Kaitaia farmer Lyn Webster tells Nine to Noon’s Kathryn Ryan how to get back on track after stretching the budget over summer and Christmas.
In her book, Save Make Do, Webster shares some thrifty ideas about living sustainably with less. She believes that saving and learning how to make do are necessary life skills as we are surrounded by consumerism.
Webster started budgeting ten years ago when she ran out of money.
She says she was horrified with how much she was spending at the supermarket for just her and her two kids.
Webster decided that looking at her supermarket budget was key to saving and decided to slash her budget to $100 a week.
From then on she gradually started reducing that. “You’d be amazed at how much money you waste,” she says.
Ten years ago, Webster says supermarket shopping would be like party time and she would buy everything she wanted because it’s all “pretty” and “packaged”.
But now she has a $1000 a year budget that she tries to stick to.
She says saving and getting used to not buying everything you want is “a gradual thing”, but that after a while you start to buy less and less.
One of the things that helped her save a lot of money was buying a breadmaker.
She used to think buying $1 bread at the supermarket was cheap, but now she buys a huge sack of flour from a wholesaler for less than $20, and that lasts her a year.
“It’s not that economical to buy small amounts of flour from the supermarket.”
Webster also suggests buying fresh produce from markets but says not to get caught up in buying other products that may be on display.
However, she says if you do spend money on something else then just minus that off your budget and get back on track.
Avoid purchasing food in service stations and dairies as that money adds up, Webster says.
“There are a lot of little things that are always in your face. You waste a lot of money if you’re not conscious.”
Humble baking soda has saved Webster the most amount of money. She uses this for cleaning everything and no longer goes down the cleaning aisle at the supermarket.
“I use it for dishes, I use it for laundry powder, I use it for all surface cleaning, I use it to clean bathroom, kitchen, toilet, I use it for everything.”
She says you can use it for every cleaning job in the house, and she also uses it instead of shampoo and soap and believes it is much better for you.
Webster says you can purchase 1kg of baking soda from a Binn Inn for $2 and it should last you a year.
“It’s absolutely amazing,” she says.
She also recommends buying white vinegar which you can use for cooking, as an air freshener or for cleaning.
A few other tips she has up her sleeve is use your freezer, a lot of people forget that most food can be frozen, and it avoids it being wasted. You can even freeze eggs, she says.
She says Google will also become your best friend and that instead of going to the supermarket you should first see what you have in your cupboards and Google what you can make with it.
"I was forced to think outside of the square and some of my most amazing meals have been from me throwing something together," she says.
Webster says if you fall off the band wagon then don’t worry, carry on because "we are not perfect people" but being conscious about the decisions you are making will help.
“You are more in control than you might think … you just have to give it a go and don’t get discouraged.”
“I’m not a great planner, but I got there in the end.”
Webster’s top 10 tips to slashing that supermarket bill in half:
- Work out how much you are spending and set a budget.
- Make your own bread.
- Using Baking soda for all cleaning jobs and instead of shampoo and soap.
- Buy fresh produce from the markets.
- Buy in bulk.
- Freeze your food instead of throwing it away.
- Google is your friend, use it to create recipes with food that you have in your cupboard.
- Avoid buying food at service stations and dairies, they are a trap.
- If you are serious about saving then avoid unnecessary items and don’t get sucked in.
- If you fall off the bandwagon, minus it off your budget and carry on.