14 March 2011

Thank Goodness for the Slush Fund

Today is the Labour Day holiday here in Victoria and it is a perfect autumn day. It's the kind of day when you just want to be out in the sunshine. Which is not where I've been all day!

AJ had Uni today and of course being a holiday I decided to stay in bed and read. Oops! The poor kid set his alarm, but slept through it. It was 9.28 and I suddenly realised he hadn't stuck his head in to say good-bye. I fairly flew out of bed and down to his room. There he was, sleeping so peacefully - until I screeched "you've slept in" and he was up and out of that bed in 10 seconds! His first lecture started at 10, so Wayne drove him. Thank goodness he doesn't have too far to go and that he was home. I'm not sure the sight of me in a hurriedly thrown on tracksuit is something anyone should see in the morning!
Wayne was chuckling when he came home, turns out quite a few people slept in this morning, the queue to turn into the car park was miles long!

I have been busy. Hannah and I have been shopping for new clothes for her. She needed a black outfit to wear on Wednesdays when she does her VET course. The uniform is black - trousers, skirt, dress, jumper, blouse/t-shirt - she can wear whatever she likes but it must be black.  So after breakfast and a quick tidy up off we went and we only had to go to one shop!

Kmart had a clearance sale on with racks and racks of clothing for just $5 a piece. She is now the very happy 15 year old owner of two lovely black t-shirts, a gorgeous skirt and a really nice jumper, all mother approved and for the grand total of just $20! That's the kind of clothes shopping I like.

While we were out we decided to do the weekly grocery top-up a day early (I usually do it on a Tuesday morning) and popped into Coles. Apparently we arrived at just the right time because all the meat was marked down so we had a lovely time picking up packages of really, really cheap meat. Rump steak down to just $8/kg, whole fresh chickens (No. 20) for just $7 each, and more. I stocked up on the steak and the chickens, they were too good to pass up. Wayne sliced the steak for me as soon as we came home and it's now neatly packaged and in the freezer with the chickens.

I keep a "slush fund" for occasions just like this, when I find a bargain we can use. The slush fund covers the cost without having to go over my grocery allocation.  I add the leftover grocery money to the slush fund and let it build up until I need to use it. On my grocery tracking sheet I have a column for slush fund so I know how much goes into it each month. And this helps to keep the grocery budget balanced too.

Last month I didn't use all the grocery money and was able to add $32.65 to the slush fund.  The groceries don't always cost what I budget each month, sometimes the bill comes in under and occasionally they cost more. That's when the slush fund is really handy. I can go over my allocated amount for the month by however much is in the slush fund and still not go over the allocated amount for groceries for the year.

I also have a petrol slush fund that works on the same principle. I allow $75 a week for fuel, sometimes  we don't do a lot of driving (long weekends and school holidays spring to mind) so it doesn't cost as much to fill the car. The excess is kept in the slush fund for those times we do a lot of driving (I may have to go into town or travel for stories, or we go to Shepparton to SPC etc) and our fuel costs increase. It also helps cover the fuel costs when we go on holiday or for train, tram or bus tickets when we use public transport.

At the end of each year I look over the grocery tracking sheet and the fuel column in our Spending Plan and decide whether the allocated amounts need to be adjusted. If the grocery bill is consistently lower by more than $10 per week, I lower it for the next year.  Ditto the fuel bill, although the way costs are going up I don't think it will be dropped next year. I may find myself walking more and driving less so it can stay the same.  Petrol was the same price as diesel here last week!

There is no point in allocating too much money to a category when it can be useful elsewhere. All it has to do is cover the cost for the week/fortnight/month/year.  As long as you have the bill covered, you are right. For example it could be used to help build your Emergency Fund or to pay down debt (or both) rather than sit in the grocery (or fuel) categories and roll over from month to month to a slush fund, effectively costing you money  (the interest you pay on the debt you carry). 

Living the Cheapskates way gives you options and flexibility in your Spending Plan, that's why it works.

It's been such a sunny, pleasant day it seems odd to be making soup, but that's what I did this afternoon. I cut one of our pumpkins this afternoon and instead of dusting it with cornflour and putting it in the fridge I decided to make pumpkin soup.  Did you know that if, when you cut a pumpkin, you take the seeds and soft centre out and then dust the raw surfaces with cornflour it will last for weeks in the fridge? It's handy to remember when you have an excess of pumpkin and don't feel like making soup.

Pumpkin soup must be the easiest soup to make. I just cut up the pumpkin and a couple of onions and cook it in either stock (from the freezer) or water with some stock powder added, until the pumpkin is cooked. Then I whizz it through the food processor. And it's done.  My stockpot makes 8 litres of soup, so I put 2 litres in a Tupperware bowl in the fridge. This is my lunches for the week. The rest goes into Tupperware containers in either  single portions for lunches and snacks later on.

While I was in the cooking mood I made some muffins too. Apple and boysenberry and some raspberry and white chocolate for a treat.  The cake dome looks lovely full of nice fresh muffins.  It won't stay that way long though. Tom just called and he's bringing some friends home for tea.  They're actually coming to play games on the Wii, but they'll stay for tea, they always do.  And we'll have muffins for dessert!


  1. Amen for SLUSH Funds & Cheapskates (with hubby out of work for nearly a year & me earning a grand total of $500 per fortnight - we've had to cut a few more corners...............
    Especially when the Unemployment Payments are not due to start for another 4 weeks.....

    I also love Pumpkin Soup with fresh Ginger - gives it a whole new lift!

    SO good for you & your Immune System!

    God bless you, Cath


  2. do you have different accounts in the bank, for all these separate savings, ?

  3. No Christine, that would be too hard to deal with for me. We have a daily expenses account, a savings account and our emergency fund account.

    I have a purse I use just for slush fund money, with a compartment for grocery money and one for petrol money.

  4. I've never tried cornflour to keep cut pumpkin, but I have done similarly with ground pepper. It absorbs the moisture and makes a seal on the cut edge (I presume that's the same as cornflour). And random possibly-useful fact: before the invention of the Band-aid, pepper was one of the things used to help blood clot on a cut. Pepper for a small cut, spider webs for a larger one, I believe. It's quite effective as long as it's a good fine powder.

  5. So then, you take your grocery and petrol money out in cash each pay period and the extra is cash in your purse for using on spectacular sales?

    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

    2. I'll try again! Hello gardenpat, I use a cash budget for most everyday things, like groceries and fuel. And yes, it's taken out in cash, and then grocery money goes into the grocery purse, fuel goes into the purse I keep in the car for that purpose. Before I refill the purses, I take out whatever is left from the budgeted amount and move it to the slush funds. Then when my favourite tea bags are on half-price, if there is money in the slush fund, I can stock up with extra, as well as get two for the price of one in normal shopping. If we decide to do a day trip somewhere or even a weekend trip, then there is usually enough in the slush fund to cover the cost of the extra fuel. Sounds complicated, but it's not at all. Just means that I can stick to the budgets, and usually pay under RRP for what we need and enjoy.


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