Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Getting by: our cost of living in Canberra

Sunshine and I are frustrated by money. We're in the best income bracket we've ever been in, yet we recall better living when we were students! We live as frugally as practical in Canberra, and still we can make no headway. We dream of home ownership - not investment house speculation, but realise both are not possible.

Ideally, and morally, we think living comfortably and with long term considerations should be possible on a single income basis in the family (gender has nothing to do with this). But as it turns out, that's just not possible. Put your kids in day care not so you can save more money, but so you can simply hold down two jobs and careers, for when your kids are in school and you might save a few dollars a week then and slowly get ahead. Too bad if you're single parent, crash and burn in divorce, or are a primary care giver for an aged or disabled relative/friend.

There simply is no room to move in this economy, and we feel alone in this as the media reports noone else feeling this way. We are just above the average income level in the ACT, so I just don't know how others do it! Oh, yes I do.. forget the Australian dream of home ownership and getting ahead, that's actually a nightmare created of want makers. Accept high rents, precarity, and the wasted money that that means. No real self determination, no capital, no alternative.

Here's how our expenditure breaks down each week for 2 adults and a baby:

1300 Single income after tax
430 Rent mid to low range rental cost)
250 Car. includes repayments, fuel, rego, insurance and service. Not possible to live without a car in Canberra
300 Food, cleaning products, personal hygiene, clothing, for 2 adults and a baby
150 Utilities, including gas, electricity, phones and Internet
200 Discretionary spending for payments on loans if we take them (such as the emergency trip to the Philippines), some lunches, a cheep take out meal, a Sunday drive, and maybe a DVD

Position: -$30 each week

So, the other parent goes to work, So far, 2 days a week

350 Additional income from second parent working 2 days
150 Childcare ($75 per day)
50 Extra discretionary spending such as doctors and medicine brought on by childcare
30 brought over from the single income family negative position

Position: $120 each week

We "save" $120 per week, which is more than most, but to be honest - there's always something to spend that on, like repaying those emergency loan, or covering an unexpected cost like a car repair or speeding fine.. Even though I reckon we live frugally, if comfortably, every day I wonder about those less fortunate than us, or with more than one kid. How the hell people afford a 10-20% deposit, only to find themselves in a $600 per week or more mortgage, plus rates, plus renovations or repairs! Forget it. Investment property should be made an entirely separate activity to home making, and those trying to reduce their cost of living and use of resources. One is immoral, the other essential.

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