It’s nifty to be thrifty

Written by Jessica Mudditt for Australian Seniors.

‘Make do, repair and reuse’ was the mantra of the early 20th century, when drought, depressions, and rationing made their mark on Australian life. Now, frugality is coming full circle.

Budget-friendly tips

A brace of new books by the Country Women’s Association (CWA) of Victoria, Thrifty Household and Thrifty Cooking, have won praise as ‘modern classics’ that are bringing budget-friendly tips to a fresh generation. Hot on their heels is new Foxtel series The Repair Shop Australia, a Down Under version of the BBC TV show watched by 6 million viewers featuring experts restoring items that would otherwise be thrown away.

Many Australians are feeling the pinch with inflation running high and are looking for creative ways to save. Retirees are facing the biggest cost of living hike in 11 years, according to the Association of Superannuation Funds of Australia. But it’s not just soaring prices that are ushering in a new era of ‘waste not, want not’.

The rise of the eco-conscious consumer

As CWA explains in its foreword to Thrifty Household: “We are all much more aware of how we need to look after our planet and use fewer harsh chemicals in favour of more natural products. It’s coincidental that the old remedies also turn out to be more economical.”

The book features 1,000 tips on everything from affordable pet care to home decorating on a shoestring, many using natural ingredients frequently found in the era before mass consumption. For many, modern frugality is about returning to habits held long ago, while others are discovering how satisfying it is to find smart ways to save pennies.

Keepin’ it frugal

The creators of the Keepin’ it Frugal lifestyle website, Sarah Lawrie and Laura Turner, have noticed a change in attitudes towards frugality since the site’s launch seven years ago. “People are talking about it more, and being frugal isn’t frowned upon,” says Laura. “There’s a shift from frugality being seen as penny-pinching to being thrifty and clever, and having a bit of fun with it as well.”

For example, you can learn to cook your favourite restaurant meal for a fraction of the price at home. Sarah and Laura create tasty Asian-inspired sauces from scratch, using ingredients such as fish sauce, mint, and lime. Making your own pickles and jams is also cheaper than buying store-bought versions.

If you’ve never tried pickling, it’s best to start simple, says Sarah. “Try a quick pickle – something that doesn’t need to sit on the bench forever, but will instead be ready in a few hours.” Easy, fresh and ready in a flash – no wonder frugal is cool once more.

Another way to be frugal is with your insurance products, in particular for your car and home and contents – it’s always worth considering shopping around to see if you can get a better deal. Why not get a quote today?