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  • FIRST POST
    • armchairexpert
    • By armchairexpert 9th Feb 17, 4:00 AM
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    armchairexpert
    The ups, downs, and occasional sideways bits of trying to be mortgage free
    • #1
    • 9th Feb 17, 4:00 AM
    The ups, downs, and occasional sideways bits of trying to be mortgage free 9th Feb 17 at 4:00 AM
    Hello! I used to loiter around here a few years ago and you were all terribly friendly. Then I was made redundant, started my own business, and it's all been a bit uppy and downy since then.

    We've been meandering along for the past three years, since taking on a new mortgage in 2014, paying things as they come up and failing to notice that we're not making a dent in the mortgage at all. It's set up as a line of credit, so the minimum payment on it is only interest - we'd expected to be paying down the principal as well just as a matter of course, but it hasn't quite worked out that way.

    I'm not going to do a SOA because I'm in Australia, and even the most dedicated MFW'er probably can't tell me if I'm paying the right amount for my electricity! But I have buckled down and done a very comprehensive YNAB budget, and it tells me that I should have about $700/month extra without cancelling the children's extra-curricular and the occasional treat. We shall see if this holds true.


    As an aside, I also have a second mortgage on a buy-to-let, but the tenant is my mother, who can't afford to pay us market rent much less cover the running costs, so that costs us about $5,000 a year or so. As a way of clawing back savings, I don't budget any of the tax reductions that brings us, I just treat it as a normal expense, and then anything we get back at the end of the tax year is like an annual bonus.

    What else? Two DDs, the youngest one started school this year which is a GAME CHANGER I tell you what, some lovely silly chickens who very generously make eggs for us, the beginnings of a fairly pathetic vegetable garden which I'm not convinced even pays its own running costs - and long suffering DH, of course, who keeps the lights on.

    Also I am not the most succinct person in the world.
    Last edited by armchairexpert; 09-02-2017 at 4:10 AM.
    MFW diary here. 1 Feb 2017 $229,371 - MFD Feb 2043 aiming for May 2028
    14 August 2017 - Refinanced: $220,000
Page 2
    • iquit
    • By iquit 20th Feb 17, 1:46 AM
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    iquit
    Armchairexpert sorry to hear that you and DD were unwell at the weekend, glad everyone on the mend. Just as well DH was able to take the girls to work with him. Looking forward to hearing if he spent any money on keeping them entertained.
    2016MFW78 £24000/£12000 2017MFW98 £1904.98/£7000 BSC #261
    • armchairexpert
    • By armchairexpert 20th Feb 17, 9:01 AM
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    armchairexpert
    Do you know, he did! They spent four hours at his office, colouring in and doing crosswords, with hardly a murmur of complaint. I am both very impressed and very envious. I can only imagine the reception I'd get if I told them they were to sit and colour in for four hours while I worked!

    Even better, I took them out to buy birthday presents for a friend later and while we went a little bit over budget because I forgot we also had no cards or wrapping paper in stock, we did manage to avoid our usual temptation of going to a cafe for afternoon tea afterwards and wandering out $25 lighter.

    I just discovered that in YNAB, you can collapse the categories or expand them. Which means I can collapse the 'mandatory' category - bills with a set amount to be paid, nothing I can do about them - and see at a glance how much I have left for the 'soft' costs - groceries, clothes, extra curriculars, spending money. What a revelation!
    MFW diary here. 1 Feb 2017 $229,371 - MFD Feb 2043 aiming for May 2028
    14 August 2017 - Refinanced: $220,000
    • armchairexpert
    • By armchairexpert 21st Feb 17, 11:42 PM
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    armchairexpert
    So here's a thing. I've never been a big spender on clothes. I buy cheap basics and try and hit thrift shops when I can manage it. But yesterday I walked into a high end fashion store and tried on a jumpsuit and it is $330 and I adore it more than anything I've ever worn.

    For reference, I think with the exception of my wedding dress, my most expensive clothing purchase ever would be around the $150 mark, for a special occasion. This is NUTS. But I love it. Am I just pushing back against budgeting, do we think? I did, late last year, swear to stop buying cheap crap and start trying to buy occasional investment pieces and decent brands instead. But $330. But it's gorgeous. But I never spend that on clothes, ever.

    Anyway, the answer to Should I Buy It is: do I have things in the house I can sell to make up the cost, and if so, yes. But I'm interested that I've got this impulse at all! Normally, high end stores are super safe for me to step into because the prices are so far outside my comfort zone that they're not really tempting. Like looking in a jeweler's window.

    (It's really gorgeous)

    In other news, DH divided the chicken I bought on the weekend into 2 and not 3 portions so there is none left for the fajitas I had planned to make, meaning a last minute top up shop yesterday, and today a friend invited us out for an afternoon picnic tomorrow, which means another top up shop, I think I'm going to end up over budget on the groceries, and I gave myself a super generous budget, so that's quite startling!
    MFW diary here. 1 Feb 2017 $229,371 - MFD Feb 2043 aiming for May 2028
    14 August 2017 - Refinanced: $220,000
    • iquit
    • By iquit 22nd Feb 17, 10:22 AM
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    iquit
    I am a jumpsuit junkie, own about 6 . I usually buy them on sale. The sudden urge to splash out may be a little bit of a rebellion against your new financial targets. I get that way on occasion and have to pull back from the edge. Not always successful. A trick I try is give it a week, if I still want the item I then try to cut back in other areas to be able to afford it.
    2016MFW78 £24000/£12000 2017MFW98 £1904.98/£7000 BSC #261
    • armchairexpert
    • By armchairexpert 22nd Feb 17, 11:38 PM
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    armchairexpert
    Thanks, yes, I think that's the trick.

    In the meantime we're inching towards the end of the month, and:

    Wow I spend a lot on groceries! I have been pretty disciplined about not picking up snacks, sticking to a meal plan and if I need milk, only buying milk or whatever. But I'm going to have to be careful this week to come in at an average of $300/week. I can cut back further by bulking things out with lentils and whatever, but I was hoping not to have to get to that point so I'll tackle other things first.

    Average Australian family with kids the age of mine spend less than we do at $260, but I am wondering if that takes into account the fact that none of us buy lunch out during the week, get takeaway, etc. Or maybe I'm more crap at this than I thought!

    Nothing else to report, really. Going out for a picnic in the park with friends tonight, so I have bought an oven pizza to make ahead of time and bring with us and it's a nice cheap way to socialise. This month was always going to be tight because there were some quarterly and annual costs that I hadn't saved up for, and decided to pay in one go (like $800 in annual school fees), so next month I'll start throwing the excess at the mortgage.
    MFW diary here. 1 Feb 2017 $229,371 - MFD Feb 2043 aiming for May 2028
    14 August 2017 - Refinanced: $220,000
    • Moneyfordreams
    • By Moneyfordreams 23rd Feb 17, 6:14 AM
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    Moneyfordreams
    At least your conscious of what you are spending.
    I love nice clothes but live in jeggings or a uniform. Will you wear the jumpsuit often , then buy it its the day to day discipline that can get monotonous without the occasional treat.

    I'm reading your diary in an Australian accent.
    Mortgage Feb '13 £200000, end 2038. Aiming for before March 2025 (crunched to 2034)
    January 16 £182800 : minimum £360 OP but needs to be £600 to achieve 2025
    Current mortgage £159800
    h@lifax CC £4500 0% until May 2018.. will pay minimum for now, slow stooze
    xmas, chairs, hoover, computer and holiday [STRIKE}clothes[STRIKE] DD1 cc
    • armchairexpert
    • By armchairexpert 24th Feb 17, 12:24 AM
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    armchairexpert
    Ha! I'm actually an English expat, so you'll have to read it in a complicated hybrid accent really.

    Took Older Cat to the vet today for yearly vax - $115! And the school's having its annual fundraising event, it's the can't-miss thing of the year, that was another $71. Next month had better be cheaper than this: i have moved every last cent out of the rainy day funds just to break even this month, because of so many upfront costs. School alone has cost me $1K, but then that's mainly it for the year.

    Had strata meeting the other day, I'm up for an immediate $500 for a building report and there is a good chance that we'll need expensive underpinning work under the entire unit block within the next year, which may well run into the thousands per tenant. It would be so much cheaper to have my Mum live with us, but we'll all hate sharing the space. If I can hang onto the unit, one day it'll make a good little launching pad for the DDs as they go off to work or university. But it's making things super tight right now!
    MFW diary here. 1 Feb 2017 $229,371 - MFD Feb 2043 aiming for May 2028
    14 August 2017 - Refinanced: $220,000
    • armchairexpert
    • By armchairexpert 25th Feb 17, 5:15 AM
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    armchairexpert
    Final weekly grocery shop done for the month, with a luxurious $44 left in the budget - except that I didn't pick up anything for our dinner. Our thing is to give the kids a separate dinner on Saturday nights and then have an adult dinner which is something they won't eat: vindaloo, or whole fish, or something. So I sent DH out to buy the ingredients for that since he cooks it, and if anyone can spend $44 on dinner for 2 people it's him. We might be limping to the finish line here!

    Apart from that, having a nice MSE weekend. Took DD1 out for a jog/walk/chat this morning, always nice to hear the thoughts of an 8 y/o. Washing flapping in the breeze. Almost finished my baby-chicken brooder, just in time for next month's discretionary spends to go chicken shopping!
    MFW diary here. 1 Feb 2017 $229,371 - MFD Feb 2043 aiming for May 2028
    14 August 2017 - Refinanced: $220,000
    • armchairexpert
    • By armchairexpert 26th Feb 17, 12:20 PM
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    armchairexpert
    This weekend I stayed home except for the grocery shop, made progress on my chicken maternity ward and this evening I cooked a pineapple cake, pizza for the DDs school lunch (it should do two days each), pea and ham soup in the slow cooker and saut!ed a couple of bunches of spinach ready to be made into spanakopita tomorrow.

    Would have been a NSD except my sweet mum took DD2 out for an amazing day and I gave her some money towards the costs since she's far more skint than I am.

    Bit knackered now. Also feeling a bit discouraged about the maternity coop - I thought I'd finish it today but I think it needs more work and it's all a bit of a slog for what is supposed to be just a temporary/occasional second coop. But I did get to practise with the power drill and the jigsaw which will come in handy come the apocalypse
    MFW diary here. 1 Feb 2017 $229,371 - MFD Feb 2043 aiming for May 2028
    14 August 2017 - Refinanced: $220,000
    • armchairexpert
    • By armchairexpert 28th Feb 17, 12:52 AM
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    armchairexpert
    Well, it's the last day of the month, and I'm just waiting for the mortgage payments to come out so I can wrap things up. Because that's the kind of dare devil excitement I live for.

    I didn't start my budget on the first day of the month, so there were some monthly charges that had already come out. But on the whole I think we've done really well! We had some huge annual costs come out this month, along with several quarterly bills and two months' worth of mobile phone costs (it costs us $150/month, would you believe it? And neither of us have huge data plans, nor very new phones: we both have an iPhone 5c, and mine keeps freezing and shutting down and the battery's conking out) because DH forgot to pay the previous month.

    Normally I'd react to that by just going "oh well, next month will be cheaper and it'll all even out" but I decided to try and end the month on a zero balance instead of borrowing from the month ahead. And we did it! I had to wipe out any savings goals for this month, but we kept the discretionary spends to an absolute minimum, spent a lot of time in the garden for free, and I'm really pleased.

    Now to budget for next month!
    MFW diary here. 1 Feb 2017 $229,371 - MFD Feb 2043 aiming for May 2028
    14 August 2017 - Refinanced: $220,000
    • -taff
    • By -taff 28th Feb 17, 4:16 AM
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    -taff
    Well done. That was pretty much your introductory plan to saving and not spending because you'll probably find so many of us decide to save/pay off mortgage/ bills etc, and that;s the month where everything goes pear shaped...
    It does however give you the urge to do better next month and so on...My biggest failing as far as spending money used to go, was saving the odd £1.50 on something and feeling great I'd saved there, while simultaneously spending £20 on something that was either unnecessasry or would become so, or I'd waste it, but never counting that £20 as money down because I'd saved £1.50!!

    I've got YNAB now and that has really been good for me to see where I'm spending, and I'm not wasting money now. I don't go to the supermarket or go shopping just to buy the odd thing and come out with fifty pounds of food I don't need.
    And I've just changed job again, so now I/we [ being as he says he wants to learn to cook] can meal plan because myself and the other one will be working more or less the same hours....
    I used to have access to a massive garden to grow in, I made raised beds etc, weeded it to an inch of it's life, and now I have one that's full of horsetail, it's ineradicable, so now I need a rethink on how to keep it down....
    I rambled too, good luck next month...
    • armchairexpert
    • By armchairexpert 1st Mar 17, 1:06 AM
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    armchairexpert
    Thank you taff! Never apologise for rambling, I love some company.

    New month!

    As per my signature, my mortgage has actually gone UP - but that's because I started partway through last month and I think DH's pay had just gone in. A lump will hit the accounts tomorrow and make that look better, but from now on I'm only paying attention to figures on the first of the month. Interest payments on both mortgages were down, so I think that means more money was sitting in the account this time.

    YNAB has been brilliant, although I set it up a bit wrong and made my life unnecessarily complicated. Because I have an offset mortgage, and then I run everything through the CC, I didn't want to 'admit' to YNAB that both my account balances (mortgage + CC) were in debt. So I kind of created a fictional 'checking' account and gave it the balance that was left once I took away the owed amounts, if that makes sense?

    So my original mortgage was $250K. At any given point I have maybe $4K on the CC. And then there's about $15K available credit on the mortgage account, but I didn't want it to show up like I had that much to spend! So I gave myself an artificial checking account that was just the total of our incomes for last month, and "paid" the rest into the mortgage. It's all one account in real life. Anyway that's a long boring story and the short version is that it makes reconciliation really hard and now I'm wondering if I should change it to reflect the actual reality! But then I have all these red numbers on my lovely spreadsheet!
    MFW diary here. 1 Feb 2017 $229,371 - MFD Feb 2043 aiming for May 2028
    14 August 2017 - Refinanced: $220,000
    • armchairexpert
    • By armchairexpert 1st Mar 17, 1:18 AM
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    armchairexpert
    Monthly recap:

    Good things

    I drastically cut back on spending in cafes. I'm a terror for suggesting 'afternoon tea' to the DDs as part of a day out or to soften the tedium of running errands with me. Now they're both back at school that was going to go down anyway, but I was still doing it too often. Once a week is my new rule, a single coffee and cake only.
    Ditto spending on lunches. I said this upthread, but my habit was to justify things I bought in the supermarket as being cheaper than 'eating out' and therefore just 'part of the groceries' but really I was popping in to pick up a green juice, a pie, some biscuits and maybe a bag of cashews or trail mix, and before I knew it that was $15 which is more than I'd spend on a nice filled roll and a coffee! I cut this out entirely this month, go me.
    Managed lots of cheap weekends. When you're budgeting you really notice the lack of options to entertain the kids without spending money, don't you? There's only so many 'nature walks' and 'let's play in the garden' you can do. But we've not been shopping-for-shopping's-sake all month.
    Got hold of the budget. This is the biggest thing by FAR.

    Bad things/Goals

    I think we can do far better on groceries still, and I also need to re train the DDs a bit. This morning I got complaints that we were out of cornflakes (5 other breakfast options to choose from, mind), that the wraps I'd bought were wholemeal not white, and that one of them had gone off both ham and cheese so it was salami or nothing. Oh and yesterday DD2 didn't even touch her wrap, which I'd made with the last of the salami because see above, because "I looked at it and it looked green and that was gross". The green was lettuce.
    Anyway. I'm trying out Ald!, and if I can save enough from the grocery budget over the next two months I'll do a bulk buy meat order from the local butcher.
    This month I'm aiming for $1000 on groceries: I usually manage $1200 if I'm a bit careful, so this feels like a stretch.
    Expand the repertoire of low cost family activities.
    Start running 3 times a week again. This has nothing to do with money saving, but there we go.
    MFW diary here. 1 Feb 2017 $229,371 - MFD Feb 2043 aiming for May 2028
    14 August 2017 - Refinanced: $220,000
    • armchairexpert
    • By armchairexpert 1st Mar 17, 11:32 PM
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    armchairexpert
    The interim results from the Ald! Experiment are in!

    DD2, the fussy one, told me that the cornflakes weren't exactly the same but just as good, and wolfed an entire bowl.
    Everyone approved of the pickles and hamburger buns
    DDs happily ate a (small!) packet of biscuits after I tried one and decided they were horrible
    The cats, on the other hand...
    Older Cat turned her nose up completely at the cat biscuits and stalked out, pointedly, before coming back in in order to lie around and starve to death AT ME.
    Younger Cat wolfed them, because he is an adolescent male and therefore eats his own body weight in food daily, and then sicked them up on the bathroom floor.

    So the verdict is that my family are not fussy but my cats are!
    MFW diary here. 1 Feb 2017 $229,371 - MFD Feb 2043 aiming for May 2028
    14 August 2017 - Refinanced: $220,000
    • armchairexpert
    • By armchairexpert 3rd Mar 17, 12:10 AM
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    armchairexpert
    Actual concrete goals
    I've been playing around with whatsthecost, and if I want this mortgage gone by my 50th birthday (completely arbitrary date, but it's as good as any) I need to overpay by $1200/month, paying $2200 in total.

    I can't do that on my current budget without making life very miserable for the whole family for eleven years!

    However, my budget doesn't take into account the fact that all the costs involved with running my Mum's unit are tax deductible, so both DH and I get a decent tax return at the end of the year. If that's the same amount as last year it'll be $8K. It's not as good as paying monthly, but it should mean [back of an envelope calculations] that instead of overpaying $14,400 over the year, I only have to find - let's call it $7K because I'm rounding up to allow for the extra interest. So that's about $600/month.

    I think I can do that. I'm also still building up my business: at the moment I pay $2K from my business account into the home account every month, but once my income levels out, I will increase that to $2.5K, and hopefully in a year or two $3K. I always earn more than the $2K (plus tax) but I'm keeping some aside so I can reinvest in getting higher paid work: otherwise I end up on a treadmill of being too busy with low paid jobs to find anything better.

    Okay! Look at me and my concrete goals! Let's slash $600/month off the budget!

    Thing Already Done: DH cancelled his life insurance, we're just waiting for the confirmation that the policy's ended, so that's $71 gone.
    Thing Being Attempted: I'm trying to get the grocery budget down by $200/month.
    Next Target: Mobile phones and internet, we have to look into bundling and see if we can reduce. Together, they currently cost a huge $220/month. Stay tuned!
    Other Next Target: Build up business to the point where I'm throwing $2.5K into the budget monthly.
    MFW diary here. 1 Feb 2017 $229,371 - MFD Feb 2043 aiming for May 2028
    14 August 2017 - Refinanced: $220,000
    • armchairexpert
    • By armchairexpert 6th Mar 17, 2:04 AM
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    armchairexpert
    Nothing at all interesting happened on the weekend, which I suppose is a good thing. Grocery shop came out a bit spendy - I'm a bit concerned by it, but at the end of the day if we're not wasting food, and we're meal planning and being sensible, then the groceries cost what they cost. The biggest spend was fresh, seasonal produce from the cheapest greengrocer within a reasonable drive, I'm not going to mess with it.

    DD2 and I had a lovely afternoon just the two of us: since she's started school, "mummy days" are hard to come by. So we did some sewing and some baking and walked down to the local cafe for afternoon tea because, in her words, "that's what we always do on mummy days". This is true: I spent a LOT of time in cafes with her last year, just to eke out the day a bit!

    I fear I have terrorised DH a bit too much in impressing a budget upon him: he bought a spade because our 17-year-old one snapped in half, and spent five minutes justifying it to me. As if I'm going to complain about a spade.

    It's a long way from a pay day...
    MFW diary here. 1 Feb 2017 $229,371 - MFD Feb 2043 aiming for May 2028
    14 August 2017 - Refinanced: $220,000
    • -taff
    • By -taff 6th Mar 17, 9:26 AM
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    -taff
    Did you say there was a Lidls or something by you? If there is, can't get cheaper than their veg.
    • armchairexpert
    • By armchairexpert 6th Mar 17, 11:45 PM
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    armchairexpert
    No Lidls in Australia as far as I know. Someone on the Grocery thread suggested I try switching out some of the fresh veg with frozen for things that don't matter (soups, casseroles, etc) and I think that's a good plan.

    I do go on about groceries, don't I! Sorry.

    What else. DH has cancelled his life insurance but we haven't got confirmation of that so just waiting to check that it doesn't come out of the account this month. His next task is to tackle the mobile phones. I did a ring around for health insurance and home and contents recently so they're as good as they'll get I think.

    Just chugging along really!
    MFW diary here. 1 Feb 2017 $229,371 - MFD Feb 2043 aiming for May 2028
    14 August 2017 - Refinanced: $220,000
    • armchairexpert
    • By armchairexpert 8th Mar 17, 12:28 AM
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    armchairexpert
    NSD yesterday but it won't be one today: I'm meeting a friend for lunch who lives interstate and I only see 2 or 3 times a year at most. I also bought a secondhand Gorman skirt for $65 on an online resale group: I'm experimenting this year with buying secondhand versions of good, expensive brands, instead of spending the same money on something new but cheap, in the hopes that it'll stay in good condition for longer and end up better value. And DD2 has decided she wants to try tap instead of ballet, so I've had to source her some secondhand shoes: if they fit they'll be $15 and I'm pretty sure I can sell them on again. The rest of the costume is the same so no extra costs involved. And I forced DH to go to the osteo this evening by making him an appointment and presenting it as a fait accompli, because I'm sick of him complaining about his aches and pains and doing nothing about it. He has scoliosis, which leaves him vulnerable to muscle strains and other problems, and there always seems to be something giving him pain.

    Lets hope that's it for spending. This month was on track to be slightly easier than last month UNTIL: I was feeling super organised the other day and set up some direct debits to come out quarterly on a repeat basis. Except that I messed it up and so two lots of quarterly council rates came out on the same day: almost $1000

    I did toy with ringing the council and asking for a refund, but I decided to try and get through the month anyway and hopefully enjoy having a six month break from that particular cost! It means my entire discretionary fund is gone for this month, and I've not added to the savings pots. I'll make it up next month.

    (Lucky I didn't schedule two years' worth of DDs on the same day! Can you imagine?)

    Vegetarian lasagne for this evening is all made up and wrapped in foil waiting to go into the oven. This forum is so full of well organised women who keep their homes clean and their dinners made that it inspires me to try harder. We'll see how long this lasts, but the family is definitely benefiting from my attempts at the moment!
    MFW diary here. 1 Feb 2017 $229,371 - MFD Feb 2043 aiming for May 2028
    14 August 2017 - Refinanced: $220,000
    • armchairexpert
    • By armchairexpert 9th Mar 17, 12:47 AM
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    • 3,616 Thanks
    armchairexpert
    Yesterday's spends went to plan except that I also gave in to temptation and bought a new book. I've been trying to use the library, but I tend to only realise at 8pm that I've nothing I fancy reading, and it's so much easier to buy something that will arrive straight into my ereader than to wait! Between that and my lunch yesterday I feel a bit indulgent!

    NSD today, though, and no excuses woman!
    MFW diary here. 1 Feb 2017 $229,371 - MFD Feb 2043 aiming for May 2028
    14 August 2017 - Refinanced: $220,000
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