"How I saved almost $20,000 in one year, with 10 simple steps."

During my 20s I had believed it was ‘impossible to buy a house and service a mortgage on my own and therefore I needed to wait to meet a man to buy a house.’ My parents had also encouraged me to put it out of my mind and enjoy my life, something I definitely do not regret as I ended up backpacking around Europe, Asia and Hawaii.

But these narratives supported my spending habits.

It wasn’t ‘avo toast’ calling my name – it was trips overseas, shopping, flat whites, red wine and açai bowls. My catalyst for change came just before I flew home to Australia after the New Year with my family in early January, 2017. I’d told my parents of my dream to buy a place and they had gone through a budget with me. They made it clear that if I wanted to buy a house, I would need to learn to look after my money more effectively and plan for the unexpected. This conversation tag-teamed with my 30th birthday galloping towards me made something click. I came to the realisation that I needed to fund and work towards my own deposit. I pulled out my phone on the plane and started writing out my expenditure on my notes app and planning out a budget and what began as a conversation has led to a lifestyle and mindset change when it comes to money.

How did I do it?

1. Research and inspiration

I listened to many financial independent podcasts as inspiration and for advice including the MoMoney Podcast, Afford Anything, and the Financial Independence podcast. I also realised my main ‘push’ element. Gretchen Rubin talks about four different personality types, and I’m an ‘obliger’, so over the next few weeks I told as many people as possible my goal and started to seek advice.

2. Budget Baby

I drew up a budget and reviewed it every fortnight. My budget is a bit of a hack of the Barefoot Investor’s spend, splurge, save system mixed with the envelope method, but using accounts as opposed to actual physical envelopes. I’ve made an electronic account for each expense, I divvy out the money to my different accounts (or electronic envelopes) each fortnight saving for health, trips, bike maintenance, gifts, charity, beauty and so on.

Watch: Scott Pape’s number one money tip for single women. Post continues after video.

3. Spending tracker

I tracked every one of my expenses in a spending app. I bought one from MH Riley Ltd in January 2017, and it helped me to keep on track because I was literally logging everything I spent.

4. Bye bye credit cards

As the person who formerly had three different credit cards, this was a change. I cut up all but one of my credit cards, which I don’t carry day to day. Paying cash through a debit card helps you feel the burn of your purchases.


5. House share

I got serious in July and sold all my furniture and belongings and moved into my friend’s place as a boarder for $510 a fortnight including bills. It really helped me pull in my budget and focus on my bigger goal.

6. Reassess and cut or change services and subscriptions

I changed phone plans (I’m now on Lebara which I bought a year in advance for $180 or $15 a month for 4GB a month data, unlimited Aussie calls and texts and unlimited calls to NZ, the U.K. and Canada), cut subscriptions such as Netflix, stopped purchasing any bought food during the week (except coffee), I cut back buying clothes and shoes and have been paying to get my expensive stuff repaired. I also stopped getting massages, pedicures and manicures each month.

7. Points queen – I strategically shop and fly

I use the Velocity travel wallet like a debit card for all my purchases to get points. I book all my flights on Virgin or AirNZ. I’m Silver so I get a fair bit of points. I do all my grocery shopping at Coles and save the bonus points coupons they send me in the post and by email. In 2017, I cashed back Flybuys and Virgin points for $950 worth of free Coles grocery vouchers.

8. Groceries – I meal prep

I’ve managed to get my grocery budget down to about $40 a week. I make a menu plan and make all my weekly meals on a Sunday (did I mention I do my groceries on my bike so I can only buy what I can carry?). I eat pretty similar food during the week – I make smoothies for breakfast and I cook two different meals a week for dinner and lunch, which I then box up and freeze. This is an important process for me as I work pretty solid hours.

What’s on the menu this week at your place? . . . I made a vegetarian quiche and smoothies and I’m still working through food from the freezer. I’m serving my quiche with fresh Avo and tomato. I spent $22.42 on groceries for the week and I’m trying to use up my food before I move to the Gold Coast (I start my new job on the 12 November!). This week I’ve got no events until Friday and Saturday night so just five breakfasts, five lunches and four dinners to account for. . Check out my blog or the #40grocerychallenge for the recipes from today. . . #debtfreecommunity #healthateverysize #healthyeats #eathealthy #dailyfoodfeed #feedyoursoul #realfood #todayfood #functionalfood #foodisfuel #whatieat #mealideas #whatsonmyplate #fooddiary #mealdiary #dayofeating #dailyfood #healthymeals #foodprepping #mealprep #healthyfoodshare #mealpreplife #breakfastlunchanddinner #frugalcooking

A post shared by The Economiss (@theeconomiss) on

9. Transport

I don’t have a car, I get off my butt and commute by bike everyday. When I need to, I use ride sharing service Uber.

10. Grit and determination

I’m the individual where once I set my targets and goals, I figure out a plan and achieve them. This year has meant sacrifices and changes, but for an overarching larger vision and plan.


What I didn’t cut


I go to my beauty therapist for waxing every four weeks, I get my hair cut every six weeks and pay for my yoga subscription.


As a Kiwi living abroad travel is vital. In 2017 I cash flowed three trips home to New Zealand from Brisbane and a four week trip to Europe (Scotland, Spain and England). I also purchase my lounge access yearly.


I have private health insurance and budget extra cash fortnightly for my health.

Brunch and coffee

I love brunch so so much. To me there is nothing better than brunch in the weekend, I’d rather do brunch than dinner any day. I also buy barista-made coffee very regularly.

Ethical meat and milk

I buy free range eggs and chicken, grass fed beef and organic milk.

Donations and gifts

I give $20 a fortnight to the Learning Potential Fund. I give to Oxfam. I give to other charities when friends are doing an event. I have changed my habits to give gifts to close friends and family and stopped giving to acquaintances. I managed $687.29 in 2017 for charity and $1686.08 for gifts.

So where to now?

Where I live in Brisbane, Australia, I am aiming to buy a basic 2 bedroom, 1-2 bathroom unit in a small low maintenance complex within the 10km radius of the CBD for $300-$400K. I like cycling to work so that’s the goal for me, to not have a car and to get around by bicycle.

The plan is to continue my steps to get my $60-$80K house deposit and three month emergency fund together. Once I buy I aim to keep on track and to put the money I currently save and put on rent on my mortgage to pay it off as quickly as possible.

This post first appeared on The Economiss and has been republished here with full permission. 

00:00 / ???