Sunday, June 20, 2010
This story was published today in Issue 89 issue of Shift Miner Magazine. I hope this isn't your story too...
Callum and Mary had money problems. They weren't in debt, except for their credit card, but each fortnight was a struggle. They tried not to argue about money, but sometimes they did. One Friday evening, Mary put her solution to Callum. “I think we should do two or three years in the mines,” she said.
Mary had dropped hints like this before, and Callum had been able to deflect them, till now. He loved his job, and his friends were in Rocky. So were hers. “What about your friends,” he asked her.
“I think we need to make a small sacrifice for a while. We can still come into Rocky to socialise, and shop, every month or so.”
Mary took Callum through the numbers. “If we live on what we do now, plus a bit, we should be able to save two-thousand dollars a month. In two years, we could save seventy-eight thousand dollars; more with interest.
That got Callum's attention. He applied for six jobs from Saturday's paper. Over the next weeks, he got three interviews and an offer with a contractor based in Moranbah. He accepted it.
The plan took an early hit when they went to find a house. Rents were a little higher than they'd expected. “This is extortion,” said Callum.
The property manager mumbled something about supply and demand. They paid the rent, every week, because they needed a place to live. Still, it felt dirty paying that sort of money.
The rent wasn't the end of it. “Can you believe tomatoes cost six dollars a kilo here?” said Mary, after Callum's first day on the job.
“Is that bad?” said Callum. “It's been a while since I bought a tomato.”
“Yes, it's bad.”
It wasn't just tomatoes that were more expensive; everything was.
The first pay-packet had some surprises, too. “Are you sure this is right?” said Callum, as he went though the pay-slip. They must be taking too much tax, surely!”
They decided to sacrifice the discounted private health insurance that came with the package to save more money. It turned out that the Medicare levy surcharge – the extra tax for not having private health insurance – costed more than the insurance itself.
Mary crunched the numbers again. “I think we can still save thirty-thousand in two years,” she said.
The trips to Rocky didn't really happen. The first attempt cost them just over five hundred dollars, not including the shopping. They went to Mackay to shop, but decided to try and avoid that. Still, they needed to get out of town sometimes to keep from going nuts.
Other things helped, to keep them sane. Mary didn't need much convincing to get a big flat-screen TV. They negotiated a good price on a surround sound system, to complete the home theatre setup. Sometimes Mary got her hair or nails done in town, just for something to do. When their station wagon went north of two-hundred thousand kilometres, they leased a Prado.
When they finished their their two years; they had saved only ten thousand dollars. “Well, we improved and upgraded a lot of things,” said Callum. “And we had our first overseas holiday.”
Callum said maybe they should do another two years, and really knuckle down and save. Mary did mention the idea of going overseas, to somewhere like Indonesia, to really save some serious money, but Callum managed to avoid that subject, so far.