I have been thinking about writing this post for quite some time now, my problem was that I couldn’t really pin down what it was that we do to make it possible to live as a family of 5 on one income. The thing is that we don’t really do any one thing in particular, it’s more of a general way of life that gets us through. We don’t budget, although I could tell you how much is in all three of our bank accounts, what we owe on our mortgage and how much we can redraw from our mortgage at any time. I am not obsessive about it, I don’t record our spendings and keep receipts, I am just always aware.
I could sum it up by saying
- Make the most of what you have, reuse and don’t waste a thing
- Don’t buy it if you don’t need it
- Buy good quality and look after it
- If you can’t afford it, don’t buy it
- Don’t have a savings account (Whaaaattt??!!)
But if you are reading this it is probably because you would like some money saving tips yourself so I will tell you a little more 😉
Make the most of what you have, reuse and don’t waste a thing
Think about the environment. You will almost certainly reduce your waste, get more out of what you have and therefore not need to buy as much. Only run a full dishwasher, have shorter showers and shallower baths, wear clothes again when you can (yes, I know, near impossible when you have little people wiping their snot and sticky fingers on you all day long), use cloth nappies (unless you have a babe in a hip brace, damn it!), wash out ziplock bags and take away containers (well, just don’t eat take away if you want to save money…).
Save Food. If you are having a Roast Chicken pinch every last scrap of meat of that Chook and use it in another meal, use it in sandwiches for lunches for the next couple of days or freeze it for another time. Then you can boil up the bones with an onion, garlic, a carrot and some peppercorns to make some stock and you can freeze leftover gravy in ice cube trays. If you have some manky veggies in the back of the fridge, chuck them all in to make a soup. Meal planning will help you plan to use up leftovers, reduce waste and avoid overbuying at the supermarket, take a list!
DIY. Get your craft on. It can be fun and you can save a packet!! When we renovated our kitchen I wanted something for this wall, I had kept a calendar we collected on our travels in Chile because I loved the pictures. It was 3 years old and in Spanish but I loved the pictures. I bought some cheap frames from a $2 shop and cut the pictures to fit. These get so many comments and they cost $6, winning!
Keep everything. This leads into my next point perfectly, keep everything, you never know when it may come in handy. I have been using the same face washers and waterproof bibs, sippy cups and baby spoons for 4 years now. These are not expensive items but why throw them out and buy them 2 times more than I had to?
Don’t buy it if you don’t need it
Ok, pretty self explanatory right? Basically don’t be too materialistic. I like new shoes and clothes as much as the next Mumma and I do splash out sometimes, but the key is just don’t go overboard. Instead of clothes shopping, have a wardrobe clean out (you might be surprised what you find!), host a clothes swap with some friends or check out local Opp Shops. Think outside the box. Same goes for kids clothes, toys, anything really.
Buy good quality and look after it
Don’t get caught in the trap of buying cheap things thinking you are saving money. You may save in the short term but more often than not a cheap version will need replacing a lot sooner than a good quality item so in the long term it may actually cost you more. If you can, go without while you save for a better quality option. I got caught with our curtains. I got impatient and wanted new curtains now so I went and bought some ready made cheapies (knowing in the back of my mind they would not last the distance!). That was 3 years ago, and you guessed it, now they are stuffed!
If you can’t afford it, don’t buy it
Number one rule, don’t have a credit card. If you have cash flow issues because you get paid monthly or irregularly, set up 2 bank accounts with an automatic transfer so you get ‘paid’ equal amounts each week or fortnight rather than one lump sum. If you have a credit card to collect points for a reward system, set up an automatic transfer so that the card is paid off before you are charged any interest.
Avoid buy now pay later schemes. Yes it’s nice to have that stuff now, but if you can’t afford it now, how do you know you will be able to afford it in 12, 24, 36 months time? And if you do end up paying interest on these plans for whatever reason you will get stung! They are tempting I know, if you go ahead, read ALL the fine print, TWICE!
Don’t have a savings account
WHAT??? You say! Why have money sitting in a bank account doing nothing? Put it into your mortgage. If you are lucky enough not to have a mortgage find a high interest savings account, a term deposit or invest it. We have a home loan with a redraw option. We can redraw whenever we like for free, it is brilliant. All our money is plowed into our homeloan, reducing the interest we pay and we still have access to the money when we need it. Having said that, don’t get too excited and redraw whenever you feel like a shopping spree! This also means that you can be ahead of your weekly repayments. This is a huge weight off our shoulders, knowing that if something happens we do not have to make a repayments for X amount of time is a great feeling! Even if you can only afford $20 a week on top of the minimum repayment, it is worth doing!
What are your best money saving tips?