Saving for a whole year off – income cut, not lifestyle cut

We are one semester in on our first year on 80% of our income. Seven semesters to go. 

We have saved for 6 weeks’ pay – at 80% of our current income. 

Someone pointed out we miss out on pay rises. Well yes. But if we kept working we’d miss out on the year off. 

And given inflation and current increases in pay, this is probably a financially good time to do the Deferred Salary Scheme. 

One of our goals was that we would not have a lifestyle cut for the next four years. 

Not that we’re greedy and want it all. Just that we don’t want to feel pain or live a cold and gloomy life for four years just to have a year off. 

So that means we still want to eat out occasionally. We still want to catch up with friends. We still want to eat yummy dinners  most nights – not forgoing nice steaks for cheap snags and mince. We still want to travel in term breaks and go on overseas holidays. We still want to pay off our mortgage. We still want to buy clothes and nice stuff. Mr S still wants (and bought) the last Australian made Holden Commodore. I want work done on the house and garden. I want to go to French lessons. We still want to help our offspring out here and there. Mr S needs expensive dental implants. 

Oh dear! It does sound greedy, as if we aren’t prepared to make sacrifices. 

But we are. 

OK, I’ll be the first to admit that the biggest cut has been to overpaying our mortgage. We are still paying more than the minimum, but not smashing it. 

However, we are making other cuts. Things that make a difference to the bottom line but don’t make much of an impact on our life. 

Over the next four years I will share some of our money saving tips that don’t cut into lifestyle. 

Tip one: menu plan and shop fortnightly. We write our menu plan for a fortnight and shop for the fortnight. (With an ocassional top-up of fruit and veg in between.)

This stops dropping into the supermarket for something and picking up one or two or more things you just have to have but never planned to buy. 

Menu planning also stops you buying food items you don’t need. (OK, this doesn’t always work, especially if I send Mr S. So if you are like him and put too many veggies in the trolley or grab things that catch your eye, you will end up with waste. So stick to the list and buy just enough.)

Our menu plan also includes “catch and kill your own” nights, ie left-over nights. There’s always a curry that feeds more or a night when not everyone is home. We don’t toss left-overs. They become another dinner. Anyway, curries and stews are always nicer if left for a few days. 

When you menu plan, make sure you can use up ingredients in different meals. For example if a recipe calls for a sprinkling of fresh coriander, which you can only buy by the bunch, pick another meal that uses fresh coriander. 

If we did t plan, every night would be more stressful. What are we going to cook? Do we need to pick something up from the supermarket? Could we be bothered? Should we just eat out?

So by menu planning we save money and stress. 

I could share a menu plan, but sometimes the shorthand we use for the dinner means little to others. For example, Mr S makes a much-loved korma based curry called Hurry Curry. He made it up. There’s no written recipe. But we know it has chicken, corn, carrots and peas. Trust me, it is delicious.

Or my dish, called Mum’s pasta dish, (as in son: “What’s for tea?” Dad: “Mum’s making her pasta dish.”) is different veggies, depending on what we have to hand and a tomatoey sauce with pasta and grated cheese. 

We like variety so try to have different meat and different types of meals. We do have regular favourites. And different ones for winter and summer. Wraps with BBQ chicken kebabs are a summer fav. But who wants a wrap in winter? No, warming stews and curries are winter fare. 

Whatever you like eating, planning for a fortnight means you only have the stress of deciding what to cook once a fortnight. Not every night. And you save money. 

What a lifestyle and wallet win!!!


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