Some of you (who follow me on Twitter) might already know that I have had a very full-on week... To cut a long story short, we have been overpaid by CL (for those of you playing along overseas- social security) for two years (!!) and now owe them a LOT of money...
This happened for two reasons:
1. J may have ticked a wrong box on his original form when applying for austudy and not realised he needed to report my income fortnightly, the forms are extremely confusing but an honest mistake was made- how this has gone unnoticed for two whole years is beyond me!? The strange thing about this error is that he has actually applied fot austudy online twice and both times was approved. Sound odd?? Yeah, I think so too. How could they not notice??! Is the "report partner's income" area that hard to find??! Maybe... I am going to try and complete the online for myself (without sending it off of course) and see where he could have gone wrong. He is an intelligent person and I just don't understand how this could happen twice.
2. CL systems are not linked. I have been faithfully updating my yearly income estimate and completed my tax return at the end of both financial years. CL actually have all my information in the system as we get a family payment. But because the systems are not linked, my updates were not noticed and J was getting the full amount of austudy. That particular part of the system didn't think our family had any income. Hmm... technology?!
So... we have a lot of sorting out to do! Of course I don't want to argue that we should keep the money. If we are not entitled to it we should not have it. However, it is a very large amount of money and it will completely clear out our savings if we pay it back in a lump. However, if we choose a payment plan, that gives us much less (read: not enough) to live on from week to week. I would like to try and work out what actually went wrong and why it took so long to pick up the problem. A friend has suggested legal aid however I do not want to dispute whether or not we should have to pay back the money. I know we should, it's not ours to have. The decision can be appealed, but all I really want is an apology.
CHA CHA CHA CHANGES.... FRUGAL LIVING...
We need to change our lives a lot now just to get by.
So this blog is going to change a bit... It's still going to be following my pregnancy but I also plan to document this whole thing and include our plan of action (ie. how we are going to make our lives work now on such a meagre wage- my weekend work and a little family payment)... I have written a budget and we are going back to an old-school cash in envelopes type of arrangement. Money comes in, it's divided up into envelopes and jars and we spend no more than what is in the allocated jar/envelope.
A few changes that we are making to begin with include:
- No eating out unless there is an occasion- even sushi and gyoza (cry!)
- Walking/cycling more places and leaving the car at home (I have seen quite a few preggie women cycling around and I think I'd be comfortable doing this for a while at least- on the footpath)
- No coffee out (cry!)- we will use our keep cups and make our own
- My gym membership is going (I have budgeted in yoga but may ask family to purchase some classes for me for my birthday. I really feel that I need something to help me get ready physically for the birth and to help me cope with the stress in my life (which is a lot right now)). The cycling and walking should do for my cardio.
- Having a budget and sticking to said budget- The homebirth is included as I just cannot sacrifice this.. (Contributions welcome! See sidebar! lol cheeky, I know)
- I have reduced my mobile phone plan to the minimum and dropped the insurance *gulp*. I had considered ditching the mobile all together as we have reliable internet at home now however I am on a plan and we can't afford to pay out my contract.
- No more random op-shopping adventures (double cry!). We are to shop only when we actually need something.
- Grow lots of our own salad greens and anything else easy that we wont kill
- Get our eggs from Mama
- Make two loaves of home made bread per week. No more shop bought bread. I always choose the expensive breads with alternative grains and I just can't justify spending $7 on a loaf of bread any more (not that I really could before, but I just can't eat the supermarket crap). This will involve sourcing some good quality bulk alternative flours. Please tell me if you know any great suppliers.