An Irish mam managed to save a hugely impressive €27,500 in one year after she quit her job and cut her bills in half.
Kildare lady Kel Galavan had spent 16 years working as a microbiologist in the pharma industry.
However, as both she and her husband Dave were working long hours, as well as having a daily commute to Dublin, their childcare bills were going through the roof.
Kel also realised she wasn’t getting enough quality time with her nine-year-old daughter Ria, and six-year-old son Aaron.
She eventually decided to take the plunge and quit her job. She vowed not to spend any money on non-essentials for a year.
Kel wanted to find out how much it was possible to save and started a blog called Mrs Smart Money where she discussed her helpful hints and tips.
She told the Irish Sun: “Quitting my job was the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life. I thought about it for a year before I had the guts to make the move.
“You put so much energy into it, so much of your life into your job so it’s a huge part of you.
“But the bottom line was that when I was trying to decide, I kept going back to the fact that I couldn’t rewind time and my children won’t be young forever.”
Kel knew that it was important to make savings as the family would just have Dave’s income to support them from now on.
She said: “Because I’d always worked and always had my own income, it really cut me deep not to have my own money.
“I thought if I was going to put the income on my husband’s shoulders, I was going to do everything on my side to keep spending under control.
“I knew we wouldn’t have childcare costs, which was a big saving, and we went from two cars to one.
“But I started thinking of all the other ways I could make savings, so I decided to have a no spend year in 2019.
“I didn’t really think anything would come of it but I opened an Instagram account and wrote about it on a blog.”
Kel discovered there were several aspects of their lives where it was possible to make savings – which soon started to add up to significant sums.
One thing that changed was the family’s eating habits. They started to eat less processed foods and more veg.
This had the unexpected but positive side effect of the family not being sick, which was unusual for the whole year.
They also invited people over for dinner rather than go out for meals.
The family also changed cars, with Kel explaining: “Switching to electric was the best move we ever made. It costs between €20 and €30 per month but even the insurance and tax are far cheaper.
“To get it serviced, including getting it washed, cost us just €65.”
The family took their holiday in Dunmore East, as they had done the previous year. However, they managed to halve the cost from €1,600 to €800 by going self-catering and skipping buying holiday clothes.
Kel also started to pass down her frugal philosophy to her children, as well as teaching an important lesson in looking out for those less fortunate.
She said: “They each got their age in pocket money for the week, but it had to be divided into three categories.
“I didn’t want to be saying no to them all the time, so with their own money they were allowed to spend some of it straight away.
“The second portion was for saving in case they wanted Lego or a scooter. The third category was charity.
“I think kids get so much and I just wanted them to understand that even if you don’t have a lot of money there’s still enough to give something to somebody.
“They tended to pick animal charities and I’d try and find a local one so we’d make an adventure trip out of going there to donate.”
The biggest expenditure for the family in recent years had been childcare, with the annual cost reaching nearly €20,000.
With Kel being at home, they were able to cut this down to €10,700 which was spent on daily after-school care and school holidays.
The overall savings were far more than Kel was expecting even though she had made sure the family had maintained a good standard of living.
She said: “I couldn’t believe there was that much savings. I thought childcare would be the main one.
“I wanted the year to be practical. I was happy to make sacrifices but with regards to our family I made sure we had a good car, a family holiday and we kept broadband.
“But all of the small things really added up.”
Kel summed up her year by explaining she was happy to spend on quality essential items but was not interested in anything she didn’t feel she needed.
She said: “The grocery budget will stay in place. I’m not going to fall for fast fashion anymore and I’m going to think a lot more about when I spend money.”
Written by Michael Kehoe @michaelcalling