Real Life

How I pay for six for the cost of one

Saving money where I can is my mission
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Kylie Travers, 38, from Noosa, Queensland, shares her story:

Sitting at the dining table with my calculator, I looked at my budget.

Half my money’s going towards rent, I reminded myself, knowing I needed to be super frugal.

It was 2002, I was 17 and had just moved into a flat on my own.

As a hairdresser’s apprentice, I knew cash would be tight and I’d have to make sacrifices, but I’d make it work.

Growing up, my parents, Jenee and Mark, were always open about what they did with their cash, like saving for the long-term and budgeting for necessities, which helped me learn to be mindful of money, too.

At 12, for fun, I read my first finance book, The Richest Man in Babylon.

It teaches seven simple rules, like paying yourself first, living below your means and investing.

I also started babysitting for extra cash.

Now my mates were skint, too, so we’d catch up over shared dinners, games nights and outdoor activities.

“That was delicious,” friends would marvel when it was my turn to cook a Thai chicken curry.

I love to help others (Image: @thethriftyissue)

I made it a habit to save as much money as possible.

At 19, I met a man and the following year, we tied the knot.

“Let’s buy a house,” I suggested.

Knowing we wanted children, we bought in an area where we could afford the mortgage on a single wage.

After my apprenticeship, I built a hairdressing business.

The following year, in 2007, we had our first child, Halia, then Mele two years after that.

I became a stay-at-home mum.

By then, I was a seasoned super saver.

To keep costs down, I visited outlets for clothes and markets to stock up on groceries.

I even used cloth nappies, which added to the laundry but saved thousands on disposables.

Cooking outdoors is tasty and thrifty (Image: supplied)

To keep myself accountable, I created a blog and documented all my money-saving tips, like how to get freebies on your birthday, and frugal habits, such as waiting 30 days before making a purchase.

This is so helpful, someone commented.

I’ve never thought of that, said another.

As my writing career took off, I got the courage to leave my seven-year marriage.

It was difficult juggling it all and at times the kids and I had to stay with friends.

“Where are we going tonight?” Halia asked me excitedly.

They were just excited to have sleepovers, oblivious to the reality of having nowhere else to go.

Making ends meet was tough, but I started buying and reselling items like books, jewellery, even cars, online for a profit and got back on my feet.

To boost my income and help others, I wrote books with tips on money-making and saving.

This led to travel writing.

Justin (Image: supplied)

In 2018, I went on a solo trip to write about diving in the Solomon Islands.

“Nice to meet you,” my scuba instructor Justin, 28, said.

We got chatting and I discovered he was single, with a daughter from a previous relationship.

“I’d like to see you again,” he said at the end of my trip.

“Sure,” I replied, though I didn’t know how we’d make a long-distance relationship work.

Months went by, we texted and talked over the phone daily, and work took me back to the Solomon Islands a few times.

After 10 months, Justin quit his job to meet me and the kids in Vanuatu, his home country, and we all travelled together.

Repatriating to Australia mid 2020, I continued my blog full-time, making money through sponsored content and advertising.

My relationship with Justin grew stronger and in 2021 we had a son, Elijah, then Dorothy the following year.

Justin had become an Australian resident by then and started working as a qualified commercial diver.

The double income was great but whenever I went to the supermarket, I was shocked by how expensive everything had become.

I still am!

With Justin, Halia (left) and Mele (Image: supplied)

Prices only seem to be going up so I need my cost-saving knowledge now more than ever.

We all do!

To save on food, we rotate through discount offers from meal kit companies like HelloFresh and Marley Spoon.

We often go fishing as a family to try our luck at catching dinner and our kids love learning other survival skills, too.

“We’re so lucky we get to do these things!” Mele says.

For those rare times we come home empty-handed, I buy groceries cheaper at farmers’ markets and look out for supermarket sales to stock up.

We also save massively on our electricity bill.

When I wrote on my blog, The Thrifty Issue, that my family of six uses less electricity than the average single-person home, readers were stunned.

How do you do it? they asked.

The answer is simple – we’re not home much!

Staying out keeps the bills down! (Image: supplied)

Instead of draining our electricity using lights, air conditioning, the telly and computer, we spend lots of time outdoors.

We’ll often cook dinner on a barbecue to save using the oven or entertain ourselves at the library on wet weather days.

When we’re home, we turn off lights and appliances at the switch when they’re not in use.

Being thrifty and financially savvy can take some forward planning but it’s absolutely worthwhile.

Through the money I’ve saved, I’ve made investments that have given me more financial freedom and enabled me to be more available for my kids.

We don’t need super high incomes to save a little and have an amazing life.

Kylie’s hacks:

Stack discounts

Use multiple discounts and loyalty programs. For example, you can earn Qantas points, use cash back programs and other discount codes all at once.

Know what to buy and when

Supermarkets rotate sales, so stock up on bulk buys during the sale cycles. Tech and big ticket items are best bought during Black Friday and end of financial year sales.

What lifestyle do you want?

If you know that, you can look for ways to make it happen within budget. We love to travel so road trips and getting paid by writing about our experiences enables us to do that.

Reduce electricity

Lower your bill with cheap outdoor activities like swimming and visiting the library.

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