I'm both good and bad at budgeting. I'm the kind of person who, despite having terrible maths skills, will stand at the supermarket shelf for ages and calculate which item is cheaper to buy. So I might save 3 cents by buying a bit tin of tomatoes instead of two little ones. But then having saved 3 cents, I'll go and spend 3 dollars on chocolate!
It's taken me the last 5 or so years of marriage to get good at budgeting. In fact, I'd only really say I've developed a system that I'm happy with this year. I've tried budgets before, but they always seem to fall down. There was too much record keeping, or difficulties with getting things confused. The idea of a cash and envelopes budget appealed because of the simplicity, but in reality it was too much effort to get all the right denominations of cash, and impractical with two people.
(you can stop reading here if you aren't interested in learning about about budgeting)
So I did a little research about budgeting. Different systems appealed for different reasons. I liked the stackbacks one (the premise is, you should only have to figure things out once and then not think about it). I also liked the very sensible zero based budget. I already had a really well designed spreadsheet and had worked out what we needed to spend on each category. The problem was sticking to it!
So, here's what I came up with:
You have two bank accounts (A and B). A is the master account. Everything comes into this account, and bills are paid from it. It is really important that your pay comes into here. This account accumulates money (to pay bills, to ship off to a special saving account if you want to, to save up for stuff etc). But, here's the really important bit: you don't have keycard access to this account (or if you do it shouldn't be your primary account).
Account B is what your keycard is linked to. Every week you get a living allowance put into here (paid to you from account A). The living allowance is all the stuff you regularly spend, food, petrol, pocket money etc. You don't have to keep track of this money or worry about how much you're spending on what, you just spend it until it's gone (seems to work ok with two people, as long as there's a bit of communication and as long as we take out our pocket money in cash early in the week - or it's gone!) I mean, if you go out for dinner every night, you'll hardly need to spend anything on groceries. If decide to drive around a lot, you'll have to eat less extravagantly. But generally from experience you know roughly how much you need to spend on stuff. When its gone, it's gone.
The good thing about this budget is there's not much you actually have to do. There's minimal data entry (the money adding up in and being spent in account A in your budget categories should be tracked on a spreadsheet but this isn't very hard because you don't spend it very often). The budget doesn't fall apart if you don't do anything (unlike ones where you write everything down) At the very least you're going to have to transfer your living allowance into account B each week, but that is pretty easy to remember (or set up an automated thing)
Basically, it's almost foolproof. You can neglect it and it still works! So it's much easier to stick to because, in essence, you aren't really sticking to it, you're just limiting the possibility for damage.
I've been walking past the vacant shop next to Gleebooks with anticipation of late. It's not very often a planning permit notice catches your eye, however the word Chocolateria probably doesn't come up very often on a council permit notice.
So it started with the planning notice, then all the busy construction work inside, finally a sign: San Churros Chocolateria. Yesterday it all came together when we were walking past after a lovely dinner with Matt and Mel. Full as we were, and despite the late hour, it was not possible to walk past the golden glow of the open Chocolateria.
So I haven't been to any of those other places like Max Brenner or Lindt or Coco Black so I've got to say, from total inexperience, that this is the best. Well for a start it's called a Chocolateria. Go on, say it: Chocolateria! Mmmm.
Suffice to say, it was awesome! (Not cheap, but quite do-able especially as a couple could share one hot chocolate cos they're pretty large and very rich) Plus, we had great company!
It was lovely to see Matt and Mel, who were on they way to QLD for a holiday. It was a pity they couldn't stay for longer, but I certainly won't begrudge them relaxation on tropical beaches!
Well, waddya know - nothing works better! I even compared it with proper brand bathroom cleaner and Exit Mould. The homebrand fabric stain remover is way cheaper and works better on our 70 year old enamel than all the rest. Plus it makes the taps nice and shiny too.
*I'm not sure if I have to credit it or not, but the photo is from Stock Exchange: http://www.sxc.hu
Anyway, Aldi's got some good specials this week. In among the men's toiletry sets and car accessories packs (ah, it must be that time of year again) They have a poker set and a cement mixer! Tempting, but maybe not. Our next item on the 'fun things to buy list' is a Greek cookbook. First it was Moroccan, lately it's been Italian, but we're pretty keen to try Greek.
At the moment we're sick. I was going to say 'I'm sick' but I just got a call from Nick and he's coming home from college early cos he's feeling rotten too. I think it's just a bad cold. I got a nasty sore throat last night and my head it all clogged up but it's no way near as bad as the flu we had mid-year. Still, I think some rest in bed is best.
So we left at 7pm, just after dinner. We went to Newtown, got the video then stopped by our local shopping centre on the way home. Thing is, the whole trip took 2 hours.
The other Tassie guys told us so when we first got here, but I really understand them now. Living in Sydney, whether you have a car or not... things just take longer here. It's more of a hassle to go out and get stuff. It really makes me appreciate how in Hobart you can just jump in the car and go grab something from the shops.
Last night was the college Revue. It was awesome, but it went for about 3 hours! It was stinking hot with everybody crammed into the hall (smelled like a school social by the end). It's amazing to see the talents that people have - and the courage to get up and entertain. Most of it was comedy, but even the few serious acts were a cool insight into a side of the person you don't normally get to see.
|Sydney||15°||A few showers.|
|Melbourne||16°||Fog then fine.|
|Perth||19°||Shower or two.|
|Adelaide||19°||Fine. Mostly sunny.|
Yes! Go Hobart!!
We have a test this week for Greek. It's on a bunch of exceptions of common words. Studying for this test pretty much means memorising a sheet with about 30x5 boxes. It's not hard, just a bit laborious.
Even though Greek is looming I've been focusing on Hebrew for the last couple of weeks. It's still so unfamiliar it often feels like a guessing game. We had our first Hebrew translation class on Friday and I think it helped lift everyone's spirits a bit. It's nice to be reminded of the reason we began. We translated Genesis 3:1-3 and guess what? It says pretty much exactly what you read in your translations!
With our third term more than halfway through already it feels like we're on the home straight. I've started thinking about exams and for the first time in my life I'm beginning to get prepared for them before the end of SWATVAC. I've downloaded the doctrine past exam papers and this week I'm going to start on some summaries. I'm going to need to learn to write with a pen again too.
But... it must be done well. It must be milky and sweet, but sweet with honey. It should be full flavoured but not tangy or full or rubbish like lumps of ginger. Good foam is important too. (Mikey, I understand now and I admit that Heidi was wrong, the home-frother-contraption-thing was not meant to be!).
You can tell a really good Chai because the milk will have been frothed separately and the foam is delicately flavoured with honey.
A sprinkle of cinnamon sugar is nice (note I say cinnamon sugar, not cinnamon - just as a cappucino has chocolate sprinkles not bitter cocoa powder)
And I must say one more thing: It should not, under any circumstances, be served in a bloody teapot. Teapots are for tea, not lattes. If you asked for a cafe latte they would not serve it in a teapot, because they would know that you asked for it because you like milk and foam. And milk and foam are two things that get trapped in teapots! Oh, the lovely foam - you try and scrape it out with your spoon and you get a mouthful of tealeaves! PLHRRR!
It's all just too messy. What were they thinking? Do they expect me to suck it out the spout or something?!!!
A good chai should soothe the nerves, calm the palate and bring peace to your inner being. Chai is an antidote to life in Newtown. And where can one find this miraculous beverage, this elixir of relaxation?
Urban Bites, King St Newtown. Far and away The Best Chai Around.
Even with the best of intentions, the way we raise, train, listen to, and even parent our children today exhibits attitudes and behaviors that are simply subtle forms of parental abandonment.
Chap Clark goes on to write,
"What is interesting is that many adults will highlight these and other activities as proof of their commitment to their young. ‘I drive my kid to all of these activities. I sacrificed my own life, work, vocation, and enjoyment in order to take these kids to soccer games, concerts, and competitions.' This statement is in and of itself yet another subtle form of abandonment. We have evolved to the point where we believe driving is support, being active is love, and providing any and every opportunity is selfless nurture. We are a culture that has forgotten how to be together." (Hurt: Inside the World of Today's Teenagers)
I guess it was that last sentence that really resonated: "We are a culture that has forgotten how to be together"
After dinner we decided to go buy ice-cream and come home to watch the final disc of Alias Season 5. We sat and ate cookies and cream ice-cream (mmm, yum) and watched what turned out to be the final single episode (thought it was all coming together a bit fast!)
It was a lovely night, really nice to just take a break out of the usual routine, take the time to hang out and talk together and do nice things. We're so thankful that God provides for us in every way, even through the generosity of others making nice things like this possible.
I've also just heard My Guitar by Ghostface. This track is awesome, if you're into the Wu at all you need to check it out.
Also, the other day I discovered this song by Jay-Z. It was put out in 1994, a couple of years before his first album. That boy has skills.
Those thoughts were going through my head the other night when Bron and I read Proverbs 16:21.
"The wise in heart are called discerning,
and pleasant words promote instruction."
It struck me that it's relatively easy to be a 'good' preacher, speak the truth and encourage Christians. It's much harder to speak 'pleasant words' to promote instruction so that people who don't agree can be won over to see the truth. That's what I need to pour my effort into, speaking so that I'm not just communicating to those who are already sympathetic but so that those who don't agree can have the best chance to hear and believe.
I blame looking funny on the pies we had for lunch. That's why Mel looks so good - all she ate was salad.
It's 4 days in to my trial of Facebook. So far it's kind of cool but frustrating. I hate the kitsch stuff like gardens and graffiti and "presents". I like how easy it is to use and how great it is for keeping in touch with people. I like the applications, and the fact that you can upload pictures so easily. It has a good level of, not sure how to express this - connectability. But, it does feel a bit boxy. It's all about putting little bits of yourself into boxes. Even the graffiti is contained! Anyway, if it drives me to real creativity that's a good thing hey.
When it comes to music, I tend to have whirlwind romances - brief but intense. At the moment I'm loving Regina Spektor (thanks Emma for introducing me!) and I'm even more loving the fact that her website plays all of her music (and has been doing so for me since yesterday lunchtime!)
It's so good to have Nick back. He says the camp went well - I'll let him fill you in on the details. It feels like life is back to normal. Funny, but I reckon we're definitely settled in Sydney now. It's taken about 6 months, I guess. I even drove up to the North Shore last night to pick him up. Driving in Sydney is a little bit more complicated! It's not getting lost that's the problem - I found my way from our place, over the bridge, up the right highways and to the right suburb without the map. Oh no, the real terror of Sydney driving is the tollways. I see one of those big blue signs suddenly looming, and before I know it, I'm swerving onto the exit lane!
Glebe Markets are a bit girly, so I took advantage of the opportunity today and went by myself. Somehow the Glebe Markets manage to combine the hippie-ness of Salamanca Market, with the high quality trendy-ness of Paddington Markets all in one. It's full of stuff that you would actually buy, and could actually afford! (just not all of it!)
I have a question for the ladies: when your spouse/partner is away, do you turn into a bit of a bachelor? I'm guessing none of the ladies would deign to eat spaghetti cold from the can, or forkfuls of tinned beans or rice on toast with tomato sauce... but, I still reckon we all turn into a bit of a slob when our significant other is away. So far this weekend I've managed to eat ravioli for every meal (yes - brunch included!). I was such a slob with the dishes that the only thing I had to eat my custard with was a plastic fork, and I did quite enjoy going to bed when I wanted to (2:30am).
Still, a hot water bottle at the foot of the bed is no replacement for my wonderful husband! I will be glad when he's back tomorrow.
I have no idea what book we'll start next. I guess we have to finish reading Cloud Atlas first. We cast it aside just over half way through so we could read HP. I think that books for reading aloud need good pacing, they need to be the kind of books that it's quite hard to put down. But not so 'un-putdownable' that every chapter ends on a cliff-hanger or we'll never get any sleep!
Nick has already read:
- The Lord of the Rings Trilogy
- The Narnia Chronicles
- The Day of the Triffids
- Catch 22
- Pride and Prejudice
and others I can't remember right now
Yeah, grated onion is nasty! But the Kevtethes were awesome and made the goggles well worthwhile. Here's the recipe:
500g beef mince
1 cup breadcrumbs
1 grated onion
juice of 1 lemon
2 tbl chopped flat leaf parsley
1 tbl mint
2 tsp salt
6 cloves garlic, chopped
1 tin diced tomatoes
1 clove garlic, crushed
Danish fetta (to crumble on top)
Cucumber, sliced thickly to serve on the side
1. Grate the onion into a large bowl with the mince. Add in everything else and mix well.
2. Combine plain flour and breadcrumbs (about a small handful) onto a dinner plate. Roll the mince into golf-ball sized balls in your hands and then roll in flour.
3. Empty the tin of tomatoes into a small saucepan, adding the crushed garlic and salt and pepper. Simmer slowly.
4. Shallow fry the meatballs in a large frypan on medium high heat until nicely browned.
5. Serve on a plate, spoon tomato stuff over the meatballs and top with crumbled fetta. Put some cucumber on the side, drizzled with a little olive oil and maybe a tiny bit of garlic crushed into the oil (1 clove was waaaay too much!)
So, here goes:
6:30am - alarm goes off. I snooze it repeatedly until 7am.
7:00am - decide I am not feeling so great this morning (have had several big days this week already and I feel like I'm getting sick. Cancel the alarm and go back to sleep.
8:00am - wake up to the sounds of the building site next door. Get up and muck around getting ready for a while. Realise that not only have I missed the first class, I'm also not going to be in time for Chapel. Decide to aim to arrive at College for morning tea.
9:30am - walk to College. I walk through the quieter streets, and across the Uni. It's much nicer than going along the main roads and a bit more direct. I still can't get used to the traffic fumes and avoid them whenever I can. It was quite a nice walk this morning. Normally I'm catching the bus because I have to be at College at 8am and I'm always running late.
10:00 - arrive at College and scoff some morning tea. I get my first hot chocolate for the day from the coffee machines (it's free, and a good way to fill up because we don't have lunch till 1pm) I head upstairs when the bell is rung and take a seat in the big lecture theater, ready for Doctrine.
10:20 to 11:10 - Doctrine was excellent, we spent pretty much the whole hour in a question and answer session. Apparently the first lecture was really good - pity I missed it.
11:15 to 12:05 - Church History. I love history, but I really struggle with Church History because in the lectures we are given full text notes and then the lecturer just reads them out to us. This is such a dry way of presenting material, I have to try pretty hard not to resent it.
12:05 to 1:00pm - I have a free. I could go and do my library duty (I have to do half an hour of shelving books a week) but I decide to sit in the sun instead and knit. Dan and Miranda are having lunch on the grass and invite me to join them (2nd and 3rd years have lunch at 12pm, we have our lunch with the 4th years at 1pm). It's lovely to hang with D&M, but watching them eat is hard cos I'm really hungry by this stage
1:00 to 2:00pm - Lunch! Yay! We have a sort of chicken schnitzel thing, very delicious and I have some green salad and some cous cous salad to go with it. Wednesdays I have lunch with the girls from my prayer group; Liv, Sian and Kate. We eat lunch together and then sit out on the grass and talk and pray together.
2:15 to 3:00pm - I generally try and get some work done between lunch and afternoon tea. Today I head to the library and work on a 10 minute talk I'm doing tomorrow for our Women's Chaplaincy group. I also have a go at a book review assignment I'm doing for Doctrine. Normally I don't like studying in the library or the study room - I find it easier to focus in places that are not designed for study. But since my PDA died, I have to go to the library if I want to use a computer.
3:00 - Afternoon tea! Wonderful! There were homemade butternut snap cookies and a chocolate fudge slice. Pete said that I should learn how to make the chocolate slice because if I did, Nick would love me more! I think that is supposed to praise the slice, not cast aspersions on my repertoire of sweet cooking ;)
3:15 - I'm pretty stuffed, decide to walk home. Once I get home I'll muck around on the computer (the fruits of which you are now reading) then do a bit of washing and washing up. I'd better get a start on dinner because Nick will be home around 5:30. Tonight we're having greek meatballs baked in tomato with potatoes. It's called Kevtethes (sp?) and it's something Miranda made for us ages ago. After dinner I'll finish off the talk for tomorrow and then hopefully Nick will read more Harry Potter for me - we're about 3/4 of the way through.
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- Too Cute!
- Imaginatively Titled: Budget
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- What should I do with these?
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- 7 days, 607 pages later
- Step One: Grate the Onions
- A Day in the Life
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