Hobby to Hustle: how you can start earning cash starting today

Hobby to Hustle: how you can start earning cash starting today

With the cost of living continuing to go up astronomically in 2022, I will show you how to go from hobby to hustle. I will give you some tips about turning a fun hobby into a side hustle that earns you extra cash.

For many of us right now, money is tight. It seems like everything is going up in price yet our pay rate virtually stays the same. When you’re trying to manage your money better, you can either spend less, earn more or a combination of both. There is a limit to how frugal you can be. Living on a very small budget can be incredibly stressful as you try to make every dollar stretch.

Many of us already have hobbies and interests that we do for fun. It keeps us occupied, engages our brains, develops our bodies and provides us with so much joy.

Hobbies can also cost us money. They can be expensive with registration fees, uniforms, equipment and lessons.

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That’s when we can pivot by turning a hobby into a hustle.

Starting a side hustle can not only be fun but rewarding too.

Some questions to ask before you come up with a side hustle are:

What do you love doing?

What are you good at?

What comes easily to you?

What is your capacity right now?

What skill can you teach others?

Consider what would suit you best

Depending on your stage of life and energy levels, it might suit you to do this person or do it online. The advantage of online is that it’s not affected by Covid and you can do any time of the day. As a busy mum of three, I can work on my side hustles while my toddler naps, when they go to bed at night and any other spot in the day that I find some spare time. It’s not always easy and I don’t always feel like it, but I am motivated to work hard now to build up my passive income for the future.

If you enjoy writing, why not start up a blog? You can monetise your site through ads and affiliate links.

If you enjoy being in front of a camera, why not start a YouTube channel? You can create videos on a topic that is meaningful to you and that you know a lot about.

If you enjoy talking, why not start a Podcast? You can grow your channel and help educate, entertain and engage your audience on your given topic.

If you enjoy photography, why not sell your photos online? Many sites pay every time someone downloads your image.

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If you enjoy arts and crafts, why not sell your creations on Etsy? It doesn’t just stop at creatives. You can list virtually anything on Etsy now.

If you enjoy teaching people, why not tutor people? You can join an agency or go off on your own.

If you enjoy gardening, why not start mowing lawns and completing yard work? Many people are time poor and looking for help with their gardening.

If you enjoy creating content, why not get paid to produce content for a company? This is a great opportunity for those who enjoy working online.

If you enjoy cleaning, why not start cleaning homes for cash? It feels good to see the transformation of mess to spotless.

If you enjoy growing plants, why not sell them (the legal ones of course 😉)? Plants like succulents are easy to grow and divide. Herbs, vegetable plants and fruit trees all sell well.

If you enjoy riding your bike, why not deliver food with Uber Eats? It’s a great way to keep fit and earn money,

If you enjoy finding a bargain, why not flip items for profit on Facebook Marketplace, Gumtree and eBay? You can find things on the side of the road, at garage sales, op shops and for free online.

If you enjoy driving, why not drive for Uber? You can sit down, get to know your city better and meet some interesting people.

If you enjoy organising, why not declutter and tidy people’s homes? More people are opting for help online so you could arrange video consults if in person isn’t suitable.

Hobby to Hustle: how you can start earning cash starting today

The options are virtually endless. Not all hobbies can turn into profitable side hustles so it is worth doing your research first. I suggest trying a few different ones to see which one works best for you. Avoid spending a lot of money upfront. Try your side hustle on the cheap and if it starts earning you cash, then you can pour some money into it to help it grow.

RELATED : 30 Side hustle ideas to make an extra $1000/ month in 2022

Canna Campbell’s bestseller The $1000 Project is a wonderful guide to making money fast to put towards your financial goals, and one worth reading. I also have an extensive post on 30 side hustles that can earn you an extra $1000 per month. This guide is all you need to get started and earn decent cash.

All the best as you seek to turn your hobby into a hustle!

My financial story – confessions of a shopaholic at heart  | Melanie Wegener

My financial story - confessions of a shopaholic at heart | Melanie Wegener

I have a confession to make about my financial story. I haven’t always been good with money. In fact, I’m more of a collector and spender than minimalist and saver. It’s just who I am.

I realise that it’s a bit ironic that I have a page about being money savvy. For many financial bloggers or finfluencers, they are great with money. It’s who they are, it’s what they do.

But when you are struggling to manage your finances, do you want to learn from someone who is earning hundreds of thousands a year and a million in shares? Maybe. They are definitely inspiring. They know their stuff. It can also be a little intimidating. A little impossible to relate to because how could they even begin to understand the struggles you’re dealing with. The pull to spend money, to buy more, to have more stuff.

We can be our own worst enemy sometimes. We want to do better. We just don’t know how, or don’t know where to start. How to dig ourselves out of the hole that we’ve found ourselves in. How to earn more money so we’re not living week to week, pay to pay. It’s a stressful place to be.

I think it’s important to learn from the best, like Scott Pape, Canna Campbell, Lacey Filipich and Thomas J Stanley. I also think it’s important to learn from those who remind us of ourselves, the Becky Bloomwood’s of the world who can’t help but grab a bargain.

Here’s my financial story. I hope it gives a little insight into Mel, the girl behind moneysavvymamma❤️.

I’ve always enjoyed shopping & getting a bargain. I was drawn to the clearance racks and the outlet stores. I’d buy things because they were on sale but not necessarily because I needed them. I was a keen op shopper (thrift stores) and loved sifting through the racks to find a gem. Although I got some great deals, I ended up with too many clothes.

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Not all fitted perfectly or looked that good. I wouldn’t always wear them and they would end up donated again. I found it hard to justify spending lots of money to buy quality items. This was partly because we grew up without much money, but also partly because I wasn’t on a big wage myself.

My first time earning money was babysitting neighbours kids. It was good fun and I felt responsible. I got my first part time job at 15. (Side note, I worked at a bakery for six years before realising I was allergic to flour. True story.) I loved the feeling of receiving a payslip and seeing money go into my bank account. I didn’t do many hours though and was often broke before payday. I still remember my account going into debit and being charged a $39 fee. Oh how cruel that was.

I was brought up to believe that credit cards were dangerous so I never opened one. I made sure to pay of items in cash, and for that I am grateful. When I was 16, I saw an ad on TV about childhood poverty. I was moved and started sponsoring a child through World Vision. I had a heart for those doing it tough and gave lots away to charity. At one point it was a third of my income.

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I tried hard to save. At 17 I bought my first car for $2700. My late grandparents had put aside $1000 for each grandchild towards a car and for this I was so grateful. It was a 1985 Honda Civic. I saw it on the side of the road, pulled over to scribble down the phone number, and raced home to tell my dad.

He asked me what make it was. I had no idea. What model? Who knows. Auto or manual? I dunno. I did tell him that it was white and I could afford it and could we please give them a call. To my disgust it was a manual so I was no longer interested.

My dad gently encouraged me that he would teach me, so I decided that’s what I’d do. Lots of rabbit hopping around the block and practice in empty shopping centre carparks on a Sunday (showing my age now), and we got there. I was incredibly proud to have bought my own car and went on to keep it for five years.

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Growing up, I saw wealth as a negative thing. I thought investing was for the old & rich. It was something white guys did on Wall Street. By what I saw on the finance segment on the news, it seemed utterly confusing and boring. Buying shares or investment properties wasn’t on my radar. It wasn’t what my family did so I wouldn’t do it either. Keep it simple, save, buy a house, retire.

After school I went to uni, took a year off to aupair in country England, came back to graduate and got a job. I fell in love with a wonderful man and got married. We’re still in love and very happy.

A few years ago, I saw a friend’s post in a Dave Ramsey discussion group on Facebook. I was intrigued so joined and started reading other posts. I bought Dave’s book ‘Total Money Makeover’ and the concepts made sense.

He’s got a lot to answer for with the way he speaks to people and and the way he treats his staff. He’s lost some fans in recent times. However I am grateful for how some of his ideas helped to switch my thinking about finances.

I asked my hubby to read it. He was interested in some of the concepts. We read The Barefoot Investor. together and began making changes with our money. We had always been intentional to avoid debt and only buy a house that we could afford, rather than what the bank would lend us.

We had paid off our uni debts and hubby’s car loan as soon as we could and had no other debt except the mortgage. The idea of shares was a foreign one to us so we started listening to podcasts like Captain Fi, We Talk Cents, The Joyful Frugalista & Sugar Mamma’s FirePlay to learn more.

We saved up an emergency fund in our mortgage offset account. This could be accessed if needed, but otherwise helped pay less interest. We set up sinking funds to save up for various things such as holidays, Christmas, renovations, furniture, appliances and shares. We met with a lawyer to create a will. We ensured that we had income protection and death & total disability insurance, and increased how much we were covered for.

I began decluttering and minimising what I had. I was so inspired by The Minimal Mom , Sugar Mamma , Messy Minimalism, Minimalish and Minimalist Moms to get rid of excess. I sold thousands of dollars of stuff, including $1300 on Facebook Marketplace and Gumtree to surprise hubby with AFL Grand Final tickets. It was amazing the difference that owning less had in my life and on my mental health. Less clutter meant more calm. I finally had space to be creative in other ways.

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I started only buying things that I needed and loved. When something entered our house, I made an effort to sell or donate an item out. We opened seperate savings accounts and automated an amount each pay into them. This enabled us to spend how we like and not have to justify why we wanted to buy something. It’s been a good move.

In 2020, I started an Instagram account to document my financial journey. I thought I was doing okay with money and thought I had some tips to share with people. That’s when I discovered the #debtfreecommunity and the #FIREcommunity. I suddenly realised how little I knew and felt intimidated. I almost deleted my account several times because I felt I had nothing to give.

I was encouraged by a number of women, especially mothers, to keep posting. They liked that I was relatable and didn’t pretend to know it all. They liked having someone who earned a normal income, who was taking time off work to raise children and had to make it work with less money. They liked following someone who was new to the idea of shares and was figuring it out along the way.

Now that I know better, I keep striving to do better. I started dabbling in some side hustles. It was in the middle of the pandemic so things had slowed down, making room for more opportunities to earn money online. I took a baby step and started investing this extra cash.

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It wasn’t as scary as I thought it would be. In fact, it was surprisingly easy. Even fun. It was like shopping for shares! I set up automated investing from our income. I bought a tiny amount in crypto just to see what all the fuss was about.

I have a long way to go and lots more to learn. I follow some amazing people on Instagram and continue to learn via Podcasts and YouTube. I’m proud of my financial journey so far.

I’ve learnt that there is always more to learn. I’ve learnt that just because you grew up without money doesn’t mean you can’t change your future. I’ve learnt that investing isn’t hard or scary or for old men. I’ve learnt that if you don’t put aside money for savings or investing as soon as it comes in, you’ll probably spend it. I’ve learnt that you can do much more on social media than mindless scrolling.

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I’ve learnt that there’s an amazing community on here that has inspired and taught me so much, and for that I am incredibly grateful. ❤️

Know that I’m nothing special.

Know that I’m far from perfect.

Know that I’m not the world’s best saver.

Know that I just have a heart to do the best for our family in our season.

I’m realising more and more that money and minimalism and motherhood are so closely intertwined. When you start reducing what you have, you can save more money, and this reduces the overwhelm as a parent.

You won’t find just money stuff on here, mainly because I’m not trained and it’s not my only passion. My page is a mixture of all three, along with my desire to get outside everyday, continue to get fit and exercise, and take steps to prioritise my friendships and marriage. I’m a happier woman, wife and mum when I take care of myself.

Thankful for this wonderful community of people for giving me a small platform to share my thoughts, ideas and learnings. I do appreciate you all.❤️

I’d love to hear about your financial story – what has been your experience? 

How to keep warm in winter without blowing your energy bills

How to keep warm in winter without blowing your energy bills

With energy prices going through the roof right now and cold weather well and truly upon us, it is important to think about how we can keep warm in winter. No one wants to choose between putting food on the table or putting the heater on. We all deserve adequate comfort in our homes when the temperature drops.

Whilst I cannot lower energy prices for you or magically pay your bill, there are some simple things you can do to keep your house warmer and your usage within check. When you’re at home in winter, try to keep warm using good old fashioned methods before turning on the heater.

Wood fire

How to keep warm in winter without blowing your energy bills

A wood fire is a wonderful way to feel cozy and keep warm in winter. The fireplace clip on the TV just isn’t the same. For those of you with a wood fire in your home, try to source firewood out of season. There may be more available and you might be able to get it at a better price. Turn on alerts for Facebook Marketplace and Gumtree for free firewood as some people just want to get rid of excess on their property (be careful of white ants when you bring wood home).

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Some will be free because it needs to dry out for a year or so, which is fine if you have place to store it out of the weather. If you need to buy some, a trailer load is often cheaper than buying a bag. Do your research because some companies and individuals charge a lot more than others.

Maintain your fireplace well by employing a chimney sweep to clean it out or buy the necessary tools yourself. This can reduce ash and charcoal build up inside as well as excess smoke, and helps it to run more economically.

Choose a heater wisely

How to keep warm in winter without blowing your energy bills

One of the most important ways to keep energy costs down in winter is by choosing an energy smart heater. Electric heaters can be cheaper to buy but more expensive to run. Column heaters take a while to heat up but are energy efficient. Gas heaters can be more expensive to buy but cheaper to run. Ensure that gas heaters have appropriate ventilation to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning.

Both Choice and Finder have done some testing around the best types of heaters to buy and calculations about their usage costs. Decide if you need to heat the whole house or just your main living area. This can help you choose which heater will best suit your needs.

Seal off any draughts

The last thing you want to do is pay for heating, only for it to escape out of your house. Close the air conditioner vents in winter, and better still, cut wood blocks to size to put in their place for extra warmth. Seal any gaps that let the cold air in. Curtains or blinds help to keep in the heat away from windows, and rugs provide warmth and cosiness to hard floors.

Get fit, stay warm

How to keep warm in winter without blowing your energy bills

One way to get warm in winter is to get moving. When it’s too dark and cold to venture outside, try an exercise bike, cross trainer or treadmill. Lift some weights while watching TV. Do some push ups on your kitchen bench. Chromecast a YouTube workout, dance class or yoga session. All of these will help to burn some calories and warm you up in the process.


How to keep warm in winter without blowing your energy bills

Have a few blankets within reach of the couch to snuggle up under. Opt for nice thick ones that keep the heat in. You can even buy heated blankets nowadays. Personally I’m not a fan but it is good to warm up your legs without needing to heat the whole house. Onesies can be super warm and a bit of fun.

Straight to bed

We often go to bed after dinner and cozy up under our quilt with a wheat bag or two. It saves putting on the heater and it’s the warmest place to be. We like our decaf coffee, tea and hot chocolates. We enjoy working on our side hustles or watching a TV series together on the iPad, and when it’s time to go to sleep, we don’t have to get up from the warm couch to go into a cold bedroom. Lazy? Probably. But in winter it works for us.

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Head and feet

Heat often escapes from your head and feet so make sure these are warm enough. For those without hair or much of it, a beanie can keep in precious heat. My hubby sleeps with a beanie on his shaved head because otherwise he ends up too cold. Keep your feet warm with thick socks or ugg boots. Use wheat bags in bed to keep toasty warm.

I have a friend who keeps a microwave in her bedroom for the sole purpose (no pun intended) of reheating wheat bags overnight when they go cold. Yes. She owns two microwaves. Crazy woman or genius? I’ll let you decide.

Under the sheets

This is where the magic happens. Do what you can to keep warm in your bed. Consider buying a woollen underlay. We were given one for an engagement present and didn’t use it to start with. When we finally did, wow. What a difference it made. Instant warmth and softness.

Flannelette sheets are another brilliant invention. Instead of that brisk coolness when you first get into bed, you’re met with a warm fuzziness. A bed with an electric blanket on, is a delight to climb into. We’ve now opted for the warm underlay instead but it can be a nice indulgence, provided you remember to turn it off before falling asleep.

Switching your summer quilt for a thicker, winter one helps keep the chills out overnight. It’s another thing to store off season but I personally think it’s worth it. Wheat bags or hot water bottles are the final piece to the puzzle. Mind you, I used to have both an electric blanket and a hot water bottle until someone pointed out how incredibly dangerous that was.

Could you imagine if it burst and you had hot water mixed with an electric current? I rest my case. Don’t forget a nice dressing gown so when you have to venture out of your cozy bed eleven hundred times to help your crying baby or upset child or busting dog, you can keep warm.

Be a savvy saver

Consider doing an energy audit. We’ve just borrowed a kit from our local library and could figure out which appliances were using the most money, and how much a year they are costing. Check if you could add more insulation to your ceiling. Turn off PowerPoints at the wall to stop items using energy on standby, and seal up any gaps to prevent the warmth from escaping.

How to keep warm in winter without blowing your energy bills

Lowering the thermostat by a few degrees (if it is adjustable), can make a difference to your heating bills too. Cooking with the oven on warms the house. It also makes sense to cook a few things at once so you won’t need to use your oven everyday.

Find a better deal

With the growing pressures on energy reserves, there is less wriggle room to negotiate a better deal on your gas and electricity. However it’s still worth giving them a call and asking. Remind them that you have been a reliable customer of theirs for years and always paid your bills on time.

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Say that you would prefer to stay with them but in the end, you are on a budget and need to find the best price for your money. If they can’t offer you a better deal, switch to a different provider who can.

What needs to go

Keeping warm in winter is important. Look at your bank statements and see if there is any way to reduce your expenditure. Doing without some luxuries might help with paying heating bills. Things like gym memberships, streaming subscriptions, takeaway, alcohol and generous gifts can often be put on hold. These can be reassessed at a later date when money isn’t so tight and the cost of living not so high. There is no point trying to keep up with the Joneses if you are freezing every night.

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Last thoughts

Keeping warm in winter can be a challenge for many, especially those watching every last dollar. I really feel for pensioners who are reluctant to turn on the heater and have it so tough. Take some time to look around your home and see if the heat is escaping from anywhere.

Check to see that your current heater is working ok or if it would save you money in the long run to buy a different type. Make sure you’re not getting ripped off from your current provider. Don’t be afraid to go a little old school and do what our grandparents did to keep costs down. Sometimes though, no matter what we do to save on usage in winter, we can’t avoid paying for heating costs.

That’s when reducing our expenditure in other areas, working a little more or starting a side hustle, or a combination of the two can have a powerful effect. It can make us feel like we have more control over our situation.

How to keep warm in winter without blowing your energy bills

Can I make a suggestion? Look around you and think about who might be struggling right now. It might be a neighbour on your street. If appropriate, reach out and see if there’s a way you can help. You could drop them over a batch of soup and some crusty bread or have them over for a meal.

See if they need some help sourcing a more economical heater for their home. Buy them a new wheat bag, a dressing gown or slippers, a soft blanket or a warm quilt. What we do for someone might not feel like much, but it might mean a lot to them. Just showing that we care can be enough sometimes.

How to cope with the rising cost of living

How to cope with the rising cost of living

2022 has come as a shock to many people with the ever-rising cost of living. Everything we need to pay for has seemed to go up. Petrol prices are out of control. Our weekly grocery shop has risen astronomically from what it was last year. Interest rates have risen meaning our mortgage repayments have gone up.

Energy bills are soaring as and electricity rates hit record levels. Add to this the rental shortage crisis and subsequent rent increases mean that many are feeling the pinch and stress around keeping a roof over their head.

There are many factors for this rise in the cost of living. Climate change is causing more natural disasters like droughts, bushfires and floods. This has a flow-on effect with the availability and quality of fresh produce. The war in Ukraine is affecting our accessibility to oil and gas. Petrol is at an all time high. The Covid pandemic has seen a shortage of workers, delays in transportation, a reduction in spending and an increase in inflation.

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These are uncertain and stressful times and seemingly no-one is immune. It feels like every area of our life is affected by the rising cost of living yet our wages haven’t gone up enough to bridge the gap. It is particularly worrisome for those who are unemployed or underemployed, on the minimum wage, on one income, going through a divorce or desperation, battling a chronic health condition or illness, or on a pension. Spending on the most basic of necessities feels out of control. For those trying to make ends meet, this is feeling less achievable.

The big question is, what can we be doing to cope with these rising costs of living? How can we keep from drowning under this pressure? How can we move from treading water to feeling back in control, swimming our own race again?

There are a number of things we can do to reduce the impact and keep our head afloat. There is no quick fix, no easy solution, particularly for those really feeling the pinch right now. I do however, have some suggestions about how we can make a few changes to our lifestyle to make a difference moving forward.

Start with the biggest expenses such as housing, food and utilities and see how you can save money there before moving on to the smaller ones.


How to cope with the rising cost of living

For those with a mortgage and struggling with the cost of living, make sure you shop around for the best deal. Consider getting a mortgage broker who can help you negotiate and find the right lender for you. The lowest interest rate doesn’t always mean it is the best deal, and keep in mind that fixing your rate will restrict how much extra you can pay off. If you are not wanting to refinance, sometimes simply ringing up your bank and asking them if you are on the best deal can reduce it there on the spot.

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They prefer to keep customers where they can so if you play hardball, they may lower your rate to keep you. If not, don’t continue being loyal. Find a better deal elsewhere and switch. If possible, pay a little more than your minimum mortgage repayments. If you have an offset account, consider paying extra so it acts as emergency fund against your mortgage to reduce the interest payable. Provided you can redrew if necessary (with no fees), this can be a good way to have money aside in case you need it.


How to cope with the rising cost of living

There is no denying that food prices have gone up, even over the space of a few weeks and months. Experts are prediction that iceberg lettuce is going to go up to $10 each. That’s insane! Although we can’t avoid paying more at the checkout, we can do a few things to reduce the impact on our budget. Meal plan from what you have left in your fridge, freezer and pantry and buy some top up ingredients to make dinners.

Use up what you have in your fridge already and clean it out regularly so items don’t go to waste. Have top up weeks where you aim to buy milk, bread, fresh fruit and veggies, and any other staples you need. Check out the $21 challenge that can save you lots and inspire you to use what you have. Shop with a list and buy fresh produce that is in season. For items out of stock or too expensive, look in the freezer section to see if it is more economical to buy that way (for example, broccoli, beans and spinach are handy in the freezer).

Plan more meat free meals, and for the days that you do consume meat, bulk it up with blitzed veggies. Pasta sauce is a great way to have vegetables inside and can be a way to get fussy toddlers to eat their greens. Lower your standards. Your lunches and dinners don’t need to be gourmet. Keep it simple, healthy and delicious, and don’t be afraid to repeat your favourite dishes in your menu plan.

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If you are able to, do a bulk prep and cook of your meals so you don’t have to be in the kitchen all of the time. Last night I cooked zucchini slice, zucchini chicken, sweet potato chips, potato bake and pumpkin scones. I had the oven on for two hours and used bacon, zucchini and onion across different dishes. Growing a herbs on your windowsill and basic vegetables in your garden means you always have a few fresh ingredients on hand without having to run to the shops.


How to cope with the rising cost of living

When the price of everything keeps going up, it is important where possible to consume less energy. When you’re at home in winter, try to keep warm using good old fashioned methods before turning on the heater. Think about putting on a jumper, wearing ugg boots, putting a blanket over your legs and consuming a hot drink.

We often go to bed after dinner and cozy up under our quilt with a wheat bag – it saves putting on the heater and it’s the warmest place to be. Another idea is to use an exercise bike or Chromecast a YouTube workout to get you fit, moving and warm. Cooking with the oven on warms the house, and it makes sense to cook a few things at once so you won’t need to use your oven everyday.

Consider doing an energy audit. We’ve just borrowed a kit from our local library and could figure out which appliances were using the most money, and how much a year they are costing. Turn off PowerPoints at the wall to stop items using energy on standby, and seal up any gaps to prevent the warmth from escaping.

Close the air conditioner vents in winter, and better still, cut wood blocks to size to put in their place for extra warmth. Lower the thermostat by a few degrees if it is adjustable. Ring your provider to get a better deal and compare it with their competitors to check you are on a fair price. Take shorter showers.

In summer, putting the air conditioner on early in the day means it doesn’t have to work so hard in the heat of the day to bring the temperature down. Get the unit serviced every year or two to ensure it is running effectively. Wear light clothing, exercise in the cooler parts of the day and close the blinds to keep the heat out.

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Have a cool shower or bath, get the kids into a splash pool or under the sprinkler, or dip your feet in a little pool after work with a cold beverage. Have meals that don’t require using the oven where possible so the house can stay cool. Consider installing solar panels if you can afford them, as these can reduce your energy bills dramatically.


How to cope with the rising cost of living

Despite the cost of living rising, insurance is still important to have. Shop around for the best deal on your house and contents, car, health and pet insurance. Don’t pay the lazy tax by not reviewing your rates annually. It can be a pain to do but a few simple phone calls can save you hundreds. If you get security system or cameras installed on your property, it can reduce premiums. Make sure that you are properly covered in the unlikely event that you’ll need it.

Less extracurricular

Consider putting some limits around what extracurricular activities you sign your children up to. This can help to reduce your driving, saving on petrol, not to mention saves on registration fees and uniforms. If you’re in South Australia, make the most of the School Sports vouchers that save $100 per child per year on fees, and similar programs exist in other states and countries to encourage more participation.

This doesn’t have to mean forever, but at least until you have your head above water. Who knows, you might enjoy a slightly slower pace of life when you say no more often.

Swimming lessons

How to cope with the rising cost of living

Living in a hot country surrounded by water, I think it’s very important that children learn to swim. Swimming lessons too expensive right now? If you have an infant, consider buying a block of casual passes and taking them for swims yourself. Watch what they do in baby lessons and try to replicate it yourself, by using songs to move them through the water and helping to familiarise them.

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Consider VACSWIM for children aged 4 and up. $50 for a full week in my area, plus we get free casual swimming at the centre. My kids get 15 hours of swimming with 5 of those hours lessons, for $50 every summer. You can add a beach week in too if you want them to learn extra skills. If you know someone with a pool, see if you can visit sometimes for extra practice.

Rethink getting a pet

How to cope with the rising cost of living

This may be controversial but I’m going to say it anyway. If you are struggling with the rising cost of living and putting food on the table, now is not the time to get a pet. Unless you are living alone and need the company, if at all possible avoid buying a new pet. I am not saying you should give up any current animals you own. However, pets like dogs and cats can be incredibly expensive.

Think purchase cost, accessories, bedding, food, veterinary bills, medication and holiday boarding. They can reduce your chances of getting a rental, especially in such a competitive market. If you are willing to sacrifice in other areas and have a sinking fund for your pet that you regularly add to, it might be fine, but please don’t forgo your own ability to provide for yourself because you take in a pet.

Know where your money goes

It is important to know where you money is going so it doesn’t trickle through your fingers. You can track your spending on a spreadsheet or via an app. WeMoney is one that I personally use (we both get $5 if you sign up and they plant a tree!). I write more about the features of WeMoney (such as credit scores, net worth, community posting, podcast and blog) here if you’re interested to find out more. Another way to do it is to simply set up direct debits so on payday, money is diverted into different accounts. For us, we have the mortgage deducted, then money goes into sinking fund accounts for spending, car repairs and upgrades, furniture and appliance upgrades, renovations, school and sporting fees, holidays and investing. I like this method because you make sure you put money away before you’re tempted to spend it and we can afford expenses when they come up. You can set up sinking funds for anything including Christmas, wedding, birthdays, pets, health etc. Getting your finances set up well helps you to cope with the cost of living and feel prepared for whatever is around the corner.

Side hustles

There is only so much you can cut out. Frugality is a wonderful way to be more mindful of how you spend money but it can be quite a restrictive way of living. Consider starting a side hustle so you have a little more spare cash. This could be delivering pizza or Uber Eats, tutoring or babysitting, starting up a YouTube channel or podcast, or writing a blog. You can take up a second job or start your own business. Side hustles can be a fun way to make extra money and get paid to do something you love. Canna Campbell has some great ideas in her bestseller, The $1000 Project.

Sell unwanted items

Needing extra cash to cope with rising costs of living? Suffocating in stuff? By going through and decluttering your things, you could find items of value to sell on Facebook Marketplace and Gumtree. When you take the time to sell things, it can make it easier to part with them if you are getting some money in return. I’ve sold some of my competition winnings, like a rocking chair, to fund a massage chair instead. We’ve been surprised with how much stuff we actually had and sold well over $10,000 worth over the last few years. Your house will feel lighter and your wallet heavier.


If you have a hack for spotting a bargain or seeing potential, flipping might be for you. Spot a chest of drawers in hard waste? You could take it home and upcycle it, pocketing a profit when you sell. Find an old book collection in the op shop? List it on eBay and watch the bids come in. Discover an item on clearance in a store that is sold out everywhere else? Sell it for a higher price online, especially if it is rare or in demand. Teaching Brave found a Louis Vuitton scarf in an op shop for $3 and sold it for over $400!


A clever way to be savvy with the money you have is to utilise cashback apps. My favourite two are Cash Rewards and ShopBack. They both run promotions where you can get extra cashback from certain stores. It often takes weeks or even months to receive the cashback but then you can transfer it straight into your account. Both give you money upon signing up (please note that I receive a sign up fee) and then any friends or family you refer, you get a bonus too! This can add up, especially if you know lots of people who don’t have these apps yet.


Talk with your family around their expectations for gifts. Suggest limiting how much to spend and who you need to buy for. Does every adult need to get a present? Do children need to get a gift from everybody? It can feel awkward bringing up this topic of conversation but for all you know, others are feeling the same way.

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The older we get, the more we often value time spent together over material things. We’d prefer to buy what we want much of the time anyway too. Don’t be afraid to suggest putting in boundaries around gift giving and see what happens. It might save you some money, but also your sanity.

Buy less toys

How to cope with the rising cost of living

For parents reading and for whom money is extra tight right now, stop buying toys where possible. Make it part of your routine to visit your local toy library. There is almost no need to buy toys when libraries today are stocked full of such a huge range.

For a small annual fee, you can have access to all the toys, puzzles, educational toys, puppets, board games, ride on cars, scooters and dress ups you could ever need, not to mention gear you can borrow for parties. It can be a way of trialing toys that your children might like to own before parting with money for them.

Rethink streaming services

How to cope with the rising cost of living

Whilst many of us enjoy snuggling up in bed to stream endless tv shows and movies, it is not a necessity. When the cost of living is making you rethink every decision around spending, this can be one to go. Can you watch free to air catch up TV rather than Netflix, or have just one streaming service at a time?

When you watch the shows that you want to, cancel and switch to another service. If you have Foxtel, perhaps you could downgrade to a cheaper streaming service instead. Can you get out your DVD collection (if you still have any) or head to the library to borrow some? For music, consider listening to the radio or Spotify Free, and stop Premium.

Use the library

How to cope with the rising cost of living

Reading is a wonderful pastime but can become expensive. By utilising the library, you can try out a range of authors and genres. You can put books on hold from libraries around the state. You can borrow physical copies or ebooks. For those who are time poor, listening to books can be super handy. They can also become quite expensive. Libraries allow you to borrow audiobooks free on Libby or Borrowbox. If you haven’t already, download these apps and see what titles you can borrow today.

Shop secondhand

A great way to keep costs down is to shop secondhand. Op shops sell a huge range of clothes and shoes and often organise them by size. Money goes further on books, toys, linen and kitchenware, and you can often find a bargain in furniture too. Garage sales and listings on Facebook Marketplace and Gumtree all help to give items a new life. We reduce the impact on the environment by keeping old items out of landfill and not needing packaging and manufacturing for new products.

Join your local Buy Nothing group.

An easy way to combat the cost of living is to join your local Buy Nothing group. It’s a fabulous way to get to know other people in your area, ask for items that you need and pass on items that you no longer use. So many times I’ve almost made a purchase, and then stopped to ask my group.

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More often than not, some kind person has one to give away and saved me needing to spend money. Other times I’ve almost thrown things away or put something in the donation box, not knowing if it would be accepted only to have someone so grateful for the item that they’d been looking for.

Switch it up

Being intentional with your finances doesn’t mean that you have to miss out altogether. Instead it might look like a potluck dinner with friends where everyone brings a dish rather than an expensive meal out. Having tap water, soft drink or juice instead of alcohol. Packing a picnic and bring a thermos to enjoy rather than buying food when out.

Buying frozen pizza or decorating bases to cook at home rather than ordering a pizza. Swap interstate or overseas holidays for camping and holidaying near home. Go with friends or family and split the cost of an Airbnb.

Utilise cooperatives & community groups

For those who are struggling right now, find your nearest cooperative. They often have meal packs at a fraction of the price of companies like ‘Hello Fresh’. They are genuinely cheaper than buying every ingredient seperately from the supermarket. Community groups, churches and charities can provide free bread, fruit and vegetables and hampers to those in need. Some hold soup nights or free meals. They are a great source of friendship if you are feeling isolated.

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Reach out for help

If you’re really struggling and not sure what you can do or who to turn to, Scott Pape from the Barefoot Investor recommends giving the National Debt Helpline call on 1800 007 007. There you’ll find free, confidential counselling, there to help you figure a way out.

In closing

In closing, the rising cost of living in 2022 is pushing many individuals, couples and families to breaking point. It seems like every area of our life is getting more expensive with not much relief in sight. While these tips won’t solve the problem of how to stretch every last dollar, hopefully it is a starting point.

By reducing our expenses, negotiating better deals, saying no to the unnecessary and trying to live more frugally, we can get through this difficult season. By starting a side hustle or finding a casual job, we can reduce some of the financial pressure we find ourselves in and start to build up an emergency fund buffer. If life is really hard for you right now, please reach out for help.

There are many charities, organisations and churches equipped to help and would be more than happy to assist you. Alternatively, pop a comment or send us a message and I’ll do my best to point you in the direction of some help.

7 reasons why fish make the best first pets for those who aren’t pet people

7 reasons why fish make the best first pets for those who aren't pet people

Considering a pet? Here’s why a fish might be a great starting point for you.

Many households own a handful of pets. They are cute and cuddly, affectionate and keep us company. They help our kids develop empathy and a sense of responsibility. They motivate us to get outside for a walk and to meet other owners.

They help us get our cuteness fixed when we want another baby but our other half is done with having children. No matter how much we care for them, they almost always show us more love in return.

What if you’re not a pet person though? What if life is too busy and the last thing you need is a jolly pet to look after? Consider starting small.

Here are 7 reasons why a fish make the best first pet for you.

1. Easy.

Getting a fish isn’t a difficult venture. All you need is a tank, a pump, fish food and your fish. Optional extras are some water plants, pebbles, a light and some snails (water neutraliser drops). You don’t have to make it complicated. You can decide on the day to buy them, go and get the stuff, and have it all finished within a few hours. This is perfect for those who are busy and have a lot on their mind.

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2. Start small.

You don’t have to buy a huge tank and all the fancy accessories. Why not start with a small bowl or tank and see how you go. See if it looks good in your room. See how you manage it – does it get algae and need to be cleaned often? Are there too many fish for the space? Is it a good size for you? You might find that small is good and that is all you need.

Alternatively, you might be surprised with how much you love owning fish and want to upgrade your tank size. At least when you do it this way, you know that you’re ready for a bigger tank and not just getting excited before you start.

3. Hard to kill.

This reason might sound ridiculous but if you’re not really a pet person, and not used to having to care for an animal, going straight for a puppy is a big step. They need lots of care, as do cats, rabbits, birds and the like. At least fish are pretty resilient.

As long as you buy the right type and listen to advise from your local shop, remember to feed them and keep the tank clean, they should stay alive. And look, if you happen to kill one, they are pretty easy and inexpensive to replace (and your kid might not even notice, unlike a dog).

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4. Cheap.

Considering your financial situation before deciding on a pet is a wise move. Fish make wonderful pets, especially young families, because they don’t cost much. Unless you are planning to have six foot aquariums in your house with designer fish, they don’t cost much to purchase.

I was given a free fish tank and bought five guppies ($12). After a day I surprised myself with how much I loved it. I also realised that I needed a pump. I found someone selling a tank and handful of accessories for $25, bought some more guppies ($12), 10 snails ($5), two aqua plants ($18), fish food for $10, drops for the water ($12). Came to $94. I could have spent less but wanted real plants rather than the plastic ones, and figured the snails would help eat some of the algae. It’s been three weeks and I haven’t spent any more money.

Owning a pet can be incredibly expensive with vet bills, and even with insurance, there can be huge out of the pocket expenses. It can be so stressful for those on low incomes. Starting with something simple like a fish means you don’t have to worry about desexing, worming, microchipping, or unexpected injuries or sickness. There’s no need for doggy daycare or boarding houses.

5. Low maintenance.

Owning a fish is a wise choice for those with busy schedules. You don’t need to enrol them in puppy training or teach them any tricks. You don’t need to train them to go outside to do their business or pick up after them on the lawn. You don’t need to walk them. No need to wash them or cut their hair. You don’t need to entertain them or worry about what they’re getting up to in your house or yard while you’re out at work. They won’t bother the neighbours with their barking.

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6. Calming.

I recently taught a class that had a fish tank in the back of the room. I couldn’t help but to be drawn to it and watch them swim around. Hearing the water trickle had such a calming effect on me and I just knew I needed to get one for home. I’m so glad I did. I still can’t help but watch them swim around and interact with their surroundings. The novelty hasn’t worn off yet and I love the sense of calm it has brought to our family room. For someone who is openly not a pet person, this has surprised me.

7. Breed easily.

Species like the guppy can breed quickly and without much fuss. Witnessing fish hatch from eggs can be exciting for children. It could become a potential side hustle for them by allowing them to sell any excess fish or snails. They could help with the process of taking photos, writing a description, helping to show the customer the tank and collecting the money after the sale. This could be good practice before trying something like chickens that would take considerable more time and work but would produce eggs to use and sell.

RELATED : 30 Side hustle ideas to make an extra $1000/ month in 2022

Last thoughts.

In closing, taking time to consider what type of pet is right for you and your stage of life is important. Asking questions like the following can help you decide:

Do I need a pet right now?

Can I afford to buy a pet?

Can I afford veterinarian treatment if it becomes sick or injured?

What type or breed would be best suited to us?

Do I have time to care for a pet?

Do I have energy to manage and care for it’s needs?

Do I have space in my house and yard for a pet?

Am I committed to keeping a pet for the long haul?

What will I do with it when I go on holidays?

By choosing a pet that is easy and cheap to set up, and low maintenance to keep alive can be an excellent starting point. Once you know that you can manage something like a fish, you can look into owning a different type of pet. Why not buy a few guppies and see if you love them just as much as I do.

RELATED : Less stuff. More calm.

30 Side hustle ideas to make an extra $1000/ month in 2022

30 Side hustle ideas to make an extra $1000/ month in 2022

Now more than ever, it’s easier to earn money from the comfort of home. The internet has made things accessible. We can sell physical items and ship them around the world. We can create digital products that someone can buy at the click of a button.

Although saving money is a wonderful tool for becoming financially independent, there is only so much that you can save. Frugality and resourcefulness only get you so far. It can feel restrictive and boring and feel like you’re missing out on things. Your earning potential, however, is unlimited.

Many of us spend time each day mindlessly scrolling on our devices. We play games, check social media and look at our emails. There is nothing wrong with this, but if we want to use our time more wisely, this can be an area to focus on. We can become more intentional.

Some of these are online and easier to manage during a global pandemic. Others will be more possible when this current season is over.

Here are 30 ways that you can earn money through side hustling.

I have included some links to companies or people worth following but these are not sponsored or affiliate links. I don’t get anything from recommending these but genuinely think they are worth looking into. This is not an exhaustive list of side hustles, but rather some options that might help you get started.

Side Hustle Idea #1. Selling household items

This can be a useful way to both declutter and make some handy cash. We all have things lying around our house, garage and shed that we don’t use or love anymore. I think it’s the easiest side hustle to start as all you need is a phone with a camera and the internet, and you can start posting. I’ve got some tips about how to sell items on Facebook and Marketplace or how to help your children declutter things that they don’t need.

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Side Hustle Idea #2. Reselling or flipping

Once you start selling, you realise how fun it can be. You might run out of items of your own to sell or want to make more money. You can find items by the side of the road, clean them up and sell them. You can buy items at op shops (thrift stores) and sell them for profit. Teaching Brave recently found a Louis Vuitton scarf for $3 and sold it for $420 online. Thrifty Pixie and Minimalist Mumthrifts source clothing bargains from op shops and resell them on eBay.

RELATED : 12 Tips for Selling Second hand goods on Facebook Marketplace and Gumtree

Side Hustle Idea #3. Blogging 

Blogging is a great way to earn a side hustle income. Figure out what you’re interested in, skilled in or simply love doing. What are you an expert in or can’t stop talking about? Start writing and build from there. Once you have built it up with website traffic and people start subscribing, it can become monetised with ads and affiliate links. A wealth of information about blogging can be found on Arts and Budgets.

Side Hustle Idea #4. Surveys

Completing surveys is a way of making your phone time count, especially if you’re waiting for an appointment. They can be super short or up to an hour of your time. You can generally save up your points to cash out on a gift card of your choice or get money in your account via PayPal. I haven’t spent enough time completing them and felt frustrated with how long points took to accumulate. Some people like Aussie Debt Free Girl persevere and have done quite well with ones like Octopus).

Side Hustle Idea #5. Research panels 

This is one of my personal favourites. It can be hard to qualify for the research topics that come up, but they pay out well when you do. You get to have your say on interesting topics or speak about your experience in your field of expertise. Thanks to the pandemic, there are more opportunities online now that suit those with mobility restrictions, who have young children or would simply prefer to stay in their trackies on the couch rather than driving somewhere. I once got paid $250 for a three-hour zoom call, and I only had to actively participate for ten minutes of this time. Amazing! I’ve registered for a few but my favourite is the Research Network.

Side Hustle Idea #6. Tutoring

Tutoring might be right for you if you have a background in education and enjoy helping people. It can be a flexible job that fits your lifestyle. You can work after hours and on weekends. Covid has also made doing this remotely more possible too. This means you could see more people back to back without allowing for travel time.

Tutoring is a way to help people achieve their goals and improve themselves while making money. Depending on your skills and experience, you could charge a high amount per hour. This can be done freelance style (need to get your name out to people but you keep all the earnings) or through an agency (they do the paperwork, you get more work but they take a cut of your pay).

Side Hustle Idea #7. Content creating 

This is a growing area of opportunity in the tech space, particularly in social media. Businesses are realising the potential benefits of using influencers to create content for their audience. This can be posted on the company site, the influencer’s page or both. The bigger the influencer’s audience, generally the more they will be paid, so this is an incentive to work towards organic growth. Meaningful collaborations can occur when influencers sign up with companies that align with their values.

Side Hustle Idea #8. Write an e-Book

If there is a topic that you are both passionate about and experienced in, an eBook can be a great idea to hustle income. This is less daunting than writing an actual book and trying to get published. It can be a way of testing out the waters to see if you like writing and if you have much success with selling. I love that a digital copy can be purchased multiple times without you having to manage a physical copy. Many people have had great success, with The FI Couple being an example of this.

Side Hustle Idea #9. Uber Eats

This is a useful side hustle for those who have their own transport and live in the metro area. Some people cycle, others use electric bikes, scooters, motorbikes or cars. It can work around other employment and be a flexible job. I wouldn’t rate this as a high paying income, nor a dependable one. Having to maintain your own vehicle is often costly and time-consuming, and riding or driving to different neighbourhoods in traffic, nighttime and bad weather can be dangerous.


Side Hustle Idea #10. Cleaning 

This is a good job for those who like to get out and about, who have high standards for cleanliness, who are self-motivated and work quickly. It is satisfying work and helps people who can’t keep up with cleaning themselves. It keeps you fit and you can listen to music or podcasts while you do it. It’s great for those who enjoy a break from other people. It can be strangely soothing. The only downsides are you have to physically travel to houses which means unpaid time, and won’t earn money when you are sick.

Side Hustle Idea #11. YouTube

If you don’t mind being in front of the camera and having something to say, YouTube might be the side hustle for you. Those who are successful usually find a niche area, plan their content, take time to edit and add graphics and produce high-quality content. Once you hit 1000 subscribers and 4000 hours of watch time, you can apply for YouTube’s Partner Program.

This allows creators to start monetising their channels through ads, subscriptions, and channel memberships. It can take some time to become monetised but for the right person, it can be an amazing money maker. Some of my favourite YouTubers are Family Finance, SugarMamma, The Minimal Mom, Hapa Family and Hidden Gem

Side Hustle Idea #12. Mowing lawns

If you love getting out in the fresh air, doing manual work and feeling productive, mowing lawns might be for you! It’s one of those love it or hates it jobs. You’ll need your own mower and line trimmer, and know-how to maintain and troubleshoot. Have your own transport and a trailer or big boot space. Satisfying work, except in poor weather.

Side Hustle Idea #13. Websites

This is a growing way to make some serious cash if you are tech-savvy and willing to learn some new skills. People buy websites on places like Flippa that have potential, spend some time doing them up and either get income each month or sell them for a profit. Matt and Liz sell courses about how to do this and while I haven’t yet taken any, I am definitely interested in doing this in the future. Captain Fi has done their courses and provides more information and reviews about this on this blog and podcast.

Side Hustle #14. Vending machines

Some people buy vending machines and make some handy cash through managing these and stocking them with products. This side hustle is appealing because you don’t need tens of thousands of dollars for a down payment on a property, or thousands of dollars to invest. It is a business model that you can physically see where your money is going and is relatively easy to start. Marc at Better Wallet knows about this and can help to point you in the right direction.

Side Hustle #15. Babysitting 

This is a great side hustle if you like working with kids. It is often the first part-time job for young people who are asked to look after nieces and nephews or local neighbourhood families. It can be a good way to get some experience, gain a referee, earn some cash and develop skills in working with children. This often happens in the evenings so parents can enjoy a date night, so once the kids are in bed, the babysitter can help to clean up and then relax on the couch.

Side Hustle #16. Medical research

If you don’t mind injections and blood tests and are a fan of hospital food, this side hustle might be for you! Medical companies pay people to attend clinics and stay in hospitals to have medical procedures performed and have experimental drugs tested on them. Jobs range from a few hours to several days to several weeks at a time.

Personally, I am too much of a wuss to even contemplate this but had mates at uni who would do anything for extra cash. They were sometimes paid thousands of dollars to do these trials. It’s worth taking some time to check if this is safe for you and your body, and if so, find the right trial to apply for.

Side Hustle #17. Upwork

On Upwork, people pay for your expertise and you can hire those in the know. It’s a brilliant concept as it links up those wanting work with those who need work done. You can search for numerous skills and find the right person for the job.

It provides income to those who are struggling to find work locally and literally opens up the world to people to earn money doing what they are good at. I have hired a graphic designer and website technical support and have been extremely pleased with the work that they have done.

My recent hire on Upwork for Website Support : Gaurav Chaulagain

Side Hustle #18. Etsy

If you are creative or crafty, Etsy might be the platform for you to sell your items on. Things from knitwear and crochet, wall decor, jewellery and accessories, art and collectables, craft, clothing and shoes, wedding and party, and toys and entertainment.

Some people in the debt-free community sell printable and editable charts, planners and calculators to help you set goals and track your results. Like all Platforms, Etsy takes a cut so it might be a way to get started and build up your reputation before trying to go out on your own. The Digital Suite by Sandra Stewart is one example of an amazing site.

Side Hustle #19. Affiliate links

If you have a website or social media site which gets some traffic, having affiliate links can be a nice income generator. You can post links to sites that align with your values and would be of interest to your audience or customers.

For me, I have a few affiliate links which pay when anyone signs up, and also gives the person a small cash bonus. For example with Cash Rewards I get $20 and the person gets $10, ShopBack we both get $20 each and WeMoney we both get $5 (plus they plant a tree). It’s not a huge amount but I’m so grateful to any kind person who signs up via my link, and love that they can then start referring their family and friends to earn extra money too.

Some companies will approach you about collaborating with a nominated fee paid per sign up, or you can ask companies to consider you. Amazon have an affiliate marketing program that helps content creators, publishers and bloggers monetise their traffic and might be a good starting point for you.

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Side Hustle #20. Start a business

There are endless opportunities for business ideas these days, many of which start from the humble side hustle. It is worth testing out the water a bit and starting small to see if it is a viable option and makes economical sense. For example, some ideas are better kept to a hobby – you enjoy them but you don’t make enough money.

Others may be suited to a small side hustle but not your main income. Many entrepreneurs have started with big dreams, tried their luck and have become very successful. Find a mentor, read up on books from those who have made it, and see if there are any local courses available to you (for example run by your council or state government). There are many resources out there to help you become skilled and build relationships with those in the know.

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Side Hustle #21. Sell stock photos

If you are good at photography and have a decent camera, selling photos on sites like Shutterstock might be worth your while. You can set up an account, upload high-quality images (eg. landscapes) and be paid a royalty every time someone downloads your photo. You retain the copyright to your images and it can be reasonably profitable. Note that not everyone can qualify and it may take some time to earn good money.

Side Hustle #22. Cans & Bottles 

If you care about the environment and live in a metro town, this might be a handy side hustle. Many local councils pay for every can and bottle brought to the recycling centre (where I live this is 10c each). By simply collecting your own recycling, you can earn decent cash. If you want to make more money, you can walk around your local streets and parks with a bag, and even collect them after footy matches or outdoor concerts. While it won’t make you rich, it can help you save up for something that you want or go towards a fun day out or holiday!

Side Hustle #23. Air BnB

If you own your place, consider whether you could make money from it with Airbnb. You might have a large house with a spare room, a multi-storey property like Frank on Fire, a granny flat or a converted garage that you could hire out. Alternatively, if you enjoy going on regular holidays or have somewhere else you can stay sometimes, you could list your residence for the days that the house is being vacated.

Airbnb can be a lucrative side hustle for the right people and can help pay off the mortgage a whole lot faster as well as enabling you to see more of the world. It also helps travellers have more of an authentic experience than simply checking in to a city hotel.

Side Hustle #24. Dog walker

For those who love exercising outdoors and like furry friends, dog walking could be a fun side hustle. There is a growing demand for dog walkers (alongside doggy daycare!) as pet owners are increasingly busy and don’t have enough hours in the day.

Wanting to be do the right thing and make sure their dogs get enough fresh air and exercise, owners are on the lookout for responsible, trustworthy people. This would suit those in metro and suburban areas who are looking for more work, who are fit and strong enough to wrangle the most enthusiastic or defiant of dogs.

Side Hustle #25. Declutter homes

If you consider yourself a neat freak or minimalist and enjoy decluttering, you might just love this job. Whilst there are businesses and agencies that employ professional organisers, the average Joe (or Mary) might just want someone to help them out and get on top of their stuff.

This may involve helping them make decisions about what to keep, donate, sell or throw, then packing up items to move out the house, listing things to sell and organising what is left. It is a satisfying and rewarding job for the hardworking, motivated, organised and for someone who likes to help others declutter.

RELATED : How to declutter your children’s toys for good

Side Hustle #26. Upcycling furniture

Do you ever drive past old furniture on the side of the road and spot gorgeous pieces that just need some TLC? Do you enjoy watching renovation and home improvement shows and feel inspired at what they can do with items that have seen better days? Perhaps upcycling furniture is theside hustle for you.

You’ll need some transport that can tow a trailer so you can pick up items from hard waste (destined for the dump), op shops or garage sales, and also a place to store and work on them (think large shed or garage). You’ll need some know-how, woodworking tools, paints and varnishes and a good camera to take photos to list online to sell. Not only is this good for the environment as it keeps items out of landfill, but it allows you to use your creative flair while earning a decent profit.

Side Hustle #27. Mystery shopping

If you are observant, enjoy providing feedback and like getting out and about, Mystery Shopping could be a fun side hustle. It involves going to different shops and businesses and posing as a customer.

You need to remember specific details about the person who serves you (their name, appearance, how tidy their uniform is etc) and note what level of customer service they provided (were they friendly, did they have good product knowledge, could they answer questions, did they try to upsell you, were they efficient, did they stop to answer the phone or chat to an employee, were they professional etc). You often have a specific item to buy or product to enquire after, and then fill in a long survey once you have left the store.

I have been on both ends of this role. I was once mystery shopped while working at a bakery, thankfully receiving a score of 100% and was given movie tickets as a reward. I have also worked as a mystery shopper and inspected fast food places, hardware stores, department stores and speciality shops. One time I even when to a retirement village and had to pretend that my parents needed to go into care.

The problem was, the lady recognised my parent’s names and was shocked that they had deteriorated this much since they last saw them. I had to come clean and tell them that I was a mystery shopper, and then let my employer know that my cover had been blown. It isn’t always high paying but sure is interesting work and can make some good stories!

Side Hustle #28. Copywriting

For those who are good with words, copywriting is a handy way to earn cash. It is perfect for those who are happy to write for someone else rather than create their own content, or as a way to curate their skills. Copywriters create work for brochures, catalogues, billboards, advertisements, scripts, social media posts and blog articles. The more experienced you are, generally the more money you can earn. The downside is that you don’t own your own content, so although you will earn money upfront, you won’t make ongoing money from website traffic or selling eBooks.

Side Hustle #29. Social media

Enjoy social media and find it easy to create and grow pages? Stop scrolling and start earning! Consider doing this as a side hustle. Many businesses have no idea about where to start with social media and it’s just another thing that they have to manage. They’d prefer to be focusing on what they’re good at – growing their business. You could approach a business directly and ask if they need a hand with their site, or post a job on a site like a Freelancer to find work. You’ll be taking a load off the shoulders of a hardworking small business owner whilst honing your skills and earning some nice cash for the privilege.

Side Hustle #30. Sell online resources

If you are knowledgeable on a particular topic, consider creating online resources to sell. I personally sell on a site called Teachers Pay Teachers and have made $3000 on one resource alone. This is a pretty good return for perhaps eight or nine hours of work. When I have more capacity I would love to create more resources like this one. For now though, at least this one is ticking away nicely and pays my phone bill (and sometimes a subscription) every month.

Final thoughts

In closing, side hustles are a wonderful way to earn cash and get ahead financially. It may be something temporarily that you do to pay off a credit card debt or save an emergency fund, or it may be something that you love and turns into an actual business. Whatever your reasons, give one or two a go and see what happens! You don’t have much to lose and potentially a lot to gain.

See my Insta post for which side hustles I have done in the past and which ones I do now. I’d love you to follow and join our awesome community on there, on Facebook & Twitter too

*Please note that the links provided are not affiliates and I do not receive anything for posting them. I simply thought it might be of some use to people.

5 gift ideas for children (that aren’t toys)

5 gift ideas for children (that aren’t toys)

Gift ideas for children

We all have children in our life who we need to buy presents for, whether they’re our own, nieces and nephews, grandchildren and when our children go to parties. Sometimes it is hard coming up with an idea, especially when the child seems to have enough stuff already.

When a child receives lots of toys for their birthday or at Christmas time, they are initially excited. Most kids love the thrill of opening up a present to find a new thing inside. Once the shine has come off a bit and the gift doesn’t seem so interesting anymore, the following two things tend to happen:

There is an increase in overwhelm for the child. They have too much choice about what to play with. They get distracted. They don’t delve into deep, meaningful play. There is too much mess to clean up.

Secondly there is overwhelm for the parents. This tends to affect the primary caregiver, the one that is home the most. They have to find a spot to store it, create systems for toy rotations, tidy it up, manage the pieces.

It’s a lot. When I’ve gently asked some family members to avoid buying toys or less of them, I have been told, “but they like it,” or “they’ll be so excited opening the box.” Yes, of course they would be but in the end, as a parent I have to manage all the stuff. We have so many more things and toys than a generation or two ago. This wears us down and can steal some of the joy of motherhood.

I have been on a journey of decluttering and it has made the world of difference in our family.

Here are some gift ideas for children that won’t add to the overwhelm, go to landfill or break the bank.

#1. Gift idea: Toy library voucher

Toy libraries are amazing. My local one has gift vouchers for purchase for just $35 a year or $20 for 6 months. It is a brilliant way to give the gift that keeps on giving without adding to the excess in the family home. This can be bought with another family to keep cost down or even put money in the card to go towards buying the membership.

#2. Gift idea: Op shop voucher

Money doesn’t go very far in department stores. When my son went to spend some pocket money, the $15 barely bought one Paw Patrol car. We went across the road to Savers (a large op shop / thrift store) and he was amazed with what he could purchase. There were less options but there was a range of different things he could buy.

You could offer to take the child shopping to spend it, and could go towards books, clothes, shoes, dress ups, or art supplies. If there was a particular toy they wanted they could get that too, and when they get bored with it, sell or donate and then buy a different one. This reduces the impact on the environment because you aren’t buying a new toy with packaging, and the child is choosing something that they really want.

RELATED : Creative ideas for surviving lockdown with kids

#3. Gift Idea: Books

Growing up we had an uncle who only ever gave books as gifts. This didn’t always seem very exciting, but I secretly loved having a new one of my own to read. I loved being able to write my name in the front and keep it in my bookshelf. I could reread it again and again. Books can be expensive but they don’t have to be bought new. You could buy a set of books from Marketplace or Gumtree, or from an op shop for a fraction of the price. It’s nice to check first with the child or parents that second hand is ok. If they say it’s fine, money will go further meaning more books for them!

#4. Gift Idea: Audiobooks

Listening to a story in the car can help to pass the time, especially on long trips. It can be a different option to screens during rest time at home. They can be a relaxing way to wind down at bedtime. These can be bought as a CD format (new or secondhand) or downloaded on a device to listen on a speaker. Apps like Libby and Borrowbox even let you borrow audiobooks from the library for free!

#5. Gift Idea: Buy an Experience

This is my personal favourite gift and love when my boys are given one of these. The options are endless but here are some that won’t break the bank. Some could be money towards an experience, or pay for themselves and the child to do together as a special outing.

> Movie voucher

> Bowling

> Pony ride

> Waterslide

> Swimming pool

> Roller skating

> Play cafe

> Farm visit

> Ice skating

> Animal sanctuary

> Zoo

> Aquarium

> Boat or ferry ride

> Trout farm or fishing off a jetty

> Strawberry or apple picking

> Theatre tickets

> High ropes course

> Mini golf

> Rock climbing

> Cooking course

> Drive in

> Circus

> Plaster fun house

RELATED : Parenting through a pandemic – how Covid has changed the way my kids play.

We have compiled a list of experiences and outings that our children have never done before. This is stuck on the fridge for ideas and inspiration for special weekends or if someone asks for a present idea. This helps our children to focus on less material things and helps us remember about the fun things we can do as a family.

Too much stuff can create stress in our lives, but meaningful experiences creates memories. I encourage you to be extra intentional with gift giving going forward. Toys themselves aren’t bad, but children can only play with so much. They only need so much. Less things to manage can help families feel happier too. 💕

12 Tips for Selling Secondhand goods on Facebook Marketplace and Gumtree

12 Tips for Selling Second hand goods on Facebook Marketplace and Gumtree

Selling secondhand items has never been easier, thanks to the many online platforms we have available. We can post virtually anything for sale and almost always find a buyer. Selling on Facebook Marketplace and Gumtree can be a brilliant way to both part with your excess stuff and make quick cash. What more could you want!

When I shared my financial story recently, I mentioned that I’ve always had a lot of stuff. I loved collecting things as a kid – feathers, rocks, shells, postage stamps and chocolate wrappers. As a teen, this turned into CDs, DVDs and books. I studied to become a teacher and began collecting resources. When I got married and moved into my hubby’s unit, I realised how much we both owned. 

Now as a mum of three, we own a lot of stuff. Some of it just comes with the territory. Kids have clothes, shoes, toys and books. They grow out of things fast. It just feels overwhelming.

I’ve been going through it all like a crazy person ever since I had my first baby. Reducing to one income meant that we needed to be a little savvy with the money we had, so any extra I could make would be super handy. 

One way I could do this was by decluttering our excess and listing it online. It wasn’t easy, it still isn’t easy. It would be quicker to take it all to the op shop to donate. However, I know that it’s one way to earn good cash so I make the effort to do it.

Over the last five years, I have sold an estimated $10,000 worth of gear (I wasn’t joking when I said we had a lot of stuff!). One year I sold $1,300 alone with the motivation of surprising my hubby for his 40th birthday. I secretly arranged an AFL Grand Final experience. I didn’t want to use any money from our account so worked hard to sell dozens of items and kept the earnings aside. 

I’ve put together some tips to help other people have success with selling as I believe that if I can do it, anyone can! 

Selling Tip #1: Take Good Photos.

A good photo will grab the attention of an interested buyer. Find a good location to take the photos with as little distractions as possible. Make sure there is adequate light and the photo is clear. Take as many photos as you can to show different angles. If in doubt, take more photos.

As I write this, I realise that my phone camera is pretty terrible. It’s not ideal and needs replacing. However, I still do my best to take clear photos in well-lit places of my home to help the buyer decide if the item is right for them. It also reduces the amount of questions that I get asked. A little more time taken when posting can reduce frustrations later on. 

Selling Tip #2: Have a Long Title.

Include as much information as you can in your title. If you are listing clothing, include the type of garment, brand, size, gender and condition. If you are listing furniture, list the type, brand name, colour, condition. The longer the better and the more it will show up in searches. 

Selling Tip #3: Write a Detailed Description.

Take the time to write a detailed description in your ad. Include:

  • brand name
  • colour
  • material
  • size
  • features
  • condition
  • dimensions
  • if you are open to negotiation
  • pick up suburb with postcode or delivery and if there is a fee for this
  • smoke free / pet free home?
  • mention if it is listed elsewhere

I often copy and paste a description from a website if it provides detailed information, and would be helpful to a buyer.

Selling Tip #4: Try Listing Everything.

It is hard to know what will sell and what won’t, so I recommend giving everything a go! Sometimes the most random things sell and sell quickly, and those things that I presumed would go fast, end up sitting there for ages. It is worth taking some photos and listing your excess items and seeing what happens. 

Selling Tip #5: List in Multiple Places.

I normally list on Facebook Marketplace first, and list in other groups on there. I choose groups that are close by to me and target specific ones for things like baby items. This means that buyers looking for specifically baby items will be more likely to see your ad. Once I am satisfied that I have Facebook covered, I then copy and paste the listing into Gumtree as well. 

RELATED : 5 reasons why you need Connetix in your playroom

For higher end items of clothing or more valuable items, I sell on eBay instead. I find that it takes longer to list ads, they charge a fee and having to go to a post office takes time and effort. It can be a great way to earn money and reach a far bigger audience. I personally have had the most success selling locally on Marketplace and Gumtree and feel that it is easier to do. 

Selling Tip #6: Offer Delivery.

This doesn’t mean that you have to deliver it. It just means that your ad might appeal to a wider audience. For those who don’t have transport, it can be really difficult to purchase second hand items. You can charge extra for delivery (to areas you are happy to go), meet half-way or wait until you are going that direction. It can help make a sale if you are willing to be flexible.

Selling Tip #7: Price it Higher to start with.

It’s worth putting the price up a little higher than you think you might get for it. Sometimes people surprise you and buy items more than they are worth. Buyers don’t always do the research beforehand. I know I have overpaid on items before and didn’t realise how cheap things were knew. Other times buyers might just not care. They want something, you have it, they’ll make it work.

Selling Tip #8: Leave Items by your Door.

I don’t know about you, but I hate having to wait around for people to pick up things. It often messes around with our plans or ends up being in the middle of nap or bath time. This won’t work for everyone but for items lower than $50 in value, I offer to leave them by our front door for collection. If the buyer is happy upon inspection, they can leave money under our doormat or letterbox.

I’ve done this hundreds of times. I love not having to waste time waiting around. Only twice have people not left money, so I politely contacted them. They either transferred it or dropped it off apologetically. I’ve had multiple things sold on the same day, where people only took what was theirs and didn’t take the other money under the mat. Most people are very honest (otherwise give them a bad rating 😉).

If you’re worried about security, you could pretend you’re home but say the baby is asleep, hubby is busy studying, you’re in the backyard / resting after night shift etc.

Selling Tip #9: Be Prepared to Negotiate.

I don’t love negotiating but it is often part of the selling process. Being open and willing to negotiate can help you make a quick sale. If you are not open to negotiating, make sure you put that on the ad or reply to any offer with a reminder about this.

12 Tips for Selling Second hand goods on Facebook Marketplace and Gumtree

I recently sold a breast pump. I first listed it at a high price, curious to see if it would sell. I then relisted it at a lower price ($200). I had someone ask if I’d accept $100. I replied that it’s worth over $500 plus accessories so I wouldn’t go lower. He replied with a sob story about how they couldn’t afford new so needed me to reduce it. I politely declined. 

Hours later he offered $130. I said that I could go as low as $180. He then offered $150, then $160. I wasn’t in a rush to sell so played hardball once more. This morning he asked for my address. He was happy to pay $180. 

I don’t mind negotiating if:

A) The buyer is polite and reasonable

B) I’m in a rush to sell

C) I’ve had no other offers 

On this occasion I knew it was an expensive pump so was happy to hold off if they weren’t going to pay enough. It was a good sale and I was pleased that I was able to negotiate without losing a huge amount. (I didn’t tell the guy that I had bought the pump on sale and then claimed it back on health insurance extras 😉 I may have just made money. 😆)

Selling Tip #10: Reduce the Price, Renew, Delete and Repost

Sometimes simply reducing the price can attract new buyers to your post. Even as little as $5 or $10 can be useful. The ad comes up higher on the grid, and appears like they are getting a bargain when they can see the original price. Every 7 days you are able to renew your listing for free on Marketplace. This bumps up the ad and helps you find a buyer.

If the ad has been up for a while with no hits, it can be a good idea to delete and repost. Facebook saves the ad for you so you don’t have to type all the details in again. Often by trying one of these three things, it can help get your listing seen by more people and hopefully have some inquiries about your item to get it sold.

RELATED : Not all bad news: one story of saving money during the pandemic

Selling Tip #11: Be Prepared for Stupid Questions.

If I got paid a dollar every time that someone did the following, I’d have a heavy piggy bank.

Asked, “is this available?” (Then never replied.)

Asked, “where are you located?” (When it’s in the description.)

Commented, “I’ll give you $10”, on an item that is listed for $50.

Asked for the dimensions when it’s in the description.

Asked for the size when it’s in the description.

Said they were going to collect and never showed up.

It can be incredibly annoying but hopefully if you have put some time and effort into your photos and description, it should reduce the amount of silly questions. By leaving items by the door, I save myself time and energy not having to wait around for people too. 

Selling Tip #12: Have Patience. 

One thing I’ve learnt from selling hundreds of items on Facebook Marketplace and Gumtree is that it can be the right product, the right description, right photos, right price and you just haven’t found the right buyer yet! 

If you are patient and happy to wait a little, often the buyer just hasn’t seen it yet. Some items I’ve had put aside for a few weeks (even months) and out of the blue, someone will ask to buy it. It can be a little frustrating but it’s one way to ensure you get a good price.

Questions to ask yourself before selling:

  • Is this worth my time to list this? Is it worth at least $5?
  • Would it be better to bundle some items up and sell together?
  • Is my focus getting some of the money back that I spent on this or is it to get rid of it quickly?
  • How long am I prepared to hold onto this before getting rid of it?

You need to decide if you prefer to get things out of your house quickly or get the most money you can.

When you figure out your why, your what and how is easier to do.

Sometimes it is better to pass some items onto a friend, offer up in your local Buy Nothing group or just fill up your boot and take it to your nearest op shop for donating. If the focus is to get rid of the excess quickly or you don’t have room to store them, just get them out of your house. 

If the focus is to sell them to make some cash, do your best to sell them. If they either don’t sell fast enough or you have a sudden urge to get them gone, it’s okay to delete the listing and donate them on the spot. Sometimes you just don’t know until you try. 

Turning selling into a side hustle:

Learning how to sell on Facebook Marketplace and Gumtree can become a lucrative side hustle. You can turn an everyday hobby into a hustle that earns you big dollars. Canna Campbell has some more ideas about how you can earn quick cash to put towards your financial future in her book, The $1000 Project.

Last thoughts:

In the end, whatever you can do to keep items out of landfill is a win for the planet. The secondhand market really is amazing and someone is always looking to buy something. My advice is to always give selling a go – what a great way to both declutter your home and earn some cash at the same time!

How to save money on private school fees

How to save money on private school fees

Paying for a private school education is something that many parents prioritise. They are not always high-income earners but choose to sacrifice in other areas to afford this. They may live in a smaller house or cheaper suburb, delay house improvements, holiday locally and rarely eat out. Education is important to them so they make it work.

Parents choose to send their children to private schools for a variety of reasons. Factors they consider are wanting:

  • A quality education
  • Teaching good values and morals 
  • Firm discipline
  • Higher standards
  • Committed teachers
  • Clientele of students and their families 
  • Bully free environment
  • Smaller class sizes
  • Continuity of teaching staff
  • Well-kept grounds 
  • Providing them the educational opportunities that they never had
  • Continuing traditions of sending them to the same school that they attended
  • Alumni
  • Reputation 
  • Location 
  • Boarding facilities
  • Sporting opportunities
  • Extracurricular activities
  • Interstate and international camps
  • Subject choices
  • Career options

There are simple ways that parents can save money on schooling costs, such as:

  • Purchasing second hand uniforms or getting hand me downs from friends
  • Buying fewer uniform items and washing more often
  • Buying school shoes on sale
  • Shopping around for school books

These will save cash in the short term. For families considering private schooling or looking for ways to reduce the larger financial burden, here are six tips that might help reduce your fees:

1.School card. This is accessible for low-income earners. This is not widely advertised but private schools are required to take a percentage of school card families. This creates opportunities for disadvantaged students to access high quality education that they might otherwise not be able to. Families are able to enrol their children for a fraction of the cost of the normal fee rate. This could save you tens of thousands of dollars over the schooling journey. If you think you may be eligible or would like to read more, here is some information for South Australians. 

2. Sibling discount. In most schools, the more children you have enrolled, the cheaper each subsequent child’s fees are. Often this means the fourth child (and any others) are free. This is a huge saving for large families and can be an appealing factor when considering where to send your children.  For those with multiples, this could be a handy tip because they will all be attending at once. Making use of the sibling discount will save you money but obviously having multiple children in private school will add up.

3. Paying in full. Most schools offer a discount if you pay the full years’ worth of fees upfront. This is normally 4- 5% off which equates to hundreds, if not thousands of dollars of savings. It is important to weigh this up against the interest you might save if this is kept in a mortgage offset account, or the loss of compound interest accumulated if this was invested in the stock market. One needs to consider if having the whole year paid would be a weight off your shoulder. The reduction in stress and not having bill reminders may prove to be more valuable than any financial gain in keeping it somewhere else.

4. Scholarship. Consider whether your child could apply for one. This could be academic, musical, or sporting. Most private schools offer scholarships and can be a way of getting in the door, especially into the top prestigious ones.

Before accepting a position, parents should take time to consider how suitable the location is for logistics, how the expectations of richer families might affect your child’s ability to fit in, the cost of uniforms and camps and the ability for your child to make new friendships. The child may feel stress when sitting the test and it can be difficult if you want siblings to attend but they don’t qualify for a scholarship too. 

5. Pastors discount. This is applicable for Christian schools and may be for other independent ones too. Our local school offers a 50% discount if the main income earner is a pastor at the local church. I imagine this is because typically pastors were paid lower and it helps bring students into the school from the congregation.

This is a huge saving, equating to tens of thousands of dollars, if not hundreds of thousands of dollars over the years. It might be worth considering a career change and looking into study if you are passionate about theology and want to save cash on private school. 

6. Opt to send them later. There is no rule that says you have to send them to private school from the start. Typically families feel pressure to enrol their children when they are babies, sometimes even before conception to book a place. It is the preference of schools that children begin in ELC, Reception or Foundation.  

This means that you spend more money, students have continuity of education and are long term families, but it’s not necessary. We are sending our boys to the local, fabulous public school and they are enrolled in private for middle school. If things go south, we have the option of sending them earlier. The ball is in your court. Decide what is most important to your family and make decisions that align with those choices. 

These six tips are ways that many parents make private schooling work when on a tight budget, or free up cash for other things if money isn’t an issue. 

An alternative is to enrol your children in public school and choose instead to:

  • Pay off consumer debt (credit cards, car loans, Buy now Pay Later)
  • Pay off university debt
  • Pay off the mortgage early
  • Invest in shares
  • Buy investment properties 
  • Save or invest towards your child’s future higher education costs, car or house deposit

Take time to think about your options and talk about this with your spouse. It may be worth chatting with friends and family members who have gone before and already have children at school. Talk with those from both sides. Write a list of the pros and cons of each. In the end, only you can decide what is most important to you and will work with your family.

Remember, you can always change your mind and enrol them somewhere else if things aren’t working, it is not what you expected or if your financial situation changes.

If you have children, are you going the public or private route? What led you to this decision?

[Disclaimer: I’m not trained in finance so don’t take it from me. Feel free to grab ideas from this post but always see a professional for advice that is relevant and personal to your situation .] 

Don’t forget to come and say hi on Instagram & Facebook and join our wonderful community of like minded people.

Why keeping up with the Joneses can steal our joy

Have you noticed the growing pressure to spend more and own nice things? More and more I feel like we are expected to have a high standard of living.

I think that some of us want the first house we buy to be the one our parents saved up their whole lives for, and the ones our grandparents and great grandparents would have only dreamt of. There’s a lot to be said for being content and grateful for what we have and not needing to have everything all at once.

I am not trying to bag young people or say it was easier in my day. I’m still semi young (😅) and I know not all young people have this attitude.

I know house prices have gone crazy recently and times are hard and we are not all out getting avocado on toast. Some cities are becoming almost unaffordable for even the most basic of houses.

However. I do think that there is unreasonable pressure to have all the expensive things straight away. It is expected, in many circles, that once you are working you’ll buy the nice car, big house, new furniture and fancy tv.

It’s fine if you save up for these things but more times that not, this is paid for on credit or left with huge debts. I hear people all the time complaining about how busy they are. About how they ‘have’ to work full time. About how they ‘have’ to go back to work after having a baby or both ‘have’ to work to afford kids.

For some people, this is reality. They have no choice.

But at the risk of being hated, I’m going to say it anyway. Most of us have choices.

We can buy the amazing new car and have a loan, or we can drive an older one and save to upgrade it.

We can over-extend ourselves and buy a massive house and work lots to pay for it (and will be in trouble if they lose their job or interest rates go up) or we can borrow less than the banks let us and buy something that we can actually afford (even on one wage, allowing for unforeseen circumstances).

We can buy new flashy furniture and accessorise our houses and upgrade to new electronics or we can make do with second hand, saving up for new pieces when we can afford it. We don’t need to buy in to the new technology just because it’s new. We can reduce the amount sent to landfill and environmental impact.

My husband and I often feel envious after visiting beautiful homes. We can’t help but stare at modern, open plan kitchens (ours is old and wooden), gorgeous bathrooms (we have a purple bath and penguin tiles) and outside entertaining areas (we have a tiny deck and no undercover area). We have to remind ourselves that maybe one day we can have this, but it’s not our time yet.

We are choosing to live within our means. We avoid lifestyle creep by setting our own agenda about where our money goes. We decide what is most important for our family and stage of life.

We want to be around more for our children, spending time not money on them. We have less disposable income but are happy to go without some of our wants.

It all depends on who you are comparing yourself with. Are you comparing yourself to the professional couple on a double wage, with a six digit income? What about the single parent living on welfare, struggling to make ends meet? Someone homeless after a relationship breakdown or job loss? A family in desperate need of food, suffering in a time of drought and living in a single room hut with dirt floors? A refugee who has escaped a war torn country, living in a camp?

If we are only associating ourselves with those who are wealthy, or seeing influencers on social media show off their life, our world view is skewed a certain way. I am privileged and have much to be thankful for. I don’t have everything but have everything I need.

Do you feel that there is pressure to keep up with the Joneses?

Why it’s never too late to make changes on your journey to financial freedom

journey to financial freedom

Many of us wish we’d known then what we know now. 

If only I hadn’t signed up for those credit cards.

If only I hadn’t signed up for a car loan. 

If only I had saved an emergency fund.

If only I had discussed finances before getting married.

If only I had started contributing more to retirement.

If only I had started investing earlier.

If only…  if only…  if only.

Life is full of moments of hindsight.

As a student, I worked hard but wasted much of my money. I liked shopping and would be tempted by sales and clearance racks. I’d regularly spend until I had nothing left in my account. My account would be overdrawn with direct debits and I would cry at the $39 fee from the bank. 

While travelling and working abroad, I was paid in cash monthly. I would spend it quickly and be stressed out for the remaining weeks. I bought so much junk food, put on a huge amount of weight, and kept ripping the jeans that were now too small because I refused to believe that I had a problem. I bought airfares to Greece to explore the islands and had to cancel it weeks out when I looked at my bank account. One time I asked my employer for an advance so I could afford to go on a hens’s weekend. I was so embarrassed and ashamed.

 It was a bad cycle. I wanted to get better with money but didn’t know where to start. I was on a low income but that wasn’t the only problem. I couldn’t figure out how to manage what I had well.

 I look back and wish I had known then what I know now. How different my life would have looked, and how it would look now.

I want to encourage you that you are not alone. Many of us have been there, and have struggled with money. Know that things can change. You can change. There are a few steps and choices that you can make today that will positively impact your future. 

Here are some starting points:

  • Write up a budget. 

You can do this on an excel spreadsheet, on an app or simply in an exercise book. List your income, all your expenses and figure out how much is left over. From here you might have to earn more money, rein in your spending or do a bit of both.

Not everyone budgets, and that’s ok! If you feel that a budget is restrictive or puts you off sorting your finances, don’t do it. Simply spend as little as possible and save as much as you can! Make plans and goals for what you want to achieve.

  • Get your partner on board.

Ideally when you get married, combine finances and have a joint account. Consider having separate fun accounts that money goes into each pay, and you can choose to blow in one go or save up for something. That way you can still enjoy independence to buy what you want, but it doesn’t mess with your financial goals.

  • Visit a financial planner or advisor.

This doesn’t have to cost lots of money. In fact, they often offer the first visit for free. If it does cost a few hundred dollars, it might be worth it to get started on a plan. You may like to go once off, quarterly or annually – it’s up to you.

  • Reading finance books. 

There are many amazing titles out there. I recommend starting with one of these:

Dave Ramsey, ‘Total Money Makeover’

Rachel Cruze, ‘Love your life, not theirs’

Scott Pape, ‘The Barefoot Investor’

Canna Campbell, ‘Mindful Money’

Chris Hogan, ‘Everyday Millionaires’

If you prefer to listen to audio books, the Library app ‘Libby’ is great. It’s free to download, and you can borrow a huge range of books for free.

  • Listening to podcasts.

This is an easy way to learn while you are in the shower, cooking, cleaning, gardening or driving. Subscribe, download and listen! Here are some suggestions:

The Dave Ramsey Show

The Rachel Cruze Show

The Chris Hogan Show   

She’s on the money

The New Money Podcast

Clever Girls Know

We talk cents 

Fire the Family

Inspire to Fire

Choose FI

Aussie Firebug

  • Avoid shopping for fun.

Try not to browse the shops aimlessly.  Take off your bank card details from autofill to make it harder to spend money online. Find different hobbies to do instead. Gardening, sewing, photography, decluttering, running, swimming. Spend time with friends and family. 

  • Unsubscribe and unfollow.

Unsubscribe from those pesky emails that remind you of sales. Unfollow brands or people who tempt you to spend money. Be aware of what you spend your time looking at, watching, listening to and who with. If some friends make you feel inadequate for not having the right stuff, maybe it’s wise to spend less time with them. 

Begin saving hard for an emergency fund. This will take the place of credit cards and personal loans. These accounts will give you peace of mind for when things go wrong, cars break down, appliances stop working or you lose employment. Start small ($1000) and work your way up to saving 3-6 months of expenses. If you bank allows, this fund can sit against your mortgage as an offset account or redraw. 

  • Sinking funds. 

Once you have money set aside for emergencies, it is also helpful to plan for other things that crop up. Have separate accounts for things you want to prepare for such as Christmas, holidays, school supplies, car upgrade, whitegoods, furniture or renovations. Decide on what is important to you and how much you want to allocate per pay. Set up a direct debit into these separate accounts, and enjoy seeing the numbers go up.

  • Goal set.

Make plans and work hard to achieve them. Reward yourself at milestones. Journal your progress, publicly or privately. Display your progress visually, whether on a pinboard, pantry or office door, or on the fridge. Download a debt free chart or make your own. Colour in the debt you have paid off and celebrate the wins.

Above everything, 

Acknowledge your past.

You may feel proud, or maybe disappointment, frustration or guilt. Life is messy. Sometimes it’s about day to day survival. You have been doing your best. We can’t change what has happened.

Give grace with where you are at.

Show kindness to yourself, like you would bestow onto a friend. Limit the negative self-talk. Know that you won’t always be here. Sit with the uneasy feelings and let them stimulate your future growth. 

Have the drive to keep on going.

Now that you are motivated to move forward, you can approach the future with anticipation and with a plan. You can make small, daily changes that will impact on your tomorrow. Get others alongside you to cheer you along on your journey.

Wherever you are starting from, it’s not too late to make a difference to your future. Life can look better, easier and exciting! One day you will look back and know that this moment prepared you for what lay ahead.

You’ve got this.

money savvy mamma

5 common money myths busted

common myths about money busted

I am writing today about the 5 common money myths. I often hear things said about money that simply aren’t true. Managing finances does not have to be complicated. We tend make it out to be far more difficult than it actually is. I am here to set the record straight on the five common myths about money.

Myth #1. I need to earn a lot to save a lot.

I hear this money myth a lot. You can save money regardless of how much you earn. Open a savings account or multiple ones if you can. Have money transferred automatically to these accounts every time you get paid. Every time you get a pay rise or come into more money, increase your savings rate.

I would recommend you set up a spending account each for you and your spouse. This gives you the freedom to spend it on what you like and allows some financial independence in your relationship. For me personally, we have $35 a fortnight go into my hubby and my account. It’s not a huge amount but it does grow over time. When I get payouts from Cash Rewards and ShopBack from referrals and cash back, I opt to transfer this into my spending account or top up the mortgage.

Pay more to your debt or mortgage than what you are required to (ie above the minimum repayments). Even small amounts extra will add up. You’ll get used to paying more, that soon it will feel normal.

Work hard to build up an emergency savings fund which you can tap into if and when you need to. This takes away the need for credit cards and personal loans. Chances are, if you have money aside, you probably won’t have to use it (Murphy’s law and all). Set yourself an initial goal of $1000, then $2000, $5000, $10,000 and then 3-6 months of expenses to keep you going in case you weren’t able to work. It’s a big amount but you can get there if you keep chipping away at it.

Myth #2. I need to be rich before I can be generous.

This money myth is common and to me, it sounds like an excuse. While yes, you might be able to afford to give more away later, you can start with what you have right now.

Practice being generous with little so you won’t find it hard to be generous with much. If you can’t part with $10 when you earn $100 a week, you’ll find giving $100 or $1000 away tough. Everyone can be generous in some way, even if it is a tiny amount of money and giving more of your time.

Perhaps you could sponsor a child from a developing country. You could write letters as well as contributing financially to build relationship with them. Alternatively you could support a child closer to home by helping them with school supplies, uniforms and fees. You could donate or volunteer at a school breakfast program or soup kitchen. Give money to a homeless shelter or animal rescue.

Marantha Health is a not for profit in Uganda helping to improve health outcomes, and they can always do with more support. Catherine Hamlin Fistula Foundation is another charity close to my heart. They help to save women suffering with preventable childbirth injuries.

Find the thing that makes you tick, makes your heart break or motivates you into action, and give what you can to it. Get in the habit of giving something in whatever season you are in, and increase the amount when you can. Generosity feels good and is good for us! Like gratitude, it is good for our health to practice and enormously benefits those who need it most.

Myth #3. Mortgages last for thirty years.

A big money myth is that mortgages need to last for 30 years. You can pay it off sooner! Change your mindset. Read books, follow inspiring people, listen to motivating podcasts. Get your partner on board and make a plan. I’m most passionate about this myth!

Find a mortgage broker who can help you find the deal best for you (and who understands all the confusing stuff). Look for the lowest interest rate, low fees, perks like offset accounts and the ability to make higher repayments without limits.

Ring up your bank and ask what they can do for you. Question whether they are offering you the best rate on your mortgage. If they play hard ball, threaten to go somewhere else, and follow through if they don’t seem to care (they often find a better deal if they think they will really lose too).

Make weekly or fortnightly repayments on your mortgage Pay more than the minimum. Throw extra at it when you can- tax returns, bonuses, payrises, side hustles, selling unwanted items from your house. Hustle hard and bank the earnings. Just imagine owning your house outright and the money it would free up each pay!

Myth #4. Kids are expensive.

The money myth that kids are expensive is not necessarily true. As parents, you choose how you raise them. I do cloth nappies and wipes, hand me downs, free gear from my local MOPS groups, op shopping, etc. Put your younger kids in the clothes that their older siblings wore. Do free things with them and limit scheduled activities. Let them share a room. Enrol in public school. Buy second hand toys or utilise the toy library.

Spend more time with them, rather than taking them places or buying them things. They just want your full attention and love. Choose experiences that create wonderful memories together.

My toddler loves pushing a little trolley at Bunnings, exploring the creek and sitting out the front watching the rubbish truck come. We don’t have to make it complicated.

As they get older, limit their extracurricular sporting activities, musical tuition and hobbies. They don’t have to go to every single birthday party that they are invited to. Set a budget for presents and stick to it. Buy generic gifts on sale or clearance and put them aside in a gift cupboard. Don’t invite the whole class to a party, instead let your child pick a few choice friends. Alternate a party year with a sleepover year with one close friend. You choose how busy and expensive your children’s life will be.

Myth #5. I don’t need to worry about retirement yet.

It is a big money myth that you don’t need to worry about retirement yet. It’s never too early to plan for retirement. In fact, compound interest is your friend! Start contributing more per pay. Gradually increase this every year or whenever you receive a pay rise.

Put your tax return onto your retirement in a lump sum. If your partner is not working while they raise children, consider putting money into their superannuation every year to claim at tax time and to help them catch up.

Ensure that your family is protected in case you have an accident or health issue. There are 4 things you can do to sleep better at night.

If you can learn to live on a little less now, you can live on a little more later. I for one don’t want to end up retired and broke, worrying about money, unable to have independence or choices or travel. I plan to live in a paid off house, with plenty of super to draw on, and dividends from shares to access. Figure out how you want to live in the future and work backwards with what you need to do to make that happen.

Have you heard any of these statements before? Did you believe them?

I challenge you to dare to do things differently. Go against the grain of our spend now, worry later culture. Be responsible and wise with your money, reduce your spending and live within your means. Surround yourself with like minded people. Feed your mind the good stuff to stay on track. Set high goals and work hard to achieve them.

You’ll thank yourself later.