Woodpeckers Family and Financial Balance 2012

Winter time - a good time to review last years family balance! (seen at Kitzbüheler Alpen, Austria)

Winter time – a good time to review last years family balance! (seen at Kitzbüheler Alpen, Austria)

2012 was a good year for the Woodpecker family.

Above all we increased our family size by 33% due to the birth of our second son beginning of 2012 – Welcome to this beautiful earth, little man!

Definitely, two kids is a different story also from a stress and sleep point of view. But this will pass and a new family member adds a new interesting complexity to the family: instead of 3 possible social matchings there are now 6 possible matchings, and the family feels a lot more complete – at least for us.

But 2012 was also a great year with regard to downshifting efforts:

Time worked (in the job) was flat for Mrs. Woodpecker and down 40% for Woodpecker (5 months of parental leave).

Commuting time was down another additional 40%, due to the instalment of two days home office per week.

And work stress overall declined dramatically due to an ongoing change in Woodpeckers mindset, this blog being an offspring of this change in mind.

Funnily enough, 2012 was even a good year financially:

Net family earnings were down only 8%! Great, given 40% less work, isn’t it?

That means earnings per hour of work were up 50%!

This fantastic result is due to tax effects (lower income, higher deductibles due to additional kid), state funded parental leave (thank you German state), a small increase in Woodpeckers salary, a slight increase in passive income and some sales of stuff (small effect).

Total family spending – and this is the figure I am most proud of, because it is 100% our own achievement – were down 15%.

This is a great result given that we did already a lot of optimizing last year, and our family size increased by 33% (meaning much more diapers, baby food, childcare cost, some cloths, some equipment, electricity bills and so on)!

As a consequence family savings hit an all time high in a year where family work hit an all time low – I wouldn’t mind if this situation would repeat! 😉

Partly the reduction in spending was due to some conscious abandonment of consumption or purchases.
But to a huge part the reduction stems from optimization efforts only, i.e. changes in behaviour that did not at all or only insignificantly impact on life quality.

This latter changes are highly recommended to everyone, even to those that are not willing to seriously explore on a more simply lifestyle. So I added a (not complete list) how little efforts can add up:

  • Switch Woodpeckers health insurance to a scheme where you visit doctors only that cooperate specifically with your insurance:
    40 EUR per month = 480 EUR p.a.
  • Changing tires at home instead of garage. Storage at home:
    2×30+30 EUR= 90 EUR p.a.
  • Don’t buy sweets and snacks anymore at vending machine at work, but bring from home:
    10 EUR per month = 120 EUR p.a.
  • Don’t buy bottled water and drinks from vending machine at work, but drink water from tap (very good quality in Munich, coming directly and unfiltered from the mountains) 8 EUR per month = 92 EUR p.a.
  • Detailed Analysis of grocery bills, identification of major cost driver, check where they are cheap to get:
    Grocery bill down 20 EUR per month, while buying the same stuff. = 240 EUR p.a.
  • Strictly adopted fuel optimized driving behavior, average fuel consumption down from 6,5l/100km to 6l/100km:
    -80 liter fuel p.a.= -120 EUR p.a.
  • Even more frequent use of library (all kids books, all kids DVDs, games, books for Mrs. Woodpecker, films):
    -200 EUR p.a.
  • If buying media, then strictly used stuff. Adopt a late-runner attitude (view films or series that are a bit older, thus much cheaper):
    Amazon bill down -250 EUR.
  • Buy films/series via Amazon UK (cheaper than Germany)
    -50 EUR
  • Resell used books, CD, DVD etc.:
    Revenue 300 EUR
  • Sell clutter in basement that was destined for dumping (amazing, but there are always buyers for almost everything):
    150 EUR
  • Cycling to work at least once a week:
    30x30km=900km= -225 EUR p.a.
  • Find new child care for older boy: Better quality now for less price:
    -80 EUR p.month, applies to 3 months in 2012:  -240 EUR p.a. Will have huge impact in 2013.
  • Compare restaurant prices much more consciously when eating out:
    -50 EUR p.a.
  • Fix some cloths that were destined for replacement:
    -200 EUR p.a.
  • Buy child presents / cloths in advance at a local fire sale, rest on ebay:
    -100 EUR p.a.
  • Lend out things that I wanted to buy initially (like a tent for holidays):
    -400 EUR p.a. minus a few bottles of wine and olive oil as thank-you presents
  • Buy train tickets on eBay:
    -80 EUR p.a.
  • Avoid planned purchases due to rethinking (i.e. no car roof box for holiday):
    -300 EUR p.a. (+ saved fuel for roof box)
  • Replace all drives <5km by bicycle:
    400km=-100 EUR p.a. plus gain in fitness.
  • Agreed on skipping obligatory espresso when eating out, and have it back at home:
    30×2,50 EUR = -75 EUR p.a.
  • Less frequent car-wash, and only on special savings-day:
    -30 EUR p.a.
  • Fueling car only on Mondays (statistically 1-2 cent cheaper per liter)
    -15 EUR p.a.
  • Do car service in Bamberg instead Munich (generally cheaper garage costs there)
    -100 EUR
  • Skipped cycling hours I did last year at local gym (no need anymore, more running and bike commuting):
    -150 EUR
  • Sold second car:
    Revenue 1200 EUR (not counted below as this is a one-off revenue)
  • Saving on 2nd car insurance and tax:
    -500 EUR p.a.
  • Cutting hair (Woodpecker and kids only) at home with electric hair cutter (NOBODY ever noticed a difference or commented):
    10×20 EUR = -200 EUR
  • Always stock some water, sweets etc. in car, to avoid buying at petrol stations:
    -30 EUR
  • Visited major fun park virtually for free on a very special offer:
    -60 EUR
  • Replaced Newspaper by weekend edition (never read all editions anyway, plus new readers present)
    -250 EUR
  • Agreed with neighbour to share new lawn mower:-60 EUR

Voilá, this adds to a nicely 5.097 EUR – without any major loss in life quality!

Additionally there were some more savings. But some of them definitely impacted on quality of life or mean major changes in behaviour:

  • More Camping instead of hotels
  • Less eating out
  • Less drinking out
  • Less super-expensive short trips
  • Less cloths purchases

And there were a couple of additional spending and increases in quality of life as well:

  • Cost for 2nd kid
  • A much longer holiday trip in Summer/Autumn (7 weeks instead of 4 weeks last year)
  • More short trips to relatives
  • Much more quality free time / less work
  • Much more social activity, many activities with other families often at our or their home or at the nearby lake
  • Higher cost for purchase of more bicycle brakes 😉

Well, what should I say, I think I am quite satisfied with 2012 and am thankful that everything went so well. Especially or 4 months summer break and the trip to Italy was a great time that I can recommend to everybody having the opportunity.

In one of the following posts I will reveal budget and happiness plans for 2013!

Hope you had a good year as well and will have another happy one,




10 comments on “Woodpeckers Family and Financial Balance 2012

  1. […] implemented quite a list of efficiency measures to cut spending while maintaining quality of life, resulting in annual reduction of spending of 5097 EUR. Obviously all this measures continued, and we added a couple of things more. However, I think now […]

  2. […] Some of this measures will cost you money or career opportunities, but combined with a bit of exercise in frugality, no […]

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