Getting hit with unexpected expenses and bounding back

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Gold Coast
Spending money to invest in family times on the Gold Coast – including $6.90 ice-creams!

I have an admission: my finances haven’t been that crash hot over the last few months. And I have kind of been embarrassed about it.

A whole lot of things happened that were more than I thought or were unexpected:

  • I sold my house and bought an apartment in a more expensive area.  Longer term this will be great – less commute and lower energy bills for example.  My kids love their new school and the move has been very positive for us as a family.  But the cost of stamp duty, agents fees, removalist fees etc etc all add up.
  • My mobile phone broke.  It was still under warranty, but it took three weeks before the company would even send a courier to pick it up.  By this stage I bought a new phone because I couldn’t function without having something decent.  Which cost money. (I love my new Huawei Mate 9 by the way.)
  • My bank account was fraudulently attacked. I got some of the money back from my bank, but not all of it.  They stopped it fairly quickly and it could have been much worse.
  • I had large legal costs related to the divorce. Once again it could have been a lot, lot worse. At one stage I was facing a two day trial with a barrister from Melbourne.  Luckily we agreed out of court, but my ex was slow communicating on terms of agreement and that meant that my lawyer had to prepare all the paperwork anyway including a long affidavit.  Ouch.
  • I took the kids to the Gold Coast, including to Sea World and Paradise Country.  OK, we didn’t have to go, but it was really important family bonding time and I don’t regret one dollar of it.  My kids got to spend time with my mum (who refuses to be called a grandparent), and also played with their nephew. I got to connect with my mum and my sister.
  • I decided on a whim to go to Problogger in July, including the mastermind session, and put it on the credit card (VERY unlike me to pay for something I didn’t have immediate cash for, but I really felt I need to be there as a sign of commitment to this website).
  • I also invested in a one day photography course, where I learnt how to get off auto mode on my camera (once again, if I am to be a food blogger and reviewer, I need to take good photos).
  • My ex is short on money and I have been paying some unexpected joint bills and he has been paying me back very slowly.  Usually when they get to me they are urgent.
  • My ex and I are selling an investment property and it has taken longer than expected.  The property has been vacant while on the market so there has been a loss of rent.
  • I broke up with Mr Red Sports Car and decided to invest in a few second-hand clothes to make myself feel pretty special.  And a nice haircut as well.
  • I accidentally backed into a car – it wasn’t bad but I still scraped the paint a bit.
  • My own car needed extensive work done to it, beyond what I had expected. And there is more to come as I need to put in again for further work soon.
  • I had a large capital gains tax bill.  Yes, this means I made a profit and I am grateful for that, but it was still a shock and came in the midst of moving.

With all of these things, it had got to the stage where I was becoming anxious about money, and about bills coming in, especially the unexpected joint ones that were invariably overdue.  This is most unlike me: usually I feel positive and upbeat.  Really. I like paying bills – it is a blessing to have money to do so.  I also had put off (for wayyyy too long) doing my end of month budget spreadsheet.

I knew I had to do something so this week I have gone into action.

  1. I am now recreating a more positive conversation about money.  I was feeling like a failure, the frugal blogger who encourages others to save but was behind in her own savings goals.  The reality is that in the overall scheme of things I am blessed with abundance.  I bought a great apartment in a great location (at a good price), I have a great job, I have a great superannuation scheme (and am making additional contributions), I am paying my mortgage (plus some), and I still have investments.  There are people who would envy what I have, who can’t afford to buy a place of their own and maybe never will be able to.  Or who don’t even have a roof over their heads.  My new affirmation:  I am grateful for the abundance in my life.  And I really mean that.
  2. I became accountable.  I sat down last night and finally did an end of month spreadsheet looking at where my finances are at.  I used to do this every month, but haven’t for ages.  This included everything including credit card. My position has gone down a bit following my move (actually down a LOT more than I expected – moving is expensive), but it is still good. This gives me perspective on where I am at, so that I can see what is happening and do something about it.
  3. Every dollar counts.  It is easy to think that the situation is impossible, and that there is no point in trying to get ahead.  But every dollar saved is a more than a dollar, because it is a dollar plus the interest I would have paid on the debt.  And when you are accountable for the little things, you tend to be more aware of the big things as well. This includes sticking to my $50/week grocery budget, and reducing expenditure generally.
  4. I am doing more to create wealth.  It is really easy to think defensively rather than offensively about your finances. It is easy to worry about ‘affording’ things and to try to ‘cut back’ rather than trying to create wealth.  I am worthy. I am good at what I do professionally, and I am good at writing. I have confidence that I will attract greater prosperity through my writing and through my job.  My financial situation has pushed me to produce more articles for The Riot-ACT (which I love contributing to anyway), and also to enter into more competitions (just found out I am a finalist in the Sydney Fresh Awards for my post about Asian Greens – yah!)
  5. I need to sit down and down up a budget.  I did a rough back of envelope one before I moved, but now I need to do a more detailed one.  I now spend less on transport and utilities, but more on body corporate expenses and I now have a mortgage again. I also no longer have rental income from my granny flat.

Hopefully in a few months’ time I can report back that I am thoroughly on track – ideally ahead – and that all is well in my world.  But for now, every dollar counts as I create abundance.

Have you had to face times when you have had more unexpected bills than you bargained for? If so, how did you manage?




  1. That’s a beautiful family photo. Your mum really is one very stylish woman. She certainly doesn’t fit the “grandmother” title!

  2. Serina, thank you for being so open and honest. Please don’t feel embarrassed, sounds like you have just had an unexpected run of financial hits, but you certainly have the knowledge tools and know how to track, manage and rebound. And having some fun with life for you and the family. I’m sorry to hear your account was subjected to fraud… bummer that you didn’t get it all back, I would have thought in a situation like that you should not be disadvantaged. Chin up, I think your ‘run of three’s’ should cover you for the next couple of years!

  3. I think all of us get hit by unexpected cost sometimes, it’s just that most of us probably aren’t as accountable as you are! Mostly for us it means the credit card debt gets much bigger, or we redraw from the mortgage, neither fabulous strategies, so sounds like you have things (relatively) under control! Still a crummy feeling though I’m sure 🙁

  4. Thanks. Oh, there were redraws from the mortgage:) And I am behind on my goal of smashing the mortgage. But I need to put this into perspective – overall I am still doing a lot better than many people. You attract what you think. I was getting annoyed by the ‘late’ bills, and somehow they seemed to just keep coming. Once I started thinking with gratitude about how I had money to pay them off, they seem to have just trickled off. Interesting.

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