Tips and tricks for living on one income

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?



The depths of my freezer…

If you read my freezer post

you might remember that I mentioned that the top drawer was a treasure trove of random food items which could justify a post all to itself.  After all the Christmas festivities it was looking rather worse for wear and in need of a quick clean out (quick because I hate this job, too cold!!).  This may as we’ll be a chance for me to share with you just exactly what lives in this drawer.

The before shot


Have I mentioned that I love ziplock bags?? 😉


Peas and Corn (normally also beans, I’ll put that on the shopping list now).  I always put these into ziplock bags, I find it makes them much easier to deal with, especially when you are holding a baby and only have one hand free.

Ginger, peeled and cut into 1cm chunks

Spinach, cooked, drained and chopped

Dried Tomatoes (my Mum dries these in their thousands). These are plain, I use them straight from the freezer in cooking or add some olive oil and herbs to store in the fridge.

Cooked beetroot cut into chunks.  Last year we had tones of beetroot from the garden.  So much I didn’t know what to do with it so this is what I resorted to.  I have used it to make dips although it did seem a little watery on defrosting, I should probably chuck the rest since it’s now 12months old…



Berry Sorbet frozen into cubes

Lemon Juice, (a glut of lemons from a friends tree)

A random banana that someone obviously decided they wanted to peal and not eat :-/

The juice from tinned peaches.  We don’t often have tinned fruit but when we do I couldn’t possibly throw this sweet stuff out.  It’s delicious wizzed up with some fresh fruit to make Sorbet.

Meat (cooked)


This is as random as it gets!

One Chop

One Rissole

Cooked Mince (suffering from a little freezer burn)

Shredded Chicken, I always try and have this in the freezer, it’s great to put in rolls for Daddy’s lunch.

Other random bits


Thermomix Veggie Stock Concentrate.  Due to the high salt content this doesn’t freeze hard but the low temperature still preserves it.  I keep half the batch in the freezer and the rest in the fridge to use first.  You could store it in the freezer and use it straight from the jar.

Blobs of Truffle Paste

Blobs of Tomato Paste

Blobs of Pesto

half a packet of Suet

Bread Crumbs

Crumble Topping, yum!

That’s it, just a quick clean out, perhaps I should do the whole freezer one drawer at a time, it wasn’t such a horrid task after all…and now it looks slightly more organised…I think 🙂


Scrappy Skirt

I love saving scraps. I pretty much keep any scrap of material that is bigger than a $5 note, maybe a 20c piece if it’s a real favourite ;-). At the moment these scraps are all piled into a large plastic storage tub, I seem to spend countless hours digging through it finding pieces that might be useful. It could really do with a big overhaul, hmmm perhaps Pinterest may help me?

I love using scraps even more than saving them. I love using them for several reasons. It means that I can make something now! I am terribly impatient and if I decide I want something done, I want it done now! NOT after I have had a chance to get to the shops. It also means I can avoid a trip out. I used to love spending hours perusing fabric shops. This was before children. Perusing isle upon isle of fabric bolts with with three children in tow is not really what you would call relaxing! It tends to turn into more of an incredibly stressful, rushed venture resulting in tears all round and a bag full of completely random useless fabric. Having a good stash of scraps also saves money, you know I like that 😉

Last night I decided that my girls needed some new ‘out’ clothes. We seem to have ‘home’ clothes coming out our ears. So I rummaged through the scraps tub and found some useful contenters.


Luckily these were useful sized scraps so I played around and decided I had enough for a skirt. A very simple elastic top A line skirt, nice and quick. Using some pajama shorts from the washing basket to get an idea for size I cut a basic pattern and had it sewn in no time and I love it! Bonus, I only had to unpick a couple of seams