I survived another low income year




I’m not actually sure what I earned in income for the last financial year at this stage but going by how tight it was, I’m guessing it wasn’t much more than the previous year of $26,000 gross. Thank goodness for the family allowance and child support to help with the cost of the kids to bring it up to a normal low income :/


Starting a small business with my partner 2 years ago has meant we’re living on the lowest income ever and we hope to expand with more cleaners joining us this financial year to grow and build up income. For now, we struggle on.


Because I always think ahead and have a plan in place we’ll continue to get by and in the meantime try different things to expand the income so we can continue to slowly grow our small cleaning business.


From July last year I decided to track my financial year month by month to share with readers, my money struggles and solutions. If I can help or inspire others out there also living on a low income by sharing my money life, I’d love to

document it along the way each year and will share this every July at the end of the previous financial year.



Debt at July 2018: (excluding the mortgage)

Car: I owe about $2,900 on car loan. 14 months to go!

Braces: I owe $6,500. Only 2 payments into a 24 month plan.




JUL, AUG & SEP 2018


Getting used to the new debt I’d acquired April just gone, I had to slightly adjust my budget to allow for this. It was another payment I didn’t want but it was important for one of my daughters to have braces fitted as she had a huge over bite and not just a few crooked teeth. Her $7,000 smile will be worth it!


Over Winter I decided that it was logical to start an emergency fund of $1,000 again as I had a few years ago. I saved like crazy stashing every extra $50 and $100 I could find in my pay. I thought it was a good time of year to do this as I wouldn’t be doing a lot over Winter making it easier to save money. During this time I realised the hot water system was going to be 10 years old in January and I'll need more than $1000 to buy a new one so I kept saving and stashed away any income not needed for living costs towards the emergency fund which was now a predicted hot water system replacement.


By September my parents hot water system had died and theirs was the same as mine, purchased together but installed after ours. I got out the repair guy to service ours in the hope of prolonging it’s life. He gave it about 6 months of life left and told me to have $2,800 to buy new and the Government will give me a $1,000 rebate after installation.


OCT, NOV & DEC 2018


I left it a bit later than I usually do to think about Christmas this year so I planned for this in October in the hope that I’d have enough saved by the end of the calendar year. A list of family and presents was written so I knew how much I would need to aim for. I only have to buy presents for my 3 girls, my parents, my sister and her partner and came up with a budget of $900.


I started to make ‘party light balls’ this year using fairy lights on an orb made from wire baskets. Hoping to sell these before Christmas to pay for Christmas was the plan for that budget but it didn’t go to plan and no one was interested in buying them so I was forced to save little amounts and pinch a bit of my bills account money to cover Christmas with the plan of fixing that (replacing) in 2019.


November was quiet so I kept saving as much towards presents as I could. Thankfully I had reached $2,000 in my emergency fund (hot water system money) by the end of November.


During December I had to cover the costs of high school for the next year. I was hoping to already have my tax return from July to pay for this but as it hadn’t been lodged yet I used my credit card to cover school costs until receiving my tax back. High school for 3 kids in 2019 included 2 Laptops for my twins in year 10 and Miss 1 in year 12 needed text books and other extras for her last year of school.


This quarter was hard and I felt like a complete tight ass with absolutely no spending money. 2018 hurt!


Keep moving through the seasons
Keep moving through the seasons

JAN, FEB & MAR 2019


I gathered all old school books plus anything else I could sell around the house and finished funding all of the school text books needed for the year. I got intentional because I was determined not to put anything other than the 2 laptops on my credit card until my tax return came back. I was paying too much interest as it was. Because I had a budget and could plan for this I was able to see through the first month of the year. Probably the highest costs I’ve ever had for school.


February was the month I finally got around to getting a crown on one of my teeth. The dental on my private health insurance had reset in January meaning I was now able to claim on the crown I needed. This gave me $800 towards the final and most expensive part of the 3 visits to complete the job. I was left with a gap of $700 to pay and was forced to use money from my bills account that had built up a bit. This left bills money tight and harder to shuffle for a month.


February was also the month that the hot water system decided that exactly 10 years was all I was going to have and it slowly died. This gave me a little time to buy a replacement hot water pump. Quantum heat pumps are the best and cheapest to run so I already knew which I was going to buy. The $2,000 I had saved was now needed plus a little more borrowed until I could get the rebate back ASAP.


By March, the rebate was received and I repaid the $700 I borrowed. This left me $300 and with this I started the new emergency fund I now needed to replace.


During March, I started to save for my next trip to Rarotonga for my budget travel website wwwseecookislands.com 

I needed to be ready to buy cheap flights when they came on sale in a few months time. I put a few small savings plans in place so I could achieve this by the end of winter.

APR, MAY & JUN 2019


Yay! April is the half way point of the dental loan for Miss 2’s braces. With another 12 months of these payments to go at $230 a month (interest free!) this was feeling like progress.


I called my car loan company to find out how many months I had left to repay on my car. I was told my last repayment of $270 will be September next year. This progress also made me very happy to know it would soon be over. Time to think ahead as to what I can use the amounts for when the braces and car will be paid for…


I will use these payment amounts (total of $500 a month) to save for my next car. I’d love to pay cash for my next car instead of borrowing money while paying far more in interest. I worked out that my original loan amount of $15,500 gave me an extra $7000 in interest to repay over the 7 years for a total of $22,500 repaid. Never again!


At the end of April my tax return was lodged and I was pretty excited to receive $4,300 which was made up of child and family supplement payments and work claims. $3,000 of this I used to pay off my credit card which was used for Miss 2’s braces deposit and 2 laptops. The remaining $1,000 I added to my emergency fund instantly bringing that to $1,300.


This was perfect timing as we were about to discover the need for house maintenance in a couple of months.


In May, I had to fix my next home loan term. I set the next term for a few years at a fixed interest rate of 3.5% which reduced the repayments by $19 each fortnight. I’ve decided to stash this extra amount to make an extra one repayment at the end of the year. It might only be reducing the principle by $500 but if I do this each year for the next few years it will have saved me in interest and time to pay off.


I wanted to give my twin daughters a pair of Doc Marten boots for their 16th birthday as I had bought for their older sister. I squeezed the bills and ‘found’ an extra $400 to purchase these awesome boots that will last them a decade.


At the beginning of June, moisture was found in the wall behind our shower. After trying not to think about it for 24 hours (ignoring the problem in the hope it would go away) I decided I would have to use my redraw facility on my home loan to renovate it… plus another bathroom, a toilet and the laundry so all wet rooms matched. Why not go crazy and do all 4 rooms a few years earlier than planned? *palm to face. I called my home loan lender and I was just in the time frame to be able to ‘unfix’ the term of my loan to make the redraw and then I would have to refix the term after I received the money.


Using the home loan to get money is usually a no no for me but it was for the house and I was strict only taking the $7000 extra I had paid over the years knowing I was going to have to be super tight with it and do some work ourselves to save on costs. This amount was going to have to buy all furniture, fittings and pay for materials and labour costs. Impossible task but we were going to make it happen with a plan. We spent the next month sourcing clearance fittings, furniture, tiles and toilets from our capital city. Spending money on trailer hire we still managed to save thousands of dollars and have found the best quality products at great prices for a total of $5,000. We will renovate the ensuite first and complete the other 3 rooms as we can afford to fit out over the next financial year. I again fixed the term of my home loan and breathed a sigh of relief as somehow my repayments were no different to before the redraw.


The only way is onward
The only way is onward

Looking back, that was a pretty tough year financially although it was a great feeling to be rid of credit card debt again. I surprised myself by what I was able to do with my crappy low income this year.


I can't wait to also be free of my other 2 debts in the near future. It’s so close!


Here’s to the next financial year. I’ll keep budgeting to stretch my low income as far as it will go…  by taking a trip because I’m overdue for a holiday AND I managed to save for it this past financial year, somehow.  

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