The cost of feeding a blended family of nine can be astronomical, so Adelaide mum Kristy Clarke and her husband, Jeremy, have developed a budget-busting strategy to keep costs low. ‘Firstly we grow or provide for ourselves whatever we can. We grow our own herbs, we also have a lot of fruit trees – apples, pears, citrus, nectarines and apricots. We have six chickens and they lay two to three dozen eggs a week,’ Kristy, 37 tells New Idea.
‘We always try to stay as close to our food source as possible. We take advantage of the website ripenear.me and we buy our fresh produce from local markets and local produce vans.
‘Retailers will often put a premium on the picture-perfect apple, so eating fruit that is farmer direct – which often doesn’t have that look of perfection – often comes at a more competitive price.’
Kristy, who grew up on a farm, says bulk-buying meat from a butcher or meat wholesaler saves a fortune.
‘We can buy lambs by the half or whole. For red meat, we don’t pay over $10 per kilo. For that, it’s fully butchered and we tell them how many serves we want.’
The Clarke family buy household staples from Aldi and always keep a well-stocked pantry.
‘We make pretty much everything from scratch. We do a lot of baked goods – fruit muffins, banana breads and cakes that are still healthy. We also do our own preserves, make our own jams. If you are buying commercial, processed food, it adds up very quickly.’
Kristy is able to feed her entire family for an average of $100 per week. Read more here.
Fashionista Bargainista Julie
Mum-of-one Julie Leslie has always had an eye for high-end, designer clothes. But unfortunately, her lemonade budget couldn't accommodate her champagne tastes!
‘I just don’t have the money to buy the kind of clothes I had always coveted, so in 2008 I started op-shopping,’ the 41-year-old Perth local tells New Idea.
Some of Julie’s favourite finds include a Sass & Bide leather jacket worth over $1000 that she paid $200 for, a pair of Stuart Weitzman Highland boots that cost her $120 when the RRP is $800, and an Equipment silk shirt worth up to $500, which she paid just $89 for. Julie even got a Balenciaga City bag worth $2k for a bargain $20!
‘I’ve restocked my wardrobe with high-end designer items I could never have afforded new,’ Julie says. ‘There are always people clearing out their wardrobes and falling out of love with their items. I’ll happily be the recipient of those while helping charity as well!’
In 2016, Julie set herself a challenge to buy only second-hand clothes for a year, and now she rarely shops any other way.
‘My reasons have gone beyond financial – there are environmental, ethical and sustainable reasons for shopping second-hand,' she says.
‘Helping charity, saving clothes from landfill, not using any virgin resources to create new clothes, not exporting garments overseas – the wins are endless as far as second-hand shopping goes.’
When it came to renovating her new home, seasoned bargain hunter Tracey O’Malley turned to social media.
The 47-year-old mum-of-two, from Eaglevale, NSW, spent morning, noon and night looking for bargains on Gumtree.
‘I was always on my phone. In the morning before I went to work, on my lunch break, I was just always looking because you never know what’s going to come up.
‘It’s definitely addictive, my partner Tom has threatened a few times to ban me from it,’ she says.
But Tracey’s commitment paid off, with the couple saving a whopping $40,000 on renovations thanks to her incredible finds.
But Tracey’s commitment paid off, with the couple saving a whopping $40,000 on renovations thanks to her incredible finds. Describing some of her best buys, Tracey tells New Idea: ‘The kitchen, I just had to have it.
‘We paid $2500, but it’s worth about $30,000 brand new if you had to pay for someone to install it.’
The gas heater was another of her bargain finds.
‘I said to Tom: “Is this the heater that you want?” And he nearly fell off his chair because it was only$200. It was still the current standard model, valued at $3700.
‘The free spa was a good one too. I’ve always wanted a spa and it’s like a little mini-pool. We use it all the time.
‘With everything we’ve picked up, there is always a little story behind it. My partner broke his ribs getting the staircase from an abandoned house. I got my staircase, that’s all I needed,’ Tracey jokes.
Sometimes you have to pay a heavy price for a bargain!
See more in this week's issue of New Idea, on sale now.