Reducing the discretionary spend – February 2021 results

I am just a little bit proud of myself this month – my eating out/takeaway expenditure was the lowest it’s been so far this financial year! Hooray!

Other discretionary spending has also remained low to zero – no entertainment or personal expenses this month has helped to keep things down, plus car-related costs were also below budget (I get my rego and insurance bills in February, and I usually over-estimate what they’re likely to be). And of course, no travel expenses at the moment either.

However, the food and groceries category and household and utilities category still ended up quite a bit over budget. Most of my supermarket food staples shops have been quite high this month, mostly due to buying ingredients for Thermomix recipes. Household/utilities was over because I splurged on a bit more Tupperware and I needed to have the lawn mown twice. There has been quite a bit of rain in Brisbane over summer thanks to the La Nina weather system this year, and it makes the lawn grow rampant. Luckily it usually goes pretty dormant in winter, though, so the extra cost through summer is offset by not having to have it done during the cooler months. (Yes, I could mow it myself, but I loathe the heat and hate getting hot and sweaty – I have a ‘pushie’ mower, not a power mower.) Happily, due to having changed mobile phone provider, I’m looking forward to reduced costs in that department from now on, although I’ve already adjusted my budget figures to account for it.

Outside of those two categories, the only other thing that was over budget for the month was my inside-superannuation insurance premiums; for some unknown reason one of the premiums was higher than usual. It’s the second time it’s been that high, so I’m guessing it’s just related to how many days there are in the month based on the date they calculate it from (which seems to be part way through the month rather than by calendar month).

Cooking adventures update

This month I made recipes I’ve never made before – butter chicken and garlic, cheese and spinach naan. This was my first experience branching out from the built-in recipes in the Thermomix to recipes where I had to set all the times, temperatures and speeds myself – not that it’s difficult, you just have to pay attention to where you’re up to in the recipe steps. I’m happy to say it was a great success! The butter chicken recipe makes a lot of sauce (you can also double the chicken and marinade and cook it in a slow cooker if you like) so I have a tub of sauce in the freezer that I can just throw cooked chicken into, or use as pizza sauce for a butter chicken pizza. The naan were probably a bit thicker than they should’ve been, so I’ll know next time to make them a bit smaller and roll them out thinner. They were still nice though.

Other monetary musings

Although it can be a bit of a challenge to change spending habits, especially when they’re ingrained over decades, the pursuit of financial independence (whether it comes with early retirement or not) is definitely worth it for the peace of mind it brings. It actually struck me about a week or so ago that I’m often no longer aware of whether it’s pay week or not. Now that money is not a source of constant concern, I just don’t think about it any more. If you’re reading this blog and wondering whether FIRE is achievable for you, I’d encourage you to at least just start. Five years ago(!) when I decided to start curbing my spending by having a retail-free year, I made up a little poster for my wall (below). It’s still up there as an ongoing reminder to me that doing something is better than doing nothing. I’m three years into my FIRE journey now (even though I’ve been blogging for just under two), and although I’m a little bit impatient about some aspects, that little mental ‘twig’ that happens occasionally when I realise just how much weight has come off my mind just through having ‘mojo’ money is, as the ad says, priceless.

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