12 August 2010

Saving money

Thank you so much for your good wishes for Kerry, Sunny and the baby.  We, and they, appreciate everyone of them. 

It's been a while since I wrote about money and how to hold on to it. The new baby has refocused my mind on this topic because Kerry and Sunny will be saving for their home and Hanno and I will have a few extra expenses because we want to help provide for the baby.  We are on a limited budget, Hanno is on a pension while I still earn a small amount from my writing and the advertising on the blog and forum.  We have no debt, we have money in the bank but we have no superannuation/retirement plan/pension scheme to rely on.  We hope to live at least another 20 or 30 years so what we have right now is it for us, we need to be as frugal as we can be.

Self reliance has helped us get to the place we are right now.  We home produce a lot of our own needs and spend money only on raw materials and what we can't produce ourselves.  This has worked really well for us and it's very revealing how much money can be saved when you change your mindset to "thrifty" and you work for the benefit of your own well being and not to impress the neighbours or work mates.  The key to this isn't about how much money you earn but how much you save.  Imagine two people working the same job with the same amount of children and expenses.  If one worker spends their money buying everything they need, as well as what they want, they'll be existing from week to week, just focusing on the next payday.  If the other worker budgets, spends only on what is necessary, buys second hand when they can, recycles and reuses, knits, sews, mends, cooks and bakes, that worker will have money saved at the end of the pay period. So every week that goes by, the first worker comes out even or behind, the second worker will have something saved most weeks.  And I have to add that the second worker will probably also have the satisfaction of self reliance and the knowledge that their thrifty mindset is working for the family and not against it.

I hope we can all be that second worker.  

If you're both working you will have more expenses but you also have the capacity to save more.  It makes sense to have one person managing the money - that person should be the one who does it best.  Whoever is managing the money should do up a budget, ask their partner to help check out grocery bargains, write up the shopping list and meal plans; but you can both shop together.   If you have children, take turns at the shopping - always with a shopping list - so that you both understand grocery prices and both have a chance to save with your prudent and careful shopping. It is better to shop without young children, you need to be focused. If you are the one who is managing everything, you should be prepared to give a summary of your combined finances every month.  This will not only keep you on track, it will help your partner understand where the money is going and how much is being saved, or paid off the mortgage.  

If your partner is out working and you  are home raising children then it is your partner's job to earn money and your job to save money.  You will manage the money, actively look for ways to save, think carefully about your grocery shopping and look for bargains.  Try to work out a system where your partner looks after the children while you shop.  Your weekly grocery money is important to you, it's a lot of money to spend each week and you need to do it carefully.  After the shopping is done, you'll need to work out a system where you manage your food so that it is eaten as fresh as possible and it is stored in such a way that none of it is wasted.  It is estimated that about thirty percent of food bought for family homes is wasted.  That's like taking your weekly grocery money and throwing thirty percent of it in the rubbish bin!  That won't happen with any of us, we will be careful and will manage our money and our food mindfully.

If you're working for a living, or your partner is, then you are selling your life hours for money.  I calculated a little while ago that each year has only 8736 hours in it, giving us, if we live to be 80 years of age, just under 700000 hours in an entire lifetime.  When you think that you only have 168 hours in a week, and you sleep about 50 of them, then you have to be sure that life hours you sell must give you the best value.  Wasting money or hours cheats you of your life.  Work on a budget that will help you use your money in the best way possible.  And don't be caught up with fashion or the unrealistic expectations of children, family members, neighbours or friends.  Plan your spending with your partner and both work towards the good of the family.

Teach your children well.  Expect them to contribute to the welfare of the family by doing chores, keeping their room tidy and looking after their clothes, books and toys.  You won't teach them anything with over indulgence.  The only thing children learn when you give them more than they need is to how to take.  Have faith in your kids.  They will get more out of helping and knowing they're an important part of a happy family than just about anything else.  And their reward for this participation?  More time with you, of course.  Small children want to have time with their parents - it shows them how much they're valued and builds their self esteem.

I won't go into the ins and outs of budgeting with you now, I have many posts on budgeting and living well on less here.   We are all different, we all have different needs but we all have to conserve our life hours for real living.  Examine your life, think about what you want, talk about that with your partner and together make a plan to work towards it.  I hope that plan is a generous mix of sold work hours and work you do at home producing as much as you can for yourselves.  That is what Hanno and I have done and it has given us a life like no other.  I wish the same for you.



  1. A great post once again and although we are all doing our best it is good to re read what in your heart you know. thanks Rhonda I will be steering my children(the have families) to read this one.Carole

  2. Great post Rhonda - a good reminded for all of us no matter what stage of life we are in. Could you provide the link again for the budgeting posts? When I click on it, I get an "unable to connect" message. Thanks!

  3. Life hours. Never really thought about it that way. Thanks for the thought.

    I just spent the day stacking wood to keep our house extra warm this winter. I love the added security that a stack of wood brings. Knowing that even if the power goes out my family will be warm is a comfort to me. Summer camp fires in the backyard are an added bonus.

  4. "The only thing children learn when you give them more than they need is to how to take."

    Brilliant. It seems to be an increasingly greedy world out there and our children are targeted a lot. Also, my children are young so sharing is still an issue - I think sharing is a form of giving. If you don't teach your child to share, they won't know how to give. Great post!

  5. They're good suggestions if you're new to implimenting frugal stratagies. In many ways, I'm still new too. It's like my whole life has been lived in entrenched ways. Shopping is second nature, growing stuff is still being learned.

    But I would like to encourage families to do their shopping together, once they have a frugal stratagy in place - and have practiced it. My husband works full-time and shopping is the one activity we enjoy doing together (as a family) on his day off.

    It's a lot easier for two people to manage children, whether they be at home or shopping. So we turn our shopping trips into learning times for our daughter, and we get to discuss what constitutes a bargain in the supermarket together.

    The check-out operators always get a kick out of our daughter when she decides to buy something for herself with her pocket money. She puts her items on the back of ours, with the little divider. Then when it's her turn, she greets the operator, gets out her money and asks for a receipt afterwards. It's cute when a seven year-old does it, LOL.

    But of course, you have to know what constitutes a frugal way to shop if you've never done it before. So I understand the solitude required, for the period it takes to learn what to do.

    Once you know what you're doing though (and can practice it) it's great to involve the whole family too. Shopping days for our little family, is something we always prefer to do together now. :)

  6. Thanks Rhonda, I am usually very frugal with shopping but lately I have been forgetting the list and meal plan and it has made a big difference (bad!) So this blog is a good reminder for me to stay on track!

  7. I buy the newspaper once a week on a Tuesday for the educational supplement which is a handy resource for homeschooling. The recipe supplement is also published on this day. The focus of this week's section was on using leftovers and the article had excellent advice on how to avoid wastage in the home, together with some useful recipes. The saying 'hidden food is wasted food' was a good reminder to keep on checking the vegetable crisper in the fridge. To keep a check on the fruit bowl and separate ripe fruits. Apparently, the stats reveal that every household in NSW bins $1000 worth of food each year and the conservative estimate for annual edible food waste for Australia is five billion dollars or 3 million tonnes, that's 136kg per person!
    I can't imagine that my home wastes that amount so some people must be contributing more than their fair share! Nevertheless, it has made me determined to be more diligent in the future.

  8. Your paragraph about training the children and letting them contribute and be a part of family thrift is a powerful one! I wish EVERY SINGLE FAMILY in our country could read it!

  9. A wonderful Post Rhonda
    I agree it is so important to teach our children the values of contributing to a household.
    Thank you for a beautiful reminder.

  10. How right you are Rhonda! Loved this post! Wow...when you broke our days down into hours...that really made me think! :) I feel I am doing all that I am suppose to be...at home, caring for my family and the home *itself*...but some days, I get so caught up in *doing* that I forget to truly *treasure* each moment...thank you for the reminder! :)

  11. As mikesgirl said, this is a good reminder for all of us whatever stage of life we are at. One of the things our much lower than previously income has taught me is that we can save even though we now earn very little. I used to approach it the wrong way, I would TRY to save and become frustrated when I didn't. Now I don't spend (as much) and so I save -- not a lot but we are living on less than we earn. One step at a time.

  12. Lovely post! Further to the comment about food wastage, we've got a policy in our home where leftovers / half used veges etc go on the top two shelves of the fridge, so they're easily visible for first usage. The amount of waste we've reduced by doing this is astounding.

  13. I am going to start to do food shopping without my child present.
    Despite my resolutions, I always end up buying commercial treats, instead of focussing on healthier less processed options.

  14. a wise post, Rhonda! I smiled to myself as I read it because I always bought many things second hand as my children were growing up and my grandson is used to going to thrift shops with his mother. Just today he needed a "big boy" bed and she found two beds which were solid pine and in good condition on Craig's list. They were $20.00 each. She bought two because she is expecting in October, and someday the new baby will need a bed too. Meanwhile, she is using a borrowed pack and play from her good friend whose mil got it from someone who was just throwing it out. It's only about two years old and in great shape. In Michigan, a neighboring state, my niece told us several years ago about Mom-to-Mom sales they have about once a month. A school gym is rented, most of the time, and each person who has used goods for children pays about $10.00 for their space. You can find such amazing deals, all in one place.

  15. Thankyou Rhonda for a timely post. I will be the only wage earner soon and after years of living frugally with 4 children, high interest rates (1989 and second baby just born)etc I am confident we can do it. My husband has a work injury from bullying in the workplace leading to severe depression and now has no income til a compensation case is hopefully settled in his favour.. But,our first grandbaby was born 3 weeks ago and it's so lovely and compensates for all the pain of the last 10 months! Her gorgeous name is Ayelet Olive (after her great great nan).Congratulations to you and all your family.

  16. Good advice. There was a time in our life that my husband and I had a fair amount of debt. The stress of that and living paycheck to paycheck is NOT worth whatever it was we bought. Most of the things we purchased on credit we no longer have or can even remember, it is not worth buying on credit unless it is absolutely necessary items (car, home, etc.). We are now debt free and plan to stay that way.


  17. Thank you for the helpful post and new ways to see work and saving.

  18. My husband and I are really trying to get a grip on our finances. I stay at home with our daughter and he works. We live a relatively simple life compared to other people our age but we are still stressing from one pay check to another. I know I have some areas to improve on that can really save us money(mostly in the food category) so I'm really trying to dig deep within myself and make a significant difference in how I shop and plan. Finances is one of th ebiggest areas for us that can lead to a more simple life.
    Thanks for posting about this subject. It was very relavent to my life right now.

  19. I again only can sau: Thank you for these wise words. We do the best we can, and I am sure we someday will have no more depts to pay, so we can begin to save some money for our future.
    While reading I had to think back to earlier today when my little boy (4) was helping me picking and folding the laundry. We had fun!

  20. Rhonda,

    I do hope you have time to respond to my comment...

    ...... by looking at our checkbook you would see quite a mess. We have decided that we are going to tackle oue grocery shopping and see if we could find away to spend less. I know from reading your blog that you shop at several stores one such as Aldi...they just put one near us....but pride is peeking through...what if we don't like their food? Is is possiable to change your taste buds? We are use to shopping at a high price store which I wonder if they have better quality of food?

    I know that we need to shop at a cheap store and that we need to save money or we will be in a bigger mess....why does it pain me to think of going to a cheaper store? We do go to thrift stores and goodwill....

    Help us Rhonda please change my way of thinking.....


  21. Wise, wise words indeed from a grandmother-to be(Thanks Rhonda:)- how blessed are your family to have YOU!

    Inspirational post, inspirational blog inspirational life:)



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