Cheers guys, and welcome once more in 2014!
I have been bloody busy at the job the last weeks, working every day until 5 or later, thus a bit of delay for the 2013 family balance.
This kind of several weeks hard office work is not really Woodpecker’s cup of tea (I’d prefer some weeks of hard frugal travelling instead), but then, better work hard in winter time and then have a good piece of time off in the summer on all the accumulated over-hours.
So…here is the family and financial balance 2013:
Work time was ok
2013 was a good year, though a bit less good than 2012, due to much too less time off (no 5 months of parental leave as last year, but only 56 days of ordinary holidays).
Time worked was up for Mrs. Woodpecker (40% job now, instead of 0% 2012) and up for Mr. Woodpecker (about 10 weeks off instead of 22 weeks in 2012).
This trend has to stop! And plans to do so are in the press aleady…keep you posted.
Work stress level was quite ok, around summer I made the mistake to think about promotion , which immediately brought the typical rat-race unrest into my mental state, but this fortunately slowed down when I managed to reduce work again to what it is:
Work. A means to bring in money. Quite often it can be fun too, but typically it is the more fun the less dependent you feel from it.
From a financial point of view, 2013 was excellent:
As you may have noticed, stock markets entered quite a run in 2013, obviously affecting Woodpeckers stock-biased portfolio in a healthy way.
In fact, the Woodpecker clan’s investment stash increased by almost 25%. Good!
Income from salaries obviously was up too, by about 20%. Income per week of work thus went down considerably – this is the problem with earning more in a progressive tax environment…
Savings rate from work income was a very satisfying 35%, again adding to the family stash. This figure now is more than high enough to walk the middle-way so we can well relax a bit on spending control and saving going forward.
Total family spending was a surprise
We upped our budget levels quite a bit beginning of last year, to compensate for more work with a few more meals out, an occasional baby-sitter, nice holidays (like the costly sailing trip in summer). And we took it very relaxed with budget control, thus checking the figures much less frequently than in 2012.
In total we expected spending to go up by around 5% in 2013.
Result: Family spending exactly flat in 2013! +0%, which is in fact a reduction of real spending given 2% inflation.
And this in a year that did feel much more spendy than the year before.
How can this be?
I think the reason is just adaption. Once you practised frugal living for a time, it becomes natural, and even if you relax on the accounting, you still spend much less than before without regarding this as difficult or painful. Saving and spending efficiently just become a habit! Gain without pain – very welcome!
The year before (2011) we 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 this is it, I don’t see much areas where we can now improve our efficiency in spending further. New measures were:
- Dropping car loss damage waiver. In fact you shall only insure against events that can wreck or seriously harm you financially. A damage to our car obviously can’t – and if it could we would drive a far to expensive model.
Saving 250 EUR once per year.
- Cancel some memberships that we never took advantage off.
140 EUR p. year.
- Switching utility provider
220 EUR p.a.
- Cutting unnecessary (and medical unimportant) parts on Mrs. Woodpeckers health insurance
380 EUR p.a.
- Skipping scheduled car service at contracted dealer. This is a rip-off and you don’t need it if you want to run down your car and not sell it soon. Better only change oil, check vital parts and be done with it.450 EUR.
- Chance cell phone plan. Who needs the newest iPhone, when the old one is still working perfectly fine?!?!
2oo EUR p.a.
That leaves us with additional savings in 2013 of 1.640 EUR on top of all the other measures worth 5.097 EUR continued from last year. And all with basically no drop in quality of life! This is the way I like it.
Going forward we will allow budget to move up 1-2% in 2014.
I’d have no problem to increase it further, but Mrs.Woodpecker and me really did not find a lot where we’d want to spend more than we do already.
As most Westerns we already life a live of luxury and abundance. Car, Shower, Food, Friends, Savety, Travel, Warmth and Shelter, all is already in place!
Working time and thus salaries will be down 10% or so, but I’ll tell you about that later…