So now you’re thinking about part-time work and readying yourself to be more settled at home. You will have less income at home now, though you are content to live more simply.
How do you live simply, then?
Being frugal and living simply doesn’t mean literally having nothing and buying nothing. It doesn’t mean counting every dollar, not all the time (just some). I live in Australia and most of the ‘lower-income’ people I see have the latest iPhone and can still eat out a lot!
Having lived with a single parent since my teenage years, I’ve learned plenty about being money-smart.
It doesn’t mean scrounging on everything. I have an updated phone and laptop actually, so does my sibling. It’s scrounging on everything else that you really don’t want.
The key is: spend only on what you truly want and learn how to use saving systems.
In this post, I luckily have the helping hands of my fellow traditional homemakers and Domestic Women, B.A. Hunter and Sanne (Thank you ladies!). They have kindly shared their financial wisdom alongside mine, so that our lovely readers can have a variety of knowledge at their fingertips from different homemakers and perspectives.
For my tips, really, nearly all the credit goes to my father (I love you, Dad!). He suddenly found himself alone with two young children after a marriage he never thought would fail failed, combined with horribly traumatic events. Not only was he dealing with the emotional fallout, he was suddenly in charge and responsible for everything and anything. When everything fell apart, you know what he did? He fixed the budget and flew us out to the Gold Coast, he cared about his children first and focused on helping us feel better. Did you know? My father is not even a high income earner. He did it all.
The man is a whiz. Here is the money-saving wisdom of our household, courtesy of dear old Dad.
My (Dad’s) tips:
- LED lights/ Sensor Lights – Have you changed the lighting around your house? LED lights are affordable, they last quite a few years and are easy to work with. Around our house, I am always forgetful when it comes to switching lights off so my father eventually just attached sensors to the LED lights so they would turn off on their own when no one is there.
- Rechargeable Batteries – All our remotes and clocks in the house are powered by rechargeable batteries, we haven’t bought a new packet of batteries in years. The payoff after some time balances the money you spent on the batteries and the charger.
- Using Coupons and Codes – In our house we have a coupon bowl and some on the fridge. When we do eat out or order in, we almost always use a code. KFC, Menulog, Uber Eats. We reference each other and our friends for discounts. Online, we also use the Firefox extension Honey, which finds any online coupon codes available for any website you might be purchasing on.
- Diluted Cleaner – Instead of buying spray cleaners/disinfectants per bottle and using big brands, we usually just buy the concentrated household cleaners (with a lovely scent!) and refill old spray bottles with the concentrated cleaner and dilute it, thus you can get several bottles worth for one price.
- Saving Napkins/Cutlery – When we do eat out, we always save napkins and wipes (KFC even gives them out packaged together, cool) and have a small box for them. So when we pack our lunches for work, etc. we just use them and throw them away afterwards. This reduces the need for buying your own serviettes and washing cutlery.
- Afterpay – This is just miraculous. Afterpay is similar to a Paypal payment system, except it lets you pay off an online order over an extended period of time, interest free. Buying something worth $100? Then you can pay $25 every 2 weeks for 8 weeks. If you are always budgeting and splitting your payments will make it easier overall for your money plans for the next few months, here is your solution.
- Schedule Food Specials – Similarly to coupons, I keep a memo on our fridge about which places nearby have specials at certain days of the week. Right now, KFC (yes you can tell I have a favourite here) offers 20 nuggets for $10 on Tuesdays in our area so we try to match our eating-out to those days.
- Use Laundromats for Drying – Trying to save electricity? Drying machines are too expensive when it comes to their electricity consumption and it never really is worth it, not even in the long run and the space it takes in your laundry. Organise your laundry days to have time to go to the laundromat to dry your clothes, if it isn’t summer or warm. During the Australian scorching summer, our clothes dry outside just fine in 5 minutes, though.
- Take Advantage of Prolonged Interest Items – If you want to buy good gadgets, it’s actually not that hard to afford them in Australia, I find. Phone plans are actually affordable, even for the latest phones. Don’t get the latest gadget every year, seriously, though every couple to three years, you can upgrade your gear and still keep to your budget through plans and prolonged interest.
What is prolonged interest? It is when an item has 20+ months interest free on credit card. Don’t be an idiot and pay the minimum, divide the price by the amount of months minus one, so you will have an allowance of finishing your payments a month early (in case anything happens) and PAY it. Seriously, set a reminder on your phone or calendar and pay things off properly per month,
Not only does this do wonders for your budget, it increases your credit rating and the maximum credit it can have. More credit, more shopping?
No! This is just so you can get other gadgets on prolonged interest (once your current purchase is finished and you want to upgrade) or if you ever need a loan for an emergency.
- Living at Home – I just don’t get Australia and its odd social expectations sometimes, maybe this is just me being an immigrant again, though I just don’t understand the push for young adults to live on their own as soon as possible. If you don’t like your family and you actually like being alone or with friends, sure. If you need to move for work or study, sure. Do what you like. However aside from that, moving out and paying your own bills and rent is just money down the drain for making a ‘good social image’ of ‘independence’. Living with your family means you can serve your family and at the same time save more money for your future. You can learn ‘independence’ and being responsible by involving yourself, like I’ve said before, in the money management of your household and take on some roles for your parents/family.
Tips from B.A. Hunter, a successful housewife:
- Making everything from scratch isn’t always cheaper. I know a lot of homemakers out there are big on doing everything from scratch and on the extreme level some even go “off the grid” in an attempt to live an entirely old-fashioned lifestyle. There’s nothing wrong with this, of course, but sometimes you’ll find that frozen prepared meals actually save you money on groceries, especially if you are a small family where everyone is a bit picky or doesn’t always like to eat at the same time (no shame in that). Of course, for families with a lot of children, sometimes scheduled family meals and cooking from scratch where you can buy in bulk helps. But in my experience, being a smaller family, it doesn’t always pay to cook from scratch, nor is it necessarily always healthier.
- You can work out at home and avoid the expense of paying for a gym membership. Girls, to stay in shape, get you some measuring cups/spoons, a 50-cent notebook and a 25-cent ball-point pen and write down and measure those calories!! Also, you can exercise from home by buying an inexpensive piece of cardio equipment such as an elliptical, treadmill or stationary bike. If you live in an area where you can, go outside for a walk or run everyday or learn some form of aerobic dance or something where you can work out in the privacy of your own living room. But remember that no amount of exercise will compensate for the amount of food you shove down your throat!
- You don’t have to eat out at fancy restaurants or take expensive vacations to have fun or spend time together. We’ve never had a vacation and it’s true that I’d like to take one someday, but when we do it will be at some point in the future when we have saved and prepared for it, and it will more than likely only be the two of us, as in a romantic type of thing without children (I know I didn’t like family vacations when I was growing up even though my mother was always dragging us along on one). Also, I find more enjoyment out of just packing up a small lunch on a sunny day and finding a nice place to sit under a shade tree by the lake or somewhere similar. There’s no need to spend huge amounts of money to attempt to entertain yourself or keep up with anyone else’s lifestyle.
See more of B.A Hunter and I’s savvy money-saving tips here!
Tips from Sanne of A Thrifty Homemaker:
- First of all and most important is to learn to cook without cookbooks. Yes, you heard me well. A basic cookbook which teaches you how to make a simple soup and how long to cook your vegetables is fine, but all these modern, fancy cookbooks and cooking magazines which cost you a lot of money really contain very little useful info. Many of the dishes they feature are of a type that you could think of yourself, like all the summer salads, for instance.
- If you have small children, make your own meals for them instead of buying insanely expensive baby food. If you don’t know how, Google is your friend. The same goes for pets, you don’t really need to buy expensive pet food. I’ll admit that it’s convenient, but if it really costs you a lot of money, you’ll probably want to consider cheaper equivalents or find out how to make your own.
- Convenience foods and ready meals which need only to be heated tend to be more expensive. Also, sometimes it can be cheaper to bake your own bread. Learn to calculate the cost of the meal made of fresh ingredients and compare it with the convenience food equivalents.
A Great Resource: The Checkout
The Checkout is an amazing Australian-based consumer show that has lots of lovely, bite-sized information about getting the best of products, services and knowing your consumer rights. It has amazing things from rent advice to whether you should get solar power to getting a great value car. It presents simple and straightforward advice for saving money and spotting the tricks of companies and products so you can get the best deal.
You know the term, ‘life hacks’? It sounds really millennial and at times funny, though really there are many ‘money hacks’ out there for you to use to save money and make it easier for your family as a Domestic Woman. You just have to notice them and be aware, take tips and advice from others and be strategic about how you use and stretch your money.
Sometimes it’s not about how much money you have, it’s how you use it and the systems around it. It can go farther than you think, if you know how to push it along the right way.
A Domestic Woman has plenty of tricks up her frilly sleeve when it comes to that.
That Stepford Gal (Alex)
I am a young Australian in my early 20s who is unmarried and lives with my single father and younger sibling. I am a domestic woman who is at home part-time and works part-time in order to care for my family and the household.
B.A. Hunter is an American housewife and writer who is currently at home full time with her husband and young child. This housewife is definitely not a ‘contract-nanny’, she is there to stay for good, for home and family. She is the author behind the blog What’s Wrong With Equal Rights?
Sanne is a happily married housewife who happens to have plenty of experience and knowledge on the art of domesticity and frugality. This is all on her blog, Adventures In Housekeeping. (Her tips are shared with her permission and credit from the posts Saving Money On Groceries and Household Accounts)