Living on $35 per week – easy as

While the Green Taliban and Labour moan about the minimum wage of $550 per week ($13.75 x 40 hours) this inspiring story of a family living on $35 per week puts all that in perspective.

Since almost losing her home and business during the height of the recession, Lyn has saved more than $100,000 by cutting her weekly shopping bill down from $200 to just $35. She says without the drastic measures, she would have lost everything.

“I’d be on the DPB right now, I think,” she says from her Northland farm. “I was really in the poo in 2009. I spent money without thinking about it and I had no nest egg, so when I ran out of money and the farm was struggling, the banks wouldn’t help me.”

Excellent – Lyn owns her life and accepts responsibility for her situation – seems she does not expect or want to be dependant upon the state

Lyn’s youngest daughter Stevie – once resistant to the budget – has developed a real skill for making innovative lunches and snacks in the kitchen from nothing at all.

Living mostly out of her garden – collecting milk and eggs from her livestock and only purchasing staple items such as ­flour, sugar and legumes – Lyn also refuses to buy any cleaning products and cosmetics, replacing the majority with baking soda.

Amazingly, the entire family doesn’t miss any food item from their “previous life” – the only thing Stevie misses is dishwashing liquid. 

Not only does growing their own fruit and vegetables mean cheaper grocery bills, but it gives the Webster family the opportunity to pitch in together – from weeding and watering, to picking the produce for meal time.

“It’s so easy once you get in the swing of things,” Lyn says. “At the beginning, we were hungry sometimes. I know middle-class New Zealanders shouldn’t feel hungry, but we did go hungry for a little bit.

“We soon got used to portion control and the different foods we were eating. If anything, we’re healthier now we’re not eating anything processed.”

What? No KFC McDonalds or Lotto?  That might make the Green Taliban happy, but then these people must be class traitors living on $35 per week?

“It’s not like I’m a hippy or anything,” she smiles. “But when I made the ­first batch of laundry powder, I felt the most amazing sense of achievement, and I haven’t looked back since.”

Even worse she is not a hippy who freeloads their parasitic existence off the state. Nor do they look like hippies either.

Along with a weekly column she’s been writing for the local paper about her experiences, Lyn has just released her ­first book, Pig Tits & Parsley Sauce, which tells readers exactly how to save money and live more sustainably.


Baking soda and white vinegar. I’m kicking myself at how long it took me to discover the joys. Between them, they will replace most cleaning products and cosmetics.

  • Don’t go shopping hungry.
  • Take cash to the supermarket, then you can’t overspend.
  • Buy cheese and butter on special and freeze.
  • Don’t turn things down. If someone is offering you something for free, take it and try it.
  • Don’t give up – it takes 21 days to change a habit.

Pig Tits & Parsely Sauce (Penguin, $25) is available now from bookstores

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As much at home writing editorials as being the subject of them, Cam has won awards, including the Canon Media Award for his work on the Len Brown/Bevan Chuang story. When he’s not creating the news, he tends to be in it, with protagonists using the courts, media and social media to deliver financial as well as death threats.

They say that news is something that someone, somewhere, wants kept quiet. Cam Slater doesn’t do quiet and, as a result, he is a polarising, controversial but highly effective journalist who takes no prisoners.

He is fearless in his pursuit of a story.

Love him or loathe him, you can’t ignore him.

To read Cam’s previous articles click on his name in blue.