Tuesday, 25 April 2017

How I Survive On A Small Weekly Budget

Today, I wanted to write about living off a small budget and how I cope. As you will know if your a frequent reader, I'm currently backpacking around Australia and I someday hope to live out here, but we will talk about that another time. 

To qualify for your second year working holiday visa in Australia, you have to complete 88 days of regional work. Otherwise known in my eyes as slave labour. My friend and I have discussed how someone has clearly thought, fuck the young people wanting to get their 2nd year visa, let's make them work hard and pay them shit for a whole 88 days. I'm currently in the south west of Western Australia and I work on average 4/5 days a week for an average of 4/5 hours a day. I know it doesn't sound like much, but it's labour intensive. I don't want to go to much in it, as I want to do another post on the life of a grape picker. 

Living of a small budget is hard work. Going from my full time 9-5.30 job where I was earning over £1,000 a month, I didn't have to worry about whether I could afford petrol and how I was going to pay for car tax. I find myself now worrying about whether I've covered my rent through working, how I'm going to afford petrol and not having a social life. The social aspect doesn't bother me, as I prefer to keep myself to myself. 

When it comes to food, I have started to buy food that I can make big meals with and then put these into containers, so I can eat these at a later date or the following day. My current favourite is tuna pasta bake. Pasta is a cheap food that lasts a long time and can fill you up. Tuna in Australia is crazy cheap so it's a good food to stock up on and it also adds substance and flavour. Other foods I buy regularly are eggs, bacon, beans and bread. I am trying to cut down on the carb intake, so I am currently trying to find bread alternatives for work. However, I have found that some food in Australia is crazy expensive compared to the UK, so I have started to avoid these where I can. I think the way forward for me is to cook big meals, such as pasta bake, lasagne, spaghetti bolognese and then freeze these for future meals. This way, I can have my usual scrambled eggs and bacon for lunch with toast and then coco pops for breakfast. I have found this to work for me and it's keeping me full. On the odd occasion I have driven to subway, but as the saying goes "Treat yo'self".

- Start cooking bigger meals and then portion this into Tupperware containers, freeze them and then you will always have a meal for the next couple of days.

- Buy the cheaper brands of food. Normally they will taste exactly the same, if not better. Don't pay for the name of a product like Heinz when you can normally get supermarket brands at a much cheaper price. If it's Heinz Ketchup though, buy it. Supermarket ketchup is not the same! 

When I got down south, I realised I needed a car and I needed one pretty damn quick. Luckily I found a car that has been super reliable, except for one flat tyre and it needs a new rim, but what are junkyards for?!?! I paid my insurance in full for the year, but I have to pay for my rego, which is the equivalent to car tax in the U.K. I do have the option to pay this monthly, which I am likely to do, but I then have to ensure I have the correct amount of money in my account each month. I do have savings in my UK, but these are next to nothing and soon will be gone. Another expense is petrol. Petrol is cheaper in Australia, but then if I ever stop converting the prices to £ it's kind of expensive, depending on the way you look at it. Through work, we are able to claim for giving people lifts, which is good because your able to make some extra money through this, but as  doing a lot of journeys, I find myself filling up my tank at least once a week, which slowly eats away at my bank account. 

- if you can claim for petrol/milage through work, do it. Any extra money will be helpful for petrol/rego/tax etc

- Maybe if your giving lifts to people on a regular occasion, start asking for a small amount of petrol money and keep it in your car. Any change is always helpful and you never know when you may need it. Sure the guy at the petrol station may hate you for paying change, but your car will love you when it's got petrol in! 

For me, this one is pretty easy. I don't really have a social life. I enjoy seeing a couple of the friends I have, but I'm not the typical backpacker who goes out and gets drunk every night. I want to do a post of this and go deeper into it, so it will be short and sweet for this part. On the odd occasion, I have gone out, I've made sure I've got the money to enjoy myself. Living on a tight budget for me, means sacrificing some aspects of life and for me, that's my social life. 

- Set a weekly budget for going to the pub, cinema, seeing friends. Whatever it is your going to do, set a weekly budget and this way you can have that pint at the pub and not feel bad about it. Okay, you may have to sacrifice one pint for a night in, but a night in isn't going to kill you. Invite your friends over and just watch a film, play cards against humanity or do whatever the hell you want. 

- If your going out for dinner/drinks, try and go for the cheaper option. Normally I try and go for the cheaper options, just because I am conscious of my money. I get a tap water when I'm out, because I don't need that pint of coke and I know my bank and my waistline will thank me later. 

This is probably the main one for me. I have to make enough each week to cover my rent for the week. If I don't, then effectively I'm screwed. I have savings yes, but I don't want to use this for my rent and I have had to recently because I just haven't had the money. I know that I have periods coming up where I have no work for 4/6 weeks and I need to get a job so I can pay for my rent. I don't have any tips for this, apart from get a job or get 2,3,4,5 jobs if you have to. 

So, these are my tips for living of a small wage and how I survive. I have been lucky enough to be partnered up with a beauty distributing company recently (a post will be up on this soon), so I can start bringing in an extra income and help support my life a little bit more. Like I said going from home comforts and not really having to worry about money, to living off a small budget is a complete shock, but it does put life into perspective and it has opened up my eyes more to living life off a budget and how others have to cope. 

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