Our Frugal Lifestyle

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Passionate about eco-frugality. I used to party hard, clubbing my way from pay-packet to pay-packet. Never getting ahead, just getting by. Then came our much wanted baby with no savings in the bank - only an old car. Changes were made to our lifestyle and we didn't turn back. In the past 6yrs we purchased a flat, found employment, lived below our means, built an emergency fund, purchased a reliable car and saw the financial benefits of our frugal lifestyle. Our only debt is our mortgage. Our aim is to manage our cash flow wisely, pay off our home quickly and eventually work for pleasure, not necessity. Join us on our journey, share insights, tips and tricks to help us and others to get ahead while having a good time.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Saturday Night and Too Tired to Cook?

Hello Frugalites,

Is it Saturday night and you're too tired to cook? You just want to zip into that takeaway shop up the road and grab some fast food for the family? At $8 per person that would be $24 for a three person household. And just maybe you might get side tracked and buy a few extras. But hang on tight and look in your cupboard for the fast food gem. The Tin of Baked Beans!

Yep!!! Tonight I was tempted but we had a feast of baked beans and buttered bread instead. A few years ago I would have NEVER served baked beans for dinner. Why??? - because in my eyes it was a hearty breakfast meal or a camping trip staple. But Home Dinner??? No Way!!! One day I changed as I popped in on a friend who cooks the scrummiest meals, and this particular day she had baked beans with an egg on the dinner table for her hungry daughter. This was my lightbulb moment as I learnt it was ok that we eat a steaming bowl of baked beans for dinner once in a while. We all love it and it's faster then waiting in a takeaway shop.

In the end our meal cost us $2, saved time and $22. That $22 will be better used in our weekly food budget or mortgage.

What are your quick fast food saviours?

Stephanie @ Frugal Down Under.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Keeping Purse

When the Rambling Expat lost his position last Christmas and the countdown was on to find a new job, times were stressful. Very stressful as uncertainty took hold. Should we move to another state where there are jobs in his field. Or should we stay put and keep on trying. The pros and cons were tossed at each other, the worry placed strain, times were unsure.

The Rambling Expat applied for job after job and eventually landed himself a 5 month position in his field. A month latter he was offered another position not in his field and at a much lower pay. He took it because it was permanent. A security. Well a kind of security as the original job he lost was also a permanent position.

With the pay cutback in mind he requested, fought and won (with the help of dedicated people) to be paid his previous rate for 1 year. So this means it's time to pay off our mortgage as much as possible and tighten our budget for when his pay reduces by more than $10,000 a year. We are not poor by any means. We both earn an income and as a family live counting the pennies so we can afford the good things in life. We pay for extra classes in dance and circus school for our 6 year old, we go on holidays, we eat out and our fridge is full. We currently both earn under the average wage but live comfortably because of our careful financial management.

We are the lucky ones. We see friends packing up and moving every month as the cost of living rises in our city. Housing has become out of reach for many and day to day living just too hard. We started our frugal journey just over 6 years ago and it has made a huge impact on our life. We think carefully about our purchases, needs, lifestyle. We aim to live rich full lives. An abundant life, but on a budget.

Bills have been rising, costs increasing and further budget cuts make work insecure making budgeting an absolute must. I would love to hear how you manage your budgets. Do you use the envelope systems, spreadsheets, a note book, MINT or any other programs that are similar? I would love to hear what you have to say about your financial incoming and outgoings.

Lets all help each other in good money management to keep afloat or get ahead in life.

Stephanie @ Frugal Down Under

Monday, July 29, 2013

My Daily Song - To Do, To Do, To Do.

Hi Everyone,

I took time away from the computer to be with my daughter over the school holidays, in the aim to relax and play. However I have a To Do List that is so long that I was anxious the whole time. Do you ever get the feeling you will never get through your To Do List? Well that was me! So anxious that I ended up being worried about it all the time instead of getting stuff done and crossing it off. So I decided to not take on ANYTHING else until it is DONE. No more commitments. No more promises. No more yes woman.

My To Do List contains numerous unfinished projects and chores such as; dentists visits, home evaluation and spring cleaning, reworking of the home loan, a new car key cut, assignments to be completed, shortening The Rambling Expats trousers, compile and email 80s photos to an old school friend, conduct a market research interview, enrol my daughter in dance and piano classes, do my taxes, work out a new budget to match our current life, craft gifts, clear out the freezer to start again, blog,  upcycle a desk, update a couple of Facebook Pages I help admin and lastly write letters to non internet users. ouufffff - that's a lots on my plate that needs to be cleared because I want to sayYes to more experiences and opportunities.

The frugal road is sometimes the busier road as many of us mend clothing ourselves, craft gifts with our own hands, cook a healthy meal from scratch instead of eating out of a box, look for the best deals and quality, clean with natural products, garden organic produce, keep a tight budget and take time to learn from others the art of penny pinching to live a careful but abundant life.

Are you a To Do lister too? What's on your list?

In Frugality,


Friday, June 28, 2013


Hi there,

I try to find ways to live beneath my means so that I can save for earlier retirement, extra mortgage payments and keep working shorter hours each day. I know it's working as my savings are growing and our mortgage is lowering.

I like to talk money, budgets, saving, ecology, crafting, cooking, gardening and frugality with friends and strangers. I like to share the knowledge I have built since I've started on my eco-frugal journey. I like to care about people and share useful frugal tips. I like to help out friends. And I like to get useful stuff.

Our family babysat our friends infant again while they went to a important yearly work function. In exchange for the 4 hours we babysat I asked for a spool of white sewing thread, fabric scraps they are no longer using and an ice-cream sunday from Macdonalds on their return as an extra sweet treat. We saved them over $50 in babysitting fees and got useful stuff to keep our mending/crafting supplies well stocked. The ice-cream wasn't useful - but it was a nice end to the night :)

Useful Stuff we Received for Babysitting.

When you're counting your pennies and being careful, everything counts. Everything helps and I like the fact I am saving money by not having to buy more thread but I also like caring for my community members even more.

What about you? A budgeting chatterbox? A barterer? I'd love the hear what you have to say...

Stephanie at Frugal Down Under


Thursday, June 27, 2013

Fabric Book Cover

Hello You :)

Guess what! I crafted yet another gift. This time for a grown woman, it was actually for the Director of my local Botanic Gardens who loves all things Plants. I once saw beautiful fabric covered note books at a craft fair. They were so lovely, however I couldn't justify the cost. I have drawn on the memory of them ever since so I decided to look at You Tube for inspiration and a DIY tutorial to do something similar and found this clip.

After watching and thinking how easy that looked, I decided I could do that. But there was no way I was going to the craft shop to look for special glue when i'm trying to make do with what I have at home. And I also know from experience that glue in humid tropics does not always work.

Therefor make do I did... and worked around it. I cut a beautiful vintage tea towel with Australian wildflowers, folded and ironed as recommended in the clip and carefully sewed it into shape instead of glueing. I ended up using pins and repining a few times to get the perfect super snug fit I was after.

It worked out well and I felt pretty happy with myself as it was a gift I was proud to present to another lover of upcycling and environmental care. The cover can be slipped on and off for easy washing or to cover a new note book of the same size making is re-useable and not another throw away item.

My total cost was $2 for the tea towel and $7 for the quality drawing notebook. I'm happy with that. 

Have you worked on any similar projects? Do you think it's too time consuming for the end result? I would love to hear your thoughts on crafting gifts and upcycling. 

In Eco-Frugality,

Stephanie at Frugal Down Under

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Sweet Beading at The Party.

Hi Everyone,

The past week has been a whirl of activities. So much so that I wish I had pulled my head out of the sand of procrastination and blogged a little more regularly because I have so much to tell. I have had a week of fun activities, great thrift finds, new second hand furniture, a babysitting stint for a friend and Dolly went to yet ANOTHER party.

Today I will concentrate on the party because the main activity that kept little hands busy was gorgeous and so very popular that it absolutely needs Sharing.

Firstly on the Party Day I was so chaotic that I was running super late to the party's 10:00 am start. I was soooo late that when we arrived no one was there. You guessed it!!! We had arrived one day early - Boo. The only thing to do was laugh and return home and get other items on our To Do List done.

Giggling Clowns jumped back in the car.

I should point out my bright happy supermodel clothes ;) in the above pic are; an upcycled headband made from one of Dolly's baby tops, a $1 quality orange jacket and $2 animalistic dress - thrifted of course. Dolly's clothes on both days are also all thrifted and absolutely divine.

So anyway... back to the story. The next morning we were out the door on the DOT with our upcycled homemade owl wrapped in pretty net fabric for the party girl to reuse in crafts. As you can see from the pic Dolly's face tells the story - she was a little unsure as we arrived at the party house.. Could her Mamma in her NEW $1 thrifted top be pulling another disappointing stunt.

Is this really the day...?

On arrival (the tease I am) I said "I'm not sure if the party is on, it all sounds quiet". She shrieked happily that she could hear children's voices and off she ran to hug the party girl.

Party Excitement.

As the party commenced the cutest bunch of four to six year old children in their party best, huddle around a low table creating party jewels as soon as they arrived. A lot of beads went straight into mouths instead of ribbon. The activity was attention grabbing and a lovely way to greet all the children arriving. The pretty beads were life saver lollies and also fruit loops and nutri-grain breakfast cereals. A wonderful mixture of textures, colours and flavours.

Party Crafts.
Sweet Beads.
The result was pretty jewels that the children wore while nibbling away at the sweet beads.

This activity loads of fun for little hands. It was also delicious and frugal too. Have you been to any parties lately with fun children or even adult activities that don't blow the budget?

Don't forget I LOVE reading your comments, tips and inspirations.

Thanks for stopping by.

Stephanie - Frugal Down Under

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Crafting Gifts

Hi Dear Frugalites,

I have been very busy creating gifts every week as my social daughter has headed to one or two parties a week. My staples have been library bags, bird ornaments and owls. I have used mainly recycled materials and some new fabric in my endeavour to upcycle. The new fabrics have mainly been for boys gifts to give their bags that special touch on one side.

I was a little nervous about giving so many home made library bags when everyone else arrives with the huge glossy gifts. Especially to some of her wealthy friends who don't live the green philosophy. But Dolly was super excited to come home last week and tell me how some of her six year school friends had their library bags when another student loudly said "Your bags are COOL! Where did you get them from?" and they proudly said "Dolly made them for us!". This has led to other children asking her if she can make one for them too :)  it seems the library bags are becoming the fashion item TO HAVE... So Yay us!

Sewing does not come easy to me. I used to sew for some extra cash when I was 18. That was short lived as it was just to tie me over in desperate times and my Grandma was nearby to help me step by step. After a few months of making a little cash for food and youthful fun I stopped as I moved towns and found stable employment. Now fast forward 25 years and I am sewing again - without Grandma's help. I'm learning from my mistakes as I unpick incorrect stitches and use books for guidance. As my confidence grows so does my satisfaction. My items are becoming better and better with each new stitch and I'm getting faster too.

Here are pictures of Dolly being industrious creating Bird Ornaments with reclaimed and vintage fabrics, beads from broken and unloved op shop jewellery. She has gifted these to girl school friends and also Costa Georgiadis as she knows he "loves the invorinment" (she adores him from his regular visits and enjoys how he always talks to her with enthusiasm).

Beading Bird Ornaments.

Stuffing Birds with old Pillow Stuffing.

Pretty Birds made with reclaimed fabric and vintage fabrics.

Ready to Tweet in a Home or Verandah.

Dolly gifts her friend Costa one of her Bird Ornaments.

And then there are the Library Bags... We have made 6 of these so far this past month. Girly ones and Boyish ones. These are a couple of the boy ones. The Doctor Seuss fabric is new. The blue fabric is an old mens shirt from this stash that some of you may remember, and the red fabric I think may be from the late 70s early 80s. All of these bags are French seamed for extra strength and aesthetics.

Busy Preparing letters and wearing a sleeve as a hat.

Completed and ready for gifting.

For a twin.
His sisters bag was red strawberries on one side & vintage fabric with little girls on the other.

And to top it all off, Dolly has been creating beautiful cards with unwanted seed beads, old patty cake papers, sticks and scrap felt.

Hand me down beads from a older tomboy girl, perfect for decorating cards.

Sticks from the yard and bits of felt scrap that Mama hoarded make perfect candles.

Eco-Frugal Homemade Gift Giving.

If you've never sewed give it a go! Go slowly, learn from your mistakes as I have been in the past year and get on the net for basic tips to get started. If I can do it anyone can :)

Stephanie @ Frugal Down Under.