Mum saves £21,000 in three years thanks to sustainable lifestyle

Thrifty mother reveals she’s saved £21,000 in three years thanks to sustainable habits such as making her own toiletries, using cloth nappies and only buying second hand furniture

  • Mum-of-three saves £21,000 in three years as she switches to sustainable habits
  • Sian Young, 47, from West Sussex, only has upcycled furniture in her home
  • She and her husband got slimmer and healthier after changing their lifestyle

A thrifty mum has shared her favourite tips for living sustainably after saving £21,000 in just three years thanks to a few simple swaps.

Sian Young, 47, from West Sussex, has welcomed a host of sustainable living hacks into her life which she says have helped her to save the impressive sum.

The sustainable success consultant, who lives with her husband James and their two-year-old daughter Analicia, says not only has her bank balance improved, but also her overall health and wellbeing.

‘I was always buying cheap because I had no money and I thought buying cheap would stretch what little money I had,’ Sian, who is the CEO of the Centre for Sustainable Action explained.

Sian Young saved £21,000 in just three years thanks to a few simple swaps to a sustainable lifestyle

‘But the things I bought would be so out of shape on the first or second wash, or broken if they were toys.’

Sian was surprised by the results she encountered when she started researching methods and practicing sustainability more.  

Sian, who is also mum to Jordan, 23 and Cameron, 19, said: ‘When I started buying with more thought to my environmental cost, it made me really look at why I wanted to buy what I was buying and also lots of relatively cost-free alternatives.

‘The healthier and happier I got and the more money I saved, the more enthused I became about living sustainably.’

‘It didn’t just start with money – it all started with a desire to have less chemicals affecting our health and planet – but the more I learned, the more I noticed how much money it was saving us.’

‘Our health kept getting better too, and we got slimmer and more vibrant.’

Sian Young with her husband James, daughter Analicia and sons Jordan and Cameron. The family only has upcycled furniture in their house

‘We have turned the financial savings into income too by using it to invest in our business.’

Sian has made sure that – aside from white goods – all the family’s household items are upcycled free items that she finds online. 

They also saved money by having their wedding at home for £2,500 – compared to the average wedding cost of £12,000 – and making the decorations themselves.

Adding up the average costs of items including TV cabinets, coffee tables, dining table sets and other assorted furniture, compared to what they spent, Sian estimates the family have saved £21,000 in total since cutting back on costs three years ago.

Now, the mum has shared her top tips for cutting back while living sustainably.

Sian Young with her sons Jordan and Cameron. The whole family has benefitted from her sustainable efforts as more money has been saved

Sian Young with her husband James getting married at home with the celebrations costing a total of £2,500


Starting with the mindset is Sian’s first tip. 

She said: ‘The decision to spend money first starts in your mind, we buy stuff for two main reasons: we think we need it, or we think we “should” get it.’

‘[We have to] question where this need comes from – did you just pass an advert or see something on social media that placed the thought in your mind?’

‘Never buy something because you think it will impress someone else. When you are happy, you just don’t need to buy senseless purchases – and often ones that you can’t afford.’

‘You reflect on the outside what is going on inside, and when your mind isn’t happy you tend to buy things which you perceive will make you happy.’

‘A lot of the time it just gets lost in a pile of stuff.’


When it comes to household items, Sian isn’t shy about taking things back to basics.

This involves thrifty solutions including making her own body creams – which consists of coconut oil, sweet almond oil, coconut butter, shea butter and essential oils – and even her own cleaning products.

She said: ‘I decided I could not risk having poisonous chemicals in my home so I started to make my own cleaners and they have been highly effective and so incredibly cheap to make.’

‘We are talking back to basics with bicarbonate soda and essential oils with good old boiled water.’

‘When I was broke, I started with water, bicarb, lemon and tea tree oil. This would last ages and allow me to make as and when I needed it – this also stopped me from going to the shops, often saving me money.’

While many people buy disposable nappies and sanitary products, Sian says she saves a total of £1,562 every year by choosing sustainable alternatives.

She said: ‘We use cloth nappies for our baby and this saves over £1,475 per year. If you started using reusable nappies you would reduce your personal environmental footprint by 25%.’

‘I also use sustainable sanitary wear, saving me £87 per year and dramatically reducing my impact on the environment.’


A large part of Sian’s cost-saving efforts has come from avoiding large purchases, including new furniture.

Instead, she gives older items a new lease of life by upcycling them.

She said: ‘We have upcycled or found most of our furniture for free.’

‘For the screen we used on our wedding day, I found it online for £10. I stripped the old stale paper that was there, cleaned it, painted it with chalk paint, and three layers later I used a furniture wax to give it a protective coat.’

‘I bought some linen cuts from another online marketplace for £3 and staple-gunned it across each screen section.’

‘There you have it – a new screen that would have cost me hundreds cost me £30 all in.’

‘I love the creativity of upcycling and the fact you can get something that someone else no longer wants a makeover and it looks amazing.’


Sian chooses to buy her clothes at charity shops – but insists this doesn’t mean having to sacrifice on style.

She said: ‘I am upgrading by having a stylist use my old clothes and material I have around my house to redesign a custom-made wardrobe.’

‘I’m happy [buying my clothes from charity shops] because I know this is me doing my bit to solve the water shortage issues we have and the pollution issues.’

‘If you do buy new then make sure you put money aside and buy a quality item that is sustainably sourced that will last you years.’


Sian says that by pre-planning meals and ordering her groceries ahead of time from local providers, she isn’t tempted to buy more than she needs.

She said: ‘I eat locally sourced organic veg boxes which are delivered to my door each week and for only £12.50 a family of three can have main meals and some lunches for the week.’

‘I also order organic meat once per month and spread it out.’

‘It saves me money on impulse shopping and buying food that goes to waste – the UK throws away around 9.5 million tonnes so this is also a good thing.’

Not only does Sian insist that living sustainably will save money, she’s also felt her stress levels come down since committing to the lifestyle. 

She added: ‘Living sustainably reduces stress, you don’t have to try and keep up with the crazy commercial desires that we are exposed to daily – this saves money which means you have less money stress, which means less stress on the body.’

‘Living sustainably is our way of life. We have so much further that we can go but life is a journey so I am enjoying it.’

The couple, who chose to marry in their house to save on a hefty venue bill, are now planning to use their savings to put towards their dream of living in an off-grid container building.

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