Army Red Shield Appeal).  I’m not actively striving to earn any more money, but appreciate every dollar I’m given, and try to be the best steward of my money.  Rest assured, maybe 1% goes on chocolate… maybe I should ensure it’s fair trade 😉  (Though, I usually just buy what ever is offered as fundraisers in the office!)

So you have the opportunity to earn more in your normal job?  Do you take on additional work or side hustles to earn more money?  Or do you find your salary is more than enough for all your wants and needs?

Spending report

This is my first time posting my spending, despite me reading others regularly.  I wasn’t used to how to do this, so everything I remembered and spent is on there!

01/01/2014 ? Groceries
5 Coffee
4.95 Juice
25 Airport taxi
02/01/2014 5.13 Froyo
3.8 Train
03/01/2014 No Spend Day FRI
04/01/2014 8.6 Bread
7.98 Groceries team card
20.35 Meat team card
2 Parking
05/01/2014 24.55 Coop
06/01/2014 NO spend day MON
07/01/2014 NO spend day TUE
08/01/2014 35 Phone
09/01/2014 4 Mocha
10/01/2014 9 Lunch FRI
283.48 Elect bill  team card
11/01/2014 6.8 Coffees for 2  team money
18.5 Sports socks Sat
18 Rich socks
20.95 Candle
9.55 Coop
12/01/2014 102.05 Coles Sunday – team card
3.85 Harris Farm
5 Church giving
4.8 ???
101.4 Parking Fine
13/01/2014 1.6 Flour – woolworths Monday
100 Waterpolo card entry
14/01/2014 13.95 shampoo lush Tuesday
15/01/2014    No Spend Day Wednesday
16/01/2014 4 Mocha Thursday
17/01/2014 42.9 Scripts Friday
5 Blueberries
18/01/2014 4 Coffees Saturday
143.42 Bunning -garden
80 Dinner – Newport
19/01/2014 5 Church Sunday
0.5 Coffee at Church
6.8 Swimming
200 12WBT
20/01/2014    NO Spend day Monday

Groceries are paid for from the shared account, so they are in a different ‘pool’ of money.  I’ve also counted the 8th January as a no spend day as it was my phone bill, which is a regular monthly bill, and I don’t otherwise include all my Wednesday transfers for bills, savings and charitable giving.

The feared orange envelope source: www.mq.edu.au
The feared orange envelope
source: www.mq.edu.au

To be honest, I feel like I’m missing things.  In some ways, I’m surprised that I haven’t spent more.  There’s two big line items – a parking fine and 12WBT.  The parking fine was due to an unexpected sick day, and I left my work car in a 1hr spot.  🙁  The 12WBT is part of my health and fitness plan – from Feb, I’ll be following a 12 week program to get in shape and lose weight.

Overall, I’m surprised to have 6 no spend days!  I’m not sure it helped me spend less, and there are a few days I could have gone without coffee (or the dash to the shops for plain flour), but I’m not too worried.  What are your thoughts?

Saving money with home contents insurance

Auto renewal of premium trends up, negoiated premium trends down

I’ve had contents insurance for three years.

The first year, I set my contents to $35,000 (which they guided me towards, everything indicates I NEVER spent that much on all my belongings, but then I bought a lot second hand you can see my inventories in the Inventories tab at the top). My premium was $376.70.

When my annual renewal came, I noticed they’d increase my contents to $40k~!  The premium was now $400.32.  It wasn’t too much more, but still, I knew I hadn’t bought $5k more stuff (nor do my things cost more to replace – they are getting older, not newer!) I rang up and asked them to adjust it back to $35,000 and re-quote my premium.  They came back with $326.76.

Imagine that – year two, I saved $50 on the first year.  Small savings, but still, a bill that goes down?!  Awesome! I told the whole office…

Now we’re year three.  The premium was adjusted when I moved into cohab central, to $411.56 for the year (but pro rata’d).  The renewal came, for $37,500 of contents, at a cost of $426.35.  Again, not really a radical jump from $411.  Still, even with the BF paying half now, I thought it wouldn’t hurt to call up and see if my same tricks could work.

And they did!  She quoted me something like $320 for $37,100 of contents.  Trying to stick to my guns, I asked her to quote for $35,000 of stuff, and she assured me it’d make no difference.  It was $316.57.  Hey, that’s the cost of a coffee, so I asked her to leave it at $35,000 on the content.  But see that – year on year, my premium has *decreased*.

Here’s a rudimentary graph of quoted vs my negotiated premium!

Auto renewal of premium trends up, negoiated premium trends down
Look at those trends!

If you have spare time this holidays, think about spending some time pressing 1. for a call centre staff member reading a script, and see if you too can decrease your premiums!

Have you ever had year on year successes like this?  Is it worth it for $4, $10 or $50 per annum – where do you draw line between the effort and ‘bother time’?

Savings target: oh so close!

As my new year resolution (one of many) for 2013, I wanted to save $20k by 22/12/13. I started with $13,487, so I was really looking to save $6,512.45.

When that looked like a sure thing in May, I shared with you that I’d like to save $26k by the same date (Essentially doubling the ‘real’ money I saved to $12,512.45)

Here’s where I am today:

OH so close!
OH so close!

$213.01 remaining! If I have a slow weekend, I can easily hit that on Monday. If not, it is easily possible after interest at the end of the month, oh, and after being paid again!

For those who might be struggling with debts – see that my savings journey wasn’t simple either.  I did well, and then I dipped in.  Moving house certainly took some savings, and time to rebuild.  But overall, I kept my eye on the prize, and strove to beef up my account more and more.

Yes, I will meet my stretch target!