Thrifty tips for tough times

Mums Tiana and Amy share their thrifty tips in the new book Saving Mum.
Mums Tiana and Amy share their thrifty tips in the new book Saving Mum. 

When two rural Aussie mums started a humble website to help themselves and other parents save time, save money and be planet friendly, they never dreamed that within two years it would be published into a book.

Tiana Johannis and Amy Pleydon came up with the idea to start the website  in early 2007 to share ideas and recipes online with other like-minded mums. Within one year, hundreds of mums and dads across Australia and New Zealand were logging onto the website every day to read and share their valuable saving secrets, recipes and ideas.

"The website's popularity stemmed from a time when living expenses were growing and saving money seemed to become more important", exclaimed Tiana. "Getting back to basics, making your own and getting organised can make life more simple. Generations before us did it and we are bringing it back, in the hope to save money, time and the health of the planet along the way."

A collation of the best ideas from the website is now available as the book Saving Mum ~ Secrets, tricks, recipes and ideas from modern Australian mums. The book has over 800 household saving ideas for families. Some which have been around for years, others are new and unique. With the Saving Mum book you can make your own traditional laundry liquid for only $1 a bottle and find many ways to save money on the family grocery bill. You'll find clever tricks like using a pipe cleaner to wash plastic drinking straws and how to make your own non-toxic children's paint. Bake clever treats for filling the family lunchboxes on a budget and family meals that can be made for under $10 each.

"These are all ideas from real mums", says Amy. "We don't offer financial advice, the book is a platform for parents to read and implement what works for them, saving money, saving time, the planet or all three - anything that helps make modern day family life a little easier is most welcome."

The book is a platform for parents to read and implement what works for them, saving money, saving time, the planet or all three.

Top 15 tips from Saving Mum

  1. Try watered down white vinegar (50%) as a laundry fabric softener. It's super cheap and leaves clothes really soft.
  2. Use everyday household ingredients such as bi-carb and vinegar to clean your home cheaply and effectively.
  3. Avoid the iron by using coat-hangers to dry shirts on the clothesline. Try pegging the shoulder if it's a windy day. Once dry, simply bring them in and hang straight in the cupboard.
  4. Try modern cloth nappies on your baby. They look and fasten like a disposable nappy, but are made from fabric so they can be washed and re-used hundreds of times, save money and landfill.
  5. Cook once, eat twice. If you're making a family favourite (such as lasagna, quiche or a pie) double it and freeze half for any easy meal another night. This may save you popping out for expensive take-away.
  6. Freeze brown bananas. Isn't it annoying when bananas go black and mushy before they're eaten? Don't waste them... pop them in the freezer for the next time you do some baking, they can be turned into yummy muffins, a cake or put on a stick to eat like an ice cream.
  7. Try an old fashioned soap swish or soap saver. A bar of pure Velvet soap is very cheap and can go a long way when washing dishes in the kitchen, and you can cut back on the amount of dishwashing liquid you use.
  8. Keep a laundry basket per person to save time. Wash, dry and put away each family member's clothes altogether. It saves a lot of sorting time and makes it easier for other family members to help out.
  9. Buy groceries in bulk where possible. For instance, meat packs from butchers can be split up at home, labeled and frozen.
  10. Swap toys at mothers' group. This is a great way to give your baby variety and stimulation without constantly forking out money to purchase new toys. Make sure your toys are labeled and washed after each use.
  11. Squash the toilet roll before popping it on the holder. It may sound silly, but it avoids the entire roll running away by an enthusiastic toddler. Less waste and saves money!
  12. Get the kids to squeeze toothpaste across the toothbrush not down the length of the brush. This way they can't possibly use too much, saving money and mess in the bathroom.
  13. Watch for those supermarket specials. Generally supermarkets stock items at a special price every 4 to 6 weeks or so. If you can, wait for these items to be available at the special price and buy enough to last a while.
  14. Try baking a months worth of slices, cakes, muesli treats and biscuits and pop them into the freezer (dedicate a morning to baking or have a "baking day" with the kids in the school holidays). Each morning pop one into the lunchbox to save a lot of time and money on pre-packaged foods.
  15. Fruit can be easily made more appetising in the lunchbox. Use paddle-pop sticks to make fruit kebabs and send them with a tub of yogurt for dipping in. Another idea for older kids is to put a fun sticker on mandarins and bananas - a great way to catch little ones' attention.

This article has been supplied by the clever and thrifty Mums at Saving Mum. Discuss your tips & tricks in Essential Baby's Managing Money forum.