Gettin’ Guesty with Sharron Hunter

Sharron Hunter is the co-founder of Eco In The Know. She’s also a charming Australian who made her way to Colorado. Today she’s sharing a bit of her motherhood story (below). She defined her priorities, and (I think most importantly) she utilized what she had to maximize her then one-income family situation.

image courtesy of the author (left)


I remember taking my three kids, 2 boys and a gal, to opportunity shops in Melbourne, Australia to find toys, clothes, books, board games and anything else we might need. I was a mother on a spending diet through the 1980s and 1990s and this was my way of supporting both the important issue of recycling and keeping down costs. It was during this period that our family also embraced organic farming. We turned our rather spacious inner city block of land into a garden farm, growing vegetables, fruit and herbs for our own use. It was not unusual for the kids to be playing in their cubby house and wander out into the veggie patch to gather a fine selection of cherry tomatoes and small crispy cucumbers to create a “cubby” house salad!! If the fancy took them, they could also climb in the apricot tree and feast on tree ripened apricots all plump and juicy! But I digress.

My spending diet was a consequence of an important decision I had made to see my role as a parent as my primary job. It meant that I put aside work for income and took up the most challenging work of a mother, full time and for no financial gain. So our family of 5 survived on Australian $25,000 per year. A friend of mine exclaimed at the time that she was amazed we could do this and a little embarrassed because in her annual budget, $25,000 represented money spent on overseas holidays. Okay, so we did without those, instead we camped in the Aussie bush each Summer, always somewhere remote, brimming with wild life and usually along a pristine beach or an equally beautiful river.


When required and at regular intervals the kids and I would scour the thrift shops, finding little and big treasures that we would triumphantly take home and make good use of. The most famous of our finds was the fantastic Canary Yellow Lace Party Dress which Chiara, my daughter, found in the $2 basket in the kids clothing section. It was outrageously gaudy with layer upon layer of over patterned cotton lace, which was enough to make a 3 year old feel like a princess. Her excitement got the better of her that afternoon and she immediately began to undress herself and struggle her way into this luxurious garment. She was not the girliest of girls so this “over the top” and flouncy number in bright yellow was an odd choice. It was a perfect fit and by the look of pure ecstasy on her little face I was convinced that she had had a fashion epiphany! She walked out of that thrift shop with it on, combined with her child size blunt stone boots (the Aussie version of outback cowboy boots) and did not take it off for the next 3 days!!! I was only allowed to wash it every now and then, when the lace became weighed down with grime and lost that Princess lustre! Oh the joy that was had from this $2 purchase, a joy that lasted a good year until a growth spurt made it impossible for her to wear it without shredding it!! She loved it because she got to choose it and wear it everyday and I loved it because it was a budget hit and we didn’t have any trouble getting her dressed each morning.

That year she was known in our neighbourhood as the “Chrysanthemum”! She is now 20 and we still go to thrift stores together and she still has the knack to make an outlandish pattern, colour or style look remarkably fashionable for the cost of a latte (which by the way we don’t skimp on)!

What are ways that you maximize what you have on a daily basis?



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