Save $10,000, Lunch Ideas under $2

Cheap LunchesResearch by consulting firm Urbis has found that office workers spend on average $43/day on coffee and food! We love saving money and we love the ultra-frugal.  We’ve put together a list of 7 lunches that come in under $2 if you combine that with your employer’s free tea and coffee (instant still has caffeine) you could save $10 660/year.

Home-Made Soup

Soup and 2 slices of home-brand bread is as cheap as lunches come and can be some of the most delicious. Pumpkin and Lentil soup can come in at about 25 cents a serve.

Ideas:

  • Pumpkin and Lentil
  • Minestrone
  • Potato and Leek

Sandwiches/Jaffles/Toasted Sandwiches

Most workplaces have a sandwich-press these days. With bread going for $1 a loaf now, toasted sandwiches are some delicious, economical lunches.

Ideas:

  • Ham/Cheese/Tomato
  • Baked Beans and Cheese
  • Chicken and Cheese
  • Salad and Cheese

Noodles

  • Mi-Goreng noodles are a very cheap lunch. You can up the nutritional quality of the noodle by adding some frozen vegetables

Salad

Salad can be a super cheap if you make it at home. Make sure the bulk of it with a cheaper ingredient.

  • Garden Salad
  • Pasta Salad
  • Potato Salad

Macaroni and Cheese

Macaroni and cheese is an amazing comfort food and it’s cheap.  Some frozen peas, corn and frozen spinach gets the vegetables in and keep the price low.

Square Cheeseburgers

A homemade cheese burger comes in under $2 if you use home brand bread instead of a bun.  You can even make them at work if you use the sandwich press to cook the patty.

Pizza

Use a pitta bread or make a homemade base and you can get in under $2

5 ways your dog saves you money

  1. iStock_000047711272_SmallDating Sites – Dogs are a great way to meet people. Whether it’s out on a walk, around your neighbourhood or at the dog park. Something about a dog just makes starting a conversation easier.
  2. Counselling – Dogs are great counsellors, they’re always there to listen and they never chime in with unwanted advice. Research shows that dog owners have lower stress levels and are generally happier.
  3. Gym Memberships – Walking your dog is a great way to exercise. Dogs are also great motivators. They always want to keep going, even if you don’t.
  4. Theft Prevention – As any police officer. The best way to avoid being broken into is to get a dog. It doesn’t matter how big it is, as long as it barks. Most criminals don’t want the attention that comes with a barking dog.
  5. Medicine – People with dogs have lower blood pressure, lower stress hormone levels, are less likely to have allergies and asthma and are less depressed. This all leads to longer lives and less medical expenses.

Financial Abuse

Financial AbuseFinancial abuse is a type of domestic abuse that isn’t often talked about. Often those who are being abused don’t view it as abuse because there’s no “violence”. Domestic abuse really comes down to strategies that abusers use to exert control over their partner, and other family members. Financial abuse can include taking complete control over the finances, belittling the money management skills of the other party. One party is then given an “allowance” that is used to control the other person.  Frequently all the purchases made with the “allowance” are scrutinized but none of the spending of the other person is.

One partner with “bad credit” or a poor work history may get the other partner to get all the debt for the “couple” in their name, even though frequently the asset purchased with that debt is under the control of the other party.

One partner may be forbidden from working, their education opportunities may be restricted, jobs may be sabotaged in order to increase that person’s reliance on the other person.

One partner might refuse to work.

Financial abuse makes it exceedingly difficult for someone to leave.  They have limited access to money and may not even be aware of what their financial situation is. This is especially true when children are involved. How do you pay for a rental deposit, furniture, food, etc?

If you’ve been left with debt as a result of an abusive relationship we can assist you in managing that debt.

Should you tell your kids about your debt?

Talking to kids about your debt

For most of the people struggling with debt I talk to, the impact of the debt on their family is their biggest concern.  Many feel that that debt is an adult issue and that to reduce the stress on their kids they should keep it all to themselves.  While this might be a noble instinct, to shield our kids from the stress of debt you might not be actually shielding them from anything.  Research shows that 91% of kids know if their parents are stressed. As a child I vividly remember saying I didn’t want lollies when asked and telling my younger sister to say no as well as I knew “money” was an issue and I wanted to help. I would have been 10 years old.

As with all things as a parent (I have 2 kids), it’s not simple. It comes down to the child. Money is a difficult concept to get and kids under 5 just won’t understand.  It also depends on the situation and if the problem is going to be long-term. Having parents who are in a highly stressed state for a long time (years) has been shown to have a negative effect on child development.

I’m very supportive of exposing kids to money talk and the managing of family finances.  Having a budget and discussing it at the family dinner table helps prepare your kids for the future. Most parents won’t teach their kids anything about money and this doesn’t set them up for a positive financial future. How much you discuss money with your kids will be led by their level of interest and understanding of the topic – you know your child.

If you feel that your child is old enough to understand and your situation is causing you stress it may be advisable to talk to your child. First off, explain that it’s not the child’s fault. If my parents had spoken to me about the financial situation I probably would have realised that buying 50 cents worth of lollies at the store wouldn’t have changed things for our family.  If you’re going to have to make some changes around the house you need to explain them.  If you cut of the Foxtel and stop buying take away without explanation you could foster a sense of insecurity in your child.

Importantly explain that there will always be food on the table, the power will always be on, and you will always be a family.

If you have a plan, that can be helpful. Explain that there was a problem but you have solved it and you are now working together, as a family, on executing that plan.

It’s important that you still have fun as a family. Go on camping holidays. Go to the park and the library. Have special dinners at home. Remember it’s about how much time you spend together as a family not how much you spend.

Rebecca paid off $24,000 and got debt free!

iStock_000013404582_SmallWhen did you become debt free?

I became debt free in July 2015

What does it feel like now that you’re debt free?

It feels like a weight off my shoulders, a second chance.

How is your life different now?

To say that I have learnt my lesson is beyond an understatement.

I have learnt to live within my means, to tackle my issues head-on and not ignore them in hopes that they would just get better.

I was so scared to tell my friends and family the truth but when I did they were so supportive – I couldn’t have become debt free without them. Being able to be honest with them is such a relief.

I’m no longer sacred of my phone ringing.

I’m more confident and I hope to teach my son the valuable lessons that I’ve learnt.

What was life like when you were in debt?

It was difficult. It was stressful.

It was emotionally draining. It was embarrassing.

It meant sacrificing in order to pay the minimum to stay out of trouble.

I didn’t realise how much the stress of having the debt was affecting me until I had started my debt agreement.

My debt didn’t just affect me; it affected everyone in my life, especially my partner at the time and also my son.

Can you tell us the back ground of how you ended up in debt?

I wish I could say that there was something big that I bought or did that lead to my debt but there wasn’t. I have nothing to show for my debt – it was so many little things that just added up.

It was living beyond my means and not considering the consequences.

Many people we talk to have struggled on for years hoping things will get better. What was your experience like?

I struggled with my debt for three years by myself, too ashamed to tell even my family and friends how serious my situation was. I convinced myself that if I just got through this week, it would be ok – that I was coping. In truth, I buried my head in the sand and hoped that it would work out. All that did was escalate the issue.

I was constantly stressed, afraid every time my phone rang that it would be another debt collector, I was lying to people that I loved in order to cover it up, my self-esteem plummeted.

In the end, I was served with court papers.

And yet I had nothing to show for the debt I was in.

What options did you try/explore?

I tried to ignore it mostly.

I tried making arrangements with banks/institutions (that I failed to live up to).

I explored bankruptcy (naturally wanted to avoid that if at all possible).

What were you expecting when you called Debt Mediators?

I expected a lot of paperwork – there was not that much at all.

I expected to have to go to court – I never did.

I expected to reach someone who spoke to people like me every day, but didn’t really care – the person I spoke to was caring, down to earth and non-judgemental.

What was it like working with us?

Easy. Straightforward. I never felt judged for the situation I had put myself in, any questions I had were answered on the day. There were times when it was difficult to keep up the repayments and everyone went out of their way to be understanding and be as flexible as they could, supporting me in any way possible.

What was doing a debt agreement like?

It was good to know that I was finally facing my issues.

As time went on, knowing that I was keeping up with it and watching the balance of what I owed go down, was motivational.

I wish I’d done it sooner, I would have been significantly better off.

What advice would you give to people struggling with debt?

Don’t ignore it. It won’t just go away, it will get worse.

Ask for help – people will be more understanding than you think.

You can become debt free – if I can do it, believe me – you can.