The Simple LIfe

During my ‘debt free’ journey, I have been searching for the simple life. When you have no money to spend, you soon find out that the simple things in life bring you great joy. It has been quite an adventure for my husband and I, and I must admit I’m loving it!

With only $50 ‘fun’ money for a month, we have had to learn to be creative with our free time while not blowing the budget. Some of the things that I have enjoyed over the last year have been:

  • Watching the sunrise and sunset (this is truly amazing and everyone should experience it at some point in their life);
  • Swimming in the ocean (to me, this is the ultimate joy!);
  • Cleaning and organising your home. I have literally gone through every cupboard in every room and kept the things that spark joy and that I love. I have never been that great at ‘cleaning’ haha, but I have found it’s a new passion lol. Opening up my fridge to see everything organised, and pantry all lined up is truly a beautiful thing – maybe my OCD is coming out a little bit – but honestly there is nothing better than waking up in the morning, and coming out to a stunningly clean and organised space !!! I now follow a 8 week cleaning/organising plan for my house – which I will share in future posts;
  • Listening to the Tuis and Kingfishers sing in my back yard. We live semi-rural and quite often we have tuis only a few feet away – their singing creates joy by listening to them!
  • Baking for my family. Every Sunday we have all our children over for dinner with our beautiful Granddaughter Olive. We look forward to this time every week, and love being together. We try and make it special and have baking on hand and create many laughs and memories together. Family is my number one priority and I love them with all my heart. Baby cuddles with Olive are just the best thing in the world !
  • Spending time with my extended family and friends by visiting them on the weekends;
  • Picking fresh flowers from the garden and putting them in my lounge, or even sneaking a little rose on my walk and putting it in a glass vase by my bed;
  • Burning beautiful candles that I have been given at Christmas or using my essential oils from my beautiful sister;
  • Doing yoga off you tube most evenings before bed;
  • Reading books – I try to read one book a month that I have received from and shared with my friends;
  • Early morning walks or evening walks with my husband, we can talk about our day and share our highs and lows;
  • Thrift shopping at the local hospice store;
  • Posting on my instagram account and being part of a like minded ‘debt free community’;
  • Watching my sons play Basketball or Cricket and watching my daughter play Netball;
  • Going on ‘date nights’ with my husband either going out for a cheap ‘sushi’ lunch date or now again to the movies;
  • Creating my budgets on excel and colouring in my debt free charts;
  • Making a vision board or book – by cutting up old magazines and creating a vision of what I want my future to look like.

I hope I have inspired you to try the ‘simple life’ and enjoy everything around you. Keep saving and winning in life my friends. xxx

Nuts and Bolts

Lets get into the ‘nuts and bolts’ of how to get out of debt. I have thought about the keys components over the last 14 months of my debt free journey and wanted to share them with you to help you try and get out of debt and live a debt free life. These didn’t happen ‘overnight’ or ‘all at once’. It was a momentum that increased as we saw more progress.

1. Have a meeting with your partner and lay all your debts on the table – include everything – e.g.  a loan to friends or parents, credit cards, overdrafts, mortgages on rentals, any hire purchases, car loans, any debt you have owing to someone else EXCEPT your mortgage on your house. List all of the debts smallest to largest and you now have a hit list.

2. Get on a written zero based budget specific to each month. Each month is going to be different – you can’t budget the same amounts for every month as there will be some months you get paid five times (or 3 fortnights) and may have 5 weeks of groceries instead of four. You also may have car registration one month and not the other. So work out your monthly budget and see how much you have left over for debt repayment each month (or otherwise see where you have to cut back).

3. Cut up all your personal credit cards !! If you are like me this will be a hard act to do. For some reason I justified having these because ‘I paid them off each month’ or thought we might need them for an ’emergency’! After awhile and a few sneaky purchases here and there, an overspend or two, and hello by the end of the month we didn’t have enough to pay the whole total bill! I was astounded to realise, how it was embedded in me,  that we needed a credit card and it was our security – NOT ANYMORE – cut up those suckers. If you cannot pay with your debit card or cash you can’t afford it!!

4. Start being Mr/Mrs/Miss/Ms Frugal!! Analyse every bill that comes out of your account. Shop around for quotes on insurance, power, phone. Cancel your sky (cable), make a meal plan and write a grocery list so that you only buy what you need, don’t overstock your pantry, treat this like your second job – saving a dollar here and there adds up to huge amounts over a year. Have a garage sale, sell things on trade me – you know that saying, “one man’s trash is another man’s treasure”.

5. Use cash where and whenever you can. Try withdrawing cash every week for groceries and spending money. It has been proven that you spend a lot less when you know that have to hand over your hard earned cash. Also when you are spending your cash, try to think ‘do I really need this?’ or is this just a want? Quite often I sleep on a purchase and the next day it doesn’t seem as important.

Most of all remember, being Mr/Mrs/Miss/Ms Frugal isn’t going to be ‘forever’. One of the hardest things for me is being patient and delaying gratification. We have been brought up in a society where everyone wants everything now. Just wait, work the budget, pay off the debt, and if you live like no one else now, you can live like no one else later.

Happy budgeting my friends x

I’VE HAD IT!!!

So I have been asked a few times, how did I switch from feeling comfortable in debt to not?

I have tried to answer this question in one short sentence, but the more I think about it, it was a number of unique experiences that happened to me, to move me to this point.

The first experience to describe was “my mindset changed”.  I was completely and utterly sick and tired of being sick and tired.  I was sick and tired of continually having to rob Peter to pay Paul, sick and tired of trying to balance the books and pay all the bills on time.   I was sick and tired of that sinking feeling in your stomach when you know that you can’t afford something but you buy it anyway.  I was sick and tired of the continual facade of pretending all is okay, but thinking deep down, gosh, how I am going to pay that next month? We usually managed to pay our bills on time, or had payment plans to pay off large bills, but we never seemed to be getting ahead. One year, I worked out our net worth (your total assets less your total liabilities) and I remember being appalled that it hadn’t increased, actually may have decreased, so I didn’t do that calculation again! So yeh, I was sick and tired of being sick and tired and I HAD, HAD IT !!!!

The next experience, was not having my husband ‘on board’ with our finances. He has always been ‘Mr Frugal’ which, was just as well haha, but he had also trusted me with all of our finances.   So much so, that he didn’t know anything about our budget or expenses. This didn’t really sit well with me, and I didn’t want to have the sole responsibility of looking after our money.  I really wanted him to be a co-decision maker in our finances and I wasn’t sure how to go about asking him to do this.  I was also nervous that if he knew how much debt we had, would he put a halt to all our spending – eek !!

The third and most important life changing moment in this time, was facing a huge loss in my life.  After this time, I had a heartfelt desire, to stand in my truth and live a simple life.  I knew that to achieve this, we had to shed all our debt, and this loss gave me the strength to be able realise this was a mountain we could conquer.

I hope anyone reading this has the courage to take the huge leap of faith, to get your finances in order.  Go ahead and have that first budget meeting with your partner .  Lay it all out on the table, start tomorrow, don’t delay. You will never regret it.  Every accomplishment begins with the decision to try x

Hello world!

Welcome to my Blog ! I started my journey in January 2016, sick and tired of being broke, earning too much money and not having anything to show for it.  Sound familiar?  Well it was pretty scary for me.  This began the realisation that we weren’t paying one dollar off our debt and I was 45 years of age.  We had a whopping lot of debt totalling $566k.
It all started one dreamy weekend in January 2016 when we were visiting friends in New Plymouth with my family.  ‘The girls’ decided to go out and enjoy a bit of shopping.  I came across a piece of art ‘Buddha’ that i liked.  Didn’t need it but liked it so, pulled out the visa card and charged $100 on the card.  Came home with my wares and much to my surprise, it caused a sticking point with my husband, we ended up not talking all the way home!  I knew at this moment things needed to change.
Fast forward two weeks, and we again went away for the weekend with my family, this time to Auckland City for the weekend.  We were out for dinner in Auckland (using the Visa again) and decided we would go to the movies.  I checked out what was playing at the time and found that the ‘Big Short’ was playing in ten minutes in downtown Auckland.  We literally ran from our restaurant with desserts in hand to the movie and made it in the nick of time.  I didn’t know what the movie was about but felt like it was a lesson from the Universe.  As you may know, this movie is all about the Economy in the USA where the Bank’s called up their loans and people couldn’t repay them losing their homes.  This struck a nerve with me as our home is our ‘safe’ place, a home my husband built for us in 2003.  That night we had a lengthy discussion until the early hours of the morning about our finances and realised we had to make a drastic change to our situation.
The next day was ‘DAY ONE’ and not an easy one by any stretch of the imagination.  We laid everything out on the table and I felt so many emotions, relieved that we had ‘ring fenced’ the debt so we knew that it would never be anymore, but also very sad, ashamed and really angry that I had let our finances get to this point.  This was the low point of our journey.
From there we took a step each day to getting out of debt.  We cut up our visa cards that day.  I had always been good at ‘budgeting’ but never had a plan or a road map what to do with our money.  I stumbled across the Dave Ramsey channel within a few weeks and knew that I had found my man.  His philosophy is very simple following a list of Baby Steps 1 to 7, 7 being financially free and building wealth.  Everything about his southern drawl, no nonsense manner made sense to us and we read his book Total Money Makeover which began us on our journey to financial freedom.
The first thing we did was to sell our car, driving a SUV that I didn’t need to drive to work and home lol.  Sold this within 2 months and made a nice $15k.  I also got us on a ‘Zero based’ budget using an excel spreadsheet (found a tutorial on gazelleinTents which was magic) and made a budget specific to each month.  This was a game changer for us.  The next thing I did was fine tune and nit pick every bill that we paid.  We increased our excesses on our insurances, and decreased the sum insured, we cut movies off our SKY bill, we meal planned so we only bought the groceries we needed.  We used cash, as it has been proven that you spend a lot less when you pay with cash, I slashed our personal spending money, cut the clothing allowance, cut the haircut allowance, and was astonished to see that we could actually live on my husband’s wage and put all mine to debt.  What did we use to do with our money!!!
We sold our rental that we had owned for ten years, and had to be patient as it took two months to sell, but we did it.  We scrimped and saved every dollar we could.  I found a ‘side hustle’ selling any and everything I could find in our house on trade me and putting this onto debt repayment.  My husband worked any extra that he could, we were on a mission and all over it !!
Fast forward to December 2016 and we were sitting at total debt of $164K.  We had repaid $402K in debt.  My feelings at the end of the year, very proud of what we had achieved, and looking forward to smashing it in 2017.
Check out my instagram for daily inspiration at #kiwigirlonabudget