"Secrets to Saving Money in Australia" Free Newsletter - October 2004
This issue includes:-
- The steps to living in paradise
- How to reduce your phone bills
- Best online pet product sites
- From last month: Online clothes shopping
- This month's Help Request: Inexpensive date ideas, and used tools vs new
- Saving stories: Learning the value of money, and bonus discounts
- What is the Savings Vault?
How are you doing? We have a triple celebration this month. It is Sam's third birthday, it is two years since SimpleSavings first appeared on television and this newsletter now has 30,000 subscribers. Wow! What a month!
It is fantastic to be able to help people create happy, healthy families. It's also wonderful when you write and let us know how you are doing. It really makes me smile.
"Wow, what a great site! I'm a student, so saving is a priority, but I didn't even realise that I already followed many of the hints given. Many of the hints have been helpful for me. Many thanks!" (Marti Posadowski)
"I am from the US and really enjoy your site! Thank you. It's nice to see that frugal people are all over the world! It makes me feel very connected!" (Karen Harrison)
"I just want to say that I am glad I signed up. I paid for my Vault membership and found out on the same day how to save $360 per year by detaching my cheque book from my bank account (detached now). The next day I found a credit card for 9.5 percent for my son who owes $5,000, so the saving on interest is great. At present he is paying 16.9 percent. I also found a bank account that is more suited for his needs. I am very happy, and I still have the vault to go through for yet more savings." (Evelyn Morrisson)
"Thank you for your handy savings tips. I recently got engaged, and my fiancé and I are planning to buy a house in the near future. The ideas that I receive are a fantastic way of saving money. Thank you for sending me your heart-warming emails." (Christine Kharman)
Life is good. Have a great month!
1. Six steps to paradise
Yesterday morning Matt (my husband) woke up and said, 'It is great living in paradise'. He made me think 'Why are we so different? I'm not special. We are not even middle income earners. How come we can afford to live in paradise?' And, with the kind of thinking that only happens at four o'clock in the morning while nursing a teething baby back to sleep, I found the answer - six steps anyone can follow to live in paradise.
Step 1 - Guard your wallet
Guard your wallet from attack. A marketer or salesperson's job is to make you think you need something that five minutes earlier you did not know existed. They have many ingenious ways to attack you. They are using psychological tricks to get to your wallet and steal your money. If you are on guard, you will be able to keep more of your money. So if you start reaching for your wallet - STOP! Set off your internal alarm bell and move on to Step 2.
Step 2 - What will you gain?
You have stopped yourself. Congratulations! Now, work out what you or your family will gain by having that item. What are the long-term consequences? Will it improve your health and happiness or genuinely give you more free time? How? If you can't answer these questions positively, then leave your money in your wallet. It is important to be really skeptical. Now move on to Step 3.
Step 3 - What will you lose?
Every time you buy an item you gain something and lose something. If you are lucky, the only thing you lose is cash and the time it took you to earn that money. But this is not always the case. A great example is a television. When you buy a television you gain entertainment but you lose quality time with your family. Another is an electric mixer - you gain a faster way to make cakes but you lose the exercise and arm tone you would have got by hand beating it. So before buying anything, you need to work out what it is you are going to lose. Ask yourself, 'What will I have to give up in order to have this?' (In case you are interested, we don't have a television and we do have an electric mixer. I would rather tone my arms paddling a canoe.) Once you are certain you've worked out what you're going to lose, move on to step 4.
Step 4 - Is it worth the bother?
Every time you reach for your wallet, purse, credit card, etc., ask yourself if it is really worth the effort. If you have to carefully assess every item before you buy it, do you want the bother? Just leave your money in your wallet. It is so much easier. If you leave the money in your wallet you won't have to make any choices, work overtime, and so on. Over the last couple of years I have trained my brain into thinking that spending money is a hassle - a real bother. This protects my family (our oasis) and ensures that I only buy items that will improve the overall quality of our lives. Now, if you have decided it really is worth it, move on to step 5.
Step 5 - Is there a better way?
Now it is time to shop around for a good price and work out the smartest way to buy it. How can you get the best value for your dollar in the minimum time possible? Most of the time, I find the answer in the Savings Vault. Sometimes, I have to do it the hard way and work it out for myself. Very occasionally, the hard way takes more time than I saved, but I get satisfaction in knowing that I have NOT been tricked and that I'm doing what is best for my family. Looking for a better way is the key to being lazy and successful. For example, instead of paying $15 per kilo for meat at the supermarket we looked in the Yellow Pages for a local wholesale butcher and pay around $6 per kilo for top quality, home delivered meat. Once you have researched your purchase and found the best way to buy it, move on to Step 6.
Step 6 - Do you have the spare cash?
Most of the time buying things on credit is stupid, so if you don't have the cash, you just don't buy it. Go without - save up till you have the money to spare. This doesn't apply to such things as borrowing money for a basic car so you can get a job, but it does apply to 99% of purchases.
If you use the six steps and they improve your life, as I'm sure they will, thank baby Jacqueline's teeth because I'm usually asleep at 4am.
2. How to reduce your phone bills
The average Australian pays 50 percent more than they need to for their phone services. There are tons of ways you can cut your bills - whether you are calling locally, STD, mobile, by pre-paid phone cards, or between personal computers. In the past two years there have been such major changes in competition that it is a great idea to reassess your bill. Here are a few tips to get you started; the rest are in the 'Telephones' section of the vault.
Combine your phone line and Internet access
After recently becoming a member I was browsing your site and decided that I needed to spend some time finding a new ISP in an effort to bring our monthly telephone costs down. After much searching I came across Kooee's 'Our Shout' plan <www.kooee.com.au>, which also features plans for your home phone. We currently spend approximately $100 on our line rental, local calls and dial-up Internet per month. With the 'Our Shout' plan for $59 per month, we get our line rental, FREE local calls and dial-up Internet, or for an extra $15 (total $74) you get broadband, for which there is no charge for excess usage! I can't believe it - a minimum saving of $26 per month! At last I have found a solution to our huge telephone bills and we have broadband as well.
To investigate plans and find out which is the best deal for you, try the following website. It has all you need to browse through the various providers and select an option suitable for you. It also has a calculator so that you can key in your existing bills and find out which provider would have cost you the least. Go to <www.phonechoice.com.au>
Using the computer to save $100 per month
When I sign up other people to be part of our sales team I get them to download a program called 'Skype'. This allows you to use your computer to call anyone anywhere in the world free, so long as they have also downloaded this program. It takes about six minutes to download if you have cable Internet or 15-20 minutes for dial-up Internet users. We have been so impressed with the savings that we have had as many of our friends and family (especially our overseas relatives) as possible download this program. It is also possible to have more than one person talking to you at the same time just like a conference call. This can be lots of fun with groups of friends. Skype is very easy to use and totally free. For our business usage alone it is probably saving us upwards of $100 per month. Get it from <www.skype.com>
Choice Magazine has produced a free checklist to help people evaluate fair and unfair phone contracts. It's on the Choice website; <www.choice.com.au/articles/a103303p1.htm>
Deposit coins into a moneybox to pay for phone calls
Put a note on the phone which says 'ask'. Each time you pick up the receiver, ask yourself if the call is really necessary. If you go ahead with the call, put 50 cents for a local or $2 for a long-distance call in a money box beside the phone. By paying for calls as you make them you will have enough to (almost) cover the account when it comes in.
Tokens for teenagers
When I had two teenagers in the house, both of them were blaming 'Mr Nobody' for the rising phone bills and the number of calls each month. I allocated each of them 14 tokens for the week to use on phone calls. These tokens were not transferable to the following week if they weren't used. This eliminated the second, third and fourth call to the same friend and more than halved my phone bill per month - from $75 to just $35, including line rental (admittedly it was a few dollars cheaper five years ago) - a saving of $480 per year.
Before choosing a provider, make sure you check to see if there are set-up fees, minimum monthly/annual charges or restricted time periods in which discounts apply and understand the contract terms. You may not realise you are locked into a long-term plan with costly cancellation penalties should you want to change to a better offer down the track.
For more great hints on different telephone saving options members have tried, go to 'Telephones -> Landlines' in the Savings Vault.
3. Best online pet product sites
You can save stacks of money by purchasing your pet supplies online. Here are some of the websites listed in the vault.
I have found another great website for purchasing online pet medications very cheaply. This site is called <www.pricelesspets.com.au> and its products are sold at the best discount prices I have found. I recently purchased a pack of six tablets of Sentinel Spectrum for my two labradors for $55.20. At the Vetstop website these are sold for $68.95. For all orders Priceless Pets contributes a donation of $2 to an animal welfare education program called Awesome Animals. Their service was also prompt and efficient. I posted my order on a Friday (they don't process credit card details over the Internet) and they were in my mailbox by Tuesday.
Vet and pet supplies online
For those of you with pets, buying online is a big saver. I normally buy my dog's heartworm and flea treatments as well as worming tablets from either the vet or the pet supply shop. A six-month supply of Teal Revolution (20-40 kilogram dogs) is normally $113 from our local vet plus more for worming tablets. I've now found a few websites based in Australia that offer massive savings:
<www.thevetshed.com> has the same Revolution for $72.95.
<www.vet-pet-supplies-online.com> has it for $65.91 - a saving of $47.09 every six months.
They both have a huge range of vet and pet supplies at big discounts for dogs, cats, birds, horses, farm animals, etc. The Vet Shed also has beds, sun protection supplies, behaviour treatments etc. (An electric, waterproof, anti-bark collar for dogs is around $400 from the vet. I got one for $208 as my neighbours were complaining about the noise.)
You should never buy over the counter medications for your pets from the vet again. Check out the savings for yourself. If you don't like ordering online, they have a local call 1300 number so that you can order over the phone.
4. From last month: Online Clothes Shopping
Last month Leanne Thomas asked:
"I need help from members for a list of Internet shops for children's and adult clothing. I am always searching the net to try to find online shops for kids clothes, whether brand new or second hand, and can't seem to find that many. I would also like details of overseas shops selling both adult and children's clothing and toys, which will post to Australia. One of your hints mentions buying from America at their end of season sales and that it is cheaper than buying here even when taking postage into consideration. However, I need some Internet addresses for these shops please."
Check out these great suggestions from our helpful members and view more in the Savings Vault under Clothes -> Online.
These Australian clothing websites are mostly for kids:
<www.babyclassifieds.com.au> - Like an online Trading Post for babies' and children's items
<www.googoogear.com.au> - New babies' and children's clothes, including formal and christening outfits
<www.click2buy.com.au> - Baby clothes and nursery decorations
<www.expressfromheaven.com.au> - Baby clothing range
<www.froufroubaby.com.au> - Maternity clothing (also suitable when you're not pregnant) plus a range of children's clothing
<www.jkonline.au.com> - Babies', children's and maternity clothing
<www.minijumps.com.au> - Children's designer clothing
<www.kidsclothes.com.au> - Fantastic babies' and children's clothing website, with great specials
<www.jumpingjackflash.com.au> - Babies', children's and maternity clothing
<www.zodee.com.au> - Adult lingerie and underwear website
<www.pumpkinpatch.com.au> - Babies', children's and maternity clothing
<www.rivers.com.au> - Online store for men's, women's and children's clothing
<www.bigtimeclothing.com.au> - Women's clothing in larger sizes
<www.minki.com.au> - Designer clothing for children and babies
And, of course: <www.ebay.com.au> for all sorts of new and secondhand items.
Fredericks of Hollywood
This is an American company which sells lingerie and clothing. Their clothes are rather trendy and very glamorous but they do have some very nice day wear also. At the moment they have a shipping special. The site is <www.fredericks.com>. I have found some wonderful bargains and been very happy with the quality. Look in the 'sale' section.
Ezibuy for adults and children
A good Internet site is Ezibuy <www.ezibuy.com.au>. They have clothes for adults and children plus gift ideas at affordable prices. Another plus with this site is that you can use your Fly Buys card. You can ring 1800 148 148 to be put on the mailing list.
JC Penney <www.jcpenney.com> is a large American department store which ships goods to Australia. I have only purchased homewares (sheets, comforters, etc.) and have been pleased with the high quality. The same goods purchased here would be too expensive. They also sell kids' clothing. If you keep the cost to less than $500 per order you should be able to avoid customs tax. Even if you don't, you will have quality kids clothing which you can't buy here.
Kids' clothing sites in the US
I have found a few sites for kids' clothing in the US:
<www.webclothes.com> - This is a US site which ships to Australia. They have a bargain bin which has great specials - most are 60 percent off.
<www.eoutlet4u.com> - A US site which does ship internationally. It has some great discounts for designer kids' clothing.
5. Help needed: Inexpensive date ideas, and used tools vs new
This month we have two help requests. Jeff B asks:
"I have met a lovely girl who I would like to impress but I don't have any money. Can you please give me some ideas for inexpensive first dates. I want it to be really special. Not just the 'dinner and movie' thing. I'm looking forward to reading your ideas."
And Kerry Paull asks:
"I would like to surprise my husband with some power tools. He doesn't have any. But I don't know what I am doing. What should I shop for? Where is the smartest place to buy them. I'm afraid I'll get ripped off or buy something that will break. I would really appreciate any helpful hints about where to buy great value new or secondhand tools and what I should consider before purchasing."
If you can help Jeff or Kerry with your ideas and hints, submit your suggestions at: www.simplesavings.com.au/donatehints
6. Savings Stories: Learning the value of money, and bonus discounts
Saving for my first house
"Another great newsletter, thank you! I have another positive comment for you - I was lucky enough today to secure a job on $11,000 more a year than I'm currently being paid. Before I subscribed to Simple Savings I would have just blown this extra money on going out to dinner every week, taking holidays, buying clothes, etc. But now that I've learnt the value of money I will only add a little extra to my budget to cover some "tight spots" and the rest will go straight off my car and my credit card. Thanks to your site I've learnt what money can do if it's really put to work. No amount of instant spending will ever feel as good as knowing I'm out of debt and saving for my own house. So thank you once again!"
"I saved $110 in one year on my energy bills. I rang TXU today to find out about their special 'dual fuel' account. Little did I know that we are currently paying what they call 'Government rates' on our gas and electricity. Just because I rang them, they are converting us to the 'TXU rates', which are lower than our current rates. (To do this, I need to sign a three-year agreement to stay with TXU.)
"On top of this discount, we also receive a $50 credit just for having an agreement. But wait - there's more. If we pay our 'dual fuel account' by direct debit from our savings account, they will give us a further $60 credit PER YEAR, just for the heck of it! So this year we will save $110 on our energy accounts, plus get a cheaper rate on our gas and electricity. And we will continue to get the $60 credit on our account every year! I can't believe what I managed to achieve in just one phone call."
NB: Although TXU only supply to Victorian and South Australian residents, we encourage everyone to call their service provider immediately. You never know how much they may lower the bill if you ask!
7. What is the Savings Vault?
The Savings Vault is a massive collection of people's tips on how they get great deals, lower their bills and live a better life. There are over 5,200 tips. The index alone is 63 pages. (Go to www.simplesavings.com.au/vault/?preview=1 to check it out.)
The Savings Vault is our paid members area. We have two editors continually working on it and it costs $47 to get a year of access, so you are getting amazing value for money. If you are planning a party and want some great money-saving party ideas, you will be able to search the Vault and get the answers right away, instead of waiting until we cover party ideas in a newsletter. Order a membership here.
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.