Tania Webb didn't think she'd ever live in a home of her own.

Her parents rented, as did her partner's parents, and home ownership wasn't part of their world.

But the mother-of-eight got there, and she wants to show others the way.

Webb, 31, moved into her new, five bedroom home in the South Auckland suburb of Weymouth last July.

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She and her partner were able to buy the home, valued at $580,000 at the time, thanks to two things - the acceptance of their application for support from the New Zealand Housing Foundation, and their knuckled-down efforts to save $13,000 in five months.

The New Zealand Housing Foundation is a not-for-profit charitable trust that helps low-income Kiwis buy homes under a shared-ownership model.

Webb was told she had been accepted in July 2015, but had only until December to raise a $10,000 deposit.

With $2000 in savings and an estimated ability to save $250 a week - half of what was needed - she realised changes were needed if their dream was going to come true, Webb said.

The single-income family was ruthless with their savings - from nappies to food to fuel, they slashed costs.

Tania Webb with her 18-month-old son Hercules. Photo / Jason Oxenham
Tania Webb with her 18-month-old son Hercules. Photo / Jason Oxenham

Webb started by buying $40 worth of second hand cloth nappies off Trade Me and switching from baby wipes to flannels.

At the time it was costing $50 a week to keep her two youngest children in budget nappies and wipes.

The savings - she washed nappies in cold water as she had been told modern nappies and washing machines, coupled with the natural disinfectant of line drying, kept it hygienic - had been a revelation.

"I'm quite disgusted with what I've thrown away over the years. If I'd used cloth nappies with all my other children I could've had my deposit 10 times over."

Other cost savings came from shopping locally and looking for bargains, such as going to the butcher and making use of the weekend market in Manurewa. Baking and bulk buying children's lunch snacks and then separating them into her own small bags also cut the budget.

The family also learned to forage for fruit, and sometimes asked neighbours if they were willing to share or barter the bounty on their fruit trees.

"It's amazing how many people are willing to do that."

The kids also helped - gifted lemons were turned into lemonade, which was then sold at a stall, Webb said.

They also began walking everywhere they could. When they previously would have driven to after-school sport, they walked.

The family fuel bill dropped from about $100 a week to $25.

The effect was enormous - they did so well, the family raised $13,000 - $3000 above their target over the five months. The savings also helped them manage their new life with a mortgage, Webb said.

They also became more waste conscious, a drive to save money morphed into a greater appreciation of the environment - where the family once put out six rubbish bags a week, that had now dropped to one.

"It was like a chain reaction. The more that I was changing our lifestyle, it was saving money, the more that I tried to save, the more greenie we became."

She has since been hired as a "waste champion" by Te Awa Ora Trust and earns $100 each time she speaks to mothers' groups about her switch to cloth nappies.

Sometimes she still had to pinch herself that her family now had their own home.

"For us, it's just a little dream come true, because we both come from families where it's normal to rent. It's kind of sad that we thought before that we would rent forever.

"I think everyone can do what we did, if they really want it."

The New Zealand Housing Foundation's Affordable Rental scheme

• Helps low-income Kiwis buy homes under a shared-ownership model
• Must be a first time home buyer
• Must have minimum deposit of $10,000
• Have a regular combined household income, (in Auckland, between $55 000 and $95,000)
• Have a good credit record
• Currently looking for applicants for housing devolopment in Waimahia Inlet, Weymouth, Flat Bush, Hobsonville, Awatea, Christchurch and Hornby, Christchurch