Making the most of a pittance

I haven’t really talked much about my budget stretching measures since I started this blog. In a previous blog, I talked about it a fair bit from time to time. Being on a limited income, due to being unable to work because of chronic illnesses and being a single parent, you have to make what little income you get go a mile. I have mastered the art of making sure we don’t go without.

Firstly, when I grocery shop, I buy bulk, and I do it once a fortnight. Sure, some of the more perishable things need buying twice in that time, like some fruit and vegetables, but most of the stuff I can go a fortnight without having to buy again. I freeze fresh milk, I freeze loaves of bread. I buy bulk mince and chicken breast ( I know thighs are cheaper, but I am a bit fussy ), and divide it into freezer bags for each meals portions, sausages also are a regular, and then the special treats which will be once a fortnight, sometimes it’s lamb chops, sometimes it’s Scotch fillet steak ( again, I am fussy about steak, not the cheapest choice, but if you are going to bother having a steak, why not have a decent one ?).

We have lot’s of carrots, which are cheap, potatoes, corn, peas and green beans with meals, and all those are versatile, so if you are making a curry, or a savoury mince, or just having sausages with veges, they go anywhere.

Kids love bolognese, so a couple of times a week, the nice and cheap, and relatively easy to make option is on the menu. Filling, with the pasta, and cheap as to make. And curries are great too, as with rice they are very filling as well. Talking about rice, I go brown rice, it’s much better for you. And on that path, I also either go Light Rye, or Grain bread, because as well as giving you a good intake of fibre, they are filling too, so instead of needing 2 sandwiches for lunch using white bread, 1 is enough.

Lunches and breakfasts are a mixed bag, if it’s cold, a canned soup is great, or if my son is home, he doesn’t do soup, so a tin of baked beans on toast with grated parmesan is a nice warm up. Breakfasts are generally a couple of slices of toast, and jam, honey or Promite are good, cheap options for spreads that go a long way. Throw in an apple, pear or some other seasonal fruit for snacks, perfect. The key to getting the fruit in your diet on a budget is buying whats in season, it’s usually a tonne cheaper than if you get stuck wanting a specific thing all year, which means you are at the mercy of supplies, so when out of season the price sky rockets.

Rounding out, I buy bulk toilet paper, cleaning formulations and other things like that, so it lasts for a month, and thus spreads those usually pricier items over 2 shopping trips instead of each time. ( I also stock up in the summer months on things like tissues, buying a box each time, so when winter hits, along with the colds and flu’s, I am not having to buy 4 boxes in one hit. )

Then, when it comes to clothing, I hit the Thrift Shops heavily, or sometimes buy new, but check it out for durability before I buy. I have 6 charitable Thrift shops close by where I live, and I hit them all pretty regularly. I also travel on and off to a couple of nearby towns, about half an hour or an hours drive away, and then my pool of Thrift shops explodes. 1 town called Warrnambool has an Op Shop where all kids clothes are $1, last time I went there, I got a pair of Levi’s that looked like they had never been worn, for my son. He wears brand name, on a budget.  I have scored a Ferrari race jacket for him for only a couple of dollars ( it looked stained, so I guess they thought it was no good, hence the cheap price, I ran it through the wash and it came out looking brand new ), and seeing he is a Ferrari fan, he was over the moon. Today for example, my nearest Op Shop had a fill a bag for $5 sale, so I have got my son a whole bunch of summer attire for next summer, and also a few shirts for school, over 20 items all told.

Thrift shops, garage sales and flea ( trash and treasure ) markets are good for other things too.My lounge, new Epson photo printer, , bedside and desk lamps, many DVD’s and Cd’s, among other things, all Op Shop scores. My beds, many tools, chairs, fridge, Chest of drawers, all garage sales. Fair enough, some things need restoration, but I always try and buy things that are cheap, because they look shabby, but have a good solid structure, so sometimes it may  just be a good clean and it looks like new, or sometimes, as for furniture, it may need sanding and re-lacquering, or repainting. If you can do it, you get unique pieces of furniture, that people are then prepared to pay big dollars for.

Recently, I did an estimate online to see what insurance would cost me for contents insurance. I entered all the things I own into it, and it reckoned to replace it all, I’d need cover of about $40,000 to $50,000. I would guess that all my contents have probably cost me about $5000  doing it my way !!!!

There’s lots of things I do that save money. Both me and my son sleep in the same small room, both our beds are in there, and in summer I only have to run 1 fan instead of 2, and in winter I only have to run 1 heater, and only a small one too, during the night so we don’t freeze in our sleep. My plan for this coming winter is to get a secondhand clothes dryer, and use that to create warmth in  the house also, because I am over having to pay to dry stuff at the laundromat, and by drying it at home, I am killing 2 birds with one stone, warming the place up and drying the clothes.

I try and use as little energy as possible. It’s more expensive to heat with gas, so I use electricity. I have replaced all my light globes, which were a mix of incandescent and compact fluorescent globes, with much more energy efficient L.E.D.  ones. I try and trap the night coolness in summer during the day, by having all the windows open at night, including the curtains, and first thing in the morning closing all the curtains and windows, keeping the cool in and the warm out. Often, when it’s 35 degrees Celsius outside, it is about 25 inside using that tactic. It’s not so easy in winter to warm the place up like that, as the alignment of the building doesn’t allow heating the rooms by letting the sun shine in during winter ( that’s if there is sun anyhow !!). I also have a much more energy efficient flat screen L.E.D. TV.  All these little things accumulate to save a tonne of electricity.

There are some things you have to spend money on. Like tyres for the car. I shop around for the cheapest, yet most reliable tyres I can find. My current set, which have lasted nearly 70,000km, cost $59 each. My new ones, which I will be doing in a week or so, will be $69, same brand, but new version of the old one. I have had, in better financial times, expensive brands like Michelin, Yokohama and the like on cars ( don’t ever buy Yokohama’s, they might be grippy, but be prepared to replace them every 20,000km at over $120 each ), and expensive certainly doesn’t mean better, by a long shot. And don’t buy secondhand for your car. For a trailer, fair enough, secondhand will do, but for your car, a secondhand tyre may have damage that is invisible to the eye, but may cause a catastrophic tyre failure at high speed, and trust me, I know all about that. Luckily, the only thing that was damaged was the back bumper bar of the car, I know how to drive, so could handle it, but still none the less, quite hairy.

This just a bit of what I do. There’s other things as well. Like doing your own housework, washing, gardening, you get heaps of exercise, squats, lifting weights, and you don’t need to pay someone else to do it, you also don’t need to pay for gym membership !!!



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