Melbourne mum Kylie Travers was always fascinated by money — but it wasn't until she left an abusive relationship and ended up homeless that she really learned how to stretch a dollar.
Ms Travers managed to turn her life around, and within a couple of years she was a Young Australian of the Year finalist in 2015 after volunteering with the homeless and launching her own business, Occasio Enterprises.
Ms Travers, who has two daughters, has also been blogging since 2009 and she regularly shares her money saving hacks and financial tips with others through her blog, The Thrifty Issue.
She told news.com.au she managed to spend less than $50 per week on groceries, while her monthly electricity bill was just $60 — even in winter, reports news.com.au.
While the CEO and author often gets HelloFresh food boxes delivered for free after mentioning the company on her website, she said she still managed to feed her family of three on the cheap.
"Even when times where really tight I managed to limit my grocery spend," she said.
The secret? Buying in bulk, avoiding the big supermarkets where possible and following a couple of other foolproof hacks.
"Don't eat processed food — stick to fresh fruit and veggies rather than chips and other packaged snacks for school lunches," Ms Travers said.
"And never shop when you're hungry, and do your shopping without the kids, as they tend to wear you down."
But one of Ms Traver's top savings tips was doing your shopping right before closing time, when prices are often slashed in a bid to clear out products.
"Shop at places like markets and butcher's right when they are about to close, when everything is reduced drastically," Ms Travers advised.
Ms Travers said she usually shopped at Aldi, as there was a "huge price difference" compared with other supermarkets.
But for those who do shop at Coles and Woolworths regularly, Ms Travers advised alternating your shopping between the two to take advantage of loyalty programs such as FlyBuys and Everyday Rewards.
"You'll get the same amount of points, but better offers," she explained, because supermarkets track our spending habits — and the more you spend in one store, the more you'll then have to spend to get the best rewards.
The savvy mum also urged shoppers to check the unit price to avoid falling for "fake sales".
"Often things are 'on sale', but it's not a real sale — there might be a 'buy one get one free' offer, but when you look underneath, there's often not that big a saving," she said.
"And remember to track your points if you have FlyBuys, but don't go chasing them, unless it's something you were going to buy anyway."
Ms Travers also manages to keep her family's electricity bill to around $60 per month — a feat she's nailed for many years.
"Even when I had seven people in the house I still managed to have relatively low bills, even when using heating or the dryer," she said.
"Make sure everything in your home is energy efficient. Older heaters absolutely suck the energy compared to newer reverse-cycle heaters which use nowhere near as much.
"And instead of turning the heat up to 25 degrees, put on your dressing gown and ugg boots. The same goes for your bed — opt for flannelette sheets and blankets. It's about layering up instead of automatically pumping up the heater."
Ms Travers also cooks in bulk instead of turning her stove and oven on and off multiple times, and charges electronics only when needed, instead of leaving them to charge overnight.
She blocks up any drafts with tape or snakes to maximise her home's heat, and uses blockout blinds or thick curtains to stop heat escaping out of cold glass windows.
All appliances in Ms Travers' home are switched off when not in use and she makes sure to use a clothes rack instead of relying on a clothes dryer every time — and when she does use a dryer, she throws in a dry hand towel or a wool dryer ball to help dry her laundry faster.
She said all these hacks were easy to adopt — and when combined together, they led to thousands of dollars in savings.