Skip to Content

How we Live a fun and Frugal Lifestyle

How we Live a fun and Frugal Lifestyle

How a Family of 4 in Australia Lives Frugally but Has Fun

Written in 2015.

I’ve gone from being homeless to CEO and despite the drastic changes in my life, I choose to live frugally.

In the past few years, I have lived through quite a few scenarios which were financially tough, making me appreciate what I have worked for so much more, including:

Job loss

When I was married my ex-husband lost his job for nearly 12 months and wouldn’t allow me to get a job.

We divorced because of domestic violence, not finances.


I divorced in 2013 due to domestic violence.

We had separated in 2012, the divorce was processed in 2013 but custody took years and was extremely expensive.


We lived in a garage at one point, couch surfed and had lots of trouble when leaving my now ex-husband.

Medical Issues

This year (2015) I was paralysed for a while and am currently awaiting a medical procedure which should help, but it has meant the past few months we’ve had high medical bills and income has been reduced due to the inability to work.

Kids With Extra Needs

My kids had/have issues with PTSD, anxiety, ADHD, autism and a few things requiring extensive treatment.

This has all happened in a matter of a few years.

Any one of those things can be financially crippling, let alone multiple events.

Thankfully, I have been raised fairly frugally, so frugality is part of my life in general.

I love finances, finding ways to make and save money and always ensure to plan for my future including superannuation.

As a single mum, I am teaching my kids the balance of frugal living and being good with money instead of having a poverty or rich and entitled mindset.

Having been homeless and now being well off, I want them to appreciate what we have and realise not everyone has that and we should be grateful. I also want them to live sustainably.

How we live a full but fun and frugal lifestyle 2

Disclosure: this post contains affiliate links.

Fee Free Banking

One thing I want my kids to be aware of is you don’t need to pay fees! Use fee-free banks instead.


Groceries can take a huge part of the average budget. Here is how we keep costs lower.

Menu Plan

We do this very simply by eating the same meals on a regular basis.

It makes shopping a breeze, we are healthier and spend less money.

We eat mostly Indian, Thai, Vietnamese etc with a lot of vegetables, stir-fries and my kids get involved in helping with the cooking.

For their lunches, they eat vegetable sticks, rice crackers, cheese, fruit, slices and things we bake at home loaded with superfoods instead of sugary snacks.

Added bonus, eating this way we feel fuller for longer, don’t crave so much junk and we have Friday as our special family night and treat day.

I’ve also used discounts in my meal plan such as:

Get your first box free with HelloFresh.

Get up to $180 off EveryPlate, split across your first 5 boxes with the code THRIFTYEPLATE. This offer is for new and existing customers.

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.

Shop With a List

Since we eat so specifically, our list is pretty much the same each week.

Having the list we know exactly what we need, we don’t buy random items and don’t end up with multiples of one item and nothing of another.

Stick To A Budget

Set your limit then work within it.

Shop around, compare prices, buy in bulk, use shopping points, look for coupons, and do what you need to do to stick to your budget.


We got chickens earlier this year and they have been fantastic for providing eggs, eating food scraps and getting rid of pests in the garden.

We haven’t had to mow the lawn since we got them.

We don’t need bug spray or worry about spiders anymore, saving a few hundred on pest control alone. I used to spend $7 per dozen free range eggs.

Now it is a bit of feed every few months which is significantly less than I was spending on the eggs.

Markets and Bartering

Shop at local farmers markets.

You get fresher produce and usually cheaper prices as you are taking out the middle man.

As well as markets, look into barter arrangements, food co-ops and freecycle in your area.

Offer something from your garden or items you no longer need in exchange for produce and food you would like.

Snack or Meal Swaps

Get together with other mums from school or in your local community, church or family and arrange swaps.

For example, say there are 4 families.

Each family could cook a different snack for school or a different family meal but cook a bulk batch, enough for the 4 families.

Then divide them into 4 and do a swap.

This way you all have 4 options of snacks or meals, but only need to create 1 batch of 1 type. It gives variety with less effort.

Buy In Bulk

Look at bulk food warehouses in your area and compare prices. T

ry bakery suppliers and catering suppliers too. If you can’t store that much food, combine with other people to split the cost.

Plan Takeaway

Make some meals which are cheap, quick and easy to make or can be made ahead and frozen instead of getting takeaway.

Have them on hand ready for days you want takeaway instead.

Always Be Prepared

I try to keep a packet of nuts or snacks in the car or my handbag.

This can hold off the munchies if we get held up somewhere and can prevent blowing the budget on takeaway.

Other Grocery Articles

For more tips on ways to save money with groceries check out these 21 tips to reduce the cost of groceries, 13 tips to reduce the cost of meat and this huge list of what to do with leftovers.

How we live a full but fun and frugal lifestyle


I have owned a home which was sold in the divorce and currently we rent.

I work from home so half our house is an office and photography studio now and I love the layout.

Before converting half the home into workspace it simply felt way too big for the 4 of us.

Go Smaller

The smallest home I lived in was 1 bedroom unit when my kids were very young.

I have also lived in 4 bedroom, 2 bathroom, 2 lounge and 2 dining room homes with just my 2 kids and I.

I prefer the smaller homes.

Homes are getting larger and larger which costs more in rent/mortgage, maintenance, insurance and to heat or cool.

Reduce the size of the home and you reduce all those expenses.

Make Money From It

Rent a room to a boarder, get in an exchange student, look at renting your home on Airbnb, rent it out for movies or TV if possible, rent the space in your driveway to someone who wants to store a boat or caravan. Look at ways to make money from the property.

Check out how to make your home pay for itself for more tips.

Gas, Electricity and Water

Bills keep going up but there are things you can do to reduce the costs. My bills have always been abnormally low so here are my tips.

Also check out 17 tips to reduce the cost of electricity.

Switch Off Everything When Not In Use

This includes mobile phone chargers, a microwave, washing machine and dryer, everything. If it can sit on standby it is using power ALL day and night.

Block All Gaps

Go through your home to find all drafts and seal them.

Put pelmets on the top of block-out curtains to stop hot air escaping and put bubble wrap on windows to increase insulation.

Reuse Water

Redirect your washing machine water to the lawn.

Use water that you soaked clothes in in the washing machine as well.

Use water when you cook veggies on the garden or in soup as part of stock.

Rethink how you are using water and see ways you can reuse it.

Years ago, I had 2 kids and 3 adults living in a house and we used less water than the average 1 person household in Sydney.

How we live a full but fun and frugal lifestyle 4


We have a fuel-efficient car, walk when we can, combine errands so it is one trip instead of five, and sometimes we carpool or arrange lifts.

We use public transport when needed and especially when traveling.

Uber was brilliant (although I would not recommend it anymore) and in a pinch, I have offered money to friends I know are available but struggling who would give me a lift, but might not be able to afford the petrol.

It is cheaper than a taxi and helps them out too.

Look At Your Options

It might be more economical for you to live without a car than it is to keep it.

Maintenance, petrol, insurance and eventual replacement all add up very quickly. It is thousands of dollars a year.

Read how to live without a car, 10 top tips for your car and how to reduce the cost of transport.

Make Money

If you do keep your car you could look at ways to make money such as Uber or if the car is modern, you could do a car wrap which is signing on your car for a company.

They pay you to drive around as it is a moving ad for them.


My kids attend a public school and I have worked extensively with their speech pathologists doing much of the work at home to help them with their learning difficulties.

We buy their school uniforms on sale and buy in the next size up so it lasts a little while.

We have also used the school’s second-hand uniform store and looked in op shops.

We label everything and my kids change out of their uniforms as soon as they get home from school.

I budget for school excursions and have at times offered to be the parent helper if I can.

Assisting in the school often sees other expenses reduced.

Read how to afford school expenses.


We have Friday Fun Night which my kids look forward to every week.

They get to pick a movie, a treat such as lollies or a chocolate or something and sleep in the lounge room. They love it.

For other entertainment we do things as a family, I look out for free events in our area and check out Groupon for coupons.


Do you really need ALL your clothes?

Most of us only wear 20% of our wardrobe.

I got a personal stylist, worked out my style and what clothes work for me and what does.

I have a basic ‘uniform’ in that there are certain clothes I mix and match for work things.

They are versatile enough I can wear them to most things.

By having the ‘uniform’ I don’t think too much about what I need to wear plus by knowing what looks good on me I am not sucked into sales or things.

I shop second hand or in sales. I have been to clothing swaps in person and online plus swap with friends and family.

Clothing can go around a few members of my family before it finally ends up in the trash or donated if it is still in good condition.

It has not been unusual for an item to go through 3 or more of my siblings and I or our kids.

Read how to get clothes for free.


If you cannot afford to replace it, insure it.

This is your car, your belongings, your house, check your life insurance etc.

Compare policies or get an insurance broker to do it for you.


I don’t have a gym membership. I have a few pieces of equipment and a couple of apps I use instead.

Health insurance is a must in my opinion and this year alone it has saved me a lot as well as gotten me in for treatment faster.

Look at what you think you will need and get even the basic cover if you can’t afford much.

Keep fit! Drink water instead of other liquids, aim for a minimum of 2L a day and get to know your body. Rest when you need to and don’t push yourself too hard.

How to get fit and lose weight for free or super cheap.


Compare all your banking such as personal accounts, personal loans, credit cards and mortgages to ensure you are getting the best deal.

Check your interest rates, monthly fees, bonus features and ensure that the products you have are the ones best suited to your needs. You can compare online, call or go in branch.

Bonus Tips

  • Shop around with every purchase you need to make. Look at how you might be able to do it for free or shop from home first by repurposing something.
  • Barter with friends and family or join groups on Facebook and online to swap.
  • Create a community. I have needed help from my community at various times in my life and have been more than happy to help where I can. This is sometimes swapping childcare, providing meals or cleaning. Whatever we can do for each other we do.
  • Put it out there. Let people know when you need something, it might not be asking them outright if they have the item, but if people know what you are looking for, they might come across it.

    For example, I recently needed black out curtains. I asked my sister where she got hers and she told me. Then the next day she messaged me saying someone was offering their old curtains for free if I wanted them. By letting her know what I needed, when the opportunity came up, she knew they’d be perfect for me

  • Look for ways to make more money. There are 101 ways to make money from home here.

What tips do you have for saving money and living a frugal lifestyle?

Originally posted September, 2015. I now live in the city but still have a frugal lifestyle

For more ways to make and save money follow us on social media:

The Thrifty Issue Facebook Page
The Thrifty Issue Facebook Group
The Thrifty Issue Instagram

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Thursday 22nd of December 2016

Hi, wow that has really been a rough few years for you. Glad to see that those days are over and you're doing much better now:)

One trick that I use is to walk if my destination is not too far. This way I can save on my bus fare and have a quick exercise at the same time!


Sunday 25th of October 2015

Wow. Talk about changes and you seem to be so good at adapting. Your thrifty tips are so good and I'm going to try and put some into practice immediately. Thank you.:)

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.