Reducing the discretionary spend – March 2021 results

Well, only one category is in the black this month; the car category continues to be underspent due to reduced commuting. However, although there’s a lot of red showing on my budget’s Variance table (the one that shows me how much I’m over or under budget for each primary category), the amounts are relatively small – one is less than $100 (Food & Groceries), two are less than $50 (Entertainment and General/Miscellaneous), and the others are only a little over $50. Only one category – Household & Utilities – is significantly over budget, and that’s because I decided to buy an upright freezer to store larger quantities of freeze-able foods.

Regular readers may recall that I switched mobile phone providers a couple of months ago, from Telstra to Woolworths mobile. Along with a much cheaper mobile spend, a Woolworths Mobile account also comes with an added benefit – once per calendar month you can take 10% off your shop (up to a discount of $50 in total). When I started considering how I might take advantage of this in conjunction with the 4% discount I get by using gift cards bought through the Union Shopper, I figured it was best to get a bit more organised and use it to buy the expensive foods (i.e. meats and fish) in bulk, with any leftover value used for things like cleaning products. Although the capacity of the freezer compartment on my fridge/freezer isn’t all that bad, the runners for the largest drawer are broken which makes it difficult to store much in there and also have it easily accessible. It’s been driving me nuts for ages, so I started looking online for an upright freezer and ended up getting a 173 litre Hisense model via Cashrewards* and Appliances Online for what will be a little under $600 (once the Cashreward refund comes through) with free next-day contactless delivery. I must say the timing of that particular offer was quite serendipitous! šŸ˜€ Or Google was listening in. šŸ˜³

*if you choose to sign up for Cashrewards via this link both you and I will receive a $10 bonus after you make your first transaction of $20 or more within 90 days of you signing up. The link should be valid up to 31 March 2023.

Despite having a bit of a takeaway meals frenzy during March, I still ended up with less of an overspend in the Food & Groceries category than I thought I might. Considering this included a couple of birthdays outings for friends and family, I was surprised enough by this that I double-checked my figures! My hairdressing costs have just dropped as well; I was going to someone who worked from home, but they decided to change career and close their business, so this has presented an opportunity to find cheaper hairdressing. I gave one of the local cheap shopping centre hairdressers a go and it turned out okay, and bought a dye kit from the supermarket to dye my hair myself. I’m planning to do a bit of shopping around on the cheap hairdresser front to see where I can get it done the cheapest without sacrificing my style. And if I end up with not-so-good a cut, well, it’s only a week or two between a bad haircut and a good one, as they say.

I also decided, due to an offer of a brokerage credit from Pearler^, to kick off my ETF portfolio (finally!). I would’ve waited, but I’ve been tossing up whether to start investing or just smash the mortgage, and although I’m still leaning towards the mortgage I also don’t want to lose the benefits of compounding and growth. With that in mind, I decided to buy a small parcel of VAS to get started.

^if you use this link to sign up to Pearler both you and I will receive a $9-50 credit towards our next investment (this equates to free brokerage, depending how much you’re investing in one transaction).

One thing I’ve done recently was inventory the contents of my pantry as I want to make sure I use the foods I have stored and reduce waste. I threw out a few very out-of-date spices and whatnot, but most of what I have on hand is still fine. It’s been a bit quiet on the Thermomix front this month as I’ve been using up some of the things I had lurking around in the pantry. I have a quite small kitchen, and the pantry is really just a cupboard that’s deeper than it is wide. Whenever I need to get at something at the back of a shelf I have to pull out everything at the front and it’s been a source of frustration ever since I had the house built. I want to either get some appropriately sized baskets to make it easier to get things in and out, or have something like this installed. So, another thing to add to my ‘need to do’ list for around the house.

So, that’s pretty much it for March. Not overly exciting, I admit, but when it comes to money, that can be a good thing.

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