"Secrets to Saving Money in Australia" Free Newsletter - January 2004
This issue includes:-
- Bad Habits and Other Sink-holes
- Fighting Summer Bugs and Bities
- Back-to-school Savings
- Savings Stories: Garage Sales and Losing Weight
- Help Needed: Savings Accounts for Kids, Storing Vegetables, and Easter
- From Last Month: House-sitting, Tasmania and Backpacks
- Simple Savings Recommends
- Improvements to the Vault: New hints, Re-shuffle and Ordering
- How to change your email address or unsubscribe
Happy New Year!
I hope you had a great Christmas and the gifts under $1.00 (see December's newsletter) came in handy.
The Savings Vault is growing week by week. There are now more than 2800 hints and tips in there. It is hard to believe how much it has grown. Everyone is doing a great job. Thank you for all your help and compliments. They really motivate us to work harder and improve the site as fast as we can.
"I'm renewing my subscription. This would be the best money I have spent. There is so much information. I made use of such a lot. Thanks heaps." Gale Shepherd
"Have just renewed my membership for another year and just wanted to let you know how much I have enjoyed using simplesavings site and how I feel I have saved money and time using the tips on the site. From trying recipes or just buying products at the supermarket that have been recommended and especially the perfume websites, I have found things to be much cheaper or better value and the membership fee is definitely worth it for the money and time I have saved so far. I hope I will be able to contribute further tips this year, but every time I think of something or find a good idea, somebody has beaten me to it! Will keep trying. I especially like the discussion forum too for exchanging ideas." Briget Taylor
"After accidentally joining your site eight months ago I have saved enough to buy my own home. This year those credit card bills will go. Great site. Thank you for making a difference." Devina Singh
*big grin* Wow! Talk about fantastic.
Have a wonderful month.
All the best,
PS. This is a free newsletter. Feel free to forward it on to your friends or family. Have a great day!
1. Bad Habits and Other Sink-holes
Everyone has bad habits. I had plenty. By ditching a lot of them, my husband and I only have to work 20 hours a week. It is a nice way to live.
Bad habits gobble up huge quantities of money. It is common for people to throw away $100-200 each week without even realising it. If you earn $500 cash (after tax) each week, every $100 you waste is an entire day of your life lost. It means that you are spending an entire day each week working to pay for that habit instead of relaxing.
The first step is identifying your bad habits. This can be challenging. They are usually pseudo-luxuries, for example, drinking Coca-Cola, watching television, unorganised shopping, etc.
Your goal this month is to write down what your bad habits are, work out exactly how much they are costing you (write it down), then try and find ways to minimise the effect on your bank balance. Here are some examples from the Savings Vault.
Give away your TV
This is our biggest secret. We don't own a television and you would be amazed how much money it saves us. (I can't add up the total savings, but it is well over $10,000 a year.) When you are no longer seeing beautiful furniture in sitcoms or home renovation shows the desire to own the objects vanishes. It becomes very easy to live within your means.
Avoid buying on impulse and keep the money
If you are an impulse bargain shopper like me, you'll be surprised at how much you can save with this method. I used to buy things just because they were on special. They were usually things I didn't really need or would just use once and put in the bottom drawer. Instead of buying the item, put the equivalent amount of money in a savings tin or envelope. Over a few months, I had an extra $1200 saved ...instead of junk clogging up the house.
Leave your credit card at home
This is an oldie but a goodie - leave your credit card at home. I used to use my credit card for those "must have but not really necessary" extra groceries. However, now my credit card debt is going down as the card is not being used, and I have to really think about what I'm spending my cash on. I actually get to stick to my budget which makes me feel great. If you think you can't live without your credit card, try it for one or two pay periods and see how much you will save. It will start to become a habit to use only cash or wait till you have cash.
Pack your lunch
After really deciding to save, my daughter took her lunch to work nearly every day. When she came home she would put the $5.00 she would have spent on lunch into a sealed money box. After only eight months she had enough for a trip to Queensland without having to touch a penny of her savings.
Decant Coca-Cola into smaller bottles
My husband loves Coca-Cola. He usually buys a 600 ml bottle every day for work, and he also drinks it at home in the evening and at weekends. I saved his empty 600 ml bottles until I had six bottles. Then I bought three 2 litre bottles of Coke (around $2.50 each although you can get these much cheaper at times). Two bottles will fill up six 600ml bottles. Open the large Coca-Cola bottle, fill the small bottles and immediately put the caps back on tightly to keep the fizziness. To buy six 600 ml bottles of Coke plus a 2 litre bottle every week was costing us approximately $16.30. To buy three 2 litre bottles, even at $2.50 a bottle, costs us $7.50 per week, a saving of $8.80 a week - over a 12-month period, this adds up to a saving of $457.60!
Reduce your smoking and save
My boyfriend and I are both smokers, and we were trying to give up but were finding it very hard. So we have decided to start trying to cut down and to put the extra money into a money box. This money soon adds up. We can't believe how quickly the amount has grown. Cutting down has two benefits; we save money, and it is encouraging us to quit as we can really see how much we save. So far we have saved about $60 a week.
Plan the week's evening meals
I save money each week by putting together a weekly menu plan. Instead of going shopping and buying whatever I see on the shelf and stashing it in the cupboard in case I might need it, I now write the week's evening meals in a book. Once a week I go through my recipe book and decide what the meals will be for each night. By doing this, I have saved around $20 each week, which I can then put towards a night out once a month or perhaps towards an extra-special meal that we would not normally eat.
Avoid takeaway meals
I found I was most likely to buy takeaway food for dinner after a long, exhausting day out. Now I use a crock pot. I put the ingredients for a lovely soup or casserole in and set it on a low heat before we leave in the morning. We arrive home to the beautiful smell of a hot home-made dinner. It is fantastic. There are thousands of free crock pot recipes online plus your favourite casserole and soup recipes will work. It is the best investment I have ever made.
Wanted: More inspiring stories
If you have saved a lot of money by improving your habits, please write in and tell us. By sharing your story, you inspire others to see how easy it can be to lower their expenses. To send in your story go to: www.simplesavings.com.au/donatehints/
2. Fighting Summer Bugs and Bities
Stopping the sea lice from biting you
Sea lice hate lavender. Buy some lavender soap and lavender wool wash ($2.00), pour a capful in a bucket of water, rinse everyone's swimmers in it and then hang them on the line to dry. Place the lavender soap in the shower. Repeat every time your kids wear their swimmers. Once my mother-in-law started doing this, the sea lice finally stopped and she has been bite-free for three years.
Head lice gone forever
Two years ago, I found lice in my toddler's hair. Panic-stricken, as both my girls have extremely thick, curly hair (and we know how easy it is to comb such hair...not!), I asked some mums for advice and one recommended tea tree oil (which cost me around $9.00 for 25 ml and lasted a whole year). I add a few drops to our favourite shampoo and conditioner, which our family of four uses daily. I am pleased to say that my older daughter, who is turning seven, has never had lice, even though most of her schoolmates do. I have saved a small fortune in not having to buy those expensive head lice treatments.
Mosquitoes - stopping the itch
The cheapest way to stop any bite from itching is white vinegar. We used to buy Eurax ($8.50 per 50 ml tube); instead, we now use white vinegar ($1.09 for 2 litres). Eurax costs over 300 times more per ml than white vinegar. After our son's skin reacted to the Eurax, our naturopath suggested using vinegar. It worked so well, now we all use it.Just dab a little bit of white vinegar on a tissue, wipe it on the bite and the itchiness will stop in a minute or two.
Check the active constituents
Always check the active constituents of generic brands against those of well-known brands at the supermarket. Bi-Lo Fast Knock-down Insect Spray at $1.98 is half the price of Mortein Fly Spray at $3.98 - and the same size. The active constituents are identical. The same goes for Bi-Lo Roll-on Insect Repellent and Roll-on Aeroguard - half the price, but with the same active constituents.
Sprinkle powder on surfaces to repel ants
To contain those pesky ants in the house, just buy some home brand baby powder and leave a trail on window sills, outside doors, in cracks, etc. Also, use a few drops of peppermint oil on a cloth to wipe down your kitchen benches - it saves on toxic chemicals too!
Killing ants and cockroaches
You can buy a 500g tub of Borax for about $5.00 from Bunnings Warehouse and many other hardware stores. It is enough to kill all the ants and cockroaches in our house for a year.
There are instructions on the packet on how to make your own cockroach baits. (Mix sugar, flour, water and Borax, then bake in the oven.) To kill ants, we mix one part honey with one part Borax (boric acid) and place it on lids where the ants can find it but out of the reach of children or pets and not where it could be confused with food. Remember, Borax is poison, so take the usual precautions.
Making your own cockroach baits is about 1/100th the price of buying them in the supermarket.
Wanted: More budget cures for bites, insects and household pests
If you have any special tricks to keep your home and loved ones safe and pest free, please go to the donate hints page at www.simplesavings.com.au/donatehints/
3. Back-to-school Savings
In the Savings Vault, you'll find some great ways to save loads of money on school expenses. Go to the "Children -> School Supplies", "Cooking->Children's Snacks and Lunch" and "Education->Supplies" sections of the Savings Vault. If you aren't a member of the Savings Vault you can join in under 5 minutes by going to:- www.simplesavings.com.au/order/
Here are some of my favourite school yard savings:-
Save on individual bottles of sunscreen for children at school: buy a litre of Homebrand SPF30 sunscreen for about $11. Decant the sunscreen into small sealable plastic containers or small baby food jars. Refill as needed. This saved me a fortune during terms one and four when sunscreen is compulsory at my children's school.
Drink containers with straws
It doesn't take long for the straw on children's plastic drink containers to go yucky even if you wash it out after each use. I buy a packet of plastic straws so that my kids get to keep their container (often with a special picture) longer. I throw the plastic straw out after each use.
End of January Sales
Big W, Kmart, Coles and Woolies all offer sales on school books in the two weeks before term starts. Some sell them for as little as 10c. Check your catalogues for details.
Mass-produced library bags of popular characters are around at this back-to-school time for $9.90 - even in big shops. Some of them can have weak seams (think about hard-cover library book corners jostling around). Lincraft is having January sales with novelty fabrics - you could buy 1.2 metres of a fabric and whip up a simple rectangle with a hem in which to put cord for a string. You could even personalise with buttons and iron-on decals bought with the savings. Leave space for a name! Kids like to be cool with their stuff and this will encourage them to use the bag. You can pop these in the wash too when they are grimy by about July.
Make your own mini-packets of chips
For parents with children, pre-packed snacks and goodies for school can be expensive to buy. I buy Cheezels (about $1.90 a box) or chips (about $2.20 a packet) and bag them into snack bags. This works out a lot cheaper than buying the multi-packs of chips that cost from about $4.50 to $6.50.
4. Savings Stories: Garage Sales and Losing Weight
Here are two wonderful stories from the Savings Vault. It is great to see how much people can achieve. To read more great stories go to the "General -> Habits" and "Finances -> Habits" sections of the Savings Vault. If you aren't yet a member of the Savings Vault you can join by going to:- www.simplesavings.com.au/order/
A life of garage sales
We are retirees. We eat well, dress well, and live in a modern house with an interesting flower and vegie garden. Our income would probably be classed as poverty level, but we live like kings, because we have one shared vice. We are garage sale fanatics.
Little in the house has been bought new. Older furniture has been restored, as my husband has clever hands. Once a year he sells the surplus at a huge garage sale, and it usually pays for a holiday.
We buy books, linen, furniture, new clothing, garden plants, sewing material and cottons, and timber for building toy boxes and hall stands for sale. Our kitchen telly cost $25. The little one in the bedroom is 25 years old, so I bought a video recorder for $5.00 and can now get all the channels through the video. My three telephones and answering machine are all from garage sales, as well as kitchen crockery, blankets, and the beautiful satin embroidered bedspread that cost $5.00. I am like a centipede with shoes as I buy good brands that have been tried on in the shop and are as new. It is the only place I can find the good comfortable shoes. Likewise many of my clothes are top brands. I bought a $168 pant suit for $10 because the woman's husband didn't like the colour. Our deep freeze, two coolers, bed lights and beautiful big rugs are all from our fun Saturday morning trek.
We list the sales and use a street map to plan a route to save petrol. Sometimes you can buy tinned food or home-made sauce from garage sales and, if the vendors have fruit trees, they sometimes sell fruit by the plastic bag - select them yourself.
Nothing is sacred at garage sales and, provided you need the item, there are some real bargains.
We got our home security system for $2.00 because no one could work it. A little investigation on the internet yielded full instructions.
My computer came from a government auction - one-third of the price quoted for a second-hand model in the local shop. It needed a bit of study to set it up. I love puzzles and got it up and running with the Windows 98 program I bought for $10 at a garage sale. I also keep the grandkids in PlayStation games, and my daughter has been married for 20 years and has never had to buy any linen as I have kept her supplied with good-quality buys.
My hobby started after my divorce when I found myself with an old 1950s house to renovate and little furniture, so I started to buy 1950s vintage furniture as well as renovating materials: paint, wallpaper, timber, doors and curtains. Along the way, I met a widower with the same ideas - he became my husband. We are very happy. Garage saling has given us a great lifestyle, enough money to enjoy ourselves, and a multitude of associated hobbies and friends.
How to lose weight and save money
A couple of years ago I joined Weight Watchers and went to four meetings. Joining was free from a coupon in a magazine but the meetings cost something like $15.95 each. I couldn't get motivated!
A few weeks ago, as I was bucketing the bath water into the toilet cistern to save water (a tip from Simple Savings), I realised that I am doing the same thing that Weight Watchers meetings could not motivate me to do. At Weight Watchers, the main things they encourage you to do are to eat 10 per cent less at meals (this also helps the budget at shopping time) and to exercise more (this comes from carting water between the bath and the toilet and using the rainwater tank to water the vegie patch, etc.).
I am now losing about half a kilogram a week without even trying and I'm not paying $16 to do it. In fact, I'm making other savings as well - our last water bill was $40 less than the same period last year.
While saving money in the last few months I have also become better at time management - planning meals for a month and shopping with a list have cut out a lot of unnecessary trips to the shops (not to mention the extra expense). I have cut $60 from my husband's spending money by supplying his lunch every day, along with some soft drink, a large bottle of water and a snack. He is happy because he doesn't have to find a shop to buy lunch and he still has a small amount of 'sanity money' in his pocket to splurge with every week.
My food budget absorbed this when I switched from a lot of brand name products to Bi-Lo brand products - I save from as little as 10 cents an item up to a couple of dollars an item. The biggest savings I make come from bulk buying - recently Bi-Lo had 5 kilograms of potatoes for $5.00, but when I went to the greengrocers they had them at $6.00 for a 20 kilogram bag. These lasted for about a month and I couldn't bring myself to go to the fish and chip shop when I had 14 kilograms of 'free' potatoes in the pantry, so we had home-made wedges instead, saving another $6.00.
The excitement of saving money has also inspired me to do the things that I don't enjoy so much, such as mending and ironing, and I am gradually working my way through every room and cupboard, and I am enjoying every minute of it!
Tell your story and inspire others
If you have a great story to inspire others to save money and accomplish their goals, send it in! Please go to www.simplesavings.com.au/donatehints/
5. Help Needed: Savings Fund for Children, Making Vegetables Last Longer, and Cheap Easter Ideas
Savings funds for children
This month Jayne Sinnott asked:
"Does anyone have any suggestions about bank accounts for children? We have 15 month old twins and people tend to give money as gifts rather than presents and so I want to ensure that the kids are getting a good return on their little cash cache!"
If you can help Jayne, please go to www.simplesavings.com.au/donatehints/
How to make vegetables last longer
This month Renee Thornhill asked:
"I was wondering if anyone else had any tips on how to store fruit and vegetables to make them last longer. I go shopping fortnightly and have to have staple meals for the second week as the vegies don't last."
At the moment there are a small number of hints in the Fruit and Vegetables sub-categories in the Groceries and Garden categories. (See the hints on "Lining the crisper with newspaper", "Wrap cauliflower in foil" and "Plant bunch of spring onions".) But, it is not enough. If you have any special tricks to make your fruit and vegies last longer, please go to www.simplesavings.com.au/donatehints/
Cheap Easter ideas
This month Robbyn Maddison asked:
"I would like some cheap Easter ideas, including chocolate egg making."
Wow! Where to begin? Do you have any suggestions for saving money on chocolate, holidays or eggs at Easter? If you can help out, please go to www.simplesavings.com.au/donatehints/
6. From Last Month: House-sitting, Tasmania and Backpacks
Last month Alison asked:
"Has anyone had experience with house sitting? Apparently you can join agencies for $50 and they will hook you up with people who want you to live in their house, feed their pets and water their gardens while they're away. Sounds like a great way to save money on rent if you can store your own stuff cheaply."
Most of the responses we received about applying to become a house-sitter were negative. A lot of people paid $50-180 to be included in a house-sitting directory and did not receive anything back.
"I joined an agency for about $50 and then paid $10 for every application and got nothing - I think they prefer older couples than younger single people."
One or two comments were positive. For example:-
"I did some house sitting in 2000. I contacted Australian House Sitters Directory (www.housesitters.com.au) and I think they charged $160 for one year. You fill in a form that describes you and what you want from a house. They send a booklet of interested house sitters to the home owners who ask for one. The home owner then gives you a call and you both work out if you want to take the position.
The home owner can charge you for electricity and phone while you stay at their house. I did 3 separate house sittings and none of the home owners charged me.
I thought it was a great opportunity to see different parts of Australia as I was not working at the time.
I rented with my sister so I did not have to pay rent to her when I stayed somewhere else."
Discount shops and factory outlets in Tasmania
Last month Angie Watson asked about "discount shops or factory outlets in Tasmania". There were a lot of responses and they have been spread throughout the vault.
Chickenfeed is probably the biggest and best discount chain. They are in all cities and suburbs.
In Hobart, there are discount clothing stores dotted throughout the major shopping districts of Rosny and Glenorchy. There used to be a factory wool mill outlet in Glenorchy called Tastex, but I'm not sure if it still exists. Occasionally, in the city, there are warehouse clearance shops selling books, music, footwear, etc. Op shops can be found in Hobart and Glenorchy.
Last month Victoria Gardner asked for help buying a travel backpack. You can read the rest of the responses by going to the Travel category of the Savings Vault, under the sub-category Backpacking. Here are two of my favourites.
Army surplus stores
When we went backpacking around Europe a couple of years ago we bought a lot of our items through army surplus stores. They have a lot of no-name gear that is just as good as Mountain Designs and Paddy Pallin but half the price.
Kathmandu 25-50% off backpacks
Kathmandu sells travel backpacks and holds sales about four times a year (at the end of each season) when the backpacks are reduced by 50 per cent. At the current Christmas sale, for example, they are selling the Longhaul Travel Pack with Apex Harness System, 750D nylon, 60/70 litres + 15 litre day pack for $239 (normally $479).
If they are not having a sale, Summit Club members get 25 per cent off travel packs - it costs $10 to join for one year, but is free if you are a tertiary student, YHA member, over 60, or have a travel booking with STA Travel.
Kathmandu also has outlet stores in Sydney and Melbourne where you can buy seconds and old-season stock, as well as new-season and sale items. See their web site (www.kathmandu.com.au) for details. You can also get copies of the latest sale catalogue online.
7. Simple Savings Recommends
Several companies applied for the Simple Savings Recommends program but none met the strict criteria. If you find a site that is easy to use, genuinely helps people to save money and improves their financial position, please email me and tell us about them.
8. Improvements to the Savings Vault
Every month we make little improvements to the design and structure of the Savings Vault. Most of them are tiny and hidden. Some of the more noticeable changes are:-
You may have noticed that some hints take between one and four weeks to be added to the Savings Vault. Every hint goes to Kathryn, our professional editor, then I read all the hints, check the details and rate them, then Naomi categorises the hints and places them in the Savings Vault. It takes a little while but it really improves the standard of the Savings Vault.
Savings Vault reshuffle
Two months ago we started re-organising the Savings Vault, so you may notice hints moving around a bit. This will continue for a while. Some of the new categories are "Online" (62 hints) and "Factory Outlets" (38 hints). The "Debt Reduction" sub-category has been moved into the "Finances" category.
We have improved the ordering process so you can now buy a membership for yourself or as a gift for a friend. The fastest way to order is still with a credit card through the secure order form. But if you prefer, you can print out the order form and mail or fax it to us. If you don't have a credit card, you can pay by cheque or money order. (The details are on the order form.) To place an order go to:- www.simplesavings.com.au/order/
9. How to change your email address or unsubscribe
To unsubscribe or alter your subscription, send a blank email to this address
If you have encountered a problem with our newsletter, please email me. I will give your comments immediate attention.
© 2004 AL Consulting Pty Ltd. This publication may be freely redistributed if copied in its entirety. Portions of this newsletter may be reprinted with written permission.