operation super budget

by jenn on July 27, 2012

Today marks the end of our first week of officially being skint. Tom finished work last Friday and started his Masters of Teaching on Monday. Thank goodness for half paid maternity leave is all I can say!

I wrote a post on my facebook page asking for money saving tips and I had a wonderful response!

  • “Veggie patch and a pair of chooks!!”
  • “Veggie patch or farmers market weekly, twice weekly vegetarian meals. Shop in aldi. Bake from scratch.”
  • “Use your slow cooker. Lots of vegetables and cheap cuts of meat. Replace all cleaning products with homemade eucalyptus and bicarbonate solutions.”
  • “If you buy a lot of meat, splash out and buy a deep freezer and buy meat in bulk, even buy it by the side of beef/lamb. You’ll save 100′s of dollars a year.”
  • “With both of us studying at the end of my unpaid maternity leave we have been more focused with our groceries, utilise all the flybuys deals, do the coles surveys for $5 off. We buy gift cards with a 5% or 10% discount from my super company.”
  • “Talk to your mother. She fed us for years with no money” {thanks little brother!}
  • “Have a budget. When my husband was doing his degree he worked one shift a week as a carer and I didn’t work at all. We had three kids. I would fill envelopes every payday with the budget amount for 1. food 2. petrol and 3. spending money. There was very little in envelope three! The envelopes were never replenished until next payday. And I became an avid reader of junk mail, visiting three supermarkets a week to buy things on special. Certain items were only purchased on special or not at all. Oh – and we only had one car, I walked pushing the pram or rode a bike with the littlest kid on the back. Kept me fit :)
  • “When we first moved to Melbourne and mum was a single mum with 3 kids (and I think periods of part time work or little work or lots of work – it wasn’t always consistent for her, but she did end up buying and running her own business, go mum!), she would bake a lot from scratch, cook a lot of casseroles, and bought a lot seasonally (as far as I remember) – she made it work somehow! For fun we would go for picnics with our cousins and have cold meat rolls, haha.”
  • “Risotto is super cheap! Cook everything in bulk and freeze portions. A deep freeze is a must!! Make good friends with a local restaurant and see if they are willing to add to their meat order for you so you can get it at bulk prices!! I used to buy mince in 10 kilo blocks! Hehe I hated mince by the end of it but it kept me alive! :)
  • “As long as you have (preferably brown) rice and soy sauce, you can make a yummy fried rice with nothing more than a few limp vegetables from the bottom of the crisper on the day before payday. Wisdom from my days as a single mother…”
You guys are awesome. All such great pearls of wisdom and many that we could and should utilise even at times when our purse is a little heavier!

We already have a pretty tight budget but we go over on food nearly every pay… It’s ridiculous actually because we have a co-op box every fortnight with fruit, vegetables and fish. Through the co-op we have also bought 1/8 cow and a lamb so the deep freezer (which we got for free – winning!) is pretty full. We buy stock/milk/pasta/tins etc in bulk from aldi and have a bit of a store of those staples. I bought an awesome book called Down to Earth by Rhonda Hetzel (you can find her blog here) which has loads of great decluttering, simplified living, make your own bits and bobs advice. We’ve started decluttering and are using the money from things sold to go towards our gifts kitty and we’re planning on making some gifts for Christmas this year.

Last year we built three vege gardens and planted a variety of herbs, tomatoes, cucumber, capsicums, celery, eleventy million lettuce varieties, onions, snowpeas, pumpkin, rhubarb, broccoli, cabbage and strawberries.

Sounds impressive doesn’t it?

We harvested and ate plenty of lettuce and a few snow peas. Our herbs have gone gangbusters.

That’s it!

Our onions never got harvested because we always get loads of onions in our co-op box.
The pumpkin, tomatoes, capsicum, celery and rhubarb rotted with our terribly wet summer.
The broccoli, cucumber and cabbages never grew beyond the seedlings.
The strawberries turned out to be wild strawberries – tiny and bland. They were pretty though!

Greenthumbs we are not. With Spring around the corner I am really looking forward to getting the gardens ready and trying again!!

We were given money for Christmas to go towards chooks, but with Charlotte’s early arrival and then the associated blur of new parenthood we haven’t gotten around to getting them yet! Onto the to do list…

I’ve discovered that a great way to save money on cleaning products is not to clean at all. Sadly one cannot function well in a filthy abode, especially with an infant, so I’ve started using vinegar and eucalyptus to clean around the house as other cleaning products run out.

We’re being extra careful about closing doors, turning off lights and power points and only using the dryer for towels (a girl has to have some luxuries!)

So really our biggest issue is that pay after pay we spend more than we should on food with a cafe visit here, a takeaway meal there and a few too many takeaway coffees. We’ve set some new guidelines, tightened up the budget even further and made a comittment to each other to be frugal and keep an eye on the bigger picture. Given the fact that we’re now paying one income out of our savings I think this time we might even succeed.

Do you have any other money saving tips? 

{ 13 comments… read them below or add one }

Lisa July 27, 2012 at 6:38 pm

Some great tips there Jenn! We are about to get a homeloan once our apartment is finished being built – so we have started being frugal with our money too. One tip I have is to always have staples in the cupboard you would be surprised what you can make and also I have found not taking money out of the ATM just to have in your wallet makes those silly little purchases hard to make. I agree though one trip to the cafe or take away ruins everything because it can easily be a weeks worth of groceries wasted in one night

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jenn July 27, 2012 at 9:23 pm

great tips Lisa. I think it’s important to plan for nights out or cafe meals once in a while though so that you don’t resent the savings!

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Clare July 27, 2012 at 8:26 pm

Hey jenn, just lost my comment so hoping this doesn’t come up twice!
We’re in a similar situation now we’re saving for a house. I’m hopeless with food budgeting so thanks for the great tips! Entertainment-wise, I’ve limited my take-out coffee to thrice a week (and bought some nice stuff to have at home). We just bought a huge tent to do some el cheapo family camping once the weather warms up. I’ve made close friends with my local library. I’ve set myself creative writing challenges. And, when the weather’s nice, I try to make the most of this amazing (and free!!) national park we live in :) xx

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jenn July 27, 2012 at 9:21 pm

TOm and I used to walk a LOT before Charlotte was born and it’s something that I really miss. We really need to do Narrowneck again soon! Now that C is big enough for the macpac carrier I’m keen to build my confidence carrying her in it. BTW I can’t believe you have time to read ;) x

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Learning to play and playing to learn July 27, 2012 at 8:33 pm

My husband does mystery shoppers. This gives us the occasional free pizza, Maccas meal, KFC meal, etc. Often with a payment of $10-$20 also. So it gives us the free junk food we just cannot afford to buy and a little extra pocket money (or in our case bill money).

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jenn July 27, 2012 at 9:22 pm

Oh I didn’t even know that they still did mystery shoppers! Thanks for the tip!

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Bree @ Twinkle in the Eye July 28, 2012 at 8:47 pm

I like your budgeting idea around cleaning. I could totally do that!

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Kelly @ HT and T August 3, 2012 at 8:22 am

Do you meal plan? I find that REALLY helps with our weekly food bill. It’s written up on a whiteboard in our kitchen. Totally agree on the Aldi shop, we do all of our shopping there, it’s so much cheaper!
And for cleaning I use bi carb soda in the kitchen and the bathroom. I love the stuff, some days I think about snorting it…
Budgeting is what I do best, I wrote about my top money making tips, if you’re interested? http://handmadetearsandtriumphs.blogspot.com.au/2012/06/need-extra-cash-quick-few-hundred.html

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jenn August 5, 2012 at 3:46 pm

Thanks for the link! We do meal plan; mostly dinners though. How do you use bicarb? Do you just sprinkle it on and wipe it off? What about the loo?

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Kelly @ HT and T August 5, 2012 at 8:21 pm

Re the bicarb, depends on the surface. If it’s a horizontal surface I sprinkle it, then get a wet cloth and srcub it, then another wet cloth to wipe it off and remove it all. For a vertical wall, eg the shower, I sprinkle it directly onto the wet cloth, scrub the wall, then wash it off with water. It makes the tiles so shiny ;)
The loo, I’m a bit of a germaphobe, so it gets drowned in bleach then a little bit of detergent (any kind) to scrub it. Hope that helps :)

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jenn August 7, 2012 at 10:18 am

It does! Thanks! x

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Camille August 3, 2012 at 11:33 am

Too bad the strawberries didn’t turn out too good, they sure are beautiful!!

Great tips, will have to save this. :)

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jenn August 3, 2012 at 9:24 pm

thanks! I’ve just planted some proper strawberries from a friends runners – so am hoping these will grow beautifully!

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