Living on a budget

An image showing a calculator and a ten euro bill to go with the post about having a budget.

In one of the previous posts, either the one where I wrote about learning about money or the one about debt, I mentioned that when Master T and I got together, I handed all financial matters over to him. This means I never do a budget, but Master T does.

How does he do it

For the first ten to twelve years we were together, Master T kept track of all incomings and outgoings in an Excel file. He wanted to know where the money went, and where we could cut on expenses. When the file crashed and all data was lost, he stopped keeping track of everything.

In a file, that is.

Master T has an incredible memory, and is perfect in planning ahead and keeping track of what upcoming expenses there are. For instance, in February hosting for this site and Wicked Wednesday is debited from our bank account. He knows this, and never forgets it. The same with taxes that has to be paid in April and in May. He always remembers that those bills will soon land on our doormat.

When the kids were still living with us, he would sometimes mention that I should hold off on buying new clothes, and mostly when I looked at him with a frown, he would remind me of the upcoming bills. Now that the kids are gone, and obviously also because of the lock-down (I don’t wander around in shops), we are keeping more money in our pockets. This reminds me, back when he still had the Excel file, we had to hand in every receipt when we went to the shops. Not only me, but the kids too. This is how Master T noticed that we have a huge monthly spending at the supermarket, because of the kids always adding extra things like chips, sweets and drinks. He told them to cut back on that, and our expenses came down dramatically.

Master T doesn’t only keep in mind any expenses, but also makes sure that money is transferred to our savings account every month.

I used to have a budget

Not budgeting now, doesn’t mean I never did before.

Master T and I got together in 2002, and I moved in with him and his daughter in 2004, with my then 16-year old son. My daughter then was 21, and didn’t move with us. Before we became a blended family, I had been a single mom for all but 6 years. There was no way I would’ve been able to get through with two kids, had I not budgeted every month.

Every month I made calculations to make sure I could pay all my bills, and buy the food we needed. Some months the contribution to school had to be paid, or the children needed new money. The latter sometimes happened unexpectedly, leaving me with more month left than my money would last. And honestly, sometimes it wasn’t because of something unexpectedly, but because I wanted to treat the kids and then we went to KFC. I always regretted that, because the end of the month and the next salary moment seemed so far off then.

Somehow, whenever I started panicking about money, and not knowing how we will get to the end of the month, money fell into my lap from somewhere. Mostly this was from the health insurance. Back then we had to send in our bills and claim your part of what you have paid back. You never knew when that money would be paid into your bank, and it seemed to always come exactly on the right time. I guess I had a little angel watching over me.

I am proud to say I never borrowed money from anyone to pay bills, buy food or something my kids needed.

Buying cheaper stuff

One of the questions May asked was:

When trying to stick to a budget do you buy charity shop goods or marked down food products?

Back when I was a single mom, I definitely bought cheaper stuff. Not always from charity shops, as those were far and in between in South Africa, but I rather went to the cheaper stores to buy furniture or clothes. Sometimes I even made my own furniture from wooden crates I have picked up from somewhere.

Oh that instantly reminded me of when we came to the Netherlands, and moved in with my mom in her two bedroomed flat. She didn’t have the money to go buy a lot of furniture for us, so she bought two camping beds for the kids. In her own bedroom she already had two single beds. She took some sturdy boxes, table clothes and pins, and she covered the boxes with the table cloths, holding them in place with the pins. Perfect tables, the same as those crates made me some gorgeous tables too. A bit of creativity goes a long way!

I still don’t like buying expensive stuff. I have six Joseph Ribkoff dresses, because they are beautiful and Master T pushed me to buy them, but I really prefer to buy dresses that are under 50 euro’s each. Actually, when they run up towards 40 euros, I already feel they are too expensive. I wear my Ribkoff dresses only on special occasions, even though four of them were bought in the sale.

And something else I like: to walk around in the charity shops over here. My first goal when the shops open again after lock-down, is to go search for a recliner for my studio.

Privileged

I know Master T and I are privileged, because we live quite comfortably, but neither of us like to waste money. When we go to the supermarket, we look for specials. Buy two, pay one? If it’s a product we use frequently, you bet that will come home with us. Products we want to use today, and they are marked down 35% – that’s the one we will buy.

With only the two of us remaining here, and despite still paying school for our youngest, we definitely are in an even more privileged position, something we will never wave in someone’s face, nor will we now start living bigger and grander. No, we are still the same people we always were, and will continue to budget, buy the specials, and put just a bit more in our savings account than we could before.

© Rebel’s Notes
Image from Pixabay


Money Matters

6 thoughts on “Living on a budget

  1. I must say I am finding all these money posts facinating – not sure what that says about me when I am meant to be writing about sex and life lol – Well money is life. I love how Mr T takes care of the finances – I do in our household and sometimes get stressed by it.
    May xx

    1. Yes, money is life too. And I am really grateful I don’t have to do the finances. I am always careful with spending money, even though I don’t know the exact numbers of what’s available to spend xox

  2. I think the key to maintaining a budget is keeping track — with ALL the receipts, like you said — of where the money goes. Writing that down, seeing it in black and white… That’s what’s needed to truly understand where the money goes, and where/how expenses can be cut.

    I am not a techie person so I avoid doing things on computers as much as possible — so no Excel files for me. But I have a budget book I use to track the details of income and expenses every year and it’s been a very helpful tool.

    1. Writing it in a book is a good thing too. But I am honestly thankful that I don’t have to worry about the budget, that Master T does it all 🙂

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