Take the 28 Day Frugal Challenge

This February on Instagram I created and completed a 28 day frugal challenge. This came about after we had a very spendy start to the year with Christmas and birthdays. So the timing was perfect to do a challenge that helped us get back to our frugal roots, and in the process find some extra cash. The challenge went really well, not only did we save some money but we also rediscovered our love of frugality and slow living. So I’m sharing the challenge via the blog today for those who may want to do a quick frugal boot camp to get themselves back on track.

Please note that this challenge can be completed at any time, and in any month (not just February).

Photo by Skitterphoto on Pexels.com

Day 1: Set your goal for the month and use a visual tracker to track your progress.

The first day of the challenge is all about setting your intentions and goals for the month. Feel free to use my free monthly personal finance printable link here. It’s super easy to use, and I place mine on our fridge so that the whole family can work towards it.

Day 2: List at least one item you no longer use on Marketplace, Gumtree, eBay or other selling platform. Transfer any cash you make to savings.

The aim of this challenge is to kickstart your savings and get a quick win to help motivate you. Take a walk around your home and find at least one item that you can sell. I know I always seem to have a list of items I want to sell in my head, but haven’t gotten around to listing. So this day is all about listing just one of these items (if you list more then well done).

Day 3: Do a food audit and find anything close to expiry. Find a recipe to use it up and incorporate into your meal plan.

Doing a food audit every month of your pantry (or weekly for your fridge) is such a great way to reduce food waste. Once you identify the items close to spoiling pop them in a basket so you know you need to use them up (I have a basket in the fridge and in the pantry). Then it’s time to get creative and plan your meals this month around these items.

Day 4: Check that you are getting the best deal for your car insurance.

It’s important to review your car insurance regularly to ensure you are getting the best deals (you can save $$$’s). There are a few websites that can assist you in this task such as Canstar, Compare the Market, Finder and iSelect.

Day 5: Check your tyre pressure and make sure they are at the recommended pressure.

Did you know that having your tyre pressure below the recommended pressure can lead to you using an extra 5% fuel? It can also decrease your tyre tread life. If you don’t know where your tyre pressure recommendation is you will usually find it in the inside of your car door when you open it (or in your car manual). I’m not great at remembering this tip so I have a reoccurring reminder on my phone.

Day 6: Cook an extra meal to be put in the freezer for a future night off.

Prepare an extra meal in advance to put into the freezer. The idea around this is that at some point in the likely near future you will not feel like cooking, and instead of grabbing a takeaway you can reheat this extra meal instead (saving you money). It may also be worth getting in the habit of preparing double portions one night of the week and freezing the excess.

Day 7: Grab your latest energy bill and take 5 minutes to ensure that you’re getting the best deal.

For Australians this process is super simple just head on over to the government website Energy Made Easy and upload your bill. Then wait for your results and check how much you can save by switching providers. We saved over $1000 a year switching to Reamped Energy. These guys are great and if they are the best deal for you feel free to use the link to recieve $50 when you sign up (and the best thing is they do all the hard work for you in terms of breaking up with your old company).

Day 8: If you’re on a variable mortgage interest rate call your provider for a rate review.

Do you want to save over $1000 in one hour? Yes, well perhaps it’s time to give your lender a call. I request an interest rate review every 3-6 months depending on my lender’s policy on rate reviews. I do a little preparation work for it including a little research on other providers (eg. interest rate offered, new customer rates, providers name, LVR, etc). I then call my lender and once I finally get to a real person I request to speak to the rate review department. I then make my pitch remembering to be super polite and removing any emotion. I’m not always successful but over the years this has saved us thousands of dollars.

Day 9: Deep clean your washing machine and dryer filters.

Not only is this a necessary and often overlooked part of maintaining your appliances (and their lifespan), but you never know what you’ll find in there.

Day 10: Make your own multi purpose spray cleaner.

I love making my own spray cleaner for three reasons. It’s cheap to make, low tox, and I get to control the fragrance. I have a really simply recipe listed here (Make your own Multi Purpose Spray for under $1) that you are welcome to try.

Day 11: No one’s perfect. If you need a night off choose a takeaway instead of a takeaway.

We all need a night off, and even if you’ve got a pre-cooked meal in the freezer sometimes you have a craving for a takeaway. But before you reach for your phone why don’t you think about a fakeaway instead. Fakeaway is just what you think it might be. Fake takeaway that requires minimal effort and can be purchased from your supermarket, bakery, Asian grocery or specialty shop. My favorites are:

  • Heat and eat curries (Aldi does a great one in the fridge section)
  • Heat and eat pies/pastry’s (again I recommend Aldi)
  • Home made gourmet hotdogs with your own toppings (I’m a sucker for the Aldi brioche hotdog rolls).
  • Dumplings, Bao Buns, or really any frozen item from your local Asian grocery.
  • Burgers.
  • Mexican.
  • Heat and eat pastas like lasagna.
  • Pre-made pizzas.
  • Air fryer fish and chips

Day 12: Pull out all your clothes and go through each of them. Rediscover some oldies you forgot and donate/sell anything you no longer wear.

Try on your clothes, and get rid of anything that no longer fits/ is broken or just doesn’t bring you joy wearing. Don’t forget to take any unwanted items that are not donation quality to H&M where you will receive a 15% off voucher.

Day 13: Hand make a card for someone special using things around the house.

Cards can be expensive especially when you leave it to the last minute. So this challenge is all about being creative using what you have around the house to make a card. I keep mine pretty generic so I can use them for an unexpected goodbye, thank you or birthday. If you need some inspiration then follow my lead and go to Pinterest for some ideas.

Day 14: Schedule a zero or low cost money date (for singles or couples).

Every month we schedule a money date, and more often than not these dates are quite cheap. Eg a nice walk to our favorite local waterfall, a mini picnic or just a drink at our local pub during happy hour. During our money date we reflect on our money and life wins/losses since our last date, and get back in sync. For those who aren’t coupled up do something for you: reset yourself, reflect on your wins and celebrate you.

Day 15: Check that your Home Insurance is still meeting your needs and you’re still getting the best deal.

A lot changes every year including the cost of rebuilding your house as well as insurance legislation. So it’s important to at least once a year make sure that you’ve still got the best insurance for your situation. For most of us our house is our biggest asset so it’s important that it’s insured appropriately. It’s also important to ensure you’re getting the best deal. Some great places to start are Canstar, Choice, Compare the Market, Finder and iSelect.

Day 16: Check out your local library or library app like Libby/Borrowbox.

I love my library and I challenge you to go and see what services your library provides. Often libraries provide more than just books. Our library provides free coding classes for our son, genealogy, workshops, classes, cheap room hire, and access to a 3D printer. If you’re not close to your local library then check out library apps like Libby and Borrowbox. If your library has a newsletter then I recommend subscribing to keep up to date with new services.

Day 17: Check out your local vocational training providers / or TAFE providers to see what student provided services are available to the public.

I previously worked at a TAFE provider and whilst there I discovered so many great goods and services available to the public at lower prices than usual. These goods and services included:

  • Hair and Beauty
  • Food (Bread, Patisserie, Butcher, etc)
  • Wine and Beer
  • Restaurants
  • Floristry
  • Tech Bar
  • Massage
  • Vet Services
  • and many others.

If you would like to read up on these services more check out this article Where to find TAFE related services that will save you money.

Day 18: Bring the cinema to your home for a low cost night in.

This challenge is all about finding activities that fill your need for fun without breaking the bank. One of our favourite activities is to stay home and watch a great classic movie as a family. We make it extra special by going to Aldi, grabbing some popcorn, lollies, and fancy icecream for under $10.

Day 19: Try swapping your regular meal delivery services like Hellofresh with a free or low cost meal planning app like mealime or paprika.

We all have to eat, but how you plan and decide what goes on the table can save you a tonne of money. Recently we had gotten a little too reliant on HelloFresh, but we ditched it for the app Mealime, and after a month of using it we love it!!!

The Mealime app has a free version and a paid version ($2.99 a month). You simply download the app to your phone, select your recipes, it then generates your shopping list, and you then cook the meals. You can even upload your own recipes.

I’ve also been told that Paprika Recipe Manager is also great. This is a paid app (once off cost $7.99). I haven’t tried this one myself, but I like that this app allows you to plan your meals weekly, fortnightly or monthly. It also had additional functions such as being able to keep a pantry list in addition to generating a grocery list.

Day 20: Look into bulk buying items that you use frequently.

Bulk buying your groceries can save you a tonne of money, and I do this for several high use items in our house (eg. Flour, Eggs, Rice, Herbs, Toilet Paper etc). When I bulk buy I have a few rules I follow:

  • Know your unit pricing. Bigger sometimes isn’t cheaper.
  • Only buy what you would use in a year or alternatively whatever the used by date on it.
  • If bulk buying meat use a scale to divide up and bag your meat.
  • Know how long something can be frozen. Whilst a whole chicken can be kept in the freezer for a year, a cut up chicken can only be frozen for 9 months.
  • Label your frozen goods well. Otherwise you might get a surprise after defrosting it (hands up if you’ve done this before).

Day 21: Download a petrol app and get the best price in your area.

Petrol apps have been around for a few years. They can save you quite a bit of money depending on the petrol price fluctuations in your area. There are quite a few Australian fuel apps including Fuel Map, Petrol Spy, Fuel Lock 7/11, RACQ Fuel, Gas Buddy, RAA Petrol App, and Motormouth.

Day 22: If you love high end clothing then consider joining a buy, sell, swap group or trying a pre-loved designer store.

I’m not a big fashion shopper, but I do love a few brands that are quite $$$. Instead of buying new I have joined a few buy, sell, swap groups on Facebook in order to save myself money. I’ve also had a bit of luck at a local pre-loved designer store (the ones that rent a rack to people to sell their items).

Day 23: Use cashback sites/apps like Shopback, Cash Rewards and Honey.

If you need to buy something online then cashback sites/apps can be a great way to make a little money. We use our cashback dollars at the end of the year to help with Christmas expenses. To use cashback sites/apps simply sign up to the cashback site, shop through their online platform/or use their brower extension, and then get a % of your online purchase amount paid into your cashback account. Feel free to use my affiliate links here to get an additional bonus for signing up.

Day 24: Swap to generic supermarket brands.

We are big fans of buying generic supermarket brands and almost exclusively shop at Aldi. Often we find that even when branded items are on half price sale at the major supermarkets that the generic brand is often cheaper. In recent years the taste and quality of generic brands has improved significantly, and we often prefer the aldi brands over the branded version.

Day 25: Change your mortgage payments to fortnightly or weekly to pay down your mortgage faster.

If you’re not already paying your mortgage weekly or fortnightly I challenge you to try switching your payment schedule. It’s such a simple way to pay your mortgage off quicker as you end up paying additional payments without realising it over the year.

Day 26: Grow your own herbs from store bought cuttings.

I’ve got a huge green thumb, but it wasn’t always like this. It’s taken years of learning and a tonne of trial and error (and dead plants). An easy first step to improving your green thumb without significant outlay is to propagate from herbs you’re already buying from the supermarket. It may come as a surprise to you but you can grow the following herbs from cuttings:

  • Basil
  • Mint
  • Thyme
  • Oregano
  • Marjoram

You simply select the green stem, and to take a cutting you:

  1. Snip just below the leaf node (where the leaves come out of the stem). This should be about 10cm.
  2. Then remove the bottom leaves.
  3. Pop the cutting in a glass of water.
  4. Then place the cutting on a sunny windowsill.
  5. Then change the water at least weekly (every couple of days is best)
  6. In a few weeks you will start to see roots grow and you can plant your cutting into a small pot.

Day 27: Adopt a more frugal beauty regime.

Beauty budgets are extremely personal and individual, but I do think there are a lot of easy ways to shave money off your budget without compromising too much. So this challenge is all about making a small change to your beauty regime to save yourself money.

I’m not going to tell you to stop Botox, Laser, etc…. but maybe there is somewhere in your beauty budget that could benefit from a review. Here are a few ideas:

  • Make the most of working from home and give your face a couple of days off each week without make up.
  • Try extending the time between salon visits.
  • Embrace a more budget friendly hair colour/style.
  • Buy laser hair removal when they have deals.
  • Shop around for Botox or other treatments. There can be a significant price difference between practitioners.
  • Use TAFE or beauty school services.
  • Invest in a DIY manicure/pedicure set up at home.
  • If you’ve got a partner consider doing a short WEA course on couple massage.
  • Use sunscreen everyday.
  • Drink tonnes of water and feed your skin from the inside.
  • Use up your old products before buying new.
  • Learn to love your greys.
  • Do your own hair colour.
  • Learn to cut your partners/kids hair.
  • Know your skin type: Summer, Autumn, Winter or Spring so you never end up with colours you don’t use.
  • Try the odd drug store brand. I’m a huge fan of Aldi’s range but I also mix it up with my favourite Mecca brands.
  • Join loyalty programs and use birthday vouchers.
  • Ask for free samples when you visit department stores (my mum taught me this one).

Day 28: Add up your savings, side hustles and other wins from completing the challenge and celebrate with your favourite low cost or free activity.

Well done for getting to the end!!!!! If you completed the challenge I would love to hear how it went so please let me know in the comments or tag me via instagram.

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How frugal are you? We audited ourselves against 70 frugal tips (Free Printable)

Our family is pretty frugal, and during the last year I believe we’ve cut our expenses significantly in response to the global uncertainty. That said I always believe there is room for improvement so I audited our household against 70 tips to cut expenses, save money and live a thrifty life.

Canstar being the legends they are recently produced the following article which I started reading ‘Frugal Living: 70 tips to cut expenses, save money and live a thrifty life’. Instead of just simply reading the article which you need to read I decided to do an audit to see if there were any areas that my family could improve upon.

If you want to do this audit on your own individual circumstances I’ve created a free printable below for you to try it for yourself

A screenshot of the free printable ‘How Frugal Are You?’

These are our results from doing the audit:

These are our results from doing the audit:

Frugal TipImplementedNeeds improvement
Spending Diary or Regular Expense Tracking
Write down your goals
Make Savings Fun
(Visual Tracking or Savings Challenges)
Self-awareness of emotional spending and avoidance of triggers
This is a constant battle
Join an online community (eg Facebook or Instagram community like She’s on the Money)
Start a coin jar
Shop at a physical supermarket
One shop, once a week
Use a shopping list app
Meal prep like a pro
Make use of leftovers
Use your own coffee machine
Swap meat for veg regularly
Buy frozen veggies
Never go grocery shopping on an empty stomach
Buy generic brand versions where possible
Pay bills on time to avoid late fees
Monitor your bank balance
Audit your bank accounts to see if you are paying fees
Check how much interest you are paying on your credit cardN/A
Phone your bank and ask them for a discount on your home loan interest rate
Shop around for your car insurance regularly
Review your health insurance regularly
Review your personal insurance regularly
Review your superannuation fund
Track down lost money in bank accounts
Review your telecommunications contracts
In the last 6 months
Seek cheaper ways to connect internationallyN/A
Avoid streaming on your phone using mobile data
Review your electricity and gas use regularly
In the last 6 months
Pay yourself first (your savings / investments etc)
Use ‘Rounding Up’ programs
I do mine manually
Get your bills online
Get discounts on petrol
I could be better
Get bonus interest on your savings account
Organise your tax receipts
Check your family is registered for the Medicare Safety Net
Keep things in working order
Fix it yourself
Buy clothes that don’t need dry cleaning
I cannot remember the last time I needed dry cleaning
Make your own greeting cards
Start doing Secret Santa for Christmas
Check your calendar to save money on gifts (Plan ahead)
Delay gratification: Follow the 10 second rule
Delete stored debit / credit card numbers
Calculate the value of your impulse buys in hours of work
Use your local library (including online libraries such as the Libby app)
Make your own cleaning products
Look for coupons or cashback opportunities
Consider joining a customer rewards program
Shop out of season
Reuse, reuse, reuse
Rationalise your subscription services
Price match where possible
We need to do this more
Shared expenses: use splitting and repayment toolsN/A
Use air conditioning more efficiently
Get your head out of the fridge
The kids need improvement
Save on electricity and air dry clothes
We are mostly good at this
Freeze uneaten food
Save on water costs by using water savings techniques (timed showers, water saving shower heads etc)
Participate in free online surveys for cash
Take your reusable bags to the supermarket
Collect and cash in (Bottle Deposit Schemes)
Check your payslip
Grow your own veggies / produce
Propagate your own plants
Learn for free
I need to do some more research on this
Ditch expensive printers
We’ve compared ours and its one of the cheapest out there
Know your refund rights
Get help from a financial counsellor if you need itN/A
Table – 70 tips to reduce your expenses

The Verdict:

So we have successfully implemented 60 out of 70 of the Frugal Tips recommended by Canstar. In the next few weeks I’m going to work on some of our improvement areas and:

  • Start a coin jar
  • Meal prep
  • Check to see if we have any missing money
  • Consistently use petrol apps and discounts
  • Trial Secret Santa this year
  • Be a little more organised with gift giving
  • Calculate the ‘real’ cost of splurge items in relation to work hours
  • Take advantage of price matching more
  • Put more effort into drying clothes naturally
  • Find out about free study options

Overall this audit has been a really great way to check in and find a few areas to improve upon (and it didn’t take long at all). I highly recommend doing the same and the link to free printable is below:

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Where to find TAFE or student provided services that save you money

A couple of days ago I posted an Instagram reel on utilising TAFE or student provided services as part of my frugal tips. I had a lot of comments from those who also knew about these services (and loved them), and I had a few comments from those who didn’t know about these services. So today I’m writing this article to list some of the student provided services that can save you money, and where to find them.

For this article I’ve completed a quite a bit of research on where you can access these services and have listed them below by category and state.

Hair and Beauty (Massage section further down below)

If like me you don’t want to sacrifice your hair and beauty on the way to building wealth then consider getting a student to cut your hair or do your treatment. TAFE and vocational education providers are always looking for customers for the students to train on. All students are typically supervised so don’t worry you will still end up with a good quality cut / treatment at an amazing price.

StateInformation / Links
SATAFE SA – Location – Multiple see link – Hair and Beauty (Link Here) – They do hair, nail, tanning, waxing, massage and facial services. They offer 25% off of their prices to pensioners and students.
Colour Cosmetica Academy – Adelaide – Link Here
NTCharles Darwin University – Palmerston and Alice Springs – Hair and Beauty (Link Here) – They do hair, nail, tanning, waxing, massage and facial services. They offer an extra 25% off of prices to pensioners.
WATAFE WA – South Metro – Link Here
NSWThe Hair and Beauty Academy – Penrith – Link here
Contour College – Tuggerah – Link Here
QLDKatrinas School of Beauty – Morayfield – Link here
Demi International – Multiple Locations – Link here
ACTAustralasian Beauty Therapy Academy (Beauty – no hair treatments) – Canberra – Link Here
VICVictoria University – Melbourne – Link Here
TASTasTAFE – Hobart, Alanvale, Devonport – Link Here
Table – Student Hair and Beauty Locations

Restaurants / Cafes

Many years ago I completed a short course at my local TAFE and discovered that they have student restaurants that offer high quality restaurant or café meals at a fraction of the price. After doing a bit of research it turns out there are numerous TAFE and Vocational institutes that do this across Australia.

StateInformation / Links
VICRichards Restaurant – Broadmeadows – Link Here
Wangaratta Campus Restaurant – Link Here
Holmesglen Cilantro Restaurant – Link Here
VenU Restaurant – Footscray – Link Here
The Apprentice – Prahran – Link Here
St Georges Restaurant – Preston – Link Here
Prospects Training Restaurant – Ballarat – Link Here
WABentley Pines Training Restaurant | South Metropolitan Tafe – Link Here
SAGraduates Restaurant – Regency Park – Link Here
Tiros Restaurant – Regency Park – Link Here
NSWRubric Restaurant – Alexandria – Link Here
ACTCIT Restaurant – Reid – Link Here
QLDTAFE QLD offers a number of different restaurants across their campuses at Toowoomba, Southport, Warwick, South Bank, Ipswich, Cairns, Loganlea, Townsville, Whitsundays, Mooloolaba and Bundaberg. Link here
NTKarawa Training Restaurant – Palmerston – Link here
Desert Lantern Restaurant – Alice Springs – Link here
Table – Student Restaurant Locations


Who doesn’t love a massage. The prices in the below range start from as low as $25 an hour depending on your location and treatment. Most of the links below contain additional information on supervision, what you need to bring and hygiene regulations to ease your mind.

StateInformation / Links
VICEvolve College – Docklands – Link here
ALG Student Massage Clinic – Melbourne – Link here
QLDALG Student Massage Clinic – Brisbane – Link Here
Q Academy Student Massage Clinic – Brisbane – Link Here
Institute Massage Clinic – Brisbane – Link Here
Academique Clinic – Southport – Link here
Student Massage School – Brisbane – Link here
NSWALG Student Massage Clinic – Sydney – Link Here
ACTPivotal Therapies – Canberra – Link Here
Australasian Beauty Therapy Academ – Canberra – Link Here
WASouth Metro TAFE – Murdoch Campus – Link here
ACMM Student Massage Clinic – Perth – Link here
SATAFE SA – Massage – Adelaide Campus (Link Here)
Colour Cosmetica Academy – Adelaide – Link Here
Table – Student Massage Locations

Veterinary Services

These services are not as well published online as other student clinics, however I was able to find some student vet services which offer discounts.

StateInformation / Links
VICAdelaide University Small Animal Clinic – Link Here
WATAFE WA – Bentley Campus – Link Here
Table – Student Veterinary Locations


StateInformation / Links
QLDWellness Centre – CQUniversity
Table – Student Psychology Locations

Physio / Exercise / Occupational Therapy

StateInformation / Links
QLDWellness Centre – CQUniversity
Brisbane Health Clinic – CQUniversity
Table – Student Physio / Exercise / OT Locations

Speech Pathology

StateInformation / Links
QLDWellness Centre – CQUniversity
Table – Student Speech PathologyLocations


StateInformation / Links
NSWSydney Health Clinic – CQUniversity
QLDRockhampton Health Clinic – CQUniversity
Table – Student Podiatry Locations


During my research on student led clinics I found several dental clinics that offer services to the public. Some of these services do require you to be on a health card so make sure you check before you book.

StateInformation / Links
NSWCharles Sturt University – Multiple Locations – Link Here
WAThe University of WA – Nedlands – Link Here
VICUniversity of Melbourne – Melbourne – Link Here
Dental Health Services Victoria – Link Here
QLDRockhampton Health Clinic – CQUniversity
Table – Student Dentist Locations


During my research on student led clinics I found a chiro clinic that offer services to the public. Feel free to contact me if you find others and I would be happy to add the links.

StateInformation / Links
VICChiropractic clinic – RMIT University
QLDMackay Health Clinic – CQUniversity
Brisbane Health Clinic – CQUniversity
NSWSydney Health Clinic – CQUniversity
Table – Student Chiro Locations

Dermal and Cosmetic Therapies

During my research on student led clinics I found a several dermal and cosmetic procedure clinics that offer services to the public. Feel free to contact me if you find others and I would be happy to add the links.

StateInformation / Links
VICDermal Clinic | Victoria University | Melbourne Australia (vu.edu.au)
Melbourne – Student clinic procedures Archives – Aspire (aspiretrainingclinics.com.au)
WAPerth – Student clinic procedures Archives – Aspire (aspiretrainingclinics.com.au)
NSWSydney – Student clinic procedures Archives – Aspire (aspiretrainingclinics.com.au)
QLDStudent Medical Aesthetic and Laser Clinic – Grayclay
Table – Student Dermal and Cosmetic Procedure Locations

Please note this isn’t a comprehensive list of all student related services in Australia. There are likely many more out there and I would be keen to add more services to this article if you find any more. Feel free to contact me or add to the comments below.

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