Budgeting – Its not as fun as Fivesies but its certainly an important life skill.

Wether you have a big savings goal or your just trying to make it from one week to the next there are certainty many times in life when you’ll need to create and stick to a budget.  This can sometimes be tough but hopefully some  of these tips will help you.

Know what you have to work with.

Fist things first, Know what you have to work with. Write down all your usual income sources and their frequency and amount. This may be just the one income from your job or you may have other income sources as well like government payments, regular casual jobs (like babysitting), ad revenue (if your lucky enough to have enough internet traffic for something you create to collect that). If your income is not always a regular amount try to average it across a month or two to get a regular weekly/fortnightly amount.

Prioritise

Possibly the toughest part,  get your priorities straight. What’s you’re big goal, what can you drop if it just doesn’t fit, what payments must be made in a certain time frame/frequency.

To start this I would suggest listing what you spend your money on. Either in detail or some slightly boarder categories. Whatever works for you. Just remember you want a good idea of where your money goes (or will go if you only just got an income).

From there rank them in order of priority to be paid. In general things like bills and other general living expenses should be at the top and fun and non essential items should be at the bottom.  Depending on your savings goals it may be at the top or somewhere in the middle.

Break it down

Break all your bills and general spending down by pay period. If you get paid weekly put money towards each category/item weekly. If you get paid fortnightly put aside the money fortnightly.

Always work on a pay period basis. This will especially help if you don’t have a steady income. If you’re paid different amounts each week, work out your weekly wage by averaging a month or two of your last pay cheques. On weeks where you earn more than the average put what’s left to the side to boost your pay to the average amount on weeks when you are paid less. If you then put money aside each week towards your bills and other fixed expenses then you won’t  be caught short if they happen to be due in low income weeks. It also means you aren’t reducing your saving or spending amounts on weeks you have bills due.

Get Organised

Create a spreadsheet, start a log in a notebook, find an app that works for you. Write down your plan somewhere you can refer back to it and adjust where necessary.

Personally I have a few different methods for a few different aspects of my budget.

I have a spread sheet that details the break down of my budget and generally how I came to decide on those figures. Its easily editable when things change and helps me remember why I set the figures the way I did.

I keep track of monthly payments and bills in a monthly calendar. I mark down what days payments come out of my accounts and what bills I need to initiate the payments for.

I have in the past tried a few apps and while I haven’t found one that works for me yet it doesn’t mean that one won’t work for you. In this mobile day and age there are many different apps out there which will help in many different aspects of budgeting.

Separate

Once you have worked out what you spend your money on put it into categories then separate that money out. Whether you do that by setting up multiple accounts or withdraw the money and stick it in envelopes or use an app to digitally keep track of what money you have just make sure it’s always very clear how much is there for you to spend and how much is already tucked away for something else.

Be Flexible

Build in safety nets where possible inflate your expected bill amounts especially for fluctuating amounts.

Most importantly, budget yourself some spending money.  It doesn’t have to be a lot but in my experience the best way to stick to a budget is to have some freedom in spending your money. If you budget in some spending money you know you will have some money to spend on you or someone else guilt free each week.

Review

Give a go for a few pays then review it. Look at what’s working for you. Look at what’s not working. Add in the things you forgot about at first. Adjust your buffer amounts if needed.  Then keep reviewing it as regularly as needed. I usually review my budget every couple of months or whenever I feel like my spending is getting out of hand.

If you’re constantly having to move money between categories to make up the differences it’s time to review it. If you regularly find yourself with excess money at the end of your pay review your budget, work out where else it could be used.

Even if it’s all going well you should still review it a few times a year if only to make sure it’s all still relevant.

So that’s my tips for basic life budgeting.  If you have any questions please comment and I’ll do my best to answer them.

The next life skill we’ll be tackling in a couple of weeks is washing.

Lil

Today I am finally bringing you the first post in my ‘Life Skills with Lilz’ series.

I’m starting with something a little bit fun but an important skill none the less.

Fivesies 101

What is Fivesies I hear some of you ask?

We call it Fivesies, you might call it Happy hour, 5 O’clock drinks, Cheese and bikkies, Cheese board, pre dinneries, etc

Basically it’s a selection of pre dinner snacks (normally a cheese board) and drinks consumed at around 5pm before your main dinner.

For me fivesies is always a cheese board and cool drinks (alcoholic or not depends on your preference). You can of course serve other snack foods, with or instead of, a cheese plate depending on the crowd.

Lilz’ top tips for putting together a great Fivesies plate

Lets start with the cheese board

Pick your board

Pick the right size board for your cheese board. You don’t want a massive board for only a few cheeses nor a tiny board to feed the masses. The size of the board may also differ depending on how many sides are with your selected cheeses.

Pick Your Cheeses

Firstly, How many cheeses?

Well that can depend on how many people you are feeding. I usually go with 3 or 5 (aesthetically an odd number is generally better though of course there are exceptions) but keep in mind you don’t have to serve the whole block or round at once. If there are only 2 of you, you may only want a 1/4 of each cheese and 3 cheeses. If there are 15 of you, you may want to but out 5 full blocks/rounds of cheese. For larger groups  its also good to put out more than one board to make sure everyone can reach.

Which Cheeses?

There are many types of cheeses and when you are putting together a cheese board you want to make sure to get a good variety.

Cheese types

The main cheese types (and some examples) are:

Fresh Cheese – Ricotta, Cottage Cheese, Cream Cheese, Flavoured Cream Cheese,

Soft White Cheese – Brie, Triple Cream, Camembert

Blue – Stilton, Gorgonzola, Roquefort, Danish blue

Cheddar – Vintage, tasty

Eye Cheese – Swiss, Edam, Gouda, Havarti, Gruyere

Fetta Style – Greek, Danish, Marinated etc.

Goats Cheese – Chevre

Italian Hard – Pecorino, Parmesan

Washed Rind – Red Square, Reblochon

When choosing different types of cheese its also important to take into consideration the texture of the cheese as well as the flavour. You don’t want all soft cheeses nor do you want all strong cheeses. Try to get a nice balance of soft, semi hard, and hard as well as a balance of mild and strong flavoured cheese.

Most importantly

Eat what you like. Don’t feel pressured to serve cheese you don’t eat. When it comes down to it, choose cheeses you like to eat.

The Crackers

When it comes to what to eat the cheese with there are many options . I prefer rice crackers, B prefers water crackers, my mum prefers wafers, my sister like crusty bread.

Try to offer a variety (even if you only pick two) and always put out more than you think you will need.

Other Bits

Something sweet

To go with your cheese you want to serve at least one sweet element.

Fresh or dried fruit. Seedless grapes, slices of apple or pear and fresh figs are some of my favourite fresh fruits to include.  For dried I like dates, dried figs, dried apricots and dried apple. Once again go with whatever you prefer (or have in the cupboard)

Fruit paste, chutney or jam. Quince paste is lovely but it can be quite expensive. Jam works just as well when your on a budget. Sweet chutneys are also a good substitute and there are a lot of great varieties out there these days.

Something savoury

To keep the balance of flavours you also want to serve a savoury element.

All sorts of antipasti like olives, sun dried tomatoes, roasted capsicums, pickles, etc work well with cheese. One of my favourites when I can find them is caper berries. You may like to put these items in a little dish so the oils or brine they are served in don’t run over the rest of your board.

Cold cuts of meat like ham and salami  or meats like cabanossi or chorizo are also a really good  addition to a cheese plate.

Optional extras

Dips can be great for helping stretch out a cheese board if you have more people than your cheese will feed. Of course if you do have dip you will need even more crackers.

If there are kids around (or fussy eaters) you probably want to have some other snacks like chips or pretzels available. They are also good to stretch the cheese for larger crowds.

Drinks

Fivesies is not complete without something to drink.

Generally cold drinks are in order but of course its really up to you.

Wine of course goes well with cheese but don’t feel pressured to drink it just because your having cheese.

My only real tips here are just have some options available and drink what you like.

So that’s it. My Fivesies 101.

I hope this helps you put together some well balanced fivesies for yourself and your friends.

If you do put together fivesies send me a picture or tag @thegammiecreative on Instagram.

There’s more life skills to come and next up we are going to tackle basic budgeting.

Much love

Lilz