How to Save BIG Money
Large expenses last year and the year before made saving hard.
2020 was setting up a home in the Solomon Islands when we got locked down, repatriation, setting up a new home in Noosa and buying a car.
This year I paid for a residency visa, commercial diving course, double rent etc.
A lot of it we paid cash for which was only possible because of some frugal choices.
I have 3 kids at home (two teens and a 10-month-old).
I’m 29 weeks pregnant and the sole provider for our home.
Justin has been away since August, studying commercial diving, at a cost of $30,000 (course, rent, food, equipment).
Getting time to myself or time to work has been extremely limited, making finances difficult this year.
I simply did not have the time, energy or mental headspace I’ve had in previous years.
Yet, I still managed to achieve more than I thought I could.
Here is how we saved money in 2021 and further down, I’ll share what I’m doing to save even more in 2022!
Disclosure, this post may contain affiliate links for products and services I use.
1. Compared Everything
Every year and sometimes more often, I go over all my expenses to make sure I am getting the best deal.
Electricity, car insurance, house insurance, phone, internet, any service we pay for, I compare and save.
Never simply renew your insurance.
You’ll get a better offer as a new customer.
Electricity companies often have cash bonuses and other offers for switching.
Take a little time to compare all your services both the cost and if you actually need them.
I am currently with Red Energy for electricity. They offer a $25 bonus when you join too.
Also, check your banking.
There are so many fee-free options now and many offer a bonus for switching.
2. Meal Delivery
I experimented with this and found for us, getting meal boxes delivered saves us money.
My kids were more likely to cook which saved me time, there was less wastage, less time at the shops and less time spent planning meals.
Paying the full price might feel expensive but if you utilise the discounts, you can get a couple of months of discounted food.
Rotate through the offers, pausing or cancelling once the discount is up and you can save time and money.
Get up to $144 off Dinnerly (49% off your first order, then 30% off the next two.)
Marley Spoon offers up to $190 off 4 orders! That’s 53% off your first order, and 20% off your next three
For us, the time-saving factor was huge.
3. Shopped More Often
This won’t work for everyone.
When in Vanuatu and the Solomon Islands, it was common to shop every day or every few days.
We bought exactly what was needed for the next few meals and only had a few things such as rice, popcorn, salt etc that was purchased in bulk.
Due to the weather, nothing lasted long.
When we got to Australia, we splurged and finally this year, we settled that down a little.
Since I wanted to focus on my health, I started walking to the shops every day to get the 2 to 3 ingredients we would need.
I found I spent less doing it this way as I could only take a few items with me.
Some items were still purchased in bulk when on sale but overall, much less was purchased.
For many, the temptations at the shop can be too much so shopping less works better.
Find what works for you.
4. Cancelled Subscriptions
How many subscriptions do you have that you don’t need?
I’ve paused some of ours, rotated through them and completely cancelled others.
The ones I paused I did it because I knew we wouldn’t use it for a while or because there didn’t seem to be anything my kids wanted to watch (Netflix… they prefer Disney+).
Others I cancelled because I didn’t need them and some gave me months free or other special offers so it was worth ‘cancelling’ then opting to use the special for a few services.
Look into all your subscriptions, see if you can get a better offer if you are going to cancel.
But if you don’t need them, cancel them properly.
5. Walked and Focused on my Health
The cost of petrol, wear and tear on my car etc has gone way down since I started walking more.
My son loves going on walks and while it might take more time, it has drastically improved my health.
Plus, once he falls asleep, I could listen to podcasts, audiobooks or do some work.
I’ve lived without a car at times and it saved a lot of money.
So right now, I try to pretend we don’t have one most days.
An added bonus, by walking everywhere and being focused on my health, I’ve been less tempted to buy junk food which saves me more.
6. Operating as a Single Mum
My 12 and 14-year-olds are from my first marriage and most of their lives, I was a single mum.
As a single mother, there was a lot more to juggle.
Having a partner working away from home is not the same as being a single mother completely.
Trust me. I’ve done both.
By going back to some of my money-saving ways when I was a single mother, involving my kids more in everything and being conscious of our spending, we managed our money better.
As a single mother, I was focused.
All power points went off, we spent a lot of time outside and doing free activities.
We bartered, sourced free things and got loads of discounts.
Since I have been on my own with the kids for a few months, it has been incredible the amount of money saved in some ways.
At times it has been stressful as my income is the only income and teenagers are expensive but it has been an interesting experiment.
Try living on one wage if you are a two-income family.
Or look up the single parent pension with FTB to see if you could live on the amount you’d be eligible for. Get creative with it and try it for a while.
You might be surprised how much you save.
7. No Alcohol
My son was born in January and I fell pregnant again within a few months, so no drinking for me.
When I added up how much was wasted on alcohol previously, particularly by him, I was horrified.
Growing up religious, alcohol was not something I drank or saw much.
In fact, it wasn’t until I was in a relationship with an alcoholic that I really drank. And I hate that I ever did.
It is so much more expensive, it’s not good for your health, it reduces inhibitions which causes more issues.
So many relationships, childhoods and lives are ruined because of alcohol.
For those that choose to drink and do it responsibly, I have no issues.
It’s your life, your choice. Add up how much you spend on it and ask yourself if it’s really worth it.
(If you do want to keep drinking, I would recommend doing it cheaper through VINOMOFO who regularly have 70% off.
8. Clear Goals
Knowing we needed $10,000 for a visa then later $30,000 to cover the commercial diving course, it was easier to save money.
Clear goals gave us direction, our accounts were renamed and we had motivation.
I will be honest, at the beginning of the year, we did struggle a little and I did borrow some from my parents for the visa.
The $30,000 though, I did that and $25,000 of it was done in a matter of weeks.
It is amazing how much can be made and saved when you are focused.
Check out how I made an extra $33,277.57 on the side in 12 months and the eBook 99 Side Hustles for Aussies for ideas.
9. Looked at the Things That Made the Biggest Difference
Too often we get caught up in the minor savings and waste a lot of time doing little things which don’t save much.
Look at all your expenses and habits, decide which ones cost the most and how you can reduce them without spending a lot of time on it.
I applied this to both saving money and making money.
Looking at the activities which made me the most money and focusing my energy on them, combined with the things at home that saved the most e.g. taking a few minutes to compare bills, made the most difference.
How I Will Save More in 2022
I give birth in February so will have 4 kids at home while also juggling everything else in life.
Originally, I was looking at moving to a bigger home, buying a bigger car etc.
But now, since it’ll just be me and the kids in the house, I made some other changes.
I will continue with the things I did in 2021 but 2022 will be slightly different.
1. Rearranged the House
By simply moving the bookshelf from the wall to a different section, I created another ‘room’.
Now, both the teens will get their own rooms and the babies and I will be downstairs in the new room.
Giving them their own space was essential.
They’re patient but need more room plus one likes light and music to sleep, the other likes silence and the dark.
One is messy, the other is immaculate etc.
While they do amazing academically, I know having their own space and room to do homework, focus in the way that suits them best and so on will make a difference.
Our house is below market rent and stayed under when the lease was renewed.
I am undecided if I will move when the lease is up because it is so difficult to find rentals in Noosa (or anywhere) and I would have to pay double what I am now.
I love our location, can walk to everything, the beach is a few hundred metres away, the high school is close enough for them to walk or ride and my neighbours are amazing.
Rearranging the house might be enough for us to stay and save a bit longer so we can buy something later.
2. Maternity Leave and a Job
I originally planned to have a job this year in a new area.
While I love the flexibility I have doing what I do, there are certain aspects I dislike.
So ideally, this would be outsourced and I would work in something I have never done before.
Since I am giving birth in February, then taking time off, this won’t happen until the end of the year.
My goal is to save it though. Continue living off what I currently do and save the rest.
3. Invest More
With huge expenses this year, I didn’t get to invest as much as I would have liked.
I viewed the commercial diving course as an investment in our future and earning capacity, as it is quite high.
In 2022, I’ll be boosting my investments, mainly shares.
4. Get Tax Smart
In general, I have been fairly knowledgeable in this area.
However, as my name is going on some land and investments in a tax-free country, I need to learn the best way to set this up.
Learn what you can and can’t claim on tax. Keep proof of everything and claim what you can.
Take advantage of salary sacrificing and make the most of your money.