Laptop and coffee budget hacks

Feeling the pinch of the rising cost of living? 12 budgeting tips for mamas

In Features, Home + Living, Life, Motherhood, Stories by Gemma Dawkins

If your weekly grocery trip and tank of petrol is setting you back more than you’d like, these budgeting tips from Madonna Smit, founder of Budget Mum Blog, will take the pressure off.

By Madonna Smit

The phrase ‘budgeting tips’ might not sound too sexy, but for most of us, rising inflation means we’re feeling the pinch. Here are some money saving tips and tricks.

Now to figure out the key to quitting online shopping…


rewire your thinking, mama disrupt


Eat in season

Not only will you avoid paying exorbitant prices for food that’s been shipped halfway around the world or grown in specialty facilities, you’ll save coin. In-season produce is plentiful and cheap.

Substitute ingredients

Growing up, we never went to the shops to buy specific ingredients for a recipe. Instead, my mum would substitute ingredients. It might mean your recipe is slightly unique, but hey – what’s wrong with that?

Cook from scratch

It wasn’t until I was a teenager that I realised you could buy things like pasta sauce in a jar. It just wasn’t in our cupboards. This included all school snacks – how I longed to get chips in a little individual bag, instead of my home made slices and biscuits. Now, of course, I realise how much more cost effective (and healthy!) it is to batch cook and whip up a week’s worth of snacks. Here’s our fave banana bread.

Eat what you have

As tempting as it is to grab something while you’re out and about, it all adds up. Fast. Just a coffee a day is over $1400 annually, while buying your lunch at work every day is over $2000 a year (and that’s if you’re choosing frugally). Making your meals and bringing them with you, or eating at home, is one of the simplest budgeting tips.

half-arsed parenting, mama disrupt



I am a fan of the home made present. It’s personal, thoughtful, and budget-friendly. As a child, my speciality was scrunchies and a washer with your initial appliquéd on it. I’m not sure if you could get more 80’s if you tried! Try one of our five homemade body scrubs for a simple recipe.


Now I’m not suggesting you give up your regular blowdry if it makes you happy. But when it comes to kids, I think home haircuts are fine!


I’m the fourth child and beside school uniforms – because I went to a different school – my guess would be 90% of my clothes were hand-me-downs. And I didn’t really mind. Everything was kept in good condition and passed on again. Good for the environement, good for the wallet.


Growing up we never bought disposable items. Everything was washed and reused – I’m talking plastic bags hanging on the washing line to dry! Margarine and yoghurt containers kept our pencils and crayons. We used wax paper instead of glad wrap. We even had a cupboard for all our jars. And if on the odd occasion we did buy something disposable, it was treated like gold because it was so expensive. This really does remind you of the value of things.

advice for first time mum, mama disrupt


Pay in full

No payment plans, no credit cards, no Lay-by or Afterpay or ZipPay or Klarna. If we didn’t have the money we didn’t get the item. It’s a good habit to get into if you struggle with unnecessary spending and need to reign it in.

Reuse and borrow

Many things can be reused or repurposed. When my eldest sister was born my parents bought a Steelcraft cot. It’s now roughly on its 15th baby. It’s been re-powder coated. All my siblings and I used it, my cousins all used it, my eldest sister used it with her kids, and now my brother’s daughters are too.

Quality lasts

Speaking of reusing, NEVER be afraid to buy quality. Long term, it can save you money. Take school shoes. Buying leather, despite the extra initial outlay, means they last the whole school year. Some budget tips are about spending more up front to spend less all up.

Mending and altering

Mum knew her way around a sewing machine – she made her own wedding dress. But even if you just have the basics, you’ll be able to mend and darn small holes, adjust hems, and repair buttons. This means you don’t have to throw the baby out with the bathwater when your favourite top has a snag with a piece of jewellery.

The perfect marriage between saving money and looking after the environment is simple. My top budgeting tips are: use everything up, find another use for things, borrow and lend. Back to basics is key.

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