Saturday, May 14, 2011

Financial Matters

How was your Friday the 13th? Mine’s been lovely. I spent some time with my nephew Jamie and his gorgeous mum Sunny. We went for a stroll along the water here where we live in Southport. The sky was deep blue with not a single cloud in sight; one of our first true winter-y days. Beautiful.

While managing money is definitely not one of my strengths (ex spend-aholic), I am slowly learning how to keep up with our finances. One of the best pieces of advice I have been given by an excellent accountant I know, was to decide who out of the two of us, would solely pay bills and manage the money. I’m sure a lot of couples out there can share this responsibility, and some couples just do their own thing and don’t share money or accounts. But for Shane and I, we were sharing money, sharing the responsibility of paying bills; and sharing the problems caused by that not really working out for us. We didn’t know who had paid what bill and this caused some late fees and frustrations.

Shane and I decided that as I have the extra time, it would be I who managed our money (I guess I drew the short straw here! Lol). It was tough at the start for me to have this level of responsibility on my shoulders, but I am slowly getting there. I think the biggest breakthrough for me, was when I realised in order to do this successfully, I needed to know exactly what was coming in, and what was going out (Duh!). I was curious to see just how much of our hard-earned money I was “fritting away” on Ahem, can I say crap in my blog?? Sure, it’s my blog.
So I kept a cute little notebook and pen in my bag at all times, and would write down every single dollar we spent while out. At the end of the week, I added it all up and basically, was shocked.

Needless to say once you know how much you earn, how much you spend, and how much, if any, you have left over to either save or pay off debt, life seems to become a whole lot more enjoyable, honest and (can I be a little Dr Phil here) REAL. I found I really needed to be down-right honest with myself about money and accept the fact that it is NOT acceptable to use the credit card for awesome new jeans and pretend that it is ok...

We still use a book to keep record of what we spend on shopping, food, bills and fuel etc, and this enables me to work out our budget. I actually enjoy it these days (especially getting out my cute little calculator), and I feel somewhat empowered.

I have already mentioned my trusty Bill List on a whiteboard near the kitchen. I use this to keep track of bills due. I also have another great thing in the house that keeps me organised with bills and general paper work to be filed. It’s a 3- tiered A4 size plastic container that stands up-right on the desk (will post photo. I got this from Officeworks). Each of the 3 tiers is labelled (naturally)- one is Bills to Pay; the next is Paper to File; and the third is Medical. As I am pregnant the Medical tier is relevant. In another stage of my life, this third drawer might become Outgoing Mail or such. I can imagine one day we might need another of these containers, for paper work such as School Notices. It does mean that I have to handle all my mail twice- into the container and then once it’s been “actioned” (for e.g. bill paid or school fete attended), into the filing cabinet or shredded (my favourite job!). Some Professional Organisers advise that you only handle paperwork once. But I don’t enjoy having to go to the filing cabinet every day; I find my system works for me.

Now if only I could get on top of rolling over my superannuation.... Suggestions anyone?? :-)Thanks for reading.


  1. Hi Sarndra,
    You have reminded me of my medical notes/ultrasounds etc when I was pregnant. I used to start off with a folder for each baby, I'd put the receipts in the back and all the other info in the front, I could see how all was progressing and it was a complete record of the pregnancy. My Dr once commented that I was so organised he'd give me a job in the surgery! Arh, just wait till you get all those school notes...although you can elect to receive the newsletter online now, I used to use the back of them for the kids math homework, then into the compost.
    Hope you're feeling well,

  2. Hi Sarndra,

    I ventured over from Rhonda's blog. I read the last few posts and decided I had something to share on this one. I'm not an organizer by nature except in certain areas and $$ is one of them! I always kept a notebook detailing money coming in and money going out and the budgeted amount. I used that and my mother's advice and have done quite well keeping debt at bay through the years.

    Momma always said you save money by nickels and dimes. Paying attention to the small amounts really adds up! I don't know if you have nickel and dimes in Australia but I'm sure you have something comparable.

    Now if I can just get the other things in my life organized!!!

    Oh, and welcome to Blog Land! There are some really nice people out here.

  3. I recently rolled over all my husband's many many super funds into one. All you have to do is choose the one that you want to keep (preferably the one that your current job is paying into), get the "roll over" form from their website, get the details of all the other funds (eo FY is a good time to do this as they all send you a letter and that will remind you of which ones you have), fill in the forms and send them away with the correct certified copies of your ID. Then you can go to the ATO's SuperSeeker website to find any other funds that you didn't know about (possibly ones that don't have your current address). They will send you the details and you can fill in the forms again for the remaining funds. The most annoying part is getting your ID certified and getting all the details you need for the forms, I rang each fund and asked them, as I got sick of looking on their websites! Good luck! Its worth it, my husband had 6 funds, each charging $50-100 in annual fees, and now we are saving that money with only having the one fund. Cheers, Liz

  4. Hi Vicki,
    thats wonderful how organised u were through your pregnancies. and a great idea with getting newsletters online- i hate excessive paper wastage! Thanks for visiting xx

    Hi Mary, thats such great advice- every little bit of money towards savings helps and its good to keep that in mind. thanks so much for sharing. All the best xox

    Dear Liz,
    thank you so very much for this wonderful advice. I will definitely make this year the yr to 'roll over'- as u say its soo worth the effor. im sure some of my super funds will have evaporated into fees by now. But better late than never :-) Thank you xx all the best

  5. Hey Sarndra,

    loving your blog by the way...

    Thought I'd contribute on this topic as it's taken me years to get myself to a stage where I feel that I finally have my financial paperwork under control. I'm not naturally organised and have tried filing cabinets, vertical stacking and all sorts of other methods and what works for me is this:

    I have two A4 level arch folders per year. One is a 'bill's' folder and the other is an 'essential info' folder.

    The bills folder I fill with Jan-Dec tabs and as bills come in, I put them at the front of the folder on top of the first tab. Every Tuesday night (usually in front of NCIS) I pay the bills and as I write the date and receipt number on each bill I pay, I slot it into the relevant month - by the end of the year, I have 12 months full of orderly accounts. The beauty of this system is that you're filing as you go - no pile of paperwork 'to file' later down the track (which never seems to come!)

    The 'essential info' folder I put 10 blank tabs which I mark with the categories that are relevant to us - ie bank statements, mortgage documents (ie the dreaded interest increase letters), insurance, major purchases (ie for receipts,warranties etc), Corey's Payslips, my payslips etc. Then, on the Tuesday night, I'll sort all these essential bits of info into their respective tabs and again, have a folder that by the end of the year is orderly and coordinated.

    Took me forever to get to this place but now that I've been doing it for 3 years, I can't imagine any other way that would keep me on track...

    Anyway, am having a slow morning here at work so I thought I'd share that with you :)

    Now, blog some more about how you budget - haven't quite figured that out properly!!!! Or weekly menu planning - pretty useless at that too! :)

  6. Hi Nardia!
    LOVE your system- thanks for sharing that. Really love that its sorting and filing in one go- and am impressed you keep up with this every tuesday. Its such a great idea to have a set day to do these things, otherwise I would forget if its just once a month or several times a year.
    Yeah budgeting is tricky- we only do it now by force because of going from 2 fairly good incomes down to 1 not-the-best income :-) It certainly requires a lot of discipline and sacrificing. I havent had a hair cut in 6 months Lol :-) MAJOR mullet going on here.
    I saw Erica, Julianne and Leonie + their little ones last week in Bris, was soo nice :-) Wouldnt it nice to have a bigger 'Poon reunion? Hey was there ever a 10 yr one?? I heard rumours of one but then I was overseas, I think I missed it. So nice to be in touch with you, isnt facebook great in that way :-)
    Talk again soon Xx