Maintaining Financial Focus

We have reached the end of the December “Spend-a-thon”. I hope you enjoyed it immensely. I find this period of the year to be the most financially draining – not just in Christmas presents, but the associated activities – dinners, BBQs, parties, relatives’ visits. It can become a very expensive time of the year and without a focus on spending – very pricey indeed. I have reviewed our spending for December in line with my changed perspective and found a couple of things of interest:

  • there were no purchases of items with a single use. It’s often the case that we will need something for one activity, and so I buy it, to never use again. This time around, I instead focused on a workaround and it was successful. Probably saved us in excess of $500 of stuff that we “had to have” for this one thing – but didn’t buy. Like a beach cricket set (I found the requisite bits / made up some stumps etc around the house – even found a cricket bat for it!)
  • maximised use of our frozen goods – we get a lot of meat through the agisting of animals on the property, and it sits there as we slowly get through it. This Christmas the pork roast was one of ours, the chops (lamb and beef) were ours and I was able to trade other roasts to people for veges and fruit! It was a great deal all around and as quickly as I cleaned out the freezer – more meat came in to it!
  • we had some unexpected costs roll in – but this happens every year and my little “emergency” Christmas fund was able to cover it. I have started to hold a little extra cash in the last quarter of the year over to cover this expensive time and it has proven very handy. Our savings weren’t touched and I pulled this extra money by not spending on lunches etc.
  • drank less beer. Oh the agony! But instead of having many cases of beer and spending a couple of hundred bucks, I had a bit less and encouraged people to replace what they drank of mine. Amazingly this worked (mostly… still have some work to do on this!).
  • Travelled less and grouped trips more carefully. It’s a $15 round trip into the local town for us (not the little local town, the bigger regional centre) so we made a point of ensuring that each trip had multiple purposes and was planned out. I was also conscious to time this outside of food times – so no lunch or dinner purchases in town. It gets very busy and expensive. Speaking of which….
  • Refrained from buying coffee/lunch/dinner unless absolutely necessary. This is a huge, almost hidden cost during this period. Go out to meet friends and end up spending up big (> $100 / meal) for the family.

Putting all these things together means we saved about 40% on what we spent last year and still had a great time. We didn’t miss out on anything and I feel a lot better coming into the new year. Now it’s time to focus on the year ahead and what is going to work best for us. We’ve got assets to sell off, and a market coming up to dispose of our many unnecessary items that are only burdensome and taking up space. I’ve gone through a huge amount of stuff in my little office and let a lot go – mostly of little to no worth that I’ve held on to forever and never use. I’m not big on new year’s resolutions, but I have set myself a theme for 2019 – Be Minimal. Use less, buy less, enjoy more. I’m looking forward to getting into it further now that it’s started!

Photo by Maurício Mascaro from Pexels

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