When money burns a hole in the pocket.

I have some spare money at the moment. Notice I say AT THE MOMENT. Because I can feel a shopping spree coming on. I’m trying SO HARD not to spend my lovely lovely money, because we are about to spend lots of money on the house and I need to ensure my lovely lovely money lasts all the way to February next year. I’ve not paid myself from my business since July, and I won’t pay myself from my business until I have no more money left in my transaction account.

DH and I tend to spend money when we can’t really afford big ticket items such as a new stove or fridge. We end up spending lots of money on little, less expensive items, that in total probably come up to the big ticket item. But I’m tempted to buy a new fridge this week. Our old fridge is finally not going so well, its seals are failing for the 2nd time, one of the plastic shelves has been broken for about 5 years, and it’s not big enough for a large family. Especially when adult children live at home, and we basically have a share house now.

Alternatively I could pay off the Credit Card. Now THAT’S a thought. Or I could do my tax for 2014. That’s another thought. Get more lovely lovely money from the return. Sorry for this post: I’m feeling spendy at the moment.


It has been a month since my last confession…

I’m not Catholic. Never was, despite my surname. So, apologies for stealing this confessional statement. But, wow! Hasn’t time flown!

No news is good news, right? Well….kinda. In my life this month, a bunch of stuff has been happening – mostly good, some not so good.

The new car is AWESOME. I love driving it. Tick!

My diet is TERRIBLE. But I’ve not gained any weight that I can tell. And I’m back on the straight and narrow today. Tick!

My exercise regime is LAUGHABLE. But I’m working on it. Little tick for motivational purposes.

My work life is FANTASTIC. I love my job. I have a minor yearning for some performance stuff but otherwise I have the perfect gig. Now to make it a permanent tenured position (never going to happen, but hey, a girl can dream). Tick!

My family life is WONDERFUL. I love my husband. We are easing into a lovely place – teasing yet caring, understanding of each others’ scruples but not averse to raising the eyebrow on occasion. Or the ire. I love my boys and miss them terribly but I saw them just recently and spent guilt money on them because I can. My extended family are all great and doing amazing things. Tick!

My social life is OK – could be better – I have little time to visit friends and have not called anyone lately, even though I’m a constant on FB. Bad Jessie. Must call friends and SEE them. No tick – a cross instead.

My PhD study is AWFUL. I have no time to work on it consistently, I have even less time to care about it at the moment, and I got the most horrible response back regarding the gaping flaws in my Methods Chapter. So I’m taking time off it again. Because I’m sick of it and I want a new supervisor who is pleasant and personable and who is a mentor and whose caring approach makes me want to do better. Right now I feel nothing but RAGE. No tick here. Cross.

The house renovations are SADLY in hiatus while our weekends are busy, but we are in the planning phase of the next job. If my youngest boy comes to live with us I will have to find another place to work because we can’t all fit into the house as is. And we will need to renovate the interior in order to get everyone to fit. This could be fun AND expensive. Half tick for planning, at least.

The dog is getting BETTER, calmer, and her training is going quite well. I’m a bit lazy about it and we rarely have time to do much, but she’s getting there. She’s a bit neurotic around the kids, who tend to psych her up a bit and make her jumpy. She growls at us when she is on her bed at night sleeping (with her eyes open), and we walk past. We are training her out of that, too. Half tick for perseverance and her ability to sit, drop, leave it, and sit on her mat.

Finally, our spending is a tad OUT OF CONTROL. This is what we bought yesterday. Because hubby was complaining about the poor result we were getting from our coffee machine (5 years old and is starting to fail a bit), and he wanted a new one. And I wanted a red one. We got a new, red, expensive, beautiful machine: a Breville 900CB. It’s awesome. Truly.Breville coffee machineOur coffee now tastes amazing and the machine was laughably easy to set up. But no tick for thrift. Big cross for being a spendthrift.

So, there you go. Ticks: 5 full, 2 half. Crosses: 3. Hail Marys required: none. I’m an atheist. Looking forward to when those crosses on my PhD become ticks, and when our spending is pulled back – this will NEVER happen because we want to renovate the house and that’s exxie. I can, at least, do something about my friends. See y’all soon. xxx


Christmas is coming and so is my deadline!

It has been almost a month since I last published my blog – not that anyone reads the researchy bits anyway, but there you go. Apologies. So the last three weeks have been about trying to do another draft of another Narrative Chapter for my thesis and not quite getting there. Luckily I’ve one I wrote back six months or so, so at least I have something to be going on with. I’ve been trying to finish my transcripts and they are the most boring things of all, and it is those elements of my research that have slowed me down the most. I have to sit in the kitchen to do them because the noise in my study is just a little too high for comfortable transcription and then I have to concentrate! This is the most boring bit of all. Transcription, let’s face it, is crap work.

So hubby and I recently went to another conference in Perth, Australia. It was the Power of Music Conference and it was a really enjoyable conference. Something for everyone and there were few sessions missed. We missed the last day completely, but I find these things so tiring and the keynotes didn’t appeal to me that morning. Both hubby and I delivered our papers on the first day, and then I spent a good deal of time ensuring people like Profs Gary McPherson and Jane Davidson know who I am and that I am referencing their research in mine… Particulary the lit review; I am seeing the parallels in their work that have resonances in my own. This could be important in future. My paper was on emotion in singing teaching and learning, so I might be able to weave this into my thesis somehow. I think it’s important, but I don’t want to revisit old ground if it transpires that my emotion paper needs to be divided into other elements, like the learning and teaching relationship, that sort of thing.

So, timelines for December – January: submit all three draft narrative chapters to my supervisor, then submit draft chapters to her for my lit review and my methods chapter. All by the end of January.

Then, in February, I’d like to revisit my literature entirely, and begin to formulate my discussion/conclusions chapter.

Once I have submitted my drafts to her I will feel a lot better about where I am at. But it’s hard to focus, once again, on my work. I need to sing and I’ve not done any meaningful thinking today.

What I HAVE done, of course, is send out my CV to the two main tertiary institutions in the state that have advertised for casual tutoring/lecturing for 2012. I desperately need about 6 hours work a week (or, in other parlance, $100 an hour for 13 weeks) and I don’t care if it’s singing teaching or lecturing or tutoring. As long as I get something! And since none of it starts until March, I should be fine for my thesis, as most of it should be drafted by then anyway, if plans go as they ought.

So, today was a reporting and planning exercise. Sorry folks, no meaningful dialogue today, but I’m starting to move on the ideas front a bit. And that’s a good thing.

Oh! And we bought the children their Xmas gifts already, and I’m nearly done with the other family members. So it’s all looking good for Xmas.


Buying a house: things to avoid

Ok, so hubby and I have been trying to buy a house. We found a great Queenslander in our chosen suburb, in good condition and basically untouched, with lovely bones and a big backyard. We made an offer (we thought a pretty low offer) and it was accepted. Argh! It was an ambit claim! And we thought we had no chance. So then we went on the hunt for a home loan. There the snags began. We talked to my bank because they have my history, and would be able to see the money going into my account over time. I’m considering that this was not necessarily the best decision. Here is a checklist of things to do BEFORE bidding on your dream home:

  1. Ensure your financial affairs are in order. We had a terrible job doing our tax and my company Profit/Loss statements so that we’d have the right information for them in the time needed for the “subject to financial approval” clause. We feel for our poor accountant. On the plus side, both of us are due to have big returns this year. Getting an accountant to do one’s tax is much better than doing it oneself.
  2. Have a decent credit rating. When I moved house, I missed a Gas bill. It was put on my credit history as a bad debt: all $224 of it. I didn’t know this and spent a fair whack of time thinking my poor credit rating was for something much bigger. Well, I paid it off as soon as I finally found out, didn’t I?!
  3. Have your deposit ready. My family is gifting me some money, but they had not put the money in my account prior to the bank application. Apparently the bank needs what they call “asset accountability”: in other words, to have the money in the bank. My poor folks have had to hop to it to get the money to me by the due date: this is SO silly.
  4. Get pre-approval from your bank BEFORE deciding to buy a house…
  5. Have a full time job. Don’t be a student on a stipend or earning a small income doing other things. Don’t own a company or be self-employed. And for goodness’ sake don’t think that just because you pay $600 per week in rent that you can afford to meet mortgage payments of a similar amount over 25 years. Don’t think that. The bank sure doesn’t.

This is the ongoing saga of our house hunt. And I am going a little bit mad because of it. Sleep: an overrated activity.

The continuing saga…a day later…

It occurs to me that banks, with their many many years of experience in handling loans, might have a better way of organising them. Everything feels so retrograde. Why not tell us at the beginning of the process that we need to provide this, and this, and this, and this, which we could have done WEEKS ago, instead of ringing us every few days saying: by the way, could we please now have this piece of paper? Well, if you’d only asked a few weeks ago, we wouldn’t now be on tenterhooks waiting to hear whether we beat the “subject to financial approval clause” because you FORGOT to tell us what else to provide. Sheesh! On the plus side, we now have cautious approval. NOT unconditional, but it’s close. When we sign and seal the deal, will be when I celebrate, I reckon. Give me the freaking keys already! And for those of you in the US, our house, at a cool $500000 odd, is not a grand affair. It is a comfortable, elegant but untouched Queenslander in good nick, but which needs lots of work. So there. Urgh. Let this week be over, let there be contracts signed.

Saturday, a day later….

Well, we got it. The bank decided in its ineffable wisdom, that we were the types of people deserving of money for a home loan. I am still not sleeping very well, but boy am I feeling happier! We have been sent the unconditional approval letter, and we are on the road to signing papers next week, and settlement in two weeks. Wow. In the end, it all went very fast, and now I am panicking about getting the floors sanded and the house stumps replaced and the plumbers in and termite blasting before we move in four weeks. So there is a check list to complete for all of the next part of the journey. This check list will probably cost us a lot of money we don’t have. This is not really the fun part. But the thought of being able to choose where to hang one’s pictures goes a long way to feeling good about our move.


Getting depressed about the future

Well, I’ve finally hit the unhappy part of my PhD. The part where I am beginning to be very afraid about what life holds for me in the future once I have the important bit of paper with my name and new title on it. There are very few jobs for Doctoral alumni in music. I need to have a new job lined up by August 2012, or, at least, a few grants lined up. I’m thinking of applying for a Churchill, and a Fulbright, and there are a heap of other Australian ones to go for, too. Unfortunately, the Churchill and Fulbright scholarships are short in length and won’t get me far, which is why I will need to apply for a Postdoc ASAP. I will be taking three weeks off in July 2012 for a trip to Greece and Thessaloniki, mostly for conference attendance. So my time is limited, and my money runs out then. I will have just enough funds to pay for the trip, having paid off the credit card in full, and then nada. Zip. No job. It’s scary. Hubby suggests going for RA on an ARC project, which would be good, but I want something with longevity. I’m not sure I could stand working for only 3 years on a project at .8 wage, with no assurance of permanent employment at the end. All too much! At the same time, I realise that I work best on small projects that have a relatively short life span. So working for three years at a time might suit me.

So, scared, depressed about my future, overweight, alone in an office. That’s my life right now. At least I’m enjoying the research.

When the weekend boredom beckons…

So, I guess my husband and I are workaholics. This was brought home to me on Saturday afternoon, when I spent 2 hours trying to figure out how to work the MYOB First Edge accounting software I bought for my business (Plainsong Enterprises – anything for a quick plug). We both agree that weekends are difficult to get through. There are weekends when our children are with us which is a whole world of inexplicable events, and then there are the OTHER weekends. You know, the ones where you wake up Saturday morning and you have no social functions to attend, no concerts or films to see (because you’re on a budget so spending money on fun is not within acceptable parameters) and there is nothing on TV worth watching. That sort of weekend. We have a process emerging for these kinds of moments. We wake up, hubby buys paper and maybe croissants, we drink coffee and read the paper until mid-morning. Then we go to half a dozen open houses to do our house purchasing research – my parameters are becoming more defined now. By this time the coffee has worn off, the car air conditioning doesn’t work any more (something to ask my motor mechanic about….) and it’s time for the shopping. Grocery shopping. But somehow, amongst all our declarations of non expenditure due to no money, we still manage to buy business equipment (for the business, it’s a business expense, I need a home binding machine for all my music and reports, I really do, and I’m sick of people not bringing water, so I need a water chiller in the foyer, yes I really do). Oops. This is alongside the $200 I spent on an accounting package I don’t know how to use, and the Australian edition of Bookkeeping for Dummies, 2010. I should never be let near Officeworks. My husband now realises it’s a sickness for me. I am heavily addicted.

Saturday evenings are now a wasteland of me trying to get Accounting software to work, and my husband writing more grant proposals and answering emails and putting out spotfires. And occasionally I give up, and play Sims3, which unfortunately is now more boring than real life. Just when you think academics don’t do any work, you find my hubby putting in 14 hour days, 6 days a week. He wades through and corrects his students’ PhD or DMA work, he reads or plans operating manuals for the university, he answers a thousand emails. He goes to retreats and important meetings. He told me this morning before heading off on a 3 day management retreat that it was expected he would change for dinner, because wearing day clothes at an evening function is not a good idea.

We have ceased to function as a unit. We are now working machines. So, as I say, Saturday has become about buying stuff. Houses to buy in future, groceries ($170 – down to a dull roar); office furniture, and GIFTS. Who knew gifts were the killer? Trying to buy a gift for my little sister Nell’s wedding is impossible – we may have to go for the gift voucher like everyone else – and then there are the children. My stepson is turning 13 this Saturday. Of course, he had made no plans for a party so it will be a pretty ad hoc sort of affair, I’m afraid. I think they want to do the go kart racing thing. Fine by me. But what to get a child who has everything he needs? (except War Hammer, and neither his mother nor his father are getting any of THAT! Overpriced plastic crap) I thought a phone might be a good idea. He is attending high school now and what with all the travel and the too-ing and fro-ing, I recommended it. Also because his mother won’t let him call his dad and his dad is sick of having a gatekeeper monitoring his calls to his son. So, without revealing what we finally got for this child, let it be said that here now begins the lifelong commitment to communication of an electronic nature.

So Saturday and Sunday become about shopping, getting out of the heat, and working. Because when we get home from the shopping, hubby goes into his room and I go into mine, and we don’t see each other again until dinner. And that’s the weekend.


Stymied by common sense! No Ebay for me today.

Right, so the continuation of the story about the coffee pot is this. I could have sworn I had a small one cup coffee plunger. I know I had one a few years ago. Maybe I took it away with me on tour and it stayed on tour. Anyway, so, thinking that a big coffee plunger wasn’t going to cut the mustard, I had resigned myself to purchasing a new one, thus throwing into doubt our good savings plans. However, when I got into work today, I found an 8 cup plunger in the kitchen. Ever happy to give something a go, I tried the full sized coffee plunger, and you know something? Success. No new plunger required for me. This is perhaps a good thing, given that we had set up this great savings plan and I was about to throw my plan into disarray. $AU15.00, you say. That’s nothing! But, I say, it’s the small stuff that gets to us, not the big stuff. So, I am now a happy camper and I can have my cake and eat it. And not pay $3 for coffee every day when at work. It’s all good. (Look, I know this is small life stuff when there are truly serious problems elsewhere, ok? I’m just saying. Besides, I’m trying NOT to contribute to environmental woes by the purchase of unnecessary stuff. I know there are people on the streets and stuff. I came very close to it myself as a young single mum. I’ve had more than my share of life’s bullshit, ok? So let me have my small moments and I won’t complain too much more about the really irritating things that get on my nerves, like pile driving building works outside my building that are making my desk shake.)

As to my work habits, I am still fighting the enervating but addictive Facebook surfing. Not succeeding very well, but I am forcing myself to do 30 minutes of transcript before I look at Facebook. Sometimes I wish I wasn’t so well connected. That’s connected in the virtual sense, not the real.

So, how have we done on the savings front this week? Great! We’ve maintained a pretty tight savings budget, despite the hugely expensive Apple Care nonsense, and on target to helping me afford to fill a broken tooth. Yep, you guessed it, just when I thought everything was good, along comes a wretched broken tooth to add to our financial woes. Never mind the tooth – can’t feel much pain and I’m keeping it clean. Either the tooth is seriously dead and has been for years or it’s not a big issue (so, if your tooth is a little sensitive on the broken side, that means the root is still alive, yeah?). But, of course, a side trip to the dentist is not really my cup of expensive java. On the plus side, though, it is the only one of my teeth with a whopping great hole in it. I have 2 other small fillings, but, really, my teeth are healthy! Thank goodness for fluoride pills and fluoride in the water.

So, now the pile driving is really annoying and I can’t hear my transcripts. Should I just give up? Soldier on, I think. This will only last another two years….

I am the budget goddess – nearly!

So, continuing my story about making changes in our spending habits, and getting out of the debt stranglehold we currently choke under, I’ve done the weekly accounts and I have to say: I’m thrilled with our efforts so far. In the far and distant past I had been a pretty sensible spender – there was a finite amount of money to spend and I was the only one making any, so I had to be careful. After marrying my husband, all of a sudden our spending habits went through the roof. The left hand didn’t know what the right hand was doing, and vice versa. We are also compulsive spenders, usually on the small stuff, and hubby has no idea of what he has in his bank account.

So, saving all the receipts this week has given me a chance to look over our spending, and, I have to say, I’m pretty impressed with the result. Without going into particular detail, I can say that we have spent about $130 on food and groceries and household goods this week. Add that to the $200 we spent on food and groceries last week and we are well under our $500 per fortnight total. We have a fridge full of food and a cupboard groaning with produce, and our only needs are fresh herbs or milk (I am doing great things with mince, but will expand this to include other meat once the mince clears out of the freezer – we bought about 4 kilos last week, enough for at least 8 meals, and our freezer is chockablock!). Our necessary spending: transport, medication etc, came in at $99 for the week, but should last another 2 weeks on average. And, best of all, our discretionary spending has been great. We spent about $86 this week. Now, if you include drinks this arvo and a friend’s BBQ tomorrow (already paid for), we should come well under the $125 per week I had budgeted for discretionary spending. Our biggest cost thus far has been grog. Even though we are not drinking during the week, I have insisted we buy a bottle of white spirits so that we can do the cheaper alternative of mixed drinks in the summer months when we ARE drinking. And beer has become very dear to us, too. In both the drinking, and the spending sense!

It is clear to me that the small things are costing us big. I spent $9.00 on takeaway coffee this week, so I’m figuring out ways to take freshly ground coffee to work, cutting down on the takeaways and enjoying my own stuff. We do have a coffee plunger, but it’s much too big for my little cups of espresso, and we don’t have a one person unit. Maybe today I’ll buy one to take to work. It seems like a false economy, but I suspect if I spend another $9.00 this week that will be $18.00 over a fortnight on takeaway coffee. And a single plunger is about the same cost, so wearing that cost into the following fortnight will see us come out even there, and thereafter I will save. I have stopped buying takeaway lunches – I may slip up from time to time, but it’s better than buying a $10 lunch every day and wondering where the money went at the end of it all.

One of our big pitfalls has been eating out, and going out generally. At present we are not going out much at all, and it’s killing us by degrees on the inside. There is nothing on the TV and often we end up doing work in front of the TV, rocking quietly in the corner from boredom. This will be a challenge for us. We can go and see some wonderful movies at the moment at a very cheap rate, but I’m suggesting we eke the movie watching out over a few weeks, so that there is always something to do each weekend, or, if we really can’t cope anymore, during the week. Another thing I’m trying to do is to have people over more frequently, but on a cheaper budget. Spaghetti or gnocchi with a great ragu rather than expensive roast rib eye, that sort of thing. Home made dessert instead of my favourite cheat: beautiful lemon tart from the local bakery. Home baked bread, beautiful soup. Curry night! I do some great curries, and have learned how to throw together a fabulous feast in about an hour, including roti bread. I don’t cheat on the Dhal or the curried vegies, but I do cheat on Tandoori paste for chicken. Curry is a superb and cheap way to eat, especially cheap cuts of meat, or vegetarian, and it’s hugely communal. Perfect for parties.

I’m really thrilled that, now that I’m seeing our spending become more manageable, we can begin to make forward plans that don’t include paying off megadebt. I’m concerned about our clothes for 2011 as they wear badly in this heat – in Brisbane you have to wash clothes after wearing them only once, including long pants and jeans, so they quickly lose quality. I’m not sure how we will keep up with that this year, but once we have seen our spending for three months we may have a better idea of the costs we are saving and how to give ourselves prizes or gifts from time to time.

So, week two down, week three coming our way. Of course, next weekend will be interesting because we will have the kids with us and they suck money out of us like the little succubi they are. I think we’ll be doing the “earning money to spend it” routine from now on – cleaning rooms, making beds, doing dishes, feeding animals – that sort of thing. Hubby tends to throw money at the kids every time he sees them and I’m not sure he realises how much he spends on them. So earning their pocket money and saving for special items will be the next budget education program for the kids.

Let’s hope the dog doesn’t decide to have another fit, that my business keeps on keeping on, and that this budget haven I have created for us lives to tell another day.


“Organizationing” my life is working!!!

Well, my two grand schemes are in play. To reduce our spending and to organise my PhD work. I’m pleased and happy with the way things are turning out this week. In terms of PhD I’ve got meetings with both supervisors this week, and I’ve been keeping on track with my data analysis; and I have set in train the spending slash and burn. So far it has been quite good, although Scott had to buy Apple Care at a squillion bucks because his computer CD thingy ceased working.

I’m insisting we be sensible. Scott fancied going to the movies on Saturday – we can do that pretty cheaply, but I knew we were going out on Sunday to a music listening party, and I wanted to spread the love, as it were. If we go out next weekend we will feel like we have done something each weekend. And that will be good. Spreading the love.