• Robin and her Cash Challenge

Tuesday, September 04, 2012

Robin loves a challenge but this one is proving to be a struggle... Michelle House- Founder and CEO of Secret Budget has challenged Robin to swap the cards for cash in an all cash budget challenge.

Robin, Terry and Bob caught up with Michelle to find out all about how her budgets work.

Have a listen to the interview and then check back as Robin updates us with how she is going!

Michelle will also be giving her advice on how Robin is going and how she can stay on track.  For more information about Secret Budget you can visit the website.

Robin's Update:

Thanks to Michelle from Secret Budget who set me the challenge of living off a cash budget for a week to see if I can live a cheaper life. 

We spoke to Michelle last week and I sat down with my husband Tony over the weekend and agreed to give it a go.

Rather than a wallet with different compartments we are using pencil cases at home which we can both access and this it seems is our first problem. I am out and about without the entertainment cash so used my sanity money to hire three videos. I then get home and realize that the entertainment pencil case only has a $50 note in it so there is now an IOU saying entertainment owes me $9.95.

I also needed to buy my littlest son a pair of shoes as his runners literally fell apart on his feet on Saturday. Where does that money come from? Is that classed as a necessary bill or should I be saving the kids money for that? Maybe we should have another pencil case that says “Other” as well as “Food” , “Entertainment”, “Kids and one for Tony and my play money and the shoes come out of that.

Obviously first week teething problems but I am still passionate about the idea.

Michelle's Advice:

  • Planning, planning, planning – I used to cringe when my mum would tell me to plan, but you know what it works.  It works for my life and it works for my budget.  Getting started with planning is sometimes a struggle, but it soon becomes a habit.  Daily money management habits need to be formed.  We need to be “Conscious Consumers”.
  • Tracking – write down all spending.  Tedious but worth it.  It’s just like a health regime.... you need to know what you are doing before you can make any changes.
  • Entertainment money – is it a 50/50 split of spending with Tony and Robin?  If so, take half each.
  • The runners for their son – this is an expense that you know is going to occur each year.   Typically this would come out of a savings account that is set up for kids.
  • Small denominations of money- this will help, but be careful to “watch” the money (TIP: every time you get a $5 note in change, stick it into an envelope.  I did this once and saved $100 in a month without even realising it!!)

Robin's Update:

Again I have come up against a planning issue with my budget. I get my hair done every five to six weeks because of my TV commitments on the Weekend Today Show. That is probably at least a month earlier than I normally would but I need to keep the color and cut fresh.

Where should this expense come from? Is it a work expense that comes out of bills or is it something that is my luxury?

I had my hair booked in for yesterday with Antonette who comes up from the Gold Coast and the appointment is not easily changed so I didn’t have the $150 needed for the color cut and treatment from this week’s accounts.

As it stands I owe my luxury account $75 from next weeks budget…..not a great thought for next week! AHHHHHHH

Michelle's Advice:

Haircuts, waxing, beauty treatment costs need to be worked out over the year and included in your weekly budget.

Haircut example $150 every 4 weeks.
  • 52 weeks in the year divide by 4 = 13
  • 13 haircuts a year @ $150 = $1,950 per year
  • $1,950 divide by 52 weeks = $37.50 per week
  • $37.50 per week needs to go into an account where you can withdraw as you need for your haircut

Looks like a quiet week next week Robin!  That $75 has to be paid back from somewhere or else you’ll be behind the Eight ball!

Robin's Update:

Well this morning we talked about having a night out with your partner or with your family for under $50 and you all came back with some great ideas! Here are some of the cheap outings that you suggested for us this morning;

Local leagues club, go on a night that kids eat for free and you can be done with roughly $30

Trip to south bank to check out the markets, go for a swim (if the weather heats up) head over to the museum or GOMA and have a waterfront fish and chips if you get hungry

Takeaway pizza picnic on the rug and cushions at home watching a family movie

Pack a nice simple picnic (cheeses & wine) then go for a walk through South Bank or Kangaroo Point and enjoy the views whilst having a nice chat & picnic

Fresh loaf of bread and $15 worth of chips, take tomato sauce with you and take the family to the waterfront. Take your bikes and a football and you will have money left to do it again
Tivoli drive in at Ipswich. You can all go and have food from canteen for under $50

Michelle's Advice:

Wow...awesome responses. I love that these ideas don't cost a lot of money but what I really love is they get the family out and together. A wonderful opportunity to connect with each other an to be grateful that we have these choices.We love a BBQ at kangaroo point cliffs up the top on sunset. Just some sausages, bread rolls and sauce and on a night like tonight a flask of hot chocolate. Then a good run around with the ball up and down the hills ... Magic!

Robin's Update:

This weekend was supposed to be about doing something with the kids for $50 but instead it became a lesson in choices.

Friday night we were at Olympic soccer as my eldest was playing their under 12s. I fed the kids at home but as soon as they got to the ground they wanted more food. I gave them the choice that if they ate again it would cut into the $50 and therefore we wouldn't be able to go out on Saturday night. They wanted the food so we ended up with just $15 left .

This meant we decided to do a picnic at home on Saturday night in front of the Olympics with $15 of Charlie's chips and potatoes cakes plus sausages and bread. We had a great night and the kids are really starting to understand about choices and that money doesn't grow on trees.

Michelle's Advice:

Fantastic!  We are our children's teachers and they need to learn exactly what you are talking about Robin...money does not grow on trees.  We need to teach our children money lessons so their life is empowered when they are adults.  Remember - they have the biggest eyes and ears in the business - they learn by our demonstration.

Perhaps this can be seen as an opportunity to reevaluate their pocket money? The food at the ground could have easily been a pocket money expense!


The Final Update On Robin's Cash Challenge

It's week four of our family's budget push and things are going strong.  Not only are we still sticking to the budget, but we can see it's actually working!

I think the hardest thing is trying not to become too complacent and slip back into using the credit cards when we run short.  As I am the one pushing the whole idea, it's probably fair to say that Tony is quicker to reach for the plastic than me.

I am getting excited to see whether, over the next month, we really are saving money.  For me, the pressure is off as I know how much I have in my wallet.  Even better, I no longer put myself in situations if I know I don't have the cash.

It seems I'm not the only one who is enjoying the cash budget!

This week one of the sales guys emailed me to say he had also been following the cash budget for two weeks and was loving it.  He found it worked best "for all the variable expenses like groceries, fuel, personal grooming, dining out etc. and it really makes you realise how wasteful you can be when you use eftpos for everything".

So if you're hesitant about taking the challenge - I'm proof that it can work!


Email us

Call us on


Latest from Robin, Terry & Bob

How Domestic Violence Changed Alison's Life Forever

Tuesday, November 25, 2014 More

Tez Learns Why Settlement Cove Is The Best Of Brisbane

Tuesday, November 25, 2014 More

You Got Stuck Where?!

Monday, November 24, 2014 More

FREE Things To Do In Brisbane

Monday, November 24, 2014 More

Should We Be Worried About Schoolies?

Friday, November 21, 2014 More

Guy Sebastian's Brother Tried To Breastfeed Him

Friday, November 21, 2014 More