rmc28: Rachel smiling against background of trees, with newly-cut short hair (Default)
Last week, Mark Pack posted an interesting graph showing the percentage of the UK's wealth going to the top 1% over the last century. It shows a clear upturn in that share from 1979, but nothing in 1997. Unfortunately it stops in 2000, and I'd really like to see what if any difference was made when Labour stopped sticking to Conservative spending plans after 2001.

Also in that post, Mark reminded me of research he discussed earlier in the year indicating that the richer you are, the less rich you estimate yourself to be. I remember Terry Pratchett talking about this once, about how the gradient of richness went up so steeply that even as a multimillionaire, there were people who made you feel poor. It was too easy to look up the slope at the person above, than remind oneself of all the people below.

"Most people would describe a dollar millionaire as rich, yet many millionaires would disagree. They do not compare themselves with teachers or shop assistants but with the other parents at their children’s private schools." - from an Economist special report on the global super-rich.

The IFS has produced a handy tool: Where do you fit in? which allows those in Great Britain to find out how relatively rich or poor they are compared to the rest of the country.

When I took this in 2009, I would have put our household (me, Tony & Charles) at about 70% - in fact we were "in the 9th decile", thus rather proving Mark's point. I have been trying hard to change my thinking to accommodate this since then.

I retook the IFS test this year after being reminded by Mark Pack's article. It's been updated with more recent figures, and we are now in the 10th decile, and richer than 96% of the population. We might not feel 'rich' but that has a lot to do with looking up the slope at those richer than us (and no doubt also a lot to do with choosing to buy an oversized house in a housing boom in an expensive part of the country.)

There is a big chunk of me that is squirming about 'boasting' about being rich here. I'm deeply uncomfortable 'flashing my cash'. But I think rich people not realising how exceptional they are is pernicious, especially when it comes to their reactions to suggested changes in tax and benefits.
rmc28: Rachel smiling against background of trees, with newly-cut short hair (Default)
I earn more than Tony. We have a joint account and joint credit card for all 'joint' spending: house, bills, food, drink, childcare, travel, accommodation, books-we-both-want, etc. We also maintain our own current & savings accounts. Our salaries go into the individual accounts, and then all but an 'allowance' is transferred to the joint account. This gives us the same amount of money entirely under our own control, and more money for joint projects than if we were to contribute equal amounts.

Tony's sister Lucy earns more than her fiance Simon. They have a joint account fed by her salary which pays for everything, and they have a savings account which is fed by Simon's salary. They don't distinguish individual spending as they "do most things together", and they are saving harder than we are by some margin.

I really like the simplicity of Lucy & Simon's model, which is making me look again at why our setup is quite the way it is and whether it needs to be.

As far as I can tell, I mostly spend all 'my' money each month, while Tony spends much less routinely and then occasionally buys something very expensive. I have a fairly control-freak active, hands-on approach to managing my and our money, and Tony is considerably lazy more relaxed. I'm probably more concerned about me spending more than my "fair share" than the other way around, but there are probably simpler ways to achieve fairness than our current arrangements.

What other models do people use for shared finances?
rmc28: (glowy)
Yesterday evening I went around and moved all the ground floor windows that were locked in 'slightly open' to the 'fully closed' position. The heating is not yet on though I am beginning to wear jumpers in the evening. It will be interesting to see how our gas consumption changes this winter compared to last year, with the double-glazing in everywhere.

Today I've been playing around with figures from my accounting program (Accountz), partly prompted by coming surprisingly high in the IFS "Where do you fit in" income distribution, and yet still having to juggle money more than I'm happy with. The obvious answer is "we're spending it all" but I wanted to get a better idea of how and on what. Unsurprisingly, the huge mortgage is the main culprit, but after that our biggest spending is on food, followed by travel (primarily train), general household stuff (including some recent purchases of new things), and power.

There aren't many obvious targets for big reductions in spending. We can save a bit by switching energy supplier as I've not done that in a while. I was going to say that this was frustrating but perhaps it's something to be pleased about, that I've already done all the easy stuff and we're not being obviously wasteful.

Almost all our food, travel and household spending (i.e. the top 3 after the mortgage) is done on the shared credit card, and although I set a nominal budget for that in Accountz, we've exceeded it most months this year. I haven't been doing any kind of enforcement on that budget and it's probably time to start. For now, I'm going to start making sure both Tony and I know each week where we are, and hopefully just being kept informed will be enough to bring us back into line. I really don't want to get into setting detailed targets if I can avoid it, especially not on food as I already have to think about food more than I want to.
rmc28: Rachel smiling against background of trees, with newly-cut short hair (Default)
Simon asked if I'd factored in power, which obviously I should have done. Our power meter has just broken (now I can find out if Maplin will honour the instructions on the back to return it to them for WEEE disposal) so I am forced to fall back on the manual and some rough calculation. I know I did measure the power consumption at one point but if I wrote down the numbers I don't know where.

The manual says it uses 505-550W, so for a 5-hour loaf that will be 2.75kWh. It uses little power on timer (this I do remember from when I had it on the meter) so if we round it up to 3kWh a loaf, that makes the sums easier and probably more than covers the on-timer usage.

The number of weeks of use in the last 18 months has been 72.5 (calculated as the number of weeks of not-paying the milkman £3 per week for bread - 18 months is actually 78 weeks and the difference is from when we've been away).

A guess at our typical usage is 3 loaves a week on weekdays (overnight) and a fourth over the weekend (daytime). Checking with our power supplier, Economy 7 units are approx 6.2p and daytime units are approx 17.1p

3 kWh x (3 x 6.2 + 17.1) = 61p per week on electricity.
72.5 weeks x 61p = £44.17.

The initial cost of the breadmaker was £90, and it's taken 72.5 weeks to clear that with the difference between the money we spend on bread ingredients and the money we used to spend on bread, which means a saving of about 124p a week. But factor in the power, and that becomes a mere 63p per week saved, and another 70 weeks or so (another 18 months) to really break even.

Still worth it.

Edit James supplies some data in the comments on LJ from the same model of breadmaker, using 0.4kWh for a 5-hour bake (the one we usually do). Rounding up to 0.5kWh means I can divide the costs above by 6:
10p per week on electricity, reducing the weekly saving to 134p per week
£7.36 on electricity in the last 72.5 weeks, which takes 5.5 weeks to clear and therefore we will "really" have broken even by mid-September.
rmc28: Rachel smiling against background of trees, with newly-cut short hair (Default)
We broke even on the breadmaker last month, at which point we had spent £215.72 on the breadmaker and ingredients and saved up £217.50 by not paying the milkman £3 per week for bread.

It is still a source of daily pleasure.

I still love collecting data.
rmc28: Rachel smiling against background of trees, with newly-cut short hair (Default)
Just under a year ago we bought a breadmaker.

Because my accounting software allows it, I created a little bucket in our savings account and another little bucket in the food+drink spending account. I've been tracking spending on breadmaking supplies (flour, yeast, seeds, etc) and also putting aside £3 per week as that's what we were spending on bread from the milkman before the breadmaker arrived.

By the end of 2008 we had saved up £138.75 and spent £165.27 (including the cost of the breadmaker).

I may have missed some of the breadmaking supplies, as this relies on me inspecting receipts before I enter the totals into accounting software, and some things are used both for general cooking and for bread (e.g. butter, pesto). On the other hand I haven't adjusted the saving on not-buying-loaves even though bread prices have risen in the shops. Even with those uncertainties, it's clear we should expect to break even sometime this year.

Money aside, it's been a big improvement to general happiness in the house. The bread is yummy, makes the house smell lovely, and we've had lots of fun trying out different recipes. We did intermittently make bread by hand before getting it, but that petered out whenever we got busy. We've done other, more expensive, things to make life happier in the last couple of years (e.g. buying a dishwasher, hiring a cleaner) but those have been more about removing hassle, whereas the breadmaker has added a little pleasure to every day.

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rmc28: Rachel smiling against background of trees, with newly-cut short hair (Default)
Rachel Coleman

September 2017

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