The Ultimate Guide To Being A Tight Ass

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:

  1. Stock up at your local farmer’s markets or old-school fruit and vege shop with what’s cheap and in season.
  2. Take advantage of anything that’s on sale and buy a decent amount to take home & freeze.
  3. Use your fresh produce as your base for meal planning (see below).  Work with what you’ve just bought.
  4. 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.

Get Creative

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.

How To Halve Your Grocery Bill | Interview

Ever have a serious “oh shit” moment?

I had one today while enjoying my besties daughters third birthday.  One of the Mamas from a Facebook group shared a fresh article from asking if it was me and if I knew about it!

Oh shit.

All of a sudden I had an embarassing flash back to that time I was hit up to share how we save so much money on our monthly food shop.  I wrote an essay of an email with all my tips and tricks, clicked send, and totally forgot about it.

Next thing I know, it’s being shared around Facebook and has been viewed over 2000 times when Mum last checked (typical proud Mum thing to do)!  Apparently people are interested in what I have to say and have been heading here to read more about us.

So if that’s not the rocket up my ass I needed to keep writting and sharing, then I don’t know what would be.  From now on, I promise to ignore the voices in my head that say “no one’s interested Caity”, “people think you’re weird for living in a shed” or “why is your knowledge worth sharing?”  Screw you internal doubts, I’m going for it.

Read The Full Article Below Or Click Here.


IF YOU want to have your smashed avo and your, ahem, soy turmeric latte too — listen up.

Forget worrying about what your fancy Saturday post-pilates brunch is doing to your house deposit.

39% of the Australian weekly wage is spent in the supermarket. That’s a huge chunk of your take-home pay each month. So, sure, $19 for half an avocado smooshed onto two pieces of rye is offensive, but not monetarily life changing when it comes to your budget. Skipping coffees won’t earn you a house deposit. But downsizing your grocery bill will.

And when it comes to changing your weekly spend, consciously deciding to halve your grocery bill is tough, but doable.

One year ago, Caity Fitzgerald and her husband Chris moved to the country to start a new life — and soon had a baby. With the shift to one wage, Caity began to make changes to the family’s food and grocery bill in an effort to thin out their already tight budget.

For starters, their grocery bill had to shrink — from $500 to $250 per month.

Caity is serious about grocery spending. She now plans all of the family’s meals in advance each fortnight.

She shops at growers markets before heading to the supermarket to see what’s cheap — and hasn’t purchased pre-prepared meal bases or sauces since she moved to the country.

Sticking to a strict shopping list and growing her own herbs and some vegetables has also saved her plenty of money each month, as well as not just buying in season, but buying big when something is on sale.

“A couple of months ago red capsicum was crazy cheap so I bought a heap of it, sliced it up and put it in the freezer. I do this a lot with produce when it’s cheap and in season. My freezer currently has celery, blueberries, strawberries, and capsicum in it,” she told

Caity Fitzgerald and her husband Chris on their wedding day. Picture: Tyra Gunnis

Caity Fitzgerald and her husband Chris on their wedding day. Picture: Tyra GunnisSource:Supplied

And Caity also says with a pantry that’s always well stocked with the basics, rather than having to shop for every item when you decide on a particular recipe, it’s much easier to cook a basic meal — without needing to buy anything at all.

So, do frugal supermarket choices mean more available budget for chai lattes and embarrassingly expensive breakfasts for Caity and her family?

“I’m a self confessed tight ass so for me, buying the infamous avo smash kills my soul when I could buy enough avos for the month for the price of one breakfast,” Caity says.

“But coffee is life with a baby, a house, a business and a farm so no expense is spared for our regular coffee dates! Changing our shopping and eating habits has made a huge different to our household budget. It’s been the difference between our son going to childcare and me going back to work. This was the one area we could really cut costs without feeling like we’re missing out.”

Caity and Chris now live in on a beautiful property in the country.

Caity and Chris now live in on a beautiful property in the country.Source:Supplied


Stop buying the junk food, the soft drink, the chips, lollies, expensive cuts of meat, pre prepared sauces, brand name everything. We buy a lot of home brand and honestly, I don’t feel like there’s a huge difference on staple ingredients.

Shop at your local growers market. Not only are you able to afford organic and spray free — yes, there is a difference — but you’re supporting the small guys. Start at the markets THEN do your supermarket shop.

Plan your meals. Put a little time into it, involve the family so they get a say and are more excited for the meals ahead.

Cook humble meals. Honestly, simple for us is best. Our all time favourite dinner is a creamy mushroom and onion spaghetti carbonara with fresh basil and some nice crunchy bread.

Think of the environment. When you become more aware of the waste you’re creating and the products you’re buying, you naturally reduce your costs. At the end of the day, if it’s bad for the planet, it’s generally bad for your budget.

To read Caity’s blog about moving to the country and saving money visit

How We Eat Like Kings On A Single Income

I seem to spend a lot of time in my various Facebook groups sharing my tips on how we eat really great meals on a single income.  With daily living expenses rising and more families finding it hard to manage, it’s the question on the tip of many Mama’s tongues and it’s one that’s taken us a long time to perfect.

For us, it all started when we moved here.  For the first month we had no fridge – just an esky and a bookshelf for a pantry that needed to sustain us through the hard labour of setting up the property and me entering my second trimsester with Cypress.  We were sinking all of our money into the property and buying a family car so I had to get pretty creative with our groccery spending.

We started by only eating meat half the fortnight – mainly because storing fresh meat, living an hour from the shops, and both working fulltime made it very tricky to manage fresh meat with no fridge.  After having Cypress, we then decided to eliminate almost all meat from our diet, allowing ourselves the salty oily goodness that is bacon.  Naughty, I know – but it’s bacon!

Our current eating habits aren’t as perfect as we would like them to be.  At the moment, we’re not eating orgaincally and are only growing a small portion of our produce.  As Cypress grows and we’re able to have more spare time outside, we plan on growing all of our fresh produce.  Until then, we’re doing the best we can with what we have.

Get Organised In The Kitchen

How are you going to plan healthy, budget friendly meals if you have no idea what you already have on hand?  Getting your pantry, fridge and freezer organised is crucial to keeping your shopping costs low.  I use a Kitchen Inventory list to keep track of what I have and what I need to top up on.  As something runs out, I mark it on the list and when it comes time for groccery shopping, half my work is done for me.

Organising my food seems a little over the top but for me and my family, it just works.

Tips for keeping the pantry under control:

  • Store flour, pasta, grains, sugars etc. in clear containers.  I use our old coffee jars so I can see how much I have at a glance.  Everything is clearly labelled and kept in neat order.
  • Spices are kept in clear containers next to the stove top, again these are clearly labelled.
  • Tins and cans are stacked neatly two deep again, so I know at a glance what I have.
  • Everything else is organised into containers that I can pull out easily. 
  • Left over ingredients from larger packets are transfered into zip-lock bags or containers and clearly labelled.

How I keep the fridge neat and tidy:

  • On the top shelf we have drinks – water bottles, soft drinks, beer, juice etc.
  • The second shelf is for left overs, snacks and lunch ingredients.
  • Chris has a lunch box on the second shelf.  He makes his lunch ahead of time and I got sick of it being crammed in everywhere.
  • The third shelf is for fresh produce or prepped food for dinners. 
  • Everything on the shelves goes into a click lock container with a post-it note label on the front.  When the container’s empty, I pull off the label, give it a wash and chuck it in the cupboard.
  • Our small vegetable drawer is for fuit and the larger bottom vegetable crisper is for our veggies.
  • The door has a home for eggs, cheese, jarred cooking ingredients, spreads and condements.

Tackling an over-flowing freezer:

  • The top small drawer is for prepped baby food.  I use silicone ice cube trays to freeze the puree into shape, then transfer it into ziplock bags and label it.  When a bag is empty, I make more and top it up.
  • The second draw is for frozen fruit and vegetables.  I buy up when something is on special, chop it up and freeze it.  I also buy corn, peas, beans, broccoli and cauliflower frozen because we never seen to eat it quick enough.
  • The bottom draw is for bread, pastry and frozen meals.  Again with the ziplock bags, I put everything in them – including soup.  I lay everything flat until it’s frozen, then stand it up to take up minimal space.

Plan Your Meals

Not everyone is as excited by a well executed list as I am.  But this is my key to keeping our food bills as small as possible.  Each fortnight, Chris and I sit down to brainstorm our meal choices for the fortnight.  We try to keep a balance between rice, pasta, vegetable based meals and will often flick through my collection of cookbooks to get some inspo.

I’ve created my own print out with our meals on one side, and my shopping list on the other side.  So many times I add something to the shopping list and have no idea what I’m buying it for.  It also makes life easier having it all on one sheet.  It also has quick tick-and-flicks for our staple supplies that I seem to need each fortnight.

Once we’ve worked out what we want to eat, I check the pantry, fridge and freezer to see what I have and write down what I need to make the meals on the list.

When the house is stocked with our grocceries, I use post-its to plan out our Weekly Menu which includes food for Cypress.  This lets me be prepared and make the most of fresh ingredients or left-overs.

Stick To A Shopping List

This is the very most important part of my whole process and I’m very particular about how it’s done.  For starters, I DO NOT take my husband the man child with me.  He will try and shove every bullshit thing in the trolley that we just don’t need and then I feel like a bitch for saying no to him for an entire hour.  The actual child on the other hand is always welcome as long as he’s fed, full and healthy.

My shopping list goes in order of our supermarket so I’m able to whip around super quick, throwing in everything on my list and I’m usually in and out within the hour.  I avoid those aisles that have nothing but crap in them and I ignore everything that catches my eye that isn’t on my list.

Sometimes I’ll need to substitute if something is unavailable but for the most part, I stick to my guns.

Embrace Scratch Style Cooking

The last one sounds harder than it is and sounds sketchy.  When I started looking into heamsteading and budget meal planning, the term of “scratch cooking” kept popping up.  The theory is to buy base ingredients and cook as much from scratch as you can.  It’s ofcourse much easier to do when you’re a stay at home Mama and you love to be in the kitchen but it really does save us a bunch on money.  For example, if I need a tomato spaghetti sauce, I’ll get a large jar of Passata and add all my own flavour to enhance it.  If we have pizza, I make the bases with flour, water, oil and herbs.  I buy individual ingredients over getting packet mixes and jar sauces which makes way more quantity and variety of meal bases.

5 Things You Must Do Before Buying Land

Jumping in the deep end is shit loads of fun – we’re not denying that.  But making a really bad investment in land can end in disaster!  We’ve compiled a list of the 5 Things You Have To Do Before Buying Land to keep you out of trouble while hunting for your perfect block.

1. Find a Finance Specialist.

Don’t waste time dreaming of properties you’ll never be able to afford.  You need to know where you stand financially before you even jump online to search properties.  Find yourself a good Finance Specialist (previously known as mortgage brokers) and find out how much you can borrow.  See our previous post about why you need one here!

2. Find your area.

Start researching properties for sale in your general region – we started with the Sunshine Coast for example.  From these searches, look at what areas or suburbs have properties within your price range but remember – prices are always negotiable.  Drive through them all, visit the local shops and chat to people on the street to get a good feel for the community.

3. Create a shortlist.

Work through the properties within your budget, within your ideal area and create a shortlist of those that most interest you.  Go and visit the properties, walk the fence line, see if flooding will be an issue, check out the neighbouring properties.  Listen to your gut – you’ll know the one when you find it.

4. Do your research.

Don’t even put an offer in until you’ve looked into it thoroughly.  Your Finance Specialist will be able to tell you what a reasonable price is based on comparative properties so make sure you run it by them first.  Doing this will also make sure there isn’t anything that might scare the banks off lending against it.  If it looks like the natural elements might be an issue, visit the local Council office for flooding, fire and drought information as well as any planned development near by.  Chat to the neighbours and see what they’ve observed of the property over the years.

5. Assess suitability.

You don’t want to plan your entire life on the property before you have a contract on it, but you need to know it will work for. Keeping in mind the following points will avoid trouble when you get on the block:

  • Where will you build?
  • Where will you grow?
  • What’s the direction of the sun?
  • Is there water on the property?
  • Is there power connected or close by?
  • Are the fences in good condition or do they need work?
  • How’s the insects (flies & mosquitoes)?
  • Is there easy access?

Following these steps will make the process a lot easier and way more fun!


The Finance Specialist | Your New Best Mate

Most people we chat to about the services of a Finance Specialist seem to have the same opinion; because they’ve had their Dollarmite account with one bank since they were 6 years old, this bank will for some reason offer them special treatment and a great rate on a home loan.  Oh, man I wish this was true.

Banks are businesses and they want to make as much money as they can.  They don’t achieve this by looking out for the best interest of their customers.  Do yourself a favour and find a professional to help you work through the bullshit and find the home loan that will work for you.

We have an amazing Finance Specialist who I’ve known since I was in nappies (she just loves to bring up the time she found me smearing the contents of one all over my bedroom) who I recommend to anyone who listens.

When we bought our house, she sat down with us to see what we wanted to do, where we wanted to be in the future and worked out a plan of attack to get us there which was great!  But the most valuable part of her role for me personally, is being accountable to someone.  Ultimately, it’s up to her to submit the paperwork and get us our loan so there’s a small part of me that feels as if I need to justify our decision in a reasonable and practical way in order to convince her that the banks won’t totally hate our idea.  This really has steered us clear of some pretty dumb ass ideas over the years (like buying a property in a flood zone that required a house with a floor level 4 metres off the ground…not even kidding!)

They do all the hard work for you and can tell you:

  • how much you’ll be able to borrow
  • what your repayments will be
  • which bank has the best loan term and interest rate
  • what other fees may be involved

What they do for you:

  • they don’t cost you a cent but can save you a bunch
  • provide unbiased advise
  • make you think about option you hadn’t thought of
  • talk you out of doing something really dumb
  • vacant land is hard to borrow for, they’ll tell you what to look for to keep the bank happy

What you do for them:

  • provide them with basic financial details such as pay slips, outgoing costs, etc.
  • let them know when you’ve found your property & send them the details
  • meet up with them to sign the paperwork
  • shout them a coffee / wine / whiskey when the deal is done

Want the contact details for our financial whiz?  Check out our Dream Team Page!