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How to get ahead when living week to week?


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#1 Green Gummy Bear

Posted 03 February 2013 - 03:40 PM

Right now I'm living week to week financially.  I want to be able to save, but there just isn't the surplus of funds to save.  I don't have the capacity to generate any more income at the moment and the expenses I have are all contacts and can't be altered (car loan, phone, power, etc..).  

For those of you that have been in this situation before, how did you manage to get out of it and get ahead?

#2 PatG

Posted 03 February 2013 - 03:45 PM

Not all of your expenses are contracts - I assume you buy food?  Also you can attempt to lower your utility bills (use less power).  

In order to start saving in your position you need to start small.  Really investigate exactly where you money goes and pick one place to save $5 this week.  If you have credit card debt then you possibly don't want to be saving money - you want to be paying off the debt and saving yourself the extra interest charges.

#3 roses99

Posted 03 February 2013 - 03:57 PM

Cut down the grocery bill by buying meat etc in bulk and cooking in bulk. I use a slow cooker (but you can easily do casseroles etc in the oven) andante a lot of meals in advance. Also lasagne etc. Cooking like that saves money and you avoid buying processed food and take away.

Also when do you get out of your phone contract? I'm amazed at what some people spend in phone contracts. That could well be an opportunity to save in the future.

Finally, an idea to save power. A friend who also lives week to week (single mum, ex refuses to pay maintenance) swears by those little portable gas burners with the gas canisters. The burner will only set you back $20 and you can sit it on your bench top. My friend says she has really lowered her power bill by using that to boil water, cook etc rather than using her electric kettle and electric stove.

#4 Caitlin Happymeal

Posted 03 February 2013 - 04:00 PM

Well, I'm Doing this
http://www.allthingsmw.com/52-week-money-challenge/
It seems achieveable - initially its only a tiny amount a week. Its so simple - I aim to have this chunk of money left over for Christmas.

Having said that, we have spent the last 11 years living from pay to pay, and yeah, it sucks. And finding where you can cut back can be hard too. I shop at Aldi for many things, I bulk buy my meats and freeze them, I do as much bulk stuff as I can. But that's all fairly obvious stuff.

Thank goodness our last payment on our crippling personal loan is this month - its been like paying a mortgage but having nothing to show for it!

I think you just have to keep chopping away and keep finding ways of shopping "smarter".



#5 PatG

Posted 03 February 2013 - 04:12 PM

QUOTE (roses99 @ 03/02/2013, 03:57 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Finally, an idea to save power. A friend who also lives week to week (single mum, ex refuses to pay maintenance) swears by those little portable gas burners with the gas canisters. The burner will only set you back $20 and you can sit it on your bench top. My friend says she has really lowered her power bill by using that to boil water, cook etc rather than using her electric kettle and electric stove.


If you are at all considering this please please make sure you don't do it in an unventilated area.  Incomplete combustion can lead to carbon monoxide poisoning.  And don't forget you still have to pay for the energy - the cost of the replaceable canisters as well as the initial outlay.

#6 Calmar

Posted 03 February 2013 - 04:21 PM

I find it hard to believe about the portable gas burners.  I personally find them quite expensive when we go camping.  We seem to go threw a canister a day.  Maybe I cook to much.

We now use a small gas bottle and a ring on top for cooking and that lasts ages.  Not sure about using it in side all the time.

Edited by silverwattle, 03 February 2013 - 04:22 PM.


#7 Green Gummy Bear

Posted 03 February 2013 - 04:31 PM

I already have a gas stovetop, hot water and heating.  My last power bill was $180 for the quarter, and $50 for gas which comes every two months.  After reading some other threads on here, I don't think these amounts are crazy high?

At present my food bill is around the $150-200 a week mark, for me and 3 DD's (two of which are in nappies).  That is inclusive of everything, which I don't think is that high?  I probably could cut it slightly though.

My home phone, internet and mobile are all on contracts until June 2014.

#8 Flaxen

Posted 03 February 2013 - 04:31 PM

The only area i can save money is the food bill, everything else is not negotiable or already reduced.
I do buy in bulk and cook batches, but mainly in winter as summer is more salady  wink.gif
But portion controlling is the key for me during tough weeks (OH is a contractor- sometimes we go weeks/months without pay)
If im not bulk cooking, a pack of meat (beef chicken pork mince) gets portioned into serving sizes (and i do "diet" size portions, lucky for me i have weight to lose   unsure.gif  )
I choose meats on special and based meals around that.
Fruit and veg in season are cheaper than meats, eat vegetarian two nights a week. (DH is not happy about that one  rolleyes.gif )
Make sure you use everything before it goes off, eg yogurt, milk bread.

#9 Rubyduck

Posted 03 February 2013 - 04:34 PM

You can easily cut most bills shop around for groceries, meal plan and only shop once a week don't pop in every other day just to "grab something" cut your water bill by shortening showers and only running a full washing machine if your really keen you can put a bucket in the shower and use it for watering plants. For electricity turn off unused items at the power point I think I heard unplugging them all together is even better, so you can unplug or switch off your kettle, microwave, toaster etc even your tv and computer over night so their not left on standby run your washing machine during off peak times and use your heating and cooling as little as possible.
I use quicken home accounting software to track my spending and since I've started that I've opened a netsaver account linked to my everyday account and managed to save a fair bit. You get to see exactly where your money goes and where you can cut back, it's a bit of work starting it up especially if your not used to computers but well worth it. In the first 6 weeks I noticed I spent more on cigarettes than I did on groceries! Needless to say I cut back dramatically original.gif I also noticed I was handing over a lot more to the kids than I thought all those "Mum I just need $5" or "Can I have a ice cream" moments really add up! Quicken is not free you have to purchase it but there may be free accounting software available if you look online but the main thing is to be consistent and honest with it if you spend $1 on a pk of gum the you have to log it into your software and very quickly you will see areas you can improve on, the other thing I do is automatically put $50 a week into my netsaver account and I just had to learn to live without it if it was not there in my everyday account also the day before payday I put whatever's left in my everyday account into the savings that amount varies depending on bills etc but you don't have to start with a large amount just put $10 away a week and go from there increasing it slowly.

Edited by Rubyduck, 03 February 2013 - 04:50 PM.


#10 FeralLIfeHacker

Posted 03 February 2013 - 04:42 PM

This year I am just taking some money BEFORE I pay the bills, buy the food, nappies, etc, etc and then it's already put away, I opened a high interest acct where I can't make any withdrawals through the month or I don't get the high interest.  Just sort of acting like I never really got the money in the first place.

Mistake I've been making for many years is trying to have 'some left' after paying everything else, it never happens.

Once it's in the account and saved then it's just not there to pay bills or anything else, yet they still get paid.
Pay yourself first type of thing.

#11 IShallWearMidnight

Posted 03 February 2013 - 06:01 PM

I keep a really strict budget, and if we cut back in other areas, then it goes towards 'wants'
our phones are prepaid $15 a month, and weve never gone over on usage.
I use high interest accounts and put all the bills money over there, so we earn another few hundred a year in interest (which I use for xmas/newyears food)
I also treat savings as a bill, and will either eat toast a few times a week, or not drive anywhere to save that money

#12 mumandboys

Posted 03 February 2013 - 06:24 PM

I pay myself first.

I only save a small amount per month ($200 for me and $25 x 4 for the kids), but I always take it, and then I make the rest work around that.

At $25 per month I've now got over $8k in the kids bank accounts, so it definitely adds up.

#13 kez71

Posted 03 February 2013 - 06:29 PM

id be calling the companies i have contracts with and seeing if they can change them to lower ones. some companies are happy to help if youre in financial difficulty. Have an idea of what you'd like them to change before you call. Even $5 less than what youre paying now can be saved. if you get a few companies to put you on a lower contract you could save a bunch. No harm in trying!

#14 jessie123

Posted 03 February 2013 - 06:59 PM

Shop around for your utilities.

Your grocery bill sounds really high if you are genuinely living week to week.

#15 Caitlin Happymeal

Posted 04 February 2013 - 07:34 AM

Yeah, I agree with Jessie123  - that seems like a fair bit for a week. I know nappies cost loads - maybe look at getting some old school cloth ones? We had modern cloth and it saved us heaps over the last 3 years. I also have 2 in nappies (almost out of them though) and the cost of disposable nappies is astronomical.
Your weekly budget is my fortnightly budget. I do a big cookup on Sundays so I have everything organised for the week ahead. Much of my menu is made from scratch, so lots of spices and herbs and tinned tomatoes, and stuff like that sitting in my pantry so that I don't buy packet items as they cost a fair bit and have a fair amount of sodium and additives in them.
I get meat from the butcher, and portion it - at our butcher, it works out cheaper than woollies, Coles, or Aldi even. Our fruit is delivered by a man who goes to the markets and selects fresh fruit and veg every week, and it is great because you look at what you have and you make meals to incorporate the veggies you have been delivered. And it's also such nice fresh stuff, that it keeps really well.
Maybe you alreadydo these things, I don't know, but there is a couple of ideas that maybe might help you.

#16 MrsLexiK

Posted 04 February 2013 - 08:40 AM

QUOTE (Rubyduck @ 03/02/2013, 05:34 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
You can easily cut most bills shop around for groceries, meal plan and only shop once a week don't pop in every other day just to "grab something"


I don't always actually agree with this, both our IGA and the fruit and veg shop have a 99cent table.  It does save me more if I go to the 99cent table and pick my veggies every second day then if I go and do a weekly shop of fruit and veg and only get to utilise the 99cent table once.

OP I don't really think that $150 a week is too much, we do between $50 - $120 a week (usually if it is $120 one week it is only about $50 the next, or sometimes $75 for two weeks etc), I am planning when the baby gets here that it will be $300 a fortnight. I'm expecting it will be closer to $150 each week now as opposed to being able to get away with $30 a week every now again.  With about $50-60 spent at the butcher once a fortnight (which I am lucky is wholesale), and another $50-$60 on fruit and veg (I tried the delievery but I love certain veg and don't like others and was finding my meals were getting a bit bornign), then the rest on cleaning products (which I don't buy that much), bread, milk, flour, eggs, juice, nappies, perhaps formula, diced toms (I like to cook as much from scratch or homemade as possible so we go through a ton of diced toms) etc.  We don't tend to eat much pasta or potatoes here though the carbs that we choose to eat are more expensive (ie not 59 cents a packet) and it usually means that we use a lot of veggies to bulk it out (again adding $$,). I am expecting that where I spend a bit more money at the moment (fruit and veg) I will be able to save a bit by being able to buy the clearance items whereas working the hours that I do I am unable to do that now.

Back on topice though, just start by direct debiting into another account $10 on the day your pay goes in, then when you are doing that ok, up it to $20 a week, and so on.  You may find that you cut back on somethings, (ie rather then fill up your tank you will walk to the shops or to the friends house etc) Even if all you can manage is $10 that will be close to $520 at the end of the year.  Also if you get a tax return make sure you put that into the same account and don't touch it.




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