Tightening the belt

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Most of you know that this year has been all about tightening the household budgetary belt and you know, we’ve actually done incredibly well. I mean, we haven’t saved anything but we have not spent beyond our means for a whole 11 months. Pretty amazing huh.

So I thought it would be the perfect place to start in my series looking at the concept of ‘value’. Most of these are completely obvious and there are probably loads more ways we could be saving money so please, share your tips via comments too OK?

allconsuming’s Top 10 ways to tighten the family budget

  1. Set a weekly menu plan and shop specifically to that list. Oh, and back away from the brand names.
  2. Buy a decent brand of coffee and/or tea and cease and desist buying one every time you leave the house.
  3. Have people over for morning or afternoon tea rather than meeting at the coffee shop. Making a slice or cake or batch of biscuits is far more economical than the $$ you will dole out at a cafe.
  4. Stop buying magazines. Depending on your want (fashion, food, gossip, lifestyle/home) there are plenty of blogs and/or online options which.are.free.
  5. Review all your plans – phone plans, pay-tv plans, insurance plans, utilities – take the time to investigate better options. You don’t need to do them all at once, just tackle one at a time. We took a long hard look at our pay-tv subscription, questioned what we would miss versus how much it cost us and well, we ditched the whole thing. The only thing we miss: Grand Designs, AFL, SpongeBob. Hardly life-altering or unbearable.
  6. This one has been tough but absolutely necessary: no more take-aways. I mean, take-away for seven people, five of those essentially eating adult portions is incredibly expensive. Instead we try to really create variety with weekly dinners at home. I must say, I really yearn for one night a week where I say, ‘let’s order take-away’.
  7. Review extra-curricular activities – can it be done better, how much is too much. Now this is a bit laden as it cuts right to the core of giving your kids a range of experiences and activities. We had to reach the decision that each child got 1-2 activities they could do, ideally a sport and an arts orientated one. Oscar’s taken care of mostly through free activities due to his special needs, Felix has done drama and football. Jasper has just picked up dance and Grover is none the wiser at this stage but I think the two little fellas will do gymnastics next year.  I ditched the swimming lessons for the little boys which some would say was foolish. But really, having done swimming lessons with three of the boys surely I had taken on enough to be able to teach them water safety when we’re in the pool at my in-laws or over at the ocean pool or in the surf the several times a week we are there during summer? Instead I’m investigating a week-long intensive option over the school holidays as Jasper is now in need of some stroke lessons. That and the swimming club offers free lessons (gold coin donation) at the ocean pool every weekend during summer. Tick.
  8. It’s not where you shop but how you wear it. No really. It is.
  9. Plan plan plan. Life throws enough curve balls so let’s try and limit their impact. I have a list of bigger ticket items that are going to need replacing at some stage in the near future. Then I keep track of prices of that item and how often there are sales on. I’ve also signed up at two online sales websites: brandsExclusive and buyinvite and if something comes up there which is on my list it may get ticked off (if the price is right as it were).
  10. Homemade is not a dirty word. Now look, I know many of you are not crafty and do not cook/bake, but I do (definitely more of the latter than the former) and so this is a case of playing to my strengths. If you know me then you just have to accept that a birthday gift or a thank you present or a contribution to a hamper or some such is going to be made by me. Yes, I will try and make it look nice but it will always taste good and was made with love. I reckon that’s far nicer than another bloody teatowel/vase/dust-collector.

This post was sponsored by KIA. To celebrate the great value of KIA’s new car – the Cerato Hatch, a website has been launched so you and your family can get some great value offers and deals. Check out my favourite deal for this week: Purchase the Mountain Buggy Swift from Baby Village.com.au and receive a FREE Storm and Sunshade valued at $79.90 at www.getmorevalue.com.au

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  • We still have takeaway……….I buy 2 pre cooked BBQ chickens from Coles $20,tub of coleslaw and some frozen chips.
    Very little cooking and its still takeaway!!KWIM??

    I also buy those cappucino in sachets in a box…..(Nescafe??) they work out about 45 cents a serve instead of $4 for one in a cafe and its still a treat.

    Only go to the supermarket when you really need stuff.
    The more you go ,the more you spend.

    • If I don’t go to the supermarket with a list it gets ugly.

      I am a tea drinker so by making my own Chai mix have made tea a special time whenever I like!

  • Von

    Congratulations on this Kia thing AND the not-spending-too-much thing AND having your own website! This is a great list but I’m a bit cross about #4 since I just returned from Coles with a Vogue and a Gourmet Traveller. Ahem.
    Von recently posted..A Little Unglitched

    • My magazine addiction was getting completely out-of-hand. On top of Vogue Entertaining, Gourmet Traveller, Donna Hay, and Delicious I was buying Inside Out, Aust House & Garden, Home Beautiful and would occasionally throw Frankie into the mix and anything else that caught my eye. Once you add that up it could be more than $100 per month and well, that was totally unsustainable. I do miss my food mags but it has been quite liberating I must say.

      • Von

        You’re right, of course. I think the magazines I pop into the trolley absentmindedly are a little like the biscuits I absentmindedly pop into my mouth with my cup of tea. I know they are excessive but I manage to avoid thinking about them enough to actually make a better choice. Hmmm. I think I’ll tackle returning the dvds to the store on time first. That should make up for some of my Conde Nast follies.
        Von recently posted..The elusive 40g glue stick

  • I know this is not practical for everyone but I do find that if I shop daily for the fresh fruit,vegetables and meat I need I am wasting far less. I still do a weekly essentials shop though.

    Keep these posts coming Kim ..I love this sort of thing..

    Now to work on the magazine addiction..

  • All good tips!! Shopping to a menu plan (and getting to the markets at Flemington when I can) has made a massive difference for us. We throw almost NOTHING out and that feels FANTASTIC.

    • Doesn’t it! I must say having a cupboard that is almost bare at the end of each week/fortnight is actually incredibly pleasing. Kinda.

  • Great list!
    A few years ago i joined Simple Savings (http://www.simplesavings.com.au/) and learned heaps of tips.
    I stopped buying magazines except Burda, i now read the fashion mags at work.
    We regularly review our utilities and found VOIP cheapest for calling our folks overseas.
    We never eat takeaway, instead we have homemade takeaway every Saturday night such as pizza, hot dogs, fish and chips etc and we watch a movie and make popcorn.
    We don’t have a car! Instead we walk everywhere or use public transport. This saves us a huge amount.
    I make whatever i can rather than buying, if we do buy then we see if we can buy secondhand and if not then we hunt around for the best deal.


  • Linda

    Our entertainment still comes via our local library – books, magazines, music CD’s, DVD’s, children’s books, book club, children’s storytelling, internet access and the bonus of feeling part of a community…all for free.

    As much as I lurve my google machine, it will never replace my local Library.

    • the library. I keep meaning to get back into going to the library but that would mean I was a)reading again and b) had got over my neck-itching phobia of reading books thumbed by others.

      • oooh, I love reading books thumbed by either. I am reading a book at the moment that I bought from a second hand store and it made me realise how much I LOVE the sensation of a book softened by others hands. I haven’t bought books in years ($ and space issues) and always use the library but this truly well-thumbed, read on the beach, stuffed in suitcases book that I reading at the moment is bliss!
        Amelia recently posted..Sandakan – Flight 3

  • Great ideas here. I do the same with the library, ours will even order in brand new books and you get it first.
    My kids enjoy the DVD’s from the library.

  • jac

    Ah bugger the website move must have broked my reader; resubscribe! Anyway, I have very few money saving tips as I’m so terribly bad at it. I like library books but I can’t stand it when people lick their fingers and turn pages (THEY’RE NOT GLUED DOWN OR ANYTHING PEOPLE) so I just don’t think about that. Although now I am. *spasmodic shiver*

  • I like it over here. Nice and clean.

  • Kill

    Tip 1 – move to the country = cheaper rent/mortgage (massive saving right there), free entertainment (go outside and play) and no take away (none that tastes any good anyway). We do home (dad) made pizza on Sat night and then I cook lunch on Sunday. Sunday night is ‘get your own’ (a friend calls it ‘catch and kill’) so that might be toast, tinned spaghetti, left overs, whatever – I do not cook – although sometimes I whip up a little omelette or scrambled eggs for 1 (followed by husband’s sad eyes at his own plate of toast. Also you can buy a big frozen box of fish/calamari etc for about $15 – add a salad and/or frozen chips and it’s not overly taxing in terms of $$ or time. Can’t believe how many magasines you were buying – OMG – living vicariously! They have those at the library too you know. Maybe you should start a magasine club where you and a group of friends buy one each and then you share them around – smaller germ pool anyway!!

    • Once again you speak the whole truth. The country will grab us eventually…

  • Oooo…. you’re making your own chai mix now! Mmmm…………..

  • Dawn

    Hi there, I’ve been lurking around for quite a while and really enjoy your blog, but don’t think I’ve commented before. Really like the saving money tips, thanks!

    • hey Dawn – I’m so so pleased you de-lurked and thank you so much for the lovely words.

  • Great tips. I used to be much better at saving money when I stayed at home with the kids. Now that I’m a working single mom I find myself cutting corners by buying takeaway and that sort of thing because I have so little time. It’s sort of a catch-22. I hope one day to be in a position again where I can make more nourishing, home-cooked meals for my kids. I miss that.

    Though I will say we completely cut off cable TV recently to save $$ and havne’t missed it a bit (well, I haven’t, the kids still complain!).
    Wanderlust recently posted..97 years

    • Ditching PayTV is a complete revelation isn’t it!? I mean, life goes on! You are still alive! I found it incredibly liberating.

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