A single mother who became a millionaire through thrifty budgeting has saved $5,200 in a year by cutting the cost of her grocery bills.
Frugality has always been part of life for Serina Bird, who started working in a discount supermarket at the age of 15 and immediately set about saving at least 10 percent of her wages each week.
Almost 32 years later, the 47-year-old mum-of-two has a net worth of $1million including four investment properties which she hopes will help double her fortune in the near future.
But the public sector worker, who lives near the centre of Canberra, saves most by making small tweaks to her everyday budget – like banking $5,200 over the past 12 months by slashing her expenditure on food from $150 to just $50 a week.
To keep costs low, she follows four simple steps: plan meals for the week ahead, write a list before going to the supermarket, cook dinners in bulk once a month and swap takeaways for ‘Fridge Fridays’ to use up leftovers you’d otherwise throw out.
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Single mum-of-two turned self-made millionaire Serina Bird, who saved $5,200 in a year by slashing her grocery bill from $150 to $50 per week
In a blog post for Australia’s Best Recipes, Ms Bird said she sees the $100 she saves every week as a ‘grocery savings payrise’ which is more lucrative than a salary increase because it’s tax-free.
The spendthrift, who is the author of best-selling money guide ‘The Joyful Frugalista’, invests steadily accumulated savings like these into shares or a superannuation fund in preparation for retirement.
Ms Bird’s $50 shopping bill is all the more impressive given the average food spend for Australian households, which was roughly $152 a week in 2019 according to the annual Food Waste Report from Rabobank.
‘On the outside, I don’t look like a millionaire, but real millionaires don’t always look like millionaires,’ Ms Bird previously told Daily Mail Australia.
Serina (pictured) has famously cut her grocery bill to just $50 per week by doing an inventory, writing a meal plan and always having a cash kitty
How Serina keeps her bill at $50
* Makes an inventory: Start by using up what you have before you start buying new items. Serina found when she added up all of the items in her pantry she had $100 worth of food. Make meals from this and quit overbuying.
* Writes a meal plan: Many budget-savvy people swear by meal plans for their success. Serina wrote out what she planned to eat each evening, factoring in whenever she might have to eat out.
* Always uses a shopping list: In the same way, the 46-year-old said she always used a list so she knew what she was buying and wasn’t sidetracked.
* Makes a cash kitty: Serina said she finds she spends less when she spends in cash instead of with a credit or debit card. If she underspent, she would add the leftover cash to the following week’s $50. If she overspent, that would get compensated.
* Buys less meat (and cheaper cuts): Buy less meat for both your wallet and your health, and use cuts of meat that are cheaper, like tough cuts of red meat, which work well if slow cooked or marinated. Chicken drumsticks and wings are a good choice.
* Chooses supermarkets carefully: Choose which supermarket will give you the best value. Serina loves ALDI and Asian supermarkets for value.
* Ditches the shopping trolley: The shopping trolley is dangerous because you can lose track of how much you’re spending and how much you have. Using a basket is far better.
1. Plan meals for the week ahead
Preparation is the key to Ms Bird’s financial success, with meal plans that factor in occasions and socialising written for the week ahead.
‘You might not stick to the plan exactly, but it means you more likely to feel in control and prepared,’ she said.
2. Never leave the house without a shopping list
Writing a list before every supermarket trip stops you from getting sidetracked by special offers and discounts on items she doesn’t really need, Ms Bird said.
Her best advice is to use up whatever is in the pantry before filling it with more.
On one occasion, Ms Bird added up ‘leftover’ items and found she had $100 worth of usable food.
This approach has helped her to cut down on waste and discretionary expenditure.
Writing a list before every supermarket trip stops you from getting sidetracked by special offers and discounts on items she doesn’t really need (stock image)
3. Meal prep once a month
Ms Bird cooks a batch of meals in bulk once a month for her family to eat in case of emergencies.
‘It’s so much quicker and easier to pull out of the freezer than ordering home delivery,’ she said.
‘You could even batch cook with friends to make it a social event.’
Meal prepping is a clever way to cut costs on groceries; South Australian chef Stacey Randall makes these 25 hearty dinners in bulk once a month at a cost of $110 – just $4.40 a meal
4. Swap takeaways for ‘Fridge Fridays’
Rather than indulging in pricey takeaways at the weekend, Ms Bird suggests ‘Fridge Fridays’ to use up the food you would otherwise throw out.
The self-professed ‘queen of leftovers’ said her family often make pizzas with creative toppings – but her two sons aren’t always as keen as her husband, Neil.
‘Honesty disclaimer: my kids don’t go in for innovative, but hubby and I are always up for interesting combinations,’ she said.