Tuesday, November 5, 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?

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