When the budgets tighter then a fish’s bum hole…

I was never really given a choice, my fatigue leaves me unable to work an 8 hour day. I thought there is no way I’m just going to sit all day and do nothing, so I decided to have kids. We always knew either way, that we would both have to do our part to survive on one wage.

In today’s economy, living off on wage is hard. Scratch that, it’s fucking hard with a capital F! I can’t remember the last time I bought myself anything! – wait, yes I do, three weeks ago I had to buy a new pair of sandshoes while I was walking because mine fell apart mid-walk – that was definitely not in the budget and I’m still feeling it three weeks later, things are VERY tight. I’ve considered putting both boys in daycare and work but there’s a shortage of home daycares in Ingham. My husband reassures me that we will be ok but because of the way I grew up (with money), I’m scared. If anything happens I want to be able to support my boys, in any case. If it was just me I wouldn’t care but they’re my babies! I want the best for them.

These days, my shopping activity is considerably different to what it has been in the past. I’ve embraced the art of budgeting. Any purchases that don’t involve food or other necessities are carefully considered – and usually pushed as far back as possible.

There is always a way of being able to reduce your bills so that you have a bigger bank balance. It’s all about changing your habbits to create a better life for you and your family.

Things like taking a water bottle from home when your going on a trip rather than buying drinks from the servo (service station) etc. Make lunch at home rather than buying lunch – Say you spend $15 a day on lunch, if you made lunch at home it would save you $65 a week! If you have a credit card, don’t carry it on your person at all times, leave it at home so that you either use cash, or you go without. Set a limit for birthday, Easter, Christmas presents or make homemade gifts.

When I need to go shopping, I do a few hours of planning beforehand so I’m able to save as much money as I possibly can. I understand this is far from possible for some, but it really does save you money. A shop that I’ve planned will come to somewhere around $120.00 where as a shop I haven’t planned for can cost anywhere in excess of $200.00.

When I say I plan a shop I don’t just mean groceries, I mean the works! So for anything I need in the kitchen I order from Kitchen Warehouse. There products are always exactly what I ordered and they have some awesome discounts – at the time of writing this they had 40% off rrp as well as if you spend $200.00 get $50.00 off your purchase. BUT – you need to be careful with any deals that say if you spend so much you will get so much off. You need to work out exactly how much you will save.

With two babies, it’s hard to go buy a birthday present. I love Ebay! I can sit on the couch and shop from the comfort of my home and the bonus is if you learn how to use Ebay to your advantage it can be a wonderful tool to hide up your sleeve!

Here we come to my favourite, if I won the lotto i’d still buy everything and anything from Kmart! There is honestly nothing better than losing yourself in the mist of….yeah sex is pretty good, but sometimes, for a mum of 2 boys under 2 Kmart is so much better! You know the old saying? My wife hates snakes, but if Kmart sold snakes, we’d probably have a few.

Don’t get caught out thinking you are actually saving money at places like Prices Plus, Solly’s, The Reject Shop etc. Sometimes your brain will tell you your saving money because it’s a cheap shop but I went in for fabric softener, it was the same brand that I get from woolworths, Solly’s had the item listed for $5.00 and Woolworths had the exact same product listed for $2.25 so just be aware that some items are definitely cheaper at these shops whereas others are not.

Here are some tips to really squeeze out every cent you can:-

Track your expenditure. Use a diary or if you have a smartphone find an app that best suits you that can do this for you.

Use tax returns to pay off debt such as credit cards and minimise the interest you have to pay.

Make your own cleaning products, vinegar and eucalyptus are great household cleaners.

Cook and freeze your own biscuits, slices and cakes. Not only is it cheaper – it tastes way better!

Never shop hungry, this prevents impulse buying.

Switch to generic brands. They are often made from the same ingredients in the same factory, with a different label.

Buy in bulk and save. Cook larger portions and freeze for later.

Try cheaper nappy brands or if that doesn’t work for you (like me), find sites like the House of Nappies and buy in bulk when their on sale.

Make homemade baby food. Buying two jars a day can cost in excess of $1000 per year.

Put all your $2 coins into a coin tin or a 2 litre empty coke bottle and use the money as a school holiday fund or save for a family holiday – use your imagination.

Shop at clearance centres and factory outlets. Also don’t forget discount stores like The Reject Shop and Dimmies – they often have discount dishwasher tablets and spaghetti sauces at cheaper prices than the supermarket – But as discussed above, BE CAREFUL.

Plan to shop during sale periods. Most supermarkets have a ‘8 Week Sale Cycle’ – so buy the more expensive products like bottled coffee during the sale period, and try and make it last until the next cycle – if you can!

Swap to energy efficient globes and water saving showerheads.

Consider purchasing second-hand white goods or display models which come with a discount if you need to purchase white goods. Also consider getting rid of old whitegoods, often they are energy in-efficient – so they cost you more in electricity than they would to replace (over the course of a year). Ditch the old chest freezer and grab a new upright instead!

Wash in cold water and dry clothes on the clothes line rather than in the dryer.

Wash your own car – let the kids help, it can be fun – This is an extremely hard task when you have a car wash 500m up the road!

During the School Holidays – consider a ‘Staycation’ rather than a holiday. Sleep in your own bed every night, but still go out and do something fun during the day! Also jump on your towns events page on facebook, usually there will be activities you didn’t even know about happening.

Join a local playgroup (or host your own!) – a fun and inexpensive way to entertain your toddler. Also check out what programs you local library has for the little ones – they often have a free baby and toddler activity group during the week.

Establish a babysitting circle and trade services with trusted friends.

Organise a toy exchange. Swap toys your children no longer use.

Barter with friends and family e.g. a basket of ironing for some home cooking.

Save on Christmas wrap, use brown paper and dress with ribbon or let the kids decorate it. Also make homemade christmas gifts, jump on pinterest for inspiration and set a spend limit. Secret Santa is a good option for large families.

– easier said than done right?

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Every once in a while, I look back on my carefree (and budget-free) days of spending, and you know what? I don’t miss it. All I have to show for it is a closet full of shoes that have barely been worn. It’s not as if I never buy anything for myself anymore; I just give it more thought, and I end up appreciating it more.

So now I want to know – what tips and tricks for saving money do you have to share? I’d love to hear them!

Aquo Xx

A stay-at-home mum’s guide to stretching every $$$

It’s no secret how money just doesn’t seem to go as far these days. We are all having to learn how to shop smarter and try and get every bang for buck we possibly can. Being a stay at home mum, we may have a spare second or two to do our research to find any deal we possibly can so as to save that little extra. Below I have listed out ways you too can do this:-

There are so many household products where somebody has formulated a way you can make them yourself, costing you much less. I have just started making my own baby wipes, they don’t have anything in them that can irritate your child’s skin. There is also ways to make laundry detergent, baby wipes, granola, lunchbox fillers, kitchen extras, personal care products, different home & garden products, cleaning products- the list is endless!

Research best deal I research almost every product I’m looking at buying by reading reviews and searching where I can get the best value for money. If It’s cheaper to buy larger quantities I tend to do that.

Shop online – For things you can get at the bigger stores – Woolies/Coles, Bunnings etc I like to shop online as It’s much quicker for me with my limitations. When it comes to things like clothes etc. where sizes can be tricky, I like to buy local, it may cost a few extra dollars, but you can physically assess the items before you buy them – than It’s done! No wasting your time, No sending back and forth taking weeks, no dealing with all the frustration… So at the end of the day is it really saving you money?

Check your pantry before deciding on a meal plan – While I plan the following week’s meal plan and writing the grocery list I go through the pantry so I don’t double up on things, and will possibly save a few $$$ for the week. Sometimes I start in the pantry and choose meals where I only need a few more ingredients, some weeks I spend less than $50.00 on groceries.

Cut down on the extras – I think there has only been a few times in my life where I have only bought the items I need, not want. Click and collect is a great tool to start becoming the master of if you need to stick to a tight budget. Click and collect can save a significant amount of time when a customer is purchasing a lot of items. The model is becoming increasingly available, and popular – in supermarkets. Typically, the shopper selects the items online and specifies a convenient pick-up time slot. A personal shopper selects the items at an appropriate time and the customer picks them up curbside.

Buy in bulk if It’s a smart buy – read tags to work out. add video & pics

Meats, ready-to-eat meals, canned items, and any non-perishable, shelf-stable items are a good bulk buy. Paper products like toilet paper, paper towels, and paper plates are also smart purchases.

If you’re a parent, buying diapers and wipes online are seen to be the cheapest option for the quality nappies. The Nappy Shop, House Of Nappies, Go Toddler, or other bulk stores will also save you big. When we had our son, we did the calculations on diapers and worked out on average, we save a few hundred dollars every year.

Other items to buy in bulk include: candy, laundry, and dish detergent, garbage bags, coffee (if you drink a lot), even dog food or treats. Toothbrushes, cereal, and even jewelry can also be great buys.

Unless you have a massive wog family (like my family) and cook for a dozen people everyday, if you buy things like fresh food or anything you won’t use before the expiration date in bulk you are actually LOOSING money!

Buy generic brands – Most times you will find that brands like Coles, Woolies, homebrand etc. have certain products that are just as good (if not better) than the big brand names. For example, I have found that the Coles Ultra Brand are just as good as the big brands but is only $4 a pack. Also Coles Brand Laundry Soak is better than Vanish and is only $2.

Reuse left overs – With left overs, I like to change it up so it’s not the same boring thing. If we have pasta for dinner and there’s heaps of left overs, the next night I’ll make pasta toasties or pasta bake & salad etc. I use the internet heaps to find new things to make out of what we already have, walah! a whole new meal.

Know how to Use your rewards cards – These days there are rewards cards for every single store in the universe, or so it seems. Visit Point Hacks – they have heaps of different guides on how to use each of your rewards cards effectively. They will tell you how to buy and use your points for cheaper flights, how to use specific rewards programs more effectively and guides on how to earn more rewards points.

Stick to a meal plan – There is one sure-fire way to save money on the groceries week after week and that is meal planning. All the other grocery savings tips fall second to planning meals in advance. In fact, without the foundation of a good meal plan, you won’t get the full benefit of other tips like eating in season or shopping at Woolies/Coles.

These days, I get all excited when I save money, especially if it’s unexpected. If you put any of the tips I have given here, in place, I guarantee you will cut your current spendings. You can’t half ass it though, and if you do there’s not really any point. Be like me – go in full bull and don’t look back!

Aquo Xx

Bamboo nappies are life!

When our first son was born, we started using huggies nappies – because you know… So many people rave about how good they are…. WRONG! I could seriously sue them for what wearing their nappies did to my poor little boys bum! For ages we couldn’t figure out what was wrong (It took like a year!) Until I started buying different brand of nappies for during the day and slowly slowly his bum started to clear up. I’m only guessing – but that’s the only reason that could be.

Now I know some of you are probably thinking “but how often were you changing him?!” With a whole heap of attitude attached… Now, I can’t stress enough that wherever he went, whoever he was with, they were always very vigilant with changing him. I mean my mother and mother-in-law have always been that bit more proactive that me!

So before bub #2 arrived I started to research things like most eco friendly nappies, world’s best disposable nappies, healthiest nappies and started to educate myself on all things nappies.

Research

Choice Australia – https://www.choice.com.au/babies-and-kids/baby-clothes-and-nappies/nappies/buying-guides/disposable-and-cloth-nappies

Healthy Mummy – https://www.healthymummy.com/choice-best-disposable-nappies/

Good baby diapers – https://goodbabydiapers.com/bambo-nature-diaper-revie

These are just some of the sites that helped make up my mind on the direction I was going to take in regards to nappies. When my second bub was a new born I used pampers premi nappies but now I use bambo nature, they are so absorbent its not funny! I forgot to change my toddler before he was put to bed, he was in the same nappy for 13 hours and his nappy was full like it was going to explode! There’s full – then there’s omg so full! I am so in love with bamboo nappies now, there is no way I will ever go back to using any other disposable nappies!

I eventually found sites like House of Nappies and The Nappy Shop and I started ordering my nappies in bulk and worked out the cost of buying bamboo nappies in bulk compared to buying Huggies from woolies. Now, I wish I could say that they cost relatively the same cost – yeah, no… Bamboo nappies DO NOT COME CHEAP! However – they are the best thing on earth!

So it turns out… Bambo nature nappies (the head honcho of bambo nappies), are $201.85 for a month of nappies, I can’t just run down to the shops and buy them, but the nappy shop has AFTERPAY! –

BrandBambo NatureHuggies
Pants size 50.77c ea0.40c ea
Nappies size 5$1.09 ea0.46c ea
Newborn size 1$2.02 ea0.31c ea

So before you all have a fit, like my husband did – think of it like this – it has solved a problem that has been present on and off for over a year, I have tried EVERY. SINGLE. BRAND. OF. NAPPIES. OUT. THERE! My poor little boy says as he holds his bits “Sore, change, cream, goo.” – Translation: “Mummy, I’m sore af! I need to be changed, I need cream, and I think nappy goo will suffice.” It is the cutest thing ever.

I also decided to make my own wipes because nappies are expensive af! And because then we know what’s in them. So I buy Viva paper towels (don’t buy cheap, I did, they aren’t strong enough) and a jar of coconut oil (whatever is on special). I fold the paper towel in half (I fold two rolls at a time), boil the jug, mix 1 heaped tablespoon of coconut oil and 1 cup of boiling water and let the coconut oil dissolve. I use the huggies containers to put them in because I had them already, but while writing this article I decided to see what’s out there – and I didn’t find anything of interest, the huggies containers seem to be the most convenient.

EDIT:- So as I was writing this I discovered another – much more time saving – way to use the wipes. All those hours wasted folding the paper towel! What I found was if you run one end of the roll under the tap for a second and then turn the roll up the other way and set aside – the water will transfer throughout the roll making it easy to slide the cardboard cylinder out of the middle. Then squash the roll into the container, add the mixture, then just roll the sheets out and break off as needed – OMG SO MUCH EASIER!

It was now been an entire week where the only nappy that is used on both my boys is bambo nature and I have noticed a significant change. I no longer hear “mummy sore sore!” There is a massive cost difference to those brands you can but at Woolies or Coles, but you do what you have to do for your kids. The element of afterpay makes it a bit easier as well and I have become quite frugal with all my other expenses. Follow some of my other blogs to see how you can also reduce your spendings.

Aquo Xx