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Frugal Living: The Guaranteed Expenses

As a family with children living on one income requires creativity, ingenuity and frugality.   There have been periods in our marriage that have required complete frugality and other periods where we have had some ‘wiggle room’.   Choosing to living on a single income with a large family in today’s world can be a challenge but it can be done.

Currently we are in one of our ‘complete frugality’ periods, thus I’ve been taking a fresh and closer look at ways in which to ‘stretch the dollar’.  Even though we have lived on a single income our entire married life and are well versed in living a frugal life, I was pleasantly surprised to find further ways in which to economise.  Gathered from many years of living frugally I have plenty of suggestions and tips to share, therefore rather than write an epic post my plan is to share several posts on ‘Money Matters’.  For more tips be sure to check out Haley’s posts on, Growing a Family on One Income. Haley often reminds me of my younger self, her first tip is being a one car family. Having thrived as a one car family for the first eight years of our marriage I attest to all Haley shares.

By guaranteed expenses I refer to; mortgages/rent, rates, insurances, electricity/gas, phone and car expenses.  Those bills that are guaranteed to come in monthly/tri-montly/yearly, you know how much they will be and the cost expected is fixed, or is it?  In our recent economising we took another look at our assumption and began researching and challenging this belief.

Mortgages –  The disheartening fact is, paying a high interest on your mortgage or a large mortgage means you do not make much ‘headway’ with your actual principal.  With the unstable world financial crisis today,  the possibility of soaring interest rates is real.  Investigating the possibility of a fixed interest rate could be beneficial to you.  Interest rates in Australia are currently rather decent, a fixed interest rate not only guarantees just how much interest you will be paying for a set time, but gives you a huge peace of mind.

Insurances – The type of insurances considered essential varies from family to family.  House, farm, pubic liability, personal property, fire, flood, theft, life, income, health, ambulance cover, car are amongst the many insurances available.  Make certain the insurance you choose meets your needs, read the fine print, be certain what your insurance covers, in a flood for example your home may not be covered.  It is extremely worthwhile to ‘do your homework’,  research who will give you the ‘best deal’ for the best price.

Electricity/Gas – Electricity and gas in Australia is skyrocketing, and set to soar even more!!!  This was an area for us that we economised well in.  After ringing various electricity companies (and researching which were reputable) we switched companies and are now paying 15% less than we were!! Ring around for competitive gas prices too.
Reducing your charge rate is not the only was to economise with electricity and gas, reduce your usage too.  Don’t use the dryer, hang your washing, switch your computers onto standby through the day when not using.  Switch off power points and unplug electricals through the night.  Turn off lights and fans when not in use.  Use your appliances at off peak times as much as possible. When buying new appliances buy energy saving appliances.  Last week when our super heavy water and power usage washing machine died we replaced it with a front loader that is very economical.

Phone – As with the electrical, gas and insurance companies it pays to ring various phone companies for competitive pricing.  If you’re very happy with the service of your current provider and want to stay with them, do ‘your homework’, ring, explain your needs (ie internet usage, mobile phones, long distance calls etc) and ask them what is the best deal they can do for you.  You can share others are trying to woo you away but you wish to stay loyal, they will offer you deals to keep you I assure you.

Car Expenses – Begin by ascertaining just how many cars you really need.  Haley makes a great case for surviving as a one car family, having been a one car family for 8 years I can attest to all she shares.  Perhaps you can survive with no car? I know families who do so, location though does play a part in that success.  Do you really need to upgrade, does your car have to be a status symbol or can you do with the cheaper model? Can you downsize to a more fuel efficient model?
We’ve already discussed insurances and the benefits of checking out various companies.  Registration alas is fixed, but what about maintenance and running costs?  Regular maintenance makes a difference in the overall performance of your vehicle/s.  Is this something you can do yourselves?  Changing your oil regularly and air filter when needed not only extend the life of your car but improve your mileage.  What petrol are you purchasing? We stopped buying cheaper, unleaded petrol a while back and began buying V-power and noticed an improvement in our petrol consumption, we are now getting more kilometres to the litre. The cost per kilometer is better and the vehicle is getting better quality fuel.
Do you need to use your car as often as you do, can you delay trips and combine when you really need to travel.  If in town can you walk, ride to many places?

Do you have further tips and suggestions on how to economise the ‘guaranteed expenses’?

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