Welcome to Better Budgeting, part of a new section in our blog – a Working Mother’s Guide to healthy living on a shoestring.
With my background as an Accountant, it makes sense for me to share some of the tips and tricks I have learned in the industry, and my experience applying them to the family budget. This page will be covering ideas for feeding the troops and frugal family fun. We will also look at the ‘Golden Rules’, saving for a big occasion, entertaining the family and staying fit. We will look at ways to track your hard earned dollar, and of course – how to keep more of it!
Frugal Family Food
This page will cover frugal family food ideas. But with a twist. One of my passions is good quality food on a budget.
To me, the affordability of food is not measured in its cost, but in terms of its value for money in a nutritional sense. That bulk bag of yesterday’s baked muffins for $2 may seem cheap when you have lunch boxes to full, but the reality is they are unlikely to have significant nutritional value. Yesterday’s muffins will fill the tummies for a short period of time, and then the kiddies (and husband!) will be asking for more. In the meantime, they have consumed excess sugar and refined carbohydrates that they probably didn’t need.
The term “superfood” is an industry related marketing coin – for “nutrient-rich” foods considered especially beneficial for health and well-being. “Superfoods” has been slammed by many health professionals as a marketing ploy and because it has no official validation.
I’m not interested in marketing gimmicks. I’m looking for foods with “super” levels of goodness, at a cheap price – for example – lentils. Chickpeas. Cauliflower. Not overpriced exotic ingredients with names you cannot even pronounce.
But with two kids in tow, we also take a “balanced” approach to food, and you will also find recipes for those weeks when there is little more than $20 left over for groceries, and the priority is to full little tums. And sometimes I even use “treat” food as a reward for children eating felafels without too much complaining!
Although most self-help texts and blogs about saving money are targeted at those on very little incomes, with time to dedicate, we are time poor. There is only so much you can do when working as well as running a chaotic household! So I’ll also incorporate tips on how to save money, even when you don’t have time to spare to germinate seedlings and pre-soak kidney beans.
Over the years we have refined our budget-savvy techniques and tailored them to how we operate in a super busy family of four. We have used these tips and tools regularly. Sometimes out of necessity – when I was on maternity leave, and when we ended up with five mortgages because our house didn’t sell and we hit a GFC (!!!). Sometimes to pay off debt (bye bye Student Loan), when saving for a big event (wedding!), and of course travel.
These days we are earning good money, but we are spending stupid money! We would like to get ahead. We are sick of being restrained by “things” – i.e. working hard to spend money on material possessions. So we have set ourselves some money goals, which basically mean we need to save (lots) more, and spend less.
But we have also agreed on some ground rules. Life is not a race to retirement, we have to enjoy the journey. I’ve seen time and time again busy professionals dying well ahead of their time, and you have to seriously question your lifestyle. We lost my father at 52 from cancer. We lost my mother in law suddenly from a heart attack at 59, just weeks away from retiring.
Unfortunately, we know we cannot just put our heads down, bums up, and go to work to achieve our goals blindsided to the life that is happening around us.
So our ground rules are:
- Stay healthy.
- Enjoy the journey.