Wednesday, November 06, 2013

the cost of living - one year on

There are two things that really prove the exorbitant expense of life with children: grocery shopping and car hunting. We did both yesterday and it was a definite reality check (it also cemented car shopping as one of my least favourite activities. Second-hand car salesman really do live up to their reputation).

Two years ago we bought our first (relatively new) car. For the years previous we drove a few different cars - old cars that never cost more that $3000 (my first was $200). Is it ironic that the car we took out a loan for is the one that caused us the most grief? When said car became completely unreliable it caused a few issues for us, mainly due to the fact that we're a one-car family and so when we returned from Bali we decided we should trade it in and buy another one. Nothing fancy, just a reliable car that can get us from A to B.


We've decided to shop for what we need now, not the possibility of a bigger family, an extra car seat and a pram in the future. While we shopped we took note of backset room and boot size and it became blatantly obvious that three or more children require a big car with three rows of seats (and that's before I learnt that the government is considering keeping kids in carseats till the age of 12). Subsequently we're re-consdering whether four children will be possible for us (so sad that money might affect our decision). 


The need for a new car has coincided with many discussions between friends who need to move out of their current rentals. I know three young families who are currently searching far and wide for appropriate rentals in Sydney that don't cost over $750 a week. I have talked to them about buying, too, and for many of us it's a dream that seems to be slipping away as prices continue to rise (in our part of the world, at least). We are a generation of renters and maybe, just maybe, the Australian dream of home-ownership is becoming just that - a dream. 


But are we ready to rewrite our ideals? Well, I'm not. I'm not ready to let go of the dream and so I'll continue taking those steps towards buying a cottage, even if there are setbacks along the way (we still haven't bought that coffee machine and that's just plain slack!). Since I wrote "the cost of living" last year Daniel and I have definitely been more conscious of where our money goes. We've worked harder, too, and the bank account is proof.  Right now we are without a car, weighing up our options (public transport is basically non-existent here, a car is a necessity) and setting goals for the new year. A few steps forward, a few steps back, attempting to be grateful for what we do have and not get dragged down by what we don't.


In the midst of it all I read one of the most inspiring blog posts I've ever come across. I've been following Erin's blog for six years now; I've always been inspired by her photography and fascinated by her life choices. From A to C details the entire story and it's been at the forefront of my mind since last week. 

Have you changed the way you budget this year? What kind of car do you have? - I'm open to suggestions! What have you gone without to ensure your savings grow?


61 COMMENTS

  1. the tiny house concept is becoming more and more appealing, i love the ideal of everyone bunked in together, cosy and tight. And it's so much more affordable. my dream - to find a beautiful mountainous location and build a tainy house :)

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    1. I agree. I wrote about the benefits of small spaces here - http://cheandfidel.blogspot.com/2013/08/nine-practicing-simplicity.html
      Keep me updated on the tiny house on the mountain x

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  2. We have a tiny house. Three of us live in 80m squared, with a big garden and a view of the sea and sky. It's working just fine. Prices in the city we live near in NZ have gone crazy high and any thoughts of bigger house, or moving dissipate when I look at what the market is like. I only learned to drive when I moved back to NZ after 16 years away. I like to think a good life can be had with out burning fossil fuels but you really need a car here. My first one lasted years and ended up breaking down on our remote twisty road at random times. With small child in tow. Oh the adventure of it all! Car hunting is horrible, but this time I came home with ole reliable from a dear on Trademe who had it from new and drove to the shops and back and had it serviced every year. Bless. The good ones are out there. Can't go wrong with a Toyota carolla!

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  3. It's getting to that time of year when we reflect on the journey of our year. I also wanted to say thanks for sharing Erin's blog- a new discovery for me. it's like in life, word of mouth is the best. nat x

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  4. I've been thinking lots about cars recently, not from a necessity perspective but from a city perspective. More and more I believe it's important to have city spaces that are compact and walkable - so that the average family/person does not require a car. For a while growing up we were a 6-person 1x 5-seater car family and it worked - we hired or borrowed when we went away for the summer and through a lot of scheduling and carpooling we made it work the rest of the time - so don't let go of the dream of more children. Maybe it's not about having more money but about living somewhere where a car isn't a necessity..? just a thought. Or move to NZ, it's cheaper here, especially in the south. You might find that tiny cottage ..... x

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  5. Budget. Money. Words that cause my palms to sweat and anxiety to crackle through my body.
    This year has been tough and has forced us to tighten the belt a little. I've been having a hard time with the realization that my dream career my not be financially feasible if we want to do nice things like take holidays and buy nice things. Plus bloody day care is a huge bill, ouch!
    I highly recommend a Mazda, I have a 2004 mazda2 bought new and has been a solid, reliable zippy work-horse since day dot. Plus I get about $50/500km of petrol in the city.

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  6. We just bought a second hand suburu, because everyone we know who loves their car has one (and everyone we asked also has kids - so it met main criteria - it fits all the stuff you need to go camping).

    I am extremely frugal in areas that do not matter to me, but I do not skimp on anything that brings me and my family great pleasure. For example I buy clothes in an ethical way, no matter how cheap Best and less or Target is, I am not interested in supporting people being underpaid in the textile industry. But I have found, that clothes by shops like Udder last - even though my son is four, quite a lot of his clothes are in good enough condition to pass on.
    I think if you know what matters, and understand what doesn't, you can manage your finances, and still live a full life - not a life of deprivation. The best advice I can offer, is to know yourself all over - if you want a cleaner and a gardener and fancy clothes, and a big house, then make sure you also want to work long hours. Be sure your desires are in tune with all the ways you live your life.

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  7. For us this year we've been much more conscious about where our money goes, and our bank account is also proof! For us budgeting is always a matter of compromise and everyone's compromises will be different. For us, our biggest compromise is living and working in Brisbane when we'd much prefer a smaller town near the sea. Our reality is that this is where we can get good work and can afford to own a home ... and we were willing to compromise on the hour drive to the beach. But, we have a little one on the way now so perhaps next year we'll need to reassess what compromises we're willing to keep living with. On the car front, car shopping is the worst! We're a one car family too! Even then, it's the car that is going to mean I have to go back to work earlier than what I'd like to after we have the baby ...I'm not sure about that compromise yet.

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  8. We moved to a tiny run down house in a rural city. We have one car and I walk generally speaking or drop my husband at work if I need the car. I cut and dye my own hair.
    I really hope to do a proper veggie garden soon (currently we just do onions and garlic). We go without things that others seem to consider essential but honestly I don't really miss. It would be nice to have a holiday but in a few years we'll be done renovating and that will be viable. It can be hard but it's all about perspective.
    It can be stressful living away from the bigger cities but then my mortgage is a drop in the ocean compared to the rents you're talking about. I have no idea how people eat and pay that kind of rent.

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  9. Shopping for a car fills me with dread too. We were happy with an old wagon till we were told by our trusty mechanic (who services our car on our driveway!) that it wasn't safe anymore. We had to borrow money from our in-laws to buy another one, which I resented, because I was happy driving an old car and didn't want the debt. But at least we're driving a safe car now! (Incidentally, we bought this car from a one-of-a-kind dealer. My experiences in the past have always left me feeling icky, but I would sincerely buy from him again (I even wrote a testimonial for him!). Budgeting… well, we're trying to make the picture a little less bleak with Graeme working on top of his day job, but ultimately the dream for me is to be completely self-reliant, to say goodbye to city jobs for good and to earn enough doing what we love. That's the tricky part, because so far the path has been full of knocks and bumps, but something tells me to keep going. My goal for the new year? To be supporting Graeme in the income stakes, doing something I love (while homeschooling, of course!)… What have we gone without? A proper holiday in years! Not good!

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  10. Big purchases always seem to pop up at the most inconvenient times. This time last year we were almost ready to buy a block of land in Northern NSW and build our first home. The same week we were due to put the offer in our car started to play up and we decided (also being a one car family) that it was a priority with little ones to have reliable transport. So we purchased a second hand Holden Wagon. Tons of space, super reliable, surprisingly fuel efficient for a larger car and didn't cost us the earth. Unfortunately there was the majority of our land deposit gone.
    So we delighted in our new set of wheels, made the most of our current rental and set about saving up again.

    Just this week we have put an offer in on our little slice of paradise in Bangalow. So with our 2 year old and 7 week old we are embarking on building a little haven for our family of 4. We wish it had come years earlier, often commenting how easy saving and building would have been pre-children, but we're exactly where we're meant to be - our little family unit about to build a life together - we're bubbling over with excitement!

    Oh and just to throw a spanner in the works we have just received notice that we have to move from our current rental in the next few weeks, So as a 2nd time new Mama I'm taking a big breath, packing up the house yet again and moving my little family to what will hopefully be our LAST ever rental.

    This time next year we'll be sitting on our deck of our beautiful home, looking over farmland and delighting in the journey!

    (Worth a read is Annette Noontil's book Your Body Is The Barometer To Your Soul which details how your emotions reflect how your car works. Fascinating stuff!)

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  11. My daughter had the same dilemma after her 3rd baby, but then after her 4th the whole game changed yet again and they ended up buying a 7 seater Hyundai sorrento thing that is lovely to drive but basically the deposit on a small house. Vans are dangerous, I know you can fit plenty in but u have no protection. I would look for a good second hand wagon 7 seater. If you want 4 kids go for it if you don't you will always regret it. Home ownership is becoming a far and distant dream for a lot of people, the prices in NSW are ridiculous and I feel sorry for many that will never achieve that dream, but then being a slave to a mortgage and paying almost 3 times the net worth by the time you finish is also ridiculous. The world is changing, and something somewhere is gonna give....

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  12. Subarus doing us well, forester has 3 diagonal seats belts in the back, good sized boot and are reliable. They are a bit more costly on fuel tho as 4 wd , we need that where we live .We actually own 2 ( no public transport and our jobs are 80 mins apart in different directions)- one of which is up to 297,000km on clock and still going well. We believe in keeping our vehicles as long as possible as every km you drive represents better value for initial cost. In NZ we buy Japanese imports as pretty good value.

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  13. hello! This post couldnt of come at a better time! We do, are feeling the drain and the outlook of where we will end up. Its a scary thing. We just got a new car (to save money on fuel, a mazda cx5... as much as the concept was to save money as its so fuel efficient, it has left us poor-pers! We are scrounging around feeling pretty low, new car and all! Hope you find a car soon, what were you looking at>???

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  14. I guess it depends on how far you are willing to side-step to get to your goals...

    We chose to live in a suburb where house prices were affordable (and stable), near all your essential things (schools, shops, medical facilities etc) so we could buy a reasonable house and live within our means. It's was not our first choice - we'd like to move to more country and/or more ocean but we have made a nice home and community here for ourselves. Its small steps.

    To answer your question, we drive a Commodore Station wagon. I'm happy with it. We've had it since 2008, and we bought it at 3-years-old. It's still going strong *touch wood*

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  15. We have a second hand Land Rover Discovery 2. (Or 3 - I keep forgetting which one it is...) It fits three car seats across the middle row and there are two fold-down seats at the back. Angus is currently back there with a booster seat. Probably not my first choice of car but Rick loves it so I am happy to drive it for his sake. Service bills don't come cheap though.

    These last two years, I've gone without buying any item of clothing or accessory and I have to say, that has helped substantially with the finances. But the main thing is that I've learnt to be content with what I have, and that's been a beautiful thing.

    Ronnie xo

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  16. p.s. How amazing was that post of Erin's? It totally stopped me in my tracks the other night and had me reading through the rest of her story for the rest of the evening...

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  17. We are not that great at budgeting - as far as the goal setting/record keeping goes - but we are quite good at following a basic premise to live not just within our means but in a way that creates comfortable margins for saving and giving and living. When we lived in the city our budgeting only went so far as to allocate weekly pocket money and save as much as possible. It meant guilt-free spending without over-doing it - coffee, lunch, the occasional magazine or op shop stop were all within the means of this. It was a great experiment and worked quite well.

    We have both had cheap, old cars. When we decided to change to one car, we found it incredibly hard to know where to find what we wanted. In the end we simply bought a second-hand car from my brother-in-law. It was a Subaru Impreza wagon (we had been thinking to buy a Forester). It was fairly economical and a good little car to drive but not the cheapest on repairs and had alot of km's. More recently we sold that one to my brother and have bought our first 'grown up' car. A 2011 Nissan X-trail. Once again we had been thinking about a Forester but, after research and consideration, the X-trail won out. Resale on these isn't the best, apparently (good for us second-hand buyers who want to hold on to the car for as long as possible), but they are great cars. Seats go down flat in the back, they have all wheel drive and are very comfortable. Service costs are predictable if you keep to the schedule. Not the most economical urban car (not terrible either) but fantastic on longer drives, with a 6th gear. It has been the best kind of compromise between a sedan and a full-on 4WD - which would use double the fuel of the X-trail. Ours is a diesel. Great for more remote areas in the top end where diesel is more readily available over unleaded, economical on our long drives. We just kept things simple with the basic model, nothing fancy here.

    Once we had decided on what we wanted, we were lucky enough to have it all fall into place very quickly. You can only hope for the best when buying second hand but there are things you can do to ensure you are taking every precaution. We always get a mechanic to check the car for our own peace of mind. RACQ/NRMA offer this kind of service, as do other mechanics. It's not a hybrid or a bio-diesel fuelled vehicle but it fits the bill for the life we are living now. When buying, it's worth taking into account how expensive services and parts are, and the general reliability and fuel consumption of the car. I know how agonising making this kind of purchase can be - good luck with it!!

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  18. Oh Jody, I so hear you on the 'can we even afford four kids' thing. We never gave thought to money or financial circumstances when we decided to have each of our babies, but after Eliot, when we began to think about going round again, it was a huge factor. HUGE. And the money won. When they're all in high school, doing their music lessons and sporting commitments, having another child would have just been too hard on the finances. It's such a hard decision to make when you could so easily have another - plenty of love to give and the WANT to have more - but the reality that unless we won the lottery some time in the near future, we would struggle to make ends meet and have to say no to things the kids will inevitably ask for. And we don't want to have to say no. So five we are!
    And the bigger car - tell me about it! We have a (secondhand) commodore station wagon which has been so brilliant - I love the boot space for pram/changing nappies/groceries (and fits three proper car seats across the backseat, no boosters) but I will be so sad to get back in it after driving the Ford Territory around for nearly six weeks... it's been so wonderful yet equally cruel - to know we cannot afford a $50,000 car yet it suits our family perfectly. I hope you and Daniel find the rights answers and solutions xx

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  19. I drive a 10 year old Pajero and love it. 3 kids, 3 seats fit well and option of bump seat in the back. Recently drove a Kia Carnival rental and found it super comfortable and spacious with 4 adults, 4 kids. Not sure we are ready for a tiny house, although I love the concept. I AM interested in more acreage to grow more food though.

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  20. We have an ancient Honda that is dying a slow death. I dread the day we have to get a new car. When we do have to get a new one though, I think we will get a tiny car...we really only need it for around town and I hate paying so much for petrol!
    Life is expensive.
    We are thinking about baby number two and unfortunately the cost of things definitely factors into our decision...I hate that money is even in the equation but it is reality.

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  21. Oh the car dilemma! I truly find cars so frustrating. And I really dislike big cars. I spent most of this last pregnancy in denial that we'd need a new car to fit our babes in – causing many arguments and a fair bit of stress. I even suggested that maybe we didn't need a car and I'd just walk everywhere (considering my parents are an hour drive away, that was shot down pretty quickly). Sigh. We purchased (with a trade in, some family help and a loan) our first ever brand new car. A mitsubishi outlander. It feels huge to me, but it only just fits our three car seats snugly across the back and the double pram in the boot.

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  22. After our third we got a newer more reliable 8 seater van. We plan on having 1 or 2 more so this will probably be our car for a long time to come. We don't give money too much of a thought when it comes to more babes, at the moment we can pay our morgage and bills and feed our family.
    I remember an older lady once saying to me you will never regret the children you have.

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  23. It is so sad that money may dictate how many children we have. We would love four, but I imagine we'll have to have three. Like you say, four means more bedrooms and a bigger car (as well as other things!) and I can't see our circumstances changing that much in the next few years.
    I think the UK is becoming a country of renters too - without a huge deposit, it's just impossible to buy right now, especially where we live.
    Freelancing over the last few months has given us the opportunity to start a savings account with a large chunk of money, that we hope we'll just be able to add to over the years, but I wonder if we'll ever get enough for a deposit on a house. Right now, it's just lovely knowing that if something happens we have money there we can use. That takes so much pressure off.
    Car suck in every way. The insurance, tax, MOT - it all adds up and we barely even use ours, but can't not have one with friends and family scattered all over the place. We got a Ford Focus when we were pregnant with Josephine and I have to say, it's a pretty perfect car. Really wide, so plenty of boot space and room in the back. Ours wasn't very expensive (less than £2000, but the most we've ever spent on a car!) but it's passed both the last MOTs and (touch wood!) nothing major has needed doing with it so far, and we've had it for more than 2 years.

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  24. I'm a single mum with a toddler, and I budget the way I always have. I prioritise. Travel is the most important thing to me (after my baby, obviously)... and living a simple life. My biggest choice has been to live without debt. No credit cards. No loans. Nothing. If I can't afford to pay for it in cash. We go without. We go without a lot of life's fancier things... but I don't mind. We have savings in the bank and plenty of good food and we have a small rental home and we have eachother. We don't want for much. We drive an embarrassingly ugly old car (not the cool old vintage 70s kind... the ugly early 90s kind) that cost me a couple of thousand dollars from a car yard. It's not what I want to drive... but it was what I could afford at the time.

    It's all choices. I'd love to own our own home and be able to paint walls and put up pictures and decorate and nest... But it's so far out of reach that it's just a dream for now. I'd rather take my babe and travel around the world, visiting far off lands and gaining in knowledge and experience things that money just can't buy... things that fancy cars and houses and designer clothing could never give us. So we go without, to gain more of what we love.

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    1. What a fabulous mother you are, what a lucky child you have, and I am sure your child will grow old with the best memories, stories and understanding.

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    2. Extremely inspiring. Thanks for sharing, Sash.
      Ronnie xo

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    3. i just love this "go without." because gosh, choosing to go without some things means a whole lot of "having" of other things. we can't have everything, so choices must be made. well stated, sash. thanks!

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  25. I'm thinking about our financial situation too! Here in Italy crisis is still high and even if I have a safe working, my husband has to deal with this economical situation. In Italy you are full paid for 3 months after the baby is born. Then you'll paid 70% less... Private nursery for my first daughter is very expensive (there are no public nursery here) and every time I buy food I spent more than the previous time! I'm trying to control the situation planning the weekly meals in advance so I go to the grocery store once a week and I don't wasting food.
    About the car, we have a LPG Skoda: we avoid gasoline engine only because it's much more expensive and pollutant!

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  26. I think this time of year (at least in the states) always prompts families to think about future goals, including financial ones. Your thoughts have me now thinking about how my partner and I might prepare for a life with children given the expenses (again, sad to think about -- but a necessity). Thanks for sharing your thoughts as they continue to inspire and shape my own!

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  27. By no means are my husband and I very good at budgeting; nor do I ever foresee us getting much better. Baby steps, no one is ever exceptionally great at anything they're not familiar with. But the thing I focus on more than the budgeting is the comparing.
    While I was single and a manager of a retail store, I felt wealthier than I ever have been since. I knew how to take hits in certain areas of my life if money was tight (ramen! riding bike because I'm out of gas!), and I honestly don't recall ever feeling stressed about it. Naivety and youth are wonderful.
    The older you get, however, things change. Back then I lived in a rough neighborhood - hardly did I feel threatened by hearing the occasional gunshot, and I freely walked around by myself after hours. My husband and I recently moved back to his hometown due to the cost of living and his schooling - even in this city, one of the cheapest in the US, we had to choose a more run down neighborhood to afford our house. Truth be told, it's probably safer than my old bachelorette neighborhood. But no longer do we have only cheap, secondhand furniture, we have a few nice, quality things. And no longer do I go out much, loud noises and ruckus are the antithesis of the way I live. And no longer will it just be us two, eventually - all my decisions nowadays are with mind for a future babe.
    This is all okay. We grow up and our worlds change.
    The trick is that I don't spend time thinking about how good I had it while younger (only as fond memories). Or the perfect-for-me car that I used to have, the car that equaled my freedom of a rather nomadic lifestyle, now that we traded it in for a shared, single 'family vehicle' (Subaru, by the way - agree with all the rest that it is safe safe safe and long lasting and dependable, even secondhand). I'm pushing 29 years old and sorely wish that I had started with children three, four years ago, but our budget simply would not allow it. But it's okay. Because there are so many elements from those former ages and periods that I'm glad are gone. And one day when my husband's school is finished and we have a child, I won't be sitting there comparing her to the possible child I would have had at age 27.
    I think the comparing is what stresses most people out when it come to anything financial, or big changes, or anything that causes stress. When I do fall under a spell of money stress, I sit back and figure out what the root of it is: I see a wealthy mother and her newborn chatting with another wealthy woman and her toddler at Whole Foods while they load their carts with expensive crackers and whatnot. I am wearing my only pair of jeans, clutching my shopping list that I must adhere to and choose the cheapest of options. Suddenly, I'm stressed. Why? Comparison. I sit and reflect about their large diamonds and platinum blond locks and cart full of ready made items. And I know, absolutely, that with my ingredients to make bread and crackers from scratch and the need to appreciate smaller, more frugal meals, I am far richer than those women in so many other ways. My child will not grow up privileged with a very young mother, but this is okay. Because our own world will be very beautiful, so long as I focus on it and us, and not them and theirs.

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    1. Also, concerning the ideals:
      Don't have them.
      It sounds utterly desolate and Nietzschean, but I mean it. Have a few goals tucked away (me, for example: "a baby"), but do not make them concrete ("a baby with blue eyes who will grow up to be a lovely musician"). Because you will always, always, always either be wrong about them ("where did these green eyes come from?!") or disappointed ("this poor child is completely tune deaf."). Do not idealize about that seaside cottage, because when you're 70 and you are still a city-dweller, you will be bitter. It's like those people who take vacations with a complicated itinerary; they get to the destination, only to find that the museum that they had planned on seeing is closed for renovation, and the restaurant that they had hoped to dine at burnt down a year ago. Throws a kink in everything and they get bummed out. But the people who goes on vacation with absolutely no plan but to wander and take everything in as fresh will be pleasantly surprised with finding the other museum they happened to stumble upon, or have the best meal of their life completely by accident because it was the obvious choice in front of them while they were hungry.
      I only met my husband right after the both of us had decided that we were finally comfortable and confident enough to accept being single perhaps the rest of our lives. We had stopped searching, stopped seeking, and then there he was. We eloped two weeks later. That would have never had happened had I idealized about him!

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    2. So very wise. Yes it's not the goals we're chasing, but the feelings those goals will give us. If we focus on how we want to feel, we free up the space for whatever Life has in store for us.

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    3. I agree, Vanessa! Melina, I was so moved by your observation that it is indeed a feeling I'm chasing and not necessarily a goal. But I'm a dreamer and idealist at heart; to change my ways is almost impossible. However, you've got me thinking...

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    4. Of course! We all are. And I, too, am a very large dreamer, often with too much on my plate because I wish to touch it all. I'd love to be the business owner/mother/knitter/pie maker/gardener/woodworker/old tome reader/photographer/blogger/swimmer/potter/farmhouse owner/about a million other things I've dabbled in. But your post a few weeks ago on embracing creative progress and letting go of perfection is exactly that - you had me thinking about that for a long while after you wrote it and I am in the same exact boat! Either I can clean the entire house by my OCD self and be exhausted afterwards with no energy to make and create; or, my husband can help a bit, even if I know that I'd probably go over the chores he chose and find 'fault' with them. Why not be grateful that I have a husband that is constantly asking if I need help and always giving, allowing me more time for myself? Trimming the fat, eliminating the excess and/or "perfection". Perfection is the exact same thing as an ideal. Perfection=Ideal=Idol, and we all know that idols are no things we actually wish to embody...

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  28. We have had the same record with cars as you described - always purchasing with cash and driving a. . . well less than ideal car in terms of looks, but hey, they got us where we needed to go! When I found out I was pregnant, we though we HAD to have a four door car, so we purchased an older Jeep and took out a loan. In reality, we could have kept our paid of two door car and just climbed into the backseat to put baby in the carseat. We're both small people. Life lessons, I guess. Much like you (again), this is the only vehicle we've had issues with. We've had to sink over $2000 into it, which is why we're still $1500 away from paying it off. We're working hard to get rid of the debt, but saving for a move in our near future as well, so we swing back and forth between paying off debt and putting money in savings. We still haven't decided which is more important. We're moving to the NYC area, so I'm sympathizing with you on the cost of rent as I write this and have a few tabs open, looking at apartment prices in the areas we'd like to live. We do our best to live simply and budget accordingly, but it's hard to save money when you don't have a lot of excess. We just keep reminding each other that it isn't forever. We're both working hard towards our dreams of owning our own business and freelance writing, so a break has got to come eventually, right?

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  29. Ah Sydney. The prices there baffle me. I really don't know how you do it there - those rents are at least double my mortgage. I can't fathom making our incomes stretch that far, my hat goes off to you. Dreamlines... ah dreamlines... I'll be making a few of my own soon. Thank you for your thoughts, as always :)

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    1. We don't live in Sydney (there's no way we could afford it) but there's no denying that where we live is becoming an outer-suburb of Sydney and hence the prices are reflecting that. We live in a great little rental that is most definitely affordable for our suburb (the house next door has just been leased for almost double what we pay) so we'll stay here for the next few years, saving as much as we can x

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  30. We have a car and a scooter and that works well for us as we both work in opposite directions with odd hours that don't suit public transport. Whoever has the car has the kids, the other has the scooter. We have a ten year old honda crv that has been ideal for a family of four but you could not fit 3 boosters in the back. It has lasted well, aside from the air con blowing up when I was 39 weeks pregnant in the heat of summer and apparently this is a known fault with the older model but not the next model that would be 7-8 years old now. Keep saving and focus on the fact that you have more flexibility with where you live as you work from home and maybe look to buy in a more regional area where the prices are lower ( or come to Brisbane where any inner city rental house is about $450) mel x

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  31. I hear you! I don't know how anyone manages a mortgage with children and sports and food! BTW children do become more expensive as they get older... I fantasize about driving a shiny new VW multivan with 8 seats and room for surfboards and bikes, but for now, our very old Honda with its daggy scratched paint and chipped bumper is a ripper. The engine on that thing just goes and goes. Hope you find new wheels soon x

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  32. We live on an island that requires a ferry for my husband to get to work. While we absolutely love it here we've realized that spending almost 200$ in transportation a month is not sustainable. So, once our lease ends we're moving closer to where my husband works to save more money. We're also looking to lower our rent by 100$ a month, at the same time my husband is supposed to be getting a raise, so our idea is to lower our cost of living while our income goes up. We drive a 1985 Volvo, it's definitely not fancy looking, but it runs on diesel and gets great gas mileage, we spent 1500$ on it. I try to focus on spending on buying more local made purchases, otherwise buying things used, and good foods.

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  33. from the time my husband and i bought our home together we have both put aside a certain amount of money into a joint savings account each month from our earnings - because we have always done this it doesn't feel like we are ever going without something to do it. we have not touched it, and hope to use it for our next home. every tax return is saved as well if possible - because i work on an as needed basis and do not get paid maternity leave - so if we have more children (and we want to), we need to have something saved up. also this year i started aggressively paying off student deb (also in preparation for staying home more). going without coffee from coffee shops, not eating out, using plain ol' soap instead of fancy body wash, altering my boot-cut jeans into skinny ones instead of buying new stuff - it goes a long way over time. every spare cent goes to those loans.

    when it comes to the car situation - oh, i hate driving, but i have always had a used old car to get me around. after i had my daughter my husband bought us a new car. the first one i have ever owned with automatic locks and windows. he is amazing at saving money. sometimes i feel it was an unnecessary luxury and a used car would have been just fine - but i am thankful, and happy to have a reliable car that should last me many many years.

    i grew up as one of eight kids, on one city bus mechanic's income, in a three bedroom home. things were always tight, but it was amazing at how we all learned to get by. it is nice to plan, and it is good to, but i think sometimes you just need to pursue what is most important to you and your family, and make everything else work the best you can.

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  34. We've been a two income household for much of this year ... and it scares the absolute hell out of me, to realise how little we make compared with how expensive our life is. I get paid, and within two days, basically all the money has been transferred out to different bills/rent/childcare/savings ... and most weeks, I transfer at least some of the money back out of my savings account. The thought that I'm going on maternity leave next year, is making me extremely nervous - I barely have any savings, and the only real way I have of making any money, is to leave my kids and go out and work long days .... depressing! But having said that, I am pretty frivolous with my spendings. I need to work out a budget and stick to it. Kellie xx
    PS CARS. Cars are shithouse.

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  35. It sounds to me as though you're living very wisely, Jodi. Although we have two vehicles (we must, due to the nature of my husband's work), we own my car outright, and owe very little on my husband's truck. Our goal is to pay for any future vehicles in cash, though I'm convinced that my little car will run forever. In order to make our dream of having a family more workable, we had to 'give up' on certain things. The area in which we bought our home is total suburbia. Though the neighborhood itself is walkable, with trails and parks, the area it's in is not. We need a vehicle to go to the grocery store, go out to eat, anything ... no public transportation this far from the downtown of the nearest 'big city.' We would have *loved* to have stayed in the neighborhood of our first apartment, but likely would've had to give up our dogs (members of our family!) because of the lack of space, and let go of travel experiences (very important to us), simply for the prestige of the city. Granted, I miss that walkability every. single. day. but I'm otherwise very happy with the decision we made to go suburban, as it fits our frugality. There's a reason young families end up in these areas, and it's not always because of a lack of personality or interests, contrary to what popular media likes to portray!

    Anyway, I could go on and on, but it sounds as though you are thinking things through quite well, and being responsible in your decision-making. And that, my friend, is saying something.

    xo

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  36. We have sacrificed the ultimate (togetherness) for many years to be able to 'own' our home. Paddy worked away at the mines for years so we could plunge ourselves into debt (really quite ironic when you think about it). Our first property purchase was a 2 bedroom warehouse apartment in marrickville which we never should have sold (I feel sick just writing about it). At the time, I was so over Sydney and just wanted out. We made very good money though and were able to purchase our current property and dramatically decrease our mortgage.

    It's very different now though, we're in very uncertain times. The banks have tightened their belts... people are wary of making big financial commitments.

    Sometimes when I feel like we have absolutely no money (some weeks our accounts go into negative!) I have to remind myself that we're sitting on a big savings account (our house). So despite the sacrifices, I like having the security of this home.

    Our car is a Nissan Dualis and I love it - we will definitely need to upgrade when we expand our family though as there just isn't enough space for a family of five. Lord knows how we will find the money to throw at that obstacle when we come to it! It is sad that finances come into play when considering how many babies we want.

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    1. Don't get too tied up in knots over selling your Marrickville place Claire. Life is long, things change and hindsight is golden.

      I look at my parents who've said in the past they should have bought more property when they paid off their house in the 80s, they've learnt from that and have an investment property now when they have less stress of children, etc.. and they are still in their house in Stanmore.

      There always seems to be a sense of urgency and immediacy for house/savings/doing, when I get caught up in this I look to my parents and realise that I have time. You have time.

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  37. i don't know if we're one of the families you're referring to, but we're looking for a rental in sydney and it's freaking impossible. and the dream of buying our own home will only be possible if we get help, as is the case for all of our friends. i also loved that post of erin's, but what i came away thinking was that we need to move to a cheaper part of the world. houses in vancouver and sydney are so expensive that most of us young families are priced out of the market, whereas if we lived somewhere else (pretty much anywhere else) it'd be much more likely that we'd be able to afford a home. damn sydney! x

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  38. We live in the country on a mortgaged property and our biggest sacrifice is income. We earn far less than we can in the city but we can save in so many other ways on food and lifestyle choices....and a lower mortgage. We have two cars as we live out of town and cannot get anywhere otherwise. We have a good sized home but the bottom floor floods so most of our good stuff is upstairs. I think if you are happy with the life you are living now and still have dreams and plans in place to achieve them then that is wonderful! You will get there when you are meant to :) Cheers, Tanya

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  39. I'm not sure the cost of living where you are, but it sounds pretty high. It's funny that I just read this post tonight. I had signed my hubby and myself up for a financial class that started mid September. The premise of this class is to teach how to budget and get out of debt. I never have learned how to budget. We are still learning that one and we will soon sit down and figure what we can do without. We eat at home more. I shop for my daughters clothes at thrift & consignment stores. My car is paid for. But I think we make too much money to live pay check to pay chek and what do we have to show for it? A mountain of debt. No thanks! Good luck with your quest to buy a car!

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    1. I was chatting to one of my yoga students last week about finances (her husband used to be a mortgage broker). Apparently, according to statistics, 75% of Sydney-siders are only one pay-check away from bankruptcy! I can't imagine living in that much debt. Good luck with your course - it can only be a good thing! x

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  40. I was shocked about the price you gave for rentals in Sydney, and I thought we had it bad here in Barcelona! We just moved into a smaller (but nicer and a cheaper) rental were my fiance, our two cats and I squeeze in about 60m2. In sight of our family growing sometime soon, I've recently started being a lot more concious about my expenses and try to save specially on groceries by trying to plan ahead and shop several times a week depending on our needs rather than going to the supermarket on saturdays and buying things that we don't use and have to throw away. Thank heavens we have great public transportation here, cars are a ruin. Best of luck with your hunt for a car!

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  41. Have just stumbled across your blog via Maxabella. Hot cuppa in hand and buttered fruit toast I am all set to read a post or two or as is usually the case quite a few :)

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  42. these property prices are ridiculous!!! Having grown up in sydney and knowing the place very well, I am so aware of how hard it is for so many people. Keep dreaming. Don't let it go. And the now is the now… you are so right. It so easy to think ahead and not focus on the now. And car shopping… yuck!!

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  43. It is a challenge to buy a house in Australia now. About 32 years ago my In laws had a young family, three kids, when they bought a HUGE (but by no means fancy) Queenslander in a lovely Brisbane suburb close to transport and the city, it cost them $50K! At that time my Father-in-law was working at a Private Boys school earning….$50K per annum. Granted it was a good salary for the time but even so current figures are just so far out of reach for most of us.
    When we moved in together my now husband and I started a budget, having watched close friends do the same. 10 years on and we still keep a tight budget forecast/actually spending. It's been a great saving tool for us. We rent a small town house so we can save for our house deposit and car. Good luck to you for the car the future house and kids.
    OM

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  44. Argh we are in the same boat, with the car and with home ownership. We worked really hard this year to clear $15,000 worth of loans and student debt and managed to save a bit too. Next year we can kick our savings plan up a notch and hopefully buy a house in the next few years. I do feel very disheartened with the recent law changes here in NZ. We now need to save 20% for a deposit and with house prices here in Wellington being upwards of half a million dollars we have a long way to go. One day though, with careful planning and a certain amount of restraint for things we don't really need we'll get there. Good luck with the car hunt, we just purchased bikes and a toddler seat for E so we can use ours less, I'd love to be free of it completely.

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  45. My saving are not growing. Yet lucky, neither is my debt. We both knew I wanted at least one year off work after Jarvis was born. So for the time I was pregnant I saved half my wage each week. I figured this would give me 40 weeks after he was born, plus a little more because of the baby bonus. I came to when Jarvis was one, and I knew I still was not ready to leave him. I have not immediate family that can care for him so daycare would have been the only option.
    So I am three weeks shy of having two years off work. I have done it by frugal spending, not buying myself anything (new or second hand) for two years, growing my own veggies, and any other thing I can think of to save money.
    I am 45 and we have one old car, know I will not be able to afford to buy my own home, but I don't care. I have two children who are healthy and happy so I sometimes feel like the luckiest woman around. My family all know if I had more money I would either be going back for more IVF, adopting or fostering.

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  46. Hi Jodi, I haven't been reading blogs for a long time (new instagram addiction), so I am just having a catch up on yours now. I just wanted to let you know about our journey to home ownership, as it has really worked so well for our growing family. We made a big sacrifice just after Ivy was born to leave the beautiful lifestyle we had in Queenstown, NZ in order to give us the life we wanted for our kids. We left behind amazing views, lovely cafes and friends to move to a little country town in Victoria. We had been travelling for years, so had no money behind us, but saved a $5,000 deposit and bought a cute, three bedroom, 120 year old cottage for $70,000. We have a huge backyard, look out onto crops, have plenty of room for chooks and as-big-a-garden as we can manage. Our little Ivy is going to the most lovely school next year with 10 other children in her combined Prep-1 class, I know each and every one of their families. We have two cars, as my husband drives to a bigger nearby town for work. There is no pressure at all for me to go back to work. We visit Melbourne regularly and I get my fix of things such as cool shops and nice cafes then. There really are options for home ownership and a comfortable one income (or relatively low income) family life in our country. There are so many friendly little towns that provide such a wonderful, nurturing community. They don't necessarily have beaches close by or trendy cafes, but there are plenty of adventures to be had seeking out other cool places to spend time. We still miss everything that we did have, but feel so happy with the sacrifices that we have made to be here for this period of our lives. It just seems to be a more casual lifestyle in the country, with more old-fashioned ideals (which suits me just fine!) xx

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  47. I am lover and reader of your blog. Although rarely do I comment:/ I do however, always appreciate and am inspired by what you share! My husband and I have A LOT of college debt and so we did some major changes in our budget this year. We actually sold our only car, and freed up $700 a month after gas, insurance, car payment. We both come from urban setting, but currently live rural Wyoming, in a place with no public transit and extreme weather, and have an almost 2 year old while expecting another this spring. I will admit, it is going to be challenging but our commitment to be out of debt and our love for cycling, self sufficiency, and simplicity is totally worth it! While living car free is not for everyone, my mind has definitely been opened up to how possible it is. I wrote a little about our experience here...http://anappetiteforcolor.com/2013/09/14/a-place-at-the-table/

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  48. Money is also the factor in our child-making decisions! As a family of 4, soon to be 5, we are looked down upon because we don't drive a car that comfortably seats 7. We don't own a house. We have been renters since we've met. We work hard for our money while others seem to have it all. While it makes us resent and bring up jealous feelings, we know what is right for our family and we will continue to do that for our sake and our kids' sake.
    just found your blog through pinterest. loving your writing.

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