Martine Rolls: Making ends meet

Times are tough and there are plenty of people out there who are finding it increasingly hard to make ends meet.

Prices have gone up for practically everything. I'm sure you have noticed. I nearly have a fit every time I swipe my Eftpos card for my weekly grocery shop.

Wages are not keeping up, and it doesn't look like it is getting any easier any time soon.

A new series has been launched in the Bay of Plenty Times Weekend, where Ellen Irvine looks at how people can save money, mainly by making wise choices.

Last weekend she explained how you can save thousands on not buying lunch, and acquiring a taste for instant coffee as most workplaces provide it for free. Do read these articles in the weeks to come. They make sense.

My father was a bank manager, specialising in investments. His focus in life was on saving dough. In our household, spending money on anything but the basics was as close to a sin as taking the Lord's name in vain.

I suppose the energy crisis in the early eighties was to blame for it, plus the fact that dad worked hard all his life to climb up from a very poor childhood to being reasonably comfortable.

Money was not to be squandered. It was to be put into a savings account right away. All of it, which included most of my meagre pocket money, was to be saved for my education. It had to be saved so I could have a future.

I did not take that attitude with me into my adult life.

I took all of the cash out in my early twenties, as soon as I had the chance, and used it to travel the world. Travelling provided life lessons, the good, the bad and the ugly.

I lived a carefree life back then and had the pleasure to meet some great people along the way. I am still in touch with plenty of them, on Facebook.

Like most people, when I finally did go to university, I ended up with a stiff student loan.

I really had to work my butt off to pay all that off before coming to New Zealand. I arrived here empty-handed, but debt-free.

Today, I enjoy treating my children, my friends and sometimes just myself with little luxuries every now and again. I don't see it as wasting money because I will make sure to get the best possible deal when doing it.

Fact is money spent is money gone. If I had been more frugal, I could have owned my own home by now. Or I would have a sweet retirement to look forward too. I guess I'll cross that bridge when I come to it as old age is still many years away.

It's all about making wise choices. I don't have many extravagancies but I am living my life now. Being comfortable, having fun and eating well means a lot to me. I am doing okay at the moment, but I certainly know what it is like to live off very little.

A few years ago I was working part-time, being a single mum and topping up with the odd freelance job. I had a crazy credit card balance, and found paying for things day-to-day incredibly hard. Being pretty desperate at the time, I did a budget on in search of a way to make living on a low income a little easier.

Sorry to say, it did not bring the revelation I was looking for. The budget sorter gave me plenty of tips, but most of them I was already practising.

The one that stood out was: increase your income. So I found a way to do it.

And thanks to that, life became a little easier and I don't have to worry about paying my weekly bills as much as I used to.

Instead of blobbing out in front of the TV, I worked more and paid off the interest and balance of my credit cards.

I might be more comfortable now but I still have to watch out. Sometimes all it takes is to listen to that little voice inside my head telling me I really do not need another pair of shoes.

You won't see me living off the smell of an oily rag, but I am conscious about spending. I do everything I can to reduce my power bill, grow my own fruit and vegetables, buy pre-loved clothing, and I'm a fanatical coupon clipper. GrabOne is my friend, but I have learned to resist that Buy Now button.

For more information on how to get by on little and save money, see, and

It worked out alright for me.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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