Author Topic: Reader Case Study - Thought I was awesome, turns out I'm failing (Australia)  (Read 8908 times)

Trouble

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Life Situation: 2 adults (Mr & Mrs Trouble), 2 kids ChildTrouble (3.5 years) and BabyTrouble (7 months) living in Darwin, Australia (fairly high cost of living area) due to Mr Trouble's job (military). I (MrsTrouble) am a Stay At Home Mum.

Gross Salary: Fortnightly $2,768
Net Salary: Fortnightly $2,075

Other Ordinary Income: We receive some interest on our savings but don't treat it as anything but added savings

Current expenses:
These are all per fortnight and have been averaged over the past ten months that I've been tracking on YNAB.
Phone $50
Internet $47
Electricity $142
Water $20
Rent $500
Sanity Money $200
Debt $100
Childcare $280
Eating Out $75
Groceries $215
Fuel $175
Dog $60
Fun $15
Car and motorbike $190
Health insurance $92
Minimum amount to go into Online Saver to earn bonus interest $100 (can't withdraw it)

TOTAL: $2,391 (faaaaaark)
 

Notes:
We don't have car insurance or home insurance but SHOULD have those and I will be looking into those.

Phone: I'm on $40 per month prepaid with Boost (Telstra) with unlimited text and calls. MrTrouble is on $60 per month with Optus, he got the phone free with a plan so he is still on that. He spends over $60 every month but extra spending comes out of his sanity money. We've had conversations about this before with no change in his plan.

Internet: We're in a Telstra smart community so are limited to Telstra. Plan is 500GB per month, we Skype and FaceTime family regularly as we're so far away from everyone. MrTrouble likes to download movies. Our plan was 200GB per month and they upped it to 500GB recently for no reason and with no change in cost. We were hitting right around 200GB per month usage.

Electricity: we currently live in Darwin which has an everyday temperature of 32 degrees celcius and quite a lot of humidity. The aircon doesn't generally go on except to sleep (in 2 bedrooms). Cheapest bill has been $550 and most expensive just over $1,000 (a quarter). I was pregnant in the 'buildup' last year and the aircon was on A LOT, this won't be happening again.

Water: Can't change that, it's a standard military deduction

Sanity Money: $100 each per fortnight, we came up with this arrangement when I had ChildTrouble and MrTrouble FINALLY let me manage all his money as well as my own. Previously MrTrouble had been spending all his pay (and paying 50% of our mutual expenses) and I'd been using mine to pay for 50% of our expenses plus my mortgage. This was a huge drop of money for him but he's now been at it for 3.5 years so maybe time for a drop down?

Debt: Centrelink debt due to overpayment, $4,400 remaining and I'm happy to slowly pay that off rather than take that lump sum out of savings.

Childcare: ChildTrouble is in 2 days per week for my mental wellbeing, started towards the end of my pregnancy. Looking over the crappy money situation I think (reluctantly) that should go down to 1 day. I will not drop it to zero, I won't cope having no break from him.

Fuel: I drive too much. I am waiting for BabyTrouble to hit 1 year so I can use the double bike trailer with both kids. I get out every day because ChildTrouble goes mental if we don't.

Car and Motorbike: We have one car and one motorbike. Car is a 2000 stationwagon that MrTrouble works on where possible (he uses youtube and stubbornness to figure things out), it cost us $3,750 a couple of years ago. It has had a few maintenance issues recently, we have replaced 2 tyres, brakes, rotors, the catalytic convertor and patched  up a big scrape (my fault!), plus probably other things I have no idea about. Motorbike cost $5,000 a couple of years ago and is used solely for MrTrouble's commute. He can't bike due to back issues. He wants to replace the motorbike with one that costs abut $25-$30,000 (more comfort for his back, a legitimate reason) but understands that this is not happening just yet.

Health Insurance: Top Hospital and Top Extras. Yep, facepunch. I need to reduce the cover and it's on my long and unmotivating to-do list.

Assets:
Online Saver 3.5%: $60,000
Direct Shares: $33,400
Cash in Share Trading Account: $3,000

Liabilities: $4,400 debt with centrelink due to overpayment 2 or 3 years ago. Currently being paid off at $100 per fortnight.

Specific Question(s):
So, as you can see, I'm fucked. I've been tracking spending for a while now through YNAB and never really broken it down like this. I used to be awesome at budgeting, always going to a zero budget, living within my means, paying off a mortgage by myself etc.
I realised I was not fantastic when I started reading MMM. I've always vaguely wanted to retire early, but never really found the right information until now.
I have postnatal depression and MrTrouble has recently been diagnosed with depression due to chronic back pain so we're lacking in the motivation area (which we used to be great at pre-kids).

MrTrouble is getting medically discharged from the military next year (timeframe still unknown but hopefully between January and July) and will get some payouts ($45,000 or more) which are not taxed but do affect income for centrelink purposes. We will be moving to Melbourne and he will be starting his own business from home.

I guess my request is... PLEASE HELP ME.
I've been looking at this site for a few years and know I need to reduce expenses but just can't seem to. There's an element of 'no buy in' from MrTrouble and also a large part of 'lack of  motivation' from me. 

So please ask any questions, facepunch and provide suggestions. I appreciate all feedback, even the harsh stuff. I need a kick to get moving. Thank you!!
« Last Edit: October 09, 2015, 12:36:15 AM by Trouble »

forumname123

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$125 per day for childcare?! Is your kid a real monster or is that actually what childcare costs?! Seems like the easiest place to cut spending from my perspective. Or at the very least, put both kids in and take on a part time job during that time to help offset the cost. Or would that be $250/day?!!

Trouble

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You're right, I got that childcare part wrong. I have now fixed it, it's $70 per day so $280 per fortnight. Thanks!

Bee21

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I think you are doing ok, given the circumstances. Food and housing budget looks great for Darwin. Reduce the sanity allowance if you can. Try to reduce childcare to one day if you can- maybe find a playgroup once or twice a week- if you find a good one, it is great for your sanity as well. churches tend to organize them, schools also might have them, for kids in their catchment area, it is worth asking around. Libraries should have baby and toddler sessions- check them out too. Your health insurance is not bad either- but if you are done having kids, there is no point in having the top hospital and extras.
Cheer up. Darwin is depressing, Melbourne sounds better:)

alsoknownasDean

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$175 a fortnight on fuel? In a 2000 stationwagon (guessing a Falcon or similar)? What, are you doing 800km a week or something? Maybe try and check out a few things within walking distance of your house rather than driving further?

Is there any sort of assistance you can get from Centrelink? FTB or something like that? Alternatively is there anything you can do to bring in an income on the other two days?

It should be OK once you get back to Melbourne (do you have family here?).

At $190 a fortnight ($5000 a year), excluding fuel, the car and motorbike sound pretty expensive. Is the car insured full comprehensive or third party?

There's another slightly more antimustachian option. How would you go working full time and paying for FT childcare?
« Last Edit: October 09, 2015, 04:04:29 AM by alsoknownasDean »

Trouble

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Hah Bee21, definitely not the response I was expecting! We do socialise with playgroups and such a decent amount, I actually reduced that at the beginning of the year because we had too much going on and I was soooo pregnant and over it. So we've been driving less and focusing more on local stuff where possible.

Dean: I'm looking back through my fuel and the average is actually $129 per fortnight for the car and the bike. I fill up the car about 3 times per month and the motorbike gets filled up about once per month. The car costs about $85 on average to fill. So I guess in one month I drive 1500km-ish? Yikes that sounds like a lot, especially when I've just looked at the distance of things that I always go to weekly and it comes to a total of just under 500km. I'll have a chat to MrTrouble and work on reducing driving to only necessary thing. We were great when we lived down south, biking to work, the shops and even to the pub for an evening meal with ChildTrouble in the bike trailer, but Darwin just seems so much harder.

The car is actually not insured (bad I know!) but I'll be looking into that this weekend and it will only be third party property damage. I'm hoping the $190 per fortnight average cost will continue to decrease, we've done some big maintenance on the car recently so fingers crossed it holds on for quite a while longer.

We were getting Centrelink (which is I guess where the lifestyle creep has come from) but I've put our household income above the threshold for this year as I anticipate MrTrouble getting some payouts from Defence for liability of ruining his back. So this financial year we're unlikely to be eligible for anything, but next FY we should be good to get a couple of hundred (maybe $500?) per fortnight plus half price childcare.

Nothing I can do to earn more money at this stage as I still have BabyTrouble with me while ChildTrouble is in childcare. I do a bit of party plan but that's more to keep getting the nice products cheaply at the moment. I will probably supplement our income with it when we move to Melbourne as we have some family down there to take the kids if needed.

Ozlady

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Hi

I can't help you much on the expenses front seeing i am  a recovering Mrs Spendy Pants myself! (read my blog)...

But on the income side; i get passive income from share dividends...

maybe you can explore putting some of that military payout into some good yielding blue chip shares to get you a passive income stream with franking credits?   Please take time to learn about share market including your risk profile first although but it can be very rewarding....

MayDay

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I think your childcare seems really high- but I'm not from Oz. 

70$ a day for how many hours?  I hope you say 8!  Is it s center?  Would a home daycare be cheaper?  In the US that is the case. 

I totally totally totally get needing a mental break from a 3 year old (ok, fine, any kid, any age, lol) but you are in the red every month.  You cannot afford this.  This is coming from a woman who would cling to childcare with my cold dead hands.  Find more playgroups, find a mom nearby to swap kids with, something.  Until you are in the black you cannot have any childcare. 

What age does school start where you are?  Do they have free or reduced cost pre-K programs for 4 year olds?  The end is near and you need to power through.  If your depression is preventing this, get it treated. 

The_path_less_taken

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You are not fucked. You are suffering from postnatal depression and you're not making a six figure income like some on these boards, so you feel you're 'behind' in the race.

Only, it's not a race. Your mileage may vary.

But you're not spending money like it's coming out your bum, you're tracking things, you're responsible....it doesn't look that bad. IOW, you know you need to save more, and you're heading towards that.

Given ChildTrouble is at that "I'm at the centre of the world" phase I'm afraid to suggest this but if childcare really is that much per day....what would it take for you to do it and take in say, two kids, 5 days a week? An extra $2,800 a month might be worth it if you could structure it right. (I envision lots of outdoor playing, some videos, and long naps....for all concerned, even you)

In the USA there are various licenses and some states require different thing, but there are also people who just put an ad on craigslist and go for it...and plead ignorance if caught. The "I'd rather ask forgiveness than permission" concept.

Barring that, I think I'd start looking at Melbourne a lot, just to cheer yourself up. Online sources, obviously. But it'll help you 'know' the town and the vibe a bit before you move. Shopping, parks and libraries and you can even glean a lot about neighborhoods but snooping online a bit

Stop beating yourself up. No one will facepunch you because you're not doing bad, you're just in a high COL area and having Mr. Trouble be injured isn't helping. I'm not a lawyer or in your country, but that seems like an extremely tiny payout for ruining someone's back? Is that standard?

Here it would be whatever the traffic will bear after lawyers are done with it, and then a monthly payout as well.

Regardless: cheer up. You're moving to Melbourne! <cue party music>

Dee18

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Just hang in there! I visited Darwin years ago and it certainly seemed like a tough place to live...and expensive even then.  Since you will be there a bit longer, perhaps use the time to think more about what you want your life to be like in Melbourne.  Is there some part time work you would enjoy when you get to Melbourne?  I loved being a mom, but I also loved going to work, partly as a break from child care.  Plan ahead if you need to brush up on skills, make contacts, or even start your own side business. With children so young, as the saying goes, "the days are long but the years fly by."  Your oldest will be in school soon.

LadyStache in Baja

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If you can get a part-time job and only pay for part-time childcare, you'll get your sanity break paid for.  You might not make any extra, but since you say its just for your sanity, at least it wont be costing you. 

I've been a stay at home mom full-time, and part-time, and part-time rocks.  You still get to be with your kids every day, and you get to be away from your kids everyday.  A little break every day is way better than a big break once/twice a week!

Shop around for child-care as well.  Any nanny-shares available?  Or even find a mom to switch with, you take all the kids Monday, she takes all the kids Wednesday for example.  Get a whole co-op going with 5 moms, each mom takes one day (just three-four hours) and everyone gets four days "off" from parenting for a few hours.

FLBiker

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I'd look at the sanity money, first.  Personally, I'd have a lot more sanity with house / car insurance than I would blowing $400 of fun money per week.  Without buy-in from MrTrouble, though, I think you're doing as well as you can.

mm1970

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I'd probably:
- cut the sanity money in half first
- drop down to 1 day a week child care
- stop eating out as often
- reduce driving, as in - 3 days a week no driving?

But really, I wouldn't do all 4 at once.  Cut the sanity money, then 2 weeks later drop the child care...

I know that other people say "you cannot afford the child care", but I have a 3 year old.  I totally get it.  If you could swap with another mom, that would be perfect.  Otherwise...you could get your sanity if you got a full day off on the weekend.

Bee21

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Going back to work part time is an option only if she would make more than what she pays  that for childcare for 2. To pay for childcare for two kids+travel expenses+work clothes etc- is depressing, I can tell you from personal experience (and we were paying 85 per kid. Now with one in school it is 85+30). Not much is left. Childcare varies between 70-100 a day, with various rebates it will get less. Maybe she can spend her sanityallowance on the daycare if it is that important for her.
If she is struggling with looking after her own 2 kids, I don’t think having a home daycare business a good career option.  (those guys charge around 50 a day, and can look after 4 kids. I’d rather slash my wrist, but this is my personal opinion).

Christof

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There are special seats for bike trailers for kids younger than a year. Great to buy and sell used with minimal loss, because you will only need it for a few months.

We bought a new car when our son was just born. What a waste! A few month later we were only using the bike trailer.

csprof

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From the non .au crowd:  Is there an interest rate on that Centrelink debt?
(If it's over 3.5%, that's the most obvious target - pull out of savings and pay it off ASAP.   If it's below your savings interest rate, you're doing the right thing.)

Quote
I have postnatal depression and MrTrouble has recently been diagnosed with depression due to chronic back pain so we're lacking in the motivation area (which we used to be great at pre-kids).

Edited to add:  Everyone's different, but I found "Feeling Good: The New Mood Therapy" by David Burns a very, very helpful resource on this front from a DIY perspective.  It's basically a decently modern cognitive therapy book for the casual reader.  Quite good.

Also:  Exercise is really good for depression in a statistical sense -- and I realize how hard that can be with a baby around.  (looks at belly -- oh yes, do I ever.  sigh.)  Getting the little one in the bike carrier will probably help a lot on that front.

Good luck with the adventure!
« Last Edit: October 09, 2015, 09:43:47 PM by csprof »

Trouble

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Hi Ozlady thanks for commenting! We do get some money from our direct shares but that stays in the sharemarket account to be reinvested. We are hoping to purchase a property within 3 years so $60,000 is sitting in a 3.5% interest account due to the short term nature of the planned purchase (3 year timeframe means we get $ from the military to assist with payments).

MayDay: $70 is the cheapest childcare in Darwin (I also LOVE the childcare so I didn't go out seeking just the cheapest). When we made the decision to put him in we were getting a 50% rebate from the government so two days were $70 total. It is a full-day childcare so it opens at 7 and closes at 6. I put ChildTrouble in there from when BabyTrouble wakes up (never wake a sleeping baby!) until 4pm.
Next year ChildTrouble can go into pre-school which would be cheaper but shorter hours (which is fine, I'd still get a break), but I am very reluctant to change him from childcare to preschool to then only change again once we move to Melbourne (whenever the hell that happens... probably the first half of next year). Bonus for Melbourne is that due to MrTrouble's injuries we're eligible for 15 hours free per week of pre-school woo!!

The path less taken: Thanks for the idea, it's quite a process to do Family Day Care here in Australia, you have to have red zones and green zones and be licenced and all that, so not feasible at the moment. I have thought before about helping out friends with before/after school care once my kids hit school (my mum used to do that) but I don't know anyone who needs that at the moment. Something to keep in my mind for the future :)
Payout? Yes, it seems too small to us as well. We're waiting on the outcome of another two potential payouts for the same (but slightly different sorta) thing. Had a friend's husband get a $95k payout for practically the same thing (over two accepted conditions, we have one accepted and one we're waiting to hear back on).

Bee21: Very good point, spending my sanity allowance on childcare. I use it for clothes and shoes and chocolate/icecream so I could re-direct it to childcare instead and be a bit more sane.

csprof: No interest rate thankfully! Otherwise yes I would just pay it off from the stash.

Thank you to everyone else who commented (Dee18, LadyStache in Baja, FLBiker, mmm1970, chrisof) I really appreciate it. Seems I'm not doing horrible, but regardless we are in the red and improvements can be made.
I showed this thread to MrTrouble to make him aware (I often initiate money conversations but it mostly goes over his head and he just trusts me to do what I need to do) and he pointed out that airconditioning in the car costs a bit (just googled it now and it's 8-10% of fuel consumption) and we almost always have the aircon on.

There are a few things I'm going to do to help our situation:
1. Keep a car log to identify unnecessary driving (and of course try to reduce driving where possible from right now)
2. Use my sanity money to cover some of the childcare costs
3. Talk to MrTrouble about reducing childcare to one day per week
4. Research what health insurance level of cover we should go down to
5. Ask MrTrouble if his phone contract is up, and if it is get him onto a cheaper plan
6. Do a reduced spending grocery challenge each month for one week

Again, thanks for the feedback! I might start up a journal to keep myself on track!

Gizsuat2

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Seriously no one else had to Google define "fortnight"?  : )

Gizsuat2

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Also Trouble ...  Have you considered hiring a babysitter to come for a few hours a morning or two a week?  We have a babysitter every Saturday morning, and I go out and run my errands, exercise, etc.  I come home right before naptime, so it ends up being a most-of-the-day break.  And if you're oldest isn't napping anymore, how about starting him/her on doing "quiet time"?  I get about 1.5 to 2 hours of a break each afternoon with that.  Let me know if you need suggestions on the quiet time thing ... it's just about saved my life.  : )

former player

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You are not doing too badly, and with the changes you are proposing will be doing better.  But you are potentially seriously in trouble if either of two things go wrong for you, both of which are easily fixed.

The first is car insurance.  Get it NOW!.  This minute.  Shut down every other window on your computer except the one which will find you the cheapest third party insurance available NOW.  Because if you drive your car without insurance and have an accident (which could well be something unavoidable because of some other idiot's fault) you will be in over your head in civil damages claims, personal injury claims, criminal charges and legal costs, fines, suspended driving licences etc.  You can't afford all that shit, so get the insurance NOW.

Also, driving without having third party car insurance is probably the least responsible and mustachian thing I've read on these boards in a long time.  So sort it NOW.

OK, now you're back (you've got the insurance now, right?), the second thing is: please make absolutely sure you don't have any more babies until 1) you've relocated, set up the business and got a solid income coming in for the forseeable, and 2) you've got a handle on the post-natal depression and are fairly sure you won't have it again.

Good luck.  And thank you for getting that car insured.

Ms Terror

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In Australia, as long as your car is registered, you've got the third party insurance that former player is taking about. You only need *extra* third party fire and theft of you have an accident and need to pay for the other person's car damages. Personal injury/liability is covered by the registration here.

urbanista

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With this low income and two kids, you must get A LOT of help from the government, about 9-10K a year at least. Do you account for it?

happy

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My families expenses are not dissimilar to yours, but I have a lot of other professional costs included, so I've been trying to figure out where your budget is leaking. I think the electricity is too high, but I understand the Darwin/aircon issue…and you are renting so not much you can do to lower that cost.  Just do your best not to run it too much and don't get pregnant again in Darwin! The health fund needs trimming, but you also figured that out.  Petrol is waaaay too high. And  your car/bike cost looks high enough to include petrol, so thats an area to examine, especially if you don't have insurance - $190 /fortnight is $4940 - if it doesn't include insurance or fuel WTF did you spend it on?.

Can eating out $75 and $15 on fun go?  I know it doesn't seem much, but  trimming weekly or fortnightly expenses is really important since they are recurring over the year. Could you just try for each of those once a month? One technique I used was to try to do things half as often if I really didn't want to let them go.

And childcare will need to drop to 1 day a week.

Astatine

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I've recently put a bit of thought into my health insurance. I have top hospital because I have an ever-lengthening list of chronic health conditions that make it worthwhile for me. DH has less hospital cover than me, which works for him because he doesn't have any chronic conditions. Yet.

He has extras cover which I think he breaks even on with new glasses and free dental check ups. I have yet to bother signing up for extras. It's touch and go whether I'll break even with extras, even with needing new glasses and suddenly needing ongoing physio for the forseeable future. Doing the maths to work out whether you're breaking even or not with your extras cover for your personal situation might be a bit beyond you if your mind is fuzzy from the PND, but it may be something that you can safely drop.

I'm a fan of keeping private hospital cover, though. There are the tax benefits (depending on your personal situation - I don't have kids, so not sure how that works with tax returns), and I know from experience that if you need elective surgery, it's faster through the private system.

Best of luck, and I hope you can get treatment that works for you for your post natal depression.

Trouble

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Seriously no one else had to Google define "fortnight"?  : )

Ha ha ha, you Americans and your odd language :-p I never knew until this forum that not everyone used the term fortnight to refer to 'two weeks'

Trouble

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Also Trouble ...  Have you considered hiring a babysitter to come for a few hours a morning or two a week?  We have a babysitter every Saturday morning, and I go out and run my errands, exercise, etc.  I come home right before naptime, so it ends up being a most-of-the-day break.  And if you're oldest isn't napping anymore, how about starting him/her on doing "quiet time"?  I get about 1.5 to 2 hours of a break each afternoon with that.  Let me know if you need suggestions on the quiet time thing ... it's just about saved my life.  : )

Teach me any tips you have with quiet time PLEEEEEASE! My 3.5yo doesn't nap and we tried quiet time but it just ended with him being quiet and sneaky or bugging me every 5 minutes. The only solution I've found so far is TV (play school only on YouTube) which I use sparingly as I dislike him watching it.

Trouble

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You are not doing too badly, and with the changes you are proposing will be doing better.  But you are potentially seriously in trouble if either of two things go wrong for you, both of which are easily fixed.

The first is car insurance.  Get it NOW!. 

the second thing is: please make absolutely sure you don't have any more babies until 1) you've relocated, set up the business and got a solid income coming in for the forseeable, and 2) you've got a handle on the post-natal depression and are fairly sure you won't have it again.

Good luck.  And thank you for getting that car insured.

Car insurance sorted, thanks for the strongly worded reminder. Any accident would have only been property damage though as personal injury is covered with registration.

I promise, no more babies just yet, am currently debating to myself about cost and practicalities vs the heart tug of a third child (which is how many kids I want). Brain says no more, heart says 'you'll regret it'. In any case that's at least 1 year away.

PND is being managed, this is my second run at it (oh joy) but I'm aware of how it limits me and the effort it takes to move beyond it into action. I am very lucky that there is some publicly funded help in Australia for PND.

Trouble

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With this low income and two kids, you must get A LOT of help from the government, about 9-10K a year at least. Do you account for it?

At the moment we're getting no help from the government as MrTrouble will be getting some payouts this financial year so we'll be going over the thresholds for assistance. But that money is earmarked for purchasing property not living off. Next year we should be eligible for Centrelink (government assistance) again.

Trouble

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... Petrol is waaaay too high. And  your car/bike cost looks high enough to include petrol, so thats an area to examine, especially if you don't have insurance - $190 /fortnight is $4940 - if it doesn't include insurance or fuel WTF did you spend it on?.

Can eating out $75 and $15 on fun go?...

Car/bike costs look like this when broken down (this is ALL in 2015)
$233 gooping up hole (MrTrouble did the work himself, first time doing that, and it was a big hole-my fault!)
$47 Rego check
$820 rego
$150 fuel injectors cleaned
$330 2 new tyres and some other things checked
$240 catalytic converter off eBay
$55 firing pins
$380 brake pads and rotors
$70 misc car repair stuff
$170 battery and misc
$25 sun visor replacement
$107 spark plugs and injectors
$137 misc car repair stuff
$813 motorbike rego
$123 something fixed on motorbike
$205 front wheel replacement on motorbike

FAR OUT that's terrible! $3,905 spent this year. Now $1,700 is an every year cost (rego) but the rest should hopefully not repeat for a fair while. Almost all the work was done by MrTrouble who is not a mechanic but he likes working with his hands and learning. Some of the stuff was fault finding.

I feel like we so rarely eat out, but we have had visitors up here a few times and I might eat convenience food a bit more than I am willing to recognise (maybe once a week?). Next visitors are over New Years and I will quit with the 'I've had a rough day, I want something greasy' moment.

Trouble

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I've recently put a bit of thought into my health insurance. I have top hospital because I have an ever-lengthening list of chronic health conditions that make it worthwhile for me. DH has less hospital cover than me, which works for him because he doesn't have any chronic conditions. Yet.

He has extras cover which I think he breaks even on with new glasses and free dental check ups. I have yet to bother signing up for extras. It's touch and go whether I'll break even with extras, even with needing new glasses and suddenly needing ongoing physio for the forseeable future. Doing the maths to work out whether you're breaking even or not with your extras cover for your personal situation might be a bit beyond you if your mind is fuzzy from the PND, but it may be something that you can safely drop.

I'm a fan of keeping private hospital cover, though. There are the tax benefits (depending on your personal situation - I don't have kids, so not sure how that works with tax returns), and I know from experience that if you need elective surgery, it's faster through the private system.

Best of luck, and I hope you can get treatment that works for you for your post natal depression.

I doubt I break even at the moment, I just use it for chiro. we're fortunate that MrTrouble's health insurance is covered by the military for now, and anything relating to his back will be covered once he gets out. I was thinking about just keeping hospital cover until the kids get old enough to serve the waiting period for braces, as I'm pretty sure they'll need them (both sides have all had braces) and eyes seem fine at the moment but both sides also have some family members with glasses.
It's on the to-do list...

Trouble

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Thanks again to those who have added something, I really do appreciate the feedback. I'm great at making excuses but to see where my money situation is in black and white, and to be told where improvements can be made is very helpful. Now to take it one step at a time :)

marty998

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I've recently put a bit of thought into my health insurance. I have top hospital because I have an ever-lengthening list of chronic health conditions that make it worthwhile for me. DH has less hospital cover than me, which works for him because he doesn't have any chronic conditions. Yet.

He has extras cover which I think he breaks even on with new glasses and free dental check ups. I have yet to bother signing up for extras. It's touch and go whether I'll break even with extras, even with needing new glasses and suddenly needing ongoing physio for the forseeable future. Doing the maths to work out whether you're breaking even or not with your extras cover for your personal situation might be a bit beyond you if your mind is fuzzy from the PND, but it may be something that you can safely drop.

I'm a fan of keeping private hospital cover, though. There are the tax benefits (depending on your personal situation - I don't have kids, so not sure how that works with tax returns), and I know from experience that if you need elective surgery, it's faster through the private system.

Best of luck, and I hope you can get treatment that works for you for your post natal depression.

I doubt I break even at the moment, I just use it for chiro. we're fortunate that MrTrouble's health insurance is covered by the military for now, and anything relating to his back will be covered once he gets out. I was thinking about just keeping hospital cover until the kids get old enough to serve the waiting period for braces, as I'm pretty sure they'll need them (both sides have all had braces) and eyes seem fine at the moment but both sides also have some family members with glasses.
It's on the to-do list...

This is a general comment (not directed at you Astatine).

You're not supposed to "break-even" on health insurance each year. The idea is you pay more in premiums now into the pool when you're young and then when you're old and grey and need expensive knee and hip replacements you then draw down more in claims.

It's a devil of a conundrum... if everyone is "altruistic" with taking out insurance, it lowers premiums for everyone.

If everyone "does the maths" and concludes they'll only take out cover each year if they "break even" then everyone pays more than they should be.

The government has attempted to address this with the lifetime cover loadings (adding 2% to premiums for every year over 30 that you have not had cover) and such penalties as the medicare levy surcharge.

As long as we have a hybrid public/private system it will never be perfect. My view is that we've currently got the least worst system (the best system IMO is a preventative one where hospitals are unnecessary)

Having said all that (sorry for the hijack), the OP should try and drop obstetrics from her health cover if she is done with baby making...

... and possibly drop the mindset of claiming as much from centrelink as she can. That's "poor" thinking. Set yourself a goal to not have to rely on it. You've got $100k in cash and shares + a $45k work payout coming for your husband. Welfare should be for people who can't support themselves.

Astatine

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I've recently put a bit of thought into my health insurance. I have top hospital because I have an ever-lengthening list of chronic health conditions that make it worthwhile for me. DH has less hospital cover than me, which works for him because he doesn't have any chronic conditions. Yet.

He has extras cover which I think he breaks even on with new glasses and free dental check ups. I have yet to bother signing up for extras. It's touch and go whether I'll break even with extras, even with needing new glasses and suddenly needing ongoing physio for the forseeable future. Doing the maths to work out whether you're breaking even or not with your extras cover for your personal situation might be a bit beyond you if your mind is fuzzy from the PND, but it may be something that you can safely drop.

I'm a fan of keeping private hospital cover, though. There are the tax benefits (depending on your personal situation - I don't have kids, so not sure how that works with tax returns), and I know from experience that if you need elective surgery, it's faster through the private system.

Best of luck, and I hope you can get treatment that works for you for your post natal depression.

I doubt I break even at the moment, I just use it for chiro. we're fortunate that MrTrouble's health insurance is covered by the military for now, and anything relating to his back will be covered once he gets out. I was thinking about just keeping hospital cover until the kids get old enough to serve the waiting period for braces, as I'm pretty sure they'll need them (both sides have all had braces) and eyes seem fine at the moment but both sides also have some family members with glasses.
It's on the to-do list...

This is a general comment (not directed at you Astatine).

You're not supposed to "break-even" on health insurance each year. The idea is you pay more in premiums now into the pool when you're young and then when you're old and grey and need expensive knee and hip replacements you then draw down more in claims.

It's a devil of a conundrum... if everyone is "altruistic" with taking out insurance, it lowers premiums for everyone.

If everyone "does the maths" and concludes they'll only take out cover each year if they "break even" then everyone pays more than they should be.

The government has attempted to address this with the lifetime cover loadings (adding 2% to premiums for every year over 30 that you have not had cover) and such penalties as the medicare levy surcharge.

As long as we have a hybrid public/private system it will never be perfect. My view is that we've currently got the least worst system (the best system IMO is a preventative one where hospitals are unnecessary)

Having said all that (sorry for the hijack), the OP should try and drop obstetrics from her health cover if she is done with baby making...

marty998, I agree with you completely on hospital cover. I am a big fan of hospital cover for the reasons you state (I have top hospital for eg, and I'm ok if I get less out of it than I put in. In risk management terms, you're insuring yourself for the stuff that is unlikely to happen but has major consequences, plus being able to have elective surgery fast). Our current system is imperfect, but given the system we have, private hospital cover makes sense if you earn enough, especially if you over the age of 30. 

Extras, however, is intrinsically limited. There are limits on how much you can claim on each category and they are surprisingly low. You are not insuring for the unlikely but major consequence event. I think it's important to run the numbers on extras cover because each category you can claim on is limited. Otherwise you are paying $$ to the health insurance company unnecessarily (unless the health insurance companies use it as a cross-subsidy of hospital payments, but it's more likely to go to the profits they make). For me, it makes more sense for me to self-insure costs like glasses (which is a biannual expense for me), physio (this year is the first time I've needed physio in 20 years) and dental. With the possible exception of dental (which is very restricted in extras covers, so you can't really insure for the unexpected there), there are limits to those expenses. Physio is $115 per session for me for eg. I can cover that, and the refund if I had extras is only a small percentage of that (I need very specialised physio) and would be capped per year.

Sorry to continue the thread hijack. I have strong opinions about extras cover :)

cchrissyy

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if you can find a way to put both kids on the bike, you can save on gas $ plus get some fresh air, exercise, and quiet for yourself.

I don't think you're doing bad - but I am surprised how gentle people are being, saying that when your expenses are running higher than your take home pay. That can't be OK!

I think the answer is in you finding a way to make some income. Anything would help. Even if earnings mostly went to childcare expenses, it would be helping by getting you more time away from the kids and paying for it from that new money.  you didn't say what your past education or work experience was, but whatever it is, there are dozens of ways to make money at work or from home. That is your best short-term way to improve things.  Longer term, childcare for working hours or your SAHm mental health will thankfully be free when they reach school age, right?


dungoofed

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Agree that you're way ahead of the game compared to a lot of Aussies, just through the fact that you track things and are aware of where you want to be headed.

I also agree with the comment that you need to get some of that money working for you. Blue chips are a good option, but so is just regular bonds or a bond ETF. Hopefully you're already seeing some benefit from the direct shares that you're invested in. A dividend or interest payment can often make a big difference in a month where you have a few unexpected expenses, or otherwise you just keep it aside and roll it back into the market when you have a bit more saved up. Though 3.5% on your savings account is a fair return too.

A couple of questions/observations:

You mentioned mortgage payments, but you're also renting. Can we assume you sold the house and closed the loan when you moved to Darwin?

I didn't see superannuation on your list of assets but I assume it's not zero.

Trouble

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Having said all that (sorry for the hijack), the OP should try and drop obstetrics from her health cover if she is done with baby making...

... and possibly drop the mindset of claiming as much from centrelink as she can. That's "poor" thinking. Set yourself a goal to not have to rely on it. You've got $100k in cash and shares + a $45k work payout coming for your husband. Welfare should be for people who can't support themselves.

Can't just drop obstetrics, but I've done some new quotes and will be dropping to Mid Hospital cover and no extras, big change from Top Hospital and Top Extras!!

And yeah I'm not a huge fan of getting money from Centrelink, this is the first time in my life I've been on it and while I'm happy the government is giving me free money to stay at home, I'd much prefer to not be eligible and therefore not jump through their hoops. There is definitely not a long-term plan to be on assistance, but it is helpful at this point in time so I'm not forced back to work with small children.


Trouble

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if you can find a way to put both kids on the bike, you can save on gas $ plus get some fresh air, exercise, and quiet for yourself.

I don't think you're doing bad - but I am surprised how gentle people are being, saying that when your expenses are running higher than your take home pay. That can't be OK!

I think the answer is in you finding a way to make some income. Anything would help. Even if earnings mostly went to childcare expenses, it would be helping by getting you more time away from the kids and paying for it from that new money.  you didn't say what your past education or work experience was, but whatever it is, there are dozens of ways to make money at work or from home. That is your best short-term way to improve things.  Longer term, childcare for working hours or your SAHm mental health will thankfully be free when they reach school age, right?

On the bike, yeah that'll happen within the next 6 months, I'm being fairly complainypants about the weather here with riding.

The income thing is honestly harder. MrTrouble can't look after BabyTrouble for more than about 2 hours (and that has to be timed right with feeds and sleeps) due to his bad back, he just can't hold her for more than 5 minutes. Every day it gets easier as she gets more mobile, but that means that night work is out. Day-time work I'm breastfeeding on demand and she hasn't taken a bottle as yet. I'd have to have 2 kids in childcare and having my baby in childcare goes against how I want to parent. If we were in really dire straits then I'd look at it, but I don't think we're there.
Hopefully with some lifestyle changes we can stay in the black, and then when we get to Melbourne I can ramp up my party plan business and earn some more moolah around kids.

Childcare won't be a problem next year once we move so that's a decent expense gone, and then yeah when kids hit school age (or really once kid stops breastfeeding) there'll be more flexibility for me to earn money to supplement MrTrouble's booming business (fingers tightly crossed for that to happen of course).

1967mama

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A quote from Trouble's original post:

"I have postnatal depression and MrTrouble has recently been diagnosed with depression due to chronic back pain so we're lacking in the motivation area (which we used to be great at pre-kids)....

..I guess my request is... PLEASE HELP ME."

Having suffered from PPD myself, this really jumped out at me as I read your original post.  I can't help but wonder if getting some medical help from a good physician might go a long way toward helping you get the rest of your issues sorted out, in time. Prayers and positive thoughts coming to you across the interwebs!

Trouble

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Agree that you're way ahead of the game compared to a lot of Aussies, just through the fact that you track things and are aware of where you want to be headed.

I also agree with the comment that you need to get some of that money working for you. Blue chips are a good option, but so is just regular bonds or a bond ETF. Hopefully you're already seeing some benefit from the direct shares that you're invested in. A dividend or interest payment can often make a big difference in a month where you have a few unexpected expenses, or otherwise you just keep it aside and roll it back into the market when you have a bit more saved up. Though 3.5% on your savings account is a fair return too.

A couple of questions/observations:

You mentioned mortgage payments, but you're also renting. Can we assume you sold the house and closed the loan when you moved to Darwin?

I didn't see superannuation on your list of assets but I assume it's not zero.

Unexpected expenses aren't worrysome as we do have so much cash, but see that's been the problem that I think 'oh we're fine we'll just pay that' rather than going 'fuck, how can we optimise our bills and spending'. All the dividends stay on the share account, I don't touch them.

I had a mortgage until 3 years ago when I owned an apartment, gosh I was a lot more frugal back then. Buying your own place at 23 certainly tightens the reigns. I laugh at some people in the US who talk about a big mortgage at $200,000 or $300,000, my place was the cheapest I could find in all of the ACT that wasn't a bedsitter and it cost me $218,000.

With regards to super, we're in our early 30's so I don't even think about it. We have probably $300,000-ish between the two of us?

Trouble

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A quote from Trouble's original post:

"I have postnatal depression and MrTrouble has recently been diagnosed with depression due to chronic back pain so we're lacking in the motivation area (which we used to be great at pre-kids)....

..I guess my request is... PLEASE HELP ME."

Having suffered from PPD myself, this really jumped out at me as I read your original post.  I can't help but wonder if getting some medical help from a good physician might go a long way toward helping you get the rest of your issues sorted out, in time. Prayers and positive thoughts coming to you across the interwebs!

Thanks 1967mama, I put that information out there more as a 'this makes everything harder' rather than needing help with PND. Both MrTrouble and I are getting help, but we're not free and clear at this point. Having had suffered from PND with ChildTrouble I know second time around how it limits me.  I really really appreciate your concern :)

And to everyone who has been concerned about getting help for PND, I really do appreciate it, and it's good to see the stigma every day getting reduced for something that can be quite debilitating.

This process has been great, as although I pretty much know how to help myself, sometimes it takes other people telling me for me to actually be spurred into action :)

ahoy

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Hi there.  I'm just responding to one of your comments regarding getting quiet time or a nap out of your 3 year old.  This is my experience, my girls are now 12 and 9 yrs.  Honestly, I look at them now and wish we could go back in time. It really saddens me that they are getting older.   It may seem like these yrs drag on, but soon you'll blink and the yrs have passed.

My oldest gave up her afternoon nap straight after her 2nd b'day.  This scared me at first, because I thought I really needed that small window of time to myself.  I did not have postpartum depression, so I really have no idea what you are going though.   The saving grace for me  was because she now did not nap in the afternoon she was asleep every night by 6pm.   Everyday I would take her out in the morning.  Never once did I stay at home in the morning unless I had a friend coming over to visit.   I had a short reprieve with her going to bed early and then baby no. 2 comes along.  This baby ends up being a much better sleeper and still sleeps well today.    And of course the 12 yr old sleeps into 11am on the weekends now.

I echo the the commenters above about seeing a DR.  They do seem awfully fast ie. after a 15 min appointment, give you some medication to take and may have to take for along time.  If they put you on something research and do some more research of what they want to give you.   Exercise is also great.