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How to live like a Cheapskate: Part 2

Last week we introduced you to Cathy Armstrong, who told us how her online budgeting website and tips newsletter, The Cheapskates Club, began and shared some great ideas for DIY cleaning products that won’t break the bank.  If you missed it, the first blog post is here.

This week we’re bringing you “part 2” in our Cheapskate series where Cathy shares even more great budgeting ideas – helping you to save money while not missing out on the lifestyle and little luxuries your family enjoys.  

Q. So Cathy, what are some of your most popular money-saving tips for around the home?
1.    Stop spending.  If it’s not an essential purchase don’t buy it.  A $2.50 coffee a day is $912.50 a year!

2.    Track your spending.  Jot down every cent you spend.  The newspaper, soft drink, petrol, groceries, phone bill; every time you pay for something, write it down.  Do this for a month and see where the budget leaks are!

3.    Pay yourself first.  Each payday put something aside for savings.  10% of your wage is ideal but starting with $10 a week is fine just to get into the habit – you can increase it as you get your budget and debts under control.

4.    Shop at home.  Before you hit the shopping centre, look around the house!  Is there something you already have that will act as a substitute?  Do you already have the makings of what you were running out to buy?

5.    Reduce.  It sounds hard, but it isn’t.  Reduce shopping trips, buy in bulk and reduce packaging; reduce the number of clothing items you have, reduce the number of lights you have on, wear a jumper and reduce the heating.

6.    Re-use/re-cycle.  Before putting anything in the garbage bin ask yourself if there is anything AT ALL that you can use the item for.  As a last resort old clothes can become floor rags, paper can be mulched or put in a worm farm (every home should have a worm farm), plastic bags can be re-used over and over again – you get the general idea.

7.    Cut the grocery bill.  The easiest area where you can save money in a family budget is with food.  Create a menu plan; it’ll help with the shopping list, you’ll always know what’s for dinner and you won’t be buying convenience meals.

8.    Shop at home first.  Check the pantry, fridge and freezer before you shop.  Only put what you need on the list.  And stick to the list.

9.    Buy generic.  Flour is flour, sugar is sugar.  Save the brand names for the things you really enjoy or have special attributes you can’t compromise on.

10.    Set a budget and stick to it.  It doesn’t have to be complicated; a small notebook with a page for each expense will do the trick.  Just remember to update it when you pay a bill or buy something.

Q.  Cathy you are a big fan of “Making Our Own”  - or MOO, as the Cheapskaters call it.  What are some of your favourite MOO recipes that can save us money?

Cathy:  We use very few ready-made sauces, things in packets or convenience foods and make a great majority of our food from scratch.  You can make your own cakes, biscuits, slices, bread, cereal mixes, pizza bases, sausage rolls, soups, marinade sauces, jams… the list is endless.  Many family meals can be made for less than $2, without compromising on taste -  you can still eat very well. Here’s what we’re eating this week:

Friday: Pasta bake and salad
Saturday: Sliced steak in gravy, baked vegetables, broccoli with cheese sauce
Sunday: Roast chicken, baked vegetables, peas, corn, gravy
Monday: Crumbed fish, wedges and coleslaw
Tuesday: Mini meatloaves, mashed potato, pumpkin, cauliflower, gravy
Wednesday: Beef and bean burritos with Spanish rice
Thursday: Mufti quiche, wedges and salad
In the fruit bowl: bananas, apples, mandarins
In the cake tin: Double choc chip biscuits, sultana cake, apricot muffins

Click here for list of $2 family dinners http://www.cheapskates.com.au/docs/2_dinners_-_budget_recipes_from_the_c...

Or browse the enormous list of free recipes on the Cheapskates website

Q.  Your members are pretty inventive.  What are some of the quirkier tips you’ve received?
Cathy: Here are some of our weird and wonderful tips from the Cheapskates Tip Store.  I love that the tips are so quirky but they work!  They’ll save you money, time and energy, even if they are a little off-beat.

Nutty solutions
For scratches on wood, rub with a walnut – it will fill the scratch and take on the colour of the wood.  I use this on furniture and wooden floors and use kerosene to polish.
Stop static cling
To stop clothes from clinging spray hairspray to the back of skirts, slips etc.  Much cheaper than commercial anti-static spray.
Get under the fridge
To clean underneath the fridge, tie a sock around the end of a broomstick and go at it!
Homemade dippers
Instead of feeding bread crusts to the birds bake them in the oven and use with dips or crush them for bread crumbs.  Both uses save you money.
Easy dusting
To dust skirting boards wear cotton socks and use your toes.  Saves your back and is quickly done.
Stop the discolouration
To stop avocado going brown when it has been put in the fridge, wrap it in a paper towel.
No grab pegs
Wipe your clothes line with Vaseline every now and then and the pegs won’t ‘grab’ and the clothes will stay free from black marks.

Q. Is it a lot of extra work to live the ‘Cheapskates’ lifestyle, or could most families do it?
Cathy:  If we can do it anyone can.  It’s no more work to live within your means than it is to live in debt.  The difference is the type of work.  I have the same 24 hours in my day as anyone else, I just use them differently.  These days I spend my time at home with my family growing our food, preserving the excess from our garden, cooking from scratch, making my own cleaning products using as natural as possible ingredients, instead of slogging away at a 9-5 job, desperate for overtime to cover the ever-increasing bills (all the while wishing I could find a way to work less).

If you want to work less you need to spend less.  It really is that simple.  The hard part for most people is learning the difference between simple and easy.

Q.  Do you ‘miss’ anything about living the way you lived before the Cheapskates lifestyle?
Cathy:  Not a thing!  We have everything we need and believe it or not, everything we want.  We certainly don’t miss the stress and we’re probably helping put our postman out of work because we don’t get the bills anymore.  There are a lot of advantages to living debt free, and less mail is just one of them.

If you’d like to know more about joining the Cheapskates Club, or sign up for their free newsletter click here.