Reducing the discretionary spend – January 2021 results

Well, colour me amazed and just a bit excited! January’s eating out / takeaway / supermarket non-essential food and alcohol spending was the lowest of this financial year. It’s nice to have a bit of a win with this after so many months where it was just way higher than it needed to be. It’s been a salutary lesson in how a lot of small amounts can really add up.

This month is still over budget though (although I did manage to come out in the black overall), partly due to finally getting some trade work done – the electrical work I mentioned last month (see Updates below), plus my car air conditioning needed to be serviced as it didn’t seem to be cooling very well, so that was an expense I hadn’t anticipated. I also ordered some Tupperware, both to replace a broken container and so I can freeze the extra meals made in the Thermomix. This meant that the Household & Utilities category was a fair bit over, and the car category also. Finally, I splashed out a bit on a cooking class for later in February – I’m going to learn to make macarons.

I ended up over in my staple supermarket spend too, even though I did account for there being a fifth weekend in January so an extra shopping trip. Mostly I think it’s the buying of ingredients for all these new meals I’m making. (I made these bad boys a couple of weeks ago – they were the bomb!) All my other categories were in the black, thank goodness. 🙂

I decided to bump up my mortgage repayments this month as well. Changes in interest rates had reduced my scheduled repayment amount, but I don’t want to slow this down at all, so I rounded my repayment amount up to the next $100 mark instead.

Otherwise, things are just trucking along.


Remember that missing death certificate from my recent post about funeral costs? Well, I got a phone call from the funeral director last week. It turns out they’d written the wrong street name on the envelope and the letter finally got returned to them. They’re sending it back out to me.

Electrical work from December’s post – it turns out that the extractor fan was actually plugged in to a power point in the roof cavity, so what I thought was broken wiring in the roof was actually just the broken power cord of the fan unit. This meant that all that was needed was simply to replace the unit. I got my other little electrical jobs done as well (replacement of a couple of downlights that haven’t worked in forever, plus rewiring of a light switch plate) and all of it came in under $300. Such a relief!

Back in April last year I listed a few things that I was planning to do to help bring costs down. One of these was to attempt to reduce my water usage, which I’ve been doing through reducing my shower time and switching to the half flush on the toilet, as well as leaving a longer period between laundry loads. I had a look back through my water bills from the middle of 2018 to now and, looking at the results for that period in comparison to before, I have reduced my water usage by between 4 to 41 litres per day even though during this time I’ve been working from home. If I do end up going back to working in the office full time, this should improve even more. Due to rises in the price of water, though, it hasn’t made all that much difference to my bills 😦 . I do actually need to get a plumber in to fix a leaky tap in the laundry, so that will be the next thing on the list to get done.

I delayed the switch of mobile phone providers briefly, as I didn’t want to get caught out missing calls or texts while I was organising for quotes for the electrical work, so I’ve just switched over today to Woolworths Mobile from Telstra. They use Telstra’s network so I don’t expect to see any drop in network quality, but this will make a huge difference to my spend. It will also give me 10% off one shop per month, so that’s an added bonus.

3 thoughts on “Reducing the discretionary spend – January 2021 results

  1. Love the blog FIRE for One! That bacon and cinnamon scrolls recipe looks like the best thing ever! Never would have known about that if it wasn’t for you. I have never really thought about how macaroons are made either. Such a cool project, kudos to you. Awesome that you kept the food budget so low too. Keep up the great work!

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