Queensland mum Kerri-Ann Manly wowed parents nationwide when she revealed she had cut her family’s spending by $2500 in one month. Some of those savings came from preparing nearly all the week’s meals in one day. But obviously, to save $2500, there’s got to be more to it than that.
Manly – a mother of four, stepmother of three and grandmother of two – explains that she doesn’t do “extreme budgeting” every month. She also admits that it’s not easy.
“It is uncomfortable to save $2500,” she tells Mamamia. “We really had to redefine what were needs and what were wants. When you’ve been living a comfortable, convenient life for a period of time, that can get uncomfortable. That’s how we knew we were doing it right.”
Here, Manly reveals some of her savings secrets.
LISTEN: Single mum Canna Campbell saved $32K in a single year. She shares her methods, on I Don’t Know How She Does It. Post continues after audio.
Try cutting spending for a limited time – and get the kids to see it as a challenge.
“We find that doing a really short, sharp period of time, usually a month, of extreme budgeting works so much better for us,” Manly says. She explains that when she first tried cutting spending, her kids weren’t keen. “But we’d have weekly updates and I’d let them know where we were at with the bank balance. Once they saw what was happening, they got really, really enthusiastic. Now it’s, ‘Oh, cool, let’s see if we can beat last time.’”
Avoid trips to the supermarket if at all possible.
You don’t want to drop in for just one thing and find yourself walking out with $50 worth of groceries. Manly says she’ll plan her meals to have dinners with salad vegies earlier in the week and dinners with root vegies later in the week. “That means I don’t have to go to the shops to get the fresh produce,” she explains. If she’s going to the supermarket with her kids after picking them up from school, she’ll bring drinks and snacks with her, to avoid buying them for the kids. “We’ve really curbed habits.”
Stop buying individually packaged drinks and snacks for your kids’ lunchboxes.
“That was a huge, huge, huge convenience thing we cut out,” Manly says. “No poppers, no little prepacked chips. We have little refillable bottles, and the kids fill these up with juice from big bottles. They split up a big bag of chips into the little snap-lock bags.” She also makes her own cupcakes, biscuits and slices, which she says is “definitely a lot cheaper”, if you bake regularly and use up ingredients like flour and sugar.