Category Archives: SQUIRRELLING

How to save thousands a year without breaking a sweat

Until fairly recently our mantra was ‘outsource’.  Now it is the opposite.

Below is a list of things we have done recently, big and small,  to streamline our lives, and stop urinating money up a wall.  It is almost like a competition now, to see how much money we can save, with hardly any noticeable change in our lifestyle.

  • Changed phone plans:  This was NUTS.  Following the birth of youngest, we both somehow ended up with insanely expensive phone plans totalling around $4000 a year.   I am now on prepay at around $408 per year.
  • Cancelled a life insurance policy: Husbandero cancelled the direct debit, then looked for the policy documents, which seemingly couldn’t be found.  A phone call confirmed that the company also couldn’t put their finger on our so-called life insurance policy.  Turns out we were paying $140 each month on a policy that we didn’t even have proof of…..(Will explain why we cancelled this in another post.)
  • Sold one of the cars.  We are now a 4 person household with only ONE car!  Talk about living on the edge.  We recently waved off a huge old Toyota Surf truck type thing which could generously be described as ‘thirsty’ on the gas.  This means we no longer have to pay for servicing, insuring, warrant of fitness, future repairs, or registration fees.  The worst thing that can happen is that we cycle more, use more public transport and/or negotiate use of the family car.  Even the cost of using a taxi a handful of times a year is a fraction of the cost of owning a second car.  Added bonus: Less metal clogging up the driveway. Also less car paperwork.  Oh, and $6000 in the pocket.
  • Sold our filthy BBQ for $75:  Seriously, this thing was disgusting.  It was originally bought because we assumed that every single New Zealander must own a BBQ because all New Zealanders are just jonesing to crank up the barbie most weekends.  In our case it was a rusting cobwebby eyesore with a grill covered in mouldy grease for 11 months of the year.
  • Sold the clothes dryer for $400: Admittedly if you don’t live in a sunny climate this could be a stretch, but Auckland usually delivers on sunshine.  Laundry dried in fresh air and disinfected by the sun is impossible to beat.
  • Eldest now catches the bus to school.  There is a charge for this each term and I have yet to work out if it balances out the cost of driving each morning But seriously, there does not need to be yet another car on the road taking a single kid to school in the morning.
  • Bought bike trailer! This one is great.  Husbandero worked out the best bike route and now picks up Eldest from school on a bike trailer on sunny afternoons.
  • Stopped paying dude with mower to do lawns and bought reel mower.  My dad scoffed at this initiative.  We have a lot of grass.  Time will tell.
  • Decided not to buy any more clothes for the foreseeable future (apart from op shop and or new if absolutely necessary.) My wardrobe is already stuffed to the roof.
  • Stopped paying for house cleaner:  I justified this for a long time as being a balm for my mental health (I find the relentless mess and constant tidying up after kids can be pretty depressing).  Now we try to keep on top of it each day.  Saved $2300 per year.
  • Decided to become a beekeeper: instead of paying to hire our hives each month.  Will probably cost a few hundred to buy the hive, space suit and other paraphernalia, but the bees will pay me back with buckets of honey – A hive can produce on average about 35 kilos of honey per year!  For the record if you’re interesting in beekeeping, I still think hiring hives is an excellent first step.  It is a great way to get bees into your life without any of the responsibility (go to for more)
  • Turned fridge from 3 to 4 degrees:  (this feels a little er, dangerous but it is winter and the food still seems cold enough not to be an obvious health hazard)  Will review in the spring.
  • Took electric blanket to the Op Shop: It costs money every time it is switched on.  Plus, what sort of sissy needs an electric blanket?
  • Coconut Oil for everything:  According to my mother Coconut oil is the answer and cure, for almost everything.  I have a feeling she is right.  She penetrates my brain via repetition and it took her a few dozen times via the telephone and during personal conversations to get me to switch from Dermalogica eye make up remover to using coconut oil.  It does the job perfectly and is probably about a tenth of the price.  Coconut oil is also an excellent face and body moisturiser. 2 birds killed!

This list is not exhaustive – And there is much more to be done.  So far I am not crying in misery at any increased hardship or lack of perceived luxury.  

Next on the block = FOOD SPENDING.  Shriek!