Getting Serious About Budgeting

Budgeting is a serious matter!
Actually taking your money seriously can help you out a lot!
I’ve always thought I’m pretty good at saving, and so I am, but recently, I’ve taken my daughter’s advice, and got a budgeting app, and it’s making a big difference. I used to spend what I thought I needed to, and saved the rest. This was good. However, now I use a budgeting app, and I’m finding that being strict about my budget means that there is a lot more money for things that I need.
We’ve just had some unexpected expenses of the, “replace the wall oven”, (NZD2000), and “remove the giant phoenix palm tree that’s putting all its roots into the neighbours drains” $3000, and I’ve been able to pay for them both without going to the credit card, or even the savings accounts.
That’s thanks to YNAB.
YNAB means – You Need A Budget.
And you do!
The app costs money, but using the budget, you’ll find you pay for that pretty quickly out of savings, and certainly, on the user forums, nobody’s worrying about the cost. Yes, you can budget other ways, nobody’s saying you can’t! You can do it on paper if you want. But YNAB certainly makes it easier, more visible, and enables you to track your income and expenses and work out how to save for sinking funds etc. You can learn how to get your debt under control if that’s a problem for you.
YNAB has a method that you learn by taking the online classes, watching videos, or listening to podcasts, and there are very friendly and helpful user groups. It’s quite a big job to set up, and it took me a while to work out the ins and outs of it, but I’ve decided it’s well worth it!
There is a one month trial, and I’ve learned (too late for myself) that if you want to ask for a couple of extra months free trial, then they tend to be kind.
I do have a referral link that you can use if you wish. It gives you an extra month free, and also gives me a free month.

You Need a Budget – Yes you do!

Extra-cheap Grocery Week!

Last week, we had almost no money for groceries. (Thank-you Christmas and Summer Holidays!) This is when you “Shop the pantry”,  “Shop the garden”, and “Shop for whatever is in season and there is a glut of,” . This is our weeks menu. I hope you like corn and courgettes!  We’re not vegetarians as you can see by the bacon, but I do find that if we need to live really cheaply that eating veges, especially the home-grown variety is lot more economic!

  1. Corn on the Cob – my husband found 5 corn cobs for NZD$5.00. Nice one. Neither of us was particularly hungry because we’d had a late lunch, so he ate 3 and I ate one, and a piece of bread and butter. Butter is an outrageous price in NZ right now, so it’s spread thin. Still, it was delicious and filling enough. This was a meal my mother used to give us when we were children. Now I know why!
  2. Kumara and Corn Fritters with Bacon and Maple Syrup –This is my go-to recipe for Corn Fritters. We love it.  I wrote about it in another blogpost here. Made completely with things already in the pantry and fridge.
  3. Courgette, Parmesan and Garlic Tart with Green Olive Dressing – This recipe is not for the faint-hearted or those who are time poor. However, it IS delicious! However, by the time you make the pastry, grill the courgettes, roast the pine-nuts, make the herb pesto, and the green-olive dressing it does keep you busy for an hour or two!  I had almost everything for this either in the garden, fridge or freezer, and only had to purchase the Green Olives for about NZD$2.15 and a packet of Pine Nuts. NZD$5.50.  (Used half the packet.)  We ate 2/3 of it for dinner, and the rest for lunch the next day. I made my favourite cheap and easy Pastry Recipe and while it’s not as flakey as bought Flakey Pastry it was still delicious. I prefer pesto without too much oil, so reduced the olive oil amount in the pesto by half. It was really good, especially with all my freshly picked herbs from my own herb garden. I used chives, lemon balm, flat-leaf parsley and mint. Served with garden salad.

4. Sweet Potato, Corn and Black-Bean Hash – For this, the only thing that I had to buy, was a tin (can) of Black Beans. NZD $1.80 It made enough for a lunch as well. I micro-waved a some poppadoms I had in the pantry to eat with it, which made a nice texture change, but some people like it with Tacos, Sour Cream and Chives. I’ll make this again. I halved the amount of cumin, and didn’t put the Jalapenos in because I can’t eat hot and spicy. I might put a bit more cumin in another time, as I couldn’t really taste it with only half.

5. Pesto Pasta – I’d only used half the Pesto I made for the Courgette Tart, and it smelled so delicious, I boiled up some dried Fettucine from in the pantry, and stirred the Pesto through. I added a bit of Olive Oil to make it a bit juicier, and used the last of my grated Parmesan from in the freezer. I served it with salad from the garden. Very tasty!

Another day, a kind neighbour gave us a fish he had caught. Fresh snapper yum, yum!

Day 7, we were helping out/attending a wedding for a lovely couple, who invited us to lunch, so we had a long three-course lunch, and had absolutely no need for dinner that day!

Phew! So we made it through. Did you add up what we paid out for dinners? (and a couple of lunches.)


It takes a bit of time looking through the pantry and checking what you have already, and then looking for recipes which include those things. I was really delighted with our meals and we felt well fed, and healthy afterwards!

Summer Holiday Travels on a Shoe-string.

So you’ve managed to find a way to get away. You’re in a strange town. You’ve got little or no budget to spend. What do you do?

First of all, do some RESEARCH. Find out about the town, find out it’s history, read the tourism booklets, which believe it or not, include free activities! Visit the information centre. Ask advice. Make yourself a list of things you think would be interesting and fun to do. My kind daughter did this recently when we went to stay with her in Perth, Australia, and it was great. When we weren’t sure what to do, we checked the list. We didn’t even get through all of it.

Secondly, do the FREE stuff first. And yes, there is often heaps of free stuff. Galleries, Museums, Churches, Botanical Gardens and Parks are often free, or very cheap, and sometimes they have Prime positions for views, and really interesting stuff in them. Look up: Free things to do in ……. There are heaps of websites dedicated to this!

If you are in a new town, and you feel tempted to pay the $40.00 odd dollars for a hop-on, hop-off bus to go and see the sights, forget it! Check out the route if you like. Get a brochure, and see where they go. Then use public transport to get yourself around. Perth had free public transport within the city centre, and other cities do this too. Use those free buses to get from one tourist site to the next. If the free buses don’t go where you want, public transport is often very cheap. Art Galleries have free galleries, and if you decide you want to pay for a special exhibition, you may well find that it doesn’t break the bank, and will take half a day to see.

Often cities have free concerts, or free outdoor movies. Get informed and get there, and you’ll have heaps of fun without paying a penny.

We’re talking summer holiday here, since it’s summer down-under. Of course the best thing to do in summer is head to the beach. I was a bit disgusted to find that in Perth, it’s often too hot in January to go to the beach! A “nice” day in Perth, is one that’s a bit cooler. That’s say, 32 degrees Celsius rather than 39 or even 46! Walking a white sand beach, the cool waves lapping round your feet, you can’t get much closer to heaven than that, and what does it cost???? Nothing at all! Swimming in the crystal clear water, keeping cool in the waves – amazing. And FREE.

Do go prepared. Chill your water bottles, take them in a cool bag. Make your sammies, or B & E pie, whatever. Just DON’T buy food out. Take snacks, nuts, muesli bars, fruit….just don’t pay for food. If you have got a small budget, and there’s a nice cafe just where the view is best, then go there by all means. Drink tap water, buy something VERY small, and sit there and sip and nibble and enjoy the view and the ambiance without breaking the bank!

DON’T go shopping. Unless you’ve got an iron will that is, or specific things that you need that are cheaper where you are than they are at home. Once you go shopping, you will turns to custard, and you end up buying drinks, eating at a cafe, and buying stuff that you then have to find a way to fit in your suitcase to get home again.

Instead of going out for activities, play games at home with whoever you’re with.

Look up friends. I often find it’s the people that make a place special. Hanging out with old friends or new, is actually what you tend to remember most about a place. They might even have ideas of what you can do together.

There IS FUN to be had for FREE.

Mix it up!

If you’re a Granny like me, then you’ll probably remember the Kiwi food of the 50’s and 60’s. (If you don’t, you didn’t miss anything!)

Blah, Blah and more blah. (Don’t tell my Mum!) Sausages and Mashed potatoes, Boiled mutton with Parsley Sauce, Shepherd’s Pie with the left-over minced mutton (actually I really like Shepherd’s Pie, but like to give it a bit of pizazz!) Fish and Chip Friday, Corn on the Cob with bread and butter – not exactly an inspiring mix was it!

These days, with the InterWeb, and TV Travel Cooking shows, it’s easy to find recipes from all around the big wide world, and lots of these are very Cheapskate friendly. Many cultures eat a lot less meat than Kiwi’s tend to, and don’t appear to suffer from it! Since meat is often the most expensive part of the meal, having less of it is bound to help the budget.

I have two approaches to my shopping – in one approach I plan frenetically and make a list and stick to it. In another approach, I look for the specials, and then I find a recipe to suit. While the making the list thing is good, I think because I buy extra ingredients for the lovely recipes I’ve found, it can be slightly more expensive than finding the specials, and adapting recipes to what I have.

This week, I found a great special on Lamb Mince. I got 350 grams for $2.50! That’s because it was on it’s last legs. It had that sticker on it that says, “Use or freeze today!” So I throw it in the freezer, and make sure I use it the day I get it out.

So I then got on the web, and found an awesome recipe. I may be jumping the gun here, because I’ve asked the owner of the blog I got it from if I can share it, and haven’t heard back yet.

The recipe is, Hummus with Lamb, and Nagi suggests it as an appetizer, but we had it for dinner and it was great.


It also suggests eating it with Pita Bread. I hummed and haa’d over whether to buy Pita bread, because actually I find store-bought Pita bread tough, stale and expensive. So I didn’t. I set to and made my own. Pita Bread is really quick and easy to make, particularly if you have a Breadmaker, so it’s worth doing. I had enough for the dinner, and now have a stash of a half a dozen pieces in the freezer for future lunches and hummus dipping!

This is a link to the Pita Bread I made, but there are heaps of recipes out there.

Never, ever ever buy hummus. It’s so quick to make, and so much better! The Recipe Tin Eats Hummus with Lamb  recipe, does of course have the recipe for the hummus.

The recipe has spices in it, but is not particularly strongly spiced. However, if you’re concerned, you can halve the amount of spices.

Don’t forget your sprouts!

It’s easy to get out of habits. One I’ve just remembered to revive is the sprouts and microgreen habit.

At this time of year (summer in NZ) they grow really fast.

These photos both of the sprouts and microgreens are 3 days after planting. 3 days! That’s just amazing.

There are bean sprouts, alfalfa and radish sprouts. For the microgreens the greener one on the right is rocket (otherwise known as arugula), and a mix called “Vitablend”.

The microgreens will take a few more days to be ready to eat, but once they are, I’ll be able to cut them, and they will grow again to be cut some more.

Both are absolutely full of goodness, and hugely cheaper than buying packet sprouts or baby salad leaves. As well as being way cheaper, they taste heaps better too, and because they’ll be freshly harvested, will have more vitamins too.

I do have a sprouter I invested in some years ago, which has well and truly paid for itself now. This has a 5 tier system, with a layer to put the water in, and a layer to catch the water in at the bottom too. However, you don’t have to fork out for a sprouter, you can just use jars with a muslin or breathable fabric cover.

For detailed instructions on growing sprouts look here. 

To learn how to grow microgreens look here. 

Coming to you FREE! from a stream near you…

It may be grey and stormy enough to have whipped the waves into galloping white horses, but in Auckland in January, it’s still hot and muggy enough to have the sweat dripping off you if you so much as look at a flight of stairs.

Still Salad weather then.

I found a gorgeous recipe for a Peach and Goats curd salad in my Xmas gifted Taste Magazine. It suggests rocket and watercress salad, with yellow and white peaches, parma ham, goats curd and pine nuts. I priced the watercress in the supermarket and it was $3.79 for a bag. Hmm I thought. I know where there’s a little stream…..

So I found proscuitto and goats cheese on special, picked three varieties of lettuce from my garden, along with chives, mint and lemon balm, and then went on the hunt for watercress. I usually have rocket in my garden, but haven’t planted it this year, so I thought my own salad leaves would be perfectly adequate for this, and I wasn’t wrong.

Watercress grows in shallow running water. It grows wild. I thought I knew a stream where there might be some, and sure enough there was! Neither of us had foraged for watercress before, but I’d taken a good look at what it looked like in the supermarket bag, and had a feeling I’d seen it growing before. We had a taste, and voila!

So, these ingredients don’t look exactly cheap do they! The secret is firstly buying on special. Secondly, don’t use it all, unless you’re feeding a lot of course. We just used half the packet of proscuitto, and half the goat’s cheese, so I can feel yet another salad dinner coming on. At the Bin Inn, you can buy tiny amounts of pine nuts. I think my two tablespoons was NZ$1.26 or something ridiculous like that. One tablespoon would actually have been enough. If fresh peaches aren’t in season or cheap for you, you could probably use a sale priced tin of peaches in juice. So by being smart, you can make a meal that would probably cost you NZ$35.00 each in a restaurant and be happy that it cost you NZ$5.00 each.

Here’s the recipe if you’d like to give it a go.

Peach and Goat's Curd Salad

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print


1/3 cup olive oil

2 tbsp cider vinegar

1 tsp Dijon Mustard

1 tsp honey

2 bunches rocket (or other salad and herb leaves)

1 cup watercress sprigs

1 white peach, pitted and cut into wedges

1 yellow peach, pitted and cut into wedges (I couldn’t find one, so I used a nectarine. It was perfectly fine for the task.)

8 slices Parma ham (or proscuitto) coarsely torn

2 Tbsp toasted pine nuts (buy raw and toast yourself – watch every second as they burn in a flash!)

100g goat’s curd (or goat’s cheese)


  1. Combine oil, vinegar, mustard and honey in a screw-top jar and shake until well combined. Season with salt and pepper.
  2. Arrange salad leaves, watercress, peaches and Parma Ham on a platter. Drizzle with dressing, sprinkle with pine nuts and dollop with curd.



Cheapskate Christmas

Now I love Christmas. Really I do. I love seeing my family. I love Christmas Carols, Christmas Lights, decorated shops, Advent at church, Christmas Pageant for the kids at church, decorations, parties, singing and singing and singing.

I love them all.

I love giving presents. And yes, it does make me happy to know someone loves me enough to give me a gift too. I’m not worried about what I’m given, it’s the love that I’m receiving. If someone finds a gift that really hits the spot with me, and is something I really, really need, then I’m extra grateful.

The pain of Christmas comes for me, when the budget is so tight that it’s difficult to give the gifts that I would like to, or have the celebrations that I would like to, or to travel to be with the ones I want to spend my Christmas with.

These are some of the ways that I cope with having to make a Cheapskate Christmas.

  1. Focus on what Christmas MEANS to you – For me, Christmas is about the baby. A baby is part of the family. So, the baby, and the family are absolutely what it is about. The church family matters as well. If you have children, the run up to Christmas in the church, is heart-warming, educational and fun. The stories, the pageants, the singing, the family and community sharing, the doing for others, are the absolute heart and soul of Christmas for me. Taking part with the family, and church community is Low GI soul food. The effects last much longer than you might think. Certainly longer than the flash in the pan of a few presents rapidly torn into around the Christmas Tree.  This may not be the meaning of Christmas to you. If it’s not – maybe you could share what Christmas means for you in the comments.
  2. WE DO IT THIS WAY – Be clear about your own philosophy – By this I mean, know what your beliefs are around consumerism, waste, eco-concepts and the effect Christmas will have on your budget. It’s not worth being in debt for a year, trying to pay-back Christmas. It’s not worth breaking your back to buy junk that will be used for a day and then discarded. It’s hard to remember to be a friend to the environment when you’re surrounded by the plastic world of toy shops, that’s for sure! The world does not need more plastic thrown into the land-fills. This sort of gift is ultimately less satisfying than gifts that are meaningful, real and lasting. If your rubbish bag on Christmas Day takes up more space than the gifts you’ve given – is that how you want it to be?  Develop with YOUR family YOUR  way of doing things around your philosophy. If your children know from the beginning, that Christmas is not about the presents, they are learning something that’s very important for their whole life. That yes, there may be gifts, but that they are a token reminding them of the gifts of the Kings to the baby, then they will feel differently about it.  Use the WE. This is something that is powerful in your family. Set the tone with – WE do it this way. WE don’t buy junk. WE don’t buy things that have a short life, and only add to the landfill. WE make our own home-made Christmas. WE do things for others at Christmas. WE join in with (free) community events, like Carol Singing around the community Christmas Tree.
  3. Know the difference between WANT and NEED. –When you’re on a tight budget, it’s often difficult to manage to fund what you actually NEED for survival, without even starting on things you want. If you are giving gifts to your family, choose things you know they actually NEED. It may well be that you can combine the two things – give something that is both NEEDED and WANTED. If someone asks you what you want for Christmas – give them an “I need….” answer.
  4. Don’t look at what others are giving/getting. – It’s easy to assume that others are spending lots of money on their loved ones, when you are not able to. I know it can hurt. It can feel as if you are somehow not good enough because you can’t give your children, or your spouse what someone else can afford to give. This is something you need to let go. I sometimes feel people I know with not much money, think they have to spend a lot, so their kids don’t miss out. This isn’t true.  The truth is, that lots of people who actually DO have more money, don’t actually spend huge amounts on Christmas presents. I’ve seen families who may have more than average, actually give less in terms of $$ value, than many less well-off people. These families may focus on need, or on gifting something that has meaning within the family, such as a special book, that the grandfather treasured, which is then passed on to a grandchild. Or they may make a family decision that everyone brings one present, which can be distributed in various fun ways, so that no-one goes broke trying to buy everyone a present, and ending up buying cheap plastic goods that may be fun for 5 minutes, but ultimately go in the rubbish bin. My grandmother used to insist that no-one gave her a present, but that they made her a card. The gift of time and effort meant more to her than getting things. The love that went into making those cards filled up the room for her.
  5. Be Prepared – You know it’s coming. Christmas is not unexpected. You have 52 weeks to get started on preparing for next Christmas. So SAVE. It doesn’t have to be an enormous amount. If you are likely to need to purchase food for Christmas, take advantage of store Christmas Club accounts. This way, whenever you buy your groceries, you can put aside a few dollars for the next Christmas. Often stores offer discounts along with the Christmas Club accounts, or special shopping nights, when you get to have fun spending your savings, and get discounts as well. Even if you put $2.00 aside for 50 weeks that’s $100.00 less that you’ll have to pay out at Christmas time. I don’t shop much, (because if you don’t go in the shop, you don’t spend anything!) but if you do, keep an eye out for sales, two for one deals, and stock up. I buy little things through the year, that I think people will like, and store them in my cupboard. If I then have a present emergency, instead of rushing off to the store and buying something over-priced, I just go to my cupboard, and find something suitable. Because I’ve bought the things on special, people often get a gift of higher value than I would normally be able to give them, and I feel good that I’ve given a nice gift without breaking the bank. Save too, for presents. Work out how much you need. Allocate an amount you are prepared to spend for each persons gift, and add that up. Then divide that by 52. That’s the amount that you need to put aside each week. If you know that’s too much for your budget to stand, then you need to reduce the amount you would spend on each person, and work it out again, until you’ve got a figure your budget can stand.
  6. Make Stuff – You’ll know what your own skills are. If you’re a knitter, or crocheter, or crafter, what better thing to do, than to prepare for Christmas by making gifts for people. Nearer the time, make food. Maybe there’s something that’s special for your family. My mother-in-law lived in Switzerland for a year, and she always used to make Basler Leckerli (which is like a special gingerbread.) This is now a treat, that people really enjoy, because the taste of Basler Leckerli brings back memories, and is a family tradition. The fun of making traditional recipes is something the whole family can enjoy and be part of. You can make all sorts of gifts, from cereal, to cookies, to chocolates……the list is endless. This website might have some ideas for you.


More to come! Watch this space!

Cheap Books

I like a good book.

I don’t like paying the expensive prices for them! I always get a shock when I go to Australia and see so many cheaply priced books there.

I have three solutions that work quite well for me. At least I get to read.

  1. Book Depository – The Book Depository is a web-based store in which you can order online – often at very good prices, and they send you the book POST FREE. This is amazing because when I’ve previously bought from Amazon or wherever the postage turns out to be the most expensive part. I only buy an actual book if I need it for study, and I can’t access it any other way. Mostly, I try to get rid of stuff, not get more stuff!
  2. – with Bookbub, you will be reading e-books. You don’t have to buy a Kindle. If you have a smart-phone or an ipad, or a computer, you can read e-books. You sign up to bookbub and select your favourite genre. Then they send you a daily email with free and very cheap options that you can then download. You can set up your AppleID so that you don’t have to enter your password all the time for free items. I’ve been downloading a book a day lately, so this saves the hassle.
Bookbub. Sign up to get free and very cheap books to read on your device.

3. Local Library –  Your local library has all sorts of stuff. As well as free books, they have CD’s, DVD’s, computer access, magazines. Sometimes I even get to read a magazine that’s brand new! (By dint of being there when the librarian was putting the new mag on the shelf!) If there’s a new bestseller out, you can pay $5.00 for the read. Or wait. Either way, it’s cheaper than buying it. Libraries now also have deals on magazines that you can read online. 

All those fancy recipe books that you couldn’t afford?


From the library. With a generous 4 week lending period, if you renew it, then you’ve got it for 2 months. Plenty of time to try out recipes and see if you like them. If I do, then I take a photograph and store it in Evernote.  (Evernote is an online notebook which you can store all sorts of things in, and then they’re available on all your devices. I love it.)

If the grandchildren are coming to stay, a visit to the library is one of the first things we do, to get stocked up, set up and maybe find a book with activities they want to do. The library also runs all sorts of other activities that are either free or cheap.

They pay, you read, sounds a good Cheapskate solution to me!



Healthy + Budget =?

Being healthy on a budget is very possible!

Fruit and veges are fast food.

Here’s a double whammy for you.

  1. My Fitness Pal – I’ve used this for years. You can enter your weight once a week, (or less frequently) and it creates a graph for you. You can enter the food you’ve eaten during the day, and it adds up the calories, and the nutrition for you, so you can see what you’ve got left, so to speak. You can enter your exercise and it calculates your calories for that. No excuses not to know exactly where you are.

Those of you who know me personally know that I struggle with my weight. And have since I was about 12. Which incidentally, is when I was put on a steak and skim milk diet – who’s clever idea was that? Not mine! Photos of me then, don’t show any need for a diet!

Then I was put on some medication in my 20’s which triggered a gain of 3 stone a year for 3 years in a row. Add that up. I was never able to lose it, and ultimately after many years of trying and failing to lose the weight, I had a gastric bypass operation. Now I can only eat a small amount, and I STILL have to struggle with the weight. I’m living proof, that eating less, and moving more, doesn’t work for everyone. If it does work for you though, you may find you like My Fitness Pal. I like it myself, and am happy to say, that my graph is actually going downwards, very slowly, but down.

2. Fitness Pal Healthy Eating Blog – My Fitness Pal offers a variety of different blogs which give advice. I thought this one was particularly good which is why I’m sharing it with you.

9 Ways to Cheapskate on a Road Trip

Staying cheap on a road trip is a challenge. There are so many temptations and pit-falls, and when you get tired, it’s easy to give in to easy but more expensive options.

  1. Prepare! My best solution was being well-prepared. This meant high-level planning. Not only did I plan a menu – all typed out, by golly, with columns showing the days travel, where we were staying – with contact details, what we were eating, the ingredients I was taking from home, and what I needed to buy at the last minute, but I bought food at PaknSave, got Gavin to make a thermos, and I also printed out recipes for healthy quick meals, so that I wasn’t caught out buying expensive bits to make meals. As it happened, I wasn’t as smart as I thought I was, because I hadn’t priced out some ingredients. Predictably small supermarkets in small towns are expensive, and I was delighted that I had taken small items that were essential, and didn’t have to buy whole bottles of sauces. I had also picked herbs out of my garden and put them into plastic bags for use in the first couple of meals that I made.
  2.   Check out prices!   I had thought cooking some burgers would be quick and smart, because I would have some salad from a previous night, and I even took my own mayo and tomato sauce so that I wouldn’t have to buy any. However, it turned out that buying pre-made rissoles was really expensive, and I would have to buy buns as well. I could have had 4 Angus rissoles for around $10.00 (eh????) or some really crappy looking ones for $8.00. It didn’t make sense to me. I gave up and bought some smoked salmon instead for $6.00, and made a salad with salad leaves, smoked salmon, a poached egg, and some bread. Really quick to make, and really tasty and with those Omega 6’s. Normally I would make a vinagrette but just used the mayo I had brought with me on this occasion.
  3. Choose Cheap Recipes. Another recipe I did was a Pork Mince Noodle Stir Fry. Really easy and quick with rice noodles that you just pour boiling water over, and let sit for 10 minutes. The recipe made so much we had left-overs not only for dinner the next night, but for several lunches as well. This wasn’t actually the recipe I used, but it was very similar.
  4. Take a thermos! Having a thermos saves a heap. I don’t drink tea or coffee myself, and just stick to water usually, but my husband sure does, so he had a coffee thermos and a tea thermos, and I’m quite sure the first day of the trip alone this saved about $16.00. He also used them on subsequent days. He ran out of enthusiasm towards the end of the trip, and so did I. He likes the iced coffee you can buy from the supermarket to help keep him sharp when driving. I didn’t moan too much, since he had saved a lot of $$ early in the trip using the thermos.
  5. Watch the time! Watching timing matters if you want to be cheap. On our last night we didn’t get in to Ohakune where we were staying, until after the local supermarket closed, so we decided to make a celebration of it, and went to one of only two restaurants open in town. We made a conscious decision to relax and enjoy it, since expensive was inevitable, so we laid back and enjoyed it! The restaurant was great, warm and cosy and the food was tasty. Bearing Point. 
  6. Use Public Transport in cities – this is cheaper than paying parking, and also stops you burning up petrol driving round trying to find parking buildings.
  7. Shop with your eyes – you can enjoy shopping without having to spend! Window shopping is fun. I did buy a few things for Xmas presents, but that is just being organised, not splashing out!
  8. Choose Free Activities – Yes it’s fun to do activities on your holiday. However, there are lots of activities that don’t cost, that are enjoyable. Walking the waterfront, getting to a high spot for a great view, going to Museums and Art Galleries, and finding lovely local parks are all great to do on holidays. Botanical Gardens don’t cost anything, and they look great in Springtime!
  9. Offer to cook – If you have lovely friends like I do, who say “Mi casa, es su casa”, offer to cook! It might be fun to take them out for dinner, but your budget might suffer pretty badly! In fact, all my offers got turned down, and we were spoilt with home-made pasta (ravioli) and beautiful lamb right off the farm, and all sorts of other goodies!

Sometimes you see people doing things that are even more cheapskate than you! We had a couple of nights in a motel when we were at the Wellington Folk Festival, and our neighbour was also going to the Folk Festival. I noticed she had a visitor, who slept in their car outside the motel, and then took her toilet items in to clean up and have a shower. As a host in our own B & B I know how I would feel about that! We pay for water, as well as the electricity to heat it, and I’m not impressed by people “stealing” that!

Have a great trip, and enjoy exploring – on the cheap!