How single mum saved more than $30k in a year

Canna Campbell has a large following for her saving tips dubbed The $1000 project.
Canna Campbell has a large following for her saving tips dubbed The $1000 project.

A SINGLE mum and finance guru from Sydney is on a mission to teach people how easy it is to save a grand.

And Canna Campbell, whose budgeting videos have made her a YouTube star, says she surprised even herself when she saved A$32,000 in the past 12 months using her "$1000 project".

The simple but ingenious idea involves saving money in parcels of $1000 using her clever tips, tricks and advice.

By breaking the job down into manageable chunks, it becomes easier to reach that goal, she says, whether it's saving for a deposit, paying off credit card debt or putting money away for retirement.

"I saved $32,000, it freaks me out," she told after speaking at Friday's Vogue Codes event for female technology leaders. "If I hadn't set that goal, I wouldn't have saved it. I had to manifest that money.

"A lot of people have a self-limiting belief they couldn't possibly afford to save.

Every time you get a payrise, your lifestyle goes up with that.

"It's about creating money beyond the limit of our salary and stopping limiting ourselves by what we earn."


The single mother has blogged about how she saved each $1000 on her popular website,, and it makes for fascinating reading.

Her tactics ranged from selling clothes on High End and furniture on Gumtree to making her own tinted moisturiser and cleaning her own carpets instead of hiring a professional.

"I have a minimalist approach in my lifestyle," says the 36-year-old. "It wasn't just selling things on eBay, I rented my house on Airbnb, which anyone can do; I took on extra projects.

"A girl who follows my site in New Zealand and is trying to get out of HECS debt looks after people's pets, staying at their homes and making $300 a week. Others are walking dogs, babysitting. We're all capable of doing things, it just takes determination and dedication.

"I did a lot of humble things, like market research where you sit and eat crackers for $40; saying I'm going to stay at home and hang out with friends.

"One night, I bought pizza, everyone bought a bottle of wine and salad and we sat outside while our kids played. I had planned an expensive restaurant, but I felt wealthier."

Canna decided her goal would be having a "passive income" big enough to buy a $2000 designer handbag each year. She did it by investing her $1000 parcels in shares, something she also works to demystify on her website.


Anyone can do this, she insists. But where do you start?

"You've got to have a budget," she said, "Understand how you spend your money and where it goes, and where you can save. If you can't, look at your living expenses - what can you cut out?

"I was spending $180 on Foxtel a month. I don't even watch TV. I don't value that, so I cut it out. The smallest, simplest changes make a difference. That $180 could go into your super.

"When you come across a saving, redirect it to something. I don't think it's hard if you've decided you want to create a better financial future for yourself."

She maintains that you don't have to sacrifice all your pleasures in life.

"I love fashion and beauty and I don't believe in going without," she says. "I tell people, if you want to buy a handbag, buy it, but make it a really good quality handbag, make sure you love it and it's well-made.

"I get the most out of frequent flyer points, I book holidays cost effectively, I do my research and use credit cards so there's no travel insurance. I get maximum usage out of my dollars."

She accepts that for some, $1000 may not be a realistic goal, so break it down to $100.

"Create your own goals, customise it to your situation. It's about breaking your goals into baby steps."


Canna's own wake-up call came when her dad found out she had been stashing her tips from bar work in a drawer. He marched her straight to the bank, where she deposited the cash and she made her first investment.

"In a few months, I received my first dividend cheque," she says. "He said I could spend it or put it back and invest it and it would be bigger again. I thought, I want to do it and show other people how to make money too.

"I try to make finance and money fun. I focus on empowering people."

Just 18 months ago, she was working as a financial planner when she had YouTube beauty star Chloe Morello as a client.

The online celebrity insisted Canna had to do the same with her relatable skills. She now has 60,000 subscribers from across the globe from Germany to Iran, who lap up her weekly videos on how to save for a home loan, pay your taxes on time or declutter your home.

And the numbers are growing all the time, as she partners with big brands, works to extend her reach in the US market and builds a budgeting up.

She admits that putting her life on show has had its ups and downs, especially since she divorced after she started posting YouTube videos.

"I had to open myself up a lot," she said. "What's my story, why am I passionate. I'm a single mother doing videos in my home. It's a huge lifestyle approach.

"It's a double-edged sword. I'm constantly asked about my love-life, and some people want me to open up all my finances. I got some nasty and degrading comments on my YouTube account, so I hired someone to manage them.

"I've had to put up barriers to protect my privacy - and the most important person is my son."

She also just restarted her $1000 project after a three-month break, and hopes to double her monthly passive income to $4000.

Canna believes one of her most useful attributes is her habit of waking at 5am, when she can clear emails, research content and generate ideas before her son Rocco wakes up.

"There are no mobile phones ringing, no email coming in," she says. "It's a really powerful part of the day, even to look after yourself on a mental level, doing meditation, getting organised.

"I have short and long term goals. If I don't have goals, I drift. When I get there I'll keep going, it's a never-ending journey."


Topics:  editors picks finance money saving

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