Since moving to New Zealand from Australia to raise our new family, we’ve been living on a small income as Mike is the only one who is currently working full-time. I also work part-time from home for a marketing agency based in Perth but that being said, my hours are very minimal.
Neither of us have debt, nor do we use credit cards for any purchases so we are doing well in that regard. We have savings however this could change very quickly if we’re not careful.
So, how do we manage?
First we sat down and really looked at what we could afford to spend each month on rent, food, baby necessities, internet, power, firewood, fuel and anything extra. We were pretty stunned at how little we would have at the end of each month.
Mike suggested we only eat vegetable meals at home – and for the past four months we’ve been on a vegetarian diet. I was really impressed when he made the suggestion to better our health and help the planet. He was concerned because we’ve watched far too many documentaries to justify eating meat. We will eat any meat that we have hunted or fished for, but that’s not happened yet!
We’re avid gardeners and recently collected some old pallets and put together some fairly cheap raised garden beds to grow our own vegetables. The growing season is very long here in New Zealand and we’re pretty excited about the prospect of eating good home grown food year round.
We hardly ever eat out now, and can be found most weekends picking up fresh produce from the local farmers market. Apart from getting some fried fish or the odd pizza we’re really turning into home cooks and this is a huge contrast from our time in Perth.
We’ve been super conscious of what Wesley actually needs and what is not crucial. He is only 5 months old now and becoming a very active little man. We spend a lot of time physically playing and interacting with him. I’ve been told as parents we’re the best toy he can interact and learn from and we have really taken this to heart. I buy his clothing second hand and have been able to sell items that he no longer fits (on TradeMe) which is also handy!
Another way we save is by using re-washable diapers. Most days we can get through a whole day with our reusables, and when we head out of the home we swap to disposables (which save us from any messes).
We bought a second hand car. We’ve never owned a new one, and I oddly take great joy in this. It’s not fancy by any means but it does drive well and it’s reliable.
For entertainment we have Netflix which is $8.99 per month, and we also rent books from the fantastic library here in Palmerston North.
Lastly, our home decor. Whilst we’re only renting this property at the moment, it’s taken me some time to shape it into a space that we love.
We’ve made the space ours by investing in some quality furniture that should last us quite some time. The styles we’ve gone for are pretty classic and simple.
The one way I’ve been able to contribute financially (even if it is modest) is by working part time as a copywriter from home. I’ve been employed by the company since January, which was just prior to leaving Australia. The company has been really flexible and I love being able to spend these important months with Wesley and also bring in some coin to help give us a little boost to our savings.
Some of the changes that we had to make revolved around my shopping habits…
Eeek! I used to spend a bit of money almost monthly on clothing. I’m often still running around in my maternity clothes as they have a little more wiggle room. As the weight has been shedding I’m finding joy in wearing items that have eluded me for nearly a year. It’s like reuniting with old friends.
Our weekend activities are pretty outdoorsy and generally cost nothing! Walks in town, hiking in the hills or visiting family and sometimes fishing (this does require a license which was bought for the year).
We now savour the small moments (like enjoying a takeaway coffee or fish and chips on a Friday). It’s been an eye opener in such a positive way. We’re both really pleased that we’ve managed to get through our first year without dipping into our savings and are really looking forward to what the future holds for us here in New Zealand.
Have you ever had to live on a tight budget? What were some coping strategies you used? We’re always on the look out for better ways to save…we’d love to hear how you save money too.