Parenting and fitness blogger Olivia White has revealed how her family managed to save A$30,000 ($31,718) in a year, including a spending hack to bring the weekly grocery budget down to just A$160.
The 28-year-old mum-of-two, who runs the popular House of White blog and Instagram page, said her family had set the goal to build their new shed and study — and that a few simple changes helped them get there.
She pointed out, however, that they started out with no other debt than their home loan, which is smaller than average as they live in a regional area.
"Please keep this in mind as I know everyone's circumstances are different," she said in a recent post.
White said the first thing was to spreadsheet every expense.
"One thing we did once we started this little mission was go through our bank statement for the last three months," she said.
"We went through every expense we had and categorised everything. This included food, children, entertainment, utilities and household.
"Along the way we found costs and expenses that were just funnelling out we didn't need to be paying like memberships and direct debits for things we didn't need or use, so the first thing we did was cancel all of those.
"We also got an insight into what we were spending the most on and we had a bad habit of spending small amounts at the supermarket several times a week — and lunches, lunches were killing us. There [were] also a lot of WTF moments! Like WTF did I even buy?"
The next step was to plan the weekly shop around specific meals.
"We would pick five recipes for the week and shop accordingly," she said. "It takes us about 20-30 minutes each week and we sit down on a Sunday and peruse the internet for what we want to eat.
"We also shop 90 per cent of the time online, which I find eliminates the possibility of impulse buying in the aisle for things you don't need. Our food shop per week comes in at between A$140-A$160 for four people.
"We also have one takeaway night a week and what we like to call a 'whatever the f**k you can find' night which is an oven-baked, microwavable, thrown together staples sort of jig."
White's third tip was to get ahead of bill payments. "One thing that really helped us reach our goal was working out a weekly/fortnightly payment for all the utilities and paid that via direct debit each week," she said.
"This allowed us to keep our bills in credit and meant no bill shock and large amounts leaving our account at a time. We've done this with our electricity, gas, water and rates. It also means we are not really dipping into out savings to cover large costs and feeling like we've been set back."
Meanwhile, she recommends having a "side hustle" to bring in extra cash. "Being from a working class family, I've always been taught that nothing is beneath us and you do what you have to do earn a crust," she said
"When I haven't been able to find work or I've been studying, I have found a way to earn money. When I was in uni I started my own little spray tanning business from home.
"This meant I just needed a tent and some product and away I went. Especially today with social media it is easy to get the word out. Anything in the beauty space like tans and lashes is a great idea if you have the space.
"I also used to sell a lot of vintage clothing on eBay. There are also tonnes of other places these days to post items like Facebook Marketplace and Gumtree. If you know what you are doing, there is good money to be made."
Finally, she said, it was important not to compare yourself to others. "Especially in the age of social media and the constant bombardment of everyone's lives in your feed," she said.
"It can be easy to get caught up and think you want/need something just because you see what someone else has. A bigger house? A fancier car? A lavish holiday? Do you really need it?
"Work out what you really want, and don't worry if it's not what everyone else has. Be happy with that you already have and realise you are extremely blessed to have what you do already without needing anything else."