Taking stock and cutting back with work dries up

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Sandy (or 'Auntie', as many people call her) is our FIFO Survivor. Her husband works offshore in oil/gas and they've been together for more than 30 years - many of them as a fly-in, fly-out (FIFO) family. In that time they've raised two beautiful daughters (both now in their 20s) and moved more than 19 times! Sandy wanted to write for Mining Family Matters to show you can survive FIFO.

Sometimes I feel like a boy scout: prepared for any situation that comes along!

The man of the house had his contract end in February. That’s fine as we had a fair idea this would happen. We agreed to some downtime as he had been working extremely long hours for long periods at a time.

But those promised jobs have not come to fruition.

No panic, at least not yet.

I had luckily been like secret squirrel storing up for the winter. Winter just came a little early this year!

We have contacted our financial advisor to see how we can make things work better for us.

After meeting with him, he gave us homework. We had to fill out a true budget. Sure we had done this but not to the standard of the plan he had.

I must admit this was a great thing for the man of the house to view. Having worked offshore for so long, he had no real idea of the cost of living. (Check out a great column by psychologist Angie Willcocks for more on this: 'Where does all our money go?' Stop the blame games and get financially fit.)

We have also had to consolidate all our superannuation funds. You know, one of those things you’ll get round to. And to ensure that your super is truly working for you and that you can access it in times like this.

I’ve also become very talented in negotiating with utility companies to receive a better deal – and the bank to offer us a better mortgage rate. It’s the old adage: if you don’t ask, you’ll never know. (Check out this fab article on how to save thousands in just minutes: Top three tax-time tips to save you thousands.)

People ask if we had insurance to cover an extended break in income. That would be a no. We have struggled as the work is sub-contracting and offshore. Too high a risk. The insurances we had were through a broker and very costly.

A common comment that we are receiving is, "Oh, it's fine. You can just go on the dole." That is not possible as we are not citizens. As hard as it is to understand, too many New Zealanders living in Australia can make no claim to Centrelink payments, as we cannot become citizens. Many make the assumption we are here to bludge off the system, but the reality is we can’t.

Out of all this, I've learnt to be prepared for any situation and have good plans in place. Can you survive longer than you think without an income.

More from Auntie Sandy:

If you've got a question for 'Auntie' Sandy or would like to make a comment about FIFO living, we'd love to hear from you. Click here!