Monday, 5 September 2016

Coping With Financial Storms

Some of the most commonly asked questions I get is -  How do you cope ?  How do you plan for the unexpected ?  How do you keep going ?

There are times when I've wondered " why us ". We've never had a comfortable income to live off.  It might seem that we are comfortable but it has taken so much hard work to get where we are. We've seen more financial challenges than most people we know.  Our income gets cut when most people's go up even if it's just in line with CPI. We lived for years and years with no pay rise and the cost of living increasing. And again I've wondered - why us ?

I get through these times firstly by praying. God knows our needs and they are always met, sometimes in the most miraculous of ways.  After praying about our situation, I start planning. There is nothing better than tackling a hard situation as soon as possible by putting pen to paper and finding a way out. Trying to ride out a storm hoping you will cope just doesn't work.  Every time we've had a income cut,  straight away I rework the budget. Of course we don't waste money but we always seem to do without something else. At the moment I'm able to start my Summer stockpile shopping on the $200 a month allocated grocery money. It sounds like a crazy amount but I'm doing it.

Being prepared for the storms of life makes it easier to cope. Having a monthly menu plan reduces stress if I get sick or something else happens. Weekly and fortnightly menu plans don't give a lot of wriggle room. If the monthly menu plan runs out and I don't have time or energy to write another one, we just repeat it. Because it's monthly, there are approximately 25 - 30 different meals on it so we don't repeat meals too often.  Constant repetition leads to boredom and boredom leads to eating out.

Having a healthy stockpile in the pantry, fridge and freezer gives me peace of mind. When I talk about a healthy stockpile, I'm talking about 4 - 6 month's worth ( except milk, fruit and veg ). My veggie garden is always there as a back up. I grow silverbeet and lettuce all year round and it saves us a fortune. If I can't get to the shops, I know I have greens to pick to go with a meal. Those greens are some of the most healthiest things to grow.

We all have unexpected bills arrive. Dental, car and appliance repairs are the most common. A way to get around this is to build an emergency account that covers these items. $5000 should be a minimum to set aside. This might seem like an unachievable goal but it can be done.   Holidays, and  luxuries such as gym memberships,  magazines,  coffees out etc etc should be avoided until the emergency account goal is reached.  If the emergency account is dipped into, it should be topped up as soon as possible.  Having that safety net at all times is so important.  It eliminates the need to use the credit card.

My family doesn't always understand my hard approach to saving, but they support me and certainly appreciate it when they see the fruits of our labour.  Then I remind them of why we saved.  My kitchen is a fine example.  The kitchen took almost two years of hard saving and 20 years of dreaming. Sure, I could have bought a cheap kitchen or taken out a loan. But it wouldn't have lasted the distance and I wouldn't have liked it.

Are you prepared for financial storms ?

How do you cope with the unexpected ?


  1. You are right about saving for things. Having that goal helps motivate you. BTW, you kitchen turned out great!

  2. Love this post Wendy. You always inspire me to keep doing the hard yards to achieve our financial goals.

  3. You raise an important observation....just because those around you may not understand does not mean that we give up. Very powerful.

  4. Hi Wendy
    Do you have a recent copy of your menu plans that include breakfasts, lunches, dinner and snacks/desserts. I. Get a bit stuck for ideas and things become a little bit boring, we too have a small vegie garden and spinach/lettuce seem to be doing well most of the time plus peas and beans in season not so lucky with broccoli and cabbage. Hoping you have some new ideas youse up lettuce and spinach.

  5. Wendy, this is a great post and what you have described is very very similar to our life as well. Planning ahead and preparing ahead are the keys to coping with financially lean times and struggles.

  6. great post. I recommend watching The Fundamental Home on Youtube. Amanda and her family live on a $100.00 a month grocery budget. I don't know how much that would be in Australian money but it is still quite low for a family of 5.

    1. The Fundamental Home is a great channel. There are quite a few on you tube under a frugal or budget search.
      Great post Wendy
      Jenny from Tasmania

  7. You are something to aspire to. I am now trying to catch up after 2 months of no income for me and only my hubby's part time wage. Still all our utility bills are paid and my credit card is being paid bit by bit. Now I am back at working I am doing a payment push because I want to save for my bathroom update and to renovate the back of my house so my laundry is inside the house and not separate from the house.
    Very sound advice. God bless.

  8. Hi Wendy,

    Love this post!!!
    How we prepare is PLAN, PLAN, PLAN. Having a POM and Emergency fund is essential and if the unexpected pops up, revise things in our budget and go without some luxuries if needed.


  9. Excellent article. I haven't been reading your blog for a bit, so glad I stopped in. Keep writing!
    Barb USA

  10. I'm in a financial storm right now. Have long standing health issues which mean if I get a cold it turns into a chest infection then pnuemonia. This means I face constant unpredictability and not be able to work as many shifts if at all some times like these last two weeks. It seems the public sector of health is worse and worse every time I watch the news here in n.s.w so I have made having private cover a priority. I can't wait weeks for a bed. What I did do however was reevaluate this week by looking at my extras cover decreasing it and saving $50 a month alone. I also worked out with the company its cheaper for me to have a $0 excess than pay $250 on the first admission each year as I go in a lot.
    Other ways: I have money debited automatically into a I.n.g saver from centerlink payment. I don't miss it that way. Living alone I've been buying frozen peas, etc as I have a unit no place to grow lettuce. Often cheaper than fresh. I do two meals a week like beans and eggs. I've been buying veg on sale and also making delicious soups. Been drying clothes all in the sun and using the laundry powder recipe. I too think why me ? But there is always someone worse off. God has blessed me and comes through. You're so right Wendy we can pray but then we must put plans to actions !! I'm going to look for a second job after an upcoming hospital stay. I think I will go back to old home care job ,$27/hr and I like chatting and helping old people. Plus, I'm embarking on my masters in genetics at uni next year so I'm saving for that.

  11. Dear Wendy,
    A great post, as always. We are currently dealing with financial insecurity and a potential loss of income. I am trying not to stress about it, I know we can live very cheaply and as long as we have a roof over our heads, food in our bellies and the bills are paid we will be ok. Like you we have had many financial up and downs, many years ago we were struggling to make our mortgage payments when my husband had to quit work due to illness and we almost lost the house. Hard times make family rally together and become closer, I think. I have had many times where I've felt sorry for myself, then I suck it up and deal with it. Right now we are making a plan A, B and C in case we need it! I was wondering, what kind of things do you stockpile for the summer? x

  12. Hi Wendy, I love your blog. Can you please tell me how much you budget a year for everything per person as in how much for clothes, presents, shoes, etc. thank you from Natasha

    1. To answer your question would take a bit of work and I'd need to check with Darren before I reveal all our budget info.

      Darren and I have $150 each twice a year for clothing. So that's $300 each per year. This includes any shoes and coats we need. Our girls were on the same budget for many years but now they work and buy their own clothes.

      Presents for extended family has a limit of $20 each but I always try to beat the budget. Some presents I make and might only cost $5 but look like they are worth more. I also look in the op shops for presents.

  13. Thank you Wendy. That was a great help so I know how much to put away for everything.


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