28 Feb 2018

Problems with tenants

We've had some problem with our 'good' tenants this week, which came as a real surprise as they've been good up until now. Its a strange situation that ended up with us giving them notice to move out. They got caught out in a lie which was designed to steal money from us. I don't want to say more than that but our agent is also pretty shocked at what they tried to do.

A sudden change in behaviour like this really concerns me but the one thing I will NOT tolerate is being lied to. And if they got away with it then thats theft - I don't have any time for thieves either. I'm not giving them a second chance as they cannot be trusted now. We've been very good landlords, always getting repairs done immediately, cutting them some slack when they had trouble paying the rent for a short period. No rent raises for several years. I'm annoyed that they thought they could take advantage of us when we've treated them very well.

We've owned this property for almost five years now and only had one weeks vacancy. This is our first tenant problem so we've been pretty fortunate. We will probably have a few weeks vacancy this time as we'll see if it needs painting or any other repairs etc once its empty.

This will also put a bit of a dent in the budget which will slow down the mortgage payoff next month. DH and I are looking forward to going back inside and having another good look. We've only actually been inside twice. We inspected it and made an offer to buy it and it was leased straight away. We went back to see it again in between tenants so thats about four years ago. I'm looking forward to seeing it again - its where we will move to when we sell up here.

25 Feb 2018

Grocery shopping & some of this weeks meals.

Its week two of our $60/week minimum spend at Coles. I forgot to use my triple points voucher so will use it next week. Heres our grocery spend for this week.

IGA: $11.54  2 litres milk, 1 litre iron enriched milk, 460g sundried tomatos

Butcher: $11.82  4 chicken breast halves

Bakers Delight: $14.50  1loaf bread, 4 turkish rolls, 6 cheese & bacon rolls

Corner Shop: $14.52 12 xsparkling water , pkt ham, slices roast beef, pkt lollies

Markets: $17  1 kg honey 1 jar orange whiskey marmalade

Coles: $86.15   savings $42.44 + $10 off - total shop value $138.59

 Our cat wanted to be in the picture...

1 red cabbage $2.50
1 green cabbage $2.90
7 bananas $3.36
650g red capsicum $5.75
4 pink lady apples $2.38
700g red grapes $2.75
300g green capsicum $2.08
125g raspberries $4
1 bunch coriander $3
500g pasta $3.15
4x 48 pk carefree pads $9
2x 42 pk carefree pads $5.10
2x 100 Liptons teabags $5
1 kg bread flour $3.40
2 decor containers $4
10 pk AA batteries $8.48
5 x 400g cat food $7
6 pk cat food Dine $4.80
2 x 432g pineapple $4
600g yoghurt  $4.50
1 BBQ chicken $9

Total Spend this week: $138.53

Good buys this week were the half price specials:  carefree pads, teabags, batteries & decor containers.

Only one trip to the corner shop this week and that was DH.

We ate two pkts of frozen vegetables & a pkt of potato wedges from the freezer and some frozen beef which I stewed in the crockpot. Tinned baked beans & tomatos eaten from the stockpile.

I'm managing to eat more veggies and fruits and am cutting back the chips and chocolate...   Heres a few of my meals from during the past week:

I took a tin of baked beans, the last half rasher of bacon and the perino tomatos that were going soft and half an onion in the pan with a bit of olive oil.

The next day I baked a sweet potato and put the leftover beans over it with half an avocado over the last of the mixed bag of lettuce - tasted fantastic!

This is meat I did in the crockpot. I put if on before work and when I came home at lunchtime I emptied the bag of baby potatoes into it. Had it with broccoli and the frozen veggies done in the pan with some onion added and cheese on top.

I'll weigh in the the 1st of March again. I do feel like I've lost a bit of weight so am curious to see what the scales say.

24 Feb 2018

Markets & Snowballs!

This morning we had a lovely trip to the local markets. They are held once a month and I've been saying I should go for years - well today I finally made it. Had a lovely time. It was a lovely sunny day, lots of farmers outside with produce and all the inside pavilions were filled with all sorts of goodies. 

I only took $20 to spend and bought 1kg of honey for $10 and a beautiful jar of orange whiskey marmalade for $7. It tasted divine!  The lady who had the jam stall wins all the prizes at the show and I will definitely be visiting her stall again next month.

Threw a couple of nice big snowballs at my mortgage this week after making the regular payment & all the bills being paid.  The new balance is  $161,794!

Its exciting to see the number dropping!  Every time I see something I want to buy I just tell myself it can wait till after the mortgage is paid off. I just want it gone.  I'm looking forward to seeing the interest payment start to drop down - might track it in the sidebar.

Had a wonderful walk this morning 6.5kms (4 miles) before the sun came up. We walk for an hour and a half on weekends now and an hour 3 days during the week. I feel so much better for it. Its good to get outside in the fresh air and we're lucky to have so many lovely green spaces to walk in.

Overall its been a very good week.

22 Feb 2018

Good news week

Yesterday I had some good news!  I was contacted about doing some contract work, gave them a quote and they have set up a meeting with me in a few weeks. I'm excited about it as its work I enjoy and find challenging. It's in an area I want to get more experience in. If its goes to plan I'll be able to pay a full extra mortgage payment every month which will really speed up our payoff. It also opens up more opportunities for me.

I also found out yesterday who our new manager will be at work and its someone I really respect and have worked with in the past, so that was more good news. She's a manager that really listens and is very supportive of team members. The next few months are going to be filled with change as people get laid off and new jobs and changing duties  all start up. It will be a lot easier to handle it under this manager.

Today is payday and the mortgage is now down to  $163,315 and the redraw is down to $5,592.

I've been eating out of the pantry and freezer and staying away from the corner shop. All in all its been a good week so far.

18 Feb 2018

This weeks Grocery Shopping

This weeks offer from Coles was $50 worth of points if I spend $60 a week for four weeks - finally a good offer! So heres a roundup of this weeks shopping:

Bakers Delight: $9.70 6 cheese & bacon rolls, 6 bread rolls + 1 free loaf of bread

Butcher: $22.03 - 12 thin sausages, 10 rissoles - both $10/kg

Coles: $111.09  savings $35.46 + $10 off -total shop value was $156.55

18 rolls toilet paper  $8
1.5kg sweet potato  $3.09
750 ml vegetable oil $3
1kg carrots $1.50
1.7kg Kent pumpkin  $3.09
1kg baby potatos  $2.62
1 avocado $3.90
1kg block cheese $11
250g parmesan cheese  $6.10
250 mls rice wine vinegar  $2.35
400g tomato paste  $4.80
1 BBQ chicken $8
6 pack cat food $4.80
3 punnets perino tomatos $9
6 bananas 4.03
4 gala apples $2.05
100 Green teabags $5.49
80 Camomile teabags $5.49
80 Peppermint teabags $5.49
150g rice cakes
1.68kg pears $1.68
1 pkt scotch finger biscuits $2
1 pkt orange cream biscuits $2
500g capsicums $3.35
4 x 250g punnets strawberries $10
125g raspberries $4

Good buys this week were pears $1/kg and teabags half price - I refuse to pay $11 for 80 herbal teabags, so when its half price I stock up.  The 1kg block of cheese on special cost the same price as a 500g block.

We had less trips to the corner shop this week. Once to get milk, bread, bacon, capsicum, tomatos & cheese to make pizzas and a second time to buy some junk food after a very stressful day at work - a habit I need to break!

Corner shop spending: $50.47

Total spend this week:$193.29

We ate a 1kg minced meat, an apple pie and two packets of frozen veggies from the freezer this week and two packets of soup from the pantry.

I cooked the apples from last week into applesauce and froze them and we also froze 6 meals of Bolognese sauce after making spag bol with the mince.

This weeks plan - eat more out of the freezer & pantry & reduce food waste.

15 Feb 2018

Rates time!

Its that time of the year when council rates and strata fees bills arrive. So I've just paid them for each of our investment properties:

IP #1 rates- $377  strata- $491
IP #2 rates -$283  strata - $523

We have separate offset bank accounts for each property so that any money in that account helps to reduce the amount of interest we pay on the loans. All the rent is paid into the specific account and all the deductions for that property come out of it. It makes it very easy at tax time.

The rates for our house are paid automatically each week. I pay $60 and that will get us a bit ahead in payments. I'd like to start next year with a nice buffer of savings on all my bills. The annual bill for our rates is $1532 paid quarterly ($383 per quarter). We also pay for water here and I noticed our water bill has gone up - so I'll have to look into that more closely on the weekend.

We've had a few days now to try out the outdoor blinds in really hot weather. They have definitely made a difference to the heat inside. Most days we've only put the air conditioning on for a few hours in the late afternoon and just used a fan during the day. We've still got the big awning to go up out the back this weekend and a few more windows I need to buy blinds for.

Its a bit cooler here today which is good and the fire in the town half an hour away that has been going since the weekend is back under control but theres still smoke in the air.

I'm interested to know how much council rates are in other countries, how much are your rates?

12 Feb 2018

Grocery shopping

I did this weeks shopping at Coles to get my bonus points. Best bargain was granny smiths apples for $1 a kg. I'll stew them up and freeze them, might even go back and get a few more. Heres this weeks breakdown:

Coles: $66.71
Meat:  $31.30  - sausages, rissoles & steak
Corner shop $48.21 - BBQ chooks, dishwashing liquid (3 x $1.20) milk, bread and snacks - still spending too much here, but improving.
Total: $146.22

Coles shopping:
2 litres milk $2.60
3 pkts wonton wrappers $ 9.75
2 pkts chips $5
2 kit kats $2
4 gluten free wraps $5
1 pkt rice cakes $1.65
200g salad leaves  $3
3 bunches coriander $7.50
480g red capsicum $4.81
150g garlic $2.50
3x 200g shredded carrot $5.25
700g broccoli $3.41
1 avocado $3.90
380g sweet potato $1.52
6 bananas $2.21
17 granny smiths apples $1.07
1 red cabbage $2.50
1 green cabbage $2.50

Total spend: $66.71
Savings: $9.65

I also bought two pots of herbs - mint & coriander - for $5. If we can grow our own it will save a lot, just have to keep them alive!

In the fridge I still have some veggies from last week to use up and there is some fruit left that is going a bit soft so I'll juice that up later today. We've been eating lots of salads this week, had a lovely one with red & green cabbage, capsicum, red onion, coriander and shredded chicken. I have mine with a few papadums for crunch and DD has crispy wontons on hers. The goal this week is to cut out the sugar completely.

10 Feb 2018

Bargains, work & weekend plans

I used a $20 voucher from my surveys this week to pick up some specials:
Oral B toothpaste usually $5 each  x 5 = $25
Bic pk 4 razors usually $5 each x 2 = $10
$35 worth of products for free.

Yesterday afternoon I was getting milk at the corner shop and they had BBQ chickens marked down to $6, so I bought two. They are usually $12.99 each and this will do us for meals and sandwiches for the next few days.  I need to spend $50 at Coles tomorrow to collect my bonus points -other than that I'm trying to stay away from the shops!

My week at work ended on a low note. Theres an issue coming up that I can't avoid, its one I've argued in the past and thought was settled as I was backed up by the legal branch of our company. Well apparently the 'new' management has a different view now. I felt very down yesterday - its not an issue I can compromise on and it will put me in conflict with people. I'm already stressed thinking about it and didn't sleep much last night. I'd love to just walk away but I can't.

I've been reading blogs for the last few hours as it really helps me to keep on track with my goal. I'm about to head out for my early morning walk which always helps! After that I'm going to get stuck into the last of the decluttering in my front lounge room, more of the paper shredding and we have a few more outdoor blinds to put up this weekend.

just gotta focus on getting through one day at a time.

8 Feb 2018

Payday & a great sunrise!

Just got back from a lovely early morning walk - there was a really beautiful sunrise this morning:

It was good to just walk and talk to DH and then this amazing sky - a lovely way to start the day.

I just checked the bank  and payments have gone through. I was pleasantly surprised with my pay increase - $400 of it has gone to pretax retirement savings and I added an extra $300 to this weeks mortgage payment for a total of $905. So the mortgage is now sitting at $163,964.

I remember when we were really struggling with debt how I used to dread paydays as it was all about working out which bill was most urgent and trying to keep debt collectors off our back. Once we started to turn that around I began to enjoy payday as it felt empowering to see the debts fall, then slowly the savings started to build. Now I love payday lol!  Love seeing the numbers going in the right direction.

7 Feb 2018

the honeymoon is over...

So far returning to work has been great and I've enjoyed being busy at work with clients and enjoying working with my colleagues - up until this week when we are back in full swing of a busy college start of term.

The last few days have been really, really stressful. From Feb to April is  the busiest time of year - its just a non-stop fly by the seat of your pants time until things settle into a bit better routine after Easter. I actually enjoy the hustle and bustle the start of the year. I love the work that I do, but the last few days have been a really good reminder of just how toxic and chaotic the workplace can be. New policies that someone who has never done the job comes up with, people who've lost their jobs but still have to come to work and people who know they are going to lose their jobs in the next few weeks, more cutbacks, more crazy cost cutting and a ridiculous workloads and expectations. Three days in to the week and I'm already so far behind.

I don't want to turn this blog into a place to whinge about work so I probably won't post about it too often in this way. But after being away for a year and living with no stress and getting my health back I have such a different perspective. For years I lived with this stress & tension and you just get used to it and start to think its almost normal - that its just you that is not coping.  But its not normal, and its not OK. Its way above that of a busy workplace. I'm shocked at how quickly the feeling of high stress has returned - I've only been back for 4 weeks and this week the honeymoon is well and truly over.

So I need to pick my battles & take time to respond, not react. I need to take time to enjoy the successes and good relationships in my workplace and I need to try and switch off when I leave. Its absolutely made me more determined than ever to reach my goal of retiring in five years.

After a long day yesterday (2 hours unpaid overtime) I was feeling pretty disheartened when I got home. That changed when I got a call from the company I applied to for contract work to tell me I've passed all the checks and next step is to do the training - probably next week.

 I'm excited for this opportunity as its well paid and can be done from home. Any money I earn will go straight off the mortgage. Its providing the similar services I currently do in my job, but working online, at double my current pay rate. It would speed up our debt payoff considerably. So I'm on to the next stage and have my fingers crossed it works out OK.

In the meantime today is payday so we're another week closer to our goal.

5 Feb 2018

Grocery Shopping

After last months terrible grocery spend blowout I've decided I'm going to log my shopping here to help me keep on track and I enjoy comparing prices to other countries.  Our shopping for this week - Coles: $127.43,  Bakers Delight: $5.14
Total = $132.57

Theres 3 adults -two that are a bit fussy and one with multiple food allergies, that is not fussy but can't eat many commons foods (me!) and one cat. I'm trying to increase our fruit & veggie intake as we have been eating a bit too much junk food over the holidays.

Heres the breakdown:
2  litres milk - $2.60
1 litre grapeseed oil -- $10
1 litre almond milk - $2.80
2 x500g peanut butter - $5.70
700g red capsicums - $6.69
2 red grapefruit  - $2.93
1 green cabbage -  $2.50
2.2kgs watermelon - $2.20
6 delicious apples - $3.85
1kg kent pumpkin - $2.60
1 bag corn chips - $3.10
1 pkt rice cakes - $1.65
125g blackberries - $3.00
500g butter - $4.50
200g pappadams - $2
2 rolls paper towel - $1.75
5 navel oranges - $6.18
1 avocado - $3.90
1.5kgs red onions - $5.17
.8kgs kent pumpkin - $2.07
200g shredded carrots - $2
2 bunches coriander - $5
150g garlic - $2.50
350g kaleslaw - $5
gluten free bread - $5.99
500g ground flaxseed - $4
chocolate - $6
roast chicken - $8
12 cheese & bacon rolls $5.14
toiletries $12.40

Our savings on this shop were $16.71. I didn't use any flybuys points this shop. There are a few items here that just make it easier to make lunches in a hurry- the shredded carrot, the kaleslaw. We both come home for lunch and usually make a sandwich, salad, or leftovers. Buying a bunch of kale is expensive and would be a waste whereas a small precut kale salad gets used - its lovely stir fried with a bit of olive oil & some baby tomatos, and shredded carrot on salads & sandwichs.

Eating healthy is important to me for two reasons - one I have numerous health issues and diet makes a huge difference  - two - I grew up poor and lived on cheap, processed foods and as a result my health suffered - so I know the impact of a poor diet over many years and I'm doing my best to remedy it so we can have a healthy old age.

1 Feb 2018

January Progress Report

January has been a busy month as I returned to work after a years leave, so its been a bit of an adjustment getting back into the swing of things.

Heres my progress so far:

  • Mortgage $164,669  down from 167,998 
  • Redraw  $5,762  down from $7, 910 
  • $5,477 total mortgage debt reduction
Retirement Savings:
  •  Mine- $92,353
  • DH - $242124
  • Total- $334,477
  • $3,594 increase in savings
I had plans to eat out of our stockpile & freezer this month & use vouchers to reduce costs, which worked until I went back to work. So I spent much more on groceries this month than I intended and far too much at the corner shop!

 We made 21 trips to the corner shop in January ( its just one block away) spending an average of $21.45 per visit. The trouble is you go in for milk or bread or a specific item and walk out with a packet of chips, chocolate, ice creams & cold drinks - its such a waste of money and it has to stop! Our grocery spend this month was way, way too high! We usually spend about $600 a month.
  • Coles $450.69
  • Corner Shop - $450.57
  • Bakers Delight- $13.70
  • Total - $914.96

I started walking of a morning and have really enjoyed it! So far this month I've walked 112 kms,  69.6 miles.

My weight is down 300grams - but I must admit I really did not make many changes so more effort is required!


I cancelled a $10/month online yoga subscription and I cancelled YNAB - $50/year. I've been using it for a few years and it was really helpful at the start but I've gone back to pencil and paper which is working well.

I reactivated my  Audible subscription $22/month as listening to books is something both DH & I love and its good for switching off thinking about work.

The decluttering has continued through the month, mainly in the lounge room which is almost done. We spent almost $800 on external blinds & awnings to cut the heat which we plan to install this weekend.

The extra work I was hoping for has not eventuated so no extra income this month. I used $20 in survey vouchers & $40 of credit card points at Coles.

Overall I'm really pleased with our savings and mortgage payments and really annoyed with myself for our grocery spending so my goal is to halve the grocery spend in February and get seriously stuck into eating that stockpile!