Pinching Pennies


My husband and I have recently decided that now is the time to look for a bigger house. Our current house is a small, though lovely, three bedroom brick house but with four children and the future possibility of more we knew that we would have to trade up at some point. With interest rates so low currently, and housing prices stable, my husband, who has a background in banking, has explained that now is the time to move.


I have to admit that the prospect of moving again (we moved back here only 18 months ago) is not a terribly exciting one. Nor is returning to the calculated risk of loaning more money from the bank. You see, because interest rates have been so low we have made a conscious effort to get ahead on our current mortgage. My husband’s policy has always been to pay a little more than the minimum amount (even if it’s only $2) and so the equity we currently have in this house is much further ahead than when we initially took out at bank loan in 2008 at the height of the GFC when rates and prices were higher.

At any rate in order to go bigger, we have to borrow more money. In 2008 we were both working and we had no dependants. Now, some six years later we have only the one income and four dependants. But this time around we will be borrowing considerably more money. Things will be tight.

All of this had me thinking about how I could reduce our spending to help loosen the purse strings so as not to become too stressed by the burden of borrowing.

Here are a few of my ideas so far:

Reduce grocery spending – I already cook a lot from scratch and don’t purchase processed snacks like muesli bars but I confess to purchasing expensive toilet paper and disposable nappies. Miss 2 is currently toilet training so that will reduce nappy purchases by half but from this point on Master 6 months will be wearing a more generic brand.

Meal planning – this links into the grocery shopping reduction because an accurate meal plan, an accurate shopping list and a determination not to venture down the middle aisles at Aldi, should see our grocery bill reduce on a weekly basis.

Cook more – ok, I already make biscuits, muesli bars and fruit roll ups (a forced purchase of a food dehydrator when Miss 4 was in the midst of her worst allergy period has come in handy here) but I could cook more things from scratch.

Buy in bulk and freeze – I like to make things like Bolognese sauce or soups and freeze in smaller portion sizes. Often this means I can purchase more pumpkin for example, when it’s on special, cook 10L of soup and freeze most. I’m not wasting any and I can plan ahead for weeks when the money might be a bit tighter.

Grow our own veggies –we do have a small vegetable garden and this could certainly be expanded.

Reduce luxury spending – I’m a crafter by nature but a trip to Spotlight can be expensive so a self-imposed break from new craft projects is in order. This does not mean however, that I can’t use what I have at home already or that I can’t finish already started projects.

Handmade gifts and cards – this is something I already do to a small degree, but there’s certainly something to be said for putting in the time and effort to make something special and if its saves a little money too, well, even better.

Start saving now – we are still in the process of looking for a house and finalising our loan but what’s to stop me starting to save now? This week my grocery trip will be an organised one and although I’ve been given a figure of $800/month as my budget from my very financially organised husband, I confess I am actually going to see just how little I can spend.

So here’s a challenge you can join me in undertaking! Using some or all of the tips listed above see how low you can keep your grocery expenses for the next four weeks. Then compare it to what you spent in the previous four weeks and see how much you saved! I’ll check back in in four weeks time and let you know how I’ve gone, I’d love to hear your success too!


Filed Under: Family LifeFeaturedFinances

About the Author: Emily is a former ACPA award winning editor and journalist turned stay at home mum and blogger. She lives on a farm in regional NSW with her husband and their five children where she spends the time she should be doing housework reading books and writing posts.

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