A frugal mother-of-eight children is so savvy with money she’s got around the cost-of-living crisis, even with such a big brood.
Now Corrina Stone has revealed her top tips to help cash-strapped families “live your best life on a budget”.
Corrina, 42, who lives in Athy, Co Kildare, said: “It’s not biting me – the only thing I’ve really noticed is the price of diesel for my van.”
When the stay-at-home mum and travel blogger compared her latest electricity bill with a neighbour, they discovered he was paying three times more than she was.
Corrina, who had her eighth child four weeks ago, said: “Our bill only went up this month to €275 for the two months. That’s our electricity for everything. It’s the little things that really add up.”
Figures show more than a third of parents are struggling to balance household budgets as prices spiral, with one in 10 sinking into debt to cover day-to-day costs.
So how do Corrina and salesman husband Colin keep the bills down in a busy household with three teenagers – 16-year-old identical twins Orla and Aoife and Seamus, 14 – as well as Cillian, 11, Lorcan, eight, Oisin, four, Cuan, two, and baby Eoin?
Corrina, a former banker, was a budgeting whizz long before inflation kicked in. She said: “Before we had all the kids, we had a house in Clondalkin and were saving for our forever home as we wanted to be out of Dublin.
“I was 19 with a mortgage. I was working in banking, my husband was a salesman and we did four jobs between us saving.
“But even back then, we used to travel to a European city once a month.
“Everything with budgeting is about balance and living the best life you can with what you have.”
Corrina’s weekly Lidl grocery shopping bill used to be €110 for food but it’s recently crept up to €130.
She swears by doing one big grocery shop a week – and never shops hungry.
She said: “I don’t micro-manage and have never written out a budget.
“I don’t bring a shopping list – I see what’s available and in season and keep my eye out for offers as I go around the supermarket. I buy as much fresh as I can – no convenience or pre-made food as that’s so expensive.
“I cook fresh dinners every day –lasagna, curry, burritos, a roast, spicy bean soup. Fish fingers and waffles every couple of weeks as a treat.
“We buy own-label items but won’t compromise on items like Brennans bread, Hellmann’s mayo, Barry’s Tea, Batchelors beans – the kids love them but a lot of own brand items are great quality too.
“We only eat three loaves of bread a week. We go through around four packets of wraps a week or bagels. Milk is a big one – 10 litres every two days and around six boxes of cereal a week. They horse through around five blocks of Wexford cheese a week – my husband gets that when it’s on offer.
“The kids love ham sambos but I vary it, turkey or chicken or salami, or I make a load of stuffing and have that in sambos too.”
Corrina also makes big savings bulk buying washing powders and toiletries on rotating offers at different shops and joins all reward schemes.
She also saves a fortune by switching service providers every year.
Corrina said: “I constantly check the deals on the market every year and switch.
“Nine times out of 10 there are better deals and new offers are always rotating for broadband, TV, phone, electricity.
“I check all subscriptions and cancel what we don’t use anymore and make sure we’re on the best price plan.”
So how does she keep home energy bills down to a fraction of her neighbour’s in such a busy home?
Corinna revealed: “We’re not living in the dark ages carrying candles around – we’re living comfortably in our home. We’ve always been really mindful of our energy consumption.
“We teach the kids when they’re young – unplug devices and don’t leave them on stand-by. All our lightbulbs are LED as they use 80% less electricity and last longer.
“Cooking we use the airfryer and slow cooker as much as we can instead of the oven and I always put lids on my pots. Only boil water you need if you’re making tea and switch off lights when you leave a room.”
Black Friday is just around the corner but Corrina has no interest.
She said: “I don’t buy into the hype of buying because it’s Black Friday or Cyber Monday. It’s only a bargain if you need it. We never try to keep up with the Jones’ or feel pressure to have the latest cars or phones. We never buy on HP – we save for what we want or need. Buying cheap is not always best for the budget especially for appliances, I shop around and I’m not afraid to ask for the best price they can do. Buy the best you can afford as quality products last longer and check the energy efficiency as the better rated appliances are cheaper to run.”
A big cost they can’t compromise on is their nine-seater Ford Tourneo mini-bus. She added: “The road tax is a killer at €790 a year but I pay it upfront to avoid costs for paying in instalments. I google comparison sites for the cheapest diesel close to me. With home insurance I can get four cent off a litre of diesel in one of the garages. For car insurance, I get the quote online but don’t sign up. I wait for them to ring back and haggle, telling them I can get it cheaper elsewhere. I’ve saved €100 doing that.”
Corrina also picks up deals and discount codes on the Facebook group she runs with her sister Cherry Sue called Bargain Hunting Mums on the Run.
Buying clothes for eight kids would bring most parents out in a cold sweat.
She revealed: “I go to the high street sales at the end of each season and buy what my kids need in larger sizes for the following year. With a little forward planning I save a fortune.”
- Find Corrina on all platforms @itscherrystone
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