New Idea Article Dec 2009
Lyn Webster has slashed her food bill and saved a fortune
Recession busting queen Lyn Webster has managed to save $30,000 this year by simply reducing the amount she spends on groceries.
“I now spend in one month what I used to spend in a week on groceries and my family is better off in so many ways.”
When Lyn, a Taranaki share-milker and single mother to daughters, Danni, 17 and Stevie, 12 was faced with losing her business earlier this year she knew it was time to take stock.
“I had a look back through my bank statements and realised that I was frittering my money away on groceries. The worst thing was that we were throwing a lot of the food out. We’d buy the best of everything, pick the eyes out of it and give the rest to the chickens. It was glaringly obvious that we had an opportunity to save at least $200 a week if we were more careful.”
After talking with Danni and Stevie, who agreed to give up treats such as ice cream and chocolate biscuits, Lyn set herself a challenge to limit her spending on groceries to just $100 a week for a year. Her goal was to save $12,000 towards a deposit for a rental property. After six months she had not only surpassed her savings goal, she had doubled it.
When she first started to budget, Lyn visited the Taranaki Daily News to see if they would publish a column about her money saving experiences.
“I knew how slack I could be so I thought that writing a column would be a way to shame myself into sticking with the budget.”
The paper has now published around 40 of Lyn’s columns.
One of her top tips for bringing down the grocery bill is to avoid supermarkets where possible, she says.
“There’s no doubt that supermarkets are convenient, but they should still be approached with caution. How many times do we go in for just two things but end up spending $100?”
She recommends shopping around and investigating cheaper alternatives such as bulk buying outlets, butchers, and fruit and vegetable markets.
Lyn says that her family still eats tasty, nutritious meals despite slashing their food budget. While they may have spaghetti on toast occasionally, their staple diet consists of meat, fresh fruit and vegetables, cheese, eggs, bread and butter. And yes, they do have the occasional treat.
“We appreciate that block of chocolate or tub of ice cream so much more because we don’t have it all the time.”
One of Lyn’s most successful money-saving initiatives has been to make commonly used cleaning and personal hygiene products herself, such as laundry powder, dishwashing liquid, all purpose cleaner, window cleaner, shampoo, conditioner, deodorant, moisturiser and toothpaste.
The hardworking mum has since developed her own brand of products called MAKE and through classes and public speaking engagements, she shows others how they can do it too.
“Making our own cleaning products has been the key to us saving literally thousands of dollars. They work so well – that’s why I decided to offer the classes.”
Another key money-saving product used by Lyn and Danni is the Diva menstrual cup.
“It really is New Zealand’s worst kept secret. It is so easy to use and has saved us a fortune in tampons. We’re not clogging up the landfill so it’s environmentally friendly too.”
Lyn has started a company and website, both irreverently named Pig Tits and Parsley Sauce to pass on her top tips, information about her cleaning and personal hygiene products and money-saving advice. She also sells recipe pamphlets, books and the Diva menstrual cup from the website.
Lyn’s newspaper column and website have gained her a national profile with television appearances on TV3’s Campbell Live and TV1’s Good Morning show.
“The response has been amazing. After my first appearance on Campbell Live there were 400 emails in my inbox the next day which made me realise that people are hanging out for this sort of information and advice. It’s all been so positive.”
She has already started to franchise the Pig Tits concept throughout Australasia with 12 people here and one in Australia signing up for the right to teach Lyn’s recipes in classes and to advertise their classes on her website.
“I never planned to lead from the front like I’m doing. In the beginning it was simply my goal to save some money but it is very exciting how things have worked out.”
Budgeting has now become a way of life for Lyn and her daughters, in fact they have reduced their grocery budget further still to just $75 a week.
“I’m not saying that everyone should go to the extremes that we have, but I do believe that if people take stock and look carefully at what they are spending, there will definitely be leeway to save at least $50 or $100 a week.”
Lyn says if there is one thing that budgeting has taught her family, it is what they don’t need.
“And that really is most of it.”
Lyn’s Top Money Saving Tips
* Work out how much you currently spend on groceries – be honest.
* Set a sensible new limit.
* Aim to save the difference.
* Set a savings goal and the time limit in which it will be achieved.
* Avoid the supermarket where possible and investigate cheaper alternatives.
* If you have to go to the supermarket write a list of exactly what you need and stick to it.
* Take cash. If you only have $100 in your pocket you can’t overspend.
* Buy the bargains. Look on the lower shelves, the tempting, more expensive luxury items are at eye-level.
* Grow your own vegetables.
* Make your own cleaning and personal hygiene products.
* Gratefully accept all offers of free food from family, friends and neighbours.
* If you can’t afford it – go without!
By Jo Bailey