Every year I like to review my life, especially my finances to see what has the biggest impact and then replicate it.
This year, I am focusing on saving and making instead of only saving money.
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If you are a new customer of ING you can get $75 for opening an everyday account with them. Here’s what you need to do:
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Then you get your $75 the following month when the promotion is running. Promotion periods vary. The current promotion runs until 31 March 2024.
Disclosure this post may contain affiliate links to products and services we use.
1. Op Shop Day
Every school holidays, we have an op shop day where we go to the different op shops in our area.
Everyone has a set amount they can spend and it’s up to them what they spend it on.
Doing this has created a school holiday activity my teens love, they pick their own clothes and always get complimented on their style.
Plus while doing it, they look for things to resell so they usually make money from this trip too (read how to make over $10,000 reselling for more on this).
It has made buying clothes much easier, cheaper and no longer feels like another thing on my list to do.
My kids have always enjoyed second-hand shops, they even research the areas we go to for the best ones.
The regular op shop day was only started this year though and is something they talk about, plan for and enjoy.
On these trips, they also help look for stuff for their siblings and our family overseas.
2. Got Childcare then Cancelled it
I have 4 *biological kids living with me, aged 1, 2, 14 and 16, and it was the toddlers I had in childcare for part of this year.
Cancelling childcare is not practical for everyone, I know but in our case, my kids were no longer safe.
It got to the point where even though it had taken an extremely long time to get them into care, it wasn’t working, there wer 3 unexplained head injuries and other issues.
I was grateful for the first few months of childcare when my kids loved it and the staff were good.
Once we got back from our trip to Vanuatu in August though, it was clear everything had changed and the centre we were sending the kids to was unsafe.
We were not the only family to leave at the time when the staff changed from amazing, caring women to new women who did not care at all.
I won’t go into details but it was definitely the right decision to remove them.
*I say biological kids here because I have a stepdaughter in Vanuatu plus we send money for her little brother (her mum and stepdad’s son) to try and provide equality between the kids. All 6 kids view each other as siblings.
How Cancelling Childcare Made and Saved Me Money
Obviously, not having childcare fees saves me money but to do that, I had to change my routines and find ways to make everything work.
Instead of working on everything within my business or home, I had to outsource a lot more.
By planning ahead with work/business tasks, I allocated anything that could be outsourced to others and only did the things that had to be done by me personally.
Doing this meant the few hours I had each week to work were extremely effective.
Everything still ran and I did only the essentials.
My days went from working to educating my kids, playing with them, and including them in cleaning, cooking etc.
I’ve been in that position before and am grateful I could, as are my older kids.
That said, it did prevent me from advancing in ways I planned and meant my income was limited compared to what it could have been.
How to Make Money With Kids Around
My main income is blogging and writing which is flexible, easy to do before the kids wake up or during naps.
Not everyone wants to do that or can so I shared 43 ways for single mums to make money, based on things I had done over the years.
Also, check out 19 ways I have made money from home and remotely to see more on what I have done.
Lastly, check out 24 ways to make more money in 2024.
3. Changed My Routines
Instead of doing it all without the kids, I had to adapt it to be done with toddlers around.
Health is still a priority to me and doing yoga with my kids aged 1 and 2 is easier than it was doing it when they were a baby and 1 year old.
Along with yoga, we spend a lot of time playing outside, they cook with me and are keen to do all the things I do.
Which includes cleaning up, house chores and gardening. Read how to get your kids to help at home.
My teenagers were included in all I did their whole lives and as a result, by the time they were 8, they could do everything including cook a few meals.
With my work, I do a few things before they wake up if I can.
Otherwise during nap time if they nap. They nap less the older they get but if we have an active morning, they tend to sleep after lunch.
Depending on the activities, they sometimes play happily just the two of them and at those times I do a little.
Sometimes in the evening, I can do a bit but for the most part, I outsourced a lot and only review what I absolutely have to.
What exactly do I do to make money around my kids?
I mentioned a few things in tip 1 that you can do around your kids.
Over the years, I have set up various income streams that do not require much from me because I knew I wanted passive income.
Blogging has been by far the best option for me and I share how to make money blogging.
As I have been doing it for a while, most of it can be outsourced easily now so I am not as involved but I am still in the background.
Freelance writing is another and it is one I tend to do in the evening or morning before they get up.
Read how to become a freelance writer for tips on that.
Occasionally, I will resell items as it only takes me 3 minutes to list and previously when I focused on it, I made over $10,000 a month.
Royalties from books and ebooks I’ve written come in regularly.
We have rentals and business in Vanuatu but leave the money there to help the family. Find out more about that here.
4. Streamlined Life
With 4 kids here, business, cultural expectations and expenses and family overseas, numerous sports and other commitments, things need to be as easy as possible.
Anything that can be automated in my life is.
Automating things can make life much easier.
The two main banks I use to easily round up and manage my money are ING and Up.
ING offers cash when you open a new everyday account and follow the steps before 31 March, 2031. Check it out here.
Up offers $8 instantly when you sign up. I’ve used both these banks in Australia and overseas as they have better rates and customer service in my experience.
As for other areas of life, check out 13 things I streamlined to make life easier.
As a start, bills are set to be direct debited but I do review them to ensure they are correct.
I schedule as many appointments as I can at once.
The doctor, dentist and beautician were surprised this was how I did it.
Since I had to make the call or book online for any of these anyway, rather than doing it regularly, I sat down and did it once for the whole year for anything I could.
5. Reviewed and Compared Everything
It’s mentioned in every list for saving money because it makes a difference.
Reviewing all our bills, looking for discounts and better offers, and comparing to ensure we have the right deal for us doesn’t take long but can save thousands.
My electricity is reviewed every few months but so far, the deal I have has been the best option every time.
Switching my car insurance whenever it’s up for renewal usually saves me a few hundred by getting a fresh quote.
Phones, internet, health insurance, all of it gets reviewed.
Here’s my annual financial review so you can see how I do it.
6. Reward Programs and Cash Back
Almost everywhere you shop has a reward program and/or the option for cash back through other programs.
Learning how to stack discounts with reward programs, specific cards, cash back programs and gift cards saved us thousands this year.
This article covers how I combine discounts to get the best deal and save heaps.
I make note of which shops/services are relevant to us and plan my spending when the offers are upsized so I get more cash back.
All of these programs are designed to make you spend though so you need to be disciplined.
7. Reviewed How I Spend My Time
Cutting back on everything and doing things to be frugal is part of my lifestyle, however, whatever I do has to be worth my time.
Often I see or hear of people doing certain things that take a long time but don’t save them much in the long run.
If those things are life skills, hobbies or something they enjoy, it’s different.
But often, it’s things like driving to multiple stores to get the best prices but really wasting the savings because of how much fuel costs.
Or scooping bath water out to use in the garden or other things with the idea it will reduce their water bill but really it only saves them a few cents.
I applied this to the ways I make money as well.
As mentioned, I cancelled childcare and needed to be focused on the things that made me the most money.
By getting smarter about my time and reviewing what I do, I saved more time, am less stressed and made more money.
How to Review Your Time
I shared 18 time saving tips for busy mums to give you some ideas.
However, one of the big things that helped me was listening to two podcasts from Mel Robbins and changing how we viewed the chores.
They were 10 Genius Hacks To Keep Your Home Organized (When Getting Out Of Bed Is Hard). And 11 Crazy Facts About Laundry, Showering, & Getting the “Little Stuff” Done That Will Make You Laugh (and Prove You’re Doing Better Than You Think).
Instead of being focused on who does what/who has the bigger load, we focused on how can we make changes so everyone gets to restn or do things like workout and self-care.
Meaning, instead of comparing who does more, we all get in and do it so we can all rest/take care of ourselves sooner.
Whenever someone comes home, they look at what needs to be done and they do something.
There is a list on the fridge too they can check so everyone knows what needs to be done and can help out.
Life Admin Hacks: The step-by-step guide to saving time and money, reducing the mental load and streamlining your life was also a good book to help reduce how much we were doing.
8. Changed What We Eat
Increasing protein, probiotics and eating more nutrient-dense food along with taking some supplements all improved our health, focus and lives.
Plus, it saved money.
Eating healthy doesn’t need to be expensive if you know where to shop and what to get.
We experimented a lot and know that for us, a high protein, nutrient-dense diet keeps us fuller for longer than one based on carbs.
This doesn’t mean we don’t eat carbs, we do.
But we reduced them this year and it helped a lot.
Carbs such as rice, pasta and bread might seem like cheap options.
For us, we’d have that and feel sluggish then we’d be hungry sooner than when we eat protein-rich meals.
Again, this does not mean we cut carbs completely.
Due to some genetic conditions, we have regular blood tests and speak with a dietician and naturopath to keep our health in check.
The supplements we take were recommended, and those along with these diet changes immensely improved our symptoms.
How to Eat Healthy on a Budget
The same general rules apply such as eat in season, plan meals, shop around etc.
This year I decided to enter all competitions relevant to our lives.
If a product we normally bought had a competition attached, I entered.
As a result, I won thousands in prizes including a $1,000 travel voucher, a $500 day spa voucher, $100 fuel voucher, $2,300 in photography (session and free photos but be aware, most of those are designed to hook you and get you to buy huge photography packages.)
I was genuinely surprised by how much I won and how easy it was.
For the most part, it took 1 to 2 minutes to enter and all I had to do was scan a QR code, put in my details and upload the receipt.
Be sure to keep your receipt if you do this because sometimes they still ask for it at the end as proof of purchase.
10. Set New Rules
Quite a few things changed this year which prompted me to look at some of the ‘rules’ or things we did in our home.
Chores were allocated differently, meals were planned around our extracurricular activities and we stuck to rotating meal kit discounts.
After a trip to Vanuatu, we paused some of our plans there which was difficult as most of our finances and goals were based around that.
We changed how we sent money home, what we were willing to pay for from now on and what will happen in the next few years.
It was a difficult but necessary conversation for matters and family in Vanuatu.
Then, we had to make changes at home in Australia too.
Sitting down with my teens, we reviewed everything that needed to be done in the home, everyone’s goals, desired, needs etc.
Then we adapted whatever needed to be adapted in our home and with our lifestyle to match it.
For example, my 14 year old started wrestling this year which has meant competitions, training and more.
When doing this, we agreed the teens and I would go to the competitions and the toddlers would stay back.
This gave my older kids one on one time with me and made the experience cheaper than all of us going.
Things I Consistently Do To Save Money
Above are the things I changed or reviewed last year but I have many frugal habits that regularly save us money.
When shopping, I combine discounts to get the best deal. Read how to combine discounts to save even more.
I use these 9 steps to save money on everything.
Learning how to reduce the cost of groceries helps a lot.
For fun activities, check out 37 frugal family activities.