Cat supermarket

Is there any better way to advertise a supermarket?

~K

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Being a money-savvy adult

Today, we’re going to be looking at something that can seem somewhat scary – MONEY! (and it’s friends, Credit Cards and Loans).

I’ve had an awful lot of “learning the hard way” experience with all of these things, and hopefully I can help  you avoid some of the mistakes I’ve made along the way. These are my rules for how I manage our money day-to-day.

Rule 1 – Live within your means
Do your income and your outgoings match up? Or are you earning $1000 a week and spending $1050 (or even more!)?
If your income is equal to or more than your outgoings, YAY! If your income is less than your outgoings, you need to do something about that. Which brings us to…

Rule 2 – Have a budget and stick to it
This is important, whether you are living within your means or not. However, if you’re spending more than you’re earning, this will be a much more painful process.
There are several ways of doing this – an app, on a excel spreadsheet, or good ol’ paper.
First step, no matter what method you’re using, is to take all your ins and outs for a month and categorise everything – groceries, cars, spending money, EVERYTHING. This is can be somewhat scary – I almost had heart failure the first time I did this and saw how much we were spending on food (not even takeaway, just plain old grocery shopping).
Use these ins and outs to design your budget and work out where you might be able save some money.

Rule 3 – Save a little bit each pay packet
This doesn’t necessarily mean putting money into a specific ‘savings’ account, but that’s definitely the simplest way.
What we tend to do makes our money work harder for us – we have a loan with a redraw facility, so we put our “saving” money into the redraw account. That way, while the money is sitting there, it is reducing the amount of interest we’re paying on the loan and we can pull it out if/when we need it.

Rule 4 – Be smart with your debt
The first part of this is that just because you CAN get a certain amount of debt, doesn’t mean you should. You want to minimise your debt. Just because the bank is willing to give you $25,000 for a car loan, doesn’t mean you should go out and buy a $25,000 car if a $12,000 one will do. Don’t get sucked in by those credit limit increase offers that banks send out regularly – a lot of people get the increase “just in case”, then end up spending the money on things they don’t really need. Which is exactly what the bank is counting on you doing. Avoid this, and just don’t do it.
The second part about being smart about your debt is managing it well. Always make your payments on time. Pay more than the minimum payment amount. Pay off your credit card every month.
If you’re in a situation where you’ve ended up with several credit cards with high interest and you’re not able to pay them off, go visit your bank and have a chat. Often, you can roll those amounts into a single personal loan, which will usually have lower fees and interest rates. The big thing if you do this is to not go and just get another credit card afterwards.

Rule 5 – Re-evaluate everything on a regular basis
Life changes, and with that your cash flow requirements can also change. I’d personally recommend doing this every 12 months, or whenever you have a ‘major life change’.
Not regularly checking in is almost as bad as not making a budget in the first place.

~K

I was approached by Jessica from Credit Card Insider to do this post. I did not receive any compensation, monetary or otherwise, for this post.

 

Mum’s Pumpkin Soup

Pumpkin Soup

This is the recipe for my Mum’s pumpkin soup, and it’s pretty easy to make. The hardest part is cutting all the skin off the pumpkin!
It’s a great winter warmer (for those of you who are heading into winter, like me), but is also light enough to eat year-round.

The amounts of everything in this soup are pretty rough – if you have slightly more or slightly less of an ingredient, it will not be the end of the world.

Serves 8 (approximately)

Ingredients

  • 2kg pumpkin, in 1-inch cubes – I prefer jap pumpkins, because they’re cheap and not stringy when they cook up. Butternut is also good, but they are more expensive.
  • 4 large brown onions, sliced
  • 40g butter
  • 3 vegetable stock cubes (or the amount of stock powder you’d use to make 1.5L of stock)
  • 1L of water
  • 1 square of a curry block (I use this one, which I can get from my local supermarket. Any curry powder/seasoning will do, adjust amount to your taste preferences)
  • 2 tbsp sour cream

Method

  1. Heat butter in a stock pot (I use a 5L one) over medium heat. Add sliced onions and cook until translucent and beginning to caramelise.
  2. Add curry, stock cubes, pumpkin, and water to pot and stir. The water will not cover all the pumpkin to start with, but you don’t need to add more.
  3. Bring to boil over medium heat, then reduce heat to low and cook covered for 20mins or until pumpkin cubes are soft and cooked through. Stir occasionally to ensure even cooking.
  4. Remove lid and cook for a further 10mins uncovered (if you like watery soup, skip this step. It helps thicken the soup).
  5. Remove pot from heat and allow to cool for approx 20mins before pureeing. I use a stick blender and do this in the pot, but if you only have a bench-top blender, ensure there are even amounts of solids and liquid in each load through the blender.
  6. Return pureed soup to pot (if you took it out) and bring to boil over high heat. Taste soup at this point and add any extra seasonings. Stir through sour cream and serve.

Variations

  • Thai pumpkin soup – use red curry paste and swap out the sour cream for 1/2 cup coconut cream. Garnish with coriander.
  • Budget variation – if pumpkin is expensive where you live, swap out half the pumpkin for potatoes/sweet potatoes. You can hardly tell the difference! You can also extend the recipe using the same theory – double the ingredients, and make up the additional 2kg of vegetables with potatoes and sweet potatoes. The sweet potatoes help preserve the orange colour of the soup, which can get a bit watered down if you just use white potatoes.
  • +Protein variation – pre-soak 1 cup of red lentils and drain. Add to soup with the pumpkin and continue as normal. Pre-soaking means you will not need extra liquid in the recipe. Red lentils work best as they are the same colour as pumpkin when cooked, don’t have skins, and cook down to mush very quickly.
  • Slow cooker – very easy to make in the slow cooker. Caramelise the onions on the stove first, then add all ingredients to the pot. You will want to reduce the liquid by about 1/3, but DO NOT reduce the number of stock cubes. Cook on Low for approx 6hrs – more is fine. If you are cooking for less than 6hrs, cook on High. Skip the “cook uncovered” step.

This recipe freezes well. It may separate a little when defrosting, just mix it all up again.

~K