Just your average one income family on a budget – Home Reno Edition


Just like many families out there with young children, we’re a one income family. My husband is the main earner in our household and I’m lucky enough to have been a stay-at-home-Mum for four and a half years now. While I dabble in a bit of blogging, graphic design and social media work, my husband is still the main “provider”.

I’m the first to say being on one income isn’t easy, and I know in some parts of New Zealand (*cough* Auckland *cough*), for some, it is literally impossible to live on one income only. So, I will say first off that I do feel extremely blessed to be able to make it work, and thankful that we live in a place that is much cheaper than other parts of New Zealand.

We bought our first home in September last year, and since then we have slowly been adding things, purchasing new things for the house and fixing broken bits and bobs. I’m sure all new home owners will know what I mean. If you follow me on Snapchat, you will know we have recently been doing some home renovations! The bathroom of our house was the only room that hadn’t been renovated prior to our purchase, and to put it bluntly – it was hideous. I can’t even explain. When our 4-year-old accidentally flooded the bathroom at the end of last year, that kick started us into getting onto it!

Part of the bathroom was covered by the flooding insurance claim, some with some money we had in our savings… but knew that we would need more for the extra things that we wanted – a shower dome, new fixtures and new decor (as ya do!). So, we opened a ‘house’ bank account. A sub-account to our normal joint account, where we could transfer across a certain amount of money each pay. This would also be handy for home maintenance costs – the downside of being your own landlord means you can’t just ring the landlord! Haha! We’ve done the whole bathroom on a rather small budget, and we’re currently at the point of getting tiles and attempting to tile ourselves (to save money)… wish me luck on that one!

Photo 26-06-17, 12 22 37 PM

I’m not going to lie and make out that I’m amazing with money. To be totally honest, up until a few months ago I was terrible! Nare was the bill payer, I was the spender. I never looked at our accounts and I never knew how much our bills came to. Nothing. I don’t know exactly what happened but a switch went off one day and I thought I better give myself a kick up the bum and start adulting… so I did. I sat down and created my own budget, I worked everything out, opened a bunch of sub-accounts and made up some automatic payments. And do you know what? It bloody worked! Nare didn’t have high hopes, he rolled his eyes when I told him I had done a budget – I’ve done it a few times before but only lasted a couple of weeks. Oops! But this time I’m proud to say that a few months down the track, I’m still going strong and we’ve been saving money! Yay!

A couple of weeks ago I had a chat with an advisor from BNZ about being on one income and how it can be a struggle. BNZ has been the principal sponsor of Plunket since 2010, so I knew they’d have a good understanding of the financial challenges when it comes to raising a young family. The advisor pointed me to a section of their website called The BNZ Plunket Hub, which is totally aimed at families and new parents. Who knew?! Wish I had found that a while ago – ironically on this page that’s about ways for new parents to sort out their finances, point number 3 says ‘make a budget, and stick to it’. So, if you don’t already have a budget, I highly recommend!! I keep mine on my phone so that I can look at it anywhere, at any time. I even pay the bills myself now, you guys! 26 years old, mum for 4.5 years… and I’m finally paying the bills! Haha!

For those yet to have a baby, going down to one income can be extremely daunting! And the idea of having ‘extra’ money after all the bills have come out, doesn’t seem like something that will ever happen. But you do get used it, and it does happen! You just learn to be a bit more savvy with things you buy, where you shop, and differentiating between what you really need – and what you want (I’m not amazing at that last one). On the BNZ Plunket Hub there are also a couple of reads from a couple who were pregnant with their first baby who did a ‘one income challenge’ one week to get a taste of what it would be like. You can see how it went here. Quite interesting seeing that once they had nutted out a budget, that they actually were able to save more than they originally thought they would. We found this too, once we had all the numbers in front of us!

I hope you’ve enjoyed reading a bit about how we save for things like home renovations and other things that may crop up, and how we make it work on one income. Thank you to BNZ for sponsoring this, I’ve been meaning to blog about budgeting and this was the perfect opportunity! I’m going to turn this into a bit of a series – next up is the ‘Groceries Edition’!

J x








Vanessa’s Twin Baby Shower

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I’ve never thrown any sort of party that isn’t one of my own kids parties – so I was super excited to give myself the job of throwing my home-girl/bestie/live 2 mins away friend ,Vanessa, a baby shower. Yes, I totally randomly said one day “Can I do a baby shower?!” and she said yes, so I was self-titled Baby Shower Planner from then on in.

Vanessa and I haven’t been friends for long, though again the wonderful world of squares (Instagram) found me another best friend. We followed each other on Instagram, talked a bit on Snapchat about sleep training when Harper and Marlo were around 6-9 months, met up once at a cafe… and have pretty much been inseparable since! The excitement was real when we bought a house 2 mins drive from Vanessa + Chris’ house! Play dates, coffee dates, Lift Plus dates, late night Warehouse dates, fortnightly grocery shopping dates, all the dates! We catch up multiple times a week, I love her kid like my own, and she loves mine (I think haha).

Vanessa the babe is currently 30 weeks pregnant with twin girls! (yes, scroll back to that top photo now and look at how bloody babe’n she looks carrying TWO BABIES!!!) I’ve been on the journey with her since day one – I’ve heard all the ups, all the downs, and have done my best at being the supportive and encouraging friend that she needs – whenever she needs it. Vanessa says she complains a lot – but sheesh I’d be complaining a lot too if I was measuring 43 weeks at 30! She’s inspiring, she looks absolutely stunning, and I know for the fact that she’s going to absolutely kick ass at being a Mum to 3 under 2.

Vanessa, I know you’re reading this. I’m so proud of you and am so proud to be your friend. Thank you for letting me into your life, for encouraging my Lift Plus addiction, for baking my husband cookies for his work birthday shout, for everything. You’re a truly amazing friend and I’m so blessed to have you in my life. Thanks babe x (bloody cat allergies, my eyes are leaking).

Ok so that is our friendship in a basic nutshell, and that is why I wanted to throw her a beautiful baby shower where she could feel super special, eat yummy food, and relax!

I contacted Ness from OMG-Ness Styling, I knew she’d be the girl to bounce my ideas off, and give me some inspiration. And that she did! She sent me loads of inspiration ideas of what I could achieve, and we nutted out a loose theme of ‘Floral Boho’. She showed me some amazing grazing tables which I knew I wanted to do, on pallets with cushions all around for the guests to sit on. I also knew I wanted a photo wall of some kind – duh what Instagrammer wouldn’t want a photo wall 😉 so that was another on my ‘must have’ list.

We had the amazing Hugo & Grace supply us with all the beautiful party supplies! I picked out lots of goodies in florals and rose golds, and they came together amazingly.

  1. Ivy Garlands (we used these for the photo wall back drop)
  2. Boho Cups
  3. Giant Rose Gold Confetti Balloons
  4. Various other coloured balloons
  5. Rose Gold Plates
  6. Confetti
  7. Rose Gold Straws
  8. Mini Rose Gold Foil Letter Balloons

Here’s how it all looked today…


Floral wreath from Oh Peony




The overall look was really easy to achieve. A bit of a team effort really! Nare got up this morning and shifted our couches into the garage so that we had a blank canvas. Our friend Kelsi’s husband got the pallets for us and tidied up the rough edges. And we used cushions from mine and Kelsi’s houses, and I also borrowed some from another friend (thanks Cara!).

The grazing table was also reasonably easy to achieve! I told Vanessa’s Mum and Mother-in-law what my vision was and they turned up with bags of perfectly suitable food – crackers, cheeses, dips, breads, fruit, etc which was super helpful! We also had some other delicious goodies from the team at Food Snob, thanks guys! Kelsi came early to help me set up, I basically showed her a photo of what I wanted and she set to work – thank you Kelsi! You’re amazing!

All in all it turned out EXACTLY how I imagined it. So happy with the final result and Vanessa’s face when she walked in said it all…


THANK YOU to everyone that helped in one way or another with this beautiful baby shower xx

You can follow Vanessa’s journey on Instagram, Facebook or Snapchat (wearethewatsons) x


7 days of toddler lunches at the Whittakers

We love trying to create different and interesting meals for Brooklyn for lunch, but most of all – lunches that are easy, balanced and quick to prepare… and that he will actually eat!

I’ve documented what 7 days of lunches at our house looks like, to share with you some different ideas. I’m keeping it real here – I won’t pretend he never has chicken nuggets when I can’t be bothered making anything else. These are by no means complex lunches, but I hope they help give you some ideas and/or inspiration for things you can offer your toddler at lunch time.








Thank you to Karicare Toddler for sponsoring this post – Sourced from Kiwi cows on Kiwi farms. I love that! Made in New Zealand at its finest!

Our Replay Recycled plates and cutlery are from And They Lived Green, and Brooklyn’s Goodbyn Hero lunchbox is from And They Lived Green also.

I hope you’ve found this post helpful! I’d love to hear any easy ideas you have for toddler lunches, let me know on Facebook or Instagram!

J x

#madeinnz #nzmumlife