This blog post has been a long time coming. I mean a really long time.
For as long as I’ve been old enough to make my own financial decisions (16 with a job), I’ve been the ultimate tight ass (except for that one time at 18 I sold my dirtbike and bought clothes and shoes I no longer own).
A couple of weeks ago, I was scrolling one of my Facebook Mum Groups and a post asking about the weekly spending on food shops caught my eye. One lady was spending around $400 a week and I was floored. I chimed in with my humble tips on how I manage to keep our costs low and before I knew it I had a journalist hitting me up for more tips.
So this online article came out, then another online news journo contacted me, then a national radio station, then a news team, all within 24 hours. Apparently everyone wanted to know my tips and tricks to basically being the worlds biggest tight ass. I guess I’ve always thought this was simple shit that everyone does but I guess not. Everyone has their strengths and areas they really focus on and I guess for me, it’s always been our finances. Chris and I come from families with self employed parents so we understand the massive importance of keeping an eye on your money at all times.
After a little kick up the ass from Chris, I’ve finally dedicated the next hour or two to sharing ALL the secrets of how I save us a shit-tonne of cash.
Start With A Budget
It’s crazy the amount of people who have never considered writting a budget. How do you know if you can afford to drop $100 on a fun weekend if you have no idea that your rego is due in two weeks? How do you know if you can really afford to upgrade your car if you don’t actually know how much money you have spare each month?
I think the trap most people fall into is living week-to-week and pay-to-pay which is so easy to do. The thought of planning out months in advanced seems over the top to most. But you know that hot prickling feeling you get when you realise Christmas is only 4 pays away? I haven’t had that since I started budgeting properly. I know in January how much I’ll need for every occasion throughout the year.
We’re pretty average to low income earners, there’s no point hidding that fact so our budget is a fine juggling act of money going in on Tuesday to pay the mortgage by Wednesday but because we know our total monthly incoming and outgoing figures, we know we’ll always come out on top.
So pull your head out of the sand, sit down and work out what you pay each month, on what day and make sure there’s money still in the account to pay what’s needed.
Don’t Just Wing It
Okay I get it – not everyone loves being in the kitchen as much as I do. That’s cool. But my method of meal planning works wonders at saving me time and effort in the kitchen. With a house, farm, businesses and baby to juggle, being organised is key.
Here’s how I tackle it each fortnight:
- Stock up at your local farmer’s markets or old-school fruit and vege shop with what’s cheap and in season.
- Take advantage of anything that’s on sale and buy a decent amount to take home & freeze.
- Use your fresh produce as your base for meal planning (see below). Work with what you’ve just bought.
- Sitck to the freaking list! No, you don’t need another packet of Mint Slice just in case. Yes, I see that these packet mix sauce things are 3 for $5 but you won’t eat them and they’re full of shit!
Stick. To. The. List.
My meal planning consists of:
- a list of all the foods we love to eat for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
- a groccery list with planned meals on one side and required ingredients on the other.
- a menu of what’s on offer for the fortnight for us to choose meals from.
It’s simple. Crazy simple.
I usually spend about 15 minutes per fortnight planning, 30 minutes in the veggie shop/stall and about an hour in the supermarket.
Live Within Your Means
We’ve fallen into the trap of chasing the flash car, flash house dream. And it bit us in the ass. Big time.
Live A Cash Lifestyle
I spend a lot of time biting my tongue when I see our generation bitching that they can’t get into the real estate market. Well no dude, you can’t because you owe $40k on a car, $10k on your interest free furniture package, $2k on your credit card for those gigs you never paid off and you hit the pub each week with da boiz. I’m not saying we don’t have debt. But according to our Finance Specialist, what we think is an extreme amount of money for us to owe, is nothing compared to other couples our age.
Bring Pre-Paid Back
The biggest game-changer for us was switching from a mobile plan to pre-paid instead of upgrading our phone and plan every few years like we always used to. We were both paying around $130 per month each for our phones on a plan, now that we’ve switched to pre-paid we’re spending $40 a month each. Straight up, there’s $180 per month we’re saving. And yes, $40 a month CAN last if you turn your Mobile Data off when you’re not using it away from the wi-fi.
Don’t Be A Fashion Sucker
We don’t drop endless cash on new clothes but we don’t stinge too much either though. Usually we’ll treat ourselves to a few new brand name pieces every couple of months and fill in the rest with basic budget-friendly pieces. We make the most of what we do buy and I have been known to wear a basic black tank top I bought when I was 18. Our clothes are washed in a gentle eco friendly liquid and only see the sun when we’re wearing them – we use an airing rack inside to dry them. We try to focus on buying more staple pieces that reflect our casual minimalistic style rather than falling for the latest fast fashion.
We’ve always been the kind of people to try and do something ourselves instead of paying top dollar for someone else to do it for us (within reason). Last month I decided I needed a desk and when a quick online search had me looking at tiny pieces of crap for $250, I told Chris we had to make our own. For under $100 we built a simple timber desk with a nice blonde pine top to fit exactly in our little home.
I have a heap of rugs, cushions, throws and curtains that I keep in storage. Every few month I’ll get bored and switch them all up instead of buying new ones. We needed to protect our suede couch from our little spewing, drooling milk machine but my sewing machine is on the blink so I bought 2 king sized sheets and used them as slip covers.
Our kitchen is so basic but I love it’s style. The kitchen itself was free from a friend who was demolishing their house (total score!!!!), the top timber shelf was made with some spare pine we had in the shed, the hooks were left over from our hanging plants at the last house, all the glass jars that hold my pantry items are empty coffee jars I’ve pinched off friends and family as well as our own collection.
Before you fork out big time on decorating you pad, see what you can work with first.
This Isn’t One Size Fits All
I’m not sure why I feel the need to add a disclaimer here, maybe it’s because of my recent introduction to “trolls” but I want to point out that this lifestyle isn’t suited to everyone.
There are some people out there who like the finer things in life and are willing to work the long hours and stressfull jobs to pay for those things – that’s cool, good on you. That’s not what we want though.
We want to spend our time raising our children and being there for them as much as we can. We want to focus on working on our terms, on things that we’re passionate about. We don’t want our decisions in life to be ruled by needing to maintain a high income to pay a high mortgage, car repayments or credit card bills.
We can all implement these small changes that I firmly believe will make a difference to you and your family.