How to save money and still have a life.

Saving to buy a new home is hard.

At the moment my family lives in an okay house in an okay street and we’re fine. We’re lucky to have a roof over our heads in a suburb close to the kids’ school.

Jo with her eldest son.


And yet we can’t help but dream of a better home, one that is big enough for each of our three children to have their own bedroom.

It’s hard going though. The first time we saved for a home we were in our early twenties and were happy to stay home every night eating noodles. With children in tow, you can’t do that.

But there are lots of ways we save money without ruining our lives and lifestyles.

1. Eat at home, but make it an event.

We eat out once a month and stick to affordable family restaurants that have brilliant deals on Monday and Tuesday nights. We have one takeaway night per week and it’s usually a three for two pizza deal. The rest of the time we eat at home, but not begrudgingly. We have so much fun.

Every Saturday night is barbecue night, even in winter. It’s way more fun than the nights we eat out, and much cheaper.

See? A barbecue at home IS fun.

2. Have ‘staycations’ instead of travelling.

Have you ever thought of just staying in a hotel in your own city? You won’t have to buy flights or transfers or hire cars or anything. You just drive to any great hotel in your area that has family packages and spend the weekend being a tourist in your own town.

You’ll still need to stick to a budget but most hotels have offers for local theme parks and restaurants.

3. Stick to a budget, but give yourself wiggle room.

Map out your spending so you can see when you will reach your savings goal. It’s incredibly motivating. There are lots of apps that will do it for you and you can synch it onto both your phones so you can keep track.

Our budget is strict in that it is planned out to the last dollar, but it also has wiggle room. My husband and I get the same amount of ‘fun money’ each week to spend on whatever we want.


4. Go camping.

Camping is great fun when you have kids. You can do it in your back yard or at a local camping site. There are lots of locations you can get to in an hour or two and once you’ve purchased all the equipment, it hardly costs a thing. We are slowly accumulating more equipment by keeping an eye out for specials on camping gear.

Kids always love camping.


5. Once a year, ring every company who sends you a bill and negotiate, especially when it comes to insurance.

Every year I set aside a day and spend the entire day on the phone calling every company that sends us a bill. I start with all of our insurance policies.

10 tips to save on your electricity bill

Ask the question, “Am I getting the best possible deal for my family?” Ask them, “How can I reduce the cost?” We’ve saved hundreds of dollars a year by doing this. Most companies will work with you. We particularly saved money on our car insurance because I work from home and mostly drive locally and my husband’s work is only fifteen minutes from our home.

Follow these tips, and this’ll be you in no time.


6. Shop at sales twice a year.

Twice a year I shop at the sales. I buy the kids summer and winter clothing, shoes, and birthday gifts for any family birthdays that are coming up in the next six months. I also buy two or three boy and girl gifts for upcoming birthday parties we are invited to. I stock up on cards and wrapping paper. We save a fortune by doing this.

7. Stretch the grocery budget.

I have become an expert at feeding my family healthy meals affordably, with minimal waste. It helps to do the grocery shopping on my own without the kids adding expensive foods to our trolley but once again, if they are with you, give them a set amount each to spend and give them a basket each. Then stick to your list


I shop at markets at closing time for amazingly affordable fruit and veg, I shop and whichever store is the cheapest and I stretch food. Old bread is frozen or made into bread crumbs, old fruit is made into desserts like crumbles and muffins, dinner leftovers are used as lunches or snacks and pasta sauce cooked with vegetables is an affordable and healthy go-to meal for nights you don’t feel like cooking and are tempted to eat out or order takeaway.

It pays to budget.


8. Plan indulgences.

I can’t stress enough that you have to plan some indulgences. But do your research.

Some family restaurant have movie deals. Give the candy bar at the movies a miss or limit your purchase to popcorn. Snacks you buy at the grocery store is much more delicious and affordable. Fill up water bottles at home.

Tearjerker movies make us happy. Discuss

9. Accept extra work when you can.

My car and then my husband’s car recently needed urgent and expensive repairs. We paid for it out of our savings and then we both found extra work. We worked hard for four months and made up the savings. Then we dropped the extra hours. We are lucky to be able to find extra work like this. It’s a last resort but worth it to keep up with our savings goals.

10. Look after the things you already own.

We learned an important lesson when both our cars suffered major mechanical meltdowns recently. We’d hired an affordable local mechanic and he did a terrible job. We didn’t realise until the damage was done. We’ll never make that mistake again.

Spending money maintaining the things you own isn’t money wasted.

What are your money saving tips?

Here are some amazing homes to help inspire you to save…


With change comes opportunity. Going from leaving the house unoccupied during the day to having someone mostly at home during the day as well as at night, could save you lots on your contents insurance with Youi.

At Youi, we know you are all different, living differently, in different homes with different styles and tastes. We ask more questions about you and your home and contents so that we can tailor make a home insurance policy just for you. It’s a smarter way of doing home insurance that could save you lots.

Why not make the switch today? Call 13 YOUI or got to