Baby Hints and Tips knows that things can get financially tough, especially when there are new additions to the family. But did you know that families are living well off modest salaries and budgets? Join us as we pick the brain of our frugalista contributor, Louisa Forrest.
Hi my name is Louisa and my family and I are living well off less than $30,000 per year!
I am a single parent of two young kiddies (18 months and five years old). We have a cat and a fish, and almost an acre to mow. I have a cleaner and a lawn mower man.
We live well and we live within our means. We have no credit card or personal debt.
I had to learn to shrink my lifestyle from one of $180 000+ per year, to less than one fifth of that. It was no easy feat – let me tell you!
That being said it has been one of the single best learning experiences of my life.
It did take some time. However, I learned to stop looking at things and saying “I can’t afford it”. Instead, I now ask myself “is it a priority”?
Here are my top 10 tips for living WELL off much less than you thought possible!
1. Stop comparing
Shrinking our life back to one fifth of what it was took a massive amount of discipline, focus and a big slap to my ego.
Now I think “who cares!? I’m saving for something better…”
Did anyone see that Kanye West has over $52M debt? How is that something to strive for?
2. No shame to my thrifting game
I admit it – I have NO SHAME when it comes to thrift or second hand shopping. My kids are in 95 per cent thrifted clothes and they always look neat, well kept and clean.
My wardrobe is the BEST it’s ever been and nearly all of it is thrifted, vintage or used! I have some killer brands and stunning bespoke items I got for peanuts – Oroton, Cue, Burberry… nope, no shame to my clever thrifting game!
3. Think green first
Being green is great and it’s an awesome money saver too!
The basics are lemon juice, dishwashing liquid, peroxide, salt, bicarb, vinegar and Eucalyptus oil. My house sparkles and is super hygienic and that is ALL we use!
4. Cull, sell, swap
I declutter clothes and toys every season. I give away whatever feels right, I sell some and I swap others. We live a simple rule to keep the clutter down: “One thing in; two things out”.
5. Waste not, want not
Do you have any IDEA how much FOOD you are throwing away every month? Add up the COST of that and there’s an easy $50 a week in savings!
In our house, we use up every scrap of food we can and I plan meals around what we have to use first. I don’t shop until I shop my pantry / fridge / freezer. Period.
6. Use it and don’t lose it
Use up what you have in your fridge, freezer and pantry. There must be TONNES of foods in there you’ve forgotten all about that is ready to expire! You’d be amazed at what you can make when you think.
Don’t lose it because it’s expired – use it up first and save!
7. Repurpose and refashion
I cut up clothes and remake them for my daughter.
I bought second hand uniforms for school and took them all down a size. She looks great and I saved hundreds!
I have a small sewing station in my office and I use it once a week for quick jobs and have a night once a month for more lengthy jobs. Having my machine right there, ready to go means repairs and repurposing is a cinch – anytime!
8. Keep a list
Instead of buying what I need or want when I see it, I write out a list of things I think we need, want or would be “nice to have”. This list sits in a Google Keep file on my phone.
When things are on mega sale, I check the list and tick them off. Note it’s things we NEED that are a bargain on sale, not just because they are cheap. It’s all about prioritising your spending.
9. Shop your pantry every month
Shopping the Pantry is a challenge I set for myself once or twice a month. I set myself a challenge to buy NOTHING for a week and to make all meals from ONLY what we have available or what I can barter or swap or get for free.
It’s not about starving or being tight fisted. It’s about ensuring that I KNOW, no matter what happens I can take care of my family – even when there is nothing coming in. That knowledge and empowerment is priceless.
10. The monthly meal plan
There are TONNES of meal plan templates online to help you. As we move into winter it’s a great time to look at Slow Cooker Meals. There are books with 30+ meals you can simply write into you plan and cook whilst you’re at work! Helloooo?!
So there you have it! My top 10 tips for living well off less.
Most of what living well means is about attitude
We still travel regularly (we went overseas last year). We buy good quality food and the best health care products. We buy lovely gifts for family and friends and people compliment us on how well dressed we are. We save money and I am building a small nest egg. I also give my children an allowance and deposit $5 a week into their bank accounts. They miss out on nothing and are, in many ways, far better off than most.
We just don’t waste money and every purchase is thought about and planned (most of the time). This is what makes it possible to shrink your lifestyle to one fifth of what you’re used to AND be happier for it!