Whether through financial hardship, emergency situations or simply as a way to reduce your weekly spend, our community of MamaBakers came through with some inspiring advice and tips that have helped them get through some rough financial waters.

The following list is a true example of the wisdom and resourcefulness of Women, and encapsulates our determination and ingenuity in getting our families through tough times.

We’ve compiled those comments as a checklist of sorts for when things get emergency tight.

  1. Be sure to budget!  Here’s a great tool to help you get started.  It’s can be a surprise to see the true picture of the household expenditure.
  2. For emergency situations: contact the Salvation Army or The Smith Family  to see what help they can provide.
  3. Take one bill a month and shop around.  Financial institutions change their products all the time and you can make great savings by regularly reviewing your bills.
  4. Take budgeted cash with you grocery shopping not a card.
  5. Know when you’re paying what bills, when  – late fees can add up
  6. Car pool for school trips or other car journeys to save fuel money
  7. Ditch cafes.  Go and picnic at the beach or in the woods instead
  8. Walk whenever you can.
  9. Cut back on cleaning products and use bicarb and vinegar instead:  mix a small amount of bicarb soda with standard vinegar. Keep the mixture in a spray bottle.  The vinegar smell dissipates after a while.  Try our home made Citrus Peel Cleaner too.
  10. Big batch bake your meals with discounted meat or legumes and pop in the freezer for great value.
  11. Contact the Family Assistance office for advanced payments and/or hardship payments (Australia).
  12. For emergencies, many local church groups do food boxes.
  13. Speak to your bank and all companies such as electricity, phone, internet provider about payment options/account holds.
  14. Ask to put your mortgage/rent on hold for a few weeks. They are often happy for you to do this and you can make it up slowly.
  15. Look at cutting off services that you really don’t need, (if you have any), like pay TV, look to lower your phone/internet packages to a cheaper rate.
  16. Turn off anything electrical at the power point when you’re not using it. Read a book instead of watching TV.
  17. Look for budget friendly family meal recipes, then make a meal plan and stick to it.
  18. Before you step foot in a supermarket, do a stock take of all food in your pantry, fridge and freezer .
    -Write down what meals you could make with these items for 1 or 2 weeks.
    -Write a separate list of the items you don’t have either in your fridge, freezer or pantry.  This will form part of your supermarket list.
  19. Shop with a list and stick to it.
  20. Check your catalogues and look for basics on sale. Explore your options in generic brand products.
  21. Menu plan, cook in bulk (MamaBake!) and freeze meal portions
  22. Use cheap cuts of meat to make casseroles etc, and fill them out with seasonal vegies like potato, carrot, etc.
  23. Sausage and mince meat are inexpensive and can be used in many ways.
  24. There is nothing wrong with having toast and eggs (or sardines) for dinner.
  25. Buy bulk basics such as rice, lentils and flour.  Try Asian, Middle Eastern or Indian grocery stores as they often sell these staples in bulk and at an inexpensive price.
  26. Go to the markets just as they are finishing up for the week and desperate to clear produce for BIG discounts.
  27. Stalk the deli until the BBQ chickens are marked down to clear. Strip the chooks, shred the meat & freeze it in batches.
  28. Many butchers mark meat down 50% on a Sunday afternoon before closing.
  29. Buy bulk flour and make pancakes, bread, etc. You can make a basic yeasted dough, roll small balls into 0.5cm thick shapes, and fry in oil on both sides- amazing, filling and cheap. You can also fill with sauteed onions, or anything, by rolling it extra thin, spreading filling on half and folding over.
  30. Soups are great, with pearl barley or lentils to fill them out (or a can or two of chickpeas in pumpkin soup). A ham hock or some bacon bones can add flavour and variety to veggie soups. Slow cooking cheap cuts of meat – lamb neck, ox tail etc with a bunch of root veggies and a $2 bottle of wine or some stock will give you a hearty, cheap and delicious meal.
  31. Eggs are cheap protein – make some veggie-bake meals or frittata. Canned tuna and sardines are cheap and healthy – make some patties with breadcrumbs, chopped onion, chopped parsley if you have any, egg and a bit of mayonnaise. Cook in a little oil. Mashed potato makes yummy potato cakes with chopped onion and/or parsley. Eat with tomato sauce.
  32. Fill the family up with oatmeal, or muesli made with some cut up fruit and yogurt in it. You can have that as a cheap dinner too.
  33. Potatoes, carrots and onions go a long, long way in different forms and recipes (I don’t mean all together every time, but there are dozens of things you can do with potatoes). Use a can of beans, or even cheaper, dried beans soaked overnight, for protein, in another dish, or make chilli.
  34. Start a vegetable garden even if it’s on the windowsill or join a community garden. At the least grow fresh herbs so that the dishes will taste fresh and interesting, however sparse.
  35. No take aways. No meals out at all.
  36. No unnecessary driving.
  37. Sell any ‘stuff’ you don’t need or use through E-Bay and other free online classified sites.
  38. Rent out any tools you’re not using regularly via websites such as Open Shed to generate a little extra cash (and meet people in your community while you’re at it!).  You might also run some basic tasks for people in your community for some extra cash.
  39. Drink lots of water.
  40. Stare down unnecessary pride and let people around you know what’s going on.  People are more than happy to help out when there’s hardship and it means they will feel free to come to you when their lives hit a bump too.
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