This story is part of news.com.au's Cash Confessions series

In order to achieve the great Australian dream of owning her own home, Fiona Kelly made a decision few would think of — buying a yacht.

In 2015 the 47-year-old says she made a decision to relocate from mainland living to a sailing boat moored on the Brisbane River, and it's a move she says has saved her thousands and helped pay off her mortgage in a fraction of the time.

Today, Fiona's living costs — including "rent", food, electricity and other utilities — clocks up to $21,600 each year, and the low cost has helped her pay off her $343,000 mortgage in just eight years.

Advertisement
Fiona says life on her boat allows her to spend just $20k a year on all living expenses. Photo / Supplied
Fiona says life on her boat allows her to spend just $20k a year on all living expenses. Photo / Supplied

With no children, and living a very unique lifestyle on-board a 28ft yacht, Fiona knows her lifestyle isn't for everyone. But believes changing up how you approach everyday expenses could help others spend less and save more each week.

She has taken part in news.com.au's Cash Confessions series, which looks at how everyday Australians spend and save their income.

Fiona, who has worked as a technology trainer for big business across the world for the past 20 years, says she has always been frugal with her spending.

In 2006, she moved to Melbourne after being offered a job at investment banking company, Goldman Sachs. Four years later, she'd saved enough money to buy a home 7km from the city's CBD. It was a decision that left her with a hefty weekly repayment.

But instead of living in her new property, Fiona put her home on the rental market to make an income, and assist with repaying the $343,000 mortgage.

Moving to Katherine in the Northern Territory a few years later, she soon landed a job in Darwin where she met her partner, Kevin.

Their view on paying rent was in tune — they had no desire for that expense, so they altered their life so they didn't have to.

"We decided to start house-sitting," Fiona told news.com.au.

"It's not always easy, but for that entire year in Darwin, we paid just $1950 between us for rent.

"I know this lifestyle isn't for everybody. With house-sitting you need to take care of the home, take care of pets, clean the property and be home at night. But financially it's very good."

Their final house-sitting stint was a seven week stay in 2014 on Magnetic Island, which is off the coast of Townsville in Queensland. It was during that stay they made the decision to find a permanent living situation that wouldn't hurt their hip pocket.

"We saw a sailboat while on the island," she said.

"We didn't have anywhere to live in Brisbane, and we didn't want to pay rent. So Kevin decided he wanted a sailboat, and I joked we should post an ad on Gumtree to find one.

"It worked, and we found one in Brisbane. A 28ft yacht built in South Africa. It had been around the world before, and he managed to get it for $6500.

"It was in an OK condition, had no electricity, so he has spent the last two years converting to engine to electric batteries run off solar power."

Life on a boat may sound like a dream to some, and a nightmare to others. But by stripping back their grocery bill and paying just $281 a month to moor their home — their money goes much further than if they were paying weekly rent.

A look inside their floating home, which is a 28-foot yacht they picked up for $6000. Photo / Supplied
A look inside their floating home, which is a 28-foot yacht they picked up for $6000. Photo / Supplied

"On average I spend up to $27,000 a year on all my expenses, but this year I am expecting to spend below $21,600," she said.

"For this I live, eat and sleep well, but it did take some adjusting. We have all our facilities on land, like a shower. We don't have a car, so I bike or walk to work.

"Most people wouldn't be able to live like I do. But I don't want to keep saying 'I want to be on holiday' … I want to be able to go on that holiday.

"Basically, I wouldn't have my mortgage paid off in eight years if I didn't make this change."

Fiona says her biggest expense is now her monthly mooring fee and public transport. Without a car, Netflix account, internet and on a cheap mobile phone plan, her $81k annual income as a technology trainer in Brisbane stretches a long way.

"We don't restrict what we do, but my motto is that it has to be value for money," she said.

"Eating out is expensive, but if it's value for money, I am fine to do it."

Fiona says her partner Kevin does the weekly shop, and is always conscious of his approach when visiting the supermarket, which brings their weekly budget down to $110 between them.

"We will always shop a number of times each week," she said.

"We go when the meat is marked down, so we have really good food but only buy when it's reduced or on sale.

"If there's something in the reduced section usually we will get it. We don't do any meal planning at all, because we are open to what will be on sale.

"I'm amazed how people get older and they just want time to go on holidays and relax, but you have to work for that and really save and not spend your money.

"We see people with the new car, the new phone, the new dress. I love clothes and have some very nice expensive dresses, but also happy to shop at the op shop.

"Is it hard? Yes in some ways, but there is nothing that can prepare you for the feeling of owning a property and no longer having to pay bank interest."