"Secrets to Saving Money in Australia" Free Newsletter - March 2004
This issue includes:-
- Easter: Fantastic gifts and budget treats
- Disposing of nasty credit card limits
- How to pay less for arts and crafts supplies
- The prices of medicines are about to rise
- Discount memberships at seminars
- Learn how to save even more money
- From last month: Catering for a 21st birthday party
- Saving story: My $40 baby
- Help needed: Estee Lauder - how to become a privileged customer?
I hope you have had a great month. I received this really lovely email from Suzy Hughes:
"Your site is excellent and one of my friends has recently joined. I've used many tips but most importantly my attitude has totally changed. I don't feel so 'poor' while I'm saving but excited!" (Suzy Hughes)
That is just fantastic news. It is truly wonderful that the Savings Vault has helped Suzy change her attitude about money, and everyone who has ever sent in a savings tip had a small part in it. Go girl!
Have a great month.
All the best,
1. Easter: Fantastic gifts and budget treats
Yummy, yummy! Easter is near. Thanks to everyone's help the Special Occasions -> Easter section of the vault is filled with great ideas for budget gifts and Easter surprises. The tips are proof that anyone can have a great time and give cool gifts without going broke.
Discount chocolate from factory outlets
Factory outlets are wonderful places to buy delicious discount chocolate. Here is a list of our favourites in Sydney, Melbourne and Adelaide.
Sydney - Dullo Factory Outlet
Dullo chocolate is delicious and they sell goods at 30 percent below retail at their factory outlet (including those giant Easter bunnies you see in David Jones). The address:
82-84 Portland Street, Zetland (near Kensington).
Ph: 02 9698 4040
Melbourne - Heritage Fine Chocolates
They sell all sorts of discounted confectionery. The factory is at:
883 Wellington Road, Rowville
Ph: 03 9755 7388
Adelaide - Haigh's Chocolates
The Haigh's factory has a visitor centre where they sell discontinued lines and factory seconds. You can also have a free factory tour, which includes complimentary chocolate, tea and coffee. The factory is at:
154 Greenhill Road, Parkside
Ph: (08) 8372 7077
If you know of any other great chocolate factory outlets please send us their name, address, phone number and why you like them by going to the donate hints page. www.simplesavings.com.au/donatehints/
Making Easter egg baskets from ordinary chocolate
For a cheaper alternative for our kids' Easter last year (since they were only four and two, they didn't really know the price of things), we encouraged them to colour in their own piece of rectangular shaped paper. It didn't matter what they drew, just anything colourful. My husband and I then folded them up into little baskets complete with a handle for the Easter Bunny to put his eggs/chocolates into.
Instead of buying the Cadbury (or similar) chocolate Easter Bunnies/Bilbies/eggs or other characters with a price tag over $5, we bought the cheaper (better for value) eggs from shops like Silly Sollys (now called The Warehouse) and also bought Home Brand caramel drops and Freckles, which cost $1.50 a bag. We divided these amongst the three kids six baskets (two baskets each) and put them in the fridge for the kids to find the following morning. Overall it cost less than $9 for the three children (and there were some leftover Freckles for Mum and Dad to share).
The grandparents and auntie sent some money and we saved that for the after Easter sales when the leftover eggs etc. were 50 percent off or even cheaper. We bought several ten-packs of chocolate eggs for $1.99, compared with the pre-Easter cost of $4.50. The kids didn't mind waiting a few days for the 'better' chocolates and Mum and Dad didn't mind.
Then we just had to wait until their toothpaste came on special!
Chocolate crackle eggs
Homemade Easter eggs are a great saving. Simply buy a mould from a shop such as Lincraft or Spotlight and make up a batch of chocolate crackles. Put the mixture into the mould, set in the fridge, wrap in foil or cellophane - and there you have homemade Easter eggs!
Papier mache eggs filled with toys
Several years ago I decided to make papier mache eggs for my grandchildren, mainly because I knew their parents were concerned about the amount of chocolate they received - and because the other grannies wouldn't take the hint!
I bought a few extra chocolate egg moulds, tore used tissue paper into bits around 2-3 centimetres square (very roughly) and made up some wallpaper paste. This is very cheap at any hardware store or Big W or K-Mart. You can make a really good paste by mixing 1 teaspoon of powder in 600 ml of warm water (the packet will make around 2 litres). I use an old Tupperware refrigerator bowl as it has a lid. This paste is also excellent for kids crafts.
I cover the plastic moulds with cling wrap and then layer the tissue, which I save up during the year (although you can buy cheap packs at the $2 and other similar shops). I make about four layers, letting them dry for 24 hours between coats. Coloured tissue is the best. Then I trim them with bits and pieces of cheap ribbon or beads and use scraps of gift tie to form a hinge on one side. I buy little toys appropriate to the child's age and seal the eggs with a dab of hot glue, which breaks when they open the eggs.
These eggs have been a real success and the children save them each year for keeping their treasures in. Last year I made some for my daughters and put special liqueur chocolates in them. They were a hit too!
2. Disposing of nasty credit card limits
Here is an article I really like, which was written by David Wright from Simply Budgets. He details how he reduced his credit card limit so that it's at a maintainable safe level.
"I had reached the limit on my credit card and every month I paid the minimum plus a little bit, but somehow, by the next month, I had reached the limit once again. I began to think I would never be able to get the rotten thing paid off until I came up with this strategy.
"Every month I started going to the bank and making the minimum repayment plus $100. While I was there I filled out a form to apply for a reduction in my credit limit and reduced my limit by $100. There was no way I could re-spend the $100 because it was no longer available.
"So each month my limit went down by $100 till it eventually got to $400 - a nice safe trouble-free level. Then I continued to pay it off until it was gone. I recall having a small celebration at that time!
"If you have been having trouble with your credit card debt I hope you can use this strategy to take control of it."
3. How to pay less for arts and crafts supplies
This month I was frightened off by the prices of items in craft shops. So here are some hints to help you create great craft items on any budget.
Scrapbooking materials in discount stores
I have recently been introduced to the wonderful world of scrapbooking. The more I get into it, the more it seems to cost! So here are a few tips to save you a packet if you are also hooked on this craft!
Shop at a discount store such as The Warehouse for such things as buttons, ribbons and other embellishments. I wanted to do some wire work and was really surprised to find florist wire (26 gauge x 12 metres) there for $1.99. This was in stark contrast to the cost of wire from a specialty shop - $4 for 3 metres. A major saving! I also recently bought a range of Christmas ribbons (38 mm x 2.7 metres) at The Warehouse for $1 each, which I can use to decorate my pages.
Another place I have found to be very cheap for fibres is Big W. I bought a 50 gram ball of "Feathers" wool by Patons (approximately 65 metres) for $3.64. I would have paid roughly $2.50 for a 3 metre length from a specialty shop.
So there are a lot of cheaper alternatives to this craft which many people are not aware of. If you go searching you will find tons of other cost-saving options. Go to a stationer like Office National and ask them to order in mini brads (split pins). You will get a much bigger bag for a fraction of the price charged by other outlets.
I have managed to save myself quite a lot of money since I've been doing this craft. Although it is wonderful to go into a specialty shop and see all their wares, it's also a good idea to do your homework and search around to see if there is a cheaper alternative.
Start craft group and share skills
At the start of 2003 I started up a craft group. We began with about six interested women, so I booked into Bunnings where they gave us a free workshop on glass painting. I invited heaps of other people and we ended up with ten for the workshop. Bunnings provided free tea/coffee and cakes and also all the material for the workshop. We walked away with a bottle of liquid lead each and a folder with workshop notes and two plastic sheets. One of these we used for practising with the black leading and did an outline of a picture; the other we coloured using all their colours and the outline provided on the sheet. The women were terribly impressed and most bought a couple of colours each, which we then pooled for our craft meetings.
We have found that the people who are interested are those who have already enjoyed some form of craft and so there is a treasure trove of ideas and helpers available.
Since we started we have had one member show us folk art and we are currently working on scrapbooking. We each pay $2.00 a session (we meet once a fortnight during school term) and that covers tea, coffee etc., and we bring a plate of lunch to share. Every now and then we take a bit of the money collected and buy something for the current project (e.g. we might buy some acid-free papers or stickers this term) to share.
We have a wonderful day together and learn new skills. We also benefit from each other's talents. There are usually one or two members who can teach something new or are really good at a particular craft and can help those who are struggling with a concept or those who simply can't do a certain aspect of the craft.
Organising it is not all that hard. I set the days and times and simply show up a bit early. Once a year we want to go to Bunnings and this year I am going to write a letter to ask them to show us picture framing!
I couldn't afford the cost of commercial craft lessons (I did shop around a bit and was aghast at the cost of the lessons, especially as you had to add the cost of the materials you wanted to use), but really wanted to do something. It has worked out to be a great project and this year we have had up to 13 women attending our lessons. I have not yet advertised outside the church but I will get to that.
We all have a say in what we would like to learn at craft and generally everyone gets their choice over the year.
Tip for quilters
Instead of buying "micro-filament" (invisible thread) from craft stores, buy three-pound fishing line from an angling shop or a hardware store. It is much cheaper, and you get far more.
Op shops for sewing supplies
If you are a home dressmaker/sewer, Op Shops are your best source of cheap raw materials.
I buy $1 sports bags for the clips, zips, straps and rings. The clips alone cost $4 new at craft shops. And there are also the bins of zips, jars of buttons and fasteners, shoulder pads etc. that you can search through at the Op Shops.
An old dress for 50 cents can give you a few dollars worth of nice buttons or a zip.
A really big dress can be cut up for the fabric. Jeans are another endless source of fabric for funky skirts, bags and accessories.
I've made my own swimming costume from a $2 remnant of lycra and a cut up $2 bra (bra inserts new from craft shops cost $24).
The list of materials is endless - I always check the Op Shops for supplies before I go to craft shops.
Gum leaf gift tags
This is a novel idea - with an Aussie theme - for gift tags. Dry some gum leaves (the longer ones look best) under a book. Write your greeting in gold, silver or red pen, punch a hole in the leaves, and thread some gold elastic through the hole and around the gift.
4. The prices of medicines are about to rise
The details of the Free Trade Agreement have now been revealed and it is bad news for health care. The American drug companies got what they wanted. Thanks John Howard!
Australia had an amazing system to protect us from drug companies and keep everyone (rich or poor) healthy. (The cost of medicine in the US is three times that in Australia.) For some strange reason John Howard is going to leave us vulnerable. He wants to change the rules so that the drug companies can make more money. The good news is that if you jump up and down and make lots of noise you can make sure the prices of drugs remain the same by encouraging them to block the Free Trade Agreement.
So, if you want to stop the price of medicines from going up, you are going to have to write to Mark Latham or John Howard. Ask them to stop the changes to the Pharmaceutical Benefit Scheme (PBS) from going ahead. Their details are:
PO Box 191
Ingleburn NSW 1890
The Hon. John Howard MP
GPO Box 59
Sydney NSW 2001
To learn more about the FTA go to:
Note: The changes to the PBS as part of the Free Trade Agreement have nothing to do with the changes to Medicare.
5. Discount memberships at seminars
David from Simply Budgets is running seminars around Australia this month showing people how to budget. I haven't been to his seminars, but I have used the Simply Budgets software and found it to be very capable. David is an ex-teacher, so I bet the seminars are very good. It costs $12 for one ticket and $17 for two tickets. (Budgeting, dieting, jogging, changing habits, etc. always work better in pairs, so take a friend/partner along to the seminar.) All the dates, venues and booking details are at:
Simply Budgets and Simple Savings
There has been quite a bit of confusion between Simply Budgets and Simple Savings. We are two separate companies with separate websites and separate products. Simply Budgets sell budgeting software. Simple Savings helps people live better for less. When you combine Simply Budgets software with the information in the Savings Vault you have both the knowledge and the tools to get on top of all your debt and save for your next holiday. We work really well together.
6. Learn how to save even more money
If you want to learn to save money on almost every aspect of your life, become a member of the Savings Vault. This newsletter has about 30 hints on ways you can save money. The Savings Vault contains 3400 hints. I am so confident that you will save money by becoming a member of the vault that we have a full one year guarantee. If we can show you how to save $40 per week (easy) you will lower your bills by $2080 per year. That is a lot of money and membership to the vault only costs $47 per year.
To order a membership go to: www.simplesavings.com.au/order/
If you are still uncertain and want to check that you are truly going to get your money's worth, have a look at the Vault preview page. It is huge. The URL is: www.simplesavings.com.au/vault/?preview=1
7. From last month: Catering for a 21st birthday party
Last month Julie Webb asked: "We are planning an at home 21st birthday party for my son soon. Does anyone have any great ideas for catering? This will be a BYO alcohol event for about 60 people."
Wow! What a response. There were loads of great ideas for 21st birthday and engagement parties. There are now over 100 suggestions in the Special Occasions -> Parties section in the vault.
Buy or make everything in advance
We have catered for three 21st parties on a budget (the last being for twins!)
We started off with nibbles - dips and savoury biscuits - and then we had supper. For the supper, I began making sausage rolls and freezing them a couple of months before the night (bearing in mind that we were catering for 120-150 guests). We also bought party pies and other hot snacks each week, just one or two packets with the groceries so that we didn't notice the cost. Buy the dip biscuits each time you go grocery shopping as well. If you can't afford water (or similar) crackers for the dip, buy a packet of pita bread.
We found that pizza was popular. I also bought these one at a time at the supermarket. Cut each slice into small triangles, separate the layers and put them in a moderate oven till they are crisp. You will be amazed by how many pieces you will get.
Other popular 21sts we have been to just had roast meat and gravy and bread rolls - each guest just made their own when they were hungry. Easy! If it is hot, cold chicken is always popular - you can buy them at the supermarket weeks ahead and freeze them. They can then be thawed out on the day of the party and broken up into pieces.
And remember, if anyone offers to bring anything, just say 'yes' and make sure they are thanked in the speeches.
Good old-fashioned BBQ
When we celebrated my brother's 21st birthday, we found that borrowing a couple of barbecues and cooking sausages, which we served in crusty rolls, went down an absolute treat!
We had a more formal affair for my older brother (catered, waiters, etc., and a lot more expensive too). However, we found that the barbecue format was much more relaxed, resulting in a better party.
We bought 10 kilos of bulk sausages for about $3.99 a kilo from our local butcher (instead of the usual $8.99) and froze what we didn't use. The buns we bought from a bakery were super fresh. We also served fried onions and different relishes and mustards. We were not afraid to bargain with the butcher and the baker, giving them the prices we had received from their rivals and asking them to beat them, which they did.
You don't need to hire or buy plates for this type of party either as it lends itself to eating with your hands.
We were surprised by how much my brother's friends enjoyed the food because we thought it was fairly basic. But it was hot and delicious.
Having a barbecue also lends a festive air to it all and enables people to mingle. My dad had to fight to help out as all the boys wanted to cook the snags! So it saved on effort too!
For dessert, we had a variety of cakes made by relatives and immediate family.
We also had a few relatives ask us what they could give to my brother as a gift and they were asked if they would like to contribute to the party (which they were invited to, but spent most of it chatting to Mum and Dad in the lounge room). Some relatives, depending on their finances, contributed to a keg; others brought bottles of alcohol. My older relatives liked being able to contribute and being a part of the event.
Bacon, cheese and shallot dip for cob loaf
If you want a quick and simple entree for your party, try a damper dip. All you need is a cob loaf (around $2.60 from Baker's Delight), a tub of sour cream (I'm not sure how much, but I think only around $2.00), a couple of dollars worth of diced bacon from the deli section of the supermarket, a handful of cheese and three or four shallots.
Cut the top off the cob loaf and hollow it out, leaving just a shell. Tear remaining bread into little pieces and place around the cob loaf on an ovenproof dish. Place in the oven, at about 150 degrees C, while cooking the filling.
Cook bacon and shallots in a frypan with a swirl of olive oil (any oil or butter will do - it's just to stop it from sticking) until brown and remove from heat.
Add sour cream and cheese and mix through. You can also add a little sweet chilli sauce if you wish for a bit of extra bite.
Place into the hollowed cob loaf and put it back in the oven until ready to serve. The bread pieces will be crunchy from the oven and people can use these to eat the dip rather than crackers.
The cost is only around $7.50 and everyone will think you are very clever.
You can also use other fillings such as tuna and cheese. Just microwave the tuna, sour cream and cheese for about two minutes, stirring occasionally until melted through, and place in cob loaf.
Corn relish and sour cream is also tasty - in fact, anything that mixes with sour cream will work.
8. Savings story: My $40 baby
This is the nicest story. Helen has such a great attiude. There are 59 different savings stories in the vault. They are reminders that anything is possible. Enjoy!
My $40 baby
My sixth child was born back in 1997, not all that many years ago, and I often think of her as the $40 baby. Much loved and much wanted, she cost us very little because we had so much already or it was given to us. As most of my friends/family had fewer children than I did, I was inundated with car seats, highchairs, cots, cloth nappies, baby baths and offers of a bassinette. About all I bought for my new arrival were some bunny rugs, jumpsuits, singlets and knitted cardigans - all from the local St Vincent's or Lifeline shops - which were in very good condition. For these items I paid between 20 cents and at most $2. In total these items came in at just under $40.
Despite having a pre-worn wardrobe, my baby girl always looked beautiful and well dressed. Little babies rarely wear out their clothes as they grow so quickly! You are sure to receive some special new clothes from doting grandparents, aunties, friends and so on anyway. Sometimes it's hard to pass those gorgeous baby displays in the department stores but, if you do, it will save you masses of money. Of course your newborn baby couldn't care less what clothes he/she is wearing and the most important thing to your little one is your loving care.
It also helps when setting up for your new baby if you have been happy to lend items yourself in the past. Be generous and you will find others will be so as well.
9. Help needed: Estee Lauder - how to become a privileged customer?
We answered quite a few requests for help this month. This one has me stumped.
"My name is Michelle Kovic. I am wondering whether anyone can help me!
"I use Clinque products as I have sensitive skin. I am aware that Estee Lauder owns Clinique and every now and then they have, I think, sample sales or allow people to go to their sales. I want to know:
- How do you become a member or how do you get to go to one of these sales?
- Where are these sales held in Sydney?
- Do these sales include their skin care range?
"If anyone can help me, I would really appreciate it."
To help Michelle go to: /donatehints/
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.