thread: High income to pension.

  1. #1
    Registered User

    Dec 2007

    High income to pension.

    Could have put this in a few places, but here is good as the main thing I am after is maybe some tips or experiences from others hopefully...

    We have been living on a "high income" for most of the last 5 years. There have been periods where DH has been unemployed for LONG periods but we have always had some savings, we lived off my inheritance for a while and when DH wasn't working, we were able to get some CL assistance with PPP and PPL with DD2.

    We had no debts - aside the mortgage, no credit cards, no personal loans since 2008. We had a fairly low cost of living in comparison to others I see, especially around the boards here for example.

    Anyway, since DH and I separated, and I have moved back to Melbourne, I am really having a hard time adjusting to the MASSIVE drop in income I have. I am now on a single parenting pension and the difference is astronomical (dur). I am paying more rent a week than we paid on our mortgage (shared equity), my internet/phone/mobile is costing me 3 times as much, and I now have a MASSIVE ($1000k) mobile bill to pay off because of huge stuff arounds with both Telstra and Vodafone .
    I have the girls 24/7 as ex is still in Perth, so although he is paying CS (which ALL goes on my rent each month) I am with them all the time - so my "entertainment" budget pays for my Foxtel (LOL, so sad!).
    By far though the biggest increase has been the cost of food. We have been shopping 75% of our groceries from The Spud Shed for 6 years - and having come back I am finding it a really difficult thing to find fruit/veg etc anywhere near as cheaply as I am used to. (Treking back and forth from markets with the girls on PT is really a pain, and having to drive around to 3 or 4 or 5 different places to "shop around" is costing me a fortune in petrol, negating any savings at all.
    I have a TINY freezer and a TINY fridge, so even if I had the capacity to buy bulk and cook up etc, I have nowhere to store it. Trying to save for an upright freezer now, but a few things ahead of it on the list taking priority.

    That is a lot of *****ing! LOL I am not destitute, there are so so SO many people worse off than I, and I am lucky that my ex isn't being a tool about CS and has a good job and supports us so well. So this isn't a woe is me post, I suppose I am really wondering if anyone has any little tips they used to help get them into the low income groove?
    How long did it take you to get accustomed to NOT buying a coffee when out, or not taking the kids for an icecream when you feel like it? I am having to budget a $40 trip to the play centre 4 weeks in advance to make sure I can afford it, and I am so not used to having to micromanage the budget like that.

    I have been very blessed in my life, and DH and I worked hard to make sure we had the money to do the things we wanted and give the girls what we could. Getting used to this is much more difficult than I thought it would be.

  2. #2

    Jun 2010
    District Twelve

    Just responding to one part of your post....Ring Good Shepherd Youth and Family Service and enquire about a NILS loan. It is an interest free loan for brand new whitegoods, etc for people exactly in your situation. They will also be able to get you a much better deal on whatever model you are after than you could get as an independent purchaser.

    They will work with you to determine a really good (ie. comfortable for you) pay back rate. It may just help you get ahead.

  3. #3

    Nov 2007

    It really is a learning curve, isn't it! I think the worst part is thinking back to what you had, how much money you had and what you did with it, and knowing you probably wouldn't spend have spent it like that if you knew then what you know now.

    One of the biggest helps we've found is adding up the bills you know about in advance - utilities, rego, rates, that kind of thing - and working out how much to save from every payment and then keeping it aside. That way you don't get hit with huge bills (hopefully!)

    Is there a delivery service you can use, so you don't need to go out with the girls? I can only imagine how exhausting that must be

    With meals, I always add the cheap frozen veg to pasta/rice dishes, to make it go further.

    WRT Foxtel, do you actually get to watch it? Think about how often you use it, it may not even be worth the expense.

    Telstra & Vodafone - I don't understand this, if it's their stuff up, why do you hafta pay it?

    Icecream for the girls - Macca's soft serve cones are 30c each now, you could all go out for less than a dollar - assuming you have one close by

    On a personal note, we were quite poor when I was growing up, and my sisters and I never really noticed. In fact, I didn't notice how little we had until I met Professor, and learned about the things he had growing up, with his Dad on a $100k annual wage. Kids don't notice these things, so don't have that particular thought in your head

  4. #4
    Registered User

    Oct 2009
    Bonbeach, Melbourne

    Definitely agree with N2L. The biggest place to cut back and save (and the biggest expense I've found) is food! Meal planning and shopping in weekly or fortnightly shops will save you loads, so I definitely think a bigger freezer is priority if you can qualify for that loan.

  5. #5
    Registered User
    Add Little Chicken on Facebook

    Mar 2010

    Where abouts are you in Melbourne? I used to do all my fruit and veg shopping at the prston markets. Could do it all for a family of four for around $30 - $40 a week/10 days. I find them cheaper then the Queen Vic or South Melbourne due to the fact they are definately not a tourist market. You see lots of Greek and Italian grandmothers out there. Use Aldi to do your main shop. They are significantly cheaper then others, especially for basics.

  6. #6
    Senior Moderator

    Nov 2004

    Food etc:
    - Meal plan, meal plan, meal plan.
    - Don't buy ANYTHING in a packet (unless it's flour, sugar or staples). Baking biscuits/cakes is such fun with little kids - it's an activity as well as making food.
    - Buy frozen vegies. They're easy and stretch for longer.
    - Home brand EVERYTHING.
    - Long life milk - it's cheaper ($0.99L) than normal.
    - There is NOTHING wrong with a tin of tuna, a can of tomatoes, pasta and frozen vegies for dinner. Total of about $3 a meal. So that's $1 each.
    - Bolognese sauce is awesome and goes a long way. Buy cheap mince from the butcher, not the supermarket. Spag bol day 1. Turn the sauce into lasagne on Day 2. And on day 3 (provided it's been in the fridge) add some gravox and turn it into a pie. Cheap and cheerful.
    - Meat is the most expensive thing you can buy. Try to have 2-3 vegetarian days a week.
    - Rice crackers are awesome snacks and they're $0.99 a packet. Have them with carrots and some homemade dip. Cheap lunch.
    - Basa fillets ($5.99 a kilo on special at Safeway on occasion) are fantastic. They're about $1.50 each. Slice them in to strips, roll straight into Home Brand breadcrumbs ($1.19 a packet) - don't worry about eggs and flour as they're already moist enough. Spray with olive oil spray (home brand) and bake for 10 mins or so. Home made and healthy fish fingers. With home made chippies - you can get an entire meal for the kids, (pretend "takeaway") for less than $5.
    - Home made pizzas with flatbread are also fabulous.
    - Avoid ALL takeaway - it's the most expensive thing you can buy. Including coffee

    Games/activities/things to do:
    You don't need a playcentre. They weren't around when we were kids - it's called the Big Outdoors. Try geocaching as an activity if you want fun things to do.
    Check out your local Council for things like "neighbourhood houses" - they often have fabulous activities for free.
    Join your local Toy Library and book library. They often have DVDs to loan, saving you the Foxtel subscription.
    Go on outdoors adventures with the kids - let's find a new playground today.

  7. #7

    Oct 2004
    In my Zombie proof fortress.

    It is hard and I still struggle keeping on top of the little expenditures when out and about with the kids. I am in a situation now where we have more money, but still need to keep some control over it.

    Totally get you on the driving around to save money. Have that situation where I live. I try and look at what I need, then work out the best place to shop based on that.
    If out with the girls, then I just suck it up and let them order what I know they will eat, rather than what I would prefer them to eat. Nothing worse than spending the money and then they don't eat it, then complain later about being hungry. Often I would not order for myself, except maybe a coffee and just rely on what they did eat to feed myself (not doable so much these days, as they do eat more).

    I still have the memory of when we first moved to Melbourne and not affording to go and grab a coffee.

  8. #8
    Registered User

    Mar 2008
    North Northcote

    food is the biggie too i reckon. Avoid the Big Two supermarkets like the plague for your main shop. Seriously just go in for the cheap milk and bread. we do alot of ALDI and after alot of research for our family it was cheaper to get a fruit/vege box delivered. you dont choose the contents, but it does keep life interesting lol.

    Meal planning is key. Can be a PITA to get organised but once you have the knack it is totally awesome, it streamlines shopping too.

  9. #9

    Jun 2010
    District Twelve

    I have to declare an interest here (DP works for Woolworths) but it's not right that Aldi is cheaper. Compare like with like and they are on par and often cheaper. Aldi is the equivalent of generic or homebrand products. So if you buy the equivalent at Coles or Woolworths (Preferably Woolworths - mumma needs some new shoes ) you will find you are not paying extra. It also helps to look out for specials (obviously ) and buy meat, etc when it is on clearance at the end of the day.

  10. #10
    Registered User

    Dec 2005
    Melbourne, Vic

    Being on single parent pension you shouldve got a concession card so don't forget to contact ur electricity/ gas/ car rego for discounts. Also the museum and scienceworks are free entry with the card too.
    Good idea above with contacting to try get bigger fridge, the best thing I do is cooking and freezing meals. As its just me and 2 small girls we don't eat all that much so meals do go far.

  11. #11
    Registered User

    Dec 2007
    Sunny Qld

    I've found that because we are on such a low income (I'm a SAHM on PPP, and DH is on austudy, which is $442 a fortnight - so really low!) its so hard to keep to a budget.

    So I've done up a budget, and my aim was to put aside each fortnight what we need to pay etc - and then when a bill comes in, I'd have the money there. Nuh, didn't work like that, because I can only put a little bit aside, I was reaching into other money to pay for stuff.

    So now - and people will probably hit me over the head - we live off our credit card, and I pay it off every fortnight when we get paid. My rent gets taken out automatically from my account before I pay anything. Any bills that come in are paid off by bpay and then I transfer the rest of the money over to the credit card. Most fortnights its completely paid off. This fortnight it wasn't because we had DD1's birthday and spent more money than we would have liked.

    You have to be really strict though, we only buy food, clothes and stuff for the car. If I want anything extra, I sell something to pay for it (or sometimes I'm lucky and my mum slides me $50 and I buy new cookbooks for example heehee!). Its so hard on the limited money that we have to pay for everything.

    But for food - I have been shopping at Coles and I go over the food budget every bloody week. So this week I'm going to the markets tomorrow to buy my fresh stuff, going to a discount meat place to buy my meat, and then Aldi - and then if I still don't have all my stuff - i'm going to coles or woolies.

    Is there anyone near you that can go to the market for you and pick stuff up? i'd do it if you lived near me - so thats a possibility for you - move to Queensland

  12. #12
    Registered User

    Jul 2012

    We made the choice for DH to be a stay at home Dad to our daughter. It was a huge drop to our family income. Money is tight right now and we have had to cut our ridiculous food budget by 60% to be able to make ends meet. We were spending ridiculous amounts on groceries.

    My best tip is to shop online. We use Woolworths Online because they are the only ones that delivery to our area. Coles do it too and they have Click and Collect. You pick it all online and collect it from the store at a time nominated by you. Shopping online means you stick within your budget. I've only had a problem with one order of avocados and, when I called, they refunded the cost of them because they were overripe. Also, they have all of the specials online too. Delivery costs are $0-$13 depending how much you spend. They also include freebies/samples sometimes.

  13. #13
    Registered User

    Aug 2006
    On the other side of this screen!!!

    Ok, so you can live well and cheaply, but it often requires a bit of time and planning.

    My big tip - get the "infrastructure" you need to support your low-cost outings. Start with a good quality stainless steel travel mug and make yourself a nice coffee/chai latte (or whatever) before you leave the house (I got mine @ the health food shop, and if you preheat the mug with boiling water before you add the hot drink it stays hot for hours). Get a collection of good qual drink bottles, and make some drinks for the kids before you leave. In summer I keep a supply ready in the fridge/freezer. Have a good medium-sized lightweight backpack to carry them in, and add a waterproof picnic rug so you can just stop wherever and enjoy the outdoors.

    I agree with the PP who suggested doing whatever you could to get a bigger freezer on board. The savings to both time and money if you cook in batches and freeze, then you have an endless supply of yummy dinners you can just pull out when you CBF'd. It also means that you can do a big veggie shop at the markets less often when you're planning to have a cook-up, rather than schlepping there every week/fortnight. It also means you can buy what you cook with when it's in season, eg, we're still eating yum pumpkin soup that we made back in March when pumpkin was 90c a kilo, whereas now it's nearly $4/kg. We save yoghurt tubs to freeze things in.

    Learn to love pasta/rice/couscous. And tuna. And pasta with tuna. LOL. Also, experiment with the wonderful world of frozen veggies. Not so much on your dinner plate, but if you use them in your soups/casseroles etc they can be excellent (just respect that they've been frozen once already and keep them 'fresh' but not cooking them as long). Also mince, you can make pretty much any casserole type thing with mince instead of chunks of meat, it still tastes the same, and you'll save a fortune.

    It might be worth also thinking about getting some childcare. Even just one day a week can give you the capacity to whip through a lot of those errandy/shopping/organising type things, or you could organise your market trips around those times. It might seem counter-intuitive (as it costs more $) but if you're on a very low income you might find you're not paying much at all. And if you're efficient with that time, it can mean that you enjoy having a cafe stop occasionally with your girls, instead having to stop and feed and water everyone in the middle of trying to get whatever errand/shopping done.

  14. #14

    Oct 2004
    In my Zombie proof fortress.

    It might be worth also thinking about getting some childcare. Even just one day a week can give you the capacity to whip through a lot of those errandy/shopping/organising type things, or you could organise your market trips around those times. It might seem counter-intuitive (as it costs more $) but if you're on a very low income you might find you're not paying much at all. And if you're efficient with that time, it can mean that you enjoy having a cafe stop occasionally with your girls, instead having to stop and feed and water everyone in the middle of trying to get whatever errand/shopping done.
    Agree with that one. I find I can get so much done, with little extra expenditure, as I am on my own. Also lets me have time to check out the clearance rack for specials or to really compare pricing.
    Also childcare is entertainment for them. As they can paint, craft etc there, it means I can cut back on that type of expense at home. Plus they are also fed, which means less out of your budget

  15. #15
    Registered User

    Aug 2006
    On the other side of this screen!!!

    And re you phone/internet/mobile - there are savings to be had with these. Are you really using every penny worth of that expenditure? Think about whether it would be cheaper just to have a mobile plan and a prepaid dongle, or naked adsl and make your phone calls via the internet, for example. I don't know how much your Foxtel costs, or whether the number of hours you're using represents good value or not. We have a DVD/harddrive recorder thing, so we just tape what we want to see (free to air) and then watch it when we want. Combined with the occasional trip to the DVD store/public library DVDs (where you can hire an entire telly series for <$10) we pretty much have more good telly than we have time to watch.

  16. #16
    Registered User

    Dec 2008
    Brisbane, QLD

    Play group is cheap. Ours is run by a church and costs about $30 a year + $3 a week for craft expenses and tea/coffee.
    Parks, museums, library, places like south bank (get the bus/train), take a packed lunch.

    Food wise I found a good cheap fruit shop.
    Buy the same things from coles each week so theres no suprises at the checkout.
    No extras unless they're budgeted for. Not even a chocolate bar because they all add up very quickly.
    Take food to the shops so I dont end up buying takeaway/snacks for DS.
    And we are vegetarian. Theres lots of yummy vegetarian dishes, and many meat dishes can be changed to vegetarian by switching a few ingredients.

  17. #17

    Mar 2004

    For cheap meals try the 120dollarsfoodchallenge blog.

    Is Aussie farmers cost effective? They deliver boxes of seasonal veges and meat etc.

  18. #18
    Registered User

    Jan 2009

    Home brand EVERYTHING.
    But make sure to check out specials too - sometimes toilet paper, etc can be cheaper when on sale than the homebrand.

    Is there a bulk meat supplier that you can find in your area. Yes mince is cheap, but you can get bulk pieces of the better cuts for cheap at bulk suppliers. I often buy a whole rump - so that's anywhere from $35-50 depending on the size (at about $8/kg). They will slice for free and I will get them to leave 1/4 at the end in a piece. This can be cubed or minced (in a food processor), or used for a roast (roast can last for lots of follow up meals too). Often mince is dearer than mincing some of a better bulk cut.
    Bulk chicken can be about $6/kg too nd of course you can get really cheap sausages (though not too healthy) at these places too - $2/kg usually which would be fine for once/twice aweek.

    Of course this will depend on when you can get that freezer.