Simple Living

Things we don’t do to save money that actually DO save money.

Jill Palmer4 comments2990 views
Toby at Shark Bay
Toby seeking sun at Shark Bay while it rains in Perth

Travel slowly

We are SO not in a hurry. Of course its possible to ‘do a lap’ of Australia in 3 months. But we’d rather go deep than wide. We don’t want to use all that fuel, and our family is happier if we live more slowly and gently. We don’t travel slowly to save money, but it does save money!

Don’t buy single serves

I like buying in bulk because it uses less packaging. I love having a big bucket of staple foods in my bus (it doubles as a seat) I don’t buy single serve or things in heaps of packaging because plastic disposal is a massive issue for our land and water. Check out this quick video about plastic.  I love working out the price per kilo of foods, and realising that those tiny little single serve packages not only use a ridiculous amount of plastic, but their per kilo cost is off the planet. $44/kg for biscuits anyone? And of course, this saves money.  I’d like to think it saves a few fish and turtles too.

Double our solar system

We hopped on Gumtree a few weeks back and bought enough second hand solar panels to double our bus roof top solar from 400 watts to 800 watts  and our solar controller from 30Amp to 60Amp.  We can now cook on an induction stove, and even run an airconditioner, all on solar power. Or course, we already run a fridge, computer, blender and mini washing machine!  We really want to cut right back on using fossil fuels and supporting the industries that supply them.  So we will very rarely need to plug in to mains power or use a generator. Yay! the biggest cost saving of course, is being able to avoid caravan parks because we simply don’t need what they provide.
Working with solar and 12volt systems is homeschooling bliss-in-a-bottle.  Nice work Oli!

Run the bus on Waste Veggie Oil

We are converting our lovely bus to run on Waste Veggie Oil (WVO).  It means we will spend hardly anything on fuel. Why? Waste veggie oil comes from the back of fish and chip and other restaurants. We will clean the WVO ourselves, and save the shop the cost of removal. Until we can run our bus on solar power, WVO represents a step away from our dependence on fossil fuels … And its free.

Follow the sun. Yearly and daily

Like most folks who live on the road, we mostly follow the sun. North in wonder, south in summer. This means we don’t spend much on heating our bus, and in the height of summer we are WAY south and don’t spend much on cooling the bus. We do it to save on energy use, and keep those fossil fuels in the ground. And because we don’t much care for winter weather. But of course it saves us a bunch of money as well.
But we also try to live by the sun on a daily basis. We aim to get up early, play all day, and sleep early, so we don’t have 3 or 4 hours of electricity use at night. Its a super kid-friendly and healthy way to live, and of course, it saves us money.

Eat less meat

We don’t buy meat, are terrible at catching fish and rarely eat out. The result of this is we are very nearly vegetarians.  We do this because consuming meat is responsible for a huge chunk of the issues we have with global warming. Producing meat is simple a very very resource hungry thing to be doing. So we eat other foods that take fewer resources to grow, and don’t produce methane like cows do!  Most Australian families spend at least $50 a week on meat. We can get so many beans, eggs, cheese, lentils and nuts for $50, you wouldn’t believe how well we eat!! We don’t eat less meat in order to save money, but we do save money.

Eat way less sugar

Imagine if you filled a shopping trolley with all your normal stuff, and then removed everything containing sugar. Add up the cost before and after, and see how much money stays unspent. But that’s not why we eat hardly any sugar. We do it for our health. Biscuits, lollies, cakes, commercial ice-cream and deserts, cordial and juice, sauces and marinades…. I can cook better, cheaper, and healthier myself. We don’t skip sugar to save money, but it really does.

Wash ourselves and our clothes less often

I have a very relaxed attitude to cleanliness.  Hygiene in cooking, absolutely, I don’t muck around. But cleanliness of clothes and bodies??  Not so much a big deal. For example, a swim TOTALLY counts as a wash. Also, if kids played in the dirt all day, and fully intend to play all day in the dirt tomorrow, they can just put those dirty clothes right back on.
Also, we buy nearly all our clothes second hand, and we try to only buy brown, grey or other dark colours like bottle green or marroon. Certainly never white or cream. not being able to see the dirt really helps in ignoring it.  Likewise, we have brown or navy sheets. If we are on limited water, I’m not going to waste it on cleaning things that are going to get dirty again in five minutes. I’ll just wash the sheets later. Or not. Its only sand!
We do this to save water, and stay longer at free-camps, and to use less washing powder. But of course, it saves us money too
It’s not always true that the sustainable way of doing things is also the budget way. But it often works out that they go hand in hand. What do you do that ends up saving you money?


  1. Wonderful post!
    I am so pleased to have discovered your blog. I love everything about your ethos – you’re doing exactly what I hope to be doing in a few years time. I look forward to hearing your stories and following your journey and maybe someday I will get to meet you beautiful people in person on the road
    Happy travels 🙂

  2. Loving your blog, great ideas and what a way for the children to grow up. Please keep me up to date during your travels. Paul

  3. We’ve been traveling much of the time since 2007, and are currently doing our first bus conversion (in Canada) and only needing to fit 5 of our 9 kids on the bus! We seem to have many areas of like-minded thinking, and look forward to following along on your travels.

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