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    • 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
    1 June 2017 $221,986.42
Page 4
    • armchairexpert
    • By armchairexpert 6th Apr 17, 4:41 AM
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    armchairexpert
    Thank you. Yes, balance. I'm not very good at balance. But I did just encourage DH to book tickets to the Nutcracker with the DDs, which he wanted to do. And I think I landed a well paying new client today. So all good!
    MFW diary here. 1 Feb 2017 $229,371 - MFD Feb 2043 aiming for May 2028
    1 June 2017 $221,986.42
    • armchairexpert
    • By armchairexpert 10th Apr 17, 2:07 AM
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    armchairexpert
    It's cold today and I'm struggling through - DH has a cold, and was up and down all night coughing and sneezing so nobody got much sleep. He's on the couch for the day and I'm trying to work. I have a networking drinks thing this afternoon and I don't want to go. So much easier to stay home in my jarmies than get dressed up and drive into the city on the off chance that I might make a new connection.

    I'm looking at the budgets with some dismay this month. DH booked the ballet for him and the girls, which will cost $150 and that wipes out our entire entertaining budget for the month, and it's school holidays next week so that's a fortnight of things with no money. So I'll shift money across from savings and cover it, but I'm starting to wonder if it's even possible to get ahead on the mortgage on our income without making life miserable. Everything creeps up all the time. I bought two sorely-needed bras on heavy sale and using a gift voucher and it still cost half of the family's budget for clothes for this month. DH needed PJs, DD1 needs some new winter-weight uniform, that puts us well over budget on that line so there goes some more money from the savings/mortgage OP pot. None of that is a luxury. I don't buy handbags, I only own basic shoes, I haven't bought a single thing of makeup or skincare for over 6 months, I go out to dinner with friends maybe once every three months, I don't belong to a gym or have any expensive hobbies...

    I know we're very fortunate to be able to be paying down the mortgage, and I have a flexible job which is a luxury. But I always start budgeting with these wild ideals about really getting ahead, and then I realise that there's just not that much fat to cut. I know that even a little is better than none. But it feels like a slog.
    MFW diary here. 1 Feb 2017 $229,371 - MFD Feb 2043 aiming for May 2028
    1 June 2017 $221,986.42
    • armchairexpert
    • By armchairexpert 12th Apr 17, 2:48 AM
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    armchairexpert
    Enough complaining. It's talking to myself so much that does it. But the sun's out today, I treated myself to a take away coffee from the local cafe, and work's pretty steady.

    I've moved the baby chicks out to their outside coop, too. I use the term "baby" loosely; they're !!!!!!! enormous now! They were darling little fluffballs just minutes ago! And they eat like teenagers. Well, they are teenagers, but for some reason I didn't realise poultry went through an adolescent phase. All they do is eat, sleep and try and impress each other. I have an awful feeling all 3 of the Light Sussex are going to be roos, since they're very keen on bumping chests and strutting. We'll see.

    It's my Mum's birthday on Good Friday so I offered to take her out for a picnic, and she wants to go to the beach which means a long day of driving because her place is not remotely on the way. It's hard when your parents get older and your kids are still small, but it's a lot better than not having them around. Then I'm having dinner with some school-mum friends on Sunday, and brunch with a friend who's visiting for Easter weekend, after which I shall go back to being a frugal hermit for the foreseeable. That's far too much socialising in one weekend, if you ask me.

    Literally nothing MSE-ey happening. I'm thinking of being brave and putting up my contribution to the household budget, which means keeping back less in reserve in the business account. My worry is that work will then immediately fall off a cliff and we'll all starve to death, but I do seem to be consistently earning over the minimum now, so, we'll see.
    MFW diary here. 1 Feb 2017 $229,371 - MFD Feb 2043 aiming for May 2028
    1 June 2017 $221,986.42
    • armchairexpert
    • By armchairexpert 13th Apr 17, 3:30 AM
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    armchairexpert
    Used up a bunch of vegetables in a farmhouse-ey chicken soup last night, the last of which I've just polished off for lunch. Tonight is spinach and feta quiche, which is an excellent way to use up whatever else is left. I'm getting far better at this meal planning lark: by the end of the week the fridge is satisfyingly bare of all but the cluster of jars and pastes at the back of the shelf. DH has got into the spirit of things as well and cooked up the last of our quinces (the only tree that produces anything worth talking about) into several jars of jam which should last a while.

    Heading into two weeks of school holidays, so I'm not expecting a huge amount of money saving to be happening. Haven't really planned any activities at all to be honest. Probably should, but I'm drowning in deadlines because all my Friday work is due Thursday and it's early school pick up. On which note.
    MFW diary here. 1 Feb 2017 $229,371 - MFD Feb 2043 aiming for May 2028
    1 June 2017 $221,986.42
    • armchairexpert
    • By armchairexpert 17th Apr 17, 4:00 AM
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    armchairexpert
    Goodness, what a spendy weekend. We don't really do Easter - we're atheists, and I think of Easter as far more of a solemn Christian celebration than Christmas (which seems a lot closer to Yule/midwinter solstice to me), so I limit it to a small Easter egg hunt and that's us done. But it was my mother's birthday on Friday so I bought a nice picnic's worth of stuff - smoked salmon, olives, some insanely expensive gluten free crackers, that sort of thing - and we went to the beach. Global warming has its benefits I guess. And then yesterday I went out to the local pub for a meal with some girlfriends; $30 and three hours of laughing is a good deal in my book. This morning another friend is over from interstate so the whole family went out to brunch, that's another $55 gone.

    I also spent the weekend gutting the old garden shed: pulling out an internal wall that was making it dark and cramped, emptying it of all the old timber and things that the previous owners had left, and I spent just under $100 on peg boards and shelving and storage holders so I can finally have a workable system. DH is a very DIY-er kind of guy, but in the 20 years I've known him he's been content to scrabble for the right drill bit in a big box of drill bits, old nails and sawdust, or try and find one of the 27 screwdrivers which could be in any one of about 7 cabinets, and I can't take it any more. I started teaching myself some rudimentary DIY skills last year, and I need to know that the hammer is in the space for the hammer and the screws are not mixed in with the nails. It's crazy to me that he's managed for this long.

    So there's a lot of money gone from the discretionary lines, and we're only two days into the fortnight's school holidays! That said, the numbers are still moving downwards which means we were spending a LOT more than I realised. When I did the budget I massively underestimated how much we'd need for basic socialising, clothes, all sorts of things - every month I end up putting money from Savings back into those categories - and it's still a lot less than we were spending. Crazy.
    MFW diary here. 1 Feb 2017 $229,371 - MFD Feb 2043 aiming for May 2028
    1 June 2017 $221,986.42
    • armchairexpert
    • By armchairexpert 18th Apr 17, 7:11 AM
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    armchairexpert
    Spent an eye watering amount at the hairdressers' today. I've spent years and years trying to find a way to cover all the grey without looking washed out or too conservative, and it got to the point where it was just ruined and ridiculous, so now I'm on a long road back to a (boring) blonde-ish colour which will hopefully be far less maintenance longer term. It looks 1000% better, but very conservative to my eye.

    Big Girl over at a friend's house today while Little Girl had a friend over here (saves complaining about which friend is playing with whom and who's allowed to join in with what). Little Girl and friend managed to break the pop door on my Mini Cooper (I am trying out new names for the small coop, what do we think?) so I'll have to go down there and fix it before the sun goes down.

    Have despatched Mr Expert to drop off and pick up various children this afternoon and carefully not instructed him to pop into the shops, but if he happens to, which I'm not asking him to or anything, but just if he already was going to, could he check for half-price Easter eggs please. I didn't buy myself any in the lead up to Easter and I've been staring at the girls' stash all weekend regretting my life choices.
    MFW diary here. 1 Feb 2017 $229,371 - MFD Feb 2043 aiming for May 2028
    1 June 2017 $221,986.42
    • armchairexpert
    • By armchairexpert 19th Apr 17, 1:08 AM
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    armchairexpert
    Three days into the holidays and I have conceded that we need more money in the entertainment budget this month if I'm to take the girls anywhere at all. I think I just need to go through all our discretionary spending lines and bump them up by 50%, because I don't think we're at all extravagant (although I guess nobody does believe that about themselves) and yet we go way over what I originally thought. This month I needed two sports bras, Mr Expert needed winter pyjamas and new sneakers, and Elder Daughter needs winter uniforms. Even with sale prices (the sports bras and sneakers were all 50% off), shopping for bargains AND using a $50 gift voucher, that's around $400. My original budget guess was $100.

    I'm also massively overthinking how I run the discretionary lines. I know a lot of couples just have spends after the bills are paid, but I divided it out into things like hobbies (we all have one, with the same amount allocated), clothes (Mr E has an office job and needs nicer clothes than I do, so it didn't seem fair to make that come out of spends) and entertaining the kids (which is mostly me, and otherwise all my spends go on them). I'd love to know how other people do this so it's fair. On the other hand, maybe if I just bump up all the figures I won't obsess about whether it's fair, because we won't feel deprived.

    ALSO I am stressing about the savings goals - it's lovely to be able to see in black and white that I'm putting money towards all this stuff, but there's so much of it - braces for 3 people, solar panels, a holiday, a puppy for Youngest, a tablet for Eldest (she needs for school next year) and it doesn't feel like I have any 'spare' money afterwards. So I think I might snowball it. Put everything towards the first savings goal, then move on to the next. Yes?
    MFW diary here. 1 Feb 2017 $229,371 - MFD Feb 2043 aiming for May 2028
    1 June 2017 $221,986.42
    • armchairexpert
    • By armchairexpert 21st Apr 17, 3:33 AM
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    armchairexpert
    Friday today and I have so many deadlines it's unreal: school holidays mean I'm cramming a week's work into the few days I can get some childcare. So the girls are at my mother's house for the day, bless her, and I needed to put in about a 10 hour day to get through it all.

    Unfortunately I am an idiot, and also offered to dog sit a friend's doggie for a long weekend while they went away. Doggie is lovely, but also wants to be walked, and patted, and wants to bark at everything, and wants to know where its family is, and then preferably walked again. All very well and good, doggie, but if I don't get the work done, I can't afford the treats! He's barking at the gate now, I'd better go entertain him. Next time, somebody stop me offering.
    MFW diary here. 1 Feb 2017 $229,371 - MFD Feb 2043 aiming for May 2028
    1 June 2017 $221,986.42
    • armchairexpert
    • By armchairexpert 26th Apr 17, 1:52 AM
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    armchairexpert
    Goodness, dogs take up a lot of time, don't they? I handed back Doggie yesterday and he's adorable but I suddenly have a lot more free time. The girls were great at helping to walk him, but they're too young to do so without me so we covered a lot of ground.

    Every single budget line is blowing out at once this month. School holidays are a killer! We had some extra income last month which will keep us in the black this month, but if it weren't for that I think we'd have gone backwards. I tried my best to keep things under control, but even things like - we went over to a friend's place yesterday and said we'd bring lunch, so in an attempt to keep things down we bought and roasted a chicken to bring along with some wraps and spreads, and we made a HM pizza from things we already had in the cupboard, and that's $35 gone. Three of us all needed haircuts this month. My mum's birthday. My birthday is at the start of next month so my main present's already been bought. Cross fingers for a frugal May!
    MFW diary here. 1 Feb 2017 $229,371 - MFD Feb 2043 aiming for May 2028
    1 June 2017 $221,986.42
    • Tahlullah
    • By Tahlullah 26th Apr 17, 8:52 AM
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    Tahlullah
    Keep going. I am reading even if not commenting. Yes, there are times when it seems all you do is spend, when what you really want to do is save. But, you need a life, and a new bra and a hair colour! Things to make you feel part of life.

    You are doing great! Positive vibes to you.

    Tx
    Striving to be mortgage free.
    • mfmaybe
    • By mfmaybe 26th Apr 17, 9:28 AM
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    mfmaybe
    Echo that. The difference now is you are aware that these things are budget busting, and are keeping an eye on what else you could shave instead. Before starting this journey, you'd have spent the money anyway and wondered why the mortgage was so huge.

    The trick is not to feel guilty about these things, otherwise what's the point in doing them?
    Create credit card buffer fund £1.05/£1000 0.1%paid. Pay by Christmas 17

    Other debts paid since 1/1/14: £17,005
    • armchairexpert
    • By armchairexpert 27th Apr 17, 4:41 AM
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    armchairexpert
    Ahhh, thank you both for commenting! I have been feeling like I'm talking to myself, which is still useful but not quite as much fun! Thank you both for poking your heads up, it's much appreciated.

    It's interesting, and I think a lot of people find this to be the case when they start budgeting seriously (here and on the Debt Free board I see this a lot) - we think we have far more spare money than we do. And then we start budgeting and it seems like every month there's an unexpected expense that puts us back to the starting line. And really, the answer is that that money - the unexpected expense money - was just never available to be spent anyway. We underestimate how much we have to play with and it takes a long time to accept how little left over there really is.

    Also this month I feel like I've been working my *coughs* off and I'm not going to earn a huge amount, but that's because I had to take most of last week off to cover school holidays. My income is very bits-and-pieces-ey, so although I'll have to send out eight separate invoices this month (which also means all the guff around the work, the client contacts and following up and checking the briefs, times 8), several of them are for only $100-200. Galling.
    MFW diary here. 1 Feb 2017 $229,371 - MFD Feb 2043 aiming for May 2028
    1 June 2017 $221,986.42
    • Cherryfudge
    • By Cherryfudge 27th Apr 17, 9:37 AM
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    Cherryfudge
    Your comment on budgets that don't really have much leeway is exactly what I have found with budgetting my time. No wonder it's an uphill struggle.

    Also this month I feel like I've been working my *coughs* off and I'm not going to earn a huge amount, but that's because I had to take most of last week off to cover school holidays. My income is very bits-and-pieces-ey, so although I'll have to send out eight separate invoices this month (which also means all the guff around the work, the client contacts and following up and checking the briefs, times 8), several of them are for only $100-200. Galling.
    Originally posted by armchairexpert
    Perhaps think of it this way: the work is behind you and you may not be paid at all if you don't get those invoices out. Therefore you are going to be paid $100-200 per piece of completed paperwork.

    Mind you, if it were me, I'd still want to better paying ones.
    30 days in June...
    NSDs 9/12, Exercise 8/12, Housekeeping £108.57/£120
    • mfmaybe
    • By mfmaybe 27th Apr 17, 11:39 AM
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    mfmaybe
    Ahhh, thank you both for commenting! I have been feeling like I'm talking to myself, which is still useful but not quite as much fun! Thank you both for poking your heads up, it's much appreciated.
    Originally posted by armchairexpert
    I read (and enjoy) frequently, don't worry! I should use the "thanks" button more though.

    I definitely found once I started budgeting properly, including for all the annual bills (eg insurance) and potential bills (eg repairs) that my money never stretches far enough. On the other hand it is rather nice to know that most expenses are budgeted or saved for all the time.
    Create credit card buffer fund £1.05/£1000 0.1%paid. Pay by Christmas 17

    Other debts paid since 1/1/14: £17,005
    • armchairexpert
    • By armchairexpert 27th Apr 17, 3:04 PM
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    armchairexpert
    Cherry, the idea is that the small clients become bigger clients once they trust me and start chucking me bigger projects to do, but it makes some weeks very painful! The invoices aren't the worst part, it's talking to new clients to find out what they want, the work takes longer because it's a new brief, that sort of thing. I'm just whining, frankly.

    Mr Expert had the girls today (still school holidays, hanging in there by the skin of my teeth) and stopped at the big gourmet market in the city and they made a surprise dinner for me; Malaysian steamboat, delicious, with carefully chosen music and candles. I don't drink alcohol, so Little Girl (5) poured me a Coke in a wine glass with an umbrella and a stripy straw, bless her dear little heart. I don't know why I merited a surprise dinner, but I wasn't turning it down. I'm just writing this month off, spending-wise, and being thankful that we'll break even - May is a new month.
    MFW diary here. 1 Feb 2017 $229,371 - MFD Feb 2043 aiming for May 2028
    1 June 2017 $221,986.42
    • Cherryfudge
    • By Cherryfudge 27th Apr 17, 9:48 PM
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    • 1,173 Thanks
    Cherryfudge
    Cherry, the idea is that the small clients become bigger clients once they trust me and start chucking me bigger projects to do, but it makes some weeks very painful! The invoices aren't the worst part, it's talking to new clients to find out what they want, the work takes longer because it's a new brief, that sort of thing.
    Originally posted by armchairexpert
    That sounds like an uphill slog, I hope they hurry up with some bigger projects for you! I'm assuming you're freelance, which is something I once considered but I'm rubbish at applying myself so I do take my hat off to those who can keep on keeping on.

    Here's to May! May you prosper in it.
    30 days in June...
    NSDs 9/12, Exercise 8/12, Housekeeping £108.57/£120
    • armchairexpert
    • By armchairexpert 1st May 17, 1:49 AM
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    armchairexpert
    May numbers are in, and ...it could be worse, I guess? I managed to pay off $500. That's total: it's an interest-free mortgage, so the principal doesn't go down unless I make an OP, meaning that $500 is the entire sum by which I've reduced it. The good bit is that it's under $220,000 and will stay there now. Because it's a LOC, the total bobs up and down a lot, but I've worked out that it won't go back over that number. (It's different in my sig for reasons)

    Three months in I'm getting a clearer picture of the budget. Here's what I'm finding:

    $100 for 'home stuff' was ludicrous. In March we spent $650 because we were doing the bathroom up. In April, with no big project lined up, Mr Expert spent $300 on, mostly, plants. He will always, always have a project and he will always see 'things for the garden' as basically free money because it's things for the garden and it all improves our living conditions but it costs money. I'm trying to decide if it would be mean to increase our personal spends and make him buy garden things out of his half.

    So really, that's more like $300.

    $100/month on clothes is also tricky. In April I needed two sports bras (which would have been $180 full price if I hadn't marshalled vouchers and sale prices). Mr Expert bought two pairs of pyjamas and new running shoes ($200). In March he needed new work shoes and some t-shirts, Big Girl's good leather shoes needed repairing, I bought a secondhand skirt, $200 gone. This months' budget is already gone on the girls' winter dresses, underwear and tights, and it turns out Big Girl also has no winter trousers - I sent her to school this morning in a cobbled together outfit of a summer dress over a long sleeved shirt and a pair of trackpants from her younger sister's pile that don't cover her ankles. My only pair of yoga pants are falling apart, two of my three pairs of leggings have been consigned to the bin, I own zero jumpers. That secondhand skirt is the only addition to my wardrobe in 2017.

    So $300.

    Spending money is okay at $240 (30pp/pw) which really covers the occasional take away coffee, a book, a pair of headphones, entertaining the girls. Eating out/entertainment at $100/month is also pushing it - one cheap dinner at the local Chinese and it's gone - but there's a lot of overlap between those two items.

    Groceries, which I control, are very good. We were spending close to $300 a week; I've got it down to $200 including interim top-up shops.

    All in all...B-? At least I know now what a realistic amount to budget is. Unfortunately what it means is that we have a surplus of only $500/month (split across all savings goals but discounting emergency funds) which is not going to get me to my goal or even remotely close.
    MFW diary here. 1 Feb 2017 $229,371 - MFD Feb 2043 aiming for May 2028
    1 June 2017 $221,986.42
    • Treadingonplaymobil
    • By Treadingonplaymobil 1st May 17, 6:10 AM
    • 669 Posts
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    Treadingonplaymobil
    It's interesting, and I think a lot of people find this to be the case when they start budgeting seriously (here and on the Debt Free board I see this a lot) - we think we have far more spare money than we do. And then we start budgeting and it seems like every month there's an unexpected expense that puts us back to the starting line. And really, the answer is that that money - the unexpected expense money - was just never available to be spent anyway. We underestimate how much we have to play with and it takes a long time to accept how little left over there really is.
    Originally posted by armchairexpert
    This x1,000,000 for me at the minute! It feels like there should be lots of flex in our budget (one good income, one variable but ok income, lower housing costs than we've had for years), but actually there is always something to throw the budget off. Our lesson for April is, I think, to expect that and budget for it, rather than to keep hoping for a month where it doesn't happen.
    £67,031.92 is a frightening number indeed... The debt free diary of one family and their enormous debt
    LBM debt on 12th Feb 2017/DFD: £58,608.13/1st Dec 2026
    debt on 6th June 17/DFD: £56,025.55/1st March 2025
    • Tahlullah
    • By Tahlullah 1st May 17, 9:27 AM
    • 679 Posts
    • 4,257 Thanks
    Tahlullah
    I have to agree. I have been looking at the budget over the weekend and somehow, cannot find any money to use for overpayments. Once the bills are accounted for, and I begin to budget for the unexpected, which isn't really unexpected, I was just hoping it wouldn't happen, I have no money left and so am left scrabbling for small change.

    Well, at least you now now. Good luck will going forward. The small bits add up and make a difference.
    Striving to be mortgage free.
    • armchairexpert
    • By armchairexpert 3rd May 17, 4:09 AM
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    armchairexpert
    Thank you! Yes, after a night of having imaginary defensive conversations in my head about how I'm trying my best already and nobody can expect me to live on less, blah blah, I've decided to not make my life quite so miserable.

    Our finances also have a built in safety valve, which we've been relying on too much in the past years, which is that we get a hefty tax deduction at the end of the year (tax year is 30 June here) because the rental property makes such a huge loss: last year it was around $8,000. Previously, I've decided that as long as we break even during the year, that tax return counts as our annual OP. What happened last year, though, is that we didn't break even; we slowly ate back into the LOC and used up the tax return.

    What that means is that even if we do only break even this time around, or make tiny payments, we still have that lump sum due sometime in the next few months. $8k/year is not going to pay off my $220k mortgage, obviously (remember, it's IO), but I've been ignoring it and trying to do the OPs without taking it into account and that's not working. Time for new calculations!
    MFW diary here. 1 Feb 2017 $229,371 - MFD Feb 2043 aiming for May 2028
    1 June 2017 $221,986.42
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