Reducing the discretionary spend – November 2020 results

Before I get into the deets – does anyone else just feel Really Bloody Tired (RBT)? I think it’s usually about this time of the year that I hit my RBT point, and I’m noticing it in my spending. I think this year just feels a bit more RBT than usual thanks to <waves hand around> well, just… 2020 (you all know what I mean, I’m sure).

November turned a little bit ugly on the discretionary spending front. Because I’m happy to own my behaviour, I’ll admit I’ve bought a few household items (mostly Thermomix related!) and some clothing that wasn’t strictly necessary (but was very welcome), plus the opportunity to buy some nice gin at a good discount came up so I just couldn’t let that slip by – it was an offer too good to refuse! 😀

I’ve also started buying a few Christmas gifts as well. When I set up my budget for the year I didn’t really account for this so much because, other than for the children, we don’t buy gifts for one another any more. However, there were a couple of (pretty inexpensive) things that I know my family members will find useful so I chose to buy them anyway.

The Thermomix is definitely making a difference to my takeaway food spending; most Thermo meals make 4 serves (sometimes 6) so I’m easily covered for half the week. That was the plan and, although I haven’t completely given up takeaways, it is beginning to show in my ‘discretionary food/eating out/takeaway’ subcategory – this month I’ve spend the least in this category than I have so far this financial year (even though I had a couple of prearranged social dinner/drinks outings this month) so I feel as though that’s a bit of a win.

The other bonus to the Thermie is that I’m getting more variety in my diet – I’ve made beef stroganoff a couple of times now with different recipes, plus a really delicious chicken teriyaki and a baked chicken dish, and the fruit ‘nice cream’ is great (the last one I made was raspberry and it was a humdinger!). I also made a batch of pizza dough that makes enough for four pizzas. I’ve been using wraps as pizza bases up until now, but the dough gives a much better result. I froze the leftover dough in separate serves, and all I need to do is defrost it and let it re-prove before using it. I even steamed some salmon and veggies recently. I love that the machine is very easy to use and I don’t have to stand over it to stir whatever’s cooking, which will be a real blessing in Queensland’s hot summer. However, I do think it’s had an impact in that it’s actually increased my ‘staple foods’ spending as my supermarket costs have gone up. Some of this will be for ingredients that will be used over long periods of time for future recipes (e.g. spices and so on), so it should even out over time.

Happily, for the past couple of months I’ve paid zero mortgage interest, thanks to having enough in my offset account to completely offset the full mortgage balance. It’s a nice feeling to know that the entirety of what I’m repaying is paying off the principal. Car expenses also continue to come in under budget thanks to working from home a few days a week coupled with lower than usual petrol prices.

On the other hand, electricity costs have gone up recently, primarily because my provider has halved the discount that I get for prepaying for power (I’m with Powershop). Buying a “megapack” used to give me around an 11-12% discount; now it’s only 6%. So there could be an electricity deal shop-around in my future, but in the meantime I’ll need to account for the lower discount.

I expect to make a significant reduction in my mobile phone spend from around mid-December as my contract ends (I bought a new handset two years ago) and I have already got myself a sim for Woolworths Mobile. They have a couple of long-expiry prepaid options that could be very suitable (one for 6 months, one for 12), plus it will get me 10% off one grocery shop each month. Coupled with the fact that they use Telstra’s network so should be pretty reliable, this should reduce my annual costs by almost $700 just for the phone. Add the grocery savings to that and it’ll be a nice little boost to my savings.

Regular readers may recall that I mentioned in last month’s post that my dad passed away in October. As the executor of his estate and the manager of his affairs for the last five years, I learned a couple of interesting things in the process of organising his burial that I plan to post about separately – stay tuned!

8 thoughts on “Reducing the discretionary spend – November 2020 results

  1. I’ve had my thermomix since 2013.
    It’s funny, but we’ve become so used to eating real food all the time – I think the only pre-packaged food I make is gravy – that when David27 started staying at his GF’s house a lot, he’d come home feeling bloated and a bit “off” from her Mum’s meals. She doesn’t cook terribly unhealthily, by all accounts, but there are a lot more convenience foods in there that I guess we’ve not been exposed to for years. The thermomix makes our meals very ‘clean’.

    You’re correct – the grocery costs will plummet over time.


    1. That’s interesting, isn’t it? It just goes to show that the preservatives, flavourings and colourings in our foods definitely have an effect on our bodies.

      I’m glad to hear the costs do reduce over time!


      1. Ok, Guys – what’s with the whole Thermomix thing, please?

        We recently started purchasing meals (5 each per week) from purely from a lack fo time (i leave for work at 7:30 every day and get home between 7:30 and every night with only a 20-minute walking commute both ways)

        Is a Thermomix the way to go for saving time (AND cooking good vegan food?)

        Any posts you can point me towards (i bet you have a tonne)



        1. Hi Shaun – I told you it’s like I’ve joined a cult! (See October’s post.)

          You can definitely cook vegan – there are websites and Facebook groups dedicated to Thermomix cooking. Thermobexta is a vegetarian website, but you’ll probably also find vegan recipes. For me, the time savings come in making a recipe that will provide several meals, but also I find the prep and cooking process less time consuming because you can be getting the next stage ready while the previous one is cooking. There is also the inbuilt guided cooking app, plus the ‘official’ Thermomix Recipe Community.


  2. RBT?


    At first, I thought it was just me (getting old) but then I really can see that COVID has dramatically changed the way that we work!

    Long hours of course, but people are also scared of losing their jobs, so putting in more time and showing their worth over and above their colleagues (read ‘competitors’) is just making all of us RBT.

    Thanks for pointing it out and making it into something that binds us, rather than just sounding like a winger fest.

    As a side note, Sunday is the only day that I don’t set my alarm (or go to the office) so instead of waking at 5, i slept all the way through till 8. cant wait to do that for 20 days over the Xmas break.

    Thanks for this great, action-packed post.



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